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

U.S. Department of Education Issues Guidance on Dyslexia

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education & Rehabilitative Services released a letter today giving guidance to states and schools on the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in evaluations, eligibility determinations, and IEP documents. Continue reading

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.

My Child’s School is Ignoring My Requests

Signing the dealHave you asked the school to evaluate your child or asked for help in an area your child is struggling in and did not received a response from the school or felt like your request was not taken seriously?  Your communication may not be as clear as you think or perhaps the person you were communicating with did not see the seriousness of your request or failed to pass along your request to the proper person.  It can even be the school is ignoring your request because it was not made in writing and therefore there is no proof that you made the request.

Put your request(s) in writing.  Write a letter to your child’s principal stating your request(s) and the concerns you have that have led you to make the request(s). If you want your child to receive special education services or a related service, ask that your child be evaluated for special education services or related services not for the service itself.  Ask that a meeting be scheduled to discuss your request and concerns within the next ten days.  (You can find sample letters here)

Hand-deliver or fax the letter to your child’s school.  Remember to keep a copy for your records and to attach a copy of the fax transmittal sheet to it.  If you hand deliver the letter be sure to document on your copy the date and time you hand-delivered the letter, the name of person you gave the letter to and what they were wearing.

If after writing the letter you still get no response from the school you have several options (in no particular order):

  1. Find an advocate to assist you.
  2. Find out your district’s complaint process and use it.
  3. Contact your state education agency for assistance or to file a complaint.
  4. Hire an attorney.

More Information:

7 Tips for Letter Writing

Follow Up to Conversations/Meetings

Do You Suspect Your Child May Need Special Education Services?

Communication Log

“If it was not written down, it was not said. If it was not written down, it did not happen.” — Pete Wright

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.

Changes in The Timeline for Initial Evaluation for Special Education

Updated on 2/3/15 to include new revisions that took effect on January 1, 2015.

The 83rd Texas legislative session created several new bills regarding education in Texas.  One of those bills is SB 816.  It sets new timelines regarding the completion of initial evaluations for determining eligibility for special education services.  Below is a summary of those changes:

  • Within 15 school days of receiving a request for a full and initial evaluation, the local education agency (LEA) must provide an opportunity for the parent to give written consent for the evaluation or refuse to provide the evaluation.
  • The LEA has 45 school days (with a few exceptions) to complete the evaluation process after consents have been signed.  LEAs previously had 60 days.
    • If a student misses 3 or more consecutive school days during the evaluation process the LEA can extend the process beyond the 45 days by the same number of days the student was absent.
    • The school then has 30 calendar days after completing the evaluation to hold an ARD meeting to discuss the results, determine eligibility, and develop an IEP for students found eligible.
  • If the request for evaluation is received at least 35 days but less than 45 days before the last day of school the LEA must complete and provide the results of the evaluation to the parent by June 30th.  The ARD meeting will then be held within 15 school days from the start of the following school year.  Update 2/3/15: The school district must schedule and hold the ARD meeting “as expeditiously as possible” during the summer if the initial evaluation report says the student is in need of ESY services.
    • If the student misses 3 or more consecutive days during the evaluation process then the timeline reverts to 45 school days following the date on which written consent was received by the LEA.  The evaluation and report will then be due the following school year.
  • If the request for evaluation is received less than 35 days before the last day of the school year, the evaluation will not be started until the following school year.

School days do not include days that students are not required to be in school (i.e. holidays, teacher work days).

Do You Suspect Your Child May Need Special Education Services?

Several years ago, when my daughter was in first grade, I kept mentioning to her teacher that I thought she would benefit from speech therapy.  Her teacher said that she did not think there was anything wrong with the way my daughter talked.  My daughter had previously received speech services at the age of 3 from another school district.  Nothing was done her whole first grade year no matter how many times I mentioned it to her teacher.  At the beginning of her second grade year, her second grade teacher mentioned to me that she thought my daughter needed speech therapy.  I told her that I agreed with her and that I had mentioned it to her first grade teacher several times.  She then told me that I should have put my request in writing and given it to the principal.  I immediately went home, typed up the letter, and took it to the school.  Several days later we held the meeting to sign the consent forms and the evaluation process was started.

Do you suspect that your child may need special education services, but do not know how to proceed?  The first step you want to take is to write a letter to your child’s principal explaining that you suspect your child is in need of special education services and that you would like to have your child evaluated.  Ask that you be called in the next 10 days to schedule a meeting.  The school has to respond one of two ways.  Either they have to set up a time for you to sign consents for evaluation or they have to refuse to evaluate your child and must provide you with prior written notice detailing why they are refusing to evaluate your child.

Once you have signed the consent  forms to have your child evaluated for special education services the school has 60 days to complete the evaluations (click here for new the Texas timeline requirements).  At any time during this process you can request that the evaluations be stopped, but your child will not be eligible to receive any special education services.  Once the evaluations are complete another meeting will be scheduled to discuss the findings of the evaluations.  Request that you receive a copy of the evaluations several days in advance of the meeting.  Go over the evaluations and write down any questions that you may have.  At the meeting it will be determined whether or not your child qualifies for special education services.  If you do not agree with the evaluation you can ask that your child receive an independent evaluation.  You will then take your child to an outside evaluator that the school district pays for. If your child does qualify then an IEP will be developed for your child.  Take an active part in the development of your child’s IEP.

Do not let the school tell you that they are in the RTI (Response to Intervention) process and that they have to finish it before going any further.  At any time during the RTI process you can request the evaluations and the school either has to agree to evaluate or provide you with prior written notice detailing why they are not evaluating your child.