Rep. proposes bills for dyslexia, funding for services

Randy Randleman

Rep. Randy Randleman filed a flurry of bills for the upcoming legislative session.

Randleman — a certified teacher, counselor, principal, psychometrist, superintendent, and licensed psychologist — filed House Bill 2223 directing the Oklahoma State Department of Education to maintain the dyslexia handbook with annual reviews of the material.

“What you're going to find out is many of our kids have reading problems and a lot of times it's neurological because of the lack of chemicals in a particular piece of the brain,” Randleman said. “So if we can identify that better with our kids at very young ages like at four and five years old, we're going to have many more kids successful in reading and where does your learning come from? If you don't like to read you miss lots of information, so I think that's very valuable.”

The handbook was created by the Oklahoma Dyslexia and Education Task Force who listened to the shared experiences of students who struggle to learn to read due to dyslexia and the parents, classroom teachers, special education teachers, and reading specialists who try to support them.

House Bill 1613 will mandate payment received by daycares from the state on a weekly basis based on enrollment and daily attendance.

“If you remember last year, we had so many daycares shut down because the coronavirus and the students didn't come in and they didn't even have money to operate. So, this bill would be a bill restructuring the financing for daycare,” Randleman said. “What I want to do with this bill is do kind of like a two-part approach where part of the money that they get will be on an annual basis and then part of their money that they get will be on attendance.”

Randleman said the bill is designed so daycares can still have their money they receive from enrollment and not have to shut their doors.

Randleman’s House Bill 1637 will remove current limitations to allow each service area in the state to have more than just one mental health center and stabilization unit for children and adults.

“Currently, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has a rule restricting the number of community mental health centers to only one per service area,” Randleman said. “As a result, residents of House District 15 must travel to McAlester to seek these services, which is simply too far for many to travel.”

He said he got the idea to file the proposed bill after a budget request hearing made by the Office of Juvenile Affairs.

“During their presentation, the Office of Juvenile Affairs indicated that if there were more mental health services provided to adolescents, there would be fewer youth breaking the law and going through the Office of Juvenile Affairs system,” Randleman said. “They recommended that more services be made available throughout the state.”

Randleman said he joins 27 other state legislators in announcing the formation of a bipartisan, bicameral legislative caucus to focus on mental health that will work together to discuss bipartisan solutions to Oklahoma’s mental health and addiction crisis.

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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