Upcoming Webinar - Responding to Requests for Homebound Instruction

Do you have parents requesting homebound instruction?  What documentation is required?  When should you hold an IEP meeting?  Is that ever a least restrictive environment?  What are your child find responsibilities?  Caroline Roselli from the law firm of Robbins Schwartz will answer these questions and many more as she tackles this tough issue for special education administrators.  Get registered at http://bit.ly/2T7gTbJ

Update on Significant Disproportionality - Court Rules Against Department of ED

CASE has been hard at work on behalf of its members on the issue of disproportionality.  After gathering feedback at the Board of Directors meeting in November, CASE submitted comments regarding the issue to Johnny Collett, the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS).  Many of you completed the survey we sent out and our Significantly Disproportionality Ad Hoc committee is taking all of that into consideration. 

Meanwhile, on Thursday, March 7, the US District Court for the District of Columbia announced its decision ruling the US Department of Education engaged in "illegal delay." CASE did immediately released a statement concerning this development.   
We are committed to continue working together on this very important issue through our AD HOC committee to figure out next steps for our members across the country. 

Here is an article from our legislative consultant that may help to clarify! 

Court Rules Regulation Delay Violates Federal Law
Myrna Mandlawitz, CASE legislative Consultant
Implementation of a 2016 regulation related to significant disproportionality in special education, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education at the end of the Obama Administration, was put on hold by the current Administration in early 2017. The regulations would require states and local school districts to examine, report on, and address disproportionate identification and placement into more restrictive settings of students of color, as well as examining disciplinary actions for students with disabilities, including higher rates of suspension and expulsion.
After delaying the original regulation, the Department initially said it would issue a new proposed regulation in February 2019. That date came and went. While waiting for Department action, in July 2018 the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), represented by the National Center for Youth Law, filed suit against the Department of Education alleging the Department's delay violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Specifically, the suit alleged the Department had taken actions that interfere with its obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to ensure students with disabilities receive needed education services in the most appropriate setting without regard to students' race.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia announced its decision on March 7, ruling the U.S. Department of Education engaged in "illegal delay of a legal regulation." The court's ruling requires immediate implementation of the original regulations. Interestingly, a number of states continued to move toward implementation of the 2016 regulation, even though the Department suspended the regulation, so many states will not to have change their current activities.
In a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) on April 15, 2018, CASE stated "we strongly support addressing the issue of significant disproportionality, with special education eligibility as one factor. However, we also recognize this is a much larger systemic education issue that cannot be resolved solely through these regulations. That said, we are aware several states have made significant progress toward implementing these rules, with the original deadline close at hand. We do not want states that have followed the timetable to be penalized, while those that did not plan for the deadline are allowed greater flexibility than those that did. In addition, we believe delay may cause greater confusion in the field and continued wide variability in practice, exactly what these regulations are designed to avoid."
We are now waiting to see if the Department of Education will appeal the decision, or what their next move will be regarding this important regulation. In fact, this decision could have farther reaching consequences, since the Department has been moving to roll back other regulations across the various education programs they administer. It will be interesting to see if other organizations or stakeholders challenge other regulatory actions.
You can read the full decision in Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. v. DeVos, Collett, U.S. Department of Education at https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2018cv1636-31.

Share Your Knowledge - Lots of Upcoming Opportunities

We know that our IAASE Members are talented presenters and professionals.  Several upcoming conferences have calls for programs currently available including the following:
CASE/NASDSE Joint Conference – October 27-29, 2019 The Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) are excited to be hosting our 2nd joint conference that reflects the desired collaboration between local and state special education directors and their stakeholders. Click here to find the call for programs and more information about this conference. 
Illinois Statewide Transition Conference - OctoberThe Illinois Statewide Transition Conference invites submissions of proposals to present at the 2019 Illinois Statewide Transition Conference, Stepping Stones of Transition to be held October 17-18, 2019 in Collinsville, Illinois. Each of you brings hope, education, and inspires change in people to find the courage to help those you work with fulfill their potential. Join a myriad of others interested in doing this and also gain new skills at innovative workshops. Submit a proposal to present and also network with colleagues, experts in other fields and families at this year’s Illinois Statewide Transition conference.  Click here to get started. 
Council for Exceptional Children - February, 2020The International Council for Exceptional Children will host its Annual Convention in Portland, Oregon in February, 2020.  Interested in submitting a workshop? Please use this link that will take you to the 2020 CEC Workshop Call for Proposals. Workshops provide practical, evidence-based information and are full- or half-day workshops.

