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IDEA: Top OSEP Monitoring Priorities

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  1. IDEA: Top OSEP Monitoring Priorities Tiffany R. Winters, EsQ. Bonnie Little, Esq. Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC Spring Forum 2011

  2. OSEP ARRA Monitoring • Using the ARRA Monitoring Inventory (AMI), OSEP will monitor all States receiving ARRA IDEA funds by 12/31/2011: • Existing information (websites, 1512 reports, verification reports etc.) • Additional documentation requested by OSEP • Phone interviews/some on-site visits • Follow up with a response summarizing the review and any identified issues.

  3. OSEP is Coming! • Be prepared: • (1) Organizational meeting • (2) Select main OSEP visit contact • (3) Select main interview contacts • (4) Select meeting place • (5) Complete AMI / CrEAG documents • (6) Organize documentation • (7) Mock verification visit • (8) Review findings from your state • (9) Be prepared to address noncompliance • (10) Review OSEP verification reports

  4. Areas to Focus On • Oversight of ARRA IDEA funds • Data reporting • Subrecipient monitoring • Significant Disproportionality and CEIS • Fiscal Management • Use of funds • Internal controls • Timely Obligation and Liquidation • MOE

  5. Oversight of Regular and ARRA IDEA Funds • Data Collection • Subrecipient Monitoring

  6. Data Collection System • Public, Timely, Valid and Reliable Data • DATA QUALITY! • Automatic Error Checking • Guidance by State on Reporting Procedures • Procedures to Ensure Individuals Report Data Accurately • Training Personnel • Review of Reported Data • Identify Abnormalities and Correct Inaccuracies?

  7. Data Reporting Types of Data Reports • Annual Performance Reports • Section 1512 Reporting • 1512 subrecipient and vendor reports provide a window into how ARRA/IDEA funds are drawn down and expended • Subrecipient vendor reports • Provide details that are not normally accessible • Monitoring reports

  8. Data Reporting • Use data reports to identify areas of noncompliance, in addition to fiscal or ARRA specific issues • Timeliness of initial evaluations and determinations of eligibility • Part C to Part B transition • Secondary transition services • Correction of noncompliance • Timeliness of resolution of state complaints • Timeliness of fully adjudicated due process hearings • State reported data is timely and accurate

  9. Using Data to Identify Noncompliance Deadlines!!

  10. Initial Evaluation • Initial Evaluations: within 60 days of receiving parental consent (unless State has different timeframe) • Exceptions: • The parent repeatedly fails or refuses to produce the child for the evaluation. • The child enrolls in a school of another public agency and parent and the subsequent public agency are making progress to ensure completion of the evaluation. • Consent • Reasonable efforts and parents refuse or fail to respond – can override. • DOCUMENT Reasonable Efforts!!!! • Calling, Letters, E-mails, Visits to Parent’s Home and/or Work.

  11. Reevaluation • Reevaluation: Every 3 years • No FAPE violation if refuse more then 1 per year • Consent • Reasonable efforts and parents refuse – can override • Reasonable efforts and parents fail to respond – consent not required No FAPE violation if don’t override consent!

  12. Transitions Part C to B Transition • Children served under Part C and referred to Part B for eligibility determination who are found eligible must have an IEP developed and implemented by their third birthday • Part C program provides “early intervention services” to infants and toddlers with disabilities (under 3) • Exceptions: • Referred to Part B and found NOT eligible • Parent refusal to provide consent • Referred to Part C less than 90 days before third birthday Secondary Transition • Youth 16 and above must have measurable postsecondary goals, annually updated, based on a transition assessment, transition services, and IEP goals related to the student’s transition services needs

  13. Due Process Procedures • Adopt Part B Procedures • May adopt Part B’s 45 day timeline for reaching a final decision or • Create own procedures • Impartial Hearing Officer • Parents due process rights • Written decisions due in 30 days of receipt of complaint!

