Credentialing

1. I’ve heard a rumor from our district office about special education teachers needing more credentials or classes to be qualified to teach autistic kids, maybe more severely impaired. Will we be required to pursue classes to update our credentials? (2010 Spring)

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has approved six new add-on teaching authorizations, including one for teaching students with autism spectrum disorders. The new authorizations can be added to an existing special education teaching credential to expand the scope of instruction for current teachers.

At the CARS+ conference (February 2010), CARS+ members were told that each district/SELPA will determine the requirements of the special educators in their area.

For more information contact your local district/SELPA or go to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing website to view their Powerpoint on this issue: http://www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/webcast-files/2009-11-04-powerpoint.ppt#327,1. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing can also be reached at 1-888-921-2682.

2. When do the new credentials take effect? (2009 Summer)

December 31, 2010 or the day prior to the *date* identified on the Plan to Transition, whichever is first. The last date to accept a candidate into a currently approved special education Level I program is January 31, 2013 or the *date* identified on the Plan to Transition plus 2 years, whichever is first.

3. Why do special educators need CLAD? (2009 Summer)

CLAD authorization is required by the state and enforced by county offices of education for ALL certificated teachers.

4. What are the current CLAD requirements? (2009 Summer)

Since Proposition 227, financed by Ron Uhns, passed into law, bilingual education has all but ended in California.  Since then, SB 1969 and SDAIE training options have sunsetted and are no longer available to teachers. This training is required by the state and enforced by county offices of education.  New teachers have the CLAD built into their credential programs, but what do veteran teachers without the CLAD do?

5. What was the cut-off date on CLAD certification? (2009 Summer)

Assembly Bill (AB) 1871 was signed by the Governor on September 30, 2008, providing that effective July 1, 2009, the Commission ceases the issuance of CLAD Certificates and instead issues English Learner Authorizations. This will result in the issuance of an “added authorization” to at least one existing prerequisite document, in lieu of the issuance of a separate certificate. The authorization will cover classes authorized by any other valid, non-emergency credentials held, regardless of under which prerequisite document the applicant chooses to place the authorization. The requirements to earn the English learner authorization have been expanded, providing an additional option to qualify, by allowing for the combination of exams and course work, if equivalency has been determined by a Commission-approved program (this option became effective March 26, 2009).  (CL-628C  4/09)

Check with your county office to determine which is the best option for you.

Assessment/SST

1. Can parents make a request for assessment without going through a SST? (2010 Spring)

Yes. The following 2 code sections define referral California Code of Regulations (CCR) 3021 and Education Code (EC) 56303.

CCR 3021: Referral.

(a) All referrals for special education and related services shall initiate the assessment process and shall be documented. When a verbal referral is made, staff of the school district, special education local plan area, or county office shall offer assistance to the individual in making a request in writing, and hall assist the individual if the individual requests such assistance.

(b) All school staff referrals shall be written and include:

(1) A brief reason for the referral.

(2) Documentation of the resources of the regular education program that have been considered, modified, and when appropriate, the results of intervention. This documentation shall not delay the time-lines for completing the assessment plan or assessment.

Note: Authority cited: Section 56100(a), (i) and (j), Education Code; Reference: Sections 56300-56303, Education Code; and 34 CFR 300.128 and 300.220.

EC56303: A pupil shall be referred for special educational instruction and services only after the resources of the regular education program have been considered and, where appropriate, utilized.

Discussion: As noted above, documentation of services provided by general education is required. However, this documentation can be done at the same time as the request for assessment. It states clearly that the documentation “shall not delay” the timelines for completing the assessment plan or assessment.

Suggestion: If a parent requests an assessment, hold the SST at the same time as the assessment planning meeting.  Discuss interventions that have already been tried and develop an action plan for the next 60 days so that the team will have documentation about the effectiveness of the general education interventions. In documenting the student’s classroom performance, the data may show that the student is performing within the classroom expectations and performance range. There are also cases that show that focused general education intervention makes a difference and special education services are not necessary.

2.  (Elementary) I have always had 1 hour a day for testing, collaboration, writing IEPS, etc. but I have been told I will only get what general education teachers get, which is 1 hour a week. Is this common practice? Is this legal?

     (Secondary) This year we are told we have no testing period. Is this legal? (2008 Fall)

This is happening more often as budgets in school districts decrease. It is legal but you are required to assess students as part of your job (Education Codes 56320(3) and 56322). Testing must be done when students are at school, during your school day. Collaboration and writing IEPs fall under your duties (Education Code 56362) and are critical to your students’ success. Meet with your administrator to educate them as to the specific requirements of your job.

If, after you have met with your administrator, you are still not being given sufficient time to perform your duties, contact your local bargaining unit for assistance. Your concerns should be covered under “working conditions” in your contract.

3. What can we do about the loss of the testing time for special education teachers? (2009 Winter)

Time for testing has been diminished at many elementary and secondary sites. There is no law that states you must have testing time although it is part of your job. Here are some of the solutions CARS+ members have offered.

1) Advocate for a qualified teacher to do only assessment. If your site is large it can be one of the special education teachers whose only role is to do the assessments. However, even if one teacher does the assessments the students need to be shared between all special education teachers’ caseloads. This is important so that the caseloads are not exceeded. If you are at a small site it might be possible for the district to hire someone who can assess at all schools in the district. This will free your time to do the other parts of your job.

