In 2008, Virginia proposed the revision of the Special Education Regulations. Wrightslaw maintained this update page during the revision process that closed in 2009.
The current Special Education Regulations, effective January 25, 2010 can be found here: Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia
Back to Virginia Special Education
07/07/09 Final Special Education Regulations, effective July 7, 2009, posted by VDOE.
05/19/09 Summary of Public Comments posted by VDOE
Public Forum Closed May 13!
Comment Today at the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall! (Comment period ends Wednesday, May 13.)
Read comments by the Fairfax County Council of PTAs (FCCPTA) on the final draft revision of the VA special education regulations.
04/13/09 Final Regulations Published; Notice of Suspension of Regulatory Process
Virginia Register of Regulations published the proposed final State Special Education Regulations and the notice to suspend the process to allow for an additional thirty day public comment period.
The suspension is in response to requests from at least twenty-five people for an additional public comment period regarding those changes with substantial impact that were made to the regulations since they were published as proposed regulations.
The Virginia Department of Education will receive comments regarding 8VAC20-81 until 5 p.m. on May 13, 2009.
Comments may be submitted by mail, facsimile, or e-mail. All comments must include the name and contact information of the commenter. Comments may be submitted by mail to:
Special Education Regulations Revision Process
by facsimile to (804) 786-8520;
or by email to ReviseSpedRegs@doe.virginia.gov.
For more information, contact:
Melissa Smith, Coordinator of Administrative Services
Final Adoption period is underway and will end on 5/13/09.
Public Forum In Progress! Comment Today at the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall!
03/19/09 Gov Kaine Endorses Revised Special Education Regulations.
Next step in the regulatory process is for the final draft of the Regulations to be posted on Town Hall and the Virginia Register. This posting has not yet occurred.
Once published in the State Register a 30-day final adoption period starts. At the end of this 30-day period the final draft Regulations become the final Regulations unless “If the agency receives requests from at least 25 persons for an opportunity to submit oral and written comments on the changes to the regulation, the agency shall (i) suspend the regulatory process for 30 days to solicit additional public comment and (ii) file notice of the additional 30-day public comment period with the Registrar of Regulations, unless the agency determines that the changes made are minor or inconsequential in their impact.”
NOTE from VDOE: New Virginia special education regulations will not become effective until after the completion of the process required by Virginia’s Administrative Process Act.
The next step in the process involves the Virginia Registrar's office publishing the draft regulations with VDOE's Notice announcing a 30-day public comment period.
12/01/08 Alert! Call to Action! Contact VA Governor Tim Kaine TODAY! To retain essential rights for children & parents, we need a landslide of calls, letters & email - before December 10th.
11/24/08 Question Governor Kaine directly on "Ask the Governor." Final Revision of the VA Regs Comes Down to the Wire!
10/28/08 Update on Governor Kaine's Expected Actions on the Final Regulations. Question him directly on "Ask the Governor."
Read a summary of parental concerns
09/25/08 Virginia Board of Education adopts the final Special Education Regulations. The Regulations as published last week were adopted as final regulations this morning. The Board made one revision - to expand the definition of DD up to the age of six. The next step in the regulatory process is for the final regulations to be published in the State Register, probably on October 27. There may be an additional 30-day public comment period. Related news
09/19/08 VDOE posts changes to the proposed Special Education Regulations. Final Review of the Proposed Revisions to the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia (8 VAC 20-81-10 et seq.)
09/18/08 VDOE's releases Summary of the Public Comment (pdf) on the proposed regulations.
The state board says they are listening. To date, the board has already received a record breaking 38,000 comments about their proposals. Comments that Virginia Schools Superintendent Billy Cannaday says they are considering. "We're trying to balance the protection for children and families with also the increased accountability for student's learning" he stated.
The state board is expected to release their final proposal next Friday and then have another 30 day comment period before they vote on it.
09/09/08 Speaker of the House, William Howell Remains Concerned about Proposed Changes to the Regulations
Thursday, July 24th, the Fairfax County School Board (Regular Meeting: Action Item 4.03) voted 12-0 to pass the Alexandria City School Board resolution supporting parental consent rights. With 167,000 students and almost 25,000 receiving special ed services, the Fairfax County School Board represents the largest school district in VA.
07/18/08 State Board of Education
Special-education advocates are taking comfort in Virginia Board of Education members' remarks about proposed changes to the state's special-education regulations. Letters seek to ease parents' ire. Read more.
07/17/08 State Board of Education Meeting
Parents spoke, and the state Board of Education listened. At their monthly meeting Thursday, several board members said they have concerns with proposed special education rule changes that could reduce the rights of parents. More
The Virginia Department of Education will revise their proposed regulations in response to the public comments they received. They plan to publish their revised proposed regulations at the Virginia Board of Education meeting on September 25, 2008.
