The federal Office of Special Education Programs made several changes to the federal IDEA regulations effective on December 31, 2008. I dont know about you, but I'm always suspicious of changes made by a federal agency when an administration has one foot out of the door.
Anyway, the analysis of comments to the proposed regulations by OSEP is available online at this link. Among the changes were the following:
34 C.F.R. Sections 300.300 and 300.9 were amended to provide that parents are now permitted to revoke in writing their consent for the continued provision of special education and related services after having received services. School districts are no longer able to use mediation or a due process hearing to seek to override or challenge the parents' lack of consent. School districts will not be deemed to be in violation of the ACT for denial of FAPE where the parent has revoked consent to the continued provision of special education and related services. First I'm going to quote some of OSEP's analysis. remember that comments by an agency are entitled to "some deference," but not the force and effect of law as a regulation would get.
In response to comments that the IEP Team and not the parents should make such decisions, OSEP said:
Discussion: We agree with the commenters that the IEP Team (defined in § 300.23, which includes the child's parents) plays an important role in the special education decision-making process. For example, through the development, review and revision of the child's IEP, the IEP Team determines how to make FAPE available to a child with a disability. However, the IEP Team does not have the authority to consent to the provision of special education and related services to a child. That authority is given exclusively to the parent under section 614(a)(1)(D)(i)(II) of the Act. The Secretary strongly believes that a parent also has the authority to revoke that consent, thereby ending the provision of special education and related services to their child. Allowing parents to revoke consent for the continued provision of special education and related services at any time is consistent with the IDEA's emphasis on the role of parents in protecting their child's rights and the Department's goal of enhancing parent involvement and choice in their child's education. We expect that after a parent revokes consent for the continued provision of special education and related services, the parent will continue to work with the child's school to support the child in the general education curriculum. Parents of nondisabled children serve as partners in their children's education in the same manner as parents of children with disabilities. We agree that an IEP Team meeting should be convened if any member of the IEP Team, including a parent, believes the child is not progressing. Section 300.324(b)(1)(i) and (ii)(A) requires each public agency to review a child's IEP periodically, but not less than annually, and revise the IEP as appropriate to address any lack of expected progress. However, the review of a child's IEP by the IEP Team does not replace a parent's right to revoke consent for the continued provision of special education and related services to his or her child.Concerning the comment that revoking consent should be treated differently than refusing to provide initial consent because the parent is seeking to terminate special education services that are presently provided, thus seeking to change the status quo and the comment expressing concern about revoking consent for a child whose current placement is in a residential setting, we appreciate that there are differences between consent for special education and related services and revocation of such consent. However, at their core, both issues entail a parent's decision of whether a child will receive special education and related services. Thus, section 614(a)(1)(D)(i)(II) and (ii)(II) of the Act,which provides a parent unilateral authority to refuse special education and related services, informs our decision on the related issue of revocation of consent for the continued provision of special education and related services.
73 Fed Register No. 231 at page 73009 (12/1/2008).
We'll continue with more OSEP analysis in a future post. What do you think of this change so far?