In the webinar, The Consultation Process: A Review, I review the consultation process as it pertains to the equitable participation of private school students, teachers, and parents in programs authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Many of you could probably write the book on the consultation process based on your experiences. For others, the process is new and perhaps a bit daunting. But for everyone, the consultation process is a real-time activity that changes and evolves depending on the persons participating, the program being discussed, the needs of the private school students, and the challenges the public school district may be facing.

If you missed the webinar, The Consultation Process: A Review, you can view the recorded webinar here.  Additionally, recording of all webinars can be found on the Webinars page of Equitable Services MDEC.

One of the keys to consultation success, whether you are experienced or just learning the process, is to utilize a consultation checklist to ensure that all of the required topics are covered during the consultation process. While all the required topics may not be covered in a single meeting, the sum total of program planning and design should cover all required topics. Tool #1 in ESSA Toolkit: A Guide for Equitable Services for Private School Students contains a checklist that you may find helpful.

Once these topics have been discussed—or there has been an attempt to discuss these topics—you should thoughtfully sign the written affirmation as requested by the public school district. New under ESSA is the requirement that private school officials can indicate on the written affirmation whether or not agreement was reached on the specific consultation topics, if they were adequately discussed, and if the private school officials disagree with the public school district’s decisions. These written affirmations are transmitted to the state’s ombudsman and can serve as an indication that the process is not leading to the required goal of reaching agreement.

The guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on reaching agreement bears repeating because it contains all of the elements that public and private school officials should strive for (and the ground rules for good consultation practices) in this one Q&A. Here it is:

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, have their views seriously considered, and 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 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.

My Winter 2018-19 Webinar Series will take a deeper dive into the consultation process, with webinars on fiscal issues, effectively defining educational need, and utilizing safeguards and effective strategies. In January and February, we will take a brief detour from the consultation process to discuss the new guidance being issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding equitable participation.

Below is the schedule for the Winter Webinar Series. Registration information for each webinar will be emailed to you two weeks prior to the webinar date.

  • December 19, 2018: The Consultation Process: Getting a Handle on Funding
  • January 29, 2019 (new date): New ESSA Guidance, Part 1
  • February 12, 2019: ESSA Guidance, Part 2
  • March 12, 2019: The Consultation Process: Developing & Using a Needs Assessment Effectively
  • April 9, 2019: The Consultation Process: Effective Use of ESSA Strategies & Safeguards to Ensure Equitable Participation

As always, these are free webinars from MDEC. You can be added to the mailing list for receiving notices of the webinars by emailing [email protected] with your contact information. Registration will also be posted on our Events page.

Finally, for a guide that can be used to both prepare for consultation and to prompt conversation during the consultation process, consider purchasing ESSA Consultation: Guidebook to Effectiveness.