You know from our previous post regarding recent legislation in Illinois, we have had our eye on House Bill 3586, which has been awaiting the Governor’s signature since June. Well, the time has come; Governor Pritzker signed the law on Friday (PA 101-0515). And there were no amendments to the law to address some of the areas of confusion that were identified after the bill was passed by the legislature. The amendments to the Children with Disabilities article of the School Code brought by the law are immediately in effect, although revisions may be on the horizon during the veto session. For now, special education professionals should promptly implement the significant procedural requirements under the law. We will keep you posted regarding any changes or guidance from ISBE that may impact the implementation of the law, but for now, make plans to meet the following requirements.

IEP Meetings

The amendments in the law require all Illinois districts to provide parents/guardians with copies of all written material that will be reviewed at the IEP meeting no later than 3 school days prior to the meeting. Written material must include all evaluations and collected data that will be reviewed at the meeting and (except at initial eligibility meetings) a copy of all IEP components that will be discussed (not including service minutes and placement). While providing reports, data, and drafts prior to an IEP meeting has always been best practice to facilitate parent participation and meaningful discussion at the meeting, in reality busy schedules and the coordination of multiple team members can make this new requirement a challenge. Start planning for meetings early and consider calendaring the due date for documents to be sent home. Hopefully this practice will make the actual meeting more productive and maybe even quicker. Make sure to mark documents draft and be open to changes at the meeting to avoid claims of predetermination.

Related Service Logs

The new law also requires all Illinois districts to make related service logs available to parents at IEP meetings and upon request. Districts must notify parents/guardians within 20 days of the beginning of the school year or upon establishment of an IEP of their ability to request related service logs. Consider creating a log template so that providers keep consistent records.

Compensatory Services

If a student’s IEP services are not implemented within 10 school days after the date or frequency provided for in the IEP, the district must notify the parent/guardian in writing within 3 school days. The notice must also inform parents/guardians of their ability to request compensatory services.

Response to Scientific, Research-Based Intervention

The new law also requires all Illinois districts to use response to scientific, research-based interventions or multi-tiered systems of support as part of the special education evaluation process to determine if a student is eligible for services due to a specific learning disability. This requirement is not new and does not limit the district in conducting other assessments as part of an evaluation. The new law also allows districts to utilize RTI or MTSS data when determining eligibility for any category of disability. Parents/guardians must be involved in the RTI or MTSS data sharing and decision-making process. Parent participation in this intervention (pre-eligibility and pre-evaluation) stage of the process may be new for many districts. The law provides that ISBE may provide guidance and resources to districts on how to implement this process. In the meantime, start planning for how your RTI or MTSS process may be revised to include parent participation.

Chicago Public Schools

The new law requires CPS to publish and allow for comment on any proposed changes to policies, directives, guidelines, or procedures that impact special education. CPS must make its special education procedural manual and any additional guidance documents regarding special education available in print and on the district’s website, in both English and Spanish. Prior to an IEP meeting, CPS must provide parents 10 calendar days’ notice of data needed to make particular decisions and whether that data has been collected.

With so many legislative changes happening, it’s important to stay on top of the changes and what they mean for your schools. For those of you subscribed to receive Franczek’s K-12 Education newsletters (and you all are, right?! If not, get on over there and sign up!), you will be receiving our annual, comprehensive summary of all new Illinois education legislation soon. Stay tuned!