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Governor Signs Act Amending Special Education Laws in Connecticut

June 28, 2012

Public Act 12-173, An Act Concerning Individualized Education Programs and Other Issues Relating to Special Education, became law on June 15, 2012. Among other changes, the provisions of the Act require planning and placement teams to take additional steps to inform parents about special education procedures and evaluation results and require additional training for teachers. A full copy of the Act can be accessed here.

Along with a variety of technical changes, the Act includes several substantive changes to the Connecticut special education laws. Effective July 1, 2012, upon request by a parent or guardian, a member of the planning and placement team ("PPT") must meet with the parent or guardian prior to a referral PPT meeting to discuss the PPT process and any parent concerns. Also upon request, the board of education must provide a parent or guardian with the results of any evaluation or assessment used in an eligibility determination three days prior to the PPT at which such evaluation or assessment will be discussed. The new law further provides that, upon identifying a student as eligible for special education and related services, the PPT must inform the parent or guardian of the information and resources created by the State Department of Education ("SDE") relating to individual education programs. We understand that many districts already undertake some or all of these steps in order to better inform and establish positive relationships with parents. However, such steps are now required under the law.

Provisions have also been made through the Act for any child identified as deaf or hearing impaired. The law now provides that the individualized education program ("IEP") of any child so identified must include a "language and communication plan" developed by the child's PPT. The plan must include seven specific program elements for the child, which include, among other things, the primary mode of communication chosen for the child and assistive technology devices and services for the child.

Public Act 12-173 also amends the laws relative to training for teachers. Effective July 1, 2012, boards of education must provide in-service training to certified teachers, administrators and pupil service personnel concerning the implementation of IEPs. This includes training for both special and regular education teachers. Further, certified employees with an endorsement in special education, who serve in positions requiring such special education endorsement, must receive at least ten hours of training in the implementation of IEPs and in communication with parents concerning IEP procedures in order to maintain such certification.

Finally, the Act modifies the law relative to the receipt of excess cost for the funding of special education and related services for children placed by the Department of Children and Families pursuant to emergency orders, order of temporary custody or orders of commitment. Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-16a. Specifically, the amendments add a definition of "nexus school district," which now means "the school district of a local or regional board of education under whose jurisdiction a child would otherwise be attending school," and provide that, starting in 2012-2013 school year, a nexus school district will, under certain conditions, be eligible for an excess cost grant under Section 10-76d(e)(2).

We encourage all administrators and special education personnel to review the requirements imposed by this public act, all of which will be effective before the start of the 2012-2013 school year. The full text of Public Act 12-173 can be accessed here.

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