Proposed Bill Could Pay Third-Party Dyslexia Service Providers in Iowa Schools

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) — A bill making its way through the Iowa legislature could help pay for additional support for children with dyslexia.

If passed, House Bill 2543 would allow schools to contract with third-party dyslexia service providers. Currently, students who qualify for special education receive services from the regional education agency that serves their school district. These services are part of the Iowa public school system and are therefore free, but many parents feel they are not doing enough to close the gap between students with dyslexia and their peers.

Wendy Kepford, from Waverly, has a husband and three dyslexic children. Two of her children are now in college and one is in high school. She feels that the services currently offered are insufficient.

“It’s not enough. And that’s it,” Kepford said. “It’s just not enough.”

Kepford said children with dyslexia need special instruction.

“Very specific interventions are what a child needs. They need a structured literacy program. They need one-on-one instruction or small group instruction,” Kepford said.

Megan Hunemuller, another Waverly-area parent with a dyslexic child, said it took a lot of effort on the part of parents to advocate for something like this kind of education.

“We eventually fought and got them to bring in what’s called Wilson, which is a dyslexia program that they teach him,” Hunemuller said.

Kepford said her children’s dyslexia was “severe”.

“It takes a lot for these kids to close the gap. And it’s hard to fit everything they needed into the school day,” Kepford said.

Kepford thinks the potential costs of providing special instruction are well worth it.

“Don’t they have the same value as a talented and gifted child who becomes special?” Kepford said.

At present, Kepford and Hunemuller believe their children needed more help than they were getting from schools, so they both paid for tutoring. Hunemuller’s daughter receives private lessons during the summer months while many children take a break from teaching.

“I can’t even tell you the thousands and thousands of dollars we spent, and we were lucky to be able to do that for our children,” Kepford said.

Rep. Megan Jones, Rep. for the Republican state of Northwest Iowa and sponsor of the bill, said she heard similar stories of parents paying out of pocket for services they felt their children needed but that they weren’t getting from the system. She said the goal of the bill is “to find another avenue to help these families find the resources they need, but also not to add anything else to a teacher’s plate.”

Jones said she was “pretty optimistic” the bill would become law.

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