It’s that time of year when we are coming into a new season. Spring? Well, yes and very welcome, but not what I had in mind. Baseball? Spring training is in full swing, but as much as I enjoy baseball, this isn’t what I had in mind either. The new season I’m thinking of is CONSULTATION SEASON!
Throughout the month of March and into early April, on each Tuesday and Thursday, I will send an email containing consultation tips for you to consider as you begin meeting with your public school counterparts to discuss equitable services for the 2017-18 school year.
My first consultation tip concerns the new focus for the consultation process: the goal of consultation is to reach agreement. Under the new provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the consultation process description begins with the statement that the goal of consultation is to reach agreement. In its recent guidance on equitable services, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) defined what this means in practice. I have underlined phrases that highlight the key points of the Q&A by the DOE: N-13. What does “the goal of reaching agreement” between an LEA and appropriate private school officials entail?
The “goal of reaching agreement” between an LEA and appropriate private school officials is grounded in timely, meaningful, and open communication between the LEA and the private school officials on key issues that are relevant to the equitable participation of eligible private school students, teachers and other education personnel, and families in ESEA programs.
Meaningful consultation provides ample time and a genuine opportunity for all parties to express their views, to have their views seriously considered, and to discuss viable options for ensuring equitable participation of eligible private school students, teachers and other education personnel, and families. This assumes that the LEA has not made any decisions that will impact the participation of private school students and teachers in applicable programs prior to consultation, or established a blanket rule that precludes private school students and teachers from receiving certain services authorized under applicable programs. An LEA should consult with private school officials about the timeline for consultation and provide adequate notice of such consultation to ensure meaningful consultation and the likelihood that those involved will be well prepared with the necessary information and data for decision-making.
Successful consultation begins well before the implementation of services, establishes positive and productive working relationships, makes planning effective, continues throughout implementation of equitable services, and serves to ensure that the services provided meet the needs of eligible students and teachers.
As you join with your public school counterparts in the consultation process for planning 2017-18 services, reflect on each of these elements and work to ensure that they are all part of timely and meaningful consultation, and that the efforts put forth in consultation yield an agreement that best serves the needs of your students.