Regulations Governing the Operation of Private Day Schools for Students with Disabilities and Educational Programs Offered in Group Homes and Residential Facilities in the Commonwealth
Since more than 180 days have passed since the end of the
stage, a Time Frame Waiver must be granted by the Governor's office.
This waiver was requested on 7/17/2013
Agency Reason: On behalf of the Board of Education, the Department of Education submits the following request to waive the 180 day requirement to submit final regulations following the close of the proposed stage public comment period, pursuant to Executive Order 14 (2010).
A NOIRA to repeal 8VAC 20-670, Regulations Governing the Operation of Private Day Schools for Students with Disabilities and promulgate 8VAC20-671, Regulations Governing the Operation of Private Day Schools for Students with Disabilities was published in the Register October 11, 2010.
After the close of the public comment period on November 12, 2010, the proposed Regulations Governing the Operation of Private Day Schools for Students with Disabilities were approved by the Board of Education, and were submitted to DPB February 17, 2011. The Governor completed his review September 18, 2012, and the proposed regulations were published in the Register October 2, 2012. Pursuant to the Executive Order, the final stage should have been submitted to DPB by June 19, 2013.
111 comments were received during the proposed stage public comment period. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) staff held meetings with stakeholders on February 6,
2013, and on March 27, 2013. The February 6 meeting provided the VDOE’s response to each of the
111 comments received during the public comment period. The meeting provided collaborative exchange of views that helped to clarify and reconstruct sections of the proposed regulations for improved consistency with the requirements of public schools and other state licensing agencies – the Departments of Social Services (DSS) and Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS). The meeting on March 27, 2013, provided a review of the changes made to the proposed regulations following the stakeholder meeting held on February 6, 2013. The meeting resulted with some technical changes and minor revision to the section concerning maintenance of student records. VDOE received a letter from the Virginia Association of Independent Special Education Facilities and several private school providers in support of the revised proposed regulations. The VAISEF is an association of private providers of specialized education and services for children and youth with special needs, and their families.
Final stage regulations were presented to the Board of Education April 25, 2013. Board members requested several amendments and raised questions about background checks for volunteers, experience of paraprofessionals, minimum professional development hours, policies regarding behavior intervention, time-out and managing student behavior in emergency situations. The Board also asked that more outreach be done to include parents. The Office of the Attorney General also had an opportunity to review the proposed amendments to the final stage regulations at this point.
Between the April 25th Board of Education meeting and the June 27th meeting, Mr. Christian Braunlich and the Department of Education contacted a wide audience of parents and parent advocacy groups that resulted in 152 written comments. The Department held two audio conferences: one for parents of students attending private schools for students with disabilities, and one for advocates and those concerned about the proposed behavior management provisions. The audio conferences provided collaborative exchange of views and helped to clarify issues. The written comments, audio conferences and continuing collaboration with private school representatives resulted in revisions that strengthen the proposed regulations, add greater protections for students, and require increased accountability of private schools for students with disabilities.
The written comments were largely from parents, advocates, parent advocacy organizations, private schools serving students with autism, special education attorneys, and college professors. Parent advocacy groups included the Virginia Coalition for Students with Disabilities, the Legal Aid Justice Center, Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy, Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, The Arc of Virginia, Families and Allies of Virginia’s Youth, and the Senior Advocate Center for Self Determination, Inc. A review of the comments revealed concerns primarily with “restraint, seclusion, and aversive stimuli” and asked the Department to restore original language to the section on “Prohibitions.” Most comments were supportive of the recommendations submitted by the Coalition for Students with Disabilities, a statewide network of organizations collaborating to support education rights and opportunities for students. The Department agreed with The Coalition’s recommendations and addressed each in the proposed regulations. The Coalition was provided a copy of the proposed changes that resulted from their recommendations and has provided a letter to the Board regarding the Department’s responsiveness. They specifically stated that the revised proposed regulation will help ensure the students are safe while at school.
Following the Board’s action June 27th, the proposed amendments (final stage) were shared with the Office of the Attorney General to certify that the agency has authority to make additional changes to the regulations.
The request was approved on 10/11/2013