State Representative Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich), who represents the 51st House District, advanced House Bill 3359 through the House Higher Education Committee this week. The legislation ensures students with developmental disabilities attending public universities or community colleges will be able to have their personal support workers at their sides during classes.
“I’m honored to be the sponsor of House Bill 3359,” said Bos. “When I became aware of the situation involving Susan and her son Joseph, I was frankly shocked. The fact that not one, but two, public community colleges had prevented a student with developmental disabilities from having his personal support worker with him in class, it didn’t make sense. This legislation corrects that problem and ensures all students will have access to the support they may need to be successful in the classroom.”
As Bos referenced, Joseph Maller, who lives in Mundelein and is on the autism spectrum, had been denied the ability to have his personal support worker with him in class in his pursuit of coursework in photography. To correct this problem, HB 3359 provides that if a student has a personal support worker, the governing board of the public university or community college district must permit the personal support worker to attend class with the student but is not responsible for providing or paying for the personal support worker. It further provides that if the personal support worker’s attendance in class is solely to provide personal support services to the student, the governing board may not charge the personal support worker tuition and fees for such attendance.
After being rejected by two community colleges, Oakton Community College ultimately allowed Joseph to attend his photography course with his support worker. Realizing many other families and students have faced the same adversity, Joseph’s mother, Susan Maller, contacted her state elected officials in the hopes of raising awareness and helping others avoid the same hardship.
Susan, who testified before the remote hearing of the Higher Education Committee in support of HB 3359 said, “I want to thank Rep. Bos, his staff, and all the members of the committee for bringing awareness to the issue and supporting this legislation. Joseph and students with disabilities just want the opportunity to be successful in the classroom and pursue their educational goals. Allowing them to have their personal support workers by their sides will help make that a reality and be an asset to the state of Illinois.”
HB 3359 cleared the committee with unanimous support and now heads to the House floor where Bos expects it to receive a similarly high level of support. For more information about the legislation, click here.