OLR Research Report


February 1, 2011

TO: Senator Andrea L. Stillman, Co-chair

Representative Andrew M. Fleischmann, Co-chair

Senator Antonietta Boucher, Ranking Member

Representative Marilyn Giuliano, Ranking Member

FROM: Senator Andrea L. Stillman, Task Force Co-chair

Christopher G. Leone, Task Force Co-chair

RE: Individualized Educational Program Task Force Report

In accordance with Special Act 10-9 and Public Act 10-1, June Special Session, 45, and C.G.S. 11-4a, we hereby submit to the Education Committee the report and recommendations of the Task Force to Study Individualized Educational Programs. The task force hopes the committee will consider these recommendations during its deliberations in the 2011 session.

We would be happy to meet with you and the committee at your convenience regarding this report.

cc: Gary Coleman, Clerk of the House of the Representatives

Thomas P. Sheridan, Clerk of the Senate

Education Committee

Office of Legislative Research

Legislative Library

State Library


Connecticut General Assembly



Task Force Members

Special Act 10-9, An Act Concerning Individualized Educational Programs, established a task force to study individualized educational programs (IEPs) developed by local and regional school districts in Connecticut for students eligible to receive special education and related services under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its accompanying regulations (20 USC 1400 et. seq. and 34 CFR 300 et. seq.) and Connecticut law and regulations (CGS 10-76a et. seq. and Conn. State Agency Regs. 10-76a-1 et. seq.).

The task force members are:

Senator Andrea L. Stillman, Task Force Co-Chair

Christopher G. Leone, Superintendent of Schools, Torrington, Task Force Co-Chair

Michelle Bidwell, Parent of a child requiring special education

James Carson, Parent of a child requiring special education

Representative Michelle Cook, Member of the General Assembly

Craig Edmondson, Area Cooperative Education Services (ACES)

Linda Goodman, Director of the Connecticut Birth-to-Three Program, Department of Developmental Services

Representative DebraLee Hovey, Member of the General Assembly

Angela Klonoski, Parent of a child requiring special education

Shannon Knall, Regional Education Service Center (RESC) Alliance

Jennifer D. Laviano, Representing a vocational, community, or business organization concerned with providing transitional services to children with disabilities

Gail Mangs, Education Consultant, State Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education

Richard B. Murray, Connecticut Association of Boards of Education

Jon Oddo, Connecticut Association of Private Special Education Facilities

Darlene Ragozzine, Parent of a child requiring special education

Jennifer Mitchell Robinson, Person working in the field of special education-related services

Charlene Russell-Tucker, Associate Commissioner of Education

Nancy A. Taylor

Anne-Louise Thompson, Bureau Chief, State Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education

Task Force Charge

Special Act 10-9 required the task force to:

1. Examine the existing processes and procedures for developing and administering individualized education programs,

2. Examine relevant federal laws and propose legislation codifying federal laws into state law,

3. Reevaluate existing individualized education programs under federal law standards,

4. Examine required training for personnel administering individualized education programs and develop ways to include such training in professional development for certified employees,

5. Develop a program for auditing individualized education programs at the district level, and

6. Examine ways to address issues of noncompliance by personnel and districts in administering individualized education programs.

The task force was required to report its findings and recommendations to the Education Committee by February 1, 2011.

Task Force Meetings and Presentations

The task force met six times (see Appendix 1 for a list of meeting dates) and heard presentations from the following:

Anne-Louise Thompson, Bureau Chief

Gail Mangs, Education Consultant

Bureau of Special Education

Atty. Theresa DeFrancis, Bureau of Special Education

Connecticut State Department of Education

Atty. Susan Freedman, Shipman & Goodwin

Atty. Lawrence Berliner, Klebanoff & Alfano

Atty. Marsha Moses, Berchem, Moses, & Devlin

Atty. Linda Yoder, Shipman & Goodwin

Beth Lambert, President, CT Families for Effective Autism Treatment

Patricia Sullivan-Kowalski, Supervisor of Special Education, Meriden Public Schools

Dr. Jacqueline Kelleher, Professor of Education, Sacred Heart University

David Scata, Director of Pupil Services, East Haddam Public Schools

Lisa Chaffin, CT Center for Child Development

Kristen Peck, Coordinator of Early Childhood Programs, Snow School, Middletown

Sharon McClosky, Occupational Therapist

A list of the reports, submissions, and other material the task force received can be found in Appendix 2 at the end of this report. Hyperlinks to or copies of the material are available on the task force's web page, which can be accessed from the General Assembly's Education Committee webpage at: www.cga.ct.gov/ed.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Special education is a complex arena that combines state and federal law and regulation to task local administrators, teachers, and other staff with the duty of carrying out individualized education programs for each student who qualifies for special education. The students and their parents make up the other part of the equation, and their frustrations and concerns, when brought to the fore, help inform policy makers of the existing issues in the current system. This dynamic provides the context for the creation and work of the task force.

