Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 7016

January Session, 2015

 

LCO No. 5237

 

*05237_______ED_*

Referred to Committee on EDUCATION

 

Introduced by:

 

(ED)

 

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE MORE COMMISSION SPECIAL EDUCATION SELECT WORKING GROUP.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, and each fiscal year thereafter, the Department of Education shall submit an annual report regarding federal funds received pursuant to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 USC 1400 et seq., as amended from time to time, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes. Such report shall include, but need not be limited to: (1) The total amount of federal funds received pursuant to said Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (2) the total amount of such federal funds paid by the department to local and regional boards of education, (3) the total amount of such federal funds paid by the department to each local or regional board of education, and (4) a description of how such federal funds are being spent, including, but not limited to, which programs are receiving such federal funds from the department.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, and each fiscal year thereafter, the Department of Developmental Services shall submit an annual report regarding federal funds received through the Medicaid program for the purpose of funding special education and related services to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes. Such report shall include, but need not be limited to: (1) The total amount of federal funds received through the Medicaid program for the purpose of funding special education and related services, (2) the total amount of such federal funds paid by the department for the purpose of funding special education and related services, (3) the total amount of such federal funds paid by the department to each provider of special education and related services, and (4) a description of how such federal funds are being spent, including, but not limited to, a description of which programs are receiving such federal Medicaid funds from the department.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) (a) The State Board of Education, in collaboration with the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, Department of Developmental Services and the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, shall: (1) Coordinate the provision of transition resources, services and programs to children requiring special education and related services, (2) create, and update as necessary, a fact sheet that lists the state agencies that provide transition resources, services and programs and a brief description of such transition resources, services and programs and make such fact sheet available to parents, teachers, administrators and boards of education, and (3) annually collect information related to transition resources, programs and services provided by other state agencies and make such information available to parents, teachers, administrators and boards of education.

(b) For the school year commencing July 1, 2015, and each school year thereafter, the State Board of Education shall annually distribute the information described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of this section to the parent of a child requiring special education and related services in grades six to twelve, inclusive, at a planning and placement team meeting for such child. As used in this section, "parent" means the parent or guardian of a child requiring special education or the surrogate parent or, in the case of a pupil who is an emancipated minor or eighteen years of age or older, the pupil.

Sec. 4. (Effective from passage) (a) The Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Individualized Education Program Advisory Council established pursuant to section 5 of this act, shall develop a new individualized education program form that is easier for practitioners to use and easier for parents and students to understand. Such individualized education program form shall include a brief description of and contact information for the Connecticut Parent Advisory Council and the Bureau of Special Education within the Department of Education in a conspicuous place on the first page of the individualized education program form using at least twelve-point Times New Roman font.

(b) Not later than January 1, 2017, the commissioner shall submit the new individualized education program form developed pursuant to this section to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes.

Sec. 5. (Effective from passage) (a) There is established an Individualized Education Program Advisory Council that shall assist the Commissioner of Education in the development of a new individualized education program form that is easier for practitioners to use and easier for parents and students to understand, pursuant to section 4 of this act.

(b) The advisory council shall consist of the following members:

(1) One member appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be a director of pupil personnel;

(2) One member appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, who shall be a superintendent of schools;

(3) One member appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives, who shall be an advocate for parents or guardians of children requiring special education and related services;

(4) One member appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, who shall be an advocate for parents or guardians of children requiring special education and related services;

(5) One member appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, who shall be a principal of a public school;

(6) One member appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, who shall be a representative of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education;

(7) The Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's designee; and

(8) Two members appointed by the Governor, one of whom shall be a certified teacher in a public school and one of whom shall be a representative of the RESC Alliance.

(c) All appointments to the advisory council shall be made not later than thirty days after the effective date of this section. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority.

(d) The speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate shall select the chairpersons of the advisory council from among the members of the advisory council. Such chairpersons shall schedule the first meeting of the advisory council, which shall be held not later than sixty days after the effective date of this section.

