April 19, 2000
The Honorable Douglas D. Christensen
Commissioner of Education
Nebraska Department of Education
301 Centennial Mall, South 6th Floor
P.O. Box 94987
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4987
The Honorable Ron Ross
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
P.O. Box 95206
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5026
Dear Mr. Christensen and Mr. Ross:
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) conducted a review in Nebraska during the weeks of August 8, and October 5, 1998 for the purpose of assessing compliance in the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and assisting your State in developing strategies to improve results for children with disabilities. The IDEA Amendments of 1997 focus on “access to services” as well as “improving results” for infants, toddlers
, children and youth with disabilities. In the same way, OSEP’s Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process is designed to focus Federal
, State and local resources on improved results for children with disabilities and their families through a working partnership among OSEP, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), the Nebraska Department of Human Services (NDHHS), and parents and advocates in Nebraska.
In conducting its review of Nebraska, OSEP applied the standards set forth in the IDEA 97 statute and in the Part C regulations (34 CFR Part 303) and Part B regulations (34 CFR Part 300), as they were in effect at the time of the OSEP review. The Part C regulations in effect in October, 1998 were those published by the Department on July 30, 1993, as revised by the Technical Amendments published on April 14, 1998. The Part B regulations in effect in October, 1998 were those published on September 29, 1992. All citations to 34 CFR Parts 303 and 300 in this report are to the regulations
, as published on those dates. On March 12, 1999, the Department published new final Part B regulations and conforming changes to the Part C regulations that took effect on May 11, 1999. In planning and implementing improvement strategies to address the findings in this report, NDE should ensure that all improvement strategies are consistent with the new final regulations.
A critical aspect of the Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process is collaboration between Steering Committees of broad-based constituencies, including representatives from NDE, NDHHS and OSEP. The Steering Committees assessed the effectiveness of State systems in ensuring improved results for children with disabilities and protection of individual rights. In addition, the Steering Committees will be designing and coordinating implementation of concrete steps for improvement. Please see the Introduction to the report for a more detailed description of this process in your State.
OSEP’s review placed a strong emphasis on those areas that are most closely associated with positive results for children with disabilities. In this review
, OSEP clustered the Part B (services for children aged 3 through 21) requirements into four major areas: Parent Involvement, Free Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment, Secondary Transition, and General Supervision. Part C (services for children aged birth through 2) requirements were clustered into five major areas: Child Find and Public Awareness, Family-Centered Systems of Services
, Early Intervention Services in Natural Environments, Early Childhood Transition, and General Supervision. Components were identified by OSEP for each major area as a basis to review the State’s performance through examination of State and local indicators.
The enclosed Report addresses strengths noted in the State, areas needing corrective action because they represent noncompliance with the requirements of IDEA, and areas for improved results. Enclosed you will find an Executive Summary of the Report
, an Introduction including background information, and a description of issues and findings.
NDE and NDHHS have indicated that this Report will be shared with members of the Steering Committee. OSEP will work with the Steering Committee to develop corrective actions and improvement strategies to ensure improved results for children with disabilities.
Thank you for the assistance and cooperation provided by your staff during our review. An extraordinary effort was made by State staff to arrange the public input process during the Validation Planning week and, as a result of their efforts, OSEP obtained information from a large number of parents, advocates
, service providers, school and agency personnel, school and agency administrators
, and special education unit administrators.
Thank you for your continued efforts toward the goal of achieving better results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities in Nebraska. Since the enactment of the IDEA and its predecessor, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, one of the basic goals of the law, ensuring that children with disabilities are not excluded from school, has largely been achieved. Today, families can have a positive vision for their child’s future.
While schools and agencies have made great progress, significant challenges remain. Now that those children with disabilities are receiving services, the critical issue is to place greater emphasis on attaining better results. To that end, we look forward to working with you in partnership to continue to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
Kenneth R. Warlick
Office of Special Education Programs
cc: Mr. Gary Sherman
Ms. Barbara Schliesser
Ms. Mary Jo Iwan
NEBRASKA MONITORING 1998
The attached report contains the results of the first two steps (Validation Planning and Validation Data Collection) in the Office of Special Education Program’s Continuous Improvement Monitoring of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA 97), Parts B and C, in the State of Nebraska during August, and October, l998. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is responsible for assessing the impact and effectiveness of state and local efforts to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and to their families
, and a free appropriate public education to children and youth with disabilities. Specifically, OSEP is charged to work with states to ensure compliance with IDEA 97. This report is based on the work of OSEP and the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) during the validation planning visit and the validation data collection visit.
