Urgent Illinois Special Education action needed Friday.

Objections

– Bev Johns

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) will vote on the changes proposed by ISBE to Part 226, the Illinois special education regulations, on November 17 at its meeting in Chicago. (JCAR does NOT accept public comment at its meetings.)

To allow JCAR staff time to formulate a recommendation to JCAR Members, your comment should be sent to JCAR ( JCAR@ilga.gov ) by FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30.

Subject line of your email: Part 226

Message: Urge JCAR Members to vote to OBJECT to the changes proposed by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to Part 226, the Illinois special education regulations. (Mention specific parts that need changing such as 226.735 Work Load for Special Educators – see below.)

If JCAR votes to OBJECT to the proposed Part 226 changes, ISBE will have 90 days to modify and change its proposal.

CONTACT WITH THE VOTING MEMBERS OF JCAR 

It is very important that you contact the voting Members of JCAR with the same Message (see above).

MEMBERS OF JOINT COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATIVE RULES (JCAR)

Co-Chair–Senator Don Harmon, Oak Park, 708-848-2002

Co-Chair–Representative Ron Sandack, Downers Grove, 630-737-0504

Senator Pamela Althoff, McHenry, 815-455-6330

Senator Bill Brady, Bloomington, 309-664-4440

Senator Karen McConnaughay, West Dundee, 847-214-8245

Senator Tony Munoz, Chicago, 773-869-9050

Senator Ira Silverstein, Chicago, 773-743-5015

Representative Gregory Harris, Chicago, 773-348-3434

Representative Louis Lang, Skokie, 847-673-1131

Representative David Leitch, Peoria, 309-690-7373

Representative Andre Thapedi, Chicago, 773-873-4444

Representative Michael Tryon, Crystal Lake, 815-459-6453

PROBLEMS WITH PART 226 AS ADOPTED BY ISBE (there are many others):

(1) 226.735 Work Load for Special Educators

This provision is very important because it REPLACED case load limits (the maximum number of students any one special ed teacher could serve in any way).

As adopted by ISBE, DELETES “Each plan shall take effect for the 2009-10 school year, or as soon as possible after that date, if a later date is necessary to comply with an agreement under the IELRA in effect at the beginning of that school year.”

Chicago, and who knows how many other school districts, have NO Work Load plan. For many school districts the Work Load plan is a meaningless piece of paper.

ISBE has done NOTHING to enforce 226.735. No one knows how many school districts in Illinois have Work Load limits for Special Educators, or how many school districts have a sheet of paper labeled “Work Load for Special Educators” that sets no real limits.

If there is no enforcement of Work Load, if no limit exists at a local school district, that is the reason we are seeing so many excessive work loads for special ed teachers who are teaching, consulting, doing IEPs, etc.

Keeping the 2009-10 date in the regulation shows that six (6) years after its supposed effective date Work Load for Special Educators is STILL not being put into effect.

(2) 226.570 State Complaint Procedures

A school district now has to reply to a special education complaint filed by a parent, teacher, or organization with the State (with ISBE). Then ISBE investigates ONLY after that school reply is received.

NEW LANGUAGE

“The public entity shall submit its response and all other documentation to the State Board of Education and the parent, individual, or organization filing the complaint no later than the date indicated in the written correspondence received under this subsection.”

So under this New Language, ISBE would decide for each complaint how long the school district has to reply.

Is that 30 days, 60 days, six months?

There is no limit on what ISBE can do.

Given the “let local school districts do almost anything “direction ISBE is taking, there needs to be alimit in the regulation on how long ISBE can give a school district to reply.

Many complaints now take far too long to resolve.

This provision could make that even worse.

(3) 226.130 Additional Procedures for Students Suspected of or Having a Specific Learning Disability (known as the RTI mandate)

First, note this reg requires RTI ONLY for LD.

Response to Intervention (RTI), also known as MTSS (Multi Tiered System of Support), varies tremendously in Illinois. Some schools appear to be doing good things but others have “RTI classes” OR use RTI to delay and deny evaluation of students for special education for months or years (in violation of IDEA).

DELETES “in consultation with the statewide teacher organizations, statewide school management organizations, and State Advisory Council on Education of Students with Disabilities”

It is bad enough to say you have an RTI plan when school districts are doing a hundred different things and calling almost anything RTI, but to delete required consultation on changes to that plan  (ISBE states changes are made from “time to time”) is a backward step.

Even ISBE special ed staff “debated” this deletion, according to the summary of comments under Part 226 in the ISBE Board packet for its October 21 meeting.

Instead of being eliminated, consultations should instead be EXPANDED to include statewide special education teacher and parent organizations.

(4) 226.110 Evaluation Procedures DELETES “the ‘date of referral’ discussed in 14-8.02 of the School Code shall be understood to be the date of written parental consent for an evaluation, and”

(5) 226.710 Policies and Procedures DELETES the requirement that ISBE approve a local school district’s special education policies and procedures.

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