2) Ask school site administration or district special education office for a sub one or two days a month so that you can test or ask for additional monies from the school site council to hire a permanent sub one or two days a month so that you can test special education students and screen at-risk students.

3) Set a schedule that allows you to do all parts of your job.

Here are some examples:

* A special educator can work in general education classes 4 days a week and leave the 5th day for testing, IEP meetings and collaboration.

* At a large school each Resource Specialist can use a different day for testing, collaboration and IEP meetings to minimize the conflicts for needed resources. Even at the secondary level where you are teaching one or two classes, the time spent in the general education classroom could be 4 days a week. Your aide can provide the fifth day to students in a general education class if the additional assistance is needed. Secondary examples are shown below. The actual period of course does not matter.

Period 1 Class you are teaching

Period 2 Inclusion class for Eng 11 and geometry

Period 3 Inclusion class for Eng 12 and algebra

Period 4 Conference or prep period

Period 5 Inclusion class for Eng 9 and Eng 10

Period 6 Class you are teaching

Between you and your aide there could be time for testing, collaboration and IEP meetings. Simply substitute math 6, 7 and 8 (algebra) and Eng 6, 7, and 8 for the middle school.

* Another example is to spend 3 weeks of the month in general education classes and use the 4th week for testing, meetings and collaboration.

Highly Qualified

1. I still have questions about whether or not I am highly qualified to teach in the areas I have been assigned this year. How can I get more information? (2009 Winter)

For frequently asked questions about highly qualified status go to cde/ca/gov/nclb/sr/tq/nclbspecedfaq.asp. This site clearly outlines what is required and addresses “flexibility for some special education teachers” who are “new” to the field.

For information about teaching students with autism, AB2302 (Bass) Chapter 41 Statutes of 2008 was signed by the Governor on June 30, 2008. It allows teachers with Mild Moderate or LH/SH credentials to teach students with autism if  the teacher consents to the assignment and  (1) the teacher has provided instruction for students with autism for one year prior to September 1, 2007 and received a favorable evaluation or recommendation to teach students with autism from the local educational agency or school or  (2) the teacher has completed a minimum of  3 semester units of coursework in the field of autism.

Job Assignment

1. At my school, the RS is assigned 60% Special Education and 40% intervention specialist. Is this legal? If it is, is the position determined by the amount of time or number of students? Is there a caseload? (2010 Summer) (2009 Fall)

Yes. The following is taken directly from Service Delivery for Students with Disabilities, CDE, March 27, 2009:

Ø Special Education teachers must have the appropriate credentials to provide instruction to both students with an IEP and those students without IEPs.

Ø Teachers must be highly qualified – Special Education teachers providing instruction in the core academic subjects must meet the same “highly qualified” requirements and personnel qualifications described in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) laws and regulations (EC Section 56058). For the full text of EC Section 56058, go to the CDE Laws & Regulations: A Composite of Laws Database at www3.scoe.net/ speced/laws_search/searchLaws.cfm (Outside Source) and enter 56058 for the Keyword.

Ø If personnel costs are shared across Special Education and non-Special Education funding sources in a prorated manner based on instructional time, the pro-rated costs must be in accordance with federal funding requirements.

Ø Funds apportioned to the SELPAs are to assist local educational agencies to provide Special Education and related services to individuals with exceptional needs and shall be expended exclusively for programs under this part (EC Section 56836.04).

Ø Federal funds available through Part B of the IDEA are appropriated through the annual Budget Act and shall only be used for the excess costs of providing Special Education and related services to individuals with exceptional needs. The federal funds are to supplement state, local, and other federal funds and not to supplant those funds (EC Section 56841).

Ø For example, a full-time RSP teacher operating within the required caseload limit of 28, might implement 14 IEPs (one-half of the maximum caseload of 28) and provide instruction in reading as 50% of the position. Special Education funding could be used for the 50% of the Special Education RSP teacher in implementing IEPs and other funding sources could fund the position for the remaining percent. The remaining 14 IEPs must also be implemented by qualified staff.

Ø In the above example, Special Education funds could only be used for the RSP teacher to fund 50% of the position that delivers Special Education and related services. In this case, the Special Education teacher is assigned half-time to Special Education and half-time for instruction to students without IEPs. There is no funding supplanting and the LEA is compliant regarding assignments.

Eligibility

1. Our district mandates that we can only use the discrepancy model when qualifying a student for special education. We are not allowed to demonstrate a discrepancy between ability and achievement through multiple measures such as: information provided by parent, information provided by present teacher and observations of classroom performance such as work samples, test score and behavioral observations. Is this legal? (2010 Spring)

No, this is not legal.

According to the Code of Regulations (CCR) 3030, if standardized tests do not reveal a discrepancy, a team “may” define discrepancy in the following manner.

CCR 3030 (C) If the standardized tests do not reveal a severe discrepancy as defined in subparagraphs (A) or (B) above, the individualized education program team may find that a severe discrepancy does exist, provided that the team documents in a written report that the severe discrepancy between ability and achievement exists as a result of a disorder in one or more basic psychological processes. The report shall include a statement of the area, the degree, and the basis and method used in determining the discrepancy. The report shall contain information considered by the team which shall include, but not be limited to:
1. Data obtained from standardized assessment instruments;
2. Information provided by the parent;
3. Information provided by the pupil’s present teacher;
4. Evidence of the pupil’s performance in the regular and/or special education classroom obtained from observations, work samples, and group test scores;
5. Consideration of the pupil’s age, particularly for young children; and
6. Any additional relevant information.

