Indiana senators cheer, laugh for rare unanimous ‘no’ vote against special education bill

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An advocate for children with disabilities says she believes Indiana state senators never took seriously a bill they defeated in a rare 0-50 vote that would have changed the handling of special education disputes between families and schools.

No senators spoke against the bill, but some laughed and shouted at bill sponsor Sen. Dennis Kruse of Auburn to change his “yes” vote so that the final tally was unanimously “no” on Tuesday. Some cheered as the result was announced.

Sen. Dennis Kruse

“I felt defeated … It’s kind of an embarrassment for me to have a bill, you know, fail zero to 50,” Kruse told WFYI-FM of Indianapolis.

Kruse said he was reluctant to call the bill for a vote because he knew it would fail but that some senators urged him to do so. That’s because they wanted to vote down a provision opposed by many school administrators that would have prohibited schools from requiring parents to sign nondisclosure agreements as a condition for settling disputes over special education services, he said.

Kim Dodson, CEO of the advocacy group The Arc of Indiana, said the Senate’s action hurt children with disabilities and their families.”

“I think they should be embarrassed with the way that this bill was handled in the Senate from start to finish,” Dodson said. “The whole body should be embarrassed.”

Rep. Ed Clere of New Albany sponsored the proposal in the House and said he was blindsided by the Senate vote.

“When I heard the cajoling and the heckling and the peer pressure, I cringed,” Clere said. “I still don’t know why it happened.”

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