The Committee on Special Education

What is the function of a school district’s committee on special education?


The primary function of the committee on special education (CSE) is to identify, evaluate, review the
status of, and make recommendations concerning the appropriate educational placement of each schoolage
child with a disability, or thought to have a disability, who resides within the school district (20 USC
§ 1414(b)(4)(A), (d)(3), (4); 34 CFR §§ 300.306(a), 300.324; Educ. Law §§ 4402(3), 4410(3); 8
NYCRR §§ 200.3, 200.4).


The CSE must also make an annual report to the school board on the status of services and facilities
made available by the district for children with disabilities (Educ. Law § 4402(1)(b)(3), (f)). The CSE is
also responsible for maintaining and annually revising the register of children with disabilities who are
entitled to attend public school during the next school year or those referred to the committee (8 NYCRR
§ 200.2(a)(1)).


Who may refer a student to the committee on special education (CSE) for identification,
evaluation, and possible special education placement?


Actual referrals for an initial evaluation to determine a student’s eligibility for classification, special
education services, and placement as a student with a disability may be made only by:


• A student’s parent;


• A designee of the student’s school district of residence or the district the student legally attends or is
eligible to attend;


• The commissioner of education or a designee of a public agency responsible for the student’s
education; and/or


• A designee of an education program affiliated with a child care institution with CSE responsibility
(20 USC § 1414(a)(1)(B); 34 CFR § 300.301(b); 8 NYCRR § 200.4(a)(1)(i)-(iv))


On the other hand, written requests for referrals for an initial evaluation may be made by:


• A professional staff member of the student’s school district of residence or the public or private
school the student legally attends or is eligible to attend;


• A licensed physician;


• A judicial officer;


• A professional staff member of a public agency responsible for the welfare, health or education of
children; or


• The student, if 18 years of age or older, or an emancipated minor and eligible to attend the district’s
public schools (8 NYCRR § 200.4(a)(2)(i)(a)-(e))


Commissioner regulations establish procedures and timelines applicable when a school district
receives a request for referral, depending upon who has made the request (8 NYCRR § 200.4(a)(2)(ii)-
(iv)).


Strict timelines apply with respect to evaluating a student and, where applicable, developing and
implementing an individualized education program (see 54:6) for a student (20 USC § 1414(a); 34 CFR
§§ 300.301(c), 300.323(c); 8 NYCRR §§ 200.4(b)(1), 200.5(b); see also Application of [Redacted] Sch.
Dist., SRO dec. no. 09-136 (2010)).


School districts must ensure that their implementation of response to intervention strategies does not
delay or deny the timely initial evaluation of children presumed to have a disability (U.S. Department of
Education, OSEP Memo 11-07 to State Directors of Special Education (Jan. 21, 2011), at:


http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/osep11-07rtimemo.pdf


Who are the mandated members of a school district’s committee on special education (CSE)?


A CSE must include the following members:


• The parent or person in parental relationship to the student


• At least one regular education teacher of the student (if the child is, or may be, participating in the
regular education environment). The regular education teacher must be someone who is certified to
teach the student under consideration, and who teaches in one of the regular education programs
which might be appropriate for the student (Application of a Child with a Disability, SRO dec. no.
06-051 (2006); Application of a Child with a Disability, SRO dec. no. 04-088 (2004)). For
example, a kindergarten teacher would not be an appropriate CSE member for a student being
considered for a regular middle school class (Application of a Child with a Disability, SRO dec. no.
02-080 (2003))


• At least one special education teacher of the student or, where appropriate, at least one special
education provider of such child


• A school psychologist


• A representative of the school district who is:

(1) qualified to provide or supervise special education,
(2) knowledgeable about the general curriculum, and
(3) knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the district (this individual may also be the
special education teacher/provider or school psychologist if they meet the above qualifications.
The representative of the school district must serve as the chairperson of the committee.)


