U.S. Department of Education Issues New Guidance About the Rights of Charter School Students with Disabilities
On December 28, 2016, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued a joint Dear Colleague Letter which included two resource documents intended to provide the charter school community with information about the rights of charter school students with disabilities and prospective charter school students with disabilities.
The first document, entitled “Frequently Asked Questions about the Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Charter Schools under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,” emphasizes that charter school students with disabilities have the same Section 504 rights as other public school students with disabilities at the elementary and secondary education levels. In addition, the document offers information about the applicability of requirements for disability nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in recruitment, application, and admission to charter schools because the admissions policy or enrollment practices of charter schools may differ from that of traditional public schools.
The second document, entitled “Frequently Asked Questions about the Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Charter Schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” outlines the rights of charter school students with disabilities and their parents on a variety of issues. Specifically, the IDEA document emphasizes that children with disabilities who attend charter schools and their parents retain all rights and protections under Part B of IDEA just as they would at other public schools. It also addresses the provision of FAPE, the State educational agency’s general supervisory authority, over all educational programs for children with disabilities in the State, including charter schools, child find and evaluations, placement, procedural safeguards, IDEA funding, IDEA obligations related to charter school closures, and other topics.
These documents may be helpful resources to share with your staff in their efforts to continue to ensure that all students receive the rights secured by these two federal laws.
With the passing of January 1st on the calendar comes new laws affecting public agencies. Below is a brief summary of some of the new laws effective January 1, 2017 and beyond.
- Proposition 64
In November voters approve Proposition 64 making nonmedical marijuana use legal for persons over 21 years old. While constituting a significant change in the criminal law, the proposition will have little effect on employee or student discipline.
- FEHA Regulations
Updated regulations from the Fair Employment and Housing Agency (FEHA) now requires public agencies to update and distribute harassment and discrimination polices. Public agencies should compare their policies to the new regulations to ensure compliance.
- SB 3
Responding to national discourse regarding minimum wage as a living wage, the legislature voted to incrementally increase California’s minimum wage. Beginning January 1, 2017, California’s minimum wage will be increased to $10.50.
- AB 2316
After a California Court of Appeals questioned school districts’ use of Lease-Leaseback procedures, the legislature stepped in to augment the law. With the changes, Lease-Leaseback procedures now include a competitive bidding-type procedure that gives school districts discretion in setting the criteria used in evaluating those bids.
- AB 1732
Beginning March 1, 2017, all single-user restrooms are required to be identified as “all-gender toilet facilities.”
- AB 2393
This bill provides up to 12 weeks of parental leave to school district certificated and classified employees. AB 2393 also removes the previous eligibility requirement requiring employees to work 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.
- AB 1676
This new legislation is an attempt to address the U.S Census Bureau’s finding that women in California earn approximately 84 cents to every dollar a man earns. As such, AB 1676 prevents an employer from using past salary to justify current salary.
Our firm is looking forward to working with each of you in the coming year. Should you have any questions regarding application of any of these changes, please do not hesitate to contact us.