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The Illinois State Board of Education partners with school districts to provide programs and services for students with specialized educational needs.

The Special Education Department assures that these programs and services meet state and federal requirements. This involves both compliance and technical assistance functions.

Compliance functions include monitoring least restrictive environment compliance, administering due process system, providing mediation services, conducting complaint investigations, approving policies and procedures, conducting focused and comprehensive reviews and approving nonpublic special education facilities.

Technical assistance functions involve providing information and guidance on promising practices in educating students with disabilities, including the operation of numerous statewide training and technical assistance initiatives, administering the comprehensive system of personnel development for special education and management of grant programs to schools for special education service delivery.​

Special Education Guidance and Resources for School Year 2020-21

Special Education Services understands the difficulties facing districts, families, and students at this time and the unique challenges around remote learning for students with disabilities. The guidance and resources below are provided for assistance:

For the most current information on this situation, please monitor ISBE’s COVID-19 resource page​​.​​​​

ISBE has received a no-cost extension of the ​2019 IDEA Part B Flow Through, Section 611, and Preschool Section 619 grant awards until September 30, 2021. However, districts should continue to operate and expend their 2019 carryover funds as expeditiously as possible within their current FY 2020 IDEA grants. Please contact your grant coordinator or ISBESpecEd@isbe.net with questions.​​​​​​​​​

 Other Items of Interest

Special Education Medical Review, Requirements Beginning July 1, 2016 PDF format (6/28/16) updated Registered Nurses (RN) who do not hold ISBE Professional Educator License (PEL) endorsed as school nurse are prohibited from providing educational evaluation and instructional judgment of public school students. RNs who do not hold the PEL have been eligible to obtain the designation that permits them to provide such evaluation and judgment for students being evaluated for special education through a process maintained by ISBE. Since March, 2014, more than 700 Registered Nurses working in public schools have completed that process and obtained credentials as “non-PEL RN with IEP privileges PreK-21.”

Districts that still have need for an RN to perform the special education student medical evaluations are directed to first seek a RN with PEL, as outlined in the attached message, and if unable to secure a RN with that credential, read the announcement for additional information. ISBE will again offer the Medical Review course during the 2016-17 school year on an as-needed basis for districts that meet the requirements outlined in this announcement.​

The Residential Treatment Work Group of the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership (ICMHP) is pleased to announce that Residential Treatment for Youth with Mental Health Needs: A Guide for Parents and GuardiansPDF Document is now available for distribution. The ICMHP, which was created by the Children’s Mental Health Act of 2003, is committed to improving the scope, quality and access of mental health programs, services, and supports for Illinois children.​

A 2011 memo from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)PDF Document that reinforces the fact that local education agencies may not delay or deny a special education evaluation on the basis of a student not having participated in a response to intervention (RtI) process. The memo’s message is consistent with 23 Illinois Administrative Code 226.130(b), which states “…When a district implements the use of a process of this type [RtI], the district shall not use any child’s participation in the process as the basis for denying a parent’s request for an evaluation.” The content of the memo is also consistent with information contained in the March 2010 Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) document titled “Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ] about Special Education Eligibility and Entitlement within a Response to Intervention (RtI) Framework,”PDF Document (3/11)​.

In February 2010, the Learning Disabilities Association of America issued a white paper, The Learning Disabilities Association of America’s White Paper of Evaluation, Identification, and Eligibility Criteria for Students with Specific Learning Disabilities. NASDSE did not formally respond to the white paper, believing that researchers and practitioners across the country with far more knowledge and experience would provide a better response. Now that has happened. A paper, A Response to the Learning Disabilities of America (LDA) White Paper on Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) Identification was released in December 2010. Please find attached the original Learning Disabilities Association of America white paperPDF Document and the responsePDF Document by leading researchers and implementers.

Illinois Student Records Keeper for Parents of Students Who Receive Special Education ServicesPDF Document This booklet is for parents to use to keep important information about their child and his/her special education and related services. It is a companion to Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois.

Records play an important role as you plan your child’s education. Dates, people, meetings and reports are important throughout your child’s educational career. The records keeper was developed to assist parents in preparing for Individualized Education Program (IEP) and transition meetings; getting ready for evaluations and reevaluations; and keeping track of paperwork and other materials.

This booklet cross-references the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) publication, Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois. At the bottom of each page, locate the page number(s) that references a section or pages in the guide. The guide offers information to increase your knowledge and understanding about the topic or issue.​

Community and Residential Services Authority Symposium

The Community and Residential Services Authority, an interagency board that was created by the General Assembly and is responsible for addressing barriers to vital treatment and services for youth with severe emotional disturbances, will host a symposium from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, May 4, at the Howlett Auditorium in Springfield. This symposium will address the lack of psychiatric and residential treatment for Illinois’s youth who have intensive behavioral health conditions and need access to essential intensive psychiatric hospitalization and or therapeutic residential treatment delivered by credentialed, well-trained psychiatric professionals. Solutions to this statewide problem will be generated from an audience of like-minded professionals, agencies, and concerned citizens.

Please join us for the whole day or whenever you have time. Your input is valuable in finding solutions to this issue that affects our youth with emotional disturbances and their families.

The flyer has details on how to register for this important symposium.

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