• An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results (this individual
may also be one of the above district team members or a person having knowledge or special
expertise regarding the student so determined by the district)


• At the discretion of the parent or the district, other individuals who have knowledge or special
expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel, as appropriate. A parent’s right to
invite such individuals does not include the right to reimbursement and compensation related to their
attendance (Application of a Child with a Disability, SRO dec. no. 02-009 (2003)). However, a
CSE that chooses to resolve an impasse in reaching consensus by taking a vote is required to count
the vote of every participant at the CSE meeting, including those invited by parents as having
knowledge or special expertise about their child (Sackets Harbor CSD v. Munoz, 283 A.D.2d 756
(3d Dep’t 2001))


• A school physician, if requested in writing by the parents or the school district 72 hours before a
meeting


• A parent of another child with a disability residing in the district or a neighboring district if requested
in writing by the parents or the school district 72 hours before a meeting. The parent of a declassified
student no longer eligible for special education or of a disabled child who has graduated may serve
as the additional parent member for up to five years beyond their child’s declassification or
graduation


• Where appropriate, or otherwise required by law and/or regulation, the student (20 USC § 1414(d)(1)
(B); 34 CFR § 300.321; Educ. Law § 4402(1)(b)(1)(a); 8 NYCRR § 200.3(a)(1); see also 34 CFR §
300.308)


Are there any individuals who are mandated members of the committee on special education
(CSE) but only on certain occasions?


Yes. In the case of a child previously receiving, and transitioning out of, early intervention services, a
school district must invite the service coordinator or other representative to the initial CSE meeting upon
parental request (20 USC § 1414(d)(1)(D); 34 CFR § 300.321(f); see also 8 NYCRR § 200.5(c)(2)
(viii)).


Any participating agency likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services
designed to assist the student reach postsecondary goals must be invited, as well, to the extent appropriate
and with the consent of the parent or the student if the student has reached the age of 18 (34 CFR §
300.321(b); 8 NYCRR § 200.4(d)(4)(i)(c)).


In addition, where a school district is considering the placement of a student in a residential therapeutic
school, the CSE meeting at which the possible placement is discussed must include the participation of a
representative from that school, even when the student’s parents have indicated their intent to visit the
school (Werner v. Clarkstown CSD, 363 F.Supp.2d 656 (S.D.N.Y. 2005)).


According to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights Western Division, Seattle (WA),
a CSE also should include staff familiar with the English language acquisition needs and English
proficiency of a limited English proficient (LEP) student who is also a student with a disability whenever
the CSE is discussing the student’s placement. Their participation is necessary to determine an
appropriate placement for students with dual needs of a learning disability and English language
acquisition, and to ensure coordination between special education and English language acquisition
services. The failure to include such individuals would constitute a violation of Title VI, which prohibits
discrimination on the basis of natural origin, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits
discrimination on the basis of disability (Mt. Vernon (WA) Sch. Dist., OCR Decision, 52 IDELR 300
(2008)).


May committee on special education (CSE) members be excused from attending a CSE
meeting?


Yes. Under the conditions specified in statute and regulations, a parent and school district may agree in
writing that the attendance at a CSE meeting of the regular education teacher, special education teacher or
special education provider, school district representative, or the CSE member who can interpret the
instructional implications of evaluation results is either unnecessary or may be excused (20 USC §
1414(d)(1)(C); 34 CFR § 300.321(e); Educ. Law §§ 4402(1)(b)(1)(b-1)-(b-3), 4402(1)(b)(1)(d); 8
NYCRR § 200.3(f)).


May a school district have more than one committee on special education (CSE)?


Yes. Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers must establish CSE subcommittees to
the extent necessary to ensure the timely evaluation and placement of students with disabilities. Other
school districts also may establish CSE subcommittees but are not required to do so (Educ. Law §§
4402(1)(b)(1), 4402(1)(b)(1)(d); 8 NYCRR § 200.3(c)).


Is there any difference in function between a committee on special education (CSE) and a
CSE subcommittee?


A CSE subcommittee performs the same functions as a CSE, except that the CSE remains responsible
for deciding cases concerning the initial placement of a student in a special class, in a special class
outside of the student’s school of attendance or in a school primarily serving children with disabilities or
a school outside the student’s district (Educ. Law § 4402(1)(b)(1)(d); 8 NYCRR § 200.3(c)(4)).
In addition, a CSE subcommittee must report to the CSE annually on the status of each student with a
disability under its jurisdiction (Educ. Law § 4402(1)(b)(1)(d); 8 NYCRR § 200.3(c)(6)). Upon written
parental request, the CSE subcommittee also must refer to the CSE for review any of its recommendations
not acceptable to the parent (Educ. Law § 4402(1)(b)(1)(d); 8 NYCRR § 200.3(c)(5)).