(e) The Department of Education shall provide administrative support to the advisory council.

(f) The advisory council shall terminate on the date that the Commissioner of Education submits the new individualized education program form to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of this act, or January 1, 2017, whichever is later.

Sec. 6. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) (a) For the fiscal years ending June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2017, the Department of Education shall establish and administer a digital individualized education program form pilot program. The pilot program shall utilize an Internet web-based individualized education program database system that uses computer software wizards to assist in the development of individualized education programs, allows for draft and official individualized education program forms, allows the sharing of data and individualized education programs among authorized users, integrates with other systems at the department such as the state-wide public school information system, developed pursuant to section 10-10a of the general statutes, in order to reduce duplicate entries of data, and integrates with school personnel and student reporting systems. The department shall seek to obtain and modify the individualized education program special education tracking and reporting system software developed by the Illinois State Board of Education or develop a comparable database system.

(b) The Commissioner of Education shall select three towns that are members of the Nutmeg Network to participate in the digital individualized education program form pilot program. The commissioner shall select (1) one town with a population of less than ten thousand, (2) one town with a population of at least ten thousand, but less than fifty thousand, and (3) one town with a population of at least fifty thousand.

(c) Not later than October 1, 2017, the department shall submit a report on the digital individualized education program form pilot program to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes. Such report shall analyze and evaluate the implementation of the digital individualized education program form pilot program for each town participating in the pilot program.

Sec. 7. (Effective from passage) The Department of Education shall conduct a study regarding assistive technology equipment sharing programs. Such study shall examine existing assistive technology equipment sharing programs in the state and in other states. Not later than January 1, 2016, the department shall submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes.

Sec. 8. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) The Department of Education shall provide complete and accurate information, that is not otherwise prohibited from disclosure under state and federal law, regarding special education programs and services offered by the state, local and regional boards of education, regional educational service centers and other providers to organizations that represent and provide services to parents and guardians of children requiring special education and related services.

Sec. 9. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) The Department of Education shall accept notices of events submitted to the department by special education advocacy groups, local and regional boards of education, regional education service centers and other providers of special education services for the purpose of maintaining a calendar of learning and training opportunities for the public regarding the provision of special education programs and services. Such calendar shall be made available on the department's Internet web site.

Sec. 10. (Effective from passage) (a) There is established a regional educational service center special education funding working group. The working group shall: (1) Study the funding provided to and expenditures of regional educational service centers for the provision of special education and related services, including, but not limited to, the sources of special education funds received by regional educational service centers and the ways in which regional educational service centers use such funds to provide special education and related services, and (2) make recommendations regarding how regional educational service centers can access additional special education funding and use such funds more efficiently and in ways that expand the provision of special education services, such as transportation, training and therapeutic services.

(b) The working group shall consist of the following members:

(1) One member appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be a representative of the Capitol Region Education Council;

(2) One member appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, who shall be a representative of the Area Cooperative Educational Services;

(3) One member appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives, who shall be a representative from the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education;

(4) One member appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, who shall be a chief executive officer of a town, city or borough in this state;

(5) One member appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, who shall be a superintendent of schools;

(6) One member appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, who shall be a representative of the Connecticut Association of School Business Officials;

(7) The Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's designee;

(8) The Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, or the secretary's designee; and

(9) Five members appointed by the Governor, one of whom shall be a director of pupil personnel, one of whom shall be a representative of Education Connection, one of whom shall be a representative of EASTCONN, one of whom shall be a representative of LEARN, and one of whom shall be a representative of Cooperative Educational Services.

(c) All appointments to the working group shall be made not later than thirty days after the effective date of this section. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority.

(d) The speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate shall select the chairpersons of the working group from among the members of the task force. Such chairpersons shall schedule the first meeting of the task force, which shall be held not later than sixty days after the effective date of this section.

(e) The Department of Education shall provide administrative support to the working group.