(5) The discrepancy shall not be primarily the result of limited school experience or poor school attendance.

[Authority cited: Statutes of 1981, Chapter 1094, Section 25(a); and Section 56100(a), (g), (i), Education Code] [Reference: 20 U.S.C. 1401(a)(15) and 1412(5); 34 CFR 300.5(b)(7) and (9), 300.532(a) (2), (d) and (e), 300.533, 300.540, 300.541-43; and Sections 56026, 56320, 56333, and 56337, Education Code]

Considerations:

The language says that the team “may” find a student eligible for special education using an alternate definition of discrepancy. However, it does not say it “must”. This choice of language makes it confusing for many people.

The bottom line: You must follow the directions of your district so as to not be insubordinate. But this does not mean you have to stop here.

1. Ask your district and/or SELPA for a copy of the policy for qualification of services.

2. Write a letter to your supervisor and make sure you include the following:

a) Concerns: can relate to a specific student, fear of a lawsuit, inequity of who qualifies for special education.

b) Make it clear you want to work to resolve the concern.

c) Ask for a written response within 2 weeks.

d) Include a copy of CCR 3030.

3. If you do not hear back from your supervisor, consult with the entire IEP team (including the parents). Give all members a copy of CCR 3030 and send another letter of concern to your supervisor from the whole team. Again request a written response within 2 weeks.

4. If you still get no response, CARS+ suggests that you begin to climb the administrative ladder. Send the above information to your special education director. If your concern is not resolved, send it to the SELPA director. If the concern is still not resolved, the letters would be directed to the district superintendent and then finally to the California Department of Education, complaints division. The easiest way to file a complaint is to call 1-800-926-0648.

** Note: If you get to step #4 you may want to contact your CARS+ Region Director for assistance in these processes.

2. Can a student who is eligible under speech and language impairment receive services from a resource specialist?  (2009 Winter)

If the student is designated as a student needing special education services they are entitled to whatever services are necessary to provide them with a free appropriate education.

If a student has difficulty accessing the general education curriculum because of his/her language difficulties support from a resource specialist may be appropriate. This is an IEP team decision.

3. In the winter 2009 newsletter we said in our Q and A that a child eligible for special education services under speech and language disorder could access the resource specialist program if appropriate. Where does it say this in ed. code? (2009 Summer)

When a student qualifies for special education, goals are written to meet his/her needs. Once these goals are written the IEP team determines which special education services and/or related services are necessary to implement the goals. In considering program options, the IEP team must consider the least restrictive environment for the student.

Most of the time a student with speech and language goals receives DIS services from a speech and language pathologist. However, there are times when the severity of the language disability significantly impacts the student’s ability to access the core curriculum. At this time, other program options may be considered by the team.

Education Code 56360 and 56361 support our response. Education Code 56360 stipulates that all special education local planning areas must have a continuum of program options available to meet the needs of individual’s with exceptional needs. Education Code 56361 states that the continuum includes general education, resource specialist program, DIS services, special classes, etc. It also states that it includes any combination of the listed options.

Case Manager

1. Is it legal for district to change case carriers/managers after an IEP is done? For example one special education teacher does all the testing but then once the student qualifies for services he/she is served by another specialist? (2009 Winter)

Yes this is legal. Best practice is to have the person who has done the testing provide the services but because of caseload limits and scheduling issues this may not be possible.

Service Delivery

* Service Delivery for students with disabilities – March 27. 2009, Jack O’Connell (see addendum)

1. I have always been a Resource Specialist but now my district calls me an Instructional Support Teacher. I am told that with this new title I no longer have a caseload. Is this true? (2008 Fall)

         It depends on your new role. If your new job description corresponds with the duties and responsibilities of a “resource specialist or specialist” caseload limits would apply. Ed. Code 56362(a) delineates the job responsibilities. For a complete description see the summer 2007 issue of the CARS+ newsletter or Google the education code itself.

However, if your new job description does not correspond with the duties and responsibilities of a “resource specialist or specialist” caseload limits may not apply.

2. This year all of my special education students are “fully included”. So what is my role now? (2008 Fall)

         Your job description is still Ed. Code 56362(a-f). Your new role is under the consultative or collaborative model, where you are providing services within the general education setting. In the consultative model instruction is done by the general education teacher with the special educator providing resources. In the collaborative model the general education teacher provides the core instruction and the special educator may provide some instruction. For a more complete description of your roles see the fall 2007 issue of the CARS+ newsletter.

In either role you are the advocate for special education students. Any change in service delivery should be made to meet the needs of the special education students at your site. The change should ensure that all IEPs can be fully implemented.

3. My principal says that all Special Education services will be provided in general education classrooms. Is this legal? (2009 Fall) (2010 Summer)

No. The principal is only one person on the IEP team. The IEP team makes the decision about which services students will receive. “Each meeting to develop, review or revise the individualized education program of an individual with exceptional needs shall be conducted by an individualized education program team.” (Ed. Code 56341 (a)).

