Special Education Update: Sixth Circuit Confirms District Obligations for Dual Enrolled Students

Special Education Update: Sixth Circuit Confirms District Obligations for Dual Enrolled Students

In a recent decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act does not require school districts to provide special education services or accommodations in dual credit courses offered at postsecondary schools. The decision stems from an appeal filed on behalf of a Kentucky student with Tourette’s Syndrome, autism, and other physical and cognitive conditions. After three years of accelerated courses in high school and a dual credit course at a local university, the student’s IEP team determined to focus on his transition to postsecondary education – pinpointing a “residential college experience” as one possible option. When Parents enrolled the student in a dual credit, dual enrollment residential program outside of the district, their request for on campus IEP services was denied. The family then filed due process, seeking reimbursement for the support services financed by parents. The hearing officer and the appeals board sided with the district. The ensuing court appeal was dismissed by the trial court.

On further appeal, the Sixth Circuit’s review highlighted several relevant points, beginning with the clear fact that the Act applies to “secondary,” not postsecondary education. Since the program at issue delivered college-level courses on a college campus, it was not covered under the IDEA. Following the guidance of the U.S. and Kentucky Departments of Education, the Court found that the mandate for a free appropriate public education did not include postsecondary education.

The Court also considered that the dual enrollment was in fact exclusively exercised in a college setting located some 130 miles from the student’s high school. As the district had no control over what classes the student took, what times services might be warranted, or where the services would be provided, the Court agreed that the Act did not obligation school districts to provide services at universities as opposed to the student’s high school.

Finally, the Court distinguished between the obligation to provide special education services for Advance Placement courses and doing so for the dual enrolled student. AP courses are available to high school students based on district-determined offerings and do not require enrollment in a postsecondary institution. However, the residential postsecondary program here caters to high school students but does not offer a secondary school education. Therefore, the dual enrollment precludes eligibility under the IDEA.

What this means for school districts: The facts in this case clearly establish that off- campus college credit programs do not oblige school districts to provide special education services. Accordingly, schools should carefully consider program location and the level of program control when suggesting postsecondary transitional services for high school students.


































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































FTC Proposes Strengthening COPPA to Further Limit Companies’ Ability to Monetize Children’s Data

FTC Proposes Strengthening COPPA to Further Limit Companies’ Ability to Monetize Children’s Data

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule) that would place restrictions on the use and disclosure of children’s personal information and limit the ability of companies to condition access to services on monetizing children’s data. This would be accomplished by actions such as a requirement that targeted advertising be off by default, limiting push notifications, restricting surveillance in schools, and strengthening data security. The FTC’s Press Release stated that the purpose of these proposals are to “shift the burden from parents to providers to ensure that digital services are safe and secure for children.”

The COPPA Rule first went into effect in 2000, when it required certain websites and online services that collect personal information from children under 13 to obtain parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing that personal information. In 2013, the FTC made changes that reflected the increased use of mobile devices, to protect children’s online activity, as well as photos, videos, and audio recordings. The FTC stated that this most recent proposed change comes at a time when “online tools are essential for navigating daily life.” Implementing such tools will not only allow children to be online without being “endlessly tracked” by companies, but also places the obligation on service providers, rather than allowing such providers to outsource their responsibilities to parents.

In order to achieve those goals, the FTC has stated that the proposed changes will include:
● Requiring separate opt-in for targeted advertising
● Prohibition against conditioning a child’s participation on collection of personal information
● Limits on the support for the internal operations exception
● Limits on nudging kids to stay online
● Changes related to Ed Tech
● Increasing accountability for Safe Harbor programs
● Strengthening data security requirements
● Limits on data retention

Once the proposed changes are published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to submit a comment.































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Office of Civil Rights Reminds Schools of Their Obligation to Provide All Students a School Environment Free from Discrimination

Office of Civil Rights Reminds Schools of Their Obligation to Provide All Students a School Environment Free from Discrimination

On November 7, 2023, in the wake of unrest in the Middle East, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) released a Dear Colleagues Letter reminding pre K-12 schools and institutions of their legal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI). The letter emphasized that all schools, colleges, and universities that receive federal financial must comply with  Title VI. These legal obligations include providing all students, including students perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, and/or Palestinian, a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. The letter urges schools to ensure all students have the freedom to learn in safe and inclusive school environments as the tension in the Middle East continues to rise.

