Special Education Update: HB 33 Impacts Options & Obligations for Special Needs Students

Special Education Update: HB 33 Impacts Options & Obligations for Special Needs Students

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.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Short Series Podcast: Transgender K-12, Staff Rights and Obligations

In the final episode of the series, Erin and Giselle get into the “nitty gritty” of staff rights with regard to transgender students in K-12. The discussion centers on recent cases pertaining to staff rights of speech, expression and religion and the importance of considering the right weights when balancing staff rights against student rights

You can also listen here or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening! Look for new Short Series podcasts in the coming months! If you have a question or suggested topic, please email podcast@ennisbritton.com.


Short Series Podcast: Transgender K-12, Executive Actions and Title IX

In the 4th episode, Erin and Giselle wrap up the discussion surrounding significant court decisions from around the country and where the Biden Presidential administration has landed related to transgender students and examining new areas of challenges to student rights.  The discussion includes what recent changes to Title IX and the provisions of Title VII might mean for educators.

You can also listen here or wherever you get your podcasts. Look for new episodes on the first and third Thursdays of the month.


Short Series Podcast: Transgender K-12, Case Law Related to Bathroom Policies

Episode 2:  Overview of Case Law Related to Bathroom Policies

Erin and Giselle take a steadfast review of four interesting cases charting the initial path for school bathroom policies under Title IX and equal protection as they impact transgender students in K-12 schools. The discussion emphasizes how the courts have strived to keep everyone on course as the winds of change continue to blow among different administrations.

You can also listen here or wherever you get your podcasts. Look for new episodes on the first and third Thursdays of the month.


Education Department Issues Guidance on Religious Expression in Schools

Education Department Issues Guidance on Religious Expression in Schools

On May 15, 2023, the United States Department of Education issued a “Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer and Religious Expression in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools” document. Coaches are referenced several times throughout the guidance, and it is likely that the guidance was issued in response to the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, which centered around a football coach engaging in private prayer at the end of each football game on the field.

The guidance opens with the reminder that when teachers, coaches, and other public school officials speak in their official capacities, they may not engage in prayer or promote religious views. However, the guidance notes that not everything a public school teacher, coach, or other official says in the workplace constitutes governmental speech. The guidance specifically states that where teachers, coaches, or other employees engage in personal speech, a school district may not prohibit them from doing so because the expression is religious in nature or because other observers, including students, might misperceive that the school is endorsing the expression. Absent some evidence that the teacher, coach, or other school official is pressuring or encouraging students to engage in religious expression, a school district has limited authority to regulate such speech.

The guidance goes on to address such topics as prayer groups, religious expression during instructional time, moments of silence, student assemblies, teaching about religion, religious expression in school assignments or homework, excusal for religious activities, and baccalaureate ceremonies. A copy of the guidance can be found here.

What this means for schools:
School districts may (and must, to avoid violating the Establishment Clause) restrict religious expression that suggests endorsement of religion or where the expression by staff is intended to compel or encourage student participation. However, staff remain free to engage in private religious expression such as private prayer, even when visible to others and even when it occurs at district sponsored activities. Of course, the devil is in the details, as they say. Confer with counsel as needed to interpret employee actions in light of the new guidance.