Placements of Students with Disabilities in Approved Out-of-State Residential Schools
SPECIAL EDUCATION FIELD ADVISORY
From: James P. DeLorenzo
This memorandum, which provides updated procedures, forms and policy from guidance previously issued in April 2011 and March 2012, relates to a school district’s responsibility to submit timely and complete applications, as prescribed in section 200.6(j) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, for approval of State reimbursement of tuition costs for placements of students with disabilities in out-of-State approved residential programs. In accordance with these procedures, the State must approve State assistance for instruction of all public school students placed in approved private schools, including out-of-State programs. Approval of the System to Track and Account for Children (STAC) form is necessary to ensure timely State reimbursement of tuition costs to the public school and to provide the necessary authorization to municipalities to pay their portion of maintenance costs for the student’s placement to the residential school.
Important policy and procedural information on the following topics is included in this memorandum:
- Interagency Services for Students At Risk for Placement or Placed in a Residential School
- Initial Applications for Private School Residential Placements
- Reapplication Process for Placement of Students in Out-of-State Residential Schools
- Out-of-State Residential Placements
- Application Submission Information
- Notification of Approval or Denial of State Reimbursement of Tuition Costs
- Referral and Placement Process
- Sharing of Student Records
- Placement of Students with Disabilities in Children's Residential Project (CRP) Programs
- Technical Assistance
Please share this memorandum with staff responsible for the residential placements of students and others responsible for preparing application materials for State reimbursement of tuition costs.
I. Interagency Services for Students At Risk for Placement or Placed in a Residential School
Students at risk of residential placement:
The decision that a student needs an educational placement in a residential school, either in or out-of-State, must be based on the Committee on Special Education’s (CSE) determination that there is no appropriate nonresidential school available to meet the educational needs of the student. Pursuant to Chapter 600 of the Laws of 1994, the State developed “Considerations for Determining That A Child is At Risk of Residential School Placement.” State law and regulations require the school district to identify needed support services that may help families maintain children in their own homes and communities, and avoid placement in residential care, for as long as possible. School districts have an important role in working with the other child care systems to collaboratively address the needs of children and their families. For additional information, see Attachment 1 and http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/policy/chap600.pdf.
For each student at risk of or placed in residential placement, the CSE must:
- provide information to the parent on community support services that may be available to the family; and
- with the consent of the parent (or student if age 18 or older), invite the appropriate county or State agency to participate in CSE meetings concerning the appropriateness of residential placement and other programs and placement alternatives.
Transition services and adult service planning:
To ensure appropriate adult service planning for students who are at risk of or who are placed in residential schools, the district must also:
- with the consent of the parent (or student if age 18 or older), invite appropriate community and State agency representatives when the purpose of the meeting is to consider post-secondary goals and transition services; and
- seek parental/student consent and share records with the adult service agency from which the student may be eligible for adult services. See 8 NYCRR section 200.4(i).
II. Initial Applications for Approved Private School Residential Placements
Applications for initial placements in approved private residential schools approved after April 1, 2013 will include approval of the time period on or after April 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014. Any initial applications approved prior to April 1, 2013 require that the district submit a reapplication no later than June 1, 2013 for the 2013-14 school year (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014) (8 NYCRR section 200.6(j)(3)(i)).
In order to obtain a timely determination of approval for State reimbursement of tuition costs for the initial placement of a student in an approved private residential school, the application for State reimbursement must be received by the New York State Education Department's (NYSED) Special Education Quality Assurance Nondistrict Unit within six business days of the date of the student's placement in the approved private residential school. State regulations require NYSED to conduct a review of the student’s application to ensure that it meets criteria for approval of State reimbursement of tuition costs, including documentation that the CSE's proposed placement offers the instruction and services recommended in the student’s individualized education program (IEP) and that such placement is in the least restrictive environment.
Regardless of the State’s determination regarding approval of State reimbursement of tuition costs, the district is responsible to implement the CSE’s recommendation for timely placement in an approved private school.
For the initial placement of students with disabilities in out-of-State residential schools, a school district must submit an Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) Referral Packet to the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). Attachment 2 provides information on the Interstate Compact.
III. Reapplication Process for Placement of Students in Out-of-State Residential Schools
NYSED is required to approve State assistance for instruction of public school students with disabilities placed in approved out-of-State private residential schools on a year-by-year basis. Therefore, districts must submit an annual reapplication for State reimbursement of a student in a private school. Reapplications must be submitted prior to June 1 of the year preceding the school year for which funding is sought. Initial approval of State reimbursement of tuition costs for a private school placement does not automatically mean that the application will be approved for subsequent years.
