PA 10-175—sHB 5425

Education Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING SPECIAL EDUCATION

SUMMARY: Starting July 1, 2012, this act requires school districts to use only behavior analysts licensed or certified in accordance with its requirements to provide applied behavior analysis for students with autism spectrum disorders who require the services (1) according to a special education individualized education program (IEP) or (2) under an educational plan established under section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It establishes standards for people who may provide applied behavioral analysis services if the education commissioner finds there are not enough licensed or certified personnel available.

The act also revamps the Advisory Council for Special Education by:

1. reducing its statutorily specified membership from 37 to 30 and updating those members' qualifications (PA 10-1, June Special Session increased the new membership to 31);

2. requiring appointees to reflect the ethnic and racial diversity and types of disabilities found in the state;

3. requiring the terms of all current council members to expire on June 30, 2010; and

4. requiring that, for terms starting July 1, 2010, the appointees of the commissioners of education, developmental services, and children and families serve initial terms of three years and thereafter serve the same two-year terms as the other appointees.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage for the changes in the advisory council and July 1, 2010 for the applied behavior analysis provisions.

BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS SERVICES

Special Education and Section 504 Plans

Both Connecticut and federal law require each child eligible for special education, including children with autism, to receive an individualized educational program (IEP) appropriate for his or her needs (20 U. S. C. 1400 et. seq; CGS 10-76a-10-76i). A child with a disability who is not eligible for special education may be covered by 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a law that protects the rights of people with disabilities in programs, such as public education, that receive federal financial assistance.

School districts must have plans to address the special educational needs of students who qualify under these federal laws. Starting July 1, 2012, this act requires that, if a student with autism spectrum disorder has a plan that requires him or her to receive applied behavioral analysis, the school district responsible must use a licensed or certified behavior analyst to provide the services. It specifies that it cannot be construed to require that applied behavior analysis be included in IEPs or 504 plans.

The act expressly permits teachers or paraprofessionals to implement behavior analysis services required under an IEP or 504 plan, if they are supervised by a person licensed or certified as the act requires.

The act defines “applied behavior analysis” as designing, implementing, and evaluating modifications in the student's environment to produce a socially significant improvement in his or her behavior. Applied behavior analysis uses behavioral stimuli and consequences, including direct observation, measuring, and functional analysis of the relationship between environment and behavior.

Certified Behavior Analysts

Under the act, to qualify to provide these services on and after July 1, 2012, a person must be either (1) licensed by the Department of Public Health or certified by the State Department of Education (SDE) and the services must be within the scope of the license or certificate or (2) certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board as a behavior analyst or assistant behavior analyst. Assistant behavior analysts must work under a behavior analyst's supervision.

If the education commissioner determines that there are not enough certified or licensed behavior analysts to provide the required services, the act allows the commissioner to authorize people with the following qualifications to provide them, if they are supervised by a board-certified behavior analyst:

1. a bachelor's degree in a related field and

2. at least (a) nine credit hours of course work in a course sequence approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board or (b) course work meeting the requirements to sit for the behavior analyst certification exam.

ADVISORY COUNCIL FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION MEMBERSHIP

The act revises the membership of and appointments to the Advisory Council for Special Education (see BACKGROUND). Table 1 shows the old and new council membership. In addition to the specified members, both prior law and the act also require the council to include any other members the federal special education law requires.

Table 1: Special Education Advisory Council Membership

Appointing Authority

Prior Law

The Act

Members

Qualifications

Members

Qualifications

Education commissioner

2

1 State Department of Education (SDE) official

1 representing a higher education institution with a teacher preparation program

8 (PA 10-1, June Special Session, increased this to 9. )

6 parents of children with disabilities under age 27 or people with disabilities

1 SDE official

1 state or local official responsible for carrying out requirements of federal law concerning education of homeless children

(PA 10-1, June Special Session, also requires the commissioner to appoint a representative of a higher education institution with a teacher preparation program. )

Department of Developmental Services (DDS) commissioner

2

1 DDS official

1 person with disabilities or parent of such a person

1

DDS official

Department of Children and Families (DCF) commissioner

2

1 DCF official

1 person with disabilities or parent or foster parent of such a person

1

DCF official

Department of Correction (DOC) commissioner

1

None

1

DOC official

House speaker, House majority and minority leaders, and Senate president pro tempore and minority leader

4

Legislators as voting members (no appointment by House Speaker)

5

Legislators as nonvoting members (House speaker appointment added)

Senate president pro tempore

3

1 CT Assn of Boards of Education

1 CT Speech-Language-Hearing Assn

1 person with disabilities or parent

1

Representing higher education institution preparing special education and related services personnel

(PA 10-1, June Special Session, instead requires this appointee to be a member of the CT Speech-Language-Hearing Assn. )

Senate majority leader

2

1 person with disabilities or parent

1 regular education teacher

1

Public school teacher

Senate minority leader

4

1 representing a vocational, community, or business organization providing transitional services to children with disabilities

1 member of CT Assn of Private Special Education facilities

2 people with disabilities or parents

1

Representing a vocational, community, or business organization providing transitional services to children with disabilities

House speaker

3

1 local education official who is a member of the CT Assn of School Administrators

1 person with disabilities or parent

1 member of the literacy coalition and either a person with disabilities or parent

1

A person who is both a Council of Special Education Administrators member and a local education official

House majority leader

2

1 person working in the field of special education related services

1 person with disabilities or parent

1

Charter school representative

House minority leader

4

2 people with disabilities or parents

1 member of the CT Assn of Pupil Personnel Administrators who is an administrator of a program for children requiring special education

1 special education teacher

1

Member of CT Assn of Private Special Education Facilities

Governor

8

Persons with disabilities or parents with one who is also associated with a charter school

7

Persons with disabilities or parents of such persons under age 27

Chief Court Administrator

0

NA

1

Judicial Department official responsible for providing services to adjudicated children and youth

BACKGROUND

Advisory Council for Special Education

The council's duties are to:

1. advise SDE on unmet needs of children with disabilities and administration of the SDE's surrogate parent program;

2. periodically review special education laws, regulations, and guidelines and recommend necessary changes to the State Board of Education (SBE) and the General Assembly;

3. comment on new or revised regulations, standards, or guidelines before they are issued;

4. participate with SBE to develop state eligibility documents for providing special education;

5. comment on procedures necessary for distributing federal special education funds;

6. help SDE in developing and reporting data and evaluations required by the federal law; and

7. report annually to the General Assembly on recommended changes in special education laws and carry out other duties required under the federal special education law.

OLR Tracking: JSL: JKL: PF: DF