Mr. Biden Goes to Washington: February 24, 2021

 


Mr. Biden Goes to Washington: 

What the New Administration Means for Special Education

Franczek P.C.: Dana Fattore Crumley  & Kendra Yoch


As we near the first 30 days of the new administration, we are gaining some additional insights into what we will see from President Biden and the Department of Education. The emerging themes are funding and equity. 

For special education leaders, the most relevant funding initiative is “full funding” of IDEA. The law provides for federal funding up to 40% of the average per pupil expenditure, but that level of support has never been achieved and currently stands around 14%. More than doubling federal funding of special education would significantly impact the provision of services to students with disabilities. Additionally, Biden’s agenda includes numerous other special education-related funding proposals, including tripling funding for Title I; increasing teacher pay and benefits; doubling the number of psychologists, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in schools; increasing “wrap-around” services; increasing funding for teachers to earn additional certification in high-demand areas like special education; universal preschool; funding for early childhood development experts; career and vocational education; and improvements for school building infrastructure. Of course, funding initiatives need to be approved by Congress, which is currently focused on COVID relief. The American Rescue Plan includes about $130 billion for K-12 schools, which targets staffing, mitigation measures, and addressing learning loss. We will be monitoring the fate of this legislation and the proposals above.


Other initiatives President Biden has expressed support for include the Keeping All Students Safe Act, which would significantly reduce the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, and fulling implementing the disproportionality rule, which addresses racial and ethnic disparities in special education. We also expect to see an increase in investigation and enforcement activity from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) with respect to all forms of discrimination, including disability-based discrimination. OCR initiated several investigations related to remote learning for students with disabilities at the end of the prior administration. Additional investigations and monitoring on this issue may be on the horizon. Additionally, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has indicated that more guidance related to providing IDEA services during the pandemic will be published in the next few months.

President Biden has also made equity a significant priority for his administration. Related to education, that includes proposals for funding to level the playing field between rich and poor school districts, efforts to improve teacher diversity, and building flagship schools and programs in low-income communities and communities of color, as well as increased enforcement of civil rights laws by OCR.


The change in administration means a significant change in approach, including refocusing on public schools and equity issues as well as an increased role for unions. These themes are apparent in the recently issued guidance from the Department of Education on reopening schools. The next “volume” of the guidance is expected to have additional information and strategies related to addressing the disruptions caused by the pandemic, such as meeting the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students. We anticipate this guidance will have particular significance for special educators.

ASK an ATTORNEY

Please continue to send us your questions. We look forward to answering.






February 16, 2021

 

Hello all!  Happy snowy Tuesday.  We hope that everyone is staying safe and warm.  Here is a quick update from IAASE. 


COOPERATIVE SURVEY

Cooperative Executive Directors / Superintendents - We need your input ASAP!  Please take a moment to complete the COOPERATIVE SURVEY.  We have received 15 completed surveys from the 70 cooperatives solicited. We need everyone represented. This survey will provide important information to help us advocate for cooperative access to CARES Act funds.


SEAPAC UPDATE

Hey, why haven’t you joined?  Now is the time to join SEAPAC! It will warm you up on this cold, snowy day.


Thank you to our SEAPAC Committee for making it easier to become a member. It is a $20 donation (minimum), and your contribution helps our legislative efforts. You can access a NEW feature and sign-up for SEAPAC online through GivebutterPlease consider signing up through this link. You can also text SEAPAC to (202) 858-1233 to get the link delivered directly to your phone.  You will be able to pay with Venmo, Paypal, or via credit/debit card. 


Thank you to those who have recently answered the call to join:  Angela Phillips, Camille Robinson, Melanie Phelan, and Barb Daugherty.


ASK an ATTORNEY

Please continue to send us your questions. We look forward to answering.



WHAT DOES AN IAASE BOARD MEMBER DO? 

Welcome to a small segment where we will highlight and share about our committees and board members. 

