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CT DOE Circulates Draft Revised Special Education Regulations

In June 2007, the CT DOE started the process of revising the state special education regulations, and circulated its proposals for public comment.  Based on the responses, the Department decided to revise its proposal and restart the review process.  A new draft has emerged, dated February 3, 2010.  According to the accompanying memorandum from Commissioner McQuillan, a new public comment period will follow.  So, what’s in the new draft that might be of interest to LEA’s in Connecticut?  For the most part, the new draft more closely tracks the IDEA requirements and narrows the differences between state and federal regulatory requirements.  But there are some significant differences and changes from the earlier draft.

  • Pregnancy is no longer a condition granting automatic eligibility for special education services.
  • The statutes making seclusion and restraint restrictions applicable to LEA’s have been translated into regulatory requirements under the auspices of the CT DOE, with specifics not contained in the broader statutory scheme.
  • The proposed regulations now state that each child with a disability shall be entitled to participate in graduation exercises even if not graduating with a regular high school diploma, and the child must be able to participate at least once.
  • The proposed regs require that if a child with a disability is placed in a non-degree-awarding private placement and meets the requirements for a high school diploma from the LEA’s high school, the LEA is required to award a diploma to the student.
  • The regs codify the “interpretation” provided by CT DOE that a school year starts July 1 and runs until June 30, and that if a child with a disability turns 21 during that school year, the entitlement for services runs to the end of the school year in which the student turns 21.
  • The regs provide that personnel may be required to attend Professional Development activities ordered by CT DOE through compliance efforts.
  • ESY: Consideration of eligibility for and content of extended school year services must be accomplished early enough in the school year to allow the parent “sufficient time” to challenge the determination before the start of the ESY program.
  • The date of a referral to special education is not the date the referral form is filled out by the LEA, but rather, the date when the referral is made by parent, teacher, or outside professional. 
  • An initial PPT must be held within 15 days of the receipt of the initial referral.
  • The initial evaluation must be conducted within 60 days of receiving consent for the evaluation.  60-day timeline not applicable if parent fails to make child available or enrolls child in another district.
  • If the child is eligible for services, PPT “may” develop IEP at the eligibility PPT and must implement it within 15 days of “this meeting”, exclusive of time needed to obtain parental consent.
  • If IEP is not written at eligibility meeting, PPT to develop IEP must be held and IEP must be implemented within 15 days of eligibility determination, exclusive of time needed to obtain parental consent.
  • Prior Written Notice (PWN) of the actions of the PPT must be provided at least 10 days before the change in identification, services, evaluation or placement proposed by the PPT.
  • A full copy of the IEP must be sent to the parents within 10 school days after the PPT meeting.
  • If the LEA proposes an evaluation and the parent fails to respond, after 10 days the failure to respond is to be interpreted as a refusal of the request to evaluate.
  • Up to 10 percent of the population of the LEA may be identified as gifted.
  • IEP Goals must include short-term objectives with “objective criteria” evaluation procedures and schedules for determining mastery.
  • Although the rights of the parent transfer to the child at the age of 18, the student is permitted to make a written notification to the LEA that the parent continues to have the right to make educational decisions on behalf of the student despite attaining the age of majority.
  • Diagnostic placement timeline is changes to 40 school days maximum, and it is explicit that it is considered an evaluation of the child.  If conducted as part of the initial evaluation, the 60-day timeline is extended to accommodate the diagnostic placement.  Meetings with “designated personnel” must take place every 10 school days.  Final IEP must be written 5 school days before the end of the diagnostic placement.
  • Homebound instruction must be provided after receipt of a certification on a form supplied by the LEA that the treating physician has consulted with the school health supervisory personnel and determined that the child cannot attend school due to a valid medical reason, the child will be absent for at least 10 school days, and the expected date of return to school.  PPT may also provide homebound for a medically complex child with a serious illness or chronic condition who is absent from school sporadically, beginning no later than the 3rd day of absence if the child is able to receive instruction.  In case of dispute, the parent must provide consent for consultation between the treating physician and school health personnel; homebound will be provided during the dispute if and only if consent is provided for consultation.  Instruction may be provided in other locations such as a public library.
  • If an LEA requests that a parent transport a special education student and the parent agrees, the parent must be provided with mileage reimbursement.  Mileage reimbursement is not required if the LEA offers and the parent rejects transportation, unless a hearing officer finds that the transportation offered by the LEA was not appropriate.