During the summer, parents need to get to know one another and strengthen relationships. If we spend this time getting stronger, when we see the next draft of the proposed regulations in September, we will be able to work together to do what needs to be done.
We need to be prepared to act quickly after the Board meeting on September 25, when the Board will act on the next draft of the regulations.
Advice from Miss Manners
Some people find it hard to be patient through this long process. Emotions can be an asset or a liability. Use your emotions as a source of energy and determination.
The Town Hall Forum closed on June 30, 2008, but the comments submitted are still available for viewing.
In the proposed changes to the regulations, VDOE proposes to eliminate parental consent in some cases, and further erode parental rights. Other proposed changes will affect procedural safeguards, eligibility criteria, definition of developmental disabilities, and accountability.
This is a time when it's important for parents and other stakeholders to get involved and make their desires known. It is often very difficult to get people to become involved in this process. Many people feel it will not matter to them. Others fear it will take more time from their busy lives.
If adopted, these changes could be a major loss, decreasing the school-family partnership intended by IDEA.
Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) published their new proposed Special Education Regulations (8VAC20-80/81) in The Virginia Register of Regulations (Volume 24, Issue 17) on April 28, 2008.
A Superintendent’s Memorandum was issued on April 25, 2008.
Publication of the proposed regs initiated the 60-day public comment period, which will last from April 28, 2008 through June 30, 2008. During that time period, the Virginia Department of Education is accepting written public comments regarding the proposed revisions, and nine public hearings were convened.
Information about the public hearings and submitting written comment appears below.
During regulatory review process, Governor Kaine reviewed the proposed changes to the current special education regulations and expressed his concerns to the Virginia Board of Education.
Adoption, Appeal, and Repeal of Regulations. If the Governor chooses to comment on the proposed regulation, his comments must be transmitted to the agency and the Registrar no later than 15 days following the completion of the 60-day public comment period. The Governor’s comments, if any, will be published in the Virginia Register. Not less than 15 days following the completion of the 60-day public comment period, the agency may adopt the proposed regulation.
When final action is taken, the agency again publishes the text of the regulation as adopted, highlighting all changes made to the proposed regulation and explaining any substantial changes made since publication of the proposal. A 30-day final adoption period begins upon final publication in the Virginia Register.
The Governor may review the final regulation during this time and, if he objects, forward his objection to the Registrar and the agency.
The Governor’s objection or suspension of the regulation, or both, will be published in the Virginia Register. If the Governor finds that changes made to the proposed regulation have substantial impact, he may require the agency to provide an additional 30-day public comment period on the changes. Notice of the additional public comment period required by the Governor will be published in the Virginia Register.
The agency shall suspend the regulatory process for 30 days when it receives requests from 25 or more individuals to solicit additional public comment, unless the agency determines that the changes have minor or inconsequential impact.
A regulation becomes effective at the conclusion of the 30-day final adoption period, or at any other later date specified by the promulgating agency, unless there is action under the authority of the General Assembly or Governor.
Proposed regulatory action may be withdrawn by the promulgating agency at any time before the regulation becomes final.
VA requires that five days before the Board of Ed takes final action on the regulations, a summary of all public comment and the VDOE's response to the comments must be provided to each person who submitted public comment.
Regulations Governing Special Education for Children with Disabilities in Virginia
Proposed Regulations (8VAC20-80/81) published in 2 column format by the Virginia Register of Regulations (Volume 24, Issue 17) April 28, 2008. word format l pdf format
Copies of these regulations, including Braille copies, audio tapes, and large print versions are available at no cost from the Virginia Department of Education. Please forward your request to the Virginia Department of Education, P. O. Box 2120, Richmond, Virginia 23218-2120, or by calling 1-800-229-3820. TDD toll free phone: 1-800-422-1098.
Side by Side Comparison of current VA Regulations and proposed VA Regulations.
Comparison of State Timelines for an Initial Evaluation Under the IDEA. The VA timeline ranks as one of the longest. The timeline in the proposed regulations would start at parental consent, NOT from the date of referral. See Side by Side Comparison of current and proposed regulations.
February 26, 2008
Governor Kaine's statements about the proposed regs on WTOP's (metro DC) program "Ask the Governor", Tuesday, Feb. 26th, 2008.
This MP3 file contains the entire program (1 hour). The portion on the VA Special Education Regulations is from minute 15:30 - 18:30.
On the program Kaine said the following:
VDOE webpage about The Revision Process. This page will be updated periodically to provide critical information as the revision process moves forward.
The resource documents on the revision page should be updated on a regular basis, especially the Timeline and Checklist. Once scheduled, the site will also provide information about where the public hearings will be held.
You can also access the revision website by going through VDOE's Division of Special Education and Student Services webpage.
Another way is to enter "revision of Virginia special education" in the Google search box on your internet browser. VDOE Revision Process page usually will be listed first in the search results.