 

Membership & Public Relations Committee Chair:  Dr. Christine Putlak, A.E.R.O. Special Ed Cooperative 

 

As Member at Large, Dr. Putlak’s primary responsibility is to encourage colleagues to become active members.  The most impactful part is chairing the committee, which includes the Region Representatives, to plan for regional professional development opportunities during the year. There are many ways to get involved in IAASE, including being an active member in your region and attending roundtables, webinars, & presentations, sharing your expertise by presenting at a regional event, attending the regional meetings at the annual conferences, and attending board meetings.  If you are looking for ways to become more involved with IAASE, please consider running for Region Representative or becoming active in your region. 



February 9, 2021- ESY Determinations in an Uncertain Year

 

ESY Determinations in an Uncertain Year

Franczek P.C.: Dana Fattore Crumley & Kendra Yoch                                            

Despite the piles of snow and frigid temperatures outside, it is time to start thinking about summer! As teams convene IEP meetings this spring (and circle back on meetings from the fall where the team agreed to collect more data…), we are hearing questions about how to think about ESY determinations this year. As you know, the IEP team must determine whether a student needs special education and related services beyond the normal school year to receive a free appropriate public education. While the legal framework for ESY remains the same, teams should consider a few quirks this year.

The main factor for the team to consider when making an ESY determination is regression/recoupment: Will the student lose skills over the summer break and take an extraordinary time to recoup those skills in the fall? Teams can also consider other factors, such as the nature of the disability, degree of impairment, emerging skills, or skills crucial for independence. ISBE has advised that teams discuss whether “the benefits accrued during the school year would be significantly jeopardized in the absence of a summer program.” These considerations all remain in place.

What if a student has not made expected progress on IEP goals, or even regressed, during remote or hybrid learning – does that qualify a student for ESY? Generally, no. A student’s progress or lack of progress during the school year is not directly relevant to the ESY analysis – though if a student is not progressing, an IEP meeting may be warranted.

That said, offering additional summer programming may be a way to provide compensatory services (if there was a denial of FAPE) or to generally shore up skills all students may have missed during this extraordinary year. Some districts are planning to offer summer instruction beyond what they would typically provide through summer school and ESY. We have also seen districts working on expanded summer programming in collaboration with a cooperative or other groups of districts. When considering who will be eligible to participate in such programs, make sure that students with IEPs and 504 plans have an equal opportunity to participate and benefit. However, if ESY is not required for FAPE, the summer program should not be written into the IEP. And if you are considering the summer instruction to be compensatory education, be sure to communicate that with parents and clearly document it.

ASK an ATTORNEY

Please continue to send us your questions. We look forward to answering.


COOPERATIVE SURVEY

If you are a Cooperative Executive Director/Superintendent please take a moment to complete the attached survey by Tuesday, February 16, 2021. This survey is targeting cooperative access to CARES Act funds. 

February 2, 2021- Personnel & Licensure Update

 QUALIFIED BILINGUAL INTERPRETER

This brief summary is provided by Linda Lenoff and Andrea Dinaro, Co-Chairs of the IAASE Personnel Licensure and Certification Committee.

As this goes to JCAR, we see these as the main components of the “QUALIFIED BILINGUAL INTERPRETER” in Section 226.800 Personnel Required to be Qualified:

A.  Meet all employment eligibility requirements of the school district.

B.   2 required Trainings:

  • 9 hrs. on interpreting in and out of English, interpretation standards of practice, ethics, and confidentiality, the role of the interpreter and role boundaries, respect, impartiality, professionalism, cultural competence and responsiveness, and advocacy for communication and cultural needs. This training must include videos demonstrating proper and improper interpretation techniques.

  • 6 hrs. on special education terminology and protocol. Individuals who already hold special education licenses, endorsements, or approvals are exempt from the Sp. Ed. training requirements   

C.   2 required Tests (to demonstrate proficiency in English* and the target language** by passing State-approved language proficiency tests covering listening, speaking, and reading (if the language exists in written form):

  • Written Examination scoring 80% or higher to demonstrate knowledge of special education terminology and protocol, interpretation standards and techniques, and interpretation ethics. 

  • Oral examination scoring 70% or higher to demonstrate proficiency to interpret in and out of English, through consecutive or simultaneous interpreting, and sight translation.

