ISBE has proposed amendments to the current rules regarding special education. These amendments generally track recent changes in the School Code, including

  • PA 101-0643: Changes related to RTI and MTSS, providing written materials 3 school days prior to IEP meetings, related services logs, and providing notice of missed services. We previously covered this legislation with an overview and tips for implementation. The legislation was effective June 18, 2020.
  • PA 101-0164: Revisions to the process for a school district to withdraw from a special education joint agreement. This legislation was effective July 26, 2019.
  • PA 100-0465: As part of the Evidence Based Funding for Student Success Act, changes related to personnel reimbursement. These changes were effective August 31, 2017.

The proposed amendments to the rules also include clarification of multiple definitions. While most of the changes are “clean up,” we thought you might be interested in a few curious provisions: the definition of the term “school day” and the use of RTI and MTSS as part of the evaluation process.

School Day. The proposed changes include new definitions to clarify how to calculate deadlines counted in days, business days, and school days. Specifically, a “business day” means Monday through Friday, except federal and State holidays; a “day” means calendar day; and a “school day” means any day, including partial days, that children are in attendance at school for instructional purposes. The inclusion of the qualifier that “children are in attendance at school” in the definition of school day potentially creates confusion about whether remote learning days count as school days. We have all been counting remote learning days as school days, pursuant to prior ISBE guidance (FAQ 5, explaining that Act of God Days are not school days but remote learning days are). While we doubt ISBE intended to change the treatment of remote learning days, this new definition may muddy the water.

RTI and MTSS. The regulations have, for several years, required the use of RTI as part of the evaluation process for students suspected of having a specific learning disability. Legislation passed in August 2019 codified that requirement. That law also provided that districts could use RTI and MTSS as part of the evaluation process for other disabilities. Then in December 2019, the legislation was revised to state that districts “may” rather than “shall” use RTI or MTSS as part of the evaluation process for SLD (though the regulations continued to require it). And in June 2020, new legislation deleted the provision altogether. When ISBE first proposed revisions to its rules on this topic, the proposal made the use of RTI or MTSS as part of the SLD evaluation process permissive rather than mandatory. But in the current version of the proposed rules before JCAR, the process is mandatory again. Confused yet? Despite this back and forth, we expect the use of RTI and MTSS as part of the evaluation process for SLD to remain in effect, and districts should continue implementing it.

For questions related to these updates or for any special education law questions, please contact our Franczek special education team.