Commissioner's Rules Concerning Special Education Services

Section 89.1001 – Scope and Applicability

(a) Special education services shall be provided to eligible students in accordance with all applicable federal law and regulations, state statutes, rules of the State Board of Education (SBOE) and commissioner of education, and the State Plan Under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

(b) Education programs, under the direction and control of the Texas Youth Commission, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Texas School for the Deaf, and schools within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shall comply with state and federal law and regulations concerning the delivery of special education and related services to eligible students and shall be monitored by the Texas Education Agency in accordance with the requirements identified in subsection (a) of this section.

(c) A school district having a residential facility that is licensed by appropriate state agencies and located within the district’s boundaries must provide special education and related services to eligible students residing in the facility. If, after contacting the facility to offer services to eligible students with disabilities, the district determines that educational services are provided through a charter school, approved non-public school, or a facility operated private school, the district is not required to provide services. However, the district shall annually contact the facility to offer services to eligible students with disabilities.

Section 89.1011 – Full Individual and Initial Evaluation 

 

(a) Referral of students for a full individual and initial evaluation for possible special education services must be a part of the district’s overall, general education referral or screening system. Prior to referral, students experiencing difficulty in the general classroom should be considered for all support services available to all students, such as tutorial; remedial; compensatory; response to evidence-based intervention; and other academic or behavior support services. If the student continues to experience difficulty in the general classroom after the provision of interventions, district personnel must refer the student for a full individual and initial evaluation. This referral for a full individual and initial evaluation may be initiated by school personnel, the student’s parents or legal guardian, or another person involved in the education or care of the student.

(b) If a parent submits a written request to a school district’s director of special education services or to a district administrative employee for a full individual and initial evaluation of a student, the school district must, not later than the 15th school day after the date the district receives the request:

  • (1) provide the parent with prior written notice of its proposal to conduct an evaluation consistent with 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), §300.503; a copy of the procedural safeguards notice required by 34 CFR, §300.504; and an opportunity to give written consent for the evaluation; or
  • (2) provide the parent with prior written notice of its refusal to conduct an evaluation consistent with 34 CFR, §300.503, and a copy of the procedural safeguards notice required by 34 CFR, §300.504.

(c) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a written report of a full individual and initial evaluation of a student must be completed as follows:

  • (1) not later than the 45th school day following the date on which the school district receives written consent for the evaluation from the student’s parent, except that if a student has been absent from school during that period on three or more school days, that period must be extended by a number of school days equal to the number of school days during that period on which the student has been absent; or
  • (2) for students under five years of age by September 1 of the school year and not enrolled in public school and for students enrolled in a private or home school setting, not later than the 45th school day following the date on which the school district receives written consent for the evaluation from the student’s parent.

(d) The admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee must make its decisions regarding a student’s initial eligibility determination and, if appropriate, individualized education program (IEP) and placement within 30 calendar days from the date of the completion of the written full individual and initial evaluation report. If the 30th day falls during the summer and school is not in session, the student’s ARD committee has until the first day of classes in the fall to finalize decisions concerning the student’s initial eligibility determination, IEP, and placement, unless the full individual and initial evaluation indicates that the student will need extended school year services during that summer.

(e) Notwithstanding the timelines in subsections (c) and (d) of this section, if the school district received the written consent for the evaluation from the student’s parent at least 35 but less than 45 school days before the last instructional day of the school year, the written report of a full individual and initial evaluation of a student must be provided to the student’s parent not later than June 30 of that year. The student’s ARD committee must meet not later than the 15th school day of the following school year to consider the evaluation. If, however, the student was absent from school three or more days between the time that the school district received written consent and the last instructional day of the school year, the timeline in subsection (c)(1) of this section applies to the date the written report of the full individual and initial evaluation is required. If an initial evaluation completed not later than June 30 indicates that the student will need extended school year services during that summer, the ARD committee must meet as expeditiously as possible.

(f) If a student was in the process of being evaluated for special education eligibility by a school district and enrolls in another school district before the previous school district completed the full individual and initial evaluation, the new school district must coordinate with the previous school district as necessary and as expeditiously as possible to ensure a prompt completion of the evaluation in accordance with 34 CFR, §300.301(d)(2) and (e) and § 300.304(c)(5). The timelines in subsections (c) and (e) of this section do not apply in such a situation if:

  • (1) the new school district is making sufficient progress to ensure a prompt completion of the evaluation; and
  • (2) the parent and the new school district agree to a specific time when the evaluation will be completed.

(g) For purposes of subsections (b), (c), and (e) of this section, school day does not include a day that falls after the last instructional day of the spring school term and before the first instructional day of the subsequent fall school term.

