What Are Related Services? Part 3 of 3

iep_word_cloud1

I apologize!  I thought I had posted part 3 of this series a while back!

Today’s blog is the last post in a three-part series.  In this series we are discussing the related services component of the ARD (IEP) document.   In the first post of this series I discussed related services in general including the definition of related services.  In the second post, I listed out and defined some common related services. In today’s post we are going to look at how you go about obtaining related services for your child.   Continue reading

Independent Educational Evaluations

IEE
Today’s post in the Procedural Safeguards series will cover Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE).  An Independent Educational Evaluation is defined by federal law as, “an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question.” (34 C.F.R. 300.502)

Why might parents seek an Independent Educational Evaluation?

Parent-Initiated Private Evaluations: Parents may at their expense obtain a private evaluation for their child.  There are several reasons for why a parent would seek a private evaluation at their expense.   Some of the reasons are:  initial diagnosis, seeking more or different information, a second opinion, to support your opinions and/or requests, and to see if your child is making progress in his or her current program.  You may also get the results faster than going through the LEA.

When choosing an evaluator for the private evaluation, you want to make sure that they are qualified to evaluate for educational purposes.  If the evaluator does not meet the same criteria as the school district has for hiring its evaluators then the school does not have to consider the private evaluation.  If you choose to share the results with the school, the results “must be considered by the public agency, if it meets agency criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision of FAPE to the child.” (34 CFR 300.502(c))  Considering the evaluation does not mean they have to agree with the results or follow any or all of the recommendations.

This evaluation can be used as evidence in a due process hearing by you or the LEA.

At Public Expense:  You can ask the LEA for an IEE at public expense if you do not agree with the school’s evaluation.  The school has to either provide the IEE or file for a due process hearing.  The school may ask you why you do not agree with their evaluation.  You do not have to give the school a reason and they cannot use this as a basis for delaying providing the IEE or filing for a due process hearing.

The school cannot tell you who you must use for the IEE.  They can specify criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, the location of the evaluation, and the qualifications of the evaluator.  The qualifications must the be same as the criteria the LEA uses when it initiates an evaluation.  The LEA cannot impose conditions or timelines related to obtaining an IEE at public expense.  (34 CFR 300.502(e))

A parent can only ask for one IEE at public expense each time the LEA evaluates their child.

More Information:

This post is intended to give you a general idea of the law.  However, each situation is different.  If you need more specific information about how the law applies to your situation you should contact a special education attorney. 

Parental Consent

Parent ConsentToday’s post in the Procedural Safeguards series will cover Parental Consent.  The local education agency (LEA) must obtain your informed consent before it can do certain things.  Informed consent means:  you have been given all the information related to the action for which your permission is sought in your native language, or other mode of communication; you understand and agree in writing to the activity for which your permission is sought, and the written consent describes the activity and lists any records that will be released and to whom; and you understand that the granting of your consent is voluntary and may be withdrawn at any time.

The IDEA states that there are three main areas in which an LEA must obtain parental consent.

Initial Evaluation:  Before an LEA can evaluate you child, they must obtain your informed written consent to do so.  They must do so even if you are the one requesting the evaluation.  If your child is a ward of the state and they are not living with you, they do not have to obtain your consent if: 1) they cannot find you; 2) you do not have the right to make educational decisions for your child; or 3) your rights have been terminated.

In the event the LEA does not obtain your consent to evaluate your child they can choose to pursue the evaluation using mediation or due process procedures.  Consenting to have your child evaluated does not mean you are consenting for your child to receive special education services.  You may revoke your consent for the initial evaluation at anytime during the evaluation process and the evaluation process will be stopped.

Consent for Services:  The LEA responsible for providing FAPE to your child must obtain your informed written consent for special education and related services before they can be provided to your child.  If you do not give the LEA written consent to provide special education and related services to your child then the school district cannot pursue other methods (mediation and due process procedures) to obtain your consent and cannot provide special education and related services to your child.

If at anytime after you initially gave the LEA your written consent to provide special education and related services you make revoke this consent.  The LEA would then stop providing your child with special education and related services and would then be required to provide you with prior written notice before ceasing the services.  The LEA cannot pursue other methods (mediation and due process) to gain your agreement to continue the services.

Re-Evaluations:  Before the LEA re-evaluates your child they must attempt to obtain your informed written consent.  If they cannot obtain your consent they must be able to demonstrate that they took reasonable steps to obtain your consent before they re-evaluate your child.

The LEA is not required to obtain parental consent to review existing data as part of an evaluation or re-evaluation or to administer a test or assessment that is administered to all children unless parental consent is required for all children.

More Information:

This post is intended to give you a general idea of the law.  However, each situation is different.  If you need more specific information about how the law applies to your situation you should contact a special education attorney. 

Prior Written Notice: Sample Letter

writingPrior Written Notice is another right of parents under the procedural safeguard section of IDEA.  As I have previously written about Prior Written Notice, today’s post will contain a sample letter to write to the school asking that they provide you with Prior Written Notice.

In Texas, the procedural safeguards notice states that the school should provide parents with Prior Written Notice at least 5 days in advance of the action the school district is proposing to take regarding your child’s special education services.

This post is intended to give you a general idea of the law.  However, each situation is different.  If you need more specific information about how the law applies to your situation you should contact a special education attorney.

Child Find Mandate

child findToday’s post in the Procedural Safeguards series will cover the Child Find Mandate.  IDEA states that states must put in place policies and procedures that ensures that all children with a disability or suspected of having a disability are identified, located, and evaluated.  Children from birth to age 21 are covered in the Child Find Mandate (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3)).

Child Find must include children who are advancing from grade to grade but are suspected of being a child with a disability and in need of special education services.  It also includes homeless and highly mobile (migrant, seasonal workers) children and children who may be attending private schools.

Once a child has been identified by the local education agency (LEA) as possibly needing services, they must evaluate the child at no cost to the parent.

Section 504 also has a Child Find Mandate (34 CFR 104.32).  Under Section 504 schools are required to identify and locate every qualified handicapped person in the jurisdiction of that LEA and to take appropriate steps to notify them and their parents of the LEA’s duty locate them.

So either way school districts are under an obligation to locate and identify children with disabilities.

Anyone can start the child find process.  If you are concerned about your child’s development or learning contact your state education agency, a local education service center, your local school campus, charter school or the special education office for your district and request that your child be evaluated under Child Find.  You will want to follow-up your verbal request with a letter.

More Information:

This post is intended to give you a general idea of the law.  However, each situation is different.  If you need more specific information about how the law applies to your situation you should contact a special education attorney.

Procedural Safeguards

procedural-safeguardsWe are starting a new series over Procedural Safeguards.  I am still continuing my series over Accommodations along with this series.  Today’s post will give a brief overview of what the procedural safeguards are designed to do.  Each subsequent post in this series will detail a specific procedure as outlined in IDEA.

Section 1415 of IDEA 2004, Part B, states that “any State educational agency, State agency, or local educational agency that receives assistance under this part shall establish and maintain procedures in accordance with this section to ensure that children with disabilities and their parents are guaranteed procedural safeguards with respect to the provision of a free appropriate public education by such agencies.

In other words, the Procedural Safeguards are designed to protect the rights of parents and children with disabilities.

Procedural Safeguard Notice:

School districts and charter schools are to give parents a copy of the procedural safeguards at least once a year.  Most schools do this at the annual IEP meeting.  Other times that schools are required to give parents a copy of the procedural safeguards are:

  • Initial Referral for Evaluation;
  • First notice of a filing of a due process or special education complaint; or
  • Upon the request of the parent.

More Information:

This post is intended to give you a general idea of the law.  However, each situation is different.  If you need more specific information about how the law applies to your situation you should contact a special education attorney.

What is the TA&D Network?

TA&D stands for Technical Assistance & Dissemination network. TA&D networks include projects funded by the OSEP. The TA&D website states that “these projects provide information and technical assistance to states, schools, educational professionals and families on topics such as autism, deafness, disproportionate representation, dispute resolution, learning disabilities, parenting children with special needs, positive behavior support and transition.”  Each center has a particular focus or field that they have expertise in.  Click here for a list of TA&D centers.