 In addition, to the Dear Colleagues Letter, the OCR released an updated complaint form for complaints alleging violations of Title VI. The updated complaint form now extends “national origin” to include students who are perceived to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or based on other shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics

 What Does This Mean for School Districts?

In light of the emphasis from OCR, school districts should be alert for discrimination and harassment incidents on school grounds. It is each school district’s legal obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to address discrimination and potential violence against students as the conflict in the Middle East ensues.

 The U.S. Department of Education Fact Sheet includes specific strategies for addressing civil rights violations. School officials should carefully review and institute, where appropriate, these policies of protection

 The links below provide details on compliance with this directive, as well as the revised Civil Rights violation complaint form. Any person may file a complaint based on a perceived violation of Civil Rights protections enshrined in the historic legislation of 1964. 

 The Dear Colleague Letter


Updated Complaint Form


OCR Complaint Filing Training


Or email: OCR@ed.gov


































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Career Tech Corner: It’s a New Year! Time for the CTC Organizational Meeting

Career Tech Corner: It’s a New Year! Time for the CTC Organizational Meeting


Career technical boards of education are governed by the same statute on holding the organizational meeting in January as any other board of education, but the operation and timing of CTC organizational meetings is slightly different than local, exempted village, and city school districts.

The Ohio Revised Code states simply that career technical school districts must meet during the month of January (R.C. 3313.14). In practical terms, that directive is subject to ensuring that the career-technical meeting is held after the local and exempted village boards of education meet as the boards are swearing in new members and sometimes, depending on expiring terms of office, appointing seats to the career technical board of education.

Before being appointed to the CTC board, local and exempted village board members are reminded that they may not nominate or vote for themselves when it comes to appointment to the career technical board. This is because there is a monetary benefit associated with doing so, and the Ohio Ethics Commission has issued an informal opinion on this issue.

The law on appointments to a CTC school board provides for three-year terms of office, with the member boards of education making appointments at their organizational meetings to the CTC board, if there is a need for a new appointment. Appointments may be board members on the local member board or may be someone “who has experience or knowledge regarding the labor needs of the state and region with an understanding of the skills, training, and education needed for current and future employment opportunities in the state.” (R.C. 3311.19) Preference may be given to individuals who have served as members on a joint vocational school business advisory committee.

For the appointment to the career technical board, an affirmative vote of a majority of the full board is required. Terms of office for these appointments are usually for three (3) years, except when CTC member districts are even-numbered and the plan filed with ODE provides for a additional member to be appointed from the member districts on a rotating basis. Those additional rotating member’s terms are for one year. The CTC plan filed with the Ohio Department of Education will control on this issue.

New board members should receive a copy of the CTC plan document. The organizational meeting is a good time to refresh everyone on any particular provisions of the CTC plan with regard to appointing vacancies or other governance issues as part of onboarding training.

Once the organizational meeting convenes, the CTC board must do the actual organizational business of electing a president and vice-president of the board. Here, members may nominate (and vote for) themselves as they are already appointed to the CTC board.

A second is not required on a motion to nominate someone for board president or vice-president unless the district has a local rule requiring it. Seconding a motion to nominate someone is sometimes done ceremonially as well, but it is not required. The votes to appoint a president and vice-president require an affirmative votes of a majority of the full board, so it may necessary to caucus until such a majority may be obtained.

Questions have arisen regarding a situation when a CTC board member who is appointed from the local board loses their local board of education election, and whether those members may continue in their terms. Generally, once the appointment is made, that member may continue on in their three-year term of office on the CTC.

Other organizational business includes setting regular meetings for the year. All meetings set at the organizational meeting are regular meetings of the board, and there may be more than one regular meeting a month. Board of education are required to meet only once every two months by law. (R.C. 3313.15). CTC boards may also utilize special and emergency meetings.

If you have questions about the organizational meeting, its regular business, appointments or the Sunshine law and how it applies to your CTC, please contact your EB counsel.










































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Keeping Transportation Between the Dotted Lines

Keeping Transportation Between the Dotted Lines


School transportation is a significant part of every district’s services, but also has the potential to become a major source of trouble when we lose focus on the details, including regulations and requirements. That can result in the bus(es) drifting out of their lanes and heading for a significant crash! And now, to make it more difficult, it seems that lawmakers and state agencies are making the lanes narrower and paying more attention to our mistakes than our successes. Should we be worried? And if so, about what?

