On the Call: Informal Removals

Sometimes the guidance concerning informal removals can feel like a game of BINGO at Erin’s in-law’s house! In this episode, Jeremy and Erin help you survey the game board, the OSEP guidelines, and make sure you understand what constitutes an informal removal and its potential repercussions. The discussion includes a case from Michigan where missed opportunities resulted in a FAPE violation. They also cover some practical tips which will have you shouting BINGO! 

You can also listen here or wherever you get your podcasts. Look for new episodes on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.





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 and becomes effective October 3, 2023. Within these new laws are several provisions that not only impact students with disabilities but will likely expand school district’s obligations to this student population.

Jon Petersen Scholarship awardees can expect more money in the coming years. The Petersen Scholarship will increase to $30,000 and $32,000 respectively during this biennium.

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 are not 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.

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.

Finally, public schools are now required to provide transportation as a related service to any resident student with a disability attending a nonpublic school.

In related changes, 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.





























































































































































































































































































































































































































































On the Call: General Education Accommodations

Erin and Jeremy discuss the rules of the game when it comes to general education and implementation of accommodations so that no one ends up offsides. They kick around a recent case from Pennsylvania which resulted in a yellow card for a district that did not properly promulgate policies and procedures to the general education staff related to students in special education classes. They also reiterate some important training points so you are sure to get the ball down the field and into the goal as a team! 

You can also listen here or wherever you get your podcasts. Look for new episodes on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.





On the Call: IEEs

Does it feel like IEEs roll in as fast as Jeremy’s 1977 Ford Granada? In this episode, Jeremy and Erin cover your options – fund or file – under the black letter law when parents request an IEE. They share a recent matter from Arizona which determined when a district must evaluate for a suspected disability and parents’ rights with regard to the IEE. The discussion includes ways to plan for an onslaught of requests so that your special education engine runs smoothly.

You can also listen here or wherever you get your podcasts. Look for new episodes on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.





Welcome Back for Season 2! On the Call: FERPA

School’s back in session and so is On the Call! Welcome to the second season of On the Call. In this episode, Erin and Jeremy cover the “F” word and what happens when a mistake is made under FERPA. They share an example of a recent mistake made by a school district in Michigan, how it was quickly addressed, and the SPPO’s response to their efforts. They share some best practices for determining “who needs to know what” so that you can feel like Superman when dealing with sensitive information.

Please email podcast@ennisbritton.com with your questions and any topic ideas you would like to share for the upcoming season. Be one of the first ten to send us an idea, coffee will be on us! We’ll send you a coffee gift card to enjoy while listening to the podcast.

You can also listen here or wherever you get your podcasts. Look for new episodes on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.





Special Education Update: Latest Budget Bill Draft Includes Troubling Special Education Provisions

Special Education Update: Latest Budget Bill Draft Includes Troubling Special Education Provisions

On June 8, 2023, the Senate Finance Committee released its draft of the HB 33, the state biennium budget bill. The draft contained some unfortunate proposals that will impact special education if passed in the final version of the bill, which is expected by the end of June. This article is current as of June 15, but the budget is moving quickly to its conclusion as the final conference committee completes its work and sends the bill to the Governor. Stay tuned for additional updates and possible changes.

Scholarship Changes
In addition once again expanding the EdChoice program by more than $373 million over two years, the Senate Finance Committee’s proposed bill also expands the Autism Scholarship Program (ASP) to any child who has been “identified” with autism by the child’s resident school district, or who receives services through an Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”) that are related to autism. Perhaps most concerning, the proposed bill would require school districts to develop “education plans” for a child who is eligible for a scholarship based on a diagnosis of autism, but who does not have an IEP. As districts are well aware, many students have received a medical diagnosis of autism at some point in their childhood yet are determined not eligible for an IEP or even a Section 504 plan because they do not demonstrate a need for special education and related services or any type of accommodations and modifications. This proposal requires development of an “education plan” regardless of need. Further, it provides students with access to the ASP even though they have not demonstrated eligibility for special education.

Both the House and current Senate budget proposals include an increase to the Jon Peterson Scholarship as well. The current version of the bill includes the following:
• Increases the base amount from $6,414 to $7,190
• Increases the Category 1 amount from $1,562 to $1,751
• Increases the Category 2 amount from $3,963 to $4,442
• Increases the Category 3 amount from $9,522 to $10,673
• Increases the Category 4 amount from $12,707 to $14,243
• Increases the Category 5 amount from $17,209 to $19,290
• Increases the Category 6 amount from $25,370 to $28,438
• Increases the maximum scholarship award (capped amount) from $27,000 to $30,000

Special Education Transportation
One of the most unfortunate provisions of the Senate’s version is a requirement that school districts provide transportation as a related service to students with disabilities who live within the district but attend a nonpublic school if the school district is provided with supporting documentation in the student’s IEP, individual service plan, or academic support plan. This change may further exacerbate transportation challenges for districts already struggling to provide transportation to their enrolled students. The current version does expand a district’s ability to use vans to transport students in certain circumstances, which is helpful (if it remains in the bill; reports suggest that it may be removed).

The governor’s version of the bill contains language that would extend the formula for determining special education transportation payments into FY 2024 and FY 2025 and increases the minimum state share percentage for traditional school district payments from 33.33% to 37.5% in FY 2024, and to 41.67% in FY 2025. The bill would extend these increases to educational service centers as well. However, the Senate Finance Committee made changes to the traditional district foundation aid formula which ultimately decreases the percentage share earmarked for special education transportation by $3 million in FY 2024 and $2 million in FY 2025. Likewise, the governor proposed an increase for funding preschool special education which was offset in part by the Senate Committee’s proposed change to the foundation aid formula.

Seizure Action Plans
The House introduced language in HB 33 that would require school districts to develop seizure action plans for each student with an active seizure disorder diagnosis. The Senate Committee maintained this language in its version. The proposed law also contains a training requirement: every two years, districts would need to ensure that at least one other employee besides the school nurse is trained to implement a seizure action plan. The proposal includes language that expressly extends qualified immunity to employees who carry out the plans in good faith. If this law passes, there are possible child find implications. Seizure disorders are considered disabilities, and students may be eligible for Section 504 plans or IEPs. It is recommended that districts keep special education teams in the loop when plans are developed so that districts may consider whether to offer evaluations that fulfill child find obligations.

Auxiliary Services Funds
The governor’s budget authorizes a newly chartered nonpublic school, within ten days of receiving its charter, to elect to receive auxiliary services funds directly. The Senate Finance Committee also inserted language into the bill that prohibits a district from denying a nonpublic school’s request for personnel to provide auxiliary services who are properly licensed.

Additional changes are expected in future iterations of the budget bill before a final version is passed. In the meantime, school districts should reach out to area legislators and share any concerns they have about the proposed language. Pam Leist and Hollie Reedy will review the final budget bill in detail at the Administrator’s Academy on July 13, 2023. Click here to register for the webinar.