(f) Not later than July 1, 2016, the working group shall submit a report on its findings and recommendations related to special education funding for and expenditures of regional educational service centers, described in subdivision (1) of subsection (a) of this section, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes. The working group shall terminate on the date that it submits such report or July 1, 2016, whichever is later.

Sec. 11. (Effective from passage) (a) Each regional educational service center shall develop a regional model for the provision of special education services related to transportation, training and therapeutic services to be used for the provision of such special education services to all school districts served by such regional educational service center. Each regional model shall include (1) a regional transportation plan, developed in consultation with public transit districts, that provides transportation to children requiring special education and related services, (2) a regional educator training plan that provides special education training to teachers, school paraprofessionals and administrators that includes, but is not limited to, instruction regarding classroom techniques to improve the provision of special education and related services to children and the implementation of scientific research-based interventions, (3) a regional plan for the provision of therapeutic services, including, but not limited to, speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy, and (4) a plan for the provision of transportation, training and therapeutic services in a manner that makes such services readily available to each school district served by the regional educational service center rather than by request of a school district.

(b) Not later than July 1, 2016, each regional educational service center shall submit such model to the State Board of Education and the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a.

Sec. 12. Subsection (d) of section 10-145b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(d) (1) On and after July 1, 2016, in order to be eligible to obtain an initial educator certificate, each person shall be required to complete (A) a course of study in special education comprised of not fewer than thirty-six hours, which shall include an understanding of the growth and development of exceptional children, including handicapped and gifted and talented children and children who may require special education, and methods for identifying, planning for and working effectively with special needs children in a regular classroom, and (B) a course or courses of study in special education relating to instruction on classroom techniques in reading, differentiated instruction, social-emotional learning, cultural competencies and assistive technology. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to any person who has been issued an initial educator certificate prior to July 1, 2016.

(2) [In] On and after July 1, 2016, in order to be eligible to obtain a [provisional teaching certificate, a] provisional educator certificate, [or an initial educator certificate,] each person shall be required to complete a course of study in special education comprised of not fewer than thirty-six hours, which shall include an understanding of the growth and development of exceptional children, including handicapped and gifted and talented children and children who may require special education, and methods for identifying, planning for and working effectively with special needs children in a regular classroom.

(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection to the contrary, each applicant for such certificates who has met all requirements for certification except the completion of the course in special education shall be entitled to a certificate (1) for a period not to exceed one year, provided the applicant completed a teacher preparation program either in the state prior to July 1, 1987, or outside the state, or completed the necessary combination of professional experience or coursework as required by the State Board of Education or (2) for a period not to exceed two years if the applicant applies for certification in an area for which a bachelor's degree is not required.

Sec. 13. Subparagraphs (C) and (D) of subdivision (8) of subsection (a) of section 10-76d of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(C) Such parent, guardian, pupil or surrogate parent shall (i) be given at least five school days' prior notice of any planning and placement team meeting conducted for such child or pupil, [and shall] (ii) have the right to be present at and participate in all portions of such meeting at which an educational program for such child or pupil is developed, reviewed or revised, and (iii) have the right to have advisors of such person's own choosing and at such person's own expense, and the school paraprofessional assigned to such child or pupil, if any, to be present at and to participate in all portions of such meeting at which an educational program for such child or pupil is developed, reviewed or revised.

(D) Immediately upon the formal identification of any child as a child requiring special education and at each planning and placement team meeting for such child, the responsible local or regional board of education shall inform the parent or guardian of such child or surrogate parent or, in the case of a pupil who is an emancipated minor or eighteen years of age or older, the pupil of (i) the laws relating to special education, (ii) the rights of such parent, guardian, surrogate parent or pupil under such laws and the regulations adopted by the State Board of Education relating to special education, including the right of a parent, guardian or surrogate parent to (I) withhold from enrolling such child in kindergarten, in accordance with the provisions of section 10-184, and (II) have advisors and the school paraprofessional assigned to such child or pupil present at, and participate in, all portions of such meeting at which an educational program for such child or pupil is developed, reviewed or revised, in accordance with the provisions of subparagraph (C) of this subdivision, and (iii) any relevant information and resources relating to individualized education programs created by the Department of Education. If such parent, guardian, surrogate parent or pupil does not attend a planning and placement team meeting, the responsible local or regional board of education shall mail such information to such person.