4. I am a Resource Specialist and RtI has been fully implemented at my school. My entire day is spent teaching from the moment academics begin until the end of the day. When I have yard duty my only break is lunch. With meetings many days before and after school, I am feeling overwhelmed. I feel like I cannot do my job. What are my responsibilities and how do I gain back the time I need to perform the duties of my job? (2009 Winter)

Education Code 56362 clearly outlines the duties of the resource specialist/specialist. The following is a summary of these responsibilities:

* Provide instruction and services for students with an IEP who are in general education for the majority of the day

* Provide information and assistance to the students with IEPs and their parents

* Provide consultation, materials and information related to students with disabilities to general education

* Coordination of services listed in IEP

* Monitoring student progress

* At the secondary level develop a transition plan in preparation for adult life

If you are unable to implement the IEPs of the student on your caseload it is important that you begin to document this problem. First complete “The Simple One-Page Look at Your Entire Caseload” on page 22 of this newsletter. This will assist you in determining on a regular basis if you are able to implement your students’ IEPs appropriately. Failure to implement IEPs is one of the most non-compliant areas in California and is one of the issues that special educators struggle with every year. Each year you are asked to do more and are given less time to do it. Evaluating whether or not your students’ IEPs are being implemented appropriately is a critical part of your job.

Once you have completed this template and determined that you cannot meet your students’ IEPs write a letter to your administrator explaining the problem. Ask for assistance in changing the situation. It is also very helpful if you include suggestions that will allow you to implement the IEPs appropriately. If you are not successful at this level, present documentation to the special education director or assistant superintendent of your district. If you are still unable to resolve the issue contact your bargaining unit for help or contact the California Department of Education and file a complaint.

5. Can RSP, SDC, mild/moderate and moderate/severe be served together? (2009 Fall)

Special education is a service, not a place. The continuum of program options must be available for all students (Ed Code 56360). The IEP determines the needs of the students and decides on the appropriate option. Once service is decided, the district should ensure that the teacher is appropriately credentialed to meet the needs of the student. You also need to be certain that the needs of your students can be met in this model. If they cannot, documentation and communication with administration should begin immediately.

6. What if the new service delivery at my site is not working for my students? (2008 Fall)

         In the fall 2007 CARS+ newsletter we outlined the steps to take. These steps help you in documenting your concerns and the inability to fully implement students’ IEPs. See addendum.

For more information or help, please contact your region director.

Working with non-identified students

1. Can Special Educators serve non-identified students? (2010 Summer) (2009 Fall)

Yes, if the following legal requirements are met:

Ø Special Education teachers must have the appropriate credentials to provide instruction to both students with an IEP and those studentswithout IEPs. (Service Delivery for Students with Disabilities, CDE, March 27, 2009)

Ø Teachers must be highly qualified Special Education teachers providing instruction in the core academic subjects must meet the same “highly qualified” requirements and personnel qualifications described in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) laws and regulations (EC Section 56058). (Service Delivery for Students with Disabilities, CDE, March 27, 2009)

Ø All IEPs of identified students are being appropriately implemented. Failure to appropriately implement IEPs is one of the most non-compliant areas in California.

There must be clear entrance and exit criteria for non-identified students. For example, “students will be provided intervention services for 6 weeks focusing on a specific set of learning goals.”

2. Is there a law that stipulates that 20% of a resource specialist’s day can be spent working with general education students? (2008 Fall)

No.  The Ed. Code 56362 (d) explicitly states, “Resource specialists shall not simultaneously be assigned to serve as resource specialists and to teach regular classes.” However, some schools want resource specialists/specialists to provide early intervention services. In this model, part of their salary is paid with general education money. This is acceptable as long as the resource specialists/specialists have the appropriate credentials to teach general education students. An example: if the resource specialist’s position is funded 80% by special education and 20% by general education, 20% of his/her day may be used to serve non-identified students. This also impacts caseload. The caseload is no longer 28, but 80% of 28 = 22.

3. Can general education students receive instruction in special education classrooms as an intervention? (Fall 2008)

Yes, if the special education teacher is appropriately credentialed (highly qualified) to teach general education students and the IEPs of special education students can be fully implemented.  Part B of IDEA ’04 specifies that 15% of special education funds can be used for pre-referral activities. One example of pre-referral activities could be the Tier 3 level (intensive, individual interventions) of an RTI model.

4. As a special educator can I teach the site intervention programs—for example: Language! or Reach? (Fall 2008)

Yes, if you are appropriately credentialed to teach general education students and the IEPs of the special education students on your caseload can be fully implemented.

5. If a RSP program has one general education student in the room does this make all the resource students 100% general education? (2009 Winter)

IDEA law and regulations, plus state law and regulations do not use the term mainstreaming or inclusion .  Rather, Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is the legal term.  LRE is individually determined by the IEP team for a eligible student with a disability. It is expected that students with IEPs will have access and make progress in the general education curriculum. LRE is a term related to the student with the IEP and not the non-identified student(s).  Placing a non-identified student (general education) in an RSP room does not make the RSP program 100% general education.

CARS+ would also be concerned that the RSP teacher may be assigned to teach both identified and non-identified students. A Resource Specialist cannot be simultaneously assigned to serve as a resource specialist and as a regular class teacher.

6. If a general education student is in a special day class (SDC) room for language arts does this count as mainstreaming for the SDC student’s? (2009 Winter)

As stated in question #10, placing a non identified student (general education) in a SDC setting does not provide LRE for special day class students.

