On August 30, 2023, Dr. Carole L. Clancy, Director of the PDE Bureau of Special Education, sent a memo to all LEAs titled Change in Age of Eligibility for Free and Appropriate Public Education.
The memo states that “[t]he Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is writing to communicate an important policy change that will provide continued education services to special education students. This policy change will ensure students can access Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as they are entitled under federal law.”
“Effective no later than September 5, 2023, all students entitled to FAPE and all of the rights and procedural safeguards under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Chapter 14 of Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code may remain enrolled in public school until they turn 22 years of age. This includes students who turned 21 and exited during or after the 2022-2023 school term.”
It goes on to state that “PDE has concluded that Pennsylvania’s adult education programs constitute public education for the purposes of section 1412(a)(1)(B) of IDEA, and Pennsylvania is required to make FAPE available to students with disabilities until their 22nd birthday. This change is effective no later than September 5, 2023.”
In addition, PDE has revised its guidance pertaining to INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABLITIES EDUCATION ACT PART B POLICIES AND PROCEDURES UNDER 34 CFR §§ 300.101—300.176 . That guidance can be accessed at: www.education.pa.gov/Documents/IDEAB.pdf.
Page three of that document states, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ensures that all children with disabilities ages 3 years through 21 years residing in Pennsylvania have the right to a FAPE, including children with disabilities who have been suspended or expelled from school. The commonwealth shall make FAPE available to a child with a disability eligible under IDEA until the student turns 22. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a child eligible under IDEA who attains the age of twenty-one (21) years may remain enrolled in their resident district free of charge until their 22nd birthday.”
PDE Advises these Next Steps
First, LEAs should review the FAQs at https://www.education.pa.gov/Pages/IDEABFAQ.aspx. They should then take the following steps to comply with this change in policy:
- PDE will be contacting students with disabilities who turned 21 and exited during or after the 2022-2023 school term. LEAs should also contact those students and provide them the option to re-enroll and access FAPE until their 22nd birthday.
- LEAs should include a link to PDE’s webpage that contains the Amended Age-Out Policy, a copy of the Notice Letter, and a copy of the Penn Link Communication on their websites.
- Upon enrollment, LEAs should provide FAPE in accordance with IDEA. Please direct questions or requests for assistance to [email protected]
To access the Memo, click here.
To access the guidelines, click here.\
To access the FAQs, click here.