The October 31, 2008 memorandum issued by Anne Louise Thompson, Bureau Chief for Special Education, bears a second reading this time of year as districts prepare to submit excess cost grant applications for the spring of 2009. The memo, issued in the fall, caused shock waves in the special education community initially, as directors absorbed the news that they would no longer be able to obtain excess cost grant funding related to costs incurred through settlement agreements with parents who reject the IEP offered by the district make unilateral placements for their children in private schools. Unless the district “accepts programmatic responsibility for the child’s education” through the development of the IEP, and pays the entire cost of the placement, the district will not be eligible for excess cost grant funding for these agreements. On the other hand, if the district makes the placement through the PPT (at an approved school), or goes to due process and loses and the hearing officer orders reimbursement of the costs of tuition, the district is eligible to apply for excess costs.
Here is a brief summary of the memo, in bullet form:
- District makes placement in approved facility > eligible for excess costs.
- District makes placement in non-approved facility > not eligible for excess costs.
- District makes placement in private preschool > maybe eligible for excess costs if certain conditions met.
- District places student in transition services program approved by another state agency > eligible for excess costs if student not working toward regular high school diploma.
- District places student in transition services program not approved by another state agency > not eligible for excess costs.
- Parent makes unilateral placement at approved school > eligible for excess costs if district “adopts” responsibility for placement and pays all costs.
- Parent makes unilateral placement at approved or non-approved school for “other than educational reasons > eligible for excess costs if district agrees to pay the educational costs, parent and district enter into agreement providing the placement is appropriate and no other state facility is available to meet child’s needs, district writes an IEP and is responsible for ensuring that the facility implements the IEP, and district states that it is ready and willing to offer an appropriate program to the student.
- Parent makes unilateral placement at non-approved school and district loses due process hearing > eligible for excess costs if hearing officer finds district failed to offer FAPE, private placement is providing FAPE, and district is ordered to fund placement.
- Parent makes unilateral placement in approved or non-approved school and parties enter into settlement agreement providing for district taking no responsibility for programming > not eligible for excess costs.
- State agency makes placement in approved or non-approved residential school and district must assume responsibility for educational costs > eligible for state agency placement grant.
- State agency makes placement in approved or non-approved day school > state agency placement grant not available.
Is this memo impacting your budget this year?