The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) recently released a new Basic Education Circular (BEC) providing guidance for completing documentation for students identified with dual exceptionalities, and caseload assignments for gifted and special education. The BEC also discusses three (3) procedural steps outlined as part of compliance, described below:
First, based on 22 Pa. Code Sec. 16.32, the Gifted Individual Education Plan (GIEP) of each gifted student shall be based on the gifted Multidisciplinary Team’s (MDT) written report and contain the following:
- A statement of the student’s present levels of educational performance.
- A statement of annual goals and short-term learning outcomes which are responsive to the learning needs identified in the evaluation report.
- A statement of the specially designed instruction and support services to be provided to the student.
- Projected dates for initiation, anticipated frequency, location, and anticipated duration of gifted education.
- Appropriate objective criteria, assessment procedures and timelines for determining, on at least an annual basis, whether the goals and learning outcomes are being achieved.
- The names and positions of GIEP team participants and the date of the meeting.
Second, if a student is dually exceptional, the student’s needs established under gifted status must be fully addressed in the procedures required in Chapter 14. The gifted teacher becomes a mandatory member of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team and is responsible for updating the present levels of performance; establishing goals based on those present levels; and developing measurable short-term learning outcomes, specially designed instruction and support services.
Third, a student with dual exceptionalities will be counted on both the gifted teacher’s as well as the IEP case manager’s caseload.
Lastly, the regulations in Chapters 14 and 16 do not explicitly direct school districts to conduct evaluations for students suspected of dual exceptionalities within a common 60 calendar-day period. The new BEC, therefore, provides such guidance. For students not yet identified as needing special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Chapter 14, and as needing gifted services under Chapter 16, PDE strongly recommends that school districts conduct both the evaluations within the same 60 calendar-day period.
If a student is suspected to be dually exceptional, school districts should include the following steps, outlined by PDE, into its identification procedures:
- Complete a Prior Written Notice (PWN) for Initial Evaluation and Request for Consent Form for an initial evaluation.
- Include all of the critical components of a Gifted Written Report (GWR) under Chapter 16 and all the critical components of an Evaluation Report (ER) under Chapter 14 into the ER.
- Complete the single evaluation 60 calendar days from the date of receipt of the signed PWN for Initial Request and Consent Form.
- Ensure the gifted teacher becomes a required member of the IEP team once a student is found to be dually exceptional.
- Develop an IEP within 30 calendar days from the issuance date of the MDT’s written report.
- Confirm that the IEP addresses all the critical components in Chapters 14 and 16.
- Follow the cyclical re-evaluation requirements as required by Chapter 14 and ensure that all the critical components of a gifted reevaluation are updated within the reevaluation reports.
- Issue a single Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/PWN and include gifted support in all the areas required in a Notice of Recommended Assignment.
As always, the School Law Group at Stock and Leader monitors all developments in the special education sphere. Members of our group are ready to discuss concerns, answer questions, and provide counsel on any of your school district’s issues relating to special education.