The Revised Law: Proposed Regulations
The Department of Education has issued proposed regulations for carrying out the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Several major issues addressed in the proposed rules are:
Highly qualified special education teachers:
The law’s requirements in this area apply only to public school teachers, even if a child is placed in a private institution by a public school district to receive special education services. In general, public school special education teachers who provide direct instruction to students must be highly qualified in every subject they teach.
Identification of children with specific learning disabilities:
States are allowed to prohibit the use of a “discrepancy model” to determine whether a child has a learning disability. A severe discrepancy between a child’s tested ability and his or her actual achievement has been considered proof of a learning disability. The department recommends abandoning the discrepancy model and using a model called “response to intervention,” which allows educators to try several methods of raising a child’s achievement before making a determination of disability.
Districts are allowed to remove a child with disabilities from school for not more than 10 consecutive days before the removal is considered a change in placement. The regulations say that a series of shorter removals may be considered a change in placement if they represent a pattern.
The regulations would encourage cooperative resolution of disputes between parents and the district before a formal due-process hearing is held. If the parents and the district agree, the complaint timeline can be extended to allow an opportunity for informal resolutions of problems.
Parental consent for evaluation:
If a parent fails to consent to an initial special education evaluation for a child, the local district may still pursue such an evaluation to the extent allowed under state law. However, the proposed regulations would clarify that the district is not required to make the evaluation, because “public agencies should only use their consent-override procedures in rare circumstances.”
State responsibility to supervise districts:
A state is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the implementation of the IDEA in its school districts. The primary focus of monitoring should be on improving educational outcomes for children.