Reapplications to NYSED for a student who is currently placed in an out-of-State approved private residential school must include annual documentation that there are no appropriate public or approved private facilities for instruction available within this State. Failure to follow the procedures outlined in this memo may result in denial of all or a portion of State reimbursement of tuition costs.
The CSE must adhere to all reapplication requirements as follows:
- The district must seek placement of the student in an in-State school early enough in the school year in order to submit its application for State reimbursement of tuition costs to NYSED prior to June 1 of the year preceding the school year for which funding is sought. Therefore, the CSE must make timely referrals to appropriate in-State programs to ensure that documentation of acceptances and/or declinations from the in-State programs may be provided to the State prior to June 1 preceding the school year for which funding is sought.
- At each student’s annual review, the CSE must consider placement of the student in the least restrictive environment. It is important for parents to understand that State law requires that districts annually seek placement in appropriate in-State programs prior to placement in out-of-State programs, and for each student there must be a proposed plan and timetable for enabling the student to return to a less restrictive environment. State reimbursement of tuition costs for out-of-State placements is contingent upon documentation that there are no appropriate public or approved private facilities for instruction within New York State (NYS) available for the student and the proposed plan and timetable as noted above.
- The district must submit documentation to NYSED of acceptance/declination letters from all approved in-State schools that are appropriate to implement the student’s IEP.
- In those cases where the CSE rejects a proposed placement for the student in a particular school that has accepted the student because the in-State school is unable to meet the student’s IEP needs, the district must provide NYSED with information and documentation which support the CSE’s actions based on sound educational reasons consistent with the student’s IEP. While the concerns of the parent for the education of their child must be considered, a parent’s disagreement with a placement or preference for another school is not, in and of itself, justification for the CSE not recommending an approved in-State program that has accepted the student.
- For students who were placed out-of-State and for whom the CSE recommends a change in placement to an in-State program, the district must notify NYSED’s Nondistrict Unit in writing prior to June 1, specifying the acceptance date and name of the new placement and type of placement (e.g., in-State public or approved private school).
- The following documentation must accompany the district’s application for State reimbursement of tuition costs for out-of-State residential placements. Forms necessary to provide this documentation are available on the Special Education website at www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/applications. These are also the same documents required for initial applications. For students turning 21 during July or August, the only required documentation is a cover letter, application checklist and summer STAC-1.
Out-of-State Residential Placements (Initial and Reapplications)
- CSE cover letter1
- Application checklist
- A proposed plan and timetable for enabling the student to return to a less restrictive environment or a statement of reasons why such a plan is currently not appropriate.
- Statement of Assurance for Out-of-State Residential Placement including the listing of the in-State schools that are unable to meet the student’s educational needs (referral chart and copies of all acceptance and rejection letters from the in-State private schools must be submitted; letters within six months are acceptable).
- Student Profile
- Signed STAC-1 with the date of placement. A separate STAC-1 is required for July/August placements.
Emergency Interim Placements
Public notice was provided in April 2011 and March 2012 that, beginning with the 2013-14 school year, NYSED will cease its practice of approving out-of-State residential schools to serve individual students on an emergency interim basis. Therefore, no initial or reapplication for the 2013-14 school year and thereafter for the placement of a student in an emergency interim placement will be considered. School districts with students currently in residential emergency interim placements were notified that they must secure alternative placements for these students in public or approved private schools in the least restrictive environment for such students prior to July 1, 2013. Please refer to NYSED’s website for approved in-State and out-of-State residential schools. Information on these schools is available at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/privateschools/home.html.
In addition, no out-of-State school is approved for an emergency interim placement of a student on a day basis. School districts do not have authority in law to place students with disabilities in nonapproved schools.
Application Submission Information
The district must submit initial applications to the Nondistrict Unit and electronically file the STAC-1 with the STAC Unit within six business days of the date the student enrolled in a particular NYS approved private residential school based on the recommendation of the CSE.
The district can submit reapplications to the Nondistrict Unit and electronically file the STAC-1 with the STAC Unit anytime following a student's annual review, but prior to June 1 of the year preceding the school year for which placement is sought (i.e., June 1, 2013 for the 2013-14 school year). Email or mail initial or reapplications for residential placements to:
New York State Education Department
P-12: Office of Special Education
89 Washington Avenue, Room 309 EB
Albany, NY 12234
Attn: 2013-14 Residential Reapplication
To ensure timely review, electronic submissions are preferred.
Select one method for submission (email or mail) and DO NOT FAX.
IV. Notification of Approval or Denial of State Reimbursement of Tuition Costs
Upon receipt of the initial application or reapplication, NYSED will notify the CSE of its determination within 15 business days. If State reimbursement of tuition costs for the placement is approved, the district will receive a copy of the approved STAC-1 from NYSED. It is the district’s responsibility to forward a copy of the signed STAC-1 to the approved private school confirming funding approval of tuition costs for the 2013-14 school year. If NYSED denies State reimbursement of tuition costs for the placement, the district will have 20 business days to correct the deficiencies.