7. Can general education students receive special education services without an IEP? (2009 Fall)

This question has no easy answer. There is a great deal of debate on whether or not this can happen. Even the most recent information on RTI from the California Department of Education (2009) does not clearly answer the question. CARS+ will continue to ask the California Department of Education for further clarification on this issue.

IDEA 300.300

 (a) Parental consent for initial evaluation. (1)(i) The public agency proposing to conduct an initial evaluation to determine if a child qualifies as a child with a disability must obtain informed consent from the parent of the child before conducting the evaluation.(ii) Parental consent for initial evaluation must not be construed as consent for initial provision of special education and related services.

(b) Parental consent for services.

(1) A public agency that is responsible for making FAPE available to a child with a disability must obtain informed consent from the parent of the child before the initial provision of special education and related services to the child.

At this time there are 3 scenarios that are very common in California:

* First, some school site plans state that special educators only serve students with IEPs. These schools see RTI/intervention as a general education responsibility. This approach is acceptable to CARS+.

* Second, other school site plans state that special education personnel can serve non-identified students as part of their RTI/intervention model if the special education personnel agree with the model, can fully implement the IEPs already on their caseload, and parents are informed. This approach is acceptable to CARS+ if the special education personnel are truly part of the process and agree to the plan.

* Third, and unfortunately the most frequently used, are schools that use special education personnel to serve both identified and non-identified students without any agreement from personnel or specified plan about how the model will work.  CARS+ is strongly against this approach and will continue to work with the CDE to eliminate this model.

RTI (Response to Intervention)

* CARS+ guidelines for multi-tier (RTI) models (see addendum) (2007 Summer)

* Response to Intervention – Superintendent Jack O’Connell: November 14, 2008 and March 17, 2009 (see addendum)

1. Can special educators serve non-identified students in an RTI /intervention program? (2009 Fall) (2010 Summer)

Yes, if the following legal requirements are met:

* Special education teachers must have the appropriate credentials to provide instruction to both students with an IEP and those students without IEPs. (Service Delivery for Students with Disabilities, CDE, March 27, 2009)

* Teachers must be highly qualified – Special education teachers providing instruction in the core academic subjects must meet the same “highly qualified” requirements and personnel qualifications described in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) laws and regulations (EC Section 56058). (Service Delivery for Students with Disabilities, CDE, March 27, 2009)

* All IEPs of identified students are being fully implemented. Failure to appropriately implement IEPs is one of the most non-compliant areas in California.

There must be clear entrance and exit criteria for non-identified students. For example, “students will be provided intervention services for 6 weeks focusing on a specific set of learning goals.”

2. When a resource specialist/specialist is told that he/she is the RTI2 person for the school, what documents, links, information can be used to support Education Code 56362.1 (maintaining caseloads for resource specialists)? (2010 Spring)

Despite the frequent use of education code 56362, a reference to 56362.1 is almost never made.  Education code 56362.1 defines the term caseload for Section 56362.  The definition in 56362.1 is that the caseload shall include, but not be limited to, all pupils for whom the resource specialist performs any of the services described in subdivision (a) of Section 56362.  That subdivision describes instructing, consulting, coordinating and monitoring students whose needs have been identified on an IEP.

RtI is a function of general education.  This has been enumerated in many documents published by CDE and others.  In the letter on RTI from State Superintendent Jack O’Connell, Response to Intervention Squared(RtI2) is described as  “emerging nationally as an effective strategy to support every student (http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/el/le/yr08ltr1114.asp). The California Department of Education (CDE) is squaring the term RTI to Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2) to define a general education approach of high quality instruction, early intervention, and prevention and behavioral strategies.”  He further states “that implementation of RTI2 in general education reduces the disproportionate representation of certain groups of students identified as needing special education services.”  His letter on Service Delivery Models dated March 27, 2009 (see the service delivery model page on our website) delineates the statement in education code 56362 that an RSP teacher cannot be simultaneously assigned to serve as a resource specialist and as a regular class teacher.  He further states that “The RSP caseload cannot exceed 28 students who have IEPs.”

An IDEA Q&A document regarding Response to Intervention (RTI) and Early Intervening Services (EIS) discusses the fact that students with disabilities can have access to RTI services. “There is nothing in IDEA that prohibits children with disabilities who are receiving special education and related services under IDEA from receiving instruction using RTI strategies unless the use of such strategies is inconsistent with their individualized education programs (IEPs).”  Its only concern was that the 15% EIS funds could not be used because the student had already been identified.  See also page 22 of our Winter 2009 newsletter and page 5 of our Summer 2008 newsletter for additional information.

If a special educator is asked to teach general education students as part of their service delivery, and it doesn’t compromise their ability to meet the IEPs of their students, but it does exceed their caseload, a special educator can choose to do this as a personal choice, but the law (Sec. 56362.1) does not support this.  If it does compromise the ability of the special educator to meet the needs of their students, there is no law requiring them to do so.  At this point, contacting CDE through a complaint or working with your union to resolve this is suggested.

CARS+ is aware of the significant changes in service delivery throughout the state. CARS+ is also aware of the negative impact on students and teachers. We will continue to work with the California Department of Education, legislators and the Commission of Special Education to try and resolve these issues.