Who are the members of a CSE subcommittee?


A CSE subcommittee must include the following members:


• The parent of the child with a disability


• One regular education teacher (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education
environment)


• A special education teacher of the student, or where appropriate, a special education provider of such
child


• A school psychologist, whenever a new psychological evaluation is reviewed, or a change to a
program option with a more intensive staff/student ratio, as set forth in part 200.6(h)(4) of the
commissioner’s regulations, is considered


• A representative of the school district who is:
(1) qualified to provide, administer or supervise special education,
(2) knowledgeable about the general curriculum, and
(3) knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the district (this individual may also be the
special education teacher/provider or school psychologist if they meet the above qualifications.
The school district representative must serve as the chairperson of the subcommittee.)


• At the discretion of the parent or the district, other individuals who have knowledge or special
expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel


• An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results (this individual
may also be one of the above district team members)


• Where appropriate, the child with a disability (20 USC § 1414(d)(1)(B); 34 CFR § 300.321; Educ.
Law § 4402(1)(b)(1); 8 NYCRR § 200.3(c)(2))


What is the role of the committee on special education (CSE) and CSE subcommittee
chairperson?


The CSE or CSE subcommittee chairperson is responsible for presiding over committee or
subcommittee meetings. That individual also must carry out certain specified functions relating to, for
example, the referral of students for evaluation, parental consent, and notice to individuals responsible for
implementing a student’s individualized education program of their specific responsibilities (8 NYCRR §
200.3(e)).


Must a parent of a disabled student be present at the committee on special education (CSE)
or CSE subcommittee meeting where his or her child is being discussed?


A parent of a child with a disability is a mandated member of the CSE or the CSE subcommittee and
should be present at all meetings of the committee in which his or her child is being discussed (20 USC §§
1414(b)(4)(A), (e), (f), 1415(b)(1); 34 CFR §§ 300.321(a)(1), 300.322, 300.327, 300.501(b), (c); Educ.
Law § 4402(1)(b); 8 NYCRR §§ 200.3(a)(1)(i), (c)(2)(i), 200.5(d)(1)). Parents unable to be physically
present at a CSE meeting regarding their child’s educational placement may agree with a school district to
use other methods to ensure their participation, including individual conference calls or video
conferencing (20 USC § 1414(f); 34 CFR §§ 300.322(c), 300.328; 8 NYCRR § 200.5(d)(7)).


In addition, the school district must ensure the parent understands the proceedings at the meetings,
including arranging for an interpreter for deaf parents and parents whose native language is other than
English (34 CFR § 300.322(e); 8 NYCRR § 200.5(d)(5)).


However, a CSE or CSE subcommittee may meet without the parent if it cannot convince the parent to
attend, and has a record of its attempt to do so at a mutually agreed upon time and place (34 CFR §
300.322(d); 8 NYCRR § 200.5(d)(3); J.G. v. Briarcliff Manor UFSD, 682 F.Supp.2d 387 (S.D.N.Y.
2010)). It also may make a placement decision without parental involvement if the school is unable to
obtain the parents’ participation and has records of its attempts to secure their involvement (34 CFR §
300.501(c)(4); 8 NYCRR § 200.5(d)(4)).


Are there any meetings concerning students with disabilities that are not considered
committee on special education (CSE) meetings?


Yes. A CSE meeting does not include informal or unscheduled conversations among school personnel
and conversations about teaching methodology, lesson plans, or coordination of services provision if
those issues are not addressed in the student’s individualized education program (IEP) (see 54:6). A CSE
meeting does not include either preparatory activities by school personnel to develop a proposal or
response to a parental proposal that will be discussed at a later meeting (34 CFR § 300.501(b)(3); 8
NYCRR § 200.5(d)(2); T.P. v. Mamaroneck UFSD, 554 F.3d 247 (2d Cir. 2009)). However, any student
progress reports and recommendations for goals and objectives for a student’s IEP must be reviewed and
discussed at a CSE meeting, not just at the building level (Application of a Child with a Disability, SRO
dec. no. 04-104 (2005)).


May a parent tape-record his or her child’s committee on special education (CSE) or CSE
subcommittee meeting?