Regardless of the State’s determination regarding approval of State reimbursement of tuition costs, the district is responsible to implement the CSE’s recommendation for placement in an approved private school. Therefore, the district cannot represent the State’s disapproval of State reimbursement of tuition costs as a reason not to secure a timely placement in a NYS approved private school for the student. Regardless of the State’s approval of reimbursement of tuition costs, the State will process the STAC-1 that authorizes municipalities to fund their portion of the maintenance costs.
If a school district submits a reapplication for reimbursement on or after June 1 of the year preceding the school year for which funding is sought, the district is only entitled to receive State reimbursement of tuition costs (if approved) as of the date the application was received by NYSED, rather than the date the student commenced actual attendance in the CSE-recommended private school placement. [8 NYCRR section 200.6(j)(3)(v)]
A district may submit a request to NYSED for an administrative review of a denial of an application for State reimbursement of tuition costs no later than 40 days after written notice of the initial denial of the district's application (8 NYCRR section 200.6(j)(3)(iv)). If districts do not follow the administrative review timelines, NYSED will dismiss the review as untimely.
V. Referral and Placement Process
It is the sole responsibility of school districts to take the actions necessary to ensure that students are placed in the least restrictive environment. However, the referral and placement process for private residential schools requires cooperation of the NYS-approved private schools and parents.
- NYSED expects that each NYS-approved out-of-State residential school serving students from NYS will fully cooperate with the efforts of school districts seeking to place students in approved private schools within NYS. Out-of-State schools must make students available for screening and intake procedures, providing access to educational records and facilitating observation of the student in his/her current educational setting at the request of the district.
- Parents are integral partners in the referral process and are expected to cooperate fully in the intake interview and screening process for the residential school. While the CSE must consider the concerns of the parents in the placement process, the district must take responsibility to secure an appropriate placement for the student in the least restrictive environment even in the instance where a parent does not cooperate with the referral and placement process.
VI. Sharing of Student Records
Pursuant to section 99.34 of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), an agency or institution subject to these requirements, such as a local educational agency, may disclose educational records of a student receiving services under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to a school in which the student seeks or intends to enroll, provided that (1) the agency makes a reasonable attempt to notify the parent (unless the disclosure is initiated by the parent) or (2) it is the policy of the agency or institution to forward education records to other agencies or institutions that have requested records and in which the student seeks or intends to enroll. Under these circumstances, prior consent of the parent is not required for the sharing of student education records pursuant to section 99.31 of FERPA.
VII. Placement of Students with Disabilities in Children’s Residential Project (CRP) Programs
Placement of students in CRP programs requires special procedures. Documents to request a CRP placement may be obtained by contacting the Nondistrict Unit at (518) 486-6260.
CRP programs are interagency education and residential programs approved by NYSED and the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to provide in-State educational and residential programs for students with severe developmental disabilities currently in out-of-State residential schools or at risk of placement in out-of-State schools. Admission to CRP programs is limited to those children identified through the education system as needing educational and residential services who also meet the residential eligibility criteria for the Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally Disabled (ICFDD) as established by OPWDD. The placement of students in such programs is contingent on approval by NYSED and OPWDD that the student meets the criteria for CRP eligibility.
If a CSE is considering a residential placement for a student in a CRP program, the district must discuss this option with the parent and obtain parental consent to participate in the CRP. The district then contacts the local OPWDD Developmental Disabilities Regional Office (DDRO) concerning the referral of the student to the CRP program. The district should assist the parent in the application process for the child’s admission to the ICFDD (see http://www.opwdd.ny.gov/). Email or mail (no faxes) a request for a CRP placement to:
New York State Education Department
P-12: Office of Special Education
89 Washington Avenue, Room 309 EB
Albany, NY 12234
Attn: 2013-14 Residential Reapplication
VIII. Technical Assistance
NYSED does not provide a student-to-approved private school program “matching service” for a district. It is the district’s responsibility to access the list of in-State and out-of-State approved private schools through our website at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/privateschools/home.html and to contact each school directly to obtain information to assist in the referral and placement process. Staff from the Nondistrict Unit of the P-12: Office of Special Education are available to provide technical assistance to school districts regarding the residential placement process and may be able to assist school districts to identify potential residential programs for students who are “difficult to place.”
Questions concerning these procedures should be directed to the Nondistrict Unit at (518) 486-6260. Thank you for your cooperation and attention to this matter.
Attachment 1 - Questions and Answers
Attachment 2 - Interstate Compact Requirements