  14. Due Process Timeframes v. Expedited Hearing

  15. Resolution Meetings • Must occur within 15 days of notice of complaint. • Attorney for the LEA cannot attend unless parent’s attorney is also present • If after reasonable efforts (documented), the LEA is unable to obtain the participation of the Parent, the LEA may (at the end of the 30-day period), request that the hearing officer dismiss the parent’s due process complaint! • If LEA fails to schedule a resolution meeting, parent can ask for intervention! • Meeting notes are not confidential • Settlement agreement can be voided up to 3 days after it is signed • 34 C.F.R. § 300.510

  16. State Complaints • State complaints must be completed within 60 days! • Includes completing on-site investigation, if necessary • Complainant given opportunity to submit additional information • Review information and make independent determination • Written decision includes findings of fact and conclusions of law • If allegations already decided in due process case the due process decision is binding!

  17. Extensions • State Complaints • Time extensions only allowed: • (1) in “exceptional circumstances”; or • (2) parties voluntarily engage in mediation or other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, if available in the state, to resolve the complaint • 34 CFR 300.152 • Due Process Complaints • Time extensions allowed if: • (1) Requested by either party; • (2) Granted by the hearing officer; and • (3) Specify either the length of the extension or the new date by which the decision must be reached • 34 CFR 300.515(a) • Parties may agree to extend the 30-day resolution period • Does not require hearing officer involvement or approval • BUT - cannot agree to extend the resolution period for expedited complaint

  18. Subrecipient Monitoring

  19. Subrecipient Monitoring • Methods of identifying noncompliance • Self-assessments • Onsite monitoring • Cyclical v Risk-based • Data review • Disproportionate representation • Types of noncompliance • Student-level findings • Systemic findings • Are there controls to ensure funds are used in accordance with IDEA and ARRA requirements? • Section 1512 reporting requirements • Competitively bid, fixed-price contracts • Progress toward meeting ARRA principles

  20. Correction of Noncompliance OSEP Memo 09-02 • Written notification of noncompliance • Correction within one year of written notification • Demonstrating Correction • Verify the LEA/school is: • (1) correctly implementing the specific regulatory requirements; and • (2) has corrected each individual case of noncompliance • Exception: child is no longer within jurisdiction of LEA/school

  21. Correction of Noncompliance OSEP Memo 09-02 • Demonstrating Correction • Account for all instances of noncompliance identified • Monitoring/self-assessment • Review of data • USDE identified noncompliance • Identify where noncompliance occurred, % of noncompliance and the “root cause(s)” of the noncompliance • Student level or systemic • Revise policies and/or practices as appropriate • Follow-up with onsite visit and/or review of updated data

  22. Significant Disproportionality and CEIS

  23. Significant Disproportionality • Each State must collect and examine data to determine if significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring with respect to: • The identification of children as children with disabilities, including the identification of children as children with disabilities in accordance with a particular impairment described in section 602(3) of the Act; • The placement in particular educational settings of these children; and • The incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsion. • Recent finding by OSEP: Definition is too restrictive so that no districts are identified as significantly disproportionate!

  24. Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS) • Set-aside up to 15% of Part B allocation to develop & implement coordinated CEIS: • 15% Required if Significantly Disproportionate!! (Defined by the SEA) • Eligibility: • Students who are NOT currently identified, and • Who need additional academic and behavioral support to succeed in a general education environment • For students in kindergarten through Grade 12 (focus on K-3rd Grade) • May be used in RTI system (depending on level)

  25. CEIS and Supplement Not Supplant • CEIS must supplement any ESEA activities or services. 34 CFR 300.226(e) • Model example: • CEIS and local funds serve total population (CEIS for eligible CEIS students) • Title I provides Response to Intervention to Title I students and CEIS supplements

  26. Response to Intervention (RTI) • RTI strategies are tools that enable educators to target instructional interventions to children’s areas of specific need as those needs become apparent. • To assist in the identification of students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) • Predicts At Risk students • Designed to avoid identification of “disabled” students • Provides a tiered system of individualized scientific research based interventions

  27. RTI (cont.) • If you use RTI Strategies, LEAs must promptly request parental consent to evaluate a child if the child has not made adequate progress after an appropriate period of time. • However, the regulations do not specify a timeline for using RTI or define “adequate progress.” • ED says it varies on the specific circumstances • Generally not acceptable to wait several months • A State may choose to establish a specific timeline • Parent may request an evaluation at any time!

  28. Response to Intervention (RTI)

  29. Fiscal Management

  30. Use of Funds • Are there procedures reasonably designed to ensure appropriate use of regular and ARRA IDEA funds and at LEA level? • Meeting IDEA program rules? • Meeting IDEA fiscal rules? • Meeting ARRA-specific requirements? • Are all costs allowable? • How does SEA/LEA ensure allowability? • Proper Documentation? • Proper Procurement System? • Proper Inventory Management System?

  31. Use of Funds - Allowable Cost Questions • Is the proposed cost consistent with federal cost principles? • OMB Circulars A-21 Educational Institutions • OMB Circulars A-87 State, Local & Indian Tribal Governments • OMB Circulars A-122 Non-Profit Organizations • Is the proposed cost consistent with EDGAR? • Is the proposed cost allowable under IDEA program and fiscal rules? • Is the proposed cost consistent with ARRA-specific requirements, including requirements related to reporting and infrastructure investments?

  32. Supplement Not Supplant Part B funds must be used to supplement State, local, and other Federal funds, not to supplant those funds. Designed to ensure Part B funds pay for something “extra.”

  33. Supplement Not Supplant (cont.) • IDEA, Part B funds must be used to supplement and not supplant State, local, and other Federal funds.

  34. Equitable Services Set-Aside Including IDEA regular and ARRA IDEA funds Plus any unused carryover from previous year. § 300.133(a)(3) Use of Funds- Distribution for Equitable Participation Services

  35. Equitable Participation Services (cont.) MUST MAINTAIN CONTROL • Control over funds • No Reimbursement • Control over Property • Tags • District Inventory • District Property Receipt • Control over Program Decisions • Subject to Consultation • Monitoring An LEA must control and administer funds used to provide equitable participation services and hold title to and administer materials, equipment, and property purchased with those funds, under 34 CFR 300.137 - 300.139

  36. Internal Controls

  37. EDGAR Procurement Rules • Section 80.36 of EDGAR • All procurement transactions must be conducted with full and open competition • Follow Procurement Rules • IDEA (B) requires preapproval for Equipment Purchases! • IDEA definition includes instructional equipment, books, periodicals, documents, and other related materials • OSEP creating definition of special education expenditure??

  38. Equipment Rules • Section 80.32 of EDGAR • Must have adequate controls in place to account for: • Location of equipment • Custody of equipment • Security of equipment • Property records • Description, serial number or other ID, title information, acquisition date, cost, percent of federal participation, location, use and condition, and disposition (if applicable) • Physical inventory • Must be performed at least every 2 years • Control system to prevent loss, damage and theft • All incidents must be investigated

  39. Equipment • Must protect against unauthorized use • May use for other projects as long as use is incidental and does not interfere with authorized use • When property is no longer needed, must follow disposition rules: • Transfer to another federal program • Over $5,000 – Keep or sell, but must pay a share based on the percentage of federal ED participation at initial acquisition • Under $5,000 – May keep, sell, or dispose of it with no obligation to ED

  40. Timely Obligation and Liquidation of Funds

  41. Timely Obligations Regular IDEA Funds: • Initial Period of Availability 15 months (July 1st –September 30th) • Can cut Period of Obligation Short (GEPA Section 421(b))??? • Carryover – Additional 12 months (Tydings Amendment) • Watch High Carryover! • Liquidation – up to 90 days (usually between October 1st – December 30th) ARRA IDEA Funds: • States and LEAs must obligate ARRA IDEA funds by September 30, 2011

  42. Timely Obligations (cont.) • Linking Funds – Obligation occurs on February 1, 2011 • Available funds include: • ARRA 2009 Funds (available 2/17/09 – 9/30/11) • 2009-2010 Funds (available 7/01/09 – 9/30/11) • 2010-2011 Funds (available 7/01/10 – 9/30/12) • 2011 – 2012 Funds – become available 7/01/11 – 9/30/13 • But keep in mind the concept of allocability • Watch Set-asides (Proportionate Share)

  43. Timely Obligations (cont.) • Reimbursement versus Cash Advance • Cash Management Improvement Act (CMIA) • Three days between drawdown and payment • After 72 hours, interest starts to accrue • Any amount of interest over $100 must be remitted at least quarterly

  44. State and Local Maintenance of Effort Keep It Up!

  45. State Maintenance of Effort (MOE) • A State must not reduce the amount of State financial support for special education and related services for children with disabilities below the amount of that support for the preceding fiscal year. • Must use ALL State funds!! • May be able to use ARRA Stabilization funds towards SEA MOE requirements!

  46. State MOE Waiver • IDEA Waiver ONLY applies to State MOE! (not LEA MOE) • ED may waive SEA MOE (for one FY at a time) if ED determines that a waiver would be equitable due to: • Exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances such as a natural disaster or a precipitous & unforeseen decline in State financial resources; or • The SEA meets Supplement Not Supplant Waiver Requirements. IDEA Regs §§300.163(c) and 300.164 • Does not reduce State MOE for subsequent years.

  47. State MOE Waiver (cont.) • ED wants to make sure any reduction in State SPED funds is not greater than the % reduction in revenues experienced by the State (SPED treated equitably). • Factors considered: • State’s revenues and extent to decrease based on exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances • State’s total appropriations for current versus prior year • State’s appropriations for other agencies • State’s compliance with Implementing IDEA, Part B and performance record • Other available funds to mitigate effects of waiver

  48. State MOE Waiver (cont.) SEA MOE Waivers Requested: • Iowa (Requested Jan 2010) • Requested reduction of 7.25% • ED Response (April 2010) • ED found State decrease of SPED funds 8.4% with average State cuts of 14.75% • Waiver Granted • Will request repayment by the SEA if any LEAs fail to meet MOE • West Virginia (Requested March 2010) • Requested reduction of 2% • ED Response July 2010 • ED found average State cuts of 5.8% with decreased State revenues of 7% • Waiver Granted • Will request repayment by the SEA if any LEAs fail to meet MOE.

  49. State MOE Waiver (cont.) SEA MOE Waivers Requested: • Kansas (Requested May 2009) • Requested reduction of 14.07% from FY 09 to FY10 • Ed Response (March 2010) • State reduction was only 10.4% (ED found State’s budget did not treat SPED programs in an equitable manner when compared with other State programs • Waiver Partially Granted - only 10.4% reduction • Will request repayment by the SEA if any LEAs fail to meet MOE • Kansas Amendment Waiver Request (June 2010) • Showing reduction of State funds of 12.3% • ED Response (October 2010) • Partial Waiver Granted – 12.3% reduction

  50. State MOE Waiver (cont.) SEA MOE Waivers Requested: • South Carolina (Requested Feb 2010) - Pending • Very general request for “across-the-board reduction” • New Jersey (Requested Sept 2010) - Pending • Reduction requested of 2.1%. Reduction of State SPED funding equaled 4.2%. (Average State reduction 6.9% - with 6.2% reduction in overall state aid to school districts) • Alabama (N0 Date on Request)– Pending • Letter general – seems to request 9.5% reduction for general reduction in appropriations • Oregon (Requested March 2011) – Pending • Very detailed request – approximately 4.48% reduction