Special Education Policy Handbook
I Dream Public Charter School
Table of Contents
I. PROCEDURES FOR LOCATING, EVALUATING AND IDENTIFYING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES (Child Find)
According to State and federal special education regulations, annual public notice to parents of children who reside within a local educational agency (LEA) is required regarding Child Find responsibilities. LEAs, including I Dream PCS, are required to conduct child find activities for children who may be eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
This policy provides guidance on how I Dream will locate and identify all enrolled children between the grades of preschool through eighth grade who may need special education and/or related services to address problems that may interfere with their future development and learning. This policy will also address how I Dream will meet its obligations to enrolled learners who are transitioning from Part C (IDEA) to Part B of IDEA.
Public Awareness and Outreach Activities
I Dream conducts ongoing professional development activities and ongoing trainings for staff to ensure that Child Find, screening activities, and referrals for special education evaluations are carried out in a manner consistent with the timelines and requirements established by the IDEA and this manual.
Annual Public Notification
With a circulation adequate to notify parents throughout the school community, I Dream will publish and announce child identification activities, notify parents of their right to request evaluation and advise families of the procedures followed to ensure confidentiality of information pertaining to learners with disabilities or eligible children. I Dream will accomplish this goal through:
Through its RTI Process and process by which parents and/or staff can request to bypass the RTI and move straight to evaluation, I Dream is always conducting Child Find activities. Once a referral for an evaluation is received, either through the LST or through a parent/staff request, I Dream follows the timelines established by OSSE, or 90 calendar days from referral to eligibility.
Part C to B Transition
In order to enroll at I Dream a learner must turn three years old by September 30 of that school year. I Dream is committed to ensuring that children receiving Part C services under the IDEA before enrolling at I Dream experience a smooth transition to our early childhood program.
II. LEARNER SUPPORT TEAM (LST) PROCESS
This section describes supports in regular education settings for learners experiencing academic or behavioral difficulty. I Dream uses an RTI framework for learner assistance, called the Learner Support Team.
LST performs the following functions:
NOTE: Parents continue to have a right to request an evaluation for his/her child, at any time, including prior to or during the conduct of LST activities. LST teams may also refer a learner for evaluation for special education services at any time.
The LST Process
NOTE: The Learner Support Team (LST) Process is outlined in detail in our LST Handbook. Please refer to the LST Handbook for information pertaining to the Learner Support Team Process.
III. THE EVALUATION PROCESS
This section provides guidance on the referral for and provision of full and individualized evaluations and reevaluations of learners who are eligible, or thought to be eligible, for special education programs and services.
Initial Evaluation, Special and Mandatory Reevaluations
An LEA, including I Dream, must use an evaluation process consisting of a set of procedures and/or assessments used in accordance with the IDEA and District of Columbia law to determine:
1. Whether a child has a disability; and
3 5 DCMR 3001 defines “Child with a Disability” as “a child who satisfies District registration and residency requirements and who has been evaluated in accordance with §§ 3005-3006 of this Chapter as having one of the following conditions and who, as a result of the impairment, needs special education and related services:
(d) Developmental Delay;
(e) Emotional disturbance;
(f) Hearing impairment;
(g) Mental retardation;
(h) Multiple disabilities;
(i) Orthopedic impairment;
(j) Visual impairment, including blindness;
(k) Traumatic brain injury;
(l) Other health impairment;
(m) Learning disability; and
(n) Speech or language impairment.
NOTE: If it is determined, after an appropriate evaluation under the provisions of this Chapter, that a child has one of the disabilities identified in this section, but only needs a related service and not special education instruction, the child is not a child with a disability under this Chapter.
2. The nature and extent of the special education and related services that the child needs
I Dream is required to evaluate a child at no cost to the parent, pursuant to a written referral from either the parent or LEA. If the learner is eligible for special education services and services are requested, then the parent and the LEA may come to an agreement as to what services will be provided and where services will be provided, including private placements, as necessary (see Individual Education Plan development (IEP). The LEA is required to provide a continuum of placements, which may include placement in a non-public school, instruction in hospitals, or homebound instruction.
There are three types of evaluations:
Other circumstances where special evaluation may occur are:
Required Timelines for Evaluation
Initial Evaluations –I Dream must complete an initial evaluation, including the determination of the eligibility, of a child suspected of having a disability within 90 calendar days of receiving a written referral. Upon referral for an initial evaluation the school must provide parent with written notification of the referral and the Procedural Safeguards Notice. Once the team determines whether the child is suspected of being a child with a disability, the LEA must provide the parent with prior written notice (PWN) of its intent or refusal to evaluate, the Permission to Evaluate (PTE) in the event that an initial evaluation is deemed necessary, and the Procedural Safeguards Notice. Within 90 calendar days of the receipt of a written referral for an initial evaluation, the Evaluation Report (ER) Team must conduct the evaluation, prepare an ER, and provide the ER to the parent. The 90-day timeframe does not apply if:
o the parent of a child repeatedly fails or refuses to produce the child for the evaluation;
o The parent fails or refuses to respond to a request for consent for the evaluation; or
o A child enrolls in a school of another LEA after the 90-day timeline has begun, and prior to the determination by the child’s previous LEA as to whether the child is a child with a disability.
o The Parent Invitation to Participate form included reference to both the ER Team and the IEP Team meeting.
o the parent agrees to waive the 10-day written notice for the IEP meeting.
Mandatory 3-Year Reevaluations – I Dream must hold a reevaluation meeting within three years of the date the previous initial evaluation or reevaluation was completed. The reevaluation meeting must be scheduled in time to allow the IEP team to conduct assessments, if necessary, and to reconvene within three years of the previous eligibility meeting. When appropriate, and for the convenience of both the parent and I Dream, the IEP team should attempt to consolidate the annual meeting and the reevaluation meeting.
NOTE: When issuing a PWN and PTE, the parent must be provided a copy of the Procedural Safeguards Notice.
Transfer learners – For learners that transfer into I Dream during their evaluation process, I Dream will complete the evaluation process. For these learners the evaluation timeframe will apply unless one of the conditions below is met
IEP Team Meeting – If the evaluation team determines that the learner is eligible or continues to be eligible, the IEP team must meet within 30 calendar days of the determination of eligibility, or within the 90 day timeframe for initial evaluations, whichever comes first.
Reevaluations are not to occur more frequently than once a year, unless the parent and the LEA agree otherwise. For learner with any disability other than Intellectual Disability (ID), the parent and the LEA can agree that a reevaluation at the 3-year interval is unnecessary.
Referral for Initial Evaluation and Reevaluations
An initial evaluation may be initiated pursuant to an LST referral.
NOTE: The LST process should continue for the learner during the eligibility determination process. Follow the evaluation timeframe referenced above, unless extended by mutual written agreement of the learner’s parents and the eligibility team. The following persons may request an initial evaluation or reevaluation: I Dream personnel, parent, public agencies, persons having primary care and custody of a child. Upon an initial evaluation referral or any time a parent requests an evaluation, provide the parent with a copy of the Procedural Safeguards Notice.
