Early Childhood Privacy and Confidentiality


The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) released a guidance document on Early Childhood Privacy and Confidentiality to assist early childhood programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) address privacy and confidentiality issues.  The document was produced and disseminated in response to requests for clarification of the privacy and confidentiality provisions of the IDEA for young children. This document is intended to provide responses to frequently asked questions to facilitate and enhance States’ implementation of IDEA privacy and confidentiality provisions and can be used in conjunction with the 2014 side-by-side guide of the IDEA and FERPA Confidentiality Provisions. The document can be accessed by the following link: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/idea-confidentiality-requirements-faq.pdf.

Use of Electronic Mail to Provide IEPs and Related Documents

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued a policy letter in response to a state inquiry regarding school district use of electronic mail to provide parents with their child’s individualized education program (IEP) and  related documents, including progress reports.  The OSEP policy letter, dated March 20, 2014, was issued by Melody Musgrove, Director of OSEP, in response to an inquiry from the Maine Department of Education.

You may view a complete copy of this policy letter at the following link:

Use of Electronic Mail to Provide IEPs and Related Documents -OSEP Guidance

Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) and the Individualized Education Program (IEP)

The spring 2014, administration of the Smarter Balanced Field Test may impact the IEPs of students receiving special education services due to the change in testing and appropriate testing accommodations.  Previous guidance sent out on December 11, 2013, described the process required to amend or revise a student’s IEP to reflect the change in statewide assessment.  This guidance also included a sample parent letter that a school district could adapt to inform parents about these significant changes.

Additional guidance documents are available with regard to updating/revising student IEPs to reflect a district’s selection of the statewide assessment for the 2013-14 academic year and obtaining appropriate accommodations.  SBA/IEP Frequently Asked Questions and a chart detailing the forms that need to be completed for each statewide assessment by grade are provided as resources for school districts.  In addition, a copy of the sample parent letter for students taking the SBA and a modified version of the sample parent letter for students only taking the CAPT Science Test, have been made available.  These letters can be modified by school districts to inform parents of the change in the statewide assessments and to explain the IEP amendment process.  All of the documents referenced above are posted on the Bureau of Special Education’s Web site under Smarter Balanced Assessment Resources at: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2626&q=322680#CMT.

Finally, a copy of the SBA Consortium’s Frequently Asked Questions to accompany the SBA’s Usability, Accessibility and Accommodations Guidelines, has been posted on the Connecticut State Department of Education Student Assessment Web site at: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2748&Q=335200&PM=1.

For additional information, please contact:

Joe Amenta joseph.amenta@ct.gov 860-713-6855 For questions regarding: SBA/accommodations
Janet Stuck janet.stuck@ct.gov 860-713-6837 For questions regarding: SBA/accommodations
Patricia Anderson patricia.anderson@ct.gov 860-713-6837 For questions regarding: IEP/special education
Gail Mangs gail.mangs@ct.gov 860-713-6938 For questions regarding: IEP/special education

Fiscal Year 2015 IDEA Grant Application

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) Grant Application for Connecticut’s school districts is now online.  The application can be located on the Connecticut State Department of Education’s (CSDE’s) Web site at http://www.sde.ct.gov, under the Special Education section, subsection Fiscal/RFPS/Grants or by going to: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/rfp/rfa118_idea_2015.pdf.  There have been some additions to the grant, which are necessary to satisfy the federal government’s new requirements.

Although this upcoming fiscal years’ final dollar amounts have not been established by the United States Department of Education, school districts can file their application with preliminary dollar amounts based on their FY 2014 grant applications.

Any questions may be addressed by contacting Brian Cunnane, CSDE, IDEA Funds Manager at brian.cunnane@ct.gov or 860-713-6919.

Leveraging Funds to Support Reforms

At a meeting of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) and the National Association of State Title I Directors (NASTID) Board Members held in August, representatives identified use of funds and “funding flexibilities” as a need for further conversations and technical assistance. The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) and the Office of Special Education Programs are working together to clarify use of funds and identify funding flexibilities within the contexts of current laws.

On September 13, 2013, the United States Department of Education (USDOE), the OESE and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, issued a memorandum to state directors regarding leveraging funds to support reforms, particularly in Title I schoolwide programs. Along with the memorandum, a USDOE resource document titled, Maximizing Flexibility in the Administration of Federal Grants – IDEA, Title I, Title II and Non-Federal Funds in Schoolwide Programs was included. This document is designed to identify, at a high level, examples of how these funds may be used by state education agencies and local education agencies to support college and career ready standards and assessments; state-developed differentiated recognition, accountability and support; effective instruction and leadership; and positive school climate.

To review the memorandum and the resource document, please visit the link below.

Leveraging Funds to Support Reforms memorandum and resource document

OSERS Issues Guidance on Preventing and Addressing Bullying of Students with Disabilities

It is important that all students, including students with disabilities, are engaged in a positive, safe, and nurturing school environment in which they can learn, develop and participate.  To that end, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter that provides an overview of school districts’ responsibilities to address bullying of students with disabilities.

Under IDEA, States and school districts are obligated to ensure that students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment.  The guidance in the Dear Colleague letter specifically states that bullying of a student with disabilities, regardless of whether or not the bullying is related to the student’s disability, is considered a denial of FAPE if it results in the student not getting meaningful educational benefit.