Yes. A parent may tape-record his or her own child’s CSE or CSE subcommittee meeting without
approval by the CSE, CSE subcommittee or school board. However, the parent may forfeit the right to
tape-record future proceedings if there are circumstances that indicate this right is being abused. A school
district also must be permitted to tape-record CSE or CSE subcommittee meetings (Application of a
Child with a Handicapping Condition, 30 Ed Dept Rep 178 (1990)). An impartial hearing officer may
admit into evidence at a due process hearing, a parent’s tape recording and transcript of a CSE meeting
(Application of a Child with a Disability, SRO dec. no. 05-051 (2005)).


May the school attorney attend the district’s committee on special education (CSE) or CSE
subcommittee meetings?


School attorneys should attend such meetings only on those rare occasions when the committee’s ability
to perform its functions depends on the immediate resolution of critical legal issues. The school attorney
should not become a listening post for the school board, nor may he or she attend CSE or CSE
subcommittee meetings to intimidate parents or undermine the decision-making process (Application of a
Child with a Handicapping Condition, 30 Ed Dept Rep 286 (1991)).


How often must a school district’s committee on special education (CSE) review a student’s
individualized education program (IEP)?


The CSE must review each student’s IEP at least annually. The annual review has two purposes. First,
to determine whether the student’s annual goals are being achieved. Second, to revise the IEP as
appropriate to address any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals and in the general
curriculum where appropriate, any reevaluation results and information provided by the student’s parents,
and the student’s anticipated needs or other matters (20 USC § 1414(d)(4); 34 CFR § 300.324(b)(1); 8
NYCRR § 200.4(f)).


Although a school district may not change a student’s IEP while administrative or judicial proceedings
are pending, it must nonetheless comply with its obligation to timely review all IEPs. A district reviewing
a student’s IEP while a due process dispute is ongoing must continue to implement the last agreed-upon
IEP for the duration of the dispute, unless the parents agree otherwise (Letter to Watson, OSEP Response
to Inquiry, 48 IDELR 284 (Apr. 2007); see also Norma P. v. Pelham Sch. Dist., 19 IDELR 938 (1st Cir.
1993)).


How often must a school district committee on special education (CSE) reevaluate previously
identified students with disabilities?


A CSE must arrange an appropriate reevaluation of each student with a disability, if conditions warrant
a reevaluation or if the child’s parent or teacher requests a reevaluation, but the CSE must not conduct
reevaluations more than once a year unless the parent and school district agree otherwise (20 USC §
1414(a)(2)(A), (B); 34 CFR § 300.303; Educ. Law § 4402(1)(b)(3)(d); 8 NYCRR § 200.4(b)(4)).
The CSE also must reevaluate a student with a disability at least once every three years, unless the
parent and district agree, in writing, that such three-year reevaluation is unnecessary (20 USC § 1414(a)
(2)(B)(ii); 34 CFR § 300.303(b)(2); Educ. Law § 4402(1)(b)(3)(d); 8 NYCRR § 200.4(b)(4)).


Must a school district’s committee on special education (CSE) evaluate a child with a
disability prior to declassification?


Yes, unless the CSE determines that it does not require additional data to decide whether the child
continues to be a child with a disability. In such an instance, the district must notify the child’s parent of
its determination and the reasons thereof, as well as the parent’s right to request an assessment. The
school district is not required to conduct the assessment unless requested by the child’s parent (20 USC §
1414 (c)(4), (5)(A); 34 CFR § 300.305(d), (e); 8 NYCRR § 200.4(b)(5)(iv), (c)(3)).

 

A declassification evaluation is not required when a student’s eligibility for special education
programs and services ends as a result of the student’s graduation with a local high school or Regents’
diploma, or because the student ages out (20 USC § 1414(c)(5)(B)(i); 34 CFR § 300.305(e)(2); 8
NYCRR § 200.4(c)(4)). However, in such an instance, a district must provide a summary of the student’s
academic achievement and functional performance, including recommendations on how to assist the
student to meet postsecondary goals (20 USC § 1414(c)(5)(B)(ii); 34 CFR § 300.305(e)(3); 8 NYCRR §
200.4(c)(4)).


School districts must expressly notify parents if an upcoming CSE meeting will include a discussion of
their child’s possible declassification (Bd. of Educ. of the Southhold UFSD, SRO dec. no. 04-081
(2004)).


