ADE Director's Communication Memo Form


Memo Number : COM-09-053

Date Created : 09/24/2008

Attention:

Superintendents
Co-op Directors
other: All Principals
LEA Supervisors
Counselors

Type of Memo: Informational
Response Required: Yes
   
Section:   Central Administration - Dr. Diana Julian, Deputy Commissioner
Subject:
Special Ed Programs: Continuity of Educational Services to Foster Children

Regulatory Authority:
Ark. Code Ann. Section 9-27-103

Contact Person:
Ms. Marsha Tolson

Phone Number:
501-683-5599

E-mail:
marsha.tolson@arkansas.gov

Act 1255 of 2005 amended Ark. Code Ann. to add Section 9-27-103 for the purpose of ensuring the continuity of educational services to foster children. The statute provides that individuals, directly involved in the care, custody and education of foster children work together to ensure the continuity of education services so that foster children:

1. remain in the schools of current enrollment whenever possible;

2. are moved to new schools in a timely manner when it is determined to be necessary, appropriate, and in the child's best interests under this section; and
3. participate in appropriate educational programs and have access to the academic resources, services and extracurricular enrichment activities available to all pupils.

The local school district shall allow the foster child to remain in the childís current school and continue the child's education, unless the court finds that such placement is not in the childís best interest and that it conflicts with any other provision of current law, except the residency requirement pursuant to Section 6-18-202.

To the extent reasonable and practical, the school district is encouraged to work out a plan for transportation for the child to remain in the current school.

Every school district shall identify a foster care liaison and must provide annually to the Special Education Unit of the Arkansas Department of Education the name of each foster care liaison and the child's contact information. The duties of the foster care liaison are specified in the statute, which include assisting foster children when transferring schools by ensuring the transfer of credits, records, grades, etc., and expediting the transfer of such records.

If a foster child is subject to a school enrollment change, then the foster childís caseworker must contact the school district in a timely manner and the new school must immediately enroll the foster child, even if the foster child is unable to produce any required clothing or records.

For foster children with disabilities, as identified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a school district must recognize the rights of a foster parent to make education decisions for a foster child pursuant to IDEA provisions if the foster parent is qualified.

Additional requirements applicable to the continuity of education for foster children concerning grades, coursework credit, and completion of graduation requirements are addressed in this statute.

Please forward in writing the name and contact information for each school districtís assigned foster care liaison to Marsha Tolson, Special Education Unit, Arkansas Department of Education, 1401 West Capitol, Suite 450, Little Rock, AR 72201 not later than December 16, 2008. A copy of the statute is attached.

Attachments:

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