On March 8, 2007, Interim Chief of the Bureau of Special Education Dr. Nancy Cappello issued her Proposed Revisions to the State Special Education Regulations. Subsequent inquiries to the State Department of Education (SDE) have yielded no announcement of dates when public comments will be accepted concerning the Proposed Regulations. However, numerous groups and individuals around the State are in the process of reviewing the proposals and compiling commentary to be submitted when the time is right. Discussions with school personnel in our area of the State suggest that a number of the proposals merit further discussion.
Some highlights of the proposed regulations, available at the Connecticut State Department of Education website at www.state.ct.us/sde/ are as follows:
- Definition of gifted and talented deletes the current reference to identification of the top 5% of children so identified, and replaces this elsewhere in the proposed regulations with a reference that a school district may identify up to 10% of its population as gifted and talented.
- Regulations apply not only to Local Educational Agencies (LEA’s) but also to “any other entity involved in the provision of special education and related services as may be appropriate”.
- The term “IEP Team” replaces the term “Planning and Placement Team” or “PPT”, except in the context of identification of gifted and talented students, where the term remains PPT. Parents are not part of PPT’s, and PPT’s may be conducted “en masse” to identify a group of talented or gifted students. Parents must be given notice of the PPT decision and have the right to a due process hearing to challenge the decision of the PPT. School districts must refer, evaluate and identify only those talented and/or gifted students enrolled in the public schools in grades kindergarten through twelve.
- The definition of “day” in the proposed regulations is changed from school day to calendar day.
- As to children who are identified as eligible for special education at their third birthday during the summer months, the IEP team must determine whether the child is eligible for and requires extended school year (ESY) services before the start of the school year.
- School year is defined as the period of time between July 1st and June 30th.
- ESY service determinations must be made to allow sufficient time for parents to challenge the ESY assignment before the ESY program begins.
- Children with disabilities enrolled by the school district in private programs that do not issue high school diplomas are entitled to participate in the graduation exercises of “the child’s graduating class, as determined by the child”.
- Children with disabilities who are eligible for services through age 21 are entitled to continue to receive services through the end of the school year in which they turn 21 years of age.
- School district may require attendance of school personnel at specific training ordered by the SDE as a result of monitoring or compliance reviews.
- All children with disabilities must be provided with services in accordance with IDEA, including those “who are educated at home”.
- Special education referral forms must be printed in the parent/student handbook or other materials distributed to parents, and concerns by parents expressed in other ways (other than filling out the referral form) must be accepted by the school district as referrals to special education. Referrals submitted by parents must result in IEP Team meeting to review the referral, regardless of the status of any early intervention procedures or whether the school has reason to suspect that the child is a child with a disability.
- Entire new section of regulations regarding special education students who are the subject of state agency placements (i.e., DCF) defines situation under which child is considered to have “no nexus”. Nexus stays with town in which parent resides even after child turns 18 unless student actually establishes an independent residence. The public agency making the placement (i.e. DCF) determines whether there is a nexus and to which school district. In the case of a dispute, the district identified by the public agency must begin paying for the placement, even if the district seeks review of the nexus or no-nexus determination. Dispute resolution takes one of two forms: hearings under Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-186, or a joint review by a representative of the State Department of Education and the public agency making the placement, from which there is no appeal. Responsibility for providing FAPE shifts upon the child “change in status”.
- Short-term objectives continued to be required in all IEP’s.
- Parental rights transfer to the student at age 18 unless the student submits a statement in writing allowing the parent to continue to make decisions.
- IEP Team meeting to review referral must be held within 15 calendar days of referral.
- Initial evaluation must be conducted within 60 days of receipt of parental consent.
- IEP must be developed and implemented within 30 days of eligibility determination.
- Diagnostic placements are now 40 school days instead of 8 weeks. IEP Team must meet at least once every 10 school days, and once at least 5 school days before the end of the placement to determine eligibility and write a final IEP.
- Homebound instruction must begin no later than the 11th day of absence from school if sufficient documentation is received from the treating physician. Preschool special education students may be entitled to homebound instruction 1 hour per day. Setting is home or hospital. In the case of a dispute, child must receive services pending review by school medical advisor, and parent must provide consent for school medical advisor to speak to treating physician.
- School must comply with request by parent to review and inspect records “without delay” in preparation for IEP team meeting, due process, or resolution meeting, provide copy within 10 days upon request.
- If school district asks parent to provide transportation, reimbursement at federal rate must be for round-trips between school and home. No reimbursement required if school has offered transportation.
- Two-year statute of limitations on due process hearings if party knew or should have known about the change in status or program. Does not apply to parent in case of misrepresentation by school district that it had resolved the problem, or if procedural safeguards were not provided.
Comments? Email Attorney Michelle C. Laubin at [email protected] or post your comments here.