(h) For purposes of subsections (c)(1) and (e) of this section, a student is considered absent for the school day if the student is not in attendance at the school’s official attendance taking time or at the alternate attendance taking time set for that student. A student is considered in attendance if the student is off campus participating in an activity that is approved by the school board and is under the direction of a professional staff member of the school district, or an adjunct staff member who has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and is eligible for participation in the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

Section 89.1035 – Age Ranges for Student Eligibility

(a) Pursuant to state and federal law, services provided in accordance with this subchapter must be available to all eligible students ages 3-21. Services will be made available to eligible students on their third birthday. Graduation with a regular high school diploma pursuant to § 89.1070(b)(1), (b)(2)(D), (g)(1), (g)(2), (g)(3), or (g)(4)(D) of this title (relating to Graduation Requirements) terminates a student’s eligibility to receive services in accordance with this subchapter. An eligible student receiving special education services who is 21 years of age on September 1 of a school year will be eligible for services through the end of that school year or until graduation with a regular high school diploma pursuant to § 89.1070(b)(1), (b)(2)(D), (g)(1), (g)(2), (g)(3), or (g)(4)(D) of this title, whichever comes first.

(b) In accordance with the Texas Education Code (TEC), §§ 29.00330.002(a), and 30.081, a free appropriate public education must be available from birth to students with visual or auditory impairments.

Section 89.1040 – Eligibility Criteria

(a) Special education services. To be eligible to receive special education services, a student must be a “child with a disability,” as defined in 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), §300.8(a), subject to the provisions of 34 CFR, §300.8(c), the Texas Education Code, § 29.003, and this section. The provisions in this section specify criteria to be used in determining whether a student’s condition meets one or more of the definitions in federal regulations or in state law.(b) Eligibility determination. The determination of whether a student is eligible for special education and related services is made by the student’s admission, review, and dismissal committee. Any evaluation or re-evaluation of a student must be conducted in accordance with 34 CFR, §§300.301 – 300.306 and 300.122. The multidisciplinary team that collects or reviews evaluation data in connection with the determination of a student’s eligibility must include, but is not limited to, the following:

(1) a licensed specialist in school psychology (LSSP), an educational diagnostician, or other appropriately certified or licensed practitioner with experience and training in the area of the disability; or

(2) a licensed or certified professional for a specific eligibility category defined in subsection (c) of this section.

 

(c) Eligibility definitions.

(1) Autism. A student with autism is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for autism as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c) (1). Students with pervasive developmental disorders are included under this category. The team’s written report of evaluation must include specific recommendations for behavioral interventions and strategies.

(2) Deaf-blindness. A student with deaf-blindness is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for deaf-blindness as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(2). In meeting the criteria stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(2), a student with deaf-blindness is one who, based on the evaluations specified in subsections (c)(3) and (c)(12) of this section:

(A) meets the eligibility criteria for auditory impairment specified in subsection (c)(3) of this section and visual impairment specified in subsection (c)(12) of this section;

(B) meets the eligibility criteria for a student with a visual impairment and has a suspected hearing loss that cannot be demonstrated conclusively, but a speech/language therapist, a certified speech and language therapist, or a licensed speech language pathologist indicates there is no speech at an age when speech would normally be expected;

(C) has documented hearing and visual losses that, if considered individually, may not meet the requirements for auditory impairment or visual impairment, but the combination of such losses adversely affects the student’s educational performance; or

(D) has a documented medical diagnosis of a progressive medical condition that will result in concomitant hearing and visual losses that, without special education intervention, will adversely affect the student’s educational performance.

(3) Auditory impairment. A student with an auditory impairment is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for deafness as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(3), or for hearing impairment as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(5). The evaluation data reviewed by the multidisciplinary team in connection with the determination of a student’s eligibility based on an auditory impairment must include an otological examination performed by an otolaryngologist or by a licensed medical doctor, with documentation that an otolaryngologist is not reasonably available, and an audiological evaluation performed by a licensed audiologist. The evaluation data must include a description of the implications of the hearing loss for the student’s hearing in a variety of circumstances with or without recommended amplification.

(4) Emotional disturbance. A student with an emotional disturbance is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for emotional disturbance as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(4). The written report of evaluation must include specific recommendations for behavioral supports and interventions.

(5) Intellectual disability. A student with an intellectual disability is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for an intellectual disability as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(6). In meeting the criteria stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(6), a student with an intellectual disability is one who:

(A) has been determined to have significantly sub-average intellectual functioning as measured by a standardized, individually administered test of cognitive ability in which the overall test score is at least two standard deviations below the mean, when taking into consideration the standard error of measurement of the test; and

(B) concurrently exhibits deficits in at least two of the following areas of adaptive behavior: communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health, and safety.

(6) Multiple disabilities.

(A) A student with multiple disabilities is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for multiple disabilities as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(7). In meeting the criteria stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(7), a student with multiple disabilities is one who has a combination of disabilities defined in this section and who meets all of the following conditions:

(i) the student’s disability is expected to continue indefinitely; and

(ii) the disabilities severely impair performance in two or more of the following areas:

(I) psychomotor skills;

(II) self-care skills;

(III) communication;

(IV) social and emotional development; or

(V) cognition.

(B) Students who have more than one of the disabilities defined in this section but who do not meet the criteria in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph must not be classified or reported as having multiple disabilities.

(7) Orthopedic impairment. A student with an orthopedic impairment is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for orthopedic impairment as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(8). The multidisciplinary team that collects or reviews evaluation data in connection with the determination of a student’s eligibility based on an orthopedic impairment must include a licensed physician.