Responding to Requests for Initial Evaluations and Special Reevaluations
Upon receipt of a written request for an evaluation the administrator, along with appropriate staff determines whether the request is appropriate or not. If the evaluation is appropriate, see the evaluation process in this chapter. If the referral is not appropriate, provide a Notice to the parent, and state the reason the school staff believes the referral is not appropriate. Staff should also work with the family to provide guidance on a proper request for referral and provide the parent with the Procedural Safeguards Notice.
Procedural Safeguards Notice Frequency
The IEP Coordinator must provide parents with a copy of the Procedural Safeguards at each annual review meeting; upon initial referral or parent request for evaluation; upon receipt of the first State complaint and upon receipt of the first due process complaint in a school year; on the date the decision is made that a learner’s suspension constitutes a change in placement (i.e., more than 10 consecutive school days; more than 15 cumulative school days; or series of suspensions constitutes a pattern of suspension; and upon request by a parent.)
Required Contents of Procedural Safeguards
The procedural safeguards notice must include a full explanation of available procedural safeguards, written in the native language of the parents, unless it clearly is not feasible to do so. It must be written in an easily understandable manner, describing the procedural safeguards available relating to the following:
NOTE: Administrator or designee must consult Head of School before making a determination that the referral is not appropriate.
If an I Dream staff member should receive an oral request for evaluation from a parent they should discuss with the parent a possible referral to the LST. The provision of LST services shall not be construed to limit or create a right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) or to delay appropriate evaluation of a child suspected of having a disability. The staff person receiving an oral request must notify the administrator within one day of the request and ask the parent to provide a written request. Assist the parent in preparing a written request, if appropriate. If the parent does not respond with a written request for the evaluation, the administrator and appropriate staff must provide follow up to obtain the request. If the parent continues to be unresponsive, staff must take one of the following actions:
Organizing the Evaluation Process
Purpose of Evaluation
An evaluation is the process by which a multidisciplinary team, including parents, uses a variety of assessment tools and strategies to evaluate current information available for the learner to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information, including information provided by the parent that may assist in determining whether the learner has a disability [NOTE: This includes a determination that the learner needs special education services (i.e., specially designed instruction) and related services.]; the content of the learner’s IEP, including information related to enabling the learner to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum; or, for preschool children, to participate in appropriate activities.
Administrator’s Selection of Evaluation Coordinator
The Special Education Coordinator (SEC) typically serves as the evaluation coordinator, though the SEC may designate a special education case manager to serve the role. The evaluation coordinator assembles the evaluation team, monitors completion of the evaluation and assessment activities, and prepares the Evaluation or Reevaluation Report (see SEDS).
Responsibilities of the Evaluation Coordinator
The evaluation coordinator, in consultation with appropriate staff, ensures timely and appropriate learner assessments and distributes and collects forms, reports and data. These responsibilities include the following:
The evaluation coordinator collects background information for learners with special circumstances; for learners with communication needs and for learners who are English Language Learners (ELL) before the evaluation begins and gathers information regarding the learner’s language use pattern and cultural background, the learner’s mode of communication, and if the learner has a non-English background, the learner’s proficiency in English.
The evaluation coordinator organizes the process by inviting participants, including parents, to team meetings; schedules meetings to complete the process within the required timeframes; and selects the team participants.
Evaluation Report (ER) Team Participants
The ER Team is the group (including parents) that reviews current data, determines need for additional data, and reviews the evaluation results to determine a learner’s initial and continued eligibility for special education and related services. The ER Team must include the following individuals:
I Dream must ensure that a full and individual evaluation is conducted for each child being considered for special education and related services under IDEA. In conducting the evaluation, the LEA shall use a variety of assessment tools, including information from parent, not use a single measure as the sole criterion for determining eligibility, and use technically sound instruments.
Determining Scope of Evaluation and Need for Additional Data
Parental Consent Requirements
Parental consent is required prior to conducting an initial evaluation to determine if a learner is eligible for special education services or services available pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The IEP Coordinator must make reasonable efforts to obtain informed consent from the parent for an initial evaluation.
For initial evaluations only, if the learner is a ward of the State and is not residing with his/her parents, the IEP Coordinator is not required to obtain informed consent from the parents for an initial evaluation to determine whether the child is a child with a disability if a surrogate parent has not yet been appointed; despite reasonable efforts to do so, the IEP Coordinator cannot discover the whereabouts of the learner’s parent; the rights of the learner’s parents have been terminated in accordance with State law; or consent for an initial evaluation has been given by an individual appointed by a judge to represent the learner. In this case, the IEP Coordinator must contact and consult with the Director of learner Support Services.
Parental Consent for Reevaluations
The parent must provide informed consent consistent with the above standards prior to conducting any reevaluation. If the parent refuses to consent to the reevaluation, the school may, but is not required to, pursue the reevaluation by requesting mediation or a due process hearing consistent following the procedures described above.
Informed parental consent is not required if the IEP Coordinator demonstrates that (s) he has made reasonable efforts to obtain such consent. In this case, the IEP Coordinator must keep a record of his/her attempt to arrange a mutually agreed on time and place, such as detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls; copies of correspondence sent to the parents and any responses received; and detailed records of visits made to the parent’s home or place of employment and the results of those visits. Informed parental consent is not required if the child’s parent failed to respond.
Parent Refusal or Failure to Consent to an Evaluation/Reevaluation
If a learner’s parent does not provide consent for an initial evaluation, or the parent fails to respond to a request to provide consent, the IEP Coordinator may, but is not required, to pursue the initial evaluation by requesting mediation or a due process hearing. In this case, the IEP Coordinator shall consult with the Director of learner Support Services. A decision not to pursue the evaluation does not violate the district’s child find or evaluation obligations. The IEP Coordinator does not have to convene an IEP meeting. The LEA will not be deemed to have knowledge of the learner’s disability with respect to the application of procedural safeguards for suspensions and expulsions.
To implement the above provision, the IEP Coordinator must make reasonable efforts as required by this section. The LEA must document its attempts to obtain parental consent using the procedures in IDEA Regulation §300.322(d).
Parental Consent Not Required
Consent Is Required Prior to Initial Provision of Special Education and Related Services
The consent for an initial evaluation cannot be construed as consent for the initial provision of special education and related services. If the learner’s parent refuses to consent to the initial provision of special education and related services, or the parent fails to respond to a request to provide consent for the initial provision of special education and related services, the LEA will not be considered to be in violation of the requirement to make available a free appropriate public education to the learner for the failure to provide the special education and related services related to the requested consent.
The IEP Team is not required to meet or develop an IEP for the special education and related services for which the consent was requested. The LEA will not be deemed to have knowledge of the learner’s disability with respect to the application of procedural safeguards for suspensions and expulsions.
Requirements for Consent
• The IEP Coordinator must inform the parent of all information relevant to the activity for which consent is sought, in his/her native language or other mode of communication.
