Program Quality Assurance Services
Compliance and Monitoring
Revised Procedures to Use When Seeking the Department's Approval for Individual Student Program (formerly known as "Authorization for Pricing")
|To:||Special Education Administrators and Other Interested Parties|
|From:||Darlene Lynch, Director Program Quality Assurance Services|
|Date:||November 21, 2008|
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) regulations require that in the event an IEP TEAM has determined that a special education student requires a placement outside of the school district, a school district must first seek to place the student in an appropriate Department approved program. Preference must be given to approved programs located within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts if the choice of such program is consistent with the needs of the student and the choice of such program complies with LRE requirements. (603 CMR 28.06(3)(d)). Sometimes however, such a placement can not be secured. In that event the school district must seek the Department's prior approval to place an individual student in another program that will serve that student's particular needs. This means that for this school year the Department will accept submissions that pertain to the July 1, 2008 - June 30, 2009 school year.
School District Obligation
A school district that places a student in a program that has not been approved by the Department must annually ensure that such programs and services are provided in appropriate settings by appropriately credentialed staff who are able to deliver the services on the student's IEP. Any student that is placed by the school district in such a program must be entitled to the full protections of state and federal special education law and regulation.
Additionally, 603 CMR 28.06(3)(e)(4) requires that the school district annually possess documentation of:
1) its search for an appropriate Department approved program;
2) its thorough evaluation of the appropriateness of the placement being sought; and
3) if the placement being sought is a school setting, that the school has received local school committee approval pursuant to M.G.L. c. 76, § 1.
The Department requires that the school district provide notice through the completion of mandated form 28M3 and certain required supporting documentation, and receive the Department's approval prior to making such a placement.
The Department has revised its procedures and its mandated 28M3 form addressing this topic, formerly known as Authorization for Pricing, to ensure full accountability and improved oversight for such placements.
The Department has re-named the mandated 28M3 form "Notification of Intent to Seek Approval for Individual Student Program." The content of the form has been revised, providing clarification about which documentation must accompany the completed form before the Department will issue its approval for such a placement and which documentation the school district must maintain.
The Statement of Assurances portion of the form that the Public School District's Special Education Administrator signs contains additional language about the fact that the placement sought can provide the program and services in this student's IEP in appropriate settings by appropriately credentialed staff, such that the program can a) properly implement the student's IEP; b) provide for the student's health and safety; and c) provide the student with all of the safeguards to which the student is entitled under federal and state special education laws.
Two substantive changes have also been made to the Required Documentation Assurance Checklist portion of the form:
- Section 2 of the Required Documentation Assurance Checklist now requires the school district to maintain in the student record detailed documentation demonstrating a thorough evaluation of the placement sought, including evidence of a site visit or rationale for not having conducted a site visit, to ensure the program can appropriately implement the student's IEP in a safe and educationally appropriate environment; the facility can and will provide the student with all rights that are accorded to the student under federal and state special education law; and the school staff has the appropriate special education certification, licensure or registration.
- Section 5 of the Required Documentation Assurance Checklist contains an important note of reminder. Not only is there a requirement that a pre-placement monitoring plan be developed and sent to the Department, but also that the school district regularly update the student file based on actual monitoring it conducts as a result of monitoring activities it said would occur in accordance with that school district's monitoring plan.
The revised 28M3 form is attached for your information, and is also posted on the web at http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/28mr/28m3.pdf and http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/28mr/28m3.doc, along with this memo. This revised form must be used when seeking the Department's approval for any future placements. The three-page form and the required supporting documentation must be provided to the Department annually for its approval before a student's placement occurs.
The Department will be augmenting the present Coordinated Program Review procedure it uses under Special Education Criterion SE 37 starting with the 2008-2009 school year for the monitoring of such placements. Copies of all documentation referenced in the mandated 28M3 form "Notification of Intent to Seek Approval for Individual Student Program" and a copy of the completed three-page form must be maintained by the school district. Additionally, PQA onsite CPR teams will be looking to see whether the school district's documentation evidences actual monitoring activities undertaken by the school district.
The Department may also conduct additional monitoring activities related to this topic in the upcoming school year to verify that school districts are in fact performing their required obligations in this area and that they are maintaining the required documentation and conducting monitoring activities as required.
Evidence of a school district's failure to comply with the requirements may result in the withholding of special education funds from a school district pursuant to 603 CMR 28.03(6).
If you have any questions regarding these changed procedures, please feel free to call Pamela Sweeney, Assistant Director of PQA, at 781-338-3302.