OSPI proposing changes to the Washington Administrative Code
OSPI is proposing rule changes to the WACs that pertain to the provision of special education. These proposed changes have been reviewed by the WSASP Government and Public Relations (GPR) committee. While many of the changes involve moving toward person-first language and aligning vocabulary used throughout, there are some substantial changes being proposed. GPR highlighted several positive additions and has identified three changes that raise concerns. Though there are positive changes you may want to highlight in your comment, we recommend that you submit public comments only on areas of concern, and to do so as clearly as possible. To assist you, we have drafted language you may want to use in your public comment, as well as recommended replacement language for the WACs.
Comments are no longer being accepted. 113 school psychologists sent pubic comments in using the GPR resources here. Thank you for your advocacy!
Drafted Language used to advocate for improvements are provided here:
RE: WAC 392-172A-03005. Referral and timelines for initial evaluations. (2)(c)
I oppose reducing the timeline for determining whether or not to evaluate a student. I strongly recommend sustaining the referral timeline at twenty-five school days from the time of referral. The recommendations from the OSEP 11-07 letter indicate that RtI strategies cannot be a reason to delay a referral for a student suspected of having a disability, and that consent must be obtained after a reasonable period of time from the referral being made if the LEA agrees that an initial evaluation is needed. OSPI proposed to change the twenty-five school days to fifteen to better define “a reasonable period of time.” The twenty-five days, however, has been used to gather data in determining if the team does suspect a disability, rather than in obtaining consent after this decision is made. With the current inconsistencies in implementation of MTSS in most districts in the state, teams may need this time in order to apply best-practice strategies in areas of concern to determine if a disability is suspected or if there are problems with the instruction, curriculum, or environment as opposed to the learner.
In order to determine if a team, including the parent or guardian and/or student, does suspect a disability, the team may need the twenty-five school day timeline to gather data in a newly identified area of concern where intervention has not yet been applied. Fifteen school days is not sufficient to implement a new intervention and gather adequate data to help the team in determining if there is a suspected disability which requires an evaluation.
Also, scheduling can be a significant challenge for school teams. They often need the twenty-five school day timeline to gather a team of qualified professionals, including the parent or guardian and/or student, to determine if the team does suspect a disability. Limiting this to fifteen school days will likely result in referrals which are out of compliance simply due to scheduling challenges. I strongly recommend that this regulation not change.
Please retain the current language in WAC 392-172A-03005 (1)(c):
(c) Within twenty-five school days after receipt of the request for an initial evaluation, make a determination whether or not to evaluate the student. The school district will provide prior written notice of the decision that complies with the requirements of WAC 392-172A-05010.
Behavior Services Definition:
RE: WAC 392-172A-01155 Related services (3)
I support the addition of behavior services as a possible related service but it needs to be defined in section 3, as are other related services in this section:
I request the following definition be added:
(q) Behavioral services means services provided by a qualified professional with training in evidence-based practices in the area of behavior; such as, behavior analyst, school psychologist, behavior technician, or other certificated educator with specific training in this area.
Parent Referral Form:
RE: WAC 392-172A-03005 Referral and timelines for initial evaluations. (2 and 3)
Based on the suggested revisions to these sections, I suggest that the WACs clarify what the date of request is: either the date which a staff member first hears of a request verbally or in writing, or the date of receipt of a written request. It is also of concern that this, though intended to be a tool to help parents and members of a child's team in the pursuit of a referral, may act as a barrier. Though the WAC previously indicated requests will be provided in writing unless that person is unable to write, many schools have not required a request to be in writing to proceed with the process, and have allowed parents to make verbal requests. The addition of a form, which is implied to be required, may add a barrier to parents seeking a referral who previously may have been able to do so verbally. As such, I recommend that in addition to the availability of a form for the provision of a written request, that districts have the option to document referrals made verbal or in other formats, rather than requiring parents to complete an additional form. This could be completed in the form of a prior written notice or other district created method of documentation, in the event that parents are not able to provide this request in writing.
(b) The request must be in writing, unless the person is unable to write or the district can provide written notice that a referral in some other form (oral, phone, text, etc.) was received.
(c) Each school district must have a referral form for requesting an initial evaluation available to the general public and provide it, or other documentation of the receipt of a referral, upon receipt of an oral or written request in the requestor's native language or with the support of a qualified interpreter when needed.
OSPI proposing changes to the Washington Administrative Code - Update 5/10/2021
In addition to legislation, GPR has been advocating for OSPI’s proposed changes to the WACs on the provision of special education. While many of the changes involved moving toward person-first language and aligning vocabulary used throughout, there were some substantial changes being proposed. GPR highlighted several positive additions and identified three changes that raised concerns. These were in reference to reducing the referral timeline to 15 school days, adding behavior services as related services without a definition, and requiring parents to use a district form to request an evaluation. To assist members, we drafted language school psychologists could choose to use in public comment, as well as recommended replacement language for the WACs.
These public comments were provided via NASP’s advocacy engine allowing members to send their comments to the appropriate staff at OSPI in less than 1 minute.
These comments can be reviewed here.
113 school psychologists engaged in this advocacy action.
Additionally, Carrie Suchy, NCSP, Co-Chair of GPR attended a live public comment session and provided testimony on these changes as well.
OSPI has recently opened public comment on a revision of the proposed changes and have addressed each point of concern raised by WSASP members, including keeping the referral timeline at 25 school days. It is expected that these rules will go into effect over the summer months, but that is not an official determination as of yet.
Information about this action can be found here.
OSPI proposing changes to the Washington Administrative Code - Update 9/2021 in the Fall Scope