Special Education services for students with disabilities without high school diplomas

Host: Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Tina Beauparlant, regional manager and education specialist with Parent to Parent of New York State. And I'm your host, Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program Tina. 

Guest: Thank you, Ernie. 

Host: And for the benefit of, I suspect most people listening are probably not caught up with something that transpired a year or so ago. Parent to Parent of New York State became a member of the WNYIL family of agencies. So welcome colleague. 

Guest: Thank you. 

Host: Alright. And you are in a position to know about things that are of import all across the Empire State. And that there is a change on the horizon regarding special education eligibility. But first, just to give a foundation, what type of disability makes someone eligible to participate in special education? 

Guest: Well, there are 13 classifications underneath IDEA, which is Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. A student could have an intellectual disability, a learning disability, speech and language impairment. Autism, just to name a few. 

Host: Ah, well, it sounds like it with 13 of them. Sounds like that really takes a lot of things under consideration. But there has been a development in that largely thanks to something that happened across the border in Connecticut. Could you tell us what that change is? 

Guest: Yes. On July 6, 2023, New York State, they issued a formal opinion of Council with regards to the court case in Connecticut regarding the extended eligibility to students to receive special education services until the age of 22 who have not yet received a high school diploma. 

And underneath IDEA, what they're saying is a student up until their 22nd birthday. So, a student might turn 22 in the middle of the school year. That student will still receive his or her education up until their 22nd birthday, and then the district does not have to provide them with any more services. However, the Supreme Court we're waiting to see what comes down on that. If they have to continue for the entire year. 

Host: Ah, but that's regardless of that decision. That's still more education than the student with the disability would have had in the previous practice, correct? 

Guest: Absolutely, 100%. 

Host: Alright, so in the interim, if somebody needed to know more about what their child who has a disability might be affected by this law, are you the person who would be able to tell them what is and isn't appropriate? 

Guest: I'm one of the people. Parent to Parent is a statewide organization, but I work underneath a Parent Training and Information Center, which is a core community partner. We of course, as well as throughout the state of New York. They could contact me. I cover 21 counties or one of our other core community partners throughout the state. But I would suggest people call me here at Parent to Parent. 518-381-4350, ext. 22 and then I can refer them to the Core Community Partner or depending on what they may need, one of our other Parent to Parent offices. 

Host: Well, regardless, it looks very good that rather than having an automatic cut off with or without diploma at age 21, that this will still be a benefit to the people involved. That's wonderful. And I'm sure that there are other aspects of special education that people may need to know more about, and if they do, then you still. That's still a good number for them to call. And in case they didn't have a pencil handy, if I could ask you to repeat that please. 

Guest: So, to reach me directly, my number is area code 518-381-4350, and my direct extension is 22. 

Host: Terrific. Well, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us and for all the good work that you continue doing on a regular basis. 

Guest: Thank you, Ernie. I appreciate it. 

Host: Certainly, you've been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today has been Tina Beauparlant, a regional manager and education specialist with Parent to Parent of New York State. And I've been your host, Ernie Churchwell.