Gov. Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 664 into law on June 30, 2021, now known as Act 66 of 2021, that permits students with disabilities who graduated during the 2020–21 school year and turned age 21 during the 2020–21 school year to attend school during the 2021–22 school year and receive services as outlined on their most recent Individualized Education Program (IEP) with all the protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Parents have the power to decide if their children should repeat their final year to help catch up on learning loss due to the pandemic. The new law gives parents the final say in the decision, not just the school and teachers. However, the decision to repeat a grade level or remain an additional year must be made by July 15, 2021.
As you know, the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) requires Person/Family Directed Services (P/FDS) waiver capacity to be reserved by counties for high school graduates who are not eligible to continue their education through the next year. This year is unique since these students are now eligible to choose to continue for an additional year. However, the choice to repeat a grade or remain an additional year under Act 66 of 2021 does not preclude the person from enrollment in P/FDS. Every student slated for a 2021 graduation at age 21, must be offered enrollment in the P/FDS waiver, if they are not enrolled in another waiver, regardless of whether they exercise their right to continue for an additional year under Act 66. A graduate may choose to repeat their final year of high school and enroll in P/FDS. The P/FDS waiver can be used to support the assessed needs that the high school is not required to provide.
ODP expects that Supports Coordinators are immediately communicating this information to all individuals and families that were identified as 2021 graduates and assuring them that the determination to repeat a year of school will not impact their eligibility for or current enrollment in the P/FDS waiver.
Please note: Act 66 applies to students enrolled in any of the following school entities in Pennsylvania during the 2020–21 school year: a school district, intermediate unit, career and technical education center, charter school, cyber charter school, regional charter school, nonpublic school, approved private schools, and chartered schools for the deaf and blind.