During the week of August 8, 1998 OSEP met with the Nebraska Steering Committee to begin implementation of the OSEP Continuous Monitoring Process. The Validation Data Collection phase of the monitoring process included the beginning of a self-study by the Steering Committee, a series of public input meetings with guided discussions around core areas of IDEA 97, and the organization of a Steering Committee to provide further comments on the process. During the week of October 5, l998 OSEP conducted a Validation Data Collection review of the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) (jointly referenced to as the “Co-Lead Agencies”). The OSEP team conducted the review at State offices and at five local school districts through record reviews and interviews with parents, teachers, agency administrators, service providers, service coordinators, students, and local and state program and school administrators. Information obtained by OSEP from these data sources was shared with State staff and members of the Steering Committee at an exit conference at the conclusion of the Validation Data Collection visit on October 9, 1998.
The report contains a description of the process utilized to collect data and to determine strengths, areas of noncompliance with IDEA 97, and suggestions for improved results in each of the IDEA core areas. The Introduction provides general information about the State’s population of infants
, toddlers, and children who receive services through IDEA 97. The Introduction also gives a brief overview of the OSEP Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process. Sections I through V identify areas of strengths, areas of noncompliance and suggestions for improved results: IDEA Part C. Each section addresses one of five core areas: general supervision by the Nebraska Department of Education and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services; Child Find – public awareness; early intervention services in natural environments
; family-centered system of services; and early childhood transition.
Sections VI through IX address one of the Part B core areas: general supervision by the Nebraska Department of Education; free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment, parent involvement, and secondary transition. Within each section
, areas of strength, noncompliance and suggestions for improved results are identified.
Early Intervention Services for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities: Part C of IDEA
OSEP observed the following strengths:
The Co-Lead Agencies have established an administrative system to support coordinated inter-agency eligibility determinations and access to inter-agency services in natural environments.
The Nebraska Interagency Coordinating Council plays a key role in contributing to the development of the coordinated early intervention system, such as developing a supporting parents network and participating in state early childhood initiatives.
The State has developed and implemented noteworthy activities to enhance service delivery to diverse groups in Nebraska, to support families through use of technology, to provide access to medical specialists in rural communities, and to train personnel in family centered practices.
Medicaid reimbursement for services in natural environments assists Part C eligible children and their families.
Regional initiatives increased respite care services and training about disabilities in the child care community.
AREAS OF NONCOMPLIANCE
Parent education seminars regarding transitions are being offered.
OSEP observed the following areas of noncompliance:
The State, at the time of OSEP’s visit, failed to define developmental delay as required under IDEA. Thus, the Co-Lead Agencies’ referral procedures have not been effective in identifying and referring potentially eligible infants and toddlers with developmental delays.
The Co-Lead Agencies have not ensured that multidisciplinary evaluations are completed in all areas of development and State regulations limited evaluations to those areas in the “suspected disability”.
Education of Children and Youth With Disabilities: Part B of IDEA
The Co-Lead Agencies have not ensured the provision of continuous services based on the needs of eligible children and their families and Individualized Family Service Plans.
OSEP observed the following strengths:
The Parent Training and Information Center provides excellent resources and programs to inform families about IDEA 97.
Areas of Noncompliance
The Nebraska Transition Project, Transition Advisory Committee, Rehabilitation Counselors and Transition Interagency Collaboration are examples of initiatives that promote successful secondary transition to postsecondary education and employment.
OSEP observed the following areas of noncompliance:
Lack of training and shortages of trained staff prevent students with disabilities from receiving a
free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
As a matter of practice, psychological services are not identified on IEPs as educators believe it is unnecessary to provide these services as a part of providing a free appropriate public education.
School districts do not specifically invite students to IEP meetings at which transition will be discussed.