MoDE's 2022 Legislative Priorities
Missouri's legislative session runs from January through May. While we have at two legislative priorities related to special education planned for 2022, we are in the process researching the issues and developing possible language for legislation. We have commitments from a couple legislators to work with us on these priorities but we are still working on securing additional support. We hope to update this information by fall.
Burden of Proof
When parents or guardians and the IEP team cannot come to an agreement on the IEP, the parents or guardians may choose to file due process. In the state of Missouri, the burden of proof that IDEA (federal special education law) requirements have not been met is on the parents. Many states rightfully place the burden of proof on the school districts, since the school is required by law to meet the IDEA requirement of providing FAPE (free and appropriate public education) for the student.
The Supreme Court ruled that while the burden of proof lies on the parents or guardian, states may pass laws to change this. Currently nine states and Washington, DC, have laws that place the Burden of Proof on the school system.
Parental Consent to Implement IEPs
When a student has disabilities, a team consisting of the parents or guardians, teachers, administrators, specialists, and school psychologists work together to develop an IEP (Individualized Education Program) for the student. Parents or guardians are asked to sign the IEP so that it can go into effect. While developing the IEP should be a collaborative effort, there are times the parents or guardians do not agree with what the school decides. While they may choose not to sign it, it still goes into effect after ten days. Parents or guardians have only ten days to file due process to stop the IEP from being implemented. Some states have passed laws requiring parental consent for changes made to the IEP. By making sure all parties are in agreement, this law encourages collaboration by the IEP team.
Child Abuse Investigations
Currently school districts in Missouri have the option to investigate themselves when there is an allegation of abuse at school. As shocking as this is, many superintendents choose to self-investigate. If the superintendent finds the abuse allegation unsubstantiated, the case is closed. Children's Division does not investigate unless the superintendent reports that the allegation is substantiated. Missouri needs to do better to protect its student by requiring outside investigations on abuse allegations.
Students in self-contained classrooms may not have the ability to express what is happening in a classroom. Some students are in self-contained classrooms due to behavior concerns and there are elevated behavior incidents in the classroom. Cameras add extra eyes. Cameras enable teachers and parents to review alleged incidents that occurred in the classroom and potentially resolve the issue. Cameras are an extra layer of protection for both students and teachers.