In an instance of a target language for which an exam does not yet exist, a reliable alternative assessment or documentation of proficiency in that language shall be established by the State Board if it is not feasible for the State Board to otherwise offer a test in that language within a reasonable amount of time.

D.  Target Language Proficiency Test Exemptions:

  • English* exemptions: post-secondary degree in which the official, documented language of instruction was in English

  • Target Language** exemptions:

  • State Seal of Biliteracy -scoring ‘Advanced Low’ or higher

  • AP Language Test- scoring 4 or higher

  • Transitional Bilingual Educator 

  • Possess or used to possess: Transitional Bilingual Educator endorsement on Educator License with Stipulations or LBSII/Bilingual Special Education Specialist or Bilingual Ed. endorsement on a Prof. Educator License  

  • Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts Court Interpreter CertificationCertified Medical Interpreter CertificationAdvanced Proficiency Level (for sign language interpreters interpreting for parents), AND complete required coursework on special education terminology. 

E.   Sp. Ed. Terminology & Protocol Exemptions: Individuals who already hold special education licenses, endorsements, or approvals. 

F.   If a Qualified Interpreter is not availablea school district may use outside vendors, including telephonic interpreters.

G.  PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARD changes Subpart F Section 226.530 Parents' Participation provided annually to all parents of children with disabilities and in each Notice of Conference give notice to parents that:

  • A parent has the right to request that the interpreter provided by the school district serve no other role in the IEP meeting other than as an interpreter and that the school districts should make reasonable efforts to fulfill this request; 

  • Also: the availability of interpretation services at IEP team meetings; an explanation of how parents can request an interpreter; and a point of contact for any questions or complaints about interpretation services. 

H.  Each school district must record the following information

  • Whether a parent requested an interpreter, had previously requested interpretation services, or had otherwise indicated that an interpreter was necessary to ensure meaningful parental involvement in the IEP meeting;    

  • The language for interpretation;

  • Whether a qualified interpreter was provided for each IEP meeting; 

  • And whether a parent requested that the interpreter serve no other role in the IEP meeting, and if so, whether the school district granted that request.

I.  Professional Development related to Interpreting every 2 yrs., 6 hrs. of training including:

  • Confidentiality      

  • Accuracy

  • Impartiality

  • Interpreter ethics and professionalism. 

  • Cultural awareness

  • Special Education processes

  • Special Education vocabulary

  • Language acquisition

J.  Section 226.75 Definitions 

Qualified interpreter” - school staff member or other personnel who is: 

  • Bilingual and Demonstrably Qualified and Competent to Interpret; 

  • Trained in providing the interpretations requested and sufficiently knowledgeable in both languages and of any specialized terminology needed;  and 

  • Trained in ethics of interpretation  

K.  And in case you were wondering… “Preferred language”  means a parent’s or guardian’s native language or any other language with which the parent or guardian requests interpretation services. “Preferred language” does not include artificial or constructed languages, including, but not limited to, Klingon, Dothraki, Elvish, or Esperanto.


CONGRATULATIONS TO CASE COOPERATIVE FOR BEING NAMED AS THE NATIONS TOP WORKPLACE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES.  

Click here to read the article!  Way to go, CASE!



INFINITEC PEER COACHING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Research shows that coaching has the ability to transform practice, but the coaching doesn’t need to come from an “expert”.  Significant changes occur when colleagues work together with the common goal of changing their practice.  Pam Robbins will take participants through the Peer Coaching process to ensure colleagues set up the conditions by which positive outcomes can be achieved, and then practice those skills.  This is not an evaluative process.   It is a collegial process with peers supporting peers to make any desired changes.   

Click here for more information on how to register! 


ASK an ATTORNEY


Don’t forget about our new feature: Ask an Attorney. This is your opportunity to ask our IAASE Attorneys (Dana Crumley and/or Kendra Yoch) any questions. They will provide monthly updates via the IAASE Blog. Click here for the IAASE ASK an ATTORNEY form.



