Adding Definitions of "Business Day" and "School Day."
The proposed definition of "day" in the NPRM has been retitled "Day; business day; school day," and amended to add definitions of the new terms, as follows:
- "BUSINESS DAY" means "Monday through Friday, except for federal or state holidays..." The term is used (1) under procedural safeguards, related to pre-hearing disclosure of evidence and evaluations (§300.509(a)(2) and (b)); and (2) in the discipline procedures (§§300.520(b) and 300.528(a)(1)). In addition, the phrase "business days (including any holiday that falls on a business day)" is used under §300.403(d)(1)(ii), related to parental placement of children in private schools if FAPE is at issue.
- "SCHOOL DAY" means "any day, including a partial day, that children are in attendance at school for instructional purposes...including children with and without disabilities." The term is used only with respect to discipline procedures, and appears in §§300.121(c)(1) and (c)(2), and 300.520(a)(1) and (c).
Why Definitions Needed.
Definitions of "business day" and "school day" are needed to implement changes made to Part B by the IDEA Amendments of 1997 (P.L. 105-17). Both terms were added by P.L. 105-17, and were referred to in the proposed definition of "day" (i.e., "means calendar day unless otherwise indicated as school day or business day."). However, the terms were not defined in the NPRM. Based on extensive public comments received requesting definitions of the two terms, and to avoid confusion and ensure that "business day" and "school day" are consistently interpreted by parents and school officials within each school district from state to state, it is important to include definitions of the terms in the final regulations.
Retaining "day" to mean "calendar day."
Except for the change described in footnote 2, below, the NPRM definition of "day" as "calendar day" has been retained in the final regulations, to preserve the timelines that affect the rights of parents and children (e.g. timelines in §300.343 -- related to holding an initial IEP meeting for a child); and in the procedural safeguards in §300.511(a) and (b) (timelines for hearings and reviews); and §300.562(a) (access rights relating to records)). All other timelines in the NPRM have been retained as "calendar days" in the final regulations, including --
- The 30-day public comment period in §300.282;
- The by-pass procedures in subpart D;
- The Department's procedures in §§300.581-300.586 for determining that a state is no longer eligible under Part B; and
- The 60-day timeline under the state complaint procedures in §300.661.
Most of these timelines have been in effect since the initial regulations were published in 1977.
* On October 22, 1997, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published in the Federal Register to amend the regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The purposes of the NPRM were to implement changes made by the IDEA Amendments of 1997, and make other changes that facilitate the implementation of Part B. The changes made since the NPRM are based mainly on public comments received.
2 - The provision in §300.509(a)(3) of the NPRM (which prohibited the introduction of any evidence not been disclosed at least 5 days before a hearing) has been changed to "5 business days," to avoid confusion resulting from having two separate time frames for pre-hearing disclosure in §300.509(b)(1) and ((a)(3) (i.e., 5 days and 5 business days), which could lead to additional litigation costs. The intent of pre-hearing disclosure is to avoid surprise by either party at the hearing.