Revocation of Parent Consent
Ensuring Evaluations are Nondiscriminatory
Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs)
Required Evaluations and Assessments
Evaluation Report (ER) Summary Document
The ER is intended to incorporate the key findings from each evaluation performed and their implications for the education of the learner. While interpreting evaluation data, the ER Team draws upon information from a variety of sources, including teachers and related service providers, aptitude and achievement tests, curriculum-based assessments, parent input, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social or cultural background, adaptive behavior, and records, e.g., school attendance, anecdotal, classroom observations, cumulative, discipline, group standardized achievement scores, individualized standardized achievement scores, LST results, and ensures that information from all of these sources is documented and carefully considered. The ER Team uses the ER and the attached reports to determine the learner’s initial eligibility for special education services, and educational needs.
Providing ER and Reports to Parent
Extended School Year Services
These services are defined as special education and related services that are provided to a child with a disability beyond the normal school year, are in accordance with a child’s IEP, are provided at no cost to the parents of the child, and meet state standards. Assessments should consider the necessity of extended school year services.
Determining Eligibility for Special Education and Related Services
2. That at least one of these disabilities has an adverse effect on the learner’s educational performance, and
3. As a result of one or more of these disabilities, the learner needs special education (specially designed instruction).
When all three factors are present – IDEA disability, adverse effect on educational performance, and need for special education services – the learner is eligible or continues to be eligible for special education and related services and an IEP is developed.
Changing or Terminating Eligibility for Special Education Services
A learner must be reevaluated in accordance with the above applicable procedures prior to changing or terminating the learner’s eligibility for special education services. For example, if a learner with a diagnosed learning disability were suspected of having an emotional disturbance, staff would have to initiate a reevaluation to effectuate this consideration. The IEP team would have to consider relevant information showing that a learner required speech services or any other related service, such as PT or OT. If sufficient information were not available to make this determination, a reevaluation or special evaluation would be required. The team would follow the procedures above to initiate the reevaluation or special evaluation to consider the learner’s need for speech, OT or PT. Speech-language is a related service and is not considered to be a disability. Thus, the speech-language services may be terminated at an IEP meeting based on performance and other data provided by the speech-language clinician and considered by the IEP team. OT and PT services could also be terminated if there was sufficient information provided by the clinicians to support the decision of the IEP team.
IV. INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAMS (IEP)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) requires all LEAs, including charter schools, to provide an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each learner who is eligible to receive special education programs and services.
The IEP must offer the following:
The IEP is a legal document that describes the specially designed instruction (special education) and related services designed by the IEP Team to meet the learner’s unique needs. This document identifies the resources that the School District commits to meet the learner’s educational needs.
A meeting to develop an IEP must be conducted within 30 calendar days of a determination that a learner needs special education and related services [the determination is a completed and signed Evaluation Report (ER) – see Evaluation Chapter] or within the 90 day timeframe for an initial evaluation, whichever comes first. An IEP must be prepared at least once a calendar year for each learner with a disability except when a parent refuses or does not consent for the initial provision of special education services. At the beginning of each school year each school must have in effect, for each learner with a disability, a current IEP that meets the requirements of this chapter. The IEP should be revised anytime as appropriate to address any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals; any lack of adequate progress in the general curriculum; to consider any changes in services or placement; and new information obtained as a result of a reevaluation or obtained from parents, teachers or other sources.
IEP Team Members
The IEP Team is composed of the following individuals:
The administrator or administrator’s designee, who must be qualified to provide or supervise the provision of specially designed instruction; knowledgeable about the general curriculum; knowledgeable about availability of school district resources; authorized to commit school district resources; and authorized to ensure the provision of services and materials as specified in the IEP.
NOTE: When potential resources are outside of the administrator’s authority to commit, such as a paraprofessional or extensive assistive technology, the administrator must involve the Head of School, or designee, to collaborate or attend the IEP meeting for this purpose.
The administrator or administrator’s designee appoints the IEP Coordinator. The IEP Coordinator may be the Special Education Coordinator or the learner’s special education teacher, who is a member of the IEP Team.
SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER/INCLUSION STAFF At least one special education teacher who provides or oversees instruction for the learner. If the learner does not yet have a special education teacher, include a special education teacher who will provide services to the learner and who provides services to same age learners with similar disabilities. If the learner receives or is to receive speech/language and/or OT/PT only, include at least one appropriate special education provider of the learner.
REGULAR EDUCATION TEACHER
A regular education teacher must, to the extent appropriate, participate in the development of the IEP of the child, including the determination of appropriate positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies for the learner; and supplementary aids and services, program modifications, and support for school personnel consistent. The selected regular education teacher must be one who teaches the learner; implements portions of the IEP; or after the completion of the IEP may teach, implement portions of the IEP, or supervise the learner.
The learner must be invited to participate in the IEP meeting if they are 14 years old and/or the purpose of the meeting will be the discussion of the learner’s postsecondary goals and related transition services. If the learner does not attend, the LEA must take other steps to ensure that the learner’s preferences and interests are considered.
PARENT, SURROGATE PARENT, OR LEGAL GUARDIAN Parent
General. Each public agency must ensure that the rights of a child are protected when
A surrogate parent may represent the learner in all matters related to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child and the provision of FAPE to the learner. The IEP Coordinator must document his/her reasonable efforts to locate the learner’s parent, including phone calls, letters, certified letters and visits to parents’ last known address. To request appointment of a surrogate parent for a learner, complete the three Surrogate Parent Referral forms. The Surrogate Parent Referral forms must be submitted to OSSE for review, approval and appointment.
Beginning not later than one year before the learner turns 18 years of age (age of majority under State Law) the IEP must include a statement that the parent has been informed of his/her rights under the IDEA, if any, which will transfer to the learner upon reaching the age of majority.
The IEP Coordinator invites other individuals (at the discretion of the parent or the school district) who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the learner, including related services personnel as appropriate. The determination of the knowledge or special expertise of these individuals must be made by the party (parents or school district) who invited the individual to be a member of the IEP Team. These individuals may include:
If the IEP Coordinator wishes to invite officials from another agency, such as those providing behavioral health or other services, the LEA must obtain parental consent for the individual to participate in the IEP Team meeting because confidential information about the learner from his/her education records would be shared at the meeting.
A member of the IEP Team is not required to attend an IEP Team meeting, in whole or in part, if the parent and the LEA agree, in writing, that the attendance of the member is not necessary because the member’s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting. A member of the IEP Team may be excused from attending an IEP Team meeting, in who or in part, when the meeting involves a modification to or discussion of the member’s area of the curriculum or related services, if the parent and the LEA consent in writing to the excusal; and the member submits, in writing, to the parent and the IEP Team input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting. Excusal is agreed upon in writing via the Parent Consent to Excuse Members from Attending the IEP Team Meeting form. If an IEP team member has been excused, (s) he is not to sign that they have attended.
