Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 22.1. Education
Chapter 13. Programs, Courses of Instruction and Textbooks
1/25/2022

§ 22.1-214.4. Certain duties of Department.

The Department shall:

1. Provide training and guidance documents to local school divisions on the development of individualized education programs (IEPs) for children with disabilities that incorporate specific examples of high-quality present level of performance descriptions, annual goals, and postsecondary transition sections.

2. Develop a required training module for each individual who participates in an IEP meeting that comprehensively addresses and explains in detail (i) each IEP team member's respective role in the IEP meeting, (ii) the IEP development process, and (iii) components of effective IEPs. The training module shall be required for all IEP participants, with the exception of parents, prior to participating in an IEP meeting and at regular intervals thereafter.

3. Annually conduct structured reviews of a sample of IEPs from a sufficiently large sample of local school divisions to verify that the IEPs are in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations governing IEP content, and provide a summary report of the findings of such reviews and recommendations regarding any necessary corrective actions to the reviewed divisions' superintendents, special education directors, school board chairs and vice-chairs, and local special education advisory committees. In reviewing local school divisions' IEPs, the Department shall determine whether the special education and related services, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications that will be provided to enable students with disabilities to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities are sufficient, and include its findings and corrective actions in the summary reports it provides to the reviewed local school divisions' superintendents, special education directors, and school board members. Nothing in this section shall be construed to (i) direct the Department to make determinations regarding whether a particular IEP provides a free appropriate public education to any individual student or (ii) authorize the Department to override a parent's consent to proposed revisions to an individual student's IEP. In determining corrective actions, the Department shall make recommendations to the relevant school division regarding, among other things, those individual IEPs for which the IEP team should convene to consider revisions necessary to incorporate content required by special education regulations. For those individual IEPs for which the Department recommends that the IEP team should convene to consider such revisions, the relevant school division shall notify the relevant parents or caregivers of the recommendations issued in the summary report of the structured review conducted pursuant to this subdivision.

4. Develop and maintain a statewide plan for improving (i) its ongoing oversight of local practices related to transition planning and services for children with disabilities and (ii) technical assistance and guidance provided for postsecondary transition planning and services for children with disabilities. At a minimum, such plan shall articulate how the Department will reliably and comprehensively assess the compliance and quality of transition plans for children with disabilities on an ongoing basis and communicate findings to local school division staff and local school boards. The Department shall, no later than December 1 of each year, update the Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Education and Health and the House Committee on Education on its progress in implementing such plan.

5. Develop and maintain a statewide strategic plan for recruiting and retaining special education teachers. At a minimum, such plan shall (i) use data analyses to determine the specific staffing needs of each local school division on an ongoing basis; (ii) evaluate the potential effectiveness of strategies for addressing recruitment and retention challenges, including tuition assistance, differentiated pay for special education teachers, and the expansion of special education teacher mentorships; and (iii) estimate the costs of implementing each such strategy, including the extent to which federal funds could be used to support implementation. The Department shall, no later than November 1 of each year, update the Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Education and Health and the House Committee on Education on its progress in implementing such plan.

6. In order to (i) address variation in rates of determinations of student eligibility for special education and related services both across local school divisions in the Commonwealth and based on specific student disabilities, (ii) promote consistency in such eligibility determinations, and (iii) ensure equal access to special education and related services across local school divisions, (a) update its special education eligibility worksheets as necessary, including clarifying any ambiguity or vagueness in eligibility criteria, and (b) provide to each local school division the appropriate level of guidance on eligibility determinations for special education and related services.

7. Develop criteria for what constitutes "exceptional circumstances" that warrant extension of the 60-calendar day regulatory timeline for complaint investigations and include the criteria in its publicly available complaint resolution procedures, (ii) consistently track the Department's receipt of each sufficient complaint and its issuance of the respective letter of findings, and (iii) require staff to report at least quarterly to the Superintendent of Public Instruction on the specific reasons for granting an extension due to "exceptional circumstances" and the amount of time it took to complete each investigation beyond the 60-calendar day regulatory timeline

8. Develop policies and procedures for considering and addressing credible allegations of local education agency (LEA) noncompliance with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (P.L. 101-476) that do not meet the current regulatory standard for state complaints. Such policies and procedures shall include expectations and mechanisms for collaboration between the Office of Dispute Resolution and Administrative Services and the Office of Special Education Program Improvement in the Division of Special Education and Student Services at the Department to investigate and resolve such credible allegations of noncompliance that do not qualify for state complaint investigations.

9. Elevate the position of parent ombudsman for special education to report to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The parent ombudsman for special education shall systematically track and report questions and concerns raised by parents to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Department shall develop a one-page comprehensive summary of the roles and responsibilities of the parent ombudsman for special education, the specific supports the parent ombudsman for special education can provide to parents, and how to contact the parent ombudsman for special education. The Department shall make the summary available in multiple languages on its website.

10. Develop and implement a process for systematically auditing and verifying school divisions' self-determinations of compliance with all Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (P.L. 101-476) performance indicators. The verification process shall include a random sample of school divisions each year and ensure that all school divisions' self-determinations are reviewed and verified no less frequently than once every five years.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 173, 451, 452.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.