186-C:5 Program Approval, Monitoring, and Corrective Action.
I. (a) The state board of education shall adopt rules establishing a process and standards for the approval and monitoring of programs of education that are maintained by school districts, regional special education centers, and private organizations or state facilities for the benefit of children with disabilities, including chartered public schools, home-based programs and alternative schools or programs; except, however, that approval of education programs for the special district established in RSA 194:60 shall be pursuant to the standards set forth in the interagency agreements between the department of corrections and the department of education.
(b) The division of learner support of the department of education, through its program approval and monitoring process shall determine if a district is making diligent efforts to resolve personnel shortages that result in children with disabilities being placed out of district.
II. The purpose of program approval and monitoring is to ensure that the programs specified in paragraph I comply with applicable federal and state law, including standards related to improving educational results and functional outcomes.
III. Program approval and monitoring shall utilize professionally recognized program evaluation and other verification methods to ensure reliable and valid findings and corrective actions. The department shall develop and apply standards and procedures to determine whether each program specified in paragraph I complies with the requirements of applicable federal and state law. Such standards shall give considerable weight to rigorous benchmarks or performance outcomes and indicators required by federal and state law most relevant to achieving educational results and functional outcomes. Program approval and monitoring shall also include, but not be limited to the following components and processes:
(a) Reporting of outcome or indicator data by school district and non-district programs to the department in a manner and frequency as the department shall determine.
(b) Development and application of methods to ensure the accuracy of all such data including data as entered in student records and as transmitted to the department, to include necessary on-site verification of data.
(c) Determinations by the department as to whether the reported data complies with such standards.
(d) On-site monitoring to further evaluate noncompliance, verify accuracy of data, assess the adequacy of the corrective action plans and their implementation, or other purposes as the department may determine, which may include:
(1) Regular or periodic monitoring.
(2) Special on-site monitoring required as part of the resolution or remediation of a complaint under 34 C.F.R. sections 300.151-152, or based on reliable information received indicating that there is reason to believe that there is noncompliance with standards.
(3) Random or targeted visits which may be unannounced when the department determines that an unannounced visit is needed.
(e) Program monitoring, including the on-site monitoring components, shall use multiple program evaluation techniques in accordance with professionally recognized standards and to achieve the purposes set forth in paragraphs I-III, including, but not limited to, random sampling stratified as necessary to cover discrete sites or programs such as alternative programs or schools.
(f) Program approval and monitoring personnel or teams, which shall be knowledgeable in research-based education, special education practices, professionally recognized program evaluation practices, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and state special education laws and which shall receive appropriate training to participate in the monitoring process. Such personnel or teams for on-site monitoring shall consist of at least one of each of the following: an educator, an educational administrator, and a parent who resides in another school district, who shall receive mileage reimbursement. The department may determine that for certain on-site visits less than a full team is necessary. The department directly or by contract shall develop and train a group of parents on the requisites needed to carry out the monitoring duties. Where volunteers or contracted personnel are used for the non-parent team slots, attempts shall be made to use or balance teams with personnel from non-school district sources such as qualified individuals from higher education. Educators and educational administrators that are used (1) may not review schools in school districts in which they are employed or have been employed in the previous 2 years and (2) may not be from schools which in the current or prior 3 years have been the subject of mandatory technical assistance under subparagraph V(e)(2) or any of the interventions in subparagraphs V(e)(3)-(12). The department shall make available sufficient funds for stipends or similar financial remuneration, in addition to expense reimbursements to ensure that teams have a diversity of perspectives and high quality professional membership. The department of education may contract with an individual or organization which has the requisite expertise and skill to perform the monitoring activities, and who is otherwise independent from school district and non-school district programs in New Hampshire. This subparagraph shall not be construed to preclude individuals who may have performed sporadic or occasional contract or volunteer work for school district or non-school district programs.
IV. The department shall issue a report granting full or conditional approval, or denying, suspending, or revoking approval prior to the expiration of the existing program approval which shall include:
(a) Findings detailing exemplary characteristics and strengths of each program and each instance of noncompliance and failure to meet performance outcome or indicator measures in accordance with standards set forth in paragraph III.
(b) Recommendations for actions needed to correct noncompliance or failure to meet performance outcome or indicator measures.
(c) School districts and non-district programs may appeal decisions granting conditional approval or denying, suspending, or revoking approval pursuant to paragraph VII.
(d) The department may issue reports outside of the regular approval process directing school districts or non-school district programs to take any of the actions set forth in paragraph V.
V. (a) The provisions of this paragraph shall be enforced subsequent to the issuance of an order resulting from a complaint investigated, a due process hearing, or a monitoring activity pursuant to rules adopted under RSA 541-A.
