PA could allow delayed school enrollment for children with autism

01 May 2024- Companion legislation to a bill sponsored by Rep. Dane Watro (R-Luzerne/Schuylkill) that would allow delayed school enrollment in Pennsylvania for young children with autism was unanimously approved by the Senate Education Committee today. Senate Bill 1157, sponsored by Sen. Dave Argall (R-29), now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Watro and Rep. Mike Cabell (R-Luzerne) are the prime co-sponsors of the House version of the bill, also known as Roman’s Law.

The legislation would allow the parents or guardians of children who have reached the compulsory school age of 6 to request a waiver from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to delay school enrollment for one year if the child has been diagnosed with autism or other developmental and intellectual disabilities. The child would also be eligible to receive early intervention services from the state during the waiver period.

“I met Roman DeAngelo and his parents, Paul and Krista, earlier this year and learned firsthand from them just how critical this legislation is for children like their son, who is autistic,” said Watro. “A delayed start would allow for early intervention programs to provide the necessary supports for these youngsters to develop the social and emotional skills necessary for future success, and to be better prepared when they enter the classroom.”

“Thank you to Reps. Watro and Cabell for championing this important legislation,” said Argall. “This waiver would be a lifeline for the families who do everything they can to provide opportunity to their developmentally delayed children. An extra year of specialized support can make a world of difference for these kids.”

Also under the bill, the parent or guardian may enroll the child in kindergarten or first grade for the next school year at the end of the waiver period.