The release of the OSERS guidance coincides with the start of the school year so that schools will be equipped with the tools to prevent bullying.   There is an enclosure to OSERS’ letter, “Effective Evidence-based Practices for Preventing and Addressing Bullying,” that offers practices that can be used as part of any bullying prevention and intervention program.  OSERS is asking states and schools to reevaluate their policies and practices ensuring that problematic behaviors, including bullying, are addressed.  Every effort should be made to structure school environments to provide supports to students and staff so that bullying does not occur.

The Dear Colleague Letter and enclosure, “Effective Evidence-based Practices for Preventing and Addressing Bullying,” can be accessed at:

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/index.html#bullyingdcl-8-20-13.

OSEP Memorandum: High-Quality Education for Highly Mobile Students

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued a letter to state directors on July 19, 2013, specific to the application of the IDEA requirements to “highly mobile children.”    The definition of highly mobile children includes children who experience frequent family moves; military-connected children; migrant children; children in foster care; and children who are homeless.  The purpose of the letter is to address the unique needs of highly mobile children under the IDEA to ensure the educational stability of and post-school outcomes for these students.

The letter specifically addresses timely and expedited evaluations and eligibility determinations, including when a response to intervention (RtI) framework is used as well as comparable services, including extended school year (ESY) services, for these students.  There is also a list of available federal resources and other helpful resources.

To review the full document, please visit the link below.

OSEP Memorandum Regarding Educating Highly Mobile Children

OSEP Memorandum: Dispute Resolution under IDEA Part B

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued a memorandum to Chief State School Officers and State Directors of Special Education on July 22, 2013, regarding the Dispute Resolution Procedures under the IDEA Part B.  The purpose of the memorandum was to introduce and disseminate an updated question and answer document related to IDEA Part B Dispute Resolution Procedures.  The accompanying question and answer document consists of five sections: mediations; State complaint procedures; due process complaints and due process hearing procedures; resolution process; and expedited due process hearings.  The memorandum and attached question and answer document is available at http://idea.ed.gov or:

To review the memorandum and Q&A documents, please visit the links below.

OSEP Memorandum on Dispute Resolution Procedures under Part B of the IDEA

OSEP Question and Answer Document on Dispute Resolution Procedures under Part B of the IDEA)

NIMAC/NIMAS Update

Individuals with print-based disabilities (e.g., vision impairments, physical disabilities, or learning disabilities) often encounter multiple challenges accessing the general education curriculum.  The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center (NIMAC) and National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) were developed as part of the solution to “help increase the availability and timely delivery of print instructional materials in accessible formats to blind students or other students with print disabilities in elementary and secondary schools” (explained in Appendix C of Part 300 of the Individuals with Disability Education Act – IDEA).

Printed textbooks, workbooks and other core printed materials used in elementary and secondary schools need to be available in classrooms in a manner that is accessible to students with disabilities.  In Connecticut, the State Department of Education (CSDE) strongly suggests that each school district sign on to the NIMAC/NIMAS system for qualifying students they have or will potentially have enrolled and receiving a public education.

Ensuring accessible print materials begins when the school district contracts with publishers to order textbooks.  It becomes important to include the following language in the contract that will require the textbook publishing companies to make a NIMAS file set available to the NIMAC for each textbook ordered.

By agreeing to deliver the materials marked with “NIMAS” on this contract or purchase order, the publisher agrees to prepare and submit, on or before __/__/__, a NIMAS file set to the NIMAC that complies with the terms and procedures set forth by the NIMAC. Should the vendor be a distributor of the materials and not the publisher, the distributor agrees to immediately notify the publisher of its obligation to submit NIMAS file sets of the purchased products to the NIMAC. The files will be used for the production of alternative formats, as permitted under the law for students with print disabilities.

This is page __ of __ of this contract or purchase order.

When a qualifying student is identified, a step by step explanation for a district representative to navigate the process can be accessed on the State Department of Education website at http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2626&q=322684.

You may view further information on the NIMAS/NIMAC system along with Frequently Asked Questions at http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/federal/faq.  Information regarding the Office of Special Education Programs’ (OSEP) interpretation of materials covered under NIMAS may also be reviewed at www.ctnimas.org.

YAI 2013 International Conference

The 2013 YAI International Conference entitled, The Dawn of a New Era, will be held May 6th – 9th, 2013, at the Hilton New York in New York City.  YAI is a non-profit agency, established in 1957, which provides services and supports to individuals of all ages with developmental and learning disabilities and their families in the New York and New Jersey area.  The organization includes more than 450 programs and serves more than 20,000 people each day.

YAI’s annual conference event brings together professionals, self-advocates and families with focused attention on innovations occurring in special education.  Interested individuals can use the following link to obtain additional information and/or to register for the event: yai.org/conference2013.  Individuals can also call 212-273-6472 for additional information.

Please note that the announcement of YAI’s 2013 International Conference is not an endorsement by the Connecticut State Department of Education of the professional development opportunity being provided.  However, this is one of many options and opportunities being afforded the field of professionals working in general and special education and should therefore be considered one of many events available to the field.