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Special Education; English Learners; Manual   

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(a) On or before January 1, 2019, the department shall develop a manual providing guidance to local educational agencies on identifying English learners as individuals with exceptional needs, classifying individuals with exceptional needs as English learners, supporting pupils who are both English learners and individuals with exceptional needs, and determining when such dually identified pupils should be either removed from classification as English learners or exited from special education.

(b) The goal of the manual shall be to provide guidance, for voluntary use by local educational agencies, charter schools, and the state special schools, on evidence-based and promising practices for the identification, assessment, support, and reclassification of these pupils and to promote a collaborative approach among general education teachers, special education teachers, school administrators, paraprofessionals, other involved personnel, and parents in determining the most appropriate academic placements and services for these pupils.

(c) In developing the manual, the department shall do both of the following:

(1) Review manuals and other resources produced on this topic by local educational agencies, special education administrators, other organizations, other states, and the federal government.

(2) Establish and consult with a stakeholder group comprised of experts and practitioners. These individuals shall have expertise or experience in either special education, English learner education, or in both.

(d) The manual shall include all of the following topics:

(1) Guidance for accurately identifying English learners suspected of being individuals with exceptional needs and accurately classifying individuals with exceptional needs as English learners, including guidance on avoiding overidentification and underidentification of these pupils for special education services and in different disability categories and in different grade spans.

(2) Information on second language acquisition and progress, including guidance on distinguishing between language acquisition and disabilities.

(3) Examples of prereferral strategies, early interventions, and early intervening strategies specifically addressing the needs of English learners, including examples of early interventions for pupils in preschool and the primary grades who are acquiring foundational language and literacy skills.

(4) Guidance on referral processes.

(5) Guidance on the use of assessments, including the use of multiple measures as well as assessment accommodations for both language and disability, including assessment accommodations in primary languages.

(6) Guidance on the consideration of extrinsic factors, such as vision, hearing, and health, in the identification of pupils.

(7) Guidance on the development of individualized education programs for English learners, including the composition of individualized education program teams.

(8) Guidance on how to support the language and content learning needs of English learners who are individuals with exceptional needs, including how to do so in the least restrictive environment, as described in Section 56040.1, and in a manner that enables access to the core curriculum.

(9) Guidance regarding placement or continued placement in bilingual programs and on providing services and instruction in primary languages.

(10) Guidance on special education exit and English learner reclassification processes for English learners who are individuals with exceptional needs.

(11) Information on the role of culture and acculturation, to the extent it is related to the process of identifying English learners for special education services.

(12) Guidance for working with families, including guidance on meeting the needs of nonnative English speaking parents, guardians, and educational rights holders in special education proceedings.

(13) Examples of any plans or processes used by local educational agencies for continuous evaluation and systemic review and guidance on sharing information between special education and English learner programs within local educational agencies for the purpose of tracking effectiveness, to the extent permitted under state and federal law regarding the privacy of pupil information.

(14) State and federal law, regulations, and guidance related to the rights of English learners and individuals with exceptional needs.

(e) All guidance in the manual shall be consistent with state and federal law, regulations, and guidance regarding English learners and special education.

(f) The manual shall be written for ease of use by educators. The department is encouraged to incorporate features such as flowcharts, checklists, sample forms, and case examples.

(g) The department shall post the manual on its Internet Web site and on its professional development Internet Web site.

(h) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) "English learners" has the same definition as in subdivision (a) of Section 435.

(2) "Individuals with exceptional needs" has the same definition as in Section 56026.

(3) "Reclassification," with respect to an English learner, means the procedures described in Section 11303 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.

(i) (1) (A) In implementing this section, the department, with input from the stakeholder group, shall develop a plan for the dissemination of the manual and the means of providing professional development on the content of the manual. The plan shall address how the state and local educational agencies can collaborate in meeting both of these objectives in a cost-effective manner.

(B) Implementation of the plan developed pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall be contingent upon an appropriation for that purpose in the annual Budget Act or another enacted statute.

(2) The plan shall be submitted to the state board, the Department of Finance, the Legislative Analyst's Office, the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, the Advisory Commission on Special Education, and the appropriate policy and fiscal committees of the Legislature on or before July 1, 2018.

(j) It is the intent of the Legislature that this section be funded with federal funds, to the extent permissible.

(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 15, Sec. 59.)