The IDEA Program/Fiscal Compliance Review was formulated in 2008 as the Connecticut State Department of Education was anticipating an onsite compliance review by the federal Office of Special Education (OSEP) programs. This new desk audit was initiated in 2009 when the Bureau of Special Education (BSE) piloted this new program with three very distinct school districts (i.e. urban, suburban and a regional rural).
Desiring more effective state oversight of regulation compliance, the Bureau instituted this desk audit to be completed by the local school districts and submitted to the Bureau of Special Education with extensive documentation. The specific areas identified in the IDEA Program/Fiscal Compliance Review included:
- Property/Equipment/Supplies – ensuring federal funds are spent appropriately on instructional/educational uses and/or assistive technology. In addition, a district labeling and tracking system are in place so the district is aware of the status of this piece of property/equipment.
- Supplanting – ensuring that the district is not using federal funds to supplant local funds.
- Parentally Placed Private School Special Education Students – ensuring that appropriate policies and procedures are in place guaranteeing these students a proportionate share of IDEA funds. A review of the district’s calculations determining proportionate share is also required.
- National Instructional Materials Assessability Standard (NIMAC) – ensuring that the district complies with the NIMAC by requiring publishers of academic textbooks to adapt their products to include electronic files of instructional print materials.
- Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS) – ensuring that district procedures are in place for the appropriate use of federal funds and effective tracking systems are used for students whose pre-referral strategies have been funded with federal funds.
- Charter Schools – ensuring that procedures are in place for the equitable distribution of IDEA funds for the education of students with disabilities who attend charter schools.
- Excess Costs Calculations – ensures that districts abide by the federal requirement for adequate local funding of educational and related services to students with disabilities.
- Statewide and district wide assessments – ensuring that districts have policies and procedures in place for compliance in this area.
During the 2009-10 school year, three school districts volunteered to pilot the desk audit. Thereafter, for the next three school years, all of the state’s educational districts have been assigned to participate in this compliance review. The schedule is as follows:
- School Year 2010-11– LEAs in the CREC and EASTCONN catchment areas
- School Year 2011-12– LEAs in the ACES and Ed Connection catchment areas
- School Year 2012-13– LEAs in the CES and LEARN catchment areas
The school districts who have completed the IDEA Program/Fiscal Compliance Review have noted that their staff members are very pleased with the policies and procedures that have been put in place to ensure compliance with IDEA. Staff from the BSE have presented this compliance review at national conferences and it was well received by both federal, state and local school officials.