Her 14-year-old daughter has Down syndrome, so she knows firsthand how important it is to advocate for disabilities. “She’s going to high school next year, so we’ll start having these conversations about what are you going to do after high school?” said Krivickas.
Krivickas has worked on education policy for nearly 25 years. “I found out there was the RISE Act, a piece of legislation had been introduced in Congress for, I believe, the past two years, and it simply says the documentation that you use to determine or prove you have a disability in K-12 or high school counts in higher ed,” said Krivickas. “I said, ‘there’s nothing preventing states from acting. We don’t need to wait for Congress.’”
She took her idea to State Representative Michelle Udall, who agreed that the process of proving your disability to colleges gets complicated. “Sometimes it means going to get a new evaluation by professionals, which can be really costly,” said Udall. “A lot of it is just figuring out what you have to give them to prove that a student has a disability.”
Udall agreed to introduce similar legislation at the state level. “At the time, I had my son, who has autism and some ADHD issues, just starting college, and I said, ‘yes, it’s very hard for him, and me as a parent, to figure out what there is available for him, what kind of accommodations he qualifies for. It’s not very transparent. It’s hard to figure out,” she explained.
Udall said her bill, HB 2031, cuts the red tape, making it easier for students with disabilities to thrive in college. “I think there are a lot of things we can do to ease that transition and to increase the number of students with special needs, not only going to college but being successful in college,” said Udall. “A lot of them show up at college but then don’t get any extra accommodations, so they fail out. They fail one semester and decide they’re not ready for college.”
“If this bill passes, Arizona will be the first state to do it,” said Krivickas.
The bill has already passed in the house and will head to the Senate floor next. State Representative Judy Burges was the only lawmaker to vote no on this, and she did not respond to our requests for comment. Maricopa Community Colleges said it takes a neutral stance on the bill. Arizona State University said it would not comment on pending legislation.
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I am always proud of Karla, with her thoughtful, professional, and passionate approach to making a more inclusive world for everyone!