3. I am have been told that as a resource specialist I must teach 3 periods a day of intensive instruction to general education students as part of our school’s RTI program. Is this legal? (2010 Fall)

         YES “if personnel costs are shared across special education and non-special education funding sources in a pro-rated manner based on instructional time. The pro-rated costs must be in accordance with federal funding requirements.”

“For  example, a full time RSP teacher operating within the required caseload limit of 28, might implement 14 IEPS (one-half of the maximum caseload of 28) and provide instruction in reading as 50 percent of the position. Special education funding could be used for the 50% of the special education RSP teacher in implementing IEPs and the other funding sources could fund the position for the remaining percent. The remaining 14 IEPs must also be implemented by qualified staff.”

“In the above example, special education funds could only be used for the RSP teacher to fund 50% of the position that delivers special education and related services. In this case, the special education teacher is assigned half-time to special education and half-time for instruction to students without IEPs. There is no funding supplanting and the LEA is compliant regarding assignments.”

If this is not the case, the answer is NO. Education Code  56362(d) states that “resource specialists shall not simultaneously be assigned to serve as resource specialists and to teach regular classes.”

Caseload/Class size 

1. I am a new special education teacher in an RTI/Learning Center Model. What is my caseload? (2008 Fall)

If you are serving students in an RTI/Learning Center Model, this implies that you are serving both non-identified (RTI) and identified students (Learning Center). CARS+ believes that the non-identified students should count as part of your caseload. If they don’t count as part of your caseload, it will be very difficult for you to fully implement the IEPs of the identified students.

In this model, if your new job description corresponds with the duties and responsibilities of a “resource specialist or specialist” caseload limits would apply.  Ed. Code 56362(a) delineates the job responsibilities. For a complete description see the summer 2007 issue of the CARS+ newsletter or “Google” the education code itself.

However, if your new job description does not correspond with the duties and responsibilities of a “resource specialist or specialist,” caseload limits may not apply. If this is the case, CARS+ recommends working with your local bargaining unit to get caseload language for this new model. Remember, caseload is essential so students can receive appropriate instruction and IEPs can be fully implemented.

2. The trend in my district is to cut RSP positions to half time and then expand services so that every ½ time RS has 28 students. Is this legal? (2008 Fall)

NO! If a resource specialist/specialist is 50%, his/her caseload is 50%…which is 14 students. 

3. Our IEP only says “specialized academic instruction.” Is this legal? Does this eliminate the RSP caseload protection?

Yes, the IEP can say “specialized academic instruction.” This is legal. Does this eliminate the RSP caseload protection? No!

Part of the definition of the RSP is providing instruction for “pupils who are assigned to regular classroom teachers for a majority of the day.” (Ed Code56362). No matter what you are called, if you are providing service to students who are in general education for a majority of the day, you are providing RSP services. If this is the case you are still protected by the RSP caseload.          

4. What is the allowable ratio of students with IEPs and students without IEPs if you are serving both identified and nonidentified students? (2009 Fall) (2010 Summer)

It depends on the funding model and the agreement in the school’s single plan for student achievement (SPSA plan). If the Special Educator is funded 50% by Special Education and 50% by other funding sources, the caseload would be 50% of 28 and the number of non-identified students would be stated in the school plan.

5. My district says that there are no longer resource specialists. We are all SAI (specialized academic instruction) teachers. However, we have the same responsibilities as those described in Ed. Code 56362 “resource specialist program”. Because of this change in title, not job description, we are told that we no longer have caseload protection. Is this true? (2010 Fall)

NO.

If it walks like a duck and looks like a duck – it is a duck, even if your district says it is a goose.

If your job is described in Education Code 56362 the code applies to you. The code specifically states “resource specialist or specialist”. You may not be called a resource specialist but you are a “specialist” serving students who are in general education for the majority of the school day. Therefore you have the protections of the resource specialist program, including caseload.

6. In our district all resource specialists are over caseload to the district has said the SDC (special day class) teachers have to put the “over 28 students” on his/her caseload. The SDC teacher does not need to provide instruction but must manage all the IEPs and IEP meetings. Is this legal? (2010 Fall)

NO.

If you are a resource specialist and providing any of the services as described in Education Code 56362 to students on your caseload, they are on your caseload. They cannot be shifted to another caseload.

In addition, there are other serious considerations with this scenario.

First, does it make good educational sense for you to provide all services to a student and then not be present for the IEP meeting to make the critical decisions as part of a team? Second, how will the parents or guardians feel about IEP meetings that include a special educator but not the one who works directly with his/her child? Will the team be able to make good decisions without you? Third, what about confidentiality? Does the SDC teacher have the right to know about your student’s records?

It is important that you talk to you site supervisor or special education supervisor immediately to address these concerns.

7. I am a special education teacher with 28 special education students on my caseload and I also serve an additional 30 non-identified students. I cannot meet the IEPS of my special education students with this caseload. What should I do? (2010 Fall)

         Your first obligation as a special educator is to implement the IEPs of those special education students assigned to your caseload (Education Code 56040 and 5 Code of Regulations 3042). If this is not possible, you must advocate for the needs of your students in a professional manner.

Contact your immediate site supervisor and explain the situation. It is important that you bring documentation of the specific concerns you have (what IEPs or areas in IEPs that cannot be met under the current situation). If possible present a solution or suggestion for next steps.

If working with your site supervisor does not solve the problem, contact your special education supervisor. Again, it is important to use a non-confrontational manner. Be specific about your concerns and present your documentation and possible solution or next steps.