Sec. 14. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) (a) As used in this section, "private provider of special education services" means any private school or private agency or institution, including a group home.

(b) In accomplishing their duties as set forth in section 7-396a of the general statutes and in accordance with the authority granted under chapter 111 of the general statutes, the Auditors of Public Accounts shall examine the records and accounts of any private provider of special education services that (1) has entered into an agreement with a local or regional board of education, pursuant to section 10-76d of the general statutes, as amended by this act, or (2) receives any state or local funds to provide special education and related services, in connection with any grant made by any state agency pursuant to any section of the general statutes or any public or special act. Such examination shall include a compliance audit of whether such state or local funds to provide special education and related services have been expended for allowable costs, in accordance with state and federal law and the individualized education program for each child receiving special education and related services by such private provider of special education services.

(c) The Auditors of Public Accounts shall conduct the examination of records and accounts described in subsection (b) of this section at least once during a period of five years, except that no private provider of special education services shall have its records and accounts so examined more than once during such five-year period unless the auditors have found a problem with the records and accounts of such private provider of special education services during such five-year period.

(d) The Auditors of Public Accounts shall report their findings to the local or regional board of education that has entered into an agreement with a private provider of special education services, pursuant to section 10-76d of the general statutes, as amended by this act, to the Commissioner of Education, and to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes.

Sec. 15. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) (a) The Department of Education shall enter into memoranda of understanding with the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, the Office of Early Childhood and the Departments of Developmental Services, Children and Families, Social Services and Corrections regarding the provision of special education and related services to children, including, but not limited to, education, healthcare and transition services. Such memoranda of understanding shall account for current programs and services, utilize best practices and be updated or renewed at least every five years.

(b) The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, the Office of Early Childhood and the Departments of Developmental Services, Children and Families, Social Services and Corrections shall, as necessary, enter into memoranda of understanding regarding the provision of special education and related services to children as it relates to one another. Such memoranda of understanding shall account for current programs and services, utilize best practices and be updated or renewed at least every five years.

Sec. 16. (Effective from passage) The Department of Education shall conduct a study regarding the collection, assimilation and reporting on longitudinal student data related to special education outcomes. Such study shall include: (1) An examination of how the department can collect and analyze data related to students who received special education and who have exited the public school system, including data related to subsequent employment and participation in state programs, at regular intervals over a ten-year period following such students' exit from the public school system, and (2) a review of which state agencies may need to participate in the collection of such data, (3) a projection of the costs related to the regular collection and analysis of such data, and (4) an examination of the obstacles that exist to the collection and analysis of such data. The department shall use the results of the study to assist in the development of special education and transition services policy. Not later than January 1, 2016, the department shall submit a report on its findings to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

July 1, 2015

New section

Sec. 2

July 1, 2015

New section

Sec. 3

July 1, 2015

New section

Sec. 4

from passage

New section

Sec. 5

from passage

New section

Sec. 6

July 1, 2015

New section

Sec. 7

from passage

New section

Sec. 8

July 1, 2015

New section

Sec. 9

July 1, 2015

New section

Sec. 10

from passage

New section

Sec. 11

from passage

New section

Sec. 12

July 1, 2015

10-145b(d)

Sec. 13

from passage

10-76d(a)(8)(C) and (D)

Sec. 14

July 1, 2015

New section

Sec. 15

July 1, 2015

New section

Sec. 16

from passage

New section

Statement of Purpose:

To implement the recommendation of the MORE Commission Special Education Select Working Group.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]