Since posting about the resolution (for now) of the Burden of Proof in Due Process Hearings in CT (read under “The Burden of Proof in CT Due Process Hearings” published 4/12/09 in this blog), I have gotten several emails asking what happened to the other provision of the special education laws which was up for change.
The other proposed change to the CT special ed laws would shorten the eligibility for special education services for students. In CT, students who have IEPs are eligible for special education and related services until they 1) are determined no longer in need of those services, or, 2) graduate from high school, or 3) finish the school year of their 21st birthday. If your birthday is in October, you get to finish out the school year with special education services.
Well, this latest push by special education administrators was for services provided by your school district to actually terminate ON your 21st birthday. So, if you are that kid with the October birthday, the school district’s position was, basically, “hope you enjoyed getting started in your program this year. Now it’s over. Happy Birthday!”
The special ed community rallied on this issue as well, pointing out that the percentage of students who receive services into their 21st year is a very small percentage of those students in CT who are identified for special education services in general. Moreover, this small group of students represents the youth MOST in need of help. Usually, those with significant developmental or emotional disabilities fall into this category, so a change in the law would not just be impacting students with disabilities, but those who are the most vulnerable.
We also reminded the Education Committee up in Hartford, who were incredibly responsive and patient in waiting to hear all opinions on this subject, that some other State agency would simply have to pick up the support earlier, so this measure would not save the State any money. Also, there were countless practical considerations which weighed against the change which several of the individuals who wrote or testified pointed out.
Great news, the Education Committee did not send it out of Committee, so we prevailed on the eligibility end date as well! But, as I noted with regard to the Burden of Proof proposal, I have a very strong feeling that this issue is far from over. If it comes up again, you can be sure you’ll hear from us to rally you to Hartford.