The Ohio Budget Bill was signed by Governor DeWine on July 2, 2023. While the spending provisions were effective immediately, substantive changes to the law become effective October 3, 2023. Within these new and amended laws are several provisions that not only impact students with disabilities but will likely expand school district’s obligations to this student population.
Jon Peterson Scholarship applicants can expect more money in the coming years. Most categories of disabilities will see increases the subsidy provided over the next two years.
The Autism Scholarship saw more significant changes from permissible providers to access to scholarship dollars.
- In the area of behavioral services, families availing themselves of the Autism Scholarship can now access BCBA and behavioral technician services, even when the providers do not possess permits to provide such services in a facility or a home.
- Additionally, students accessing the scholarship will no longer need a school identification of autism. Students will be eligible if a medical professional diagnoses the student with autism, or if the student has an IEP that calls for services “related to autism.” In the event the student is medically diagnosed but does not have an IEP, the responsible school district must develop an education plan for that student to address the diagnosis.
“Catastrophic” costs are no longer reflected in the special education budget. Schools can continue to seek additional costs of services that exceed the category’s funding threshold, but they will no longer be identified as “catastrophic” costs. It is anticipated that this change is more in the name than in the actual amount of funding received.
Seizure action plans are another new requirement. Designated school employees must develop a seizure action plan for affected students and provide training on the plan to relevant staff. Likewise, Districts must ensure that at least one staff person in each building is trained in such plans every two years. Additionally, district administrators, school counselors, teachers and bus drivers must complete training in the bill’s new requirements.
Public schools are now required to provide transportation as a related service to any resident student with a disability attending a nonpublic school. This particular requirement is vaguely drafted and the Ohio Department of Education has not yet issued any clarification, nor are there any applicable regulations. It is best to consult with legal counsel to develop an appropriate response to any new requests for transportation related to this change.
Finally, the Ohio Department of Children and Youth Services will assume most of the oversight of preschool education. A full transfer is duties is expected by January 1, 2025.
What this means for schools – As with all other education related budget considerations, these changes in laws will require careful oversight and timely consideration. Stay tuned for further updates on the implementation of many of these new and revised requirements.