New Legislation Related to Special Education

Effective July 1, 2012, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Public Act (P.A.) 12-173, An Act Concerning the Individualized Education Program and Other Issues Related to Special Education.  The legislation identified four important changes that will affect the work of school districts that include:

  1. Section 1B of P.A. 12-173 adds subsection (B) to subdivision (8) of subsection (a) of section 10-76d of the 2012 supplement to the Connecticut General Statutes and provides that upon the request of a parent, guardian, student or surrogate parent, the school district must provide an opportunity for that individual to meet with a member of the planning and placement team (PPT) prior to the referral (e.g., first) PPT.  The purpose of having a meeting prior to the first PPT is to discuss the PPT process and the parent(s) concerns about the student.  Such meeting shall be for the sole purpose of discussing the planning and placement team process and any concerns such parent, guardian, pupil or surrogate parent has regarding the child or pupil who requires or may require special education.

Department guidance on this section of the legislation includes:

(a). Upon a school district’s receipt of a referral, whether made by the parent, the school district or other; parents should be notified in writing of their right to request a meeting prior to the first PPT.  The school district could choose to send the parent a letter or notice that goes out with the PPT meeting notice/invitation.  This or some other form of notification of this right should be in writing to the parent.  At the current time, the Department is not providing a letter or other template for use by a school district.

(b). At the referral PPT, the individualized education program (IEP) meeting summary page (e.g., page 2 of the IEP) should document that: (1) the parent was informed of their right to a meeting prior to the first PPT; (2) that the parent either did – or did not – request the meeting, (3) whether the meeting was held and if so, who attended and (4) the issues discussed.

(c). In holding these meetings with a parent prior to the PPT, a school district should ensure that the PPT member designated the task of meeting with the parent, understands the PPT process and has the skills, knowledge and ability to explain the PPT process to a parent in a user-friendly manner.

(e). For students transitioning from the Birth to Three System and for whom a written referral to special education has been made, the Birth to Three transition conference could be used to meet the district’s obligation only IF: (1) the parent has received written notice of their right to such a meeting prior to the transition conference and the parent has requested the meeting; and (2) if the purpose of the Birth to Three transition planning conference is not a PPT and the PPT is planned for another date in the future.

2. Section 1D of P.A. 12-173 amends subdivision (8) of subsection (a) of section 10-76d of the 2012 supplement to the Connecticut General Statutes to add new language that states that immediately upon the formal identification of a student as eligible for special education, school districts must provide relevant information and resources that have been created by the State Department of Education relating to IEPs.

Department guidance on this section of the legislation includes:

(a). The Department recommends providing two publications, the Parents’ Guide to Special Education in Connecticut and the IEP Manual, as user-friendly resources that will be most helpful to parents.  For students of transition age, the publication, Building a Bridge is also recommended.

(b). The above referenced publications may be provided to parents at the PPT when the student’s eligibility for special education will be determined.  If a parent is offered and so agrees, the school district may direct parents to the Department’s website and the links to the recommended publications or the publications can be sent to the parents electronically.

(c). School district should document, in writing, the fact that these publication were provided to the parent in hard copy, or through links, or through electronic transmission.  Documentation can be made on the IEP meeting summary page (e.g., page 2 of the IEP document) as a way to document a school district’s compliance with this requirement.

(d). It is recommended that if a school district opts to send one or more of these publications electronically, districts should request a return email confirming receipt.

3. Section 1 of P.A. 12-173 adds section G to subdivision (8) of subsection (a) of section 10-76d of the 2012 supplement to the Connecticut General Statutes by adding that upon the request of the parent, the school district shall provide the results of the assessments and evaluations of the student that will be used to determine the student’s eligibility for special education at least three (3) school days before the PPT meeting at which the results of the assessments will be discussed for the first time.  The legislative intent is that this requirement applies only to those students who are going through the initial
referral and special education identification process.

Department guidance on this section of the legislation includes:

(a). School districts will need to sufficiently prepare and plan for this legislative requirement to provide the student’s assessment and evaluation reports at least three days prior to the PPT meeting in which they will be discussed in order to still comply with Connecticut’s 45 school day requirement for implementation of the individualized education program.

(b). Parents need to be notified of their right to request their child’s assessment and evaluation reports.  School districts could include this information in the letter or notice used to let parents know about their right to a meeting before the referral PPT meeting or could use a separate letter or notice to accompany the invitation to the 2nd PPT.  Regardless of the mechanism of communicating this right to parents, documentation is important.  The Department recommends using the IEP meeting summary page (e.g., page 2 of the IEP document) to record this information.

(c). Providing evaluation results means providing the entire evaluation report or reports.  A page of raw scores and grade equivalents is not going to be helpful to most parents.  The purpose of providing the student’s written assessment/evaluation information prior to the PPT meeting in which it will be discussed is to inform families so that they can participate in an informed manner in the PPT discussion and decision-making process for their child.

4. Section 11 of P.A. 12-173 requires that the IEP of a student identified as deaf or hard of hearing include a Language and Communication Plan that has been developed by the PPT.  Further information on the Language and Communication Plan can be found in a separate Bureau Bulletin article at the following web address: https://ctspecialednews.org/?s=language+and+communication+plan

Additional guidance regarding additional aspects of P.A. 12-88 will be forthcoming.

A full copy of P.A. 12-173 can be accessed through the following link:

http://www.cga.ct.gov/2012/ACT/PA/2012PA-00173-R00HB-05353-PA.htm

Questions regarding P.A. 12-173 can be addressed to the Bureau of Special Education at 860.713.6910.