To set the stage for answering these questions, ask yourself the following:
• Do you have an experienced transportation administrator who is now spending more time driving a bus to cover missing drivers than overseeing the transportation operation?
• Do you have a new transportation administrator who is a great manager, but who has no background in school transportation?
• Are you new as a superintendent in a district, and do not yet have a good sense of how efficiently and/or effectively the transportation department is operating, and if it is following all the rules (including the new ones)?
• Has transportation been a quiet department in your district, and do you subscribe to the theory that if it’s not been a problem, don’t poke the bear?

What could possibly go wrong? We can look at a few of the more common issues that arise.

Shortage of drivers: On the face of it, we could easily say this is an HR problem, and recruiting has fallen behind the needs of the district. Driver recruitment should be an ongoing process. However, when the transportation director is busy driving and managing day-to-day operations, he/she has little time to work with HR to develop effective a recruiting campaign. It is easy to get behind the curve and end up short-staffed. To complicate matters, requirements for driver qualifications and training are formidable. There are many hours of training and classes, background checks, drug and alcohol checks, driving record checks, medical qualifications, commercial driver licensing and extensive state and federal oversight. Even when you find the right driver candidates, you have to make certain they satisfy all the qualifications and allow them to drive a bus only after you have satisfied the state regulators that your “ready and willing” candidates have met all the qualifications. Just putting someone behind the wheel because you need a driver, without having met state requirements, is not a solution.

Buses and vans: Sounds simple . . . run a vehicle until it wears out, then buy a new one to replace it. Whether it is a bus or a van, the same practice should work just fine. After all, that has worked just fine for our personal vehicles for decades.
Focusing on just buses for a moment, how do we really know when a bus is at the end of its serviceable life? There comes a point where it is more costly to repair a vehicle than to replace it. Did you also know the state patrol inspects school buses twice every year, and ultimately decides if you are allowed to use it or not? They may place a perfectly sound bus out-of-service for an inspection failure, or they may tell you that they will no longer inspect or pass a bus due to age and condition. To complicate this further, to purchase a new bus you are required to comply with state bidding procedures, purchase only vehicles that meet state and federal requirements, and place an order with a dealer that may not be filled for 18-24 months.

With vans, it should be easier, but many will tell you it is equally as complicated. There are state and federal regulations that limit options for passenger occupancy in vehicles other than school buses. If you go to the car dealer and ask for a passenger vehicle (van) for pupil transportation, they will jump at the opportunity and sell you anything with seats in it. For the most part, dealers are ignorant of the federal and state regulations on vehicle size and seating. Sometimes we have other staff in the district that mean well . . . and go out and purchase a vehicle only to find out afterwards that the vehicle is not legal for pupil transportation.

Compliance regulations: In recent years the state (both legislators and state agencies) has adopted a firmer stance with regard to compliance with regulations. This also comes at a time when new regulations are being enacted and the lanes we drive in, so to speak, are getting narrower. Some of the regulations have been in place for decades and were enacted with pupil safety as a goal. Other regulations have been adopted to correct perceived slights and inequalities in the actual services being provided. The fact of the matter is that most regulations require more resources, at a time when the availability of drivers and buses is lower than ever.

What is an administrator to do?

District administrators and school boards have many responsibilities and obligations. Having an in-depth knowledge of everything within their scope of oversight is not practical. We rely on other staff in the chain of command to keep the district off thin ice and fully compliant in all areas of school district operations. That said, when you are trying to do more with less, it is easy to overlook something.
The starting point to moving forward is an accurate assessment of what you currently have in place. You can do this yourself, hoping that you know all the regulations and best practices, or you can engage an objective, experienced transportation professional. Ennis Britton Consulting Group has a tool to provide you with this assistance. Transportation Consultant Pete Japikse has developed a ‘transportation health check” based on over 40 years of experience and knowledge of rules, regulations and best practices in transportation. This health check looks at all aspects of your transportation operation. The outcome of this transportation health check is a report identifying the areas where the District is doing well, areas where attention should be focused, and areas where transportation operations may be “getting by” but improvements may be needed. This management tool will provide you with concrete and specific input, enabling you to develop a roadmap to success, and to stay inside of the lanes as you move forward.