(8) Other health impairment. A student with other health impairment is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for other health impairment due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette’s Disorder as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(9). The multidisciplinary team that collects or reviews evaluation data in connection with the determination of a student’s eligibility based on other health impairment must include a licensed physician.

(9) Learning disability.

(A) Prior to and as part of the evaluation described in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph and 34 CFR, §§300.307 – 300.311, and in order to ensure that underachievement in a student suspected of having a specific learning disability is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or mathematics, the following must be considered:

(i) data that demonstrates the student was provided appropriate instruction in reading (as described in 20 United States Code (USC), §6368(3)), and/or mathematics within general education settings delivered by qualified personnel; and

(ii) data-based documentation of repeated assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals, reflecting formal evaluation of student progress during instruction. Data-based documentation of repeated assessments may include, but is not limited to, response to intervention progress monitoring results, in-class tests on grade-level curriculum, or other regularly administered assessments. Intervals are considered reasonable if consistent with the assessment requirements of a student’s specific instructional program.

(B) A student with a learning disability is one who:

(i) has been determined through a variety of assessment tools and strategies to meet the criteria for a specific learning disability as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(10), in accordance with the provisions in 34 CFR, §§300.307 – 300.311; and

(ii) does not achieve adequately for the student’s age or meet state-approved grade-level standards in oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill, reading fluency skills, reading comprehension, mathematics calculation, or mathematics problem solving when provided appropriate instruction, as indicated by performance on multiple measures such as in-class tests; grade average over time (e.g. six weeks, semester); norm- or criterion-referenced tests; statewide assessments; or a process based on the student’s response to evidence-based intervention; and

(I) does not make sufficient progress when provided a process based on the student’s response to evidence-based intervention (as defined in 20 USC, § 7801(21) ), as indicated by the student’s performance relative to the performance of the student’s peers on repeated, curriculum-based assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals, reflecting student progress during classroom instruction; or

(II) exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both relative to age, grade-level standards, or intellectual ability, as indicated by significant variance among specific areas of cognitive function, such as working memory and verbal comprehension, or between specific areas of cognitive function and academic achievement.

(10) Speech impairment. A student with a speech impairment is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for speech or language impairment as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(11). The multidisciplinary team that collects or reviews evaluation data in connection with the determination of a student’s eligibility based on a speech impairment must include a certified speech and hearing therapist, a certified speech and language therapist, or a licensed speech/language pathologist.

(11) Traumatic brain injury. A student with a traumatic brain injury is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for traumatic brain injury as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(12). The multidisciplinary team that collects or reviews evaluation data in connection with the determination of a student’s eligibility based on a traumatic brain injury must include a licensed physician, in addition to the licensed or certified practitioners specified in subsection (b)(1) of this section.

(12) Visual impairment.

(A) A student with a visual impairment is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for visual impairment as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(13). The visual loss should be stated in exact measures of visual field and corrected visual acuity at a distance and at close range in each eye in a report by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist. The report should also include prognosis whenever possible. If exact measures cannot be obtained, the eye specialist must so state and provide best estimates. In meeting the criteria stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(13), a student with a visual impairment is one who:

(i) has been determined by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist:

(I) to have no vision or to have a serious visual loss after correction; or

(II) to have a progressive medical condition that will result in no vision or a serious visual loss after correction; and

(ii) has been determined by the following evaluations to have a need for special services:

(I) a functional vision evaluation by a certified teacher of students with visual impairments or a certified orientation and mobility specialist. The evaluation must include the performance of tasks in a variety of environments requiring the use of both near and distance vision and recommendations concerning the need for a clinical low vision evaluation; and

(II) a learning media assessment by a certified teacher of students with visual impairments. The learning media assessment must include recommendations concerning which specific visual, tactual, and/or auditory learning media are appropriate for the student and whether or not there is a need for ongoing evaluation in this area.

(B) A student with a visual impairment is functionally blind if, based on the preceding evaluations, the student will use tactual media (which includes braille) as a primary tool for learning to be able to communicate in both reading and writing at the same level of proficiency as other students of comparable ability.

(C) Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, a full individual and initial evaluation of a student suspected of having a visual impairment must include an orientation and mobility evaluation conducted by a person who is appropriately certified as an orientation and mobility specialist and must be conducted in a variety of lighting conditions and in a variety of settings, including in the student’s home, school, and community and in settings unfamiliar to the student.

(D) Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, a person who is appropriately certified as an orientation and mobility specialist must participate, as part of a multidisciplinary team, in evaluating data used in making the determination of the student’s eligibility as a student with a visual impairment.

(E) Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the scope of any reevaluation of a student who has been determined, after the full individual and initial evaluation, to be eligible for the district’s special education program on the basis of a visual impairment must be determined, in accordance with 34 CFR, §§300.122 and 300.303 – 300.311, by a multidisciplinary team that includes an appropriately certified orientation and mobility specialist.

(13) Noncategorical. A student between the ages of 3-5 who is evaluated as having an intellectual disability, an emotional disturbance, a specific learning disability, or autism may be described as noncategorical early childhood.

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