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The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 2: Regulations; special education programs; pre-school level admission to programs; assignment of child; institutions of higher education

  Section 2. The board shall promulgate, jointly with the departments of mental health, developmental services, public health, children and families and youth services, the Massachusetts commission for the blind and the commission for the deaf and hard of hearing, regulations regarding educational programs for children with disabilities including, but not limited to a definition of disability which definition shall emphasize a thorough, narrative description of each child's development potential so as to minimize the possibility of stigmatization and to assure a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment of a child with a disability. The definition shall be sufficiently flexible to include children with multiple disabilities.

  Prior to referral of a school age child for evaluation under the provisions of this chapter, the principal of the child's school shall ensure that all efforts have been made to meet such child's needs within the regular education program. Such efforts may include, but not be limited to: modifying the regular education program, the curriculum, teaching strategies, reading instruction, environments or materials, the use of support services, the use of consultative services and building-based student and teacher support and assistance teams to meet the child's needs in the regular education classroom. Such efforts and their results shall be documented and placed in the child's school record but they shall not be construed to limit or condition the right to refer a school age child for an evaluation under the provisions of this chapter. The principal of each school shall implement the district's curriculum accommodation plan created under section 38Q1/2 of chapter 71 in developing strategies for serving children with diverse learning styles within the regular classroom. The principal of each school may designate one professional staff person in the curriculum accommodation plan required in said section 38Q1/2 of chapter 71 to coordinate services, support and resources designed to meet each child's needs within regular education.

  Children receiving or requiring special education shall be entitled to participate in any of the following programs: (1) additional direct or indirect instruction consultation service, materials, equipment or aid provided children or their regular classroom teachers which directly benefits children requiring special education; (2) supplementary individual or small group instruction or treatment in conjunction with a regular classroom program; (3) integrated programs in which children are assigned to special resource classrooms but attend regular classes to the extent that they are able to function therein; (4) full-time special class teaching in a public school building; (5) teaching at home; (6) full-time teaching in a special day school or other day facility; (7) teaching at a hospital; (8) teaching at a short or long-term residential school; (9) occupational or pre-occupational training in conjunction with the regular occupational training program in a public school; (10) occupational and pre-occupational training in conjunction with full-time special class teaching in a public school building, at home, in a special day school or other day facility, hospital or short or long-term residential school; and (11) any combination or modification of these programs or other programs, services or experimental provisions which obtain the prior approval of the department. Children in public schools shall be entitled to teaching at home and in the hospital if the child's physician determines the child will have to remain at home or in a hospital for more than 14 school days in any school year. Children in non-public schools shall be entitled to home and hospital services when deemed eligible under this chapter. An expedited evaluation, which shall be limited to a child's physician statement unless there is a clear indication of the need or unless the parents request additional evaluations, shall be conducted and services provided to eligible students by the school district within 15 calendar days of the school district's receipt of the child's physician statement.

  Admission to such programs on the pre-school level at an earlier age than at which schooling is ordinarily provided shall be regulated by the department in conjunction with the departments of public health, mental health and developmental services and shall be restricted to children with substantial disabilities who are judged by said departments to require such programming.

  No child shall be assigned to a special education class unless it is first determined by an evaluation of the child's disability and the particular special education program that the child is likely to benefit from such program; periodically thereafter, and in no event less often than annually the child and his program shall be reevaluated to determine whether said child is benefiting from said program in accordance with the procedures set forth in section three. In the event that said program is not benefiting the child and that another program may benefit the child more, or said program has benefited the child sufficiently to permit re-assignment, the child shall be reassigned, and in the event of consistent failure of a program to benefit children there assigned, the program shall be abolished or altered.

  Beginning age 14 or sooner if determined appropriate by an individualized education program team, school age children with disabilities shall be entitled to transition services and measurable postsecondary goals, as provided under the federal Individual Disabilities with Education Act, 20 USC sec. 1400, et sec.

[ Paragraph added by 2022, 126, Sec. 35 effective July 1, 2022. See 2022, 126, Sec. 197.]

  Students who are 18 to 21 years old, inclusive, have severe intellectual disabilities, severe autism spectrum disorders or other severe developmental disabilities and are receiving special education services may also have program options offered by an institution of higher education including, but not limited to, participation in credit and noncredit courses that include students who are not participating under section 30A of chapter 15A, development of independent living skills, development of skills necessary for employment and development of skills to access community services. Participation of such students in institutions of higher education under this section shall be considered an approved expense as a special education service pursuant to section 5 and shall be considered secondary school education; provided, however, that this service is addressed in the student's Individualized Education Program under section 3 of this chapter.