Revised August 2018 to address all host agency settings (DYS, DMH, DPH, CHC)
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (the Department) through the Special Education in Institutional Settings (SEIS) program is responsible for providing special education services to eligible students in institutional settings operated by, or under contract with, the Departments of Youth Services (DYS), Mental Health (DMH), Public Health (DPH), and County Houses of Correction (CHCs). The Department's SEIS program is responsible for providing such services according to the students' IEPs, subject to resource availability. See 603 CMR 28.06(9).
When a student enters a residential setting operated by one of the host agencies listed above, the host agency and SEIS determine if the student has been identified as special education eligible. Upon receipt of the IEP for an eligible student, SEIS staff reviews it and begins IEP services as soon as possible. Some IEP services are not currently provided by the SEIS program. These services are referred to in this and related documents as Non-SEIS Services ("NSS"). NSS may be any type of service that the SEIS program is currently unable to provide based upon its resources and the type or amount of services available.
If IEP services are identified as NSS, SEIS notifies the school district in writing.1 The district has the opportunity to identify service providers to deliver the NSS services required by the IEP in the residential setting, or to discuss other options with the parent, guardian, or adult student (hereinafter, "parent"). To support the district in providing this service, SEIS assists in coordinating with the host agency so that the district can provide the service to the student with the least disruption to the host agency's regular programming. For a district service provider, the district must ensure compliance with the host agency's security requirements for visitors, including appropriate background checks and any other protocols established by the agency.
Counseling and other clinical services are often included in students' IEPs as related services. However, when provided by the host agency as part of its regular programming in the residential setting, such services may not be considered IEP services and may not meet the district's obligations under the IEP. The Department offers the following suggestions to districts when counseling or other clinical services are both identified on a student's IEP, and provided by the host agency as part of its regular programming.
Districts that receive NSS letters regarding counseling or other clinical services are encouraged to discuss them with the parent, and to ask the parent to consider if the IEP services might be duplicative or unnecessary in the residential setting, especially if the host agency offers identical or similar services. In that event, the district and the parent may agree to suspend the IEP counseling or other clinical services during the period of time that the student is in the residential setting.
If the district and the parent agree to suspend such IEP services while the student is in the residential setting, an amendment2 to the IEP should be signed reflecting that these IEP services will be suspended while the student is in the residential setting.
The IEP amendment or written notice in reference to the amendment will note that:
For all NSS services, including counseling and other clinical services, the district may identify service providers to deliver the services identified at the facility in which the student resides. The district may also discuss other options with the student's parent, including, as discussed above, amending the IEP for the period of time that the student is in an institutional setting, and/or reconvening the IEP Team to discuss other options that meet the student's needs.
Any agreement that changes the IEP service delivery during the period of time the student is in the residential setting should be reflected through a notice and consent in the student record, or through an amendment to the IEP. If, however, the school district arranges services to be provided in the residential setting that are consistent with the IEP, no additional documentation is required.
As ever, I appreciate the cooperation of districts with SEIS as we serve students in institutional settings.
1 Attach Sample SEIS NSS letter
2 IEP Form A1 & A2
Last Updated: September 5, 2018
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
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TTY: (800) 439-2370
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