Must the committee on special education provide declassification support services to
students it no longer considers eligible for special education services?


Yes. Declassification support services help a student transition from special education to full-time
regular education and are directed at both the student and his or her teacher(s). Such services may
include, for the student, psychological support, social work, speech and language services, and counseling
other than career counseling. With respect to teachers, declassification services may include assistance
from supplementary school personnel and consultation with appropriate personnel (8 NYCRR §
200.1(ooo)).


Providers of such services must be certified pursuant to Part 80 of the regulations of the commissioner
of education (Id.).


What happens if the school board disagrees with the recommendation of the committee on
special education (CSE) or the CSE subcommittee?


If a school board disagrees with either committee’s recommendation, it may follow one of the
following procedures:

 

• Return the recommendation to the committee with a statement of the board’s objections or concerns.
The committee must then consider the board’s objections or concerns, revise the individualized
education program (IEP) (see 54:6) where appropriate, and resubmit a recommendation to the board.
If the board continues to disagree with the recommendation, it may either continue to return the
recommendation to the original committee for additional review or establish a second committee to
develop a new recommendation


• Establish a second committee to develop a new recommendation. If the board disagrees with the
recommendation of the second committee, it may return the recommendation to the second committee
with a statement of its objections or concerns. The second committee then must consider the board’s
objections or concerns, revise the IEP where appropriate and resubmit a recommendation to the
board. If the board continues to disagree with the revised recommendation, it may continue to return
the recommendation to the second committee for additional review


Once a school board establishes a second CSE, the board may not select the recommendation of the
initial CSE (8 NYCRR § 200.4(e)(2)).


Under either procedure, the school board must arrange for the programs and services in accordance
with an IEP within 60 school days of receiving the consent to evaluate a student not previously identified
as a student with a disability, or within 60 school days of the referral for review of the child with a
disability. In cases involving a student’s placement in a state approved private school, the school has 30
days from the day it receives the CSE recommendation to make the necessary arrangements (8 NYCRR §
200.4(e)(1)).


Only a CSE may determine the content of a student’s IEP and a student’s placement (Application of the
Bd. of Educ. of the Gowanda CSD, SRO dec. no. 04-016 (2004)).


Must the school board notify the parents of a student with a disability of its disagreement
with the recommendations of the committee on special education (CSE) or CSE subcommittee?


Yes. In addition, the notice must be in writing and set forth the school board’s reasons and indicate that
the recommendations will be sent back to the committee on special education or CSE subcommittee with
notice of the need to schedule a timely meeting to review the board’s concerns and revise the student’s
individualized education program as appropriate (8 NYCRR § 200.5(a)(6)(ii)).


Is a school district required to notify parents of its proposal or refusal to initiate or change
the identification, evaluation or placement of a child with a disability?


Yes. A school district is required to give parents written notice (also referred to as notice of
recommendation) of its proposal or refusal to initiate or change the identification, evaluation or placement
of a child with a disability, or the provision of a free appropriate public education along with:


• A description of the action being proposed or refused


• An explanation of the decision


• A description of other options considered and why they were rejected


• A description of each evaluation procedure, test, record, or report used as a basis for its action, as
well as other factors relevant to the district’s decision


The notice must also include a statement that parents of a student with a disability have procedural
protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Additionally, if the notice is
not about an initial referral for evaluation, it must also inform the parent how to obtain a copy of the
procedural safeguards, and where to obtain assistance in understanding parental rights under the IDEA
(20 USC § 1415(c); 34 CFR § 300.503; 8 NYCRR § 200.5(a)(1), (2), (3)).


Notice involving referral for initial evaluation or a re-evaluation must include a description of the
proposed evaluation or reevaluation and the uses to be made of the information, and indicate that the
parent may submit evaluation information for consideration by the committee on special education (34
CFR § 300.503(b); 8 NYCRR § 200.5(a)(5)(i)).


If the proposed action involves placement in an approved private school, the notice must also include a
copy of the private school’s policy on the use of psychotropic medication if the school uses it (8 NYCRR
§ 200.5(a)(6)(v)).


School districts must use the prior written notice prescribed by the commissioner of education,
(revised July 2013), which is available at:


http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/formsnotices/PWN/memo-revPWN-713.htm (8 NYCRR §
200.5(a))

 

 

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