Although the parent has a legal right to excuse or require an IEP Team member to participate in an IEP Team meeting, it is important to emphasize that the IEP Coordinator determines the specific personnel to fill the roles for the School District’s required participants at the IEP Team meeting. A parent does not have a legal right to require other members of the IEP Team to attend the meeting. The application of these conditions must be met prior to the IEP meeting. When necessary, staff input must be submitted in writing prior to the IEP meeting.
IEP Coordinator’s Preparation for the IEP Meeting
Scheduling and Notices
The IEP Coordinator must take steps to ensure that one or both of the parents are present at the IEP Team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate, by following the detailed procedures in the PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS section. In summary, these procedures include:
Procedural Safeguards Notice – If this is the annual IEP, enclose a copy of the Procedural Safeguards Notice with the Invitation to Participate sent to the parents, or provide parent with
Procedural Safeguards Notice at the annual IEP review meeting. For other IEP meetings, remind the parent that the Procedural Safeguards Notice is available upon request.
10-Day Notice – Provide parental written notice of the IEP meeting at least 10 calendar days prior to the scheduled meeting. Written notice should be provided through a phone call followed up by mailing an Invitation to Participate to the parent, hand-delivery to the parent, or first class mail. List the IEP team members on the Invitation to Participate form.
The IEP Coordinator will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the parent understands the proceedings of the IEP Team meeting, including arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or whose native language is other than English.
An IEP Team meeting may be conducted without the parent in attendance as long as the standards below are documented:
o Detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls; Copies of correspondence sent to the parents and any responses received; and
o Detailed records of visits made to the parent’s home or place of employment and the results of those visits.
Contacts must be filed in the learner’s confidential folder including written notice, by hand- delivery to the parent or first class mail, documented phone calls, home visits, documented contact through another adult family member, fax with receipt documented, or e-mails with print- out.
Before the IEP meeting, the IEP Coordinator should address whether the learner has any of the following special circumstances and, if so, what pre-meeting preparation should be taken to address the below-noted considerations:
Team. Gather any information that would provide information to the IEP Team about the learner’s transition needs.
For a learner with behavior that impedes his/her own learning or the learning of others, the IEP team must consider strategies and supports, including positive behavioral interventions, to address that behavior. In that case, the IEP team, based on a functional behavior assessment, must develop a positive behavior support plan and this plan will become part of the learner’s IEP.
Positive rather than negative measures shall form the basis of behavior support programs. Behavior support programs include a variety of techniques to develop and maintain skills that will enhance an individual learner’s or young child’s opportunity for learning and self- fulfillment. The types of intervention chosen for a particular learner or young child shall be the least intrusive necessary.
The following words and terms, when used in this section, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
The following aversive techniques of handling behavior are considered inappropriate and may not be used:
The IEP Coordinator considers parental need for accommodations at the IEP Team meeting and:
LEA ADMINISTRATOR OR ADMINISTRATOR’S DESIGNEE
Ongoing Roles and Responsibilities of IEP Team Members
o Provides information about the provision of specially designed instruction and the general curriculum; general education curriculum; and availability of LEA resources.
o Authorizes the LEA resources contained in the learner’s IEP, including services and materials. When potential resources are outside of an administrator’s authority to commit (such as a paraprofessional or extensive assistive technology), the administrator must involve the regional special education director to collaborate or attend the IEP meeting for this purpose.
• Implementation. Locates and identifies the availability of resources needed to implement special education services and accommodations that are necessary to implement the IEP.
SPECIAL EDUCATION COORDINATOR
SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER
• Information about the child:
Current learners. If the learner is receiving special education services, review the current IEP, compile anecdotal records, samples of learner work, and other information relevant to determining the learner’s potential for learning, rate of learning and need for specialized instruction and/or accommodations, including a summary of progress monitoring data for the last year.
Initial IEPs. Review the evaluation report and other presenting documentation, such as LST and CSAT, referral information, etc.
REGULAR EDUCATION TEACHER
Structuring the IEP Meeting
It is recommended that the IEP Coordinator use the following protocol and guidelines to conduct an IEP Team meeting:
Review Assessments, Observations and Last Evaluation of the learner
At least one IEP Team member knowledgeable about the learner’s progress, assessments and current levels of academic performance, and who can interpret the instructional implications of this data should:
Content of the IEP
After consideration of the special factors below, the IEP Team prepares a written IEP, which must include the following information:
• Consideration of Special Factors
o Behavior. In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior.
o English Language Learner (ELL). In the case of a child with limited English proficiency or who is an English Language Learner (ELL), consider the language needs of the child as those needs that relate to the child’s IEP.
o Blind or Visual Impairment. In the case of a child who is blind or visually impaired, provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP Team determines, after an evaluation of the child’s reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the child’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille), that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the child.
o Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Consider the communication needs of the child, and in the case of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the child’s language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the child’s language and communication mode, academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child’s language and communication mode.
o Assistive Technology. Consider whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services.
• Present Level of Academic Achievement/Functional Performance
This section provides a summary of the learner’s performance in his/her current educational program and indicates the learner’s instructional and functional levels. It includes information regarding classroom performance and the results of any academic achievement or functional performance assessments that have been administered. Information contained in this section provides baseline data for developing the IEP and writing measurable annual goals. The information in this section should consider the most recent results of the Initial Evaluation Report or Reevaluation Report, results of curriculum-based assessments, concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of his/her child, and results of ongoing progress monitoring. The information should be stated in clear and concrete terminology. Any special considerations identified in Section I of the IEP must be addressed in this section.
• Present Levels of Academic Achievement
Present levels of Academic Achievement refer to how the learner is performing within the general education curriculum, including reading, writing, and mathematics. Describe how the learner is progressing within the general education curriculum in relation to his/her peers and grade level standards. Include current instructional levels, description of permanent products, and work completion. Describe classroom strategies or interventions applied and their results. Describe any additional or alternative instructional materials, instructional time or personnel.
• Present Levels of Functional Performance This section includes information regarding classroom performance and the results of any functional assessments that have been administered. Include current functional levels and strengths and needs that may be developmental. Functional performance is related to activities of daily living, such as hygiene, dressing, basic consumer skills, community-based instruction, etc. Functional performance may also be defined as the ability to access public transportation, social/emotional learning skills or behavioral difficulties, and the consideration of personal safety and socially appropriate behavior.
If applicable, the information from a functional behavioral assessment should be included in this section. Information included in this section should include performance data and current skill levels, not just a description of academic and behavioral deficits. Information included here does not have to be indicative of a deficit. For example, the IEP team could write, “the learner’s functional performance in all areas is age appropriate.”
• Present Levels Related to Current Postsecondary Transition Goals
This section should provide a concise description of the learner’s current Academic Achievement and Functional Performance based on age appropriate assessments related to the learner’s targeted postsecondary goals if the IEP team determines that transition services are needed. Examples of formal or informal assessments that may be listed and explained in this section include: SATs, interest inventories, vocational evaluations, career surveys, as well as academic and functional assessments.
