Governor Amends New York Education Law to No Longer Require Additional Parent Member for CSEAugust 22nd, 2012
by Marion Walsh, Esq.
On August 1, 2012, Governor Cuomo signed a Bill which amends New York Education Law 4402 to no longer require an additional parent member for Committee on Special Education (“CSE”) meetings. Before this amendment, New York law required for every CSE meeting (although not for subcommittee meetings), the participation of an additional parent member of a child with a disability residing in the school district or a neighboring school district.
The amended law provides, as with the current law on requesting a physician, that an additional parent member only must be in attendance at any CSE meeting if requested in writing by the parent (or personal in parental relation) to the student, at least 72 hours prior to each meeting. The school district must provide the parents with written notice of their right to have an additional parent member attend any meeting of the CSE. The notice must include a statement, created by the New York State Education Department explaining the role of having the additional parent attend the meeting.
The amendment goes into effect immediately, but there will be some transition time, until the former law phases out and until the New York State Education Department amends the Part 200 Regulations and issues guidance for school districts.
Effect of New Law on Parent Rights
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act does not require parent members as part of an IEP team. The amended law does not impair the rights of parents, as parents still have the right to request a parent member. More frequently than not, parents waive or decline parent member participation. However, parents need to be aware of their right to request an additional parent member and pay careful attention to the 72 hour time period. Parents also need to understand that parent members can serve an important function.
Parents should carefully consider whether they will need a parent member. Parent members can be helpful to lend perspective and objectivity and, if they are from the District, can offer knowledge and help about District programs. If you’re attending an initial eligibility meeting for your child, you will be unfamiliar with the process and the associated emotions and would likely benefit from an additional parent member. If the CSE is considering a more restrictive placement, the parent member may also help you weigh the benefits. Also, for particularly contentious or emotional meetings, parent members can lend perspective. Remember, the parent member does not serve as a substitute for a good advocate and is simply participating in the meeting as an additional CSE member.