The first round of public comment known as the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) is the initial step in the regulatory process which includes a 30 day comment period on what the public wants in the Regulations.
After publication of the new proposed Special Education Regulations in The Virginia Register of Regulations on April 28, 2008, the dates of the official public comment period will be from April 28, 2008 through June 30, 2008.
During that time period, the Virginia Department of Education will accept written public comments regarding the proposed revisions, and nine public hearings have been held.
VDOE is accepting and processing public comments now.
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall is a comprehensive source of information about regulatory changes under consideration in Virginia. You can find regulations, track proposed changes, and read the action summary of the revision of the regulations. You can submit on-line comments about regulatory changes and read comments from others. It's time to make your voice heard! Comment period ends 06/30/08.
VA requires that five days before the Board of Ed takes final action on the regulations, a summary of all public comment and the VDOE's response to the comments must be provided to each person who submitted public comment. Five days is all the time available for parents to organize a response if the changes we have sought aren't made.
Points of Contact
The proposed changes are being considered by Governor Tim Kaine. To comment on them, email Governor Kaine at http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm
Governor Kaine will take questions from the public in a series of statewide town hall meetings beginning on Monday, March 10 through the reconvened session, to discuss the budget and legislation passed during the 2008 General Assembly Session. No sign-in is required to attend or ask questions. All town hall meetings are open to the public and media. Schedule of town hall meetings
Special Education Regulations Revision Process
Office of Dispute Resolution and Administrative Services
Virginia Department of Education
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, Virginia 23218-2120
Names and addresses of the VA Board of Education members.
On June 3, 2008, at the Tappahannock hearing, Pete Wright addressed Virginia's desire, in proposed regulation 81-210, to take over the selection and appointment of Hearing Officers. He also attacked Virginia's attempt to have the right to edit the Hearing Officer's written decision. Pete explained that these proposed revisions are akin to the asking the fox to guard the chicken coop. Click here to see his written submission.
Hearing testimony from Sue Sargeant (June 3, 2008). In Virginia we do the right thing for our children with disabilities. We have worked in the Commonwealth for decades to build successful partnerships with parents in the special educational planning process.The Virginia way is to go above and beyond and Governor Kaine is right there with us too with “Virginia Leading the Way”. We, service providers, parents and advocates are not going to let some central office desk administrators create division in these partnerships.
VA Coalition for Students with Disabilities Public Comment, Recommendations, and Justification on Proposed Special Education Regulations. (May 2008)
VA Office for Protection and Advocacy. VOPA's Comments Executive Summary. May 20, 2008. We are alarmed by the way the proposed Regulations restrict parental and child rights; indeed, in some areas, the Regulations completely remove rights. VOPA urges that VDOE to review these comments and revise their Regulations to foster and protect the rights children and parents are given in federal law and the current state regulations. Word format
JustChildren - Speak Up to Protect Parent Involvement. Platform on the proposed changes to VA Special Education Regulations. Side-by-side review of the draft regulations. Comments to VDOE (April 28, 2008)
Take Action! Find out what you can do to help - from the Arc of Virginia. Speak Up to Protect Family Involvement and Help Students with Disabilities Succeed!
ACTION ALERT! CHADD - Virginia Parents of Children with AD/HD
If your child has AD/HD and attends a public school in Virginia, your right as a parent to have a say in his or her success in school may be in danger. We need you to act now. CHADD opposes these recommendations, as do many other parent and disability groups. Virginia's Governor Tim Kaine has also voiced opposition to the proposals.
Send Comments in Writing Opposing the Changes. What Do I Say? See CHADD's draft set of comments by clicking here.
The Virginia Coalition of Students with Disabilities is disappointed with the proposed revisions to the Regulations Governing Special Education Services for Students with Disabilities in Virginia. The initial assessment of the proposed revisions reveals that few of the changes would provide benefit to students with disabilities or their families. In fact, the proposed revisions significantly reduce critical protections and rights of many students.(September 26, 2007)
The Virginia Coalition of Students with Disabilities submitted public comment in response to the NOIRA for the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia. (02/23/07)
Coalition Platform on the Draft Special Education Regulations
State Board Revises Rules, Eases Some Controversies. The Virginia State Board of Education approved revisions to special education rules yesterday that omitted two proposals that parents of disabled students had said would severely restrict their rights. But some parents said they are still worried about the state's procedures for evaluating children with special needs. Washington Post (September 26, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Board OKs Special Education Changes. Despite pleas from some groups to postpone a vote, the Virginia Board of Education revised the state's regulations for special-education students yesterday, advancing a plan stripped of the proposals that were the most unpopular among parents and politicians. Richmond Times Dispatch (September 26, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Board Revises Special Ed Rule Changes. The state Board of Education has revised special-education regulations, but they no longer include two contentious proposals opposed by parents of students with disabilities.WSVA News Radio Online 550 (September 25, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Special Ed Regulation Changes. The state board says they are listening. To date, the board has already received a record breaking 38,000 comments about their proposals. Comments that Virginia Schools Superintendent Billy Cannaday says they are considering. "We're trying to balance the protection for children and families with also the increased accountability for student's learning" he stated.