• Parental Concerns for Enhancing the Education of the learner
A discussion about the parents’ concerns for enhancing his/her child’s education is to take place during the IEP Team meeting. The results of that discussion are documented in this section of the IEP.
This section should include statements about the learner’s progress in the general education curriculum (regardless of where the learner currently receives services, s/he should be involved in the general education, and how s/he is accessing the general education curriculum with or without modifications, adaptations, and support services). The information should be clear enough to demonstrate the need for the continuation, elimination, or additional support and services in the learner’s IEP.
The IEP team must determine how the learner will access, be involved in, and make progress in the general education curriculum. This determination should be based on assessments that relate directly to the general education curriculum and grade level content standards, and then be reflected in the IEP statement of the learner’s present levels. Information in this section will drive the development of the supports and services in the IEP. Reference to the state academic standards, applicable assessment anchors, and/or eligible content may be written in this section.
In this section, the IEP team will describe or list what the learner does well (i.e., strengths). In addition, the IEP team needs to describe the specific needs of the learner related to the learner’s disability and how the disability may make involvement and progress in the general education curriculum and in all grade level standards challenging. This section will also describe kinds of specialized support and service that are necessary for the learner to access and make progress in the general education curriculum in the regular education class.
For a learner who is transition age (14, or younger if appropriate, during this IEP), the IEP must also include information about the learner’s needs, taking into account the learner’s strengths, interests and preferences and includes the development of post-school goals. All needs identified by the IEP team must be addressed in subsequent sections of the IEP. Information in this section will provide for any services included in the IEP.
A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to meet the learner’s needs that result from his/her disability to enable him/her to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum, and a description of benchmarks or short-term objectives.
A description of how the learner’s progress toward meeting annual goals will be measured, and when periodic reports on the learner’s progress toward meeting the annual goals (such as through the use of quarterly or other periodic reports, concurrent with the issuance of report cards) will be provided.
A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the learner, or on behalf of the child, and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the learner to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals; to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum in accordance with the above and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities; and to be educated and participate with other learners with and without disabilities in the activities described in this section.
Generally refers to research that is reviewed by qualified and independent reviewers to ensure that the quality of the information meets the standards of the field before the research is published. However, there is no single definition of peer-reviewed research because the review process varies depending on the type of information to be reviewed. The phrase “to the extent practicable,” as used in this context, generally means that services and supports should be based on peer-reviewed research to the extent that it is possible, given the availability of peer-reviewed research.
There is nothing in the IDEA that requires an IEP to include specific instructional methodologies.
Definition of transition services- A coordinated set of activities (special education or related services) for a learner with a disability that meet the following criteria:
▪Results-Oriented- Is designed to be within a results-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement to facilitate movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.
▪learner Needs- Is based on the individual learner’s needs, taking into account strengths, preferences, and interests, and includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational evaluation.
▪Regular Education Class refers to the educational environments where learners without disabilities receive instruction and participate in activities throughout the school day. It includes instruction that occurs outside of the actual ‘classroom’, such as within the school or community where interaction occurs with persons without disabilities.
▪General Education Curriculum refers to the content of the instruction that is to be taught to learners in each grade and subject area.
A learner may be educated in a regular education classroom; however, the learner may be instructed using modifications to the general education curriculum. This means a curriculum for a learner with disabilities that contains some, but not all of the components of the curriculum used to instruct learners without disabilities in the same classroom/learning environment.
• Special education personnel refer to teachers and related service providers, and do not include services provided by paraprofessionals. Based on the individualized needs of each learner, the IEP Team chooses from the following:
▪Itinerant – special education supports and services provided by special education personnel for 20% or less of the school day.
▪Supplemental – special education supports and services provided by special education personnel for more than 20% but less than 80% of the school day.
▪Full-Time – special education supports and services provided by special education personnel for 80% or more of the school day.
Reviewing and revising IEPs of learners in approved private schools
After a learner with a disability enters an approved private school, any meetings to review and revise the IEP may be initiated and conducted by the private school or facility at the discretion of the LEA.
If the approved private school initiates and conducts meetings, the LEA must ensure parents and the LEA representative are involved in any decision about the learner’s IEP, and; agree to any proposed changes in the IEP before those changes are implemented.
Even if an approved private school implements a learner’s IEP, responsibility for ensuring implementation of the IEP remains with the LEA.
Extended School Year Services (ESY)
o Regression – Whether the learner reverts to a lower level of functioning as evidenced by a measurable decrease in skills or behaviors which occurs as a result of an interruption in educational programming.
o Recoupment – Whether the learner has the capacity to recover the skills or behavior patterns in which regression occurred to a level demonstrated prior to the interruption of educational programming.
o Maintenance of skills and behavior – Whether the learner’s difficulties with regression and recoupment make it unlikely that the learner will maintain the skills and behaviors relevant to IEP goals and objectives.
o Interruption – The extent to which the learner has mastered and consolidated an important skill or behavior at the point when educational programming would be interrupted.
o Critical skill or behavior – The extent to which a skill or behavior is particularly crucial for the learner to meet the IEP goals of self- sufficiency and independence from caretakers.
o Withdrawal from learning – The extent to which successive interruptions in educational programming result in a learner's withdrawal from the learning process.
o Severity of disability – Whether the learner's disability is severe, such as autism/pervasive developmental disorder, serious emotional disturbance, severe mental retardation, degenerative impairments with mental involvement and severe multiple disabilities.
▪Meeting IEP goals – Progress on goals in consecutive IEPs.
▪Progress reports – Progress reports maintained by educators, therapists and others having direct contact with the learner before and after interruptions in the education program.
▪Parent reports – Reports by parents of negative changes in adaptive behaviors or in other skill areas.
▪Other reports – Medical or other agency reports indicating degenerative-type difficulties, which become exacerbated during breaks in educational services.
▪Observations and opinions – Observations and opinions by educators, parents and others.
▪Test results – Results of tests including criterion-referenced tests, curriculum- based assessments, ecological life skills assessments and other equivalent measures.
The need for ESY Services will not be based on any of the following:
Education in separate facilities. The public agency responsible for the education of a learner with a disability who is enrolled in a separate facility must ensure that the learner receives appropriate physical education services in compliance with this section.
Follow-Up to IEP Discussion
The IEP Team discusses and identifies any activities to complete by the next IEP meeting; schedules date(s) of the next IEP meeting and/or team conferences; and identifies strategies for ongoing communication among participants.
Follow-up for completed IEP
o Implementation Timeline – If the parent approves the NOREP, or does not respond, the IEP must be implemented within 30 days.
o Parental Disapproval – If the parent disapproves the NOREP, the IEP Coordinator should inform the parent that (s)he must request an informal meeting, pre-hearing conference, mediation or due process hearing to address their disagreement (See Chapter X). Except for specific rules regarding maintenance of learner placement relating to suspensions (See Chapter X), the administrator/designee in consultation with the Director of learner Support Services may agree but is not required to maintain the learner’s placement pending resolution of the parent’s concern unless the parent requests a due process hearing, which requires the district to maintain the learner’s placement pending the duration of the hearing process.
o No Return – If the parent does not return the NOREP, the IEP Coordinator implements the IEP.