One TA&D center is NICHCY or National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.  It has been an excellent source of information and training for several years.  NICHCY recently lost its funding and the website will no longer be available after September 30, 2014.  Most of the resources and information on NICHCY will be transitioned to the Center for Parent Information and Resources website.  There will be some products and resources that will not be available on the new website.  If you have not visited NICHCY, I would encourage you to do so and to download any resources that you think will be helpful in advocating for your child.

I will highlight another TA&D Center in my next post.

 

Planning a Move?

Moving can be hectic in and of itself. When it involves moving schools, especially with a child who has an IEP additional stress can be added. By planning ahead some of the stress can be alleviated.

Moving Within the District:

Since you are moving within the same district, your child’s current IEP will be accepted by the new school. As soon as you know the date you plan to enroll your child in the new school, you can ask that a coordination of services meeting be scheduled with the new school and that they invite any relevant persons from your child’s current school to attend. Their input along with yours can help facilitate a smooth transition into the new school.

Moving Within the State Within the Same School Year:

Start out by making sure your child’s IEP is current. If it is not or if you have any changes you would like made, request an IEP meeting. If your child is due for their triennial evaluation ask that your child’s current school conduct it well in advance of your move date (if possible) so that you can have current evaluations to take with you to the new school district. Ask if your child’s teachers will write a letter stating your child’s strengths, weaknesses, and what strategies have worked in their classroom for your child.

As soon as you know a firm moving date, contact the new school and ask that they forward you the necessary releases so that they can get copies of your child’s school file in advance of the move. Ask that they provide you with their district guidelines and policies for special education services. If you are unsure of the way the new district operates you can contact the local Parent Training and Information Center for help or work with a local advocate to help you get through the initial process.

Schedule a meeting to go over your child’s current IEP either before the move or soon after the move. By law the new school must provide services comparable to your child’s current IEP until it decides to adopt the IEP or perform their own evaluation and develop a new IEP. If they decide to evaluate your child it must be done “as expeditiously as possible, to ensure prompt completion of full evaluations.”

Moving to a New State Within the Same School Year:

In addition to the recommendations in the section above, contact the new state’s education agency and ask that they provide you with copies of that state’s laws and guidelines for special education.

The new state must provide services comparable to your child’s current IEP until they evaluate your child, determine eligibility, and develop a new IEP. Again the evaluation must be done “as expeditiously as possible to ensure prompt completion of full evaluations.”

As with your current school district, you are afforded the same procedural safeguards with the new school district, including the right to an IEE, if you disagree with their evaluation, and the right to due process.

Transmittal of Records:

The new school must “take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the child’s records” from the previous school. The previous school must “take reasonable steps to promptly respond to such a request from the new school.”

Prior Written Notice

Under IDEA parents have several procedural safeguards. You should receive a copy of these safeguards at the initial ARD meeting and at every annual ARD meeting. Be sure to familiarize yourself with them.

One of these procedural safeguards is Prior Written Notice (PWN). Schools are required to provide to parents prior written notice of why they are proposing or refusing to evaluate, initiate or change identification, placement, or a provision of free appropriate public education. The notice must contain the following:

• A description of the action proposed or refused;
• An explanation as to why the action was proposed or refused;
• A description of any other options considered and an explanation as to why those options were rejected;
• A description of each evaluation procedure, test, record, or report used as a basis for the proposal or refusal of the action;
• A description of any other factors relevant to the proposal or refusal of the action;
• A reference to the parents’ procedural safeguards; and
• Sources for parents to obtain assistance in understanding the written notice provisions.

This notice must be provided to you in your native language and written in a way the general public would understand the document.

If you do not receive PWN within a short period of time after the school proposed or refused your proposal, you need to make a written request for the school to provide you with it.

There are three main reasons why prior written notice is important:

1. It gives you the parent detailed information to help you understand why the school is proposing an action or refusing to take an action proposed by you.

2. By schools having to detail why they are proposing or refusing an action, it ensures that you are included in the decisions that impact your child’s educational program. It helps to prevent bad decision-making.

3. By you asking for PWN, it puts the school on notice that you do not agree with their proposal or refusal of an action. This may lead to further discussion and possibly the school changing their decision. Either way you now have a written record of the request that can be used if the need for due process arises.

Prior Written Notice Sample Letter

This post is intended to give you a general idea of the law.  However, each situation is different.  If you need more specific information about how the law applies to your situation you should contact a special education attorney.