If you are still unable to solve the problem you may want to contact your local bargaining unit or CARS+ for further assistance.

Caseload Waivers

* Caseload waiver info (see addendum)

1. A resource specialist has 31 on her caseload and is being told by the administration to just be patient, the district is trying to work something out: a few students may move out or they may try to hire a part time person. Is it time for a waiver? If yes, where does the teacher get one? (2009 Winter)

Yes, it is time to request a waiver to protect the rights of the students you are providing service to. California Code of Regulations Title 5: Education 3100 states that “A school district, special education local planning area, county office of education, or any other public agency providing special education or related services may request the State Board of Education to grant a waiver of the maximum resource specialist caseload, as set forth in Education Code 56363(c), only if the waiver is necessary or beneficial either (1) to the content and implementation of a pupil’s individualized education program and does not abrogate any right provided individuals with exceptional needs by specified federal law or (2) to the agency’s compliance with specified federal law.

If you want a copy of the waiver go to the following site:

http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/wr/documents/caseloadwaiverrev.doc . The local educational agency is the one who should be initiating the process. They fill out the first several pages and the resource specialist fills out the last page. This page asks the teacher to assure the State Board of Education that they can reasonably manage the excess caseload and that all students served will receive all the services stated in their IEPs. It also asks you to say “yes” or “no” to the waiver. If you agree to the waiver it is usually approved, if you disagree it is generally denied.

Note: On the 3rd page of the caseload waiver request the local educational agency has to guarantee that you have at least 5 hours of aide time per day.

If you are having trouble getting your local educational agency to submit a waiver request work with your local bargaining unit. They can assist you in this process. Provide them with the information in this newsletter to clarify any questions they may have in assisting you.

Paraprofessionals

1. Is there a law that stipulates how many hours a paraprofessional is assigned to a special education class? (2010 Summer)

No, this is a contract issue that should be decided by the classified union in your district. The special education local plan in your area is required to stipulate the number of paraprofessionals and other classified staff for special education but there is no minimum numbers of hours per employee required. The only exception to this is the caseload waiver agreement for a resource specialist program. If the district files a caseload waiver with the State Board of Education and the resource specialist agrees to the waiver, they are guaranteed a five-hour paraprofessional each day.

2. Is there a law that states the number of paraprofessionals that can be assigned to a teacher providing specially designed academic instruction? Or is there a law that allows a minimum number of paraprofessional hours per teachers? (2009 Winter)

The answer is no to both questions. The only language that exists is Ed. Code 56362 (f) “At least 80% of the resource specialists within a local plan shall be provided with an instructional aide.” Note the words “local plan” not district and it is only 80% of the resource specialists who will have a paraprofessional and the amount of time is not indicated. This means that the time each resource program has a paraprofessional could range from a few minutes to a full day.

One of the reasons there seems to be a reduction in paraprofessional time in districts is the new IDEA “04/NCLB requirements. It has made recruitment and retention of paraprofessionals more difficult. Paraprofessionals are required to have much more schooling than in previous years and with the cost of health benefits districts are reluctant to hire at a percentage that would force them to pay for benefits. In other words,  paraprofes-sionals are being asked to have more schooling but when hired are getting less hours (less pay) so that districts don’t have to pay health benefits. This makes it very difficult for districts to retain and attract new paraprofessionals.

If this is a problem in your area CARS+ suggests you work with your local CSEA unit. This is the bargaining unit for the classified personnel in your district. Their contract will have language that designates how jobs are allocated. Maybe by working with them you can suggest language for special education paraprofessionals that will benefit students and employees.

3. Is there a law that stipulates how many hours a paraprofessional is assigned to a special education class? (2009 Summer)

No, this is a contract issue that should be decided by the classified union in your district. The special education local plan in your area is required to stipulate the number of paraprofessionals and other classified staff for special education but there is no minimum numbers of hours per employee required.

Transportation

1. Because of budget cuts my district is reducing transportation to all students, general and special education. Is this legal? (2009 Summer)

If a special education student’s IEP states that one of the services to be provided is transportation, it has to be provided. However, there are many more questions about this issue that can be clarified by the Special Education Transportation Guidelines.

Education Code 41851.2 required the State Superintendent to develop special education transportation guidelines for use by IEP teams that clarify when special education services are required. For more information go to

http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/sr/trnsprtgdlns.asp.

California Modified Assessment (CMA)

* Standardized Testing and Reporting Program  STAR@cde.ca.gov          916-445-8765

1. Can a speech only student take the California Modified Assessment? (2009 Winter)

If the student is designated as a student needing special education services they are entitled to whatever services are necessary to provide them with a free appropriate education.  Each student’s IEP team decides if a student should take the CMA and which subject(s) will be tested. It is based on the following criteria taken from the California Department of Education website.

* Previous Participation CST

The student shall have taken the California Standards Test (CST) in a previous year and scored Below Basic or Far Below Basic in the subject area being assessed by the CMA and may have taken the CST with modifications.

* Progress Based On Multiple Measures and Objective Evidence

The student’s disability has precluded the student from achieving grade-level proficiency, as demonstrated by such objective evidence as the student’s performance on the CST and other assessments that can validly document academic achievement within the year covered by the student’s IEP plan. The determination of the student’s progress must be based on multiple measurements, over a period of time that are valid for the subjects being assessed.