For learners who are receiving initial special education services:
o Disapproval – If the parent disapproves the NOREP the learner may not receive services under the IDEA and the District may not proceed with due process.
Parental Options – The IEP Team may consider and discuss with the parent a referral of the child to CSAP and/or referral to the Chapter 15 (504) Team to determine if the learner is a Protected Handicapped learner.
Distributing the IEP and NOREP
Storage of IEP (Confidentiality)
The IEP Coordinator must store the original IEP and NOREP in a confidential and locked file. Staff must store their copy of the IEP and NOREP in a confidential and locked file.
Initial IEP and Provision of Services
Immediately upon conclusion of the IEP meeting, but no later than 10 school days following the IEP, the IEP Coordinator takes steps for implementation, i.e., that special education and related services are made available to the learner in accordance with his/her IEP.
Amending the IEP
Changes to the IEP may be made either by redrafting the entire IEP at an IEP Team meeting or by amending the IEP rather than by redrafting the entire IEP. Upon request, a parent must be provided with a revised copy of the IEP with the amendments incorporated. In making changes to a child’s IEP after the annual IEP Team meeting for a school year, the parent and the IEP Coordinator with documented collaboration with the LEA representative may agree not to convene an IEP Team meeting for the purposes of making those changes, and instead may develop a written document to amend or modify the child’s current IEP. The agreement to amend the IEP must be written and signed by the parent and the IEP Coordinator prior to or on the date of the IEP amendment. The IEP Coordinator and the parent must meet or discuss on the telephone or through email their agreement to the content of the IEP amendment.
If changes are made to the IEP, the IEP Coordinator must ensure that the IEP Team is informed of those changes.
Review and Revision of IEPs
Each IEP Coordinator must ensure that the IEP Team reviews each learner’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually, to determine whether annual goals are being achieved and revises the IEP, as appropriate, to address any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals and in the general education curriculum, if appropriate; the results of any reevaluation; information about the learner provided to or by the parents; the learner’s anticipated needs; or other matters.
Consolidation of IEP Team Meetings
To the extent possible, the IEP Coordinator should consolidate reevaluation meetings and other IEP Team meetings for the learner.
learners Transferring into the LEA with IEPs
Transfer within DC
If a learner with a disability who had an IEP in effect in DC enrolls at I Dream, the IEP Coordinator in consultation with the parents must offer FAPE to the learner, which includes services comparable to those described in the learner’s current IEP until the IEP Coordinator/LEA representative or designee either adopts the learner’s IEP or develops and implements a new IEP that meets the applicable requirements in this Chapter.
Transfer from Another State
If a child with a disability who had an IEP that was in effect in another State enrolls at I Dream, the IEP Coordinator must offer the learner FAPE, including services comparable to those described in the current IEP until I Dream conducts an evaluation of the learner and develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP. If there is a dispute between the parent and the IEP Coordinator/LEA representative or designee regarding what constitutes comparable services, the dispute could be resolved by the parent by requesting an informal meeting, pre-hearing conference, mediation, or due process. Stay-put would not apply in the event of a dispute (i.e., maintenance of comparable services) because the evaluation is considered an initial evaluation and not a reevaluation. The comparable services remain in effect until an evaluation is completed (if determined to be necessary by the LEA); and an IEP is developed, adopted and implemented, if appropriate, and parental consent would be required for this initial placement at I Dream.
NOTE: The evaluation would be to determine if the learner has a disability and to determine his/her educational needs. Therefore, the evaluation would not be a reevaluation, but would be an initial evaluation requiring parental consent.
Transmittal of Records
The IEP Coordinator must take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the parent’s consent for and requesting the learner’s records, including the IEP and supporting documents and any other records relating to the provision of special education or related services from the previous LEA in which the learner was enrolled; and where an LEA’s learner enrolls in another LEA, the IEP Coordinator must take reasonable steps to promptly respond to the request for records from the new LEA.
V. AUXILIARY IEP SERVICES AND SUPPORTS
(Access to Instructional Materials, Extended School Year, Personnel – Caseload, Positive Behavior Support, Assistive Technology)
ACCESS TO INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS
The purpose of this section is to help increase the availability and timely delivery of print instructional materials in accessible formats to blind or other persons with print disabilities in elementary and secondary schools. Agencies act in a timely manner in providing instructional materials if they take all reasonable steps to ensure that children who are blind or other persons with print disabilities have access to their accessible format instructional materials at the same time that learners without disabilities have access to the instructional materials.
Reasonable steps include:
These would not include LEAs withholding instructional materials from other learners until instructional materials in accessible format are available.
Reasonable steps must be taken to acquire instructional materials in accessible formats within 10 school days for children who transfer into the LEA after the start of the school year.
EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR (ESY)
The term “extended school year services” means special education and related services that are provided to a child with a disability beyond the normal school year of the public agency, in accordance with the child’s IEP, and at no cost to the parents of the child; and meet the standards of the SEA. Clearly, this determination must be done on an individual basis. (See Chapter 5 at 5-22 for additional information).
IDEA 2004 requires that each public agency ensure that ESY services are available as necessary to provide FAPE. ESY services must be provided only if a child’s IEP Team determines, on an individual basis, that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE to the child. In implementing the requirements of this section, a public agency may not limit ESY services to particular categories of disability; or unilaterally limit the type, amount, or duration of these services.
At each IEP meeting for a learner with disabilities, the school entity shall determine whether the learner is eligible for ESY services and, if so, make subsequent determinations about the services to be provided. Additional information can be found on the State Education Agency website at http://osse.dc.gov/publication/extended-school-year-esy-services-policy.
Expeditious determinations of ESY eligibility are required for learners with severe/multiple disabilities. learner target groups with severe disabilities include:
Parents of learners with severe disabilities must be notified by the school entity of the annual review meeting to ensure their participation. School entities must consider the eligibility for ESY services of all learners with disabilities at the IEP meeting. ESY determinations for learners other than those with severe/multiple disabilities are not subject to the same timelines. However, these determinations must still be made in a timely manner. If the parents disagree with the school entity’s recommendation on ESY, the parents will be afforded an expedited due process hearing.
PERSONNEL – CASELOAD
The purpose of this section is to emphasize the shift away from identifying services based on location (which is the language the old terms used) and toward identifying the amount of
services. It is important to note that these terms refer to the amount of special education supports and services.
IDEA 2004 requires that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services. The continuum required in this section must include the alternative placements listed in the definition of special education instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions; and make provision for supplementary services (such as itinerant instruction) to be provided in conjunction with regular class placement.
General LRE Requirements
IDEA 2004 requires that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
POSITIVE BEHAVIOR SUPPORT
Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) is an empirically validated, function-based approach to eliminate challenging behaviors and replace them with pro-social skills. Use of PBS decreases the need for more intrusive or aversive interventions (i.e., punishment or suspension) and can lead to both systemic as well as individualized change.
