Governor Gavin Newsom Signs AB 167 Into Law With Potential Impact to Students With Disabilities
On September 23, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 167 into law. This legislation provides clarifications and makes technical corrections necessary to implement the budget trailer, AB 130, which we discussed in our July 23, 2021, Alert. This Alert focuses on portions of AB 167 that address independent study and may affect students with disabilities, their parents, and special education professionals.
For this school year, nearly all local educational agencies must make available independent study, subject to some exceptions. Some of the key changes AB 167 makes to independent study include the following:
- Synchronous instruction may be provided by the teacher of record or the certificated employee of the LEA providing instruction for course-based independent study. (Ed. Code § 51747.5(d).)
- Signatures on written independent study agreements can be obtained up to 30 days after a student begins instruction in an independent study program, or October 15, whichever date comes later. (Ed. Code § 51747(g)(9)(F).)
- Independent study may be offered to “a pupil who is unable to attend in-person instruction due to a quarantine due to exposure to, or infection with, COVID-19, pursuant to local or state public health guidance.” (Ed. Code § 51745(a)(6).)
- LEAs can receive apportionment for students participating in independent study who “are subject to quarantine for exposure to, or infection with, COVID-19 pursuant to local or state health guidance, and … cannot participate in classroom-based instruction due to the quarantine, and for school closures due to COVID-19.” (Ed. Code § 51747(j).)
The bill does not change the requirement that a student eligible for an individualized education program may participate in independent study only if their IEP provides for it. (Ed. Code § 51745(c).)
Notably, AB 167 does not address circumstances when IEP-eligible students, who receive in-person instruction as part of the placement and services in their IEP, are quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure. We recommend that LEAs discuss with their counsel how to efficiently and equitably address access to instruction for IEP-eligible students under these circumstances.
If you have any questions regarding this Alert or about AB 167, you can contact the authors or your favorite attorney at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.