Proposed Amendments to Part 226 (Special Education)

A number of updates are being proposed for Part 226, the set of rules that specifies the requirements for the provision of education and related services for students with disabilities under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Article 14 of the School Code.  Changes being proposed in Part 226 at this time address five pieces of legislation enacted in the last several years, acknowledge the 2013 change from a system of teacher certification to one of educator licensure, and provide general updates and clarifications.

Of particular note, new Section 226.125 is being proposed in response to P.A. 98-705, effective July 14, 2014.  The law added Section 2-3.160 to the School Code, directing the agency to incorporate into rules "an international definition" of dyslexia, as was recommended by the Reading Instruction Advisory Group in December 2014.  The definition of the International Dyslexia Association is being incorporated by reference in the rules.  Additionally, the proposed rule reminds school districts and special education cooperatives that dyslexia is one of a number of disorders that may result in a child's identification as having a specific learning disability, necessitating an evaluation to determine the child's eligibility for special education and related services.  New Section 226.125 is being proposed – rather than defining dyslexia under Section 226.75 (Definitions) – since the term is not used elsewhere in the rules. 

Section 226.220(a) acknowledges a change in Section 14-6.01 of the School Code, which requires that special education and related services identified in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) be provided to a student within 10 "school attendance" days after notice regarding the IEP is provided to the student's parents (P.A. 98-219, effective August 9, 2013).  Previously, the provision of services was required to begin within 10 calendar days.  Staff are proposing the rule further clarify that the initial or revised IEP may be implemented in the following school year in situations when notice is provided with fewer than 10 school days left in a school year.  For purposes of Section 226.220, "school day" is defined in federal regulations as "any day, including a partial day, that children are in attendance at school for instructional purposes". 

Under the provisions of P.A. 98-517, effective August 22, 2013, the IEP for students, beginning at age 14½, must address independent living skills (see proposed amendment in Section 226.230).  Previously, Section 14-8.03 required that the IEP only include independent living skills "where applicable".

Two proposed changes result from P.A. 98-383, effective August 16, 2013.  Section 226.560 reiterates statutory language requiring that a parent who participates in a mediation process that fails to resolve disagreements file a request for a due process hearing within 10 days after the mediation concludes in order to continue the student's current educational placement and services.  Under Section 14-8.02a of the School Code, both the parent and school district could opt for mediation, rather than another administrative or judicial proceeding like a due process hearing, to settle disagreements regarding special education and related services. 

P.A. 98-383 also added Section 14-8.02e to the School Code, requiring that the State Board establish, by rule, "State complaint procedures".  While Section 226.570 currently enumerates complaint procedures, it does not address a new requirement for providing an opportunity to the school district, special education cooperative or other public entity that is the subject of the complaint to respond before the complaint's consideration by the State Board of Education.  New subsection (c) establishes a timeframe for an entity to respond and submit is response to the agency.  Since the amount of time needed to respond depends on the complexity of the complaint, the rule proposes that the specific deadline for response be included in the agency's notification to the affected entity.  Additionally, the proposed rule reinforces the requirement in Section 14-8.02e that the entity also is responsibility for providing its response to the parent, individual, or organization (or the representing attorney) filing the complaint at the time the response is submitted to the State Board.

Finally, a technical change is proposed in Section 226.830 in response to P.A. 96-657, effective August 25, 2009.  P.A. 96-657 added Section 14-8.02(g-5) to the School Code, which in part, defined "qualified professionals" for the purpose of independent evaluations of students requested by parents; therefore, a cross-reference to the School Code requirement is being proposed. 

Initial Review by State Board of Education: June 2015

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