IDEA 2004 requires schools to have the primary responsibility for ensuring that positive behavior support programs are in accordance with this chapter, including the training of personnel for the use of specific procedures, methods and techniques, and for having a written policy and procedures on the use of positive behavior management support techniques and obtaining parental consent prior to the use of restraints or intrusive procedures. Subsequent to a referral to law enforcement, for learners with disabilities who have positive behavior support plans, an updated Functional Behavioral Assessment and Positive Behavior Support Plan shall be required.
Positive, rather than negative, measures must form the basis of behavior support programs to ensure that all learners and eligible young children must be free from demeaning treatment, the use of aversive techniques and the unreasonable use of restraints. Behavior Support Programs must include research-based practices and techniques to develop and maintain skills that will enhance an individual learner’s opportunity for learning and self-fulfillment. Behavior Support Programs and plans must be based on a functional assessment of behavior and utilize positive behavior techniques. When an intervention is needed to address problem behavior, the types of intervention chosen for a particular learner must be the least intrusive necessary. The use of restraints is considered a measure of last resort, only to be used after other less restrictive measures, including de-escalation techniques.
Excludes such mechanical restraints as:
o Devices used for physical or occupational therapy;
o Seatbelts in wheel chairs or on toilets used for balance and safety; o Safety harnesses in buses; and
o Functional positioning devices.
Restraints to control acute or episodic aggressive or self-injurious behavior may be used only when the learner is acting in a manner as to be a clear and present danger to him/herself, to other learners or to employees, and only when less restrictive measures and techniques have proven to be or are less effective. The use of restraints to control the aggressive behavior of an individual learner must cause the school entity to notify the parent of the use of the restraint and a meeting of the IEP Team within 10 school days of the inappropriate behavioral causing the use of restraints, unless the parent, after written notice, agrees in writing to waive the meeting.
At this meeting, the IEP Team must consider whether the learner needs a functional behavioral assessment, reevaluation, a new or revised positive behavior support plan, or a change of placement to address the inappropriate behavior.
The use of restraints may only be included in a learner’s IEP when:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Manifestation Determination, and when do we use it?
A Manifestation Determination is an assessment, required by IDEA 97, which is done when considering the exclusion of a learner with a disability from school that constitutes a change of placement, that is more than 10 school days consecutively; more than 15 school days cumulatively in one school year; when days 11-15 constitute a pattern; or an exclusion of even one school day for a learner with mental retardation.
What is Classroom Management?
Classroom Management is a set of principles that will help a teacher minimize inappropriate learner behavior within his/her classroom. It includes:
What is meant by a continuum of behavior support services?
Each learner has unique needs for behavior support. All learners’ benefit from proactive school- wide supports, including clear, explicitly taught, and consistently applied rules and procedures in all school settings. Some learners require additional targeted supports, including more frequent monitoring and feedback, increased cues and prompts, and intensified instruction.
Even with school-wide and targeted interventions in place, a small percentage of learners will require a Functional Behavior Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plan and may need the collaborative support of outside agencies or specialized related services, such as counseling.
What is the function of a behavior?
Research tells us that the function of any behavior is to get something or avoid, delay, or escape something (attention, tangible items/activities, or stimulation)
Why is it important to use preventative strategies for behaviors instead of consequences?
Among the key reasons are the following:
Why is it so important to collect data?
In order for us to be able to design effective and appropriate interventions, we need to first understand a learner’s behaviors. If we do not understand where the learner is starting from, then we will not be able to determine if the intervention is working. We regularly collect and analyze data to make sure an intervention works and continues to work. If it does not, then we much change the intervention. This ongoing data collection and analysis is called progress monitoring. Without it, interventions are more likely to be ineffective and may be harmful to the learner or those around him/her.
The purpose of assistive technology is to work around specific deficits, rather than fixing them. It helps people with learning differences reach their full potential and live satisfying, rewarding lives. Assistive technology, however, should be a part of an overall program to help individuals with learning differences.
IDEA 2004 requires that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services, or both, as those terms are defined in Sections 300.5 and 300.6, respectively are made available to a learner with a disability, if required, as a part of the learner’s special education; related services; or supplementary aids and services.
An assistive technology (AT) device, as defined by the IDEA 2004, refers to any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. (While this definition covers a broad range of items, both low- tech and high-tech, the term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device.)
An assistive technology service, also defined by federal law, means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Such service may include the evaluation of AT needs, providing for acquisition of AT, selecting, or adapting AT for the learner, coordinating AS intervention and services, including training or technical assistance for child, family, and other team members to facilitate successful implementation of AT.
For school age learners, AT devices and services are those that provide access to the general education curriculum and/or a means to meet IEP goals. AT devices and services may be needed for alternative augmentative communication (AAC), computer access, written communication, environmental control, or for sensory (auditory or visual) access. AT may encompass both high-tech and low-tech solutions and allows many learners with disabilities to function effectively in the general education curriculum and to meet their educational goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is responsible for AT device and services?
It is important to note that assistive devices are one of the special factors that should be considered in the development, review, or revision of the IEP for every learner. While not every learner with an IEP needs AT, the need for AT should be considered by all teams in the IEP process. The LEA is responsible for providing AT devices and services as specified on the IEPs.
How is AT documented on a learner’s IEP?
Specific AT devices should not be listed on the IEP/IFSP, instead the IEP should include statements reflecting the learner’s needs and the features of the AT devices that will assist the learner in meeting those needs. The features of the AT device may be listed as part of the intervention strategy, the specially designed instruction, or the means for the learner to obtain a goal or outcome. The AT device itself is not as a goal to be accomplished. It is important to document how and when the learner uses the assistive technology.
I am not sure what assistive technology would be most helpful for my learner. How do I begin?
Multidisciplinary teams should look at how a learner participates in each activity or daily routine. Identify what the learner is able to do now, and then look at what is preventing or limiting him from full participation. Simple, low-tech, ideas should be tried first to increase the learner’s participation. When low-tech devices do not sufficiently allow full participation in an activity or routine, the team should determine what high-tech AT devices will allow the learner to participate.
I can understand my child but most people cannot. Does he or she need a communication device?
If a learner has a significant communication impairment that prevents speech from developing normally, consideration should be given to the use of AAC. Becoming an effective communicator allows the learner to expand his or her relationships and share information with others. The use of AAC may help prevent or decrease frustration and associated behavior problems while natural speech skills are developing.
If a learner begins to use AAC, will that keep him or her from learning to talk? Should I wait to be sure that he or she really will need it?
Do not wait! Research has shown that the use of a language board or other AAC device or system (e.g., sign language) does not interfere with the development of speech. In fact, the use of AAC actually may result in an improvement in speech. Also, devices that have vocal output (that is, they produce a spoken message) provide a consistent speech model for the learner to imitate and may help him/her to learn to say words more clearly.
Once it is determined that a particular device(s) is appropriate for a learner, how is that device purchased? Who pays for the device?
