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Guidance on Special Education Rules

August 21, 2017

In 2013, after extensive public input, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved revisions to the Vermont Special Education rules. These revisions were made to conform to newly-released federal requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and to adopt best practices. The Official Rules are posted on the Agency of Education’s website and are the official version of the rules.

Recently, the AOE discovered some discrepancies between the rules as approved by the SBE (rules with pink cover) and the Official Rules. The AOE immediately did a thorough comparison of the two versions to determine the extent of the discrepancies. Based on our review, we know that the version filed with the Secretary of State did not include all of the revisions made by the SBE after public comment. While most of the differences are typographical (e.g., incorrect numbering or in some cases citations) or in the formatting (placement of sections within rules), several are not.

The AOE also reviewed the rulemaking process to determine the cause of the errors. Staff who led the work on the 2013 revisions are no longer working at the AOE, so we are unable to verify exactly how the errors happened. However, they appear to be clerical and related to the number of versions produced at different stages.

Until this discovery, the AOE was training from the SBE-approved version of the rules, assuming they were the official rules. The AOE intends to correct the official version through rulemaking. However, given current Administrative and Legislative priorities and limited staff to complete those priorities, in addition to ongoing Agency mandates, the Agency will not be able to undertake another rulemaking project in the immediate future.

As an interim measure, the AOE is issuing guidance to Supervisory Unions and School Districts. The guidance identifies the major differences between the Official Rules and the SBE-approved version of the rules, and how to proceed in light of those differences. Although there are a number of technical and typographical errors in the Official Rules that were corrected in the SBE-approved version, the principal difference is in the area of eligibility measures for early childhood special education services.

We regret any confusion caused by the discrepancies and AOE’s reliance on an incorrect version of the rule for training. The AOE is putting new rulemaking review procedures in place to prevent this from happening again.

Please share this guidance with your relevant staff, discard the SBE-approved version of the rules (pink cover), and make sure your staff refers to the Official Rules. Thank you.

Read the full memo on Guidance on Special Education Rules