By Anisa Jassawalla, Attorney at Law
On January 1, 2019, Assembly Bill 2109 took effect, making several changes to the laws governing home-hospital instruction for students with temporary disabilities. According to the bill’s author “Unfortunately, unclear statutes have led some school districts to dis-enroll students once they become students of a hospital school.
This means parents have to re-enroll their students, which can lead to delays in students attending school, or students being unable to return to their prior school.” AB 2109 seeks to remedy this situation.
The new provisions particularly effect general education students with temporary disabilities. A “temporary disability” is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional disability incurred while a pupil is enrolled in regular day classes or an alternative education program, and after which the pupil can reasonably be expected to return to regular day classes or the alternative education program. Typically, the district of residence or school attended prior to the hospitalization may disenroll the student with a temporary disability, leading to delays once discharged from the hospital and seeking to reenroll in the district of residence or school of last attendance.
However, a pupil with a temporary disability who is in a hospital located outside the school district in which the pupil’s parent or guardian resides is deemed to have complied with the residency requirements for school attendance in the school district in which the hospital is located. As a result, the law shifts responsibility for providing such a pupil with hospital instruction to the school district in which the hospital is located.
AB 2109 authorizes, but does not require, a school district or charter school to continue to enroll a pupil who is receiving individual instruction in a hospital, in order to facilitate the pupil’s timely reentry in his or her prior school after the hospitalization has ended, or to provide a partial week of instruction to a pupil who is receiving individual instruction in a hospital for fewer than five days per week.
AB 2109 requires school districts and charter schools to allow a pupil with a temporary disability receiving individual instruction in the home or hospital setting to return to the school or charter school that the pupil attended immediately before receiving individual instruction, as long as the pupil returns during the school year in which the individual instruction was initiated.
This bill also provides that a pupil who is receiving individual instruction in a hospital setting for a partial week is entitled to attend school in his or her school district of residence, or receive individual instruction provided by the school district of residence in the pupil’s home, on days in which the pupil is not receiving individual instruction in a hospital.
For purposes of computing average daily attendance (ADA), a pupil may only be counted by the school district of residence or the charter school, or the school district in which the hospital is located, on days when the pupil is in attendance in that school district or charter school, or is receiving individual instruction in the hospital, respectively. The total attendance shall not exceed five days per week.
Given these changes to the law, local educational agencies will want to review their board policies and administrative regulations to ensure that they reflect current law consistent with the provisions of AB 2109.
It is also important to mention that AB 2109 applies to students with temporary disabilities. Any decision regarding the appropriateness of individualized instruction for students receiving special education services pursuant to an IEP must be made by the student’s IEP team.