IAASE Members Encouraged To Register for CASE/CEC Special Education Legislative Summit

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2019 Special Education Legislative Summit


The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) invite you to the 2019 Special Education Legislative Summit, the premier advocacy event of the year for special educators and early interventionists.

During this event, advocates from across the country gather to educate our nation’s policymakers about:
  • Protecting and increasing IDEA funding for its intended purpose.
  • Ensuring no policy restricts public education’s ability to deliver a free appropriate public education and early intervention services.
  • Safeguarding the rights of children and youth with exceptionalities.
You know what children and youth with exceptionalities and professionals need, so raise your voice and advocate with us during the 2019 Special Education Legislative Summit this July!

Hurry to register at Early Bird rates!

Be an advocate!
Council for Exceptional Children
2900 Crystal Drive, Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22202

Winter Conference Recap



Submitted by Jami Hodge - IAASE President-Elect


The Twentieth Winter Conference last week was a huge success! The attendance continues to grow, topics are always plentiful and we had more exhibitors than ever before in Springfield. For those of you who missed it…..here’s a recap! We started out Wednesday with a packed house Board meeting including three members of ISBE Executive Staff. Upon the conclusion of the Board meeting, IAASE members stormed the State Capital discussing legislative priorities and the needs of special education across the state. Many of our legislative friends joined us that evening at a Legislative Reception at TJM Consulting. 




Executive Director of Special Education at ISBE, Heather Calomese, addressed the crowd on Day 1 offering support and guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education followed by the introduction of IAASE Officer Candidates by Dr. Frost. Ben Glenn AKA - The Chalk Guy - wowed the crowd with his heartfelt story about growing up with ADHD and his exquisite artwork on a Target bed sheet stretched around a frame built by the one and only - Harlan Gerrish. 



There were so many amazing presenters and session topics that it was difficult to select where to spend your time. Many of the friends of IAASE and sponsors took professional development to an all new level; sharing ideas, providing practical guides, offering support and guidance on the ever changing world of special education. We celebrated upcoming retirements during lunch and set aside time in the afternoon for all IAASE Regions to collaborate and discuss new ideas. A special thank you to Shannon Miller Bellini for organizing a dynamic legislative panel featuring several legislators from across the state. Thursday evening is always packed with fun- the social hour, raffle basket winners and who can forget the “Gus Bus?”



On Friday morning, Dr. Rubenstein welcomed us by providing an update on the continued focus and work of IAASE and all of its members followed by the introduction of Region Awards. The 2019 ISBE Teacher of the Year, Susan Converse, was recognized for her dedication to students with disabilities at Edwardsville High School. Our closing Keynote Speaker, Andre Norman delivered a powerful presentation on recognizing trauma, overcoming adversity, and the power of having a dream. 



The 2019 Winter Conference Legal Panel closed out the event on Friday, discussing hot topics in special education, a year end review of case law, and answering questions from the crowd. Thank you to the many people that work behind scenes to organize and plan and the volunteers that ensure such a successful and incredible event each year. We look forward to another 20 years!

CASE/NASDSE - Call for Proposals

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Proposals Now Being Accepted The Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) are excited to be hosting our 2nd joint conference that reflects the desired collaboration between local and state special education directors and their stakeholders.

The conference will include six keynote sessions, five of them to be followed by break-out sessions related to the keynote topic. Please select the track your presentation best fits when you submit. You may select more than one track.

Proposals for break-out sessions will be prioritized according to the conference goal of collaboration among SEAs, LEAs, and other stakeholders. Single presenter sessions will also be considered, but receive a lesser priority during the selection process. Sessions will be 1 to 1 1/2 hours long.

