Along with her Aug. 20 testimony, Children’s Law Center’s Senior Policy Attorney Renee Murphy submitted comments regarding proposed revisions to special education regulations from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).
Here is an excerpt from her letter:
Allowing referrals to be oral and reducing the evaluation timeline to 60 days was intended to hasten the delivery of services. Additional clarity in the regulations about parent referrals and documentation would help accomplish this goal. This is particularly important because parents often do not know the professional or legal terminology and thus may attempt to initiate the process in many different ways.
All parental requests for assistance and references to special education, disability, or IEPs should be treated as a referral. We recommend that requests be documented in the Special Education Data System (SEDS) in order to ensure referrals and timelines are tracked appropriately. OSSE should also require the LEA to provide a written acknowledgement to a parent at the time of documentation, along with a copy of any needed consent form. These changes will get parents and schools working together promptly on the special education referral.
Additionally, we have found in our practice that, even though the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) does not specify that a parent must sign a specific LEA-provided consent form, some professionals or LEAs insist that consent is not valid until on the form from the Special Education Data System. We suggest that OSSE make clear in these regulations that parental consent does not have to be on a specific form. Instead, consent may be provided in a parent’s initial written referral for evaluations or may be included in any other correspondence from the parent.
Click the link below to read the full comments.