This past legislative session, the Connecticut Legislature extended the timeline through which students are eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). Per Public Act 23-137, all students remain eligible for special education services under the IDEA:
- Through the end of the school year during which the student turns 22; or
- Until the student graduates from high school with a regular high school diploma (whichever comes first).
On July 14, 2023, the Connecticut State Department of Education (“CSDE”) issued Guidance outlining issues that school districts should consider in light of this change to IDEA eligibility in Connecticut:
- School districts do not need to take any action with regards to students who previously were exited from special education due to reaching the maximum age of eligibility (the day before their 22nd birthday) or who received their regular high school diploma between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023.
- School districts must contact students and parents for which planning and placement team (“PPT”) meetings took place during the 2022 – 2023 school year and individualized education plans (“IEPs”) were developed envisioning an end date of the student’s 22nd birthday during the 2023 – 2024 school year. School districts must advise these students and parents that they remain eligible for special education services until the end of the school year during which the student turns 22. PPTs should convene meetings as necessary in order to revise the student’s IEP.
- For students with plans from the Department of Developmental Services (“DDS”) and who turn 22 between July 1 and September 30, 2023, DDS is contacting those students/families to inform them of the change in the law. DDS will accept these students if the adult student/parent agrees in writing to decline the student’s extended IDEA eligibility through the end of the 2023 – 2024 school year. Any choice must be documented in the student’s DDS Individual Plan.
- School districts are required to implement students’ IEPs until the start date of their DDS placement. School districts are required to issue prior written notices to document that the adult student/parents refused IDEA services which were offered through the end of the school year during which the student turns 22. Prior written notices should include the date of exit from special education (the day before a student starts the DDS placement).
- If a student/parent declines the DDS placement, school districts are required to implement the student’s IEP through the end of the school year or until the student receives a regular high school diploma.
- A student who exited high school but did not graduate with a regular high school diploma (i.e., discontinued schooling, transferred to a GED program) is still entitled to a free and appropriate public education. These students can be re-admitted to public school and maintain eligibility for IDEA services in accordance with Public Act 23-137.
- Through CT-SEDS, school districts must complete a summary of academic and functional performance for students exiting special education due to receiving a regular high school diploma or exceeding the age of eligibility. Such summaries should also include recommendations on how to assist the student with meeting the student’s postsecondary goals.
Our education attorneys are available to consult with school districts about any questions regarding the extension of IDEA eligibility, or any other education law issues or concerns. Please contact Marsha Moses at [email protected], Michelle Laubin at [email protected], or Christine Sullivan at [email protected] for assistance.
 Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-259 defines a school year as July 1 through June 30.