Ratio/Maximum number of students with disabilities and variances
The number of students with disabilities in an Integrated Co-Teaching class may not exceed 40 percent of the total class register with a maximum of 12 students with disabilities. Integrated Co-Teaching classes must adhere to general education class size limits. Under Integrated Co-Teaching, classes that normally have a class size limit of 20 students will increase to 25 students, with a maximum of 10 students having disabilities.
The limit of 12 students with disabilities in an Integrated Co-Teaching class was added in 2008 as a result of changes in state regulations.
The 40 percent and 12-student limit includes any student with a disability in that class, regardless of whether the student is recommended for integrated co-teaching services. For example, if two students with disabilities in a class receive special education teacher support services (SETSS) and 10 have IEPs recommending integrated co-teaching services, there are 12 students with disabilities in that classroom. While the two students in the above example may benefit incidentally from the integrated co-teaching services, their IEPs would not need to specify the integrated co-teaching services.
State regulations allow schools to add one additional student (13th student) to an ICT class by notifying the State Education Department and to add a 14th student with prior approval by the State Education Department. However, schools and FSCs may not submit variance notifications or requests directly to NYSED. If the school has an appropriate ICT class but cannot place the student in the class without exceeding regulatory limits, and no other appropriate options to serve the student or others in the class have been identified, the school must submit a variance notification (for the 13th student) or variance request (for the 14th student) to the ASE for review. If the ASE confirms that the class was in compliance at the beginning of the year and agrees that a variance is warranted, the ASE will submit the draft notification/request to the Special Education Office (SEO). The SEO will either provide further assistance to the school or submit the variance notification/request to NYSED. The SEO will inform the ASE of the decision. Approved variances are in effect only for the school year (or remainder thereof) in which the variance is granted. Schools are expected to remedy the need for a variance by the commencement of the following school year.
According to state guidance, schools can exceed the maximum of 12 students with disabilities in ICT classes “only when exceptional circumstances arise.” Examples of “exceptional circumstances” provided by the SED are students who are newly identified as disabled or move into the school district during the school year. Schools must begin the school year in compliance with the 12-student limit and they must not routinely apply for waivers. When notifying the SED of the addition of a 13th student or applying for a variance to add a 14th student, the school must “demonstrate educational justification and consistency with providing an appropriate education for all children affected” [ i.e., the entire class]. The Commissioner may revoke or preempt any increase in the number of students with disabilities in an ICT class beyond the regulatory maximum if a finding is made that the increase would not be consistent with appropriate special education.
A city DOE memo reinforced these state guidelines along with existing rules regarding the composition of ICT classes in New York City public schools. The DOE memo states that the addition of the 13th student “should be used infrequently.” The DOE memo also states that “NYC will continue to adhere to its policy, whereby the maximum number of students receiving ICT services in a class cannot exceed 40% of the total register of the ICT class.” “Doing the ‘Math” on ICT Variances” describes the interplay between the DOE’s 40 percent rule, the SED’s 12-student maximum and the variance procedures.
- NYSED, Variance Procedures to Temporarily Exceed the Maximum Number of Students with Disabilities in an Integrated Co-teaching Services Class (includes procedures and variance notification/request form), January 2011
- NYCDOE, Summary of changes to Part 200 Regulations of the commissioner relating to Special Education Mandate Relief, January 13, 2011
- UFT, Doing the “Math” on ICT Variances
- Special Education Operating Procedures Manual, Topic: Placement, Special Class and ICT Composition and Variances