* Response To Appropriate Instruction

The student’s progress to date in response to appropriate grade- level instruction, including special education and related services designed to address the student’s individual needs, is such that, even if significant growth occurs, the IEP team is reasonably certain that the student will not achieve grade-level proficiency within the year covered by the student’s IEP plan.

The student who is assessed with the CMA has access to the curriculum, including instruction and materials for the grade in which the student is enrolled

The student’s IEP plan includes grade-level California content standards-based goals and support in the classroom for a subject or subjects assessed by the CMA.

The student has received special education and related services to support access to and progress in the general curriculum in which the student is enrolled

The IEP team has determined that the student will not achieve grade-level proficiency even with instructional intervention

* Parents Are Informed

Parents of the students selected to be assessed with the CMA are informed that their child’s achievement will be measured based on modified achievement standards.

Filing Complaints

1. What does it mean to file a complaint? (2009 Winter)

This information is taken directly from the California Department of Education website.

Complaint Resolution

When a complaint alleges that there has been a failure to implement a federal or state special education or disability discrimination law or regulation by a public education agency (district, SELPA, county office etc.), the complaint resolution process is available to investigate the situation. The complaint process is available for any student or group of students who, because of disability, need special education and/or related aids and services. A complaint can be filed by anyone. The complaint must be in writing and should describe the problem and include all the information needed to support the allegation or complaint.

The Procedural Safeguards Referral Service (PSRS) is available to assist and to answer questions by telephone at 1-800-926-0648 from Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. When the written complaint is received by the California Department of Education, the PSRS staff delineates the violations and forwards the package to the Complaints Management and Mediation Unit for investigation. If a violation is substantiated, corrective actions are written and the district is required to satisfy the compensatory requirements. If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, they may file a request for reconsideration with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Under most circumstances, the complaint may be resolved at the local level. Within the 60 day timeline from initial filing to the investigation report, the first ten days may be used by the local district to resolve the issues and achieve completion to the satisfaction of the complainant. Fast Track Reports require the same components as a comprehensive compliance report, except the report can be accomplished in two pages. This requires that the Fast Track responds to limited number of allegations and the evidence must clearly reflect the compliance or noncompliance of the district that can be clearly presented in the two-page format.

Additional Pay/Stipends

1. Are districts giving special education teachers additional pay/stipends for extra meetings? (2009 Winter)

         Contract language does exist in some districts that give additional pay/stipends for extra meetings and for additional credentials. One district states in their local contract that all teachers general education and special education will be reimbursed at $40 per hour for any meetings required beyond the duty day. Another district pays all teachers an additional stipend for any additional credential needed to do their job. This includes librarians, teachers who have CLAD/BCLAD and special education credentials.

To find out more contact your local bargaining unit. If your local person does not have the information ask for the contact at the state level who can help you.

 Addendum

Resource Specialist Program Education Code 56362 a-f

(a) The resource specialist program shall provide, but not be limited to, all of the following:

(1) Provision for a resource specialist or specialists who shall provide instruction and services for those pupils whose needs have been identified in an individualized education program developed by the individualized education program team and who are assigned to regular classroom teachers for a majority of a schoolday.

(2) Provision of information and assistance to individuals with exceptional needs and their parents.

(3) Provision of consultation, resource information, and material regarding individuals with exceptional needs to their parents and to regular staff members.

(4) Coordination of special education services with the regular school programs for each individual with exceptional needs enrolled in the resource specialist program.

(5) Monitoring of pupil progress on a regular basis, participation in the review and revision of individualized education programs, as appropriate, and referral of pupils who do not demonstrate appropriate progress to the individualized education program team.

(6) Emphasis at the secondary school level on academic achievement, career and vocational development, and preparation for adult life.

(b) The resource specialist program shall be under the direction of a resource specialist who is a credentialed special education teacher, or who has a clinical services credential with a special class authorization, who has had three or more years of teaching experience, including both regular and special education teaching experience, as defined by rules and regulations of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and who has demonstrated the competencies for a resource specialist, as established by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

(c) Caseloads for resource specialists shall be stated in the local policies developed pursuant to Section 56195.8 and in accordance with regulations established by the board. No resource specialist shall have a caseload which exceeds 28 pupils.

(d) Resource specialists shall not simultaneously be assigned to serve as resource specialists and to teach regular classes.

(e) Resource specialists shall not enroll a pupil for a majority of a school day without approval by the pupil’s individualized education program team.

(f) At least 80 percent of the resource specialists within a local plan shall be provided with an instructional aide.

Testing

Education Code 56320(3) Are administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel and are administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of the assessments, except that individually administered tests of intellectual or emotional functioning shall be administered by a credentialed school psychologist.

Education Code 56322 The assessment shall be conducted by persons competent to perform the assessment, as determined by the local educational agency.

* Caseload waiver information

* Service Delivery for students with disabilities – March 27. 2009, Jack O’Connell

* Response to Intervention – Superintendent Jack O’Connell: November 14, 2008 and March 17, 2009

 CARS+ guidelines for multi-tier (RTI) models (see addendum) 2007 Summer

  Other:

-Is Behavior Modification a good plan? Read about it
-Can Sp Ed students be simultaneously served in accelerated programs? Read about it
-What are the requirements for ParaEducators? Read about it