ISBE Updates Special Education Notice of Procedural Safeguards
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued a revised version of its Notice of Procedural Safeguards for Parents/Guardians of Students with Disabilities reflecting a shortened time for response to a student records request. Schools must respond to a request for student records within 10 business days unless an extension is warranted under one of six enumerated bases. ISBE explained that the change brings the Procedural Safeguards in line with state law governing student records, which already required a response within this timeline.
Under the previous version of the Procedural Safeguards, a school district needed to comply with a records request “without unnecessary delay,” before any “meeting related to the identification, evaluation, or placement of the student,” and within 15 school days of the request for student records. The 15 school day response time was in line with the previous version of the Illinois School Student Records Act, 105 ILCS 10/1 et seq. ISSRA was amended in September 2017, however, allowing schools only 10 business days to respond to a student records request. The revised ISSRA allows an extension of that time for up to five business days for six reasons, which closely mirror the bases for extensions of time under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law. An extension may be made if:
The requested records are stored in whole or in part at other locations than the office having charge of the requested records;
- The request requires the collection of a substantial number of specified records;
- The request is couched in categorical terms and requires an extensive search for records responsive to it;
- The requested records have not been located in the course of routine search and additional efforts are being made to locate them;
- The request cannot be complied with by the district within the time limits without unduly burdening or interfering with the operation of the district; or
- There is a need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another public body or school district, or among two or more components of a public body or school district, having a substantial interest in the determination or in the subject matter of the request.
If they have not already, schools should begin responding to requests for student records, including those in the special education realm, within the shorter timeframe. The requirements that there be no undue delay and that records be provided prior to any meeting related to the identification, evaluation or placement of the student remain, as they are based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and should continue to be followed. Schools that receive an FOIA request for student records should also continue to process the requests under ISSRA because student records generally cannot be released under FOIA and there is a longer response timeframe under the student records law.