SEAPAC UPDATE


Thank you to our SEAPAC Committee for making it easier to become a member. It is a $20 donation (minimum), and your contribution helps our legislative efforts. You can access a NEW feature and sign-up for SEAPAC online through Givebutter! Please consider signing up through this link. You can also text SEAPAC to (202) 858-1233 to get the link delivered directly to your phone. You will be able to pay with Venmo, Paypal, or via credit/debit card.

January 26, 2021- Is Your Physical Restraint and Time Out Procedure Up-to-Date?

Is Your Physical Restraint and Time Out Procedure Up-to-Date? 
Franczek P.C.: Dana Fattore Crumley & Kendra Yoch

ISBE issued final rules related to physical restraint and time out last April. Given the series of updates to the rules dating back to November 2019, a bill that proposed further changes, and the disruption caused by the pandemic, many districts took a “wait and see” approach before revising their procedures.  Now that the dust has settled,  you may find that your procedure needs some work.

As was previously required, districts must have a policy before using time out and restraint. The policy should state that the techniques will be used only in accordance with the requirements in the School Code, ISBE rules, and your district’s procedure.  If your district will permit these techniques, the regulations require that five components be addressed in your procedure:

1.     The circumstances when isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint will be applied.

2.      A written procedure to be followed by staff when the techniques are used.

3.      Designation of a school official who will be informed of incidents and maintain the documentation required when the techniques are used.

4.      The process the district will use to evaluate any incident that results in an injury to the student.

5.      An annual review process, including but not limited to:

                        a.        The number of incidents involving the use of these techniques.

                        b.      The location and duration of each incident.

                        c.       Identification of the staff members who were involved.

                        d.      Any injuries or property damage that occurred.

                        e.      The timeliness of parental notification, agency notification, and administrative review.

Designating a school official to maintain the required documentation is critical. That person may also be the point person to lead the update to your procedure when needed (😊), oversee training and related documentation, and lead the review required in #5.

The real meat of the procedure is #2, the procedures for staff to follow. If you use PRESS, the model procedure incorporates the ISBE rules rather than spelling out the requirements. The benefit of this less-is-more approach is that when the ISBE rules change, your procedure may not need significant revision. So as one of our favorite old commercials says, “That was easy!” The downside is that staff need to access a separate document, and that document is not the most-user friendly to read and understand. Not so easy.

If you are considering drafting your own procedure for staff to use, check with your attorney to make sure it is properly aligned with the rules. To get you started, here are the key points to include:

·       Definitions of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint. Consider also including examples of interventions that do not qualify as time out or physical restraint.

·       When the use of the techniques must end.

·       When a review is required due to the length or repeated use of the techniques.

·       Safety requirements for the use of each of the techniques.

·       Prohibition on the use of chemical and mechanical restraints. Whether prone and supine restraint are allowed (if so, additional procedures are needed).

·       Required documentation, notification (to ISBE and the parent/guardian), and record keeping.

·       Required review meeting when the techniques are used with a student on 3 days within a 30-day period.

 You can find a summary of the rule here, and detailed guidance from ISBE here. Happy updating!


ASK an ATTORNEY

Don’t forget about our new feature: Ask an Attorney. This is your opportunity to ask our IAASE Attorneys (Dana Crumley and/or Kendra Yoch) any questions. They will provide monthly updates via the IAASE Blog. Click here for the IAASE ASK an ATTORNEY form.


SEAPAC UPDATE

Thank you to so many of you for answering the call to join SEAPAC. We had 3 new members join this week: 
Kathy Gavin, Laurin McWhorter, Luan Statham, Carole Allert, Kyle Muldoon, Margaret Childs, Alyssa Madsen, & Jera Pieper

Thank you to our SEAPAC Committee for making it easier to become a member. It is a $20 donation (minimum), and your contribution helps our legislative efforts. You can access a NEW feature and sign-up for SEAPAC online through Givebutter! Please consider signing up through this link. You can also text SEAPAC to (202) 858-1233 to get the link delivered directly to your phone. You will be able to pay with Venmo, Paypal, or via credit/debit card.