Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 7252

January Session, 2017

 

LCO No. 5111

 

*05111_______ED_*

Referred to Committee on EDUCATION

 

Introduced by:

 

(ED)

 

AN ACT ESTABLISHING AN ADJUDICATION PROCESS FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION AND THE RIGHT OF PARENTS TO OBSERVE THEIR CHILD AT SCHOOL.

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

Section 1. Subsection (f) of section 10-76h of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2017):

(f) (1) In lieu of proceeding directly to a hearing, pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the parties may agree in writing to participate in an adjudication and request the Commissioner of Education to appoint [a state mediator] an independent adjudicator. Upon the receipt of a written request for [mediation] an adjudication, signed by both parties, the commissioner shall appoint [a mediator knowledgeable in the fields and areas significant to the review of the special educational needs of the child or pupil. The mediator shall attempt to resolve the issues in a manner which is acceptable to the parties. The mediator shall certify in writing to the Department of Education and to the parties whether the mediation was successful or unsuccessful] an independent adjudicator, selected pursuant to the procedures adopted pursuant to subdivision (4) of this subsection. Any individual serving as an independent adjudicator under this subsection shall have completed training in special education law and practice and in mediation and arbitration. Independent adjudicators shall be paid reasonable fees and expenses, as established by the State Board of Education.

(2) The independent adjudicator shall consult with the parties about their willingness to reach a compromise solution. Each party shall have an opportunity to present its position to the independent adjudicator. Following such consultation and presentation of positions, the independent adjudicator may propose a resolution to the dispute. Such proposed resolution shall be based on the independent adjudicator's assessment of the merits of each party's position and the likelihood of which party would prevail in a hearing conducted pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. The independent adjudicator shall present and discuss such proposed resolution with each party for the purposes of promoting and encouraging a settlement. Neither party shall present such proposed resolution as testimony or call the independent adjudicator to testify in any subsequent hearing conducted pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. The proceedings of the adjudication shall remain confidential. Nothing in this subsection shall cause a delay in proceeding to a hearing, pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.

[(2)] (3) If the dispute is not resolved through [mediation] an adjudication under this subsection, either party may proceed to a hearing.

(4) The Commissioner of Education shall convene a panel consisting of an equal number of individuals representing (A) the interests of students receiving special education and related services and the parents of such students, and (B) local and regional boards of education, for the purpose of developing procedures for the selection and training of individuals to serve as independent adjudicators, pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection. Not later than January 1, 2018, such panel shall submit the procedures to the State Board of Education for review and adoption.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2017) (a) For the school year commencing July 1, 2018, and each school year thereafter, the parent or guardian of a child enrolled in a public school under the jurisdiction of a local or regional board of education shall have the right to observe his or her child at the school in which such child is enrolled during the regular school day, in accordance with the parental observation guidelines adopted by the State Board of Education pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(b) Not later than July 1, 2018, the State Board of Education shall adopt parental observation guidelines to permit a parent or guardian to observe his or her child at the school in which such child is enrolled during the regular school day. Such guidelines shall (1) not limit the observation of a child to less than sixteen hours in a school year, (2) permit a parent or guardian to authorize an independent evaluator to observe a child at school during the regular school day, and if such independent evaluator is conducting an independent evaluation pursuant to 34 CFR 300.502, to allow such independent evaluator to observe such child and conduct interviews with school personnel in a manner consistent with the authorization of a school-based evaluator, (3) allow for additional observation time when requested by a planning and placement team or by an independent evaluator for the purposes of completing an independent evaluation, (4) apply equally to students who are receiving special education and related services and those students who are not receiving special education and related services, (5) indicate that any amount of time in which a parent or guardian provides volunteer services at the school shall not count as a parent or guardian's observation time under this section, (6) authorize a local or regional board of education to (A) require a parent or guardian to sign a confidentiality agreement for the purposes of protecting the privacy of other children, and (B) terminate a parent or guardian's right to observe his or her child under this section if such parent or guardian substantially disturbs the learning process or attempts to participate in the delivery of instruction, (7) permit a parent, guardian, independent evaluator and therapist to interview any teacher, paraprofessional or other school personnel, provided such interviews do not occur during an observation and such interviews do not count as observation time under this section, and (8) permit a teacher, paraprofessional or other school personnel to engage with the parent or guardian during an observation.

Sec. 3. Subparagraph (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 July 1, 2017):

(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 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, in accordance with the provisions of subparagraph (C) of this subdivision, and (III) observe such child at the school in which such child is enrolled during the regular school day, in accordance with the provisions of section 2 of this act, and (iii) any relevant information and resources relating to individualized education programs created by the Department of Education, including, but not limited to, information relating to transition resources and services for high school students. 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.

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

Section 1

July 1, 2017

10-76h(f)

Sec. 2

July 1, 2017

New section

Sec. 3

July 1, 2017

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

Statement of Purpose:

To establish an adjudication process for special education determinations and to establish a right for parents and guardians to observe their children at school.

[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.]