Anticipated Section 504 Rules Revision Delay Continues (December 11, 2023)

It has been four decades since there has been a major update to the regulations for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education announced a proposed rule revision, which was originally scheduled to be published in August of this year. However, that never materialized and instead a November publication was expected, but never happened.

When it occurs, the Section 504 update will impact requirements in K-12 and higher education for how schools accommodate students with disabilities. Accommodations that can help remove barriers to learning for students with disabilities could include extended time for test taking, the use of a service animal, and a differentiated school day schedule. Section 504 also requires schools to be physically accessible.

In addition, since some K-12 students qualify for both IDEA services and Section 504 accommodations both Section 504 and IDEA aim to protect the civil rights of students with disabilities, it is anticipated by some that clarity will be provided in this regard, with IDEA addressing learning supports and Section 504 protecting students from discriminatory practices. On the other hand, disability rights advocates see more alignment in certain areas of Section 504 as necessary to ensure students’ needs are being met.

Source: K-12 Dive.

USDE Sets New Deadline for Title IX Revisions (December 8, 2023)

The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has set a new timeline for the release of both of its final Title IX rules revisions, The release is now expected to occur by March 2024, which 10 months later than its original goal of a May 2023 release. The USDE’s two related, but separate, rules are expected to be issued consecutively at that time.

Of the two rules, the broader rule includes protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, which would be occurring for the first time. The other rule will provide a framework for how schools should address the inclusion of transgender students on athletic teams aligning with their gender identities.

Due to the volume of attention given to these controversial issues and the efforts of conservative policymakers to change or block the rule changes, the issuance was delayed for a second time in October.

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HHS and USDE Release Policy Statement for Including Young Children with Disabilities with Non-disabled Peers (December 3, 2023)

According to an updated policy statement released by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (USDE) released on November 28, 2023, 55% of preschoolers with disabilities get special education services in classrooms separate from their peers. It goes on to say that young children with disabilities should be included in high-quality early childhood education programs alongside peers without disabilities so they can receive individualized supports and achieve their full potential. The 68-page statement reiterates the expectations for inclusive early childhood settings for children from birth through age five.

The statement also updated recommendations for state and local agencies charged with implementing or overseeing any early childhood education program, including Head Start, child care, home visiting, preschool and public schools, as well as programs that provide early childhood special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

To learn more from K-12 Dive, click here.

BSE Notice: Annual Deaf-Blind Child Count for Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Students Annually (November 30, 2023)

On November 30, 2023, PDE BSE Director Carole L. Clancy sent a PennLink memo to all LEAs and other applicable entities titled Annual Deaf-Blind Child Count for Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Students. The memo states that on an annual basis the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), requires the Pennsylvania Deaf-Blind Project to conduct the National Deaf-Blind Child Count, formerly called the National Deaf-Blind Census. The Deaf-Blind Child Count records the number of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and students who have deaf-blindness or who are at risk of developing deaf-blindness, and who are enrolled in early intervention or special education as of the December 1, 2023 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) child count.

The count will be conducted beginning with Approved Private School programs in January 2024 followed by LEAs in February 2024. You must verify and submit your information no later than March 8, 2024. It is important for Pennsylvania to have an accurate Deaf-Blind Child Count as this information is tied to funding research, training, and technical assistance for this population of children.

Please be aware that for the Deaf-Blind Child Count, the federal definition of deaf-blindness is more inclusive and extensive than the one used for the IDEA child count. Children ages birth through 21 should be reported in the count if they meet one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and students who have a diagnosis of deaf-blindness and/or receive both vision and hearing support services;
  2. Infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and students who have a mild to profound hearing loss and vision loss with correction that still requires adaptations or modifications;
  3. Infants and toddlers (ages birth-to-three; i.e. Part C) who have a diagnosis that places them at-risk for an intellectual disability with inconsistent responses to light and sound. (At-risk means a diagnosis that does not guarantee hearing/vision loss); or
  4. Infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and students with multiple disabilities who may demonstrate inconsistent responses to light and sound.

    It is important for each Early Intervention Program and Local Educational Agency (LEA) to participate in the Deaf-Blind Child Count.
  1. If you do not have any infants, toddlers, preschoolers, or students with deaf-blindness, you will still need to log in and identify that you are not educating anyone with deaf-blindness at the present time.
  2. If you are educating an infant, toddler, preschooler, or student with deaf-blindness, you will need to either enter a new record or verify information about a child who already exists in the system.
  3. School-age and preschool programs are encouraged to work closely with contracted providers (e.g., Approved Private Schools, Charter Schools for the Deaf or Blind) to ensure an accurate count of children.
  4. Connecting families of children who are deaf-blind with supporting networks and information is vital. A feature of the Deaf-Blind Child Count is a letter which you will be asked to send to the family of each child listed in your count. The letter provides information which will link them to support and information for their family.

    Deaf-Blind Child Count – Approved Private School Entries
    All Approved Private Schools (APSs) entered their student data prior to the Deaf-Blind Child Count being opened for Early Intervention programs, school districts, charter schools, and service providers. While there are few infants and toddlers served in an APS, you may see a child in the Deaf-Blind Child Count which has been entered by an APS. For those programs with many students who qualify, this will save them valuable time. This was done by all APSs even if there are no students who qualify for the Deaf-Blind Child Count enrolled in their school. As the Early Intervention Program or LEA for these respective children, you must either confirm that the child is your responsibility or reject them if the child is not within your catchment area or in the age range of children you serve. After you confirm that you are the Early Intervention Program or LEA for the child, you can update other data as necessary.

    Deaf-Blind Child Count – Early Intervention Programs
    If you are the Early Intervention Program responsible for providing early intervention services to the entered child, you should confirm that the child is your responsibility. If the child is not the responsibility of your program (i.e., the child is not within your county/county joinder or in the age range of children you serve), please email [email protected].

Log In Information
The Deaf-Blind Child Count website is: https://www.leaderservices.com/_DBcensus.
The process for entering information is as follows:
How to log in and submit your count.

  1. Log in with your username and password at https://www.leaderservices.com/_DBcensus.
  2. If you do not know or cannot remember your username or password for the Deaf-Blind Child Count, use the “Forget your Login Info” link on the Deaf-Blind Child Count website to have the information emailed to you or email [email protected] for support.

If you have any questions regarding the data collection system or your responsibilities for entering child data into the Deaf-Blind Child Count, please email [email protected].

CR secures federal education funds through Feb. 2 (November 17, 2023)

On Thursday, November 16, 2023, President Biden a two-tiered stopgap spending measure that avoids a government shutdown and keeps some agencies funded into January and others, including education, through February 2. Late Wednesday, November 15th, the U.S. Senate approved the Continuing Resolution (CR) in an 87-11 vote, sending it to President Biden’s desk. 

However, parents and early childhood education providers are feeling disenfranchised since additional funds for child care were not made available through the CR.

Source: K-12 Dive