(b) At the conclusion of the time limit specified for the school district, public agency, private provider of special education, or other non-school district based program to have completed the corrective action specified in the orders of compliance, the administrator of the bureau of special education of the department of education shall forward to the commissioner of the department of education a written report indicating the extent to which the agency took corrective action to achieve compliance with state and federal law.
(c) In the event the written report shows that the school district, public agency, private provider of special education, or other non-school district based program has not complied with orders issued by the department, the commissioner of the department of education shall give the written notice of the enforcement action to be taken.
(d) When taking enforcement action, the commissioner of the department of education shall consider:
(1) The severity and length of noncompliance.
(2) Whether a good faith effort was made to correct the problem.
(3) The impact on children who are entitled to a free appropriate public education.
(4) Whether the nature of the noncompliance is individual or systemic.
(e) Enforcement action shall include but not be limited to:
(1) Corrective action plan development, implementation, and monitoring.
(2) Voluntary and mandatory technical assistance as determined by the department.
(3) Mandatory targeted professional development as determined by the department.
(4) Directives ordering specific corrective or remedial actions including compensatory education.
(5) Targeting or redirecting the use of federal special education funds in the areas of concern.
(6) Formal referral to the bureau of credentialing in the department of education for review of compliance with professional licensure or certification requirements.
(7) Ordering the cessation of operations of discrete programs operated by a school district, collaborative program, private provider of special education, public academy, or state facility for the benefit of children with disabilities.
(8) A review of programs which may include a desk audit, scheduled on-site reviews, and unannounced on-site reviews, to ensure compliance. The frequency of the program reviews may, at the discretion of the department, take place weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
(9) Requiring redirection of federal funds to remediate noncompliance of more than one year.
(10) Ceasing payments of state or federal special education funds to the school district or other public agency until the department of education determines the school district or other public agency is in compliance.
(11) Ordering, in accordance with a final state audit report, the repayment of misspent or misapplied state and/or federal funds.
(12) In the case of a school district or other public agency, referring the matter to the department of justice for further action.
(13) In the case of a private provider of special education or other non-school district based program, ordering all school districts with students placed in the private provider of special education to relocate the students for whom each district is responsible to other programs or facilities that are in compliance with state and federal law.
VI. The commissioner shall notify the superintendent and local school board, and post findings and corrective actions recommended on the department Internet website. The commissioner shall also notify the advisory committee on the education of children/students with disabilities of the findings, remedies, and sanctions.
VII. The department shall adopt rules for the school district appeals process for corrective actions imposed under subparagraphs V(a)(5)-(11).
VIII. The commissioner shall employ or contract with a sufficient number of qualified personnel to carry out the activities enumerated in this section, including but not limited to managing, analyzing, and verifying data, coordinating and staffing on-site monitoring teams, preparing reports, including findings and corrective actions, and determining, monitoring, or supervising corrective actions and sanctions.
IX. The department, with input from the advisory committee on the education of children/students with disabilities, shall select and contract with an independent, nationally recognized organization in program evaluation and quality assurance to evaluate in 2010, 2015, and decennially thereafter, the effectiveness of the program approval and monitoring system, including whether it is carrying out activities in RSA 186-C:5 in an efficient manner. Such organization shall submit recommendations for any improvements to the commissioner, the state board of education, the governor, and the general court within 90 days of completing the program evaluation. On or before September 1, 2013, the department shall submit a written response to the report submitted by the organization that conducted the 2012 independent evaluation. The written response shall include a detailed plan for how the department will address the areas identified as needing improvement and the recommendations made in the initial evaluation required under this section. The written response shall include specific steps the department plans to take, along with a timeline for each step. The written response shall also provide an explanation for any actions the department will not implement or complete during the plan's timeframe. On or before December 30, 2013 and June 30, 2014, the department shall submit a report of its progress toward completing its plan. The plan and reports shall be submitted to the governor, to the chairpersons of the senate and house committees with jurisdiction over education policy, to the state advisory committee for the education of children with disabilities established in RSA 186-C:3-b, and to the state board of education. For the 2015 evaluation, the department shall invite the same organization that conducted the 2012 evaluation to respond to a request for proposals. The 2015 evaluation shall include feedback on the steps the department has taken in response to the recommendations in the 2012 report. The department shall provide unimpeded access to all documents requested by the organization, except as otherwise required by law.
Source. 1981, 352:2. 1990, 140:2, X. 1998, 270:2. 2008, 274:31; 302:39. 2013, 226:1, eff. Sept. 13, 2013. 2018, 315:8, eff. Aug. 24, 2018.