The five keynote topics are:1. Recruitment and Retention of Special Education Personnel Examples of breakout sessions under this topic include:
  • Examining district data and auditing your hiring practices
  • Engaging staff
  • Examples of SEAs and LEAs efforts 
  • Improving working conditions
  • Pay and benefit initiatives
  • Mentoring; support; training
  • Grow your own program
2. Leadership and Being an Agent of ChangeExamples of breakout sessions under this topic include:
  • Leading by Convening
  • Collaboration
  • Parent involvement and engagement
  • Working effectively with legislators and school boards
  • Communicating policy with media
  • Advocacy
3.  Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and IDEA
Examples of breakout sessions under this topic include:

  • Dyslexia;  behavioral issues;  and/or other learning issues
  • Universal Design for Learning
  • Fidelity of implementation 
  • State and Local Advocacy
4. Specially Designed Instruction
Examples of breakout sessions under this topic:

  • Defining SDI
  • Writing SDI into defensible IEPs
  • Models of providing SDI 
  • Using data to implement SDI
  • Progress monitoring 
5.  State and Local Directors Collaborative Panel: Understanding each other’s role in making a difference for kids and families.  
Examples of breakout sessions under this topic:
  • Discipline and the use of home/hospital placements
  • Joint SEA/LEA projects that provide sustainable change to improve student achievement
  • Strategies for communicating state and federal policies to school districts and schools

Note: ALL presenters and co-presenters will have to register for the conference by June 30, 2019. Conference fee cancellation policy: Written requests for refunds, minus 20% administrative costs, will be honored only if postmarked no later than October 2, 2018. Refunds will be mailed after the conference. Substitutions may be made after Oct 2nd.

The call for proposals closes March 31, 2019.

We look forward to seeing you in Louisville!

E-Learning Best Practices

As school districts and special education cooperatives across the state consider the possibility of using e-Learning days in lieu of emergency days, a number of questions have been raised about how these days would work for students with disabilities.

We are thankful to the legal team from Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick, and Kohn for their hard work in developing this guidance document (.pdf file opens in a new window).

PLEASE NOTE:  This memorandum is intended to be informative but nothing in this document is intended as legal advice or as a solicitation of an attorney/client relationship.  School administrators with questions should consult with their own school attorneys.

Illinois Senate Bill 209 - Key Information

Last year, a school district and a special education cooperative in the Chicago area became embroiled in a challenging dispute.  At the heart of the issue was the fact that the school district was withdrawing from the cooperative and they wanted several of their students to continue attending the cooperative programs.  The challenge was that the cooperative did not have a non-member rate and so the students were not able to attend the program.  The parents of these students approached their legislators seeking a legislative fix.  While an initial bill would have allowed non-cooperative students to attend at the regular rate across the state, IAASE worked hard to narrow the provisions of the bill so that it only applied to one school district.  While negotiations on a non-legislative solution ensued, the legislature passed the bill allowing students from the school district to attend the cooperative.  While the two parties reached a solution and former Governor Rauner ultimately vetoed the bill, IAASE wishes to make sure that situations like this do not arise again.

Enter Senate Bill 209 sponsored by Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Plainfield).  Senate Bill 209 would amend the School Code to make changes in the process school districts use when withdrawing from special education cooperatives/ joint agreements.  The bill addresses issues that came up in the Spring.  Specifically, the bill requires:

·       School districts to give at least 18 month’s notice to other cooperative members (rather than as specified in their joint articles of agreement).
o   Rationale:        Currently, the articles of joint agreement for some special education cooperatives do not specify a time frame.  Since there are financial implications for all member districts when a member district withdraws, it is important to be specific about the minimum notice requirements.
·       School districts to provide written notification to all parents of students with disabilities that they plan to withdraw from a special education cooperative and invite parents and other interested community members to a hearing to provide feedback on the plan.
o   Rationale:        Currently, parents could be caught in a situation where their child is receiving services from the special education cooperative and suddenly find out that the district will no longer be a member.  This legislation will force withdrawing districts to notify all parents of children with disabilities of the planned withdrawal and hold a public hearing to discuss parent concerns.  This increases transparency and accountability for taxpayers.
·       A comprehensive plan for special education services and outlines the specific components that must be present in order for a Regional Board of Education to deem a withdrawing district as fit for serving students with disabilities on their own.
o   Rationale:        There is not currently a place in the Illinois School Code that clearly outlines or articulates the components of a comprehensive plan.  Consolidating and placing everything into one place will allow for greater transparency and easier decisions by Regional Boards of Education.
·       School districts seeking to withdraw from a special education cooperative to provide a written plan for placing all of its special education students prior to withdrawing from the cooperative.
o   Rationale:        In the last year, a school district sought to withdraw from a cooperative and keep their students placed in the special education cooperative programs.  When the special education cooperative would not allow for this to occur, the parents of these students with disabilities sought intervention in the form of special legislation.  This section of the bill would prevent this from happening by requiring them to identify placements for all students without the use of the special education cooperative.
The bill is set to be heard in committee on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 and we ask members of IAASE to provide witness slips in support of this legislation by clicking here.

Take Action Now: Public Schools Week - March 25, 2019


On March 25, 2019, IAASE will be joining with national organizations across the country for Public Schools Week—a week to showcase the great things happening every day in public schools and show the potential for greater things.

As an organization of special education administrators, we support public education because it supports the basic tenets of IDEA - that ALL students should have an appropriate PUBLIC education.  Nine out of every 10 students attend a public school and public schools must serve every child child—regardless of ability, religion, wealth, language, country of origin, or need. We understand that by strengthening the public school system we strengthen our democracy.

Given the attacks on public education in the public eye, it is important that members of Congress take a stand in supporting public schools and commit to strengthening and protecting our public education system. We are asking you to send an email to your Representative and ask them to co-sponsor a resolution for Public Schools Week that recognizes that public schools are the foundation of a 21st-century democracy ensures America’s children and youth can contribute to the society, economy, and citizenry of the country. The resolution also calls on Congress to:
  • support such necessities as counseling, extracurricular activities, and mental health supports that are critical to help students engage in learning
  • support inclusive and safe high-quality public schools where children learn to think critically, problem solve and build relationships.
  • advance equity and excellence in public education and to implement continuous improvement and evidence-based practices ensure every child has the right to an education that helps them reach their full potential and to attend schools that offer a high-quality educational experiences.

SEND AN EMAIL NOW AND ASK YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TO SUPPORT PUBLIC
SCHOOLS WEEK.

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Dear Representative xx,

As a xx and a constituent, I am writing to ask that you sign onto the bipartisan Congressional resolution to designate the week of March 25 through 29, 2019 as "Public Schools Week.”

In my role as a xx, I see the importance of public schools every day and also the need to further strengthen and protect these vital democratic institutions. (Give example)

I know that communities are stronger, and schools are better when we all work together to support public education and I hope that you sign the bipartisan Public Schools Week resolution and celebrate the wide range of educators, school professionals, parents and advocates who work tirelessly to help every student meet their highest potential.

Thank you,

Your Name

Links to Illinois Congressional Delegation E-mail Forms:

Opportunity to Provide Feedback - Disproportionality in Special Education

CASE needs your input!  This is your opportunity to get involved and be heard! The CASE Executive Committee and the Policy and Legislative Committee continue to study the complex issue of disproportionality.  Please take this opportunity to review the work that has been done to date and provide input.  We need your voice and expertise.
 
Phyllis Wolfram
CASE President

CASE has been hard at work on behalf of its members on the issue of disproportionality.  After gathering feedback at the Board of Directors meeting in November, CASE submitted comments regarding the issue to Johnny Collett, the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS).  As we move into the next phase, we are asking for additional feedback to ensure we are on the right track with our work.
 
A brief summary of the Letter to Johnny Collett:
The letter laid out a new path for the federal government to take with regard to disproportionality.  Specifically:
  • Work with the IDEA Data Technical Assistance Center to identify three standard risk ratios that could be used across the country (rather than one) and require every school district to examine their practices around disproportionality once every four years using these risk ratios.
  • Providing specific staff within OSEP to support technical assistance for states and local education agencies identifying issues with disproportionality.
  • Reviewing the use of the 15% set aside required when a district is identified as having disproportionality.
The results of this survey will be used to tailor our message with the Department of Education and to provide additional feedback to key officials as this issue moves forward.

Please read the letter prior to taking this survey