USDE Sends Dear Colleague Letter Urging Schools to Address 2024-25 Attendance Issues (March 28, 2024)

On March 22, 2024, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona sent a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) informing schools that “there is still more work to do” to address chronic student absenteeism as the 2024-25 approaches.
Thus far, many school districts have increased home visits and utilized dashboards to effectively track attendance.
In his letter, Sec. Cardona urged schools to use accountability systems to measure chronic absenteeism to identify schools for support and improvement. He also enjoined each state to commit to helping students attend and engage in school daily, ensure more students attend regularly for the rest of the 2023-24 school year, and to lay a foundation now for more progress in the 2024-25 school year.
Click here to access the DCL.

Due to Miscalculation of Data, FAFSA Forms Corrections are Now the Latest Delay (March 28, 2024)

On March 25, 2024, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) announced that the ability for students to make updates and corrections to their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms in the first half of April. This is another delay in a process that has been rife with delays and technical issues.

In advance of that implementation, USDE will provide detailed information to partners, students, and families on how to correct the most common FAFSA form errors including no signatures and selecting ‘yes’ to applying for unsubsidized loans only (Question 8).

The reason for this most recent delay is due to a recently identified a vendor issue that was incorrectly calculating the Student Aid Index for records of dependent students with assets. That issue has now been resolved.

To date, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) has processed more than 4.3 million FAFSA forms and delivered ISIRs to the majority of schools, states, and designated scholarship organizations.

Click here for more information from the USDE.

USDE, HHS, and PaTTAN Provide Student Discipline and Inclusion Guidance to LEAs (March 25, 2024)

On March 25, 2024, Bureau of Special Education Director Carole L. Clancy sent a PENN*LINK message to all LEAs with the subject line Recent Guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and PaTTAN. That message states that, for the 2023-24 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Bureau of Special Education (BSE) is sharing updated links to recent guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Education (USDE) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The links below will cover the topics of discipline provisions for students with disabilities as set forth in the Individuals with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), inclusion of students with disabilities in early childhood programs, general supervision responsibilities, student discipline under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, military-connected children with disabilities and Intervener Services. These links are provided for review.

For additional information, please visit the following sites.

For questions about the recent guidance, please email Tim Krushinski [email protected].

USDE FY2024 Budget is Finally Approved (March 24, 2024)

On March 23, 2024, President Joe Biden signed the FY 2024 budget for the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and other agencies. This signing followed the March 22nd approval by the House and Senate.

Under the approved budget, the USDE receives $79.1 billion for FY 2024, which is $500 million less than was received for FY 2023. The agreement comes more than six months after the Oct. 1, 2023 deadline to finalize the FY 2024 budget appropriations for the USDE and several other agencies.

For the USDE, Title I and state grants for special education services each receive a $20 million increase over FY 2023 allocations and avoids a Republican-led proposal recommending an 80% cut in Title I funding.

For more from K-12 Dive, click here.

PDE to LEAs: Review of Enrollments in the Approved Private School Electronic Management (APSEM) System (March 23, 2024)

On March 20, 2024 Bureau of Special Education Director Carole L. Clancy, Director sent a PENN*LINK to LEAs with the subject line: Review of Enrollments in the Approved Private School Electronic Management (APSEM) System. It stated that Local Education Agencies (LEAs) recently received a notification about reviewing School Year 2022-23 4010 enrollments through the Approved Private School Electronic Management (APSEM) system.

LEAs are advised to use the following instructions to review their Approved Private School (APS) enrollments:
1. Log-in as an APS or a LEA User.
2. Click the Reports link on the header.
3. Choose the 4010 Enrollment Report from the report dropdown.
4. Choose 2022-2023 from the School Year dropdown.
5. Click on the Run button.
5. Click the Open button at the bottom of the screen to open the spreadsheet.
6. Review the 4010 enrollments data, including the student’s name, date of birth, primary exceptionality, age category, etc.

Recipients of the message are asked to forward it to the individual responsible for the APSEM data review in their APS or LEA. Questions regarding this information should go to Eileen Jacobs at 717-267-6652 or [email protected].