If included on the IEP/IFSP, AT must be provided at no cost to the family. In some instances, however, the team may be interested in exploring ways to fund the device by other sources. For further information on alternate funding sources such as medical assistance, private insurance, charitable or private sources of funding, family-driven funds, or other community or state funding possibilities.
Should we teach learners what the symbols mean before we start using the AAC device for communication?
Both professionals and families often are concerned about using AAC devices that have symbols representing the messages. Objects, photographs, symbols or written words may be used to represent communication messages. The choice of which is best for a learner is made after considering the learners motor, cognitive, and visual skills. As you begin to use AAC, however, it is not necessary to teach the meaning of the representation system. The learner can associate meaning with symbols as he uses messages and sees how it impacts the behavior of people around him. For example,
The learner uses a message on a communication device to ask for a cookie and she gets one she will start to associate that message with getting a cookie. Learning the meaning of the symbol occurs as she associates symbol selection with the desired response.
What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication?
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) refers to any device, system or method that improves the ability of a learner with communication impairment to communicate effectively. AAC may be used to describe communication devices such as communication boards, voice output devices, or communication systems such as sign language. AAC can also include the use of facial expressions, vocalizations, or gestures. AAC is considered when a learner does not develop communication in a typical fashion or experiences a significant delay in language development. An AAC device is not merely a substitute for how the learner is currently communicating. Ideally, an AAC system includes more than one mode of communication and it often includes the use of some natural speech.
VI. NOTICE OF RECOMMENDED EDUCATIONAL PLACEMENT (NOREP)/ PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE (PWN)
The purpose of this chapter is to summarize for parents the recommendations of the Local Education Agency (LEA) for the child’s educational program and other actions taken by the LEA.
Prior Written Notice of School District Decisions
Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/Prior Written Notice (NOREP/PWN)
The IEP Coordinator is responsible for giving the parent a NOREP/PWN to carry out the prior written notice requirements.
I Dream must provide the learner’s parent with prior written notice each time it proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a child or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to a learner. Specifically, a NOREP/PWN is required in the following circumstances:
Requirements of NOREP/PWN General Requirements
The notice must be written in language understandable to the general public; and provided in the native language of or other mode of communication used by the parent, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.
Language Not Written
If the native language or other mode of communication of the parent is not a written language, the IEP Coordinator must take steps to ensure that the notice is translated orally or by other means in the parent’s native language; the parent understands the content of the notice; and there is written evidence that the requirements have been met.
Other Mode of Communication
Notice Regarding Eligibility and IEP Meetings
Purpose of Notice
The IEP Coordinator is responsible for taking steps to ensure that one or both of the learner’s parents are present at each IEP Team meeting or afforded the opportunity to participate, including notifying parents of the meeting early enough to ensure that they will have an opportunity to attend; and scheduling the meeting at a mutually agreed time and place. If a parent indicates that the proposed meeting date or time is inconvenient, the IEP Coordinator must make reasonable efforts to accommodate the parent’s schedule.
Notice Contents (Invitation to Participate Form)
The contents of the Invitation to Participate indicate the purpose, time, and location of the meeting and who will be in attendance. It also informs the parents of the participation of other IEP Team members who have knowledge or special expertise about the child.
• Transition Goals and Services – For a learner with a disability, beginning with the first IEP to be in effect when (s)he turns is in the eighth grade and/or is 14 years of age (or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team), the Invitation to Participate indicates one purpose of the meeting to consider postsecondary goals and transition services; the learner; and identifies any other agency that will be invited to send a representative.
Other Methods for Parent Participation
If neither parent can attend an IEP Team meeting, the IEP Coordinator should document other means s/he offered to the parent to participate, such as individual or conference telephone calls.
Conducting an IEP Team Meeting without a Parent in Attendance
A meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance if the IEP Coordinator is unable to convince the parents that they should attend. In this case, the IEP Coordinator must document at least 3 attempts to arrange a mutually agreed on time and place, such as detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls; copies of correspondence mailed to the parents, including documentation through certified mail (addressee only, return receipt requested) and any responses received; and detailed records of visits made to the parent’s home or place of employment and the results of those visits.
VII. DISPUTE RESOLUTION
When disputes arise between the parent and LEA staff, the formal and informal systems described below are available to assist in resolving the dispute.
Pre-Hearing Conference (Prior to a Request for a Due Process Hearing)
o Time Frame – Must be held within 10 days from the date the LEA receives a parent’s request.
o Written Agreement – If an agreement is reached; it must be written and signed by the parent, Director of learner Support Services and administrator or designee.
o Facilitator – The pre-hearing conference is usually chaired by a person who is not a member of the school staff and who can assist the parties in resolving the concerns.
o Pre-Hearing Conference Report and NOREP/PWN – The pre-hearing conference is documented using the Pre-Hearing Conference Report and a NOREP/PWN is offered at the conclusion of the meeting.
• Revoking Agreement- Within five calendar days of the agreement, a parent may notify the district, in writing, of a decision not to approve the identification, evaluation, recommended assignment or the provision of FAPE. When the parent gives such notice of disapproval or if the pre-hearing conference does not result in an agreement, either party has the right to proceed to due process.
Mediation: General Requirements
A parent of a child with a disability or the LEA may request mediation when there is a dispute
about any matter related to the eligibility, identification, evaluation, or educational placement, or the provision of FAPE to a child.
Impartial Due Process Hearings
A parent of a LEA child or the LEA has the right to initiate a hearing, when there is a dispute about the eligibility, identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of FAPE to a child with a disability, in accordance with 20 U.S.C. § 1415 (f).
A request to initiate a due process hearing shall be made in writing using the forms and process defined by the State Hearing Office, found at: http://osse.dc.gov/service/request-due-process- hearing.
A parent request for a due process hearing must include the following:
Basis of Due Process Hearing Request
LEA staff must initiate a hearing when an administrator/designee refuses a parent’s request for an independent evaluation to show that the LEA’s evaluation is appropriate. The LEA may not initiate a due process hearing because a parent refuses to give consent to an initial placement or to sign a NOREP/PWN for initial placement.
To request a due process hearing under Section 504 or to respond to a parent’s request, the administrator must immediately notify the Director of learner Support Services. The Director will forward the request to the Head of School who will contact OSSE and/or arrange for an impartial Hearing Officer at no expense to the family.
VIII. PARENT’S RIGHTS PERTAINING TO EDUCATIONAL RECORDS
• Inspection of Records -The LEA must permit parents to inspect and review all educational records relating to his/her child with respect to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child, and the provision of FAPE to the child, which are collected, maintained, or used by the LEA.
• Timeframes -The LEA must comply with a request without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding and IEP or hearing relating to the identification, evaluation, or placement or the child, and in no case more than 45 calendar days after the request has been made.
• Rights- The parent’s right to inspect and review education records under this section includes:
o Inspect and Review. The right to have a representative inspect and review the records.
o Copies. The right to request that the LEA provide copies of the records containing the information if the parent indicates s/he would not be able to effectively inspect and review the records at the school.
o