Under pressure, state withdraws two special education proposals. Under pressure from politicians and thousands of parents of special education students, the state Department of Education has backed down from a proposed rules change that would limit parental consent for ending special education services. Richmond Times Dispatch (September 11, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Letter seeks to ease parents' ire. Special-education advocates are taking comfort in Virginia Board of Education members' remarks about proposed changes to the state's special-education regulations. Emblidge notes concerns expressed by parents of special-needs students. Richmond Times Dispatch (July 31, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
State Board Members Hesitate Over Special Ed Proposal. Parents spoke, and the state Board of Education listened. At their monthly meeting Thursday, several board members said they have concerns with proposed special education rule changes that could reduce the rights of parents. "Parental consent and parental involvement are important," said board vice president Ella Ward of Chesapeake. "We listened. We heard. And we're about to act." (July 17, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Spotsy Changes Special-Ed Designations. Starting this fall, Spotsylvania County schools will no longer classify students ages 5 to 8 as developmentally delayed. Sue Sargeant, a speech therapist for the school division and an officer of The Arc of Rappahannock, says putting children into "hard" labels, such as learning disability or autism, will lower expectations. Fredericksburg.com - School Zone (June 18, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Special-ed Parents' Wings Trimmed by VDOE Proposal. The Virginia Department of Education's Special Education Draft Regulations will make major cuts to parents' rights to partner with schools in their child's education. The proposal removes the parental requirement for partial or full termination of special education or related services. Word format l Pdf format
Child Left Behind: The Story of Adriana Long Virginia’s Board of Education is considering a major overhaul of its special education regulations that may fundamentally alter the rights of parents like Anna Long. If adopted, the new rules allow localities to, at the extreme, remove all special education services from a child without parental consent. Style Weekly (June 11, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Proposed State Special-Education Plan Decried. Tia Marsili testified before hundreds of teachers, supporters and champions of children with disabilities at a public hearing at Oakton High School last Monday. The Virginia State Board of Education will make its determination on the changes this fall. Even Gov. Tim Kaine (D) has weighed in, opposing some of the reductions in parental consent requirements. Fairfax County Times. (June 5, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Parents, Advocates Oppose Special Education Changes. The speakers changed every three minutes, but with few exceptions their message Wednesday night was the same: The proposed changes to the state special education regulations are flawed and harmful. (May 29, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Proposed Special-education Changes Spark Parent Protests. Powhatan County mother Cas Schirra pleaded with Virginia Board of Education members Tuesday night at the hearing at Clover Hill High School, urging them not to make changes to the state's special-education regulations that will decrease parental involvement. Richmond Times Dispatch (May 28, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Special Education Controversy. Consent would NOT be required for cessation of services and determining services for transfers. Greta Harrison and other parents and advocates for the disabled are worried about proposed changes that would reduce parents' roles in several key special education decisions, including the termination of services for their children. Newport News Daily Press (May 27, 2008) Word format l Pdf format
Parents Want To Retain Involvement In Special-Needs Education by Debra McCown, Bristol Herald Courier from TriCities.com (May 11, 2008) word l pdf
Proposal Limits Progress Reports. The most controversial proposal would give schools more leeway to suspend certain special services for students, such as speech or occupational health therapy. Washington Post (May 9, 2008) word l pdf
More Power for Schools, Less for Parents "9 News Now" Video from WUSA9.com (April 22, 2008)
Proposed Changes Anger Parents Virginia Spotlight with Peggy Fox on WUSA9.com (April 22, 2008)
Parents of Special Ed Children Oppose Changing the Consent Rule by Ian Shapira. Washington Post (April 22, 2008) Download article (pdf)
Changing the Rules of Special Education in Virginia by Emily Suski. (Special to the Herald Courier, March 2, 2008) Download article (pdf)
Stop Virginia's Proposed Erosion of Parental Rights
J. Todd Foster, managing editor of the Bristol Herald Courier, wrote this editorial (02/10/08). Read about his young son, Tyler, and how his parents fought for the services he needed. And now...
How Can You Make a Difference?
Input from families, students, service providers will be critical in ensuring that the draft regulations are not adopted as they are currently written. The Board of Education needs to hear that families and students need these rights to be maintained.
Call Governor Kaine (804-786-2211) and ask that he support parent involvement for students with disabilities by urging the Board of Education to listen to the concerns of parents and students.
Participate in local advocacy meetings.
Last revised: 01/25/10
Copyright © 1998-2022, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr
Wright. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1998-2022, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved.