ISBE recently issued an updated guidance document titled Revised—ISBE Guidance Relating to Special Education Cooperative Articles of Agreement (http://www.isbe.net/spec-ed/pdfs/guidance_10-1.pdf).
This guidance follows a memo issued by David Andel of ISBE on March 27, 2015, to all special education directors, clarifying how IDEA Part B carryover funds are to be addressed in the joint agreements for each special education cooperative. (See, April 2015 Extra Mile email edition).
The primary issue in both documents is the way special education joint agreements deal with IDEA Part B carryover funds upon the withdrawal of a member district or the dissolution of an entire cooperative. Unspent Part B funds generated for a student in a member district are considered to be the funds of that member district, with the cooperative acting merely as a conduit for the funds.
To that end, ISBE is requiring cooperatives to review their joint agreement documents to ensure their withdrawal and dissolution procedures properly allow the flow-through of those Part B funds to the generating member district in the event of a withdrawal or dissolution.
Cooperatives are not permitted to require member districts to forfeit those funds. The issue is not based on a change in the law, but rather on a recent clarification of federal reporting requirements. Note that this issue does not relate to IDEA funds that member districts have already paid to a cooperative for a purchased service.
The remainder of the “Revised ISBE Guidance” document has been around for roughly five years and outlines the various components of a special education joint agreement that are required by the Section 10-22.31 of the Illinois School Code. Cooperatives already should have updated their joint agreements to reflect those components back in 2009 or 2010.
Please contact Bennett Rodick or Jeff Goelitz with your joint agreement questions or to request revision of your Joint Agreement.