After almost eight years, The Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) updated its Notice of Procedural Safeguards for Parents/Guardians of Students with Disabilities. This comprehensive 21-page companion document to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) must be provided once a year to parents or guardians of students with disabilities who are receiving, or may be eligible to receive, specialized services.

The Procedural Safeguards contain 14 primary sections that cover key components of the IDEA such as evaluation procedures, disciplinary matters, complaint resolutions, and due process hearings. Fortunately, updates appear in only four sections as compared to the prior Procedural Safeguards from October 2009:

Evaluation Procedures
Complaint Resolution
Educational Surrogate Parents

In matters regarding initial and independent evaluations, a school district has specific obligations.  For example, if a parent submits an evaluation conducted by a qualified evaluator who is not employed by the student’s school district, a notice of conference must be provided to the parent/guardian within 10 days of receipt of the evaluation. The notice must state the date upon which the IEP team will convene to consider and discuss the results of the Independent Educational Evaluation (“IEE”).

The 2017 Safeguards also address a school district’s duties when there is less than 60 days in the current school year following the date a parent/guardian signs a written consent to conduct assessments for an initial evaluation.

Other updates within the 2017 Safeguards include: a student’s educational placement, or “stay-put,” as triggered by an agreement to participate in state-sponsored mediation; as well as detailed information that a parent/guardian must provide when submitting a formal ISBE complaint.  Lastly, ISBE has included slight changes and additions in language regarding a district’s attempts to locate a student’s parent, as well as requests to appoint an educational surrogate via ISBE.

The 2017 Procedural Safeguards are easily accessed via the ISBE website found here. Of equal importance, and automatically attached to the Safeguards as an Appendix, is the 2000 ISBE Policy Statement on Least Restrictive Environment. HLERK will continue to track the Procedural Safeguards pursuant to pending Illinois laws regarding students with disabilities.