The task force devoted considerable attention on the State Department of Education's individualized education program (IEP) form, including its contents and format, and ways to make it easier for parents of special education students to understand the IEP process and contribute to it in a meaningful way. The task force found that regular education teachers are not sufficiently knowledgeable about the IEP forms and what they mean, and that information in the IEPs is unclear or not specific enough to allow parents, teachers, and advocates to evaluate whether a student is receiving the services the IEP requires and meeting the goals set in the IEP.

The task force found that, although the Bureau of Special Education, the State Education Resource Center, school districts, and other special education providers have developed publications and training programs to inform parents about the IEP process and their children's academic progress, these information and training resources are scattered, hard to locate, and ineffective for many parents.

The task force has divided its recommendations into two categories: (1) proposals for legislative action and (2) proposals for administrative action by the State Department of Education (SDE). The proposals for legislative action consist of those recommendations that the task force believes can best be achieved by amending state law. The proposals for SDE administrative action are largely related to proposed modifications in the IEP form and can be best implemented after additional deliberations and consultations between SDE and appropriate stakeholders. The task force members representing the SDE have offered to continue working with some task force members on revisions in the current IEP form.

Recommendations for Legislative Action

Parent Information: The task force recommends that the Education Committee consider introducing legislation to:

1. Require school districts to give all parents who have not previously participated in a planning and placement team (PPT) information and a list of resources about individualized education programs, such as, SDE's IEP Manual and the checklist that was formerly on the IEP modifications page;

2. Require school districts to document that they gave each child's assessments and evaluations to his or her parents at least five school days before the PPT meeting, but allow parents to voluntarily give up this right by signing a written waiver of the requirement; and

3. Require school districts to offer to hold a separate meeting with parents prior to the PPT meeting to go over the findings of the assessments and evaluations.

Teacher Training: The task force recommends that the Education Committee consider introducing legislation to:

1. Require teacher preparation programs to train all teacher candidates on the IEP process,

2. Require current teachers to receive annual training on the IEP process as part of their required professional development activities, and

3. Require special education teachers and other special services personnel who deal with special education students to complete periodic training on changes in IEP procedures as part of their continuing education (CEU) requirements.

Recommendations for State Department of Education Administrative Action

The task force recommends that SDE modify its IEP form to:

1. Reinstate the requirement for districts to include an IEP meeting summary or minutes on the form, establish guidelines for what the summary or minutes should contain, and require school districts to train and provide guidance to school staff on what is appropriate for the summary or minutes;

2. Include space on page 7 of the IEP form for required written documentation when a student's goals and objectives are updated;

3. Provide more information on the form to allow parents to see the child's progress towards his or her goals and eliminate the use of a single letter to designate satisfactory, unsatisfactory, and so forth;

4. Add another page for adequate parent input in the Academic Achievement and Functional Performance section of the form (currently pages 4 and 5); and

5. Review the Prior Written Notice page (page 3) for clarity.



APPENDIX 1

Task Force Meeting Dates

October 20, 2010

November 8, 2010

November 30, 2010

December 14, 2010

January 11, 2011

January 25, 2011

Meeting agendas can be found on the Individualized Educational Program Task Force's web page, which can be accessed through the General Assembly's Education Committee web page (www.cga.ct.gov/ed).

APPENDIX 2

SUBMISSIONS, REPORTS, AND BACKGROUND MATERIAL

(Note: Copies of the background material, reports, and other submissions listed below can be found on the Individualized Educational Program Task Force's web page, which can be accessed by going to the General Assembly's Education Committee webpage: www.cga.ct.gov/ed.)

Special Act 10-9, An Act Concerning Individualized Educational Programs. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/ACT/sa/pdf/2010SA-00009-R00HB-05426-SA.pdf

IEP Form, ED 620, Revised February 2009a, Connecticut State Department of Education.

IEP Manual and Forms, Connecticut State Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education, Third Revision, October 2010. http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/DEPS/Special/IEPManual.pdf

Special Education Individualized Education Programs and Forms, Judith Lohman, Office of Legislative Research Report # 2010-R-0355, September 13, 2010. http://search.cga.state.ct.us/adv/


Model Form: Individualized Education Program
, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs.
http://idea.ed.gov/download/modelform1_IEP.pdf

Comparison of federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 614 and Connecticut state statutory provisions relating to individualized education programs (IEPs), Atty. Theresa DeFrancis, State Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education.

Summary and Analysis of Proposed Revisions to the State Special Education Regulations, Atty. Theresa DeFrancis, State Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education.

Letter from Atty. Lawrence Berliner, Klebanoff & Alfano, November 30, 2010.

Letter from Atty. Anne I. Tremainis, Law Office of Anne I. Tremainis, LLC, January 17, 2011.

Report of the Study Group for Special Act 08-5, An Act Concerning The Teaching Of Children With Autism And Other Developmental Disabilities, March 2, 2009.