September 24, 2010

Special Education Mandate Relief: SED wants your feedback by Oct. 4

Source: NYSUT Research and Educational Services

The New York State Education Department's (SED) Office of Special Education has proposed amendments to regulation that would provide special education mandate relief by:

  • repealing the minimum service delivery requirements for speech and language;
  • authorizing school districts to add up to two additional students to integrated co-teaching classes; and
  • repealing the requirement that each student with autism receive instructional services to meet his/her individual language needs at a minimum of 30 minutes daily in groups not to exceed two, or 60 minutes daily in groups not to exceed six.

SED is currently obtaining feedback on these proposals until Oct. 4, and NYSUT is encouraging members to submit their own comments on this challenge to special education.

Written public comment on the proposed regulations must be received by Oct. 4, 2010, and comments can be submitted by fax at 518-473-5387; email to spedpubliccomment@mail.nysed.gov; or mail to: New York State Education Department, Office of Special Education, Attention: Public Comment - Proposed Regulations, Room 1624, One Commerce Plaza, Albany, New York 12234.

Members may want to consider using NYSUT's comments on mandate relief as a starting point (see below). Please edit and personalize your submission to SED to include stories about what is happening in your schools and classrooms. SED requests that comments be provided using the Public Comment Submission Sheet available for download at the SED website.

It is NYSUT's position that, as we examine the benefit of mandate relief proposals, we must ensure that minimum program and service standards are maintained for students with disabilities. There is a significant concern about proposing flexibility in service provision without appropriate data clearly supporting the programmatic efficacy of such changes for students with disabilities, especially the impact that such changes could have on closing the gaps in achievement with their peers without disabilities. NYSUT's specific comments on the SED's special education mandate relief proposals are as follows.

NYSUT Comments

• Repeal the minimum service delivery requirements for speech and language. NYSUT opposes the elimination of the minimum level of service requirement for speech and language as a related service from two 30-minute sessions per week. Evidence-based practice indicates that twice-a-week therapeutic service is the minimum required for treatment efficacy. The current minimum service requirement of two 30-minute sessions per week for all students requiring related services is critical to preserve the professional integrity of the instructional program while providing an opportunity for the student to benefit from the specific service. In addition, we believe that local flexibility currently exists through the innovative program waiver provision under Section 200.6(l) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. An innovative program waiver requires SED approval and establishes local accountability to demonstrate the effectiveness of such programming.

• Authorize school districts to add up to two additional students to integrated co-teaching classes, upon documented educational justification. NYSUT opposes this proposal regarding integrated co-teaching services especially absent specific criteria to determine the appropriateness of the additional students in the instructional group. Currently, regulations allow a maximum of twelve students with disabilities in integrated co-teaching settings. We do not believe that it is reasonable to provide additional regulatory flexibility for administrative purposes before we have been able to identify the conditions of appropriate and effective service delivery in this relatively new option in the continuum of services for students with disabilities. In addition, we believe that local flexibility currently exists through the innovative program waiver provision under Section 200.6(l) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. An innovative program waiver requires SED approval and establishes local accountability to demonstrate the effectiveness of such programming.

• Repeal the requirement that each student with autism receive instructional services to meet his/her individual language needs at a minimum of 30 minutes daily in groups not to exceed two, or 60 minutes daily in groups not to exceed six. There is no supporting data demonstrating the programmatic efficacy of such changes for students with autism. NYSUT opposes removing service minimums without assurances of adequate service protections for this population of students.