VirtualSC and Students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) is committed to building capacity in South Carolina to increase students’ participation in educational programs where they will leave school prepared for life, post secondary education, and careers. In support of building this capacity, the SCDE is committed to ensuring that all children, including children with disabilities, have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
VirtualSC (VSC) is an option for students, including those with disabilities who have Individual Education Plans (IEPs), to take courses for high school credit, provided that online courses are an appropriate instructional delivery method for the individual student. To ensure that the SCDE and VSC are in compliance with applicable federal and state statutes, regulations, policies and procedures governing educational programs for children with disabilities, the following SCDE policies and procedures apply.
FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT
Students with disabilities must have available to them a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and access to and make progress in the general education curriculum. VSC is a supplemental online program and instructional delivery method, not a local educational agency or a LRE placement. The responsibility for providing FAPE in the LRE rests solely with the student’s home/resident school district (i.e., the school district sponsoring the student’s enrollment in one or more VSC courses). It is the responsibility of the sponsor school district to carry out its obligations for:
- Child Find, including the evaluation and eligibility determination of any child suspected as having a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and State Board of Education regulation 43-243.1;
- Development of the IEP;
- Oversight of the implementation of all services and components of the IEP;
- Reports of the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals outlined on the IEP;
- Reviews and updates of the IEP on at least an annual basis but more often if the student is experiencing a lack of success in his or her virtual learning courses and completing the required triennial reevaluation of the student;
- Assessment participation, including the receipt of any standard or nonstandard accommodations as outlined on the student’s IEP;
- Provision of all special education and related services to the student
- Issuance of all special education notifications, including prior written notices and meeting notifications;
- Inclusion of parents (or the student if age of majority has been reached) in the educational decisions made regarding the student and informing them of their procedural safeguards; and
- Provision of a FAPE in the LRE.
ENROLLMENT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Prior to Enrollment
Prior to enrollment of a student with a disability into one or more VSC courses, the IEP team at the sponsor school must consider whether or not an online instructional delivery method is appropriate for the student to receive a FAPE. The student’s IEP team should also determine whether or not the student’s accommodations can be provided through virtual learning (e.g., preferential seating close to the instructor is not applicable to online learning). Due to the unique design of virtual learning, extended time, as an accommodation, should be clearly described using exemplar VSC course pacing guides. Each sponsored student’s IEP must show documentation of these considerations for a student to be permitted to enroll in one or more VSC courses (and subsequently receive a FAPE).
For students with disabilities who may not be pursuing a South Carolina high school diploma, the IEP team must determine whether or not the course curriculum may be modified to the extent that the participation of the student in the class is appropriate for the student to receive a FAPE. The student’s sponsor school district is responsible for collaborating with VSC staff and/or faculty to ensure that the curriculum modifications are provided. The student’s sponsor school district is responsible for ensuring that the VSC staff and/or faculty are aware of and implement the appropriate curriculum modifications.
Prior to enrollment, the student’s sponsor school district is responsible for any hardware or software, including assistive technology devices and services, necessary for the student to access the course.
Prior to the first day of class, the student’s sponsor school district is responsible for notifying VSC staff that the student has a disability under the IDEA. Prior to the first day of class, the sponsor school district is required to submit an encrypted copy of the student’s current IEP to the VSC Student Services Office or specific components needed such as the student’s Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance (Section 2); the student’s measurable annual goals (Section 4); the student’s accommodations (Sections 3 and 6); and any additional information documenting that virtual learning is an appropriate instructional delivery model.
The student’s IEP (or relevant sections outlined) must be encrypted and submitted via electronic mail (e-mail) to the VSC Student Services Office. Because VSC is providing virtual instruction to the student, VSC and the SCDE have a legitimate educational interest and the authority to access the student’s educational records without parental consent, pursuant to the IDEA and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Ensuring the confidentiality of the student’s information pursuant to the IDEA and FERPA, VSC staff will only share the student’s IEP with the student’s teacher(s) and correspond with only permissible staff in the student’s sponsor school district (e.g., the special education case manager). Each IEP will be reviewed, and VSC staff and/or faculty may contact the student’s sponsor or case manager to discuss relevant information regarding the student (including the provision of accommodations).
During enrollment, VSC instructors will be responsible for the following:
- Identifying and providing those accommodations that are possible in virtual learning as specified on the student’s IEP. Examples of accommodations that may be provided by VSC include clarifying/repeating directions; allowing the use of a dictionary/glossary; extended time (which must be outlined on the IEP relative to online learning and pacing guides); use of graphic organizers; masking/templates; notes, outlines, and instructions; and visual organizers. VSC instructors will maintain documentation (through logs, e-mails, or other media as selected by the VSC staff and faculty) relative to the provision of the accommodations the instructors are able to provide in the virtual learning setting. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of potential accommodations that a student may need for access to an online course. Also, please note that these examples may not be possible in every VSC course.
- Maintaining the security and confidentiality of each student’s educational records in a manner consistent with the IDEA and FERPA.
During enrollment, the student’s sponsor school district will be responsible for the following.
Providing each component of FAPE in the LRE as outlined on page one of this document;
- Providing each component as noted in the footnote;
- Monitoring the student’s progress in a course by verifying grades in the Student Information System (OpenSIS).
- Providing updated information to necessary staff at VSC in a timely manner following any action taken by the school district, including but not limited to the revision and update of an IEP, where the Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP), goals, services, and/or accommodations have changed; re-evaluation of the child, including the determination of whether or not the child continues to be a child with a disability; a disciplinary action taken on behalf of the school district (particularly involving a suspension/expulsion in excess of ten days or in excess of a time that would affect the student’s performance in an online course); or any other action such as a student moving out of the jurisdiction of the home/resident school district, a medical homebound placement, or the placement of a student in another setting outside of the school district such as a residential treatment facility or group home;
- Notifying VSC instructors of any information that may affect the student’s performance in or during the online course(s);
- Providing accommodations as outlined above;
- Providing any curriculum modifications needed for a student with a disability who will not receive a South Carolina high school diploma; and
- Providing all special education and related services to (or on behalf of) the student.
Please note that under its general supervision authority outlined in 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.149 and 300.600 through 300.604, the SCDE, Office of Exceptional Children, is required to ensure that each local educational agency within the state is in compliance with all applicable federal and state statutes, regulations, policies and procedures governing educational programs for students with disabilities; and is responsible for ensuring that students with disabilities receive the services as set forth in their IEPs.
For more information regarding special education in South Carolina, please contact the SCDE, Office of Special Education Services, at 803 734-8224 or visit the webpage at http://ed.sc.gov/agency/ac/Special-Education-Services/
For more information on the enrollment of students with IEPs in VSC courses, please contact the VSC Student Services Team at 803-734-8039.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.1 through 300.818, http://idea.ed.gov/download/finalregulations.pdf; SC State Board of Education Regulation (SBE R) 43-243, http://ed.sc.gov/agency/programs-services/173/documents/4202-FinalVersion.pdf ; SCDE Special Education Process Guide for South Carolina, http://ed.sc.gov/agency/programs-services/173/documents/SEPG-03202013.pdf.
 The student’s sponsor school district is responsible for ensuring that the child receives all accommodations (instructional and testing) outlined on the student’s IEP. The sponsor school district is responsible for collaborating with VSC instructors to determine how each student’s accommodations will be implemented. Neither the student’s sponsor school district, nor VSC staff or faculty, may unilaterally change or determine that a specific accommodation cannot be implemented in a virtual learning program. The student’s IEP must determine specifically how each student’s accommodations are to be implemented.
The student’s sponsor school district is responsible for issuing IEP Progress Reports consistent with the timelines outlined on the student’s IEP as well as recording and reporting all course grades via report cards (and interim report cards if applicable) regarding the child. The student’s sponsor school district may seek input from VSC faculty relative to reporting progress; conducting re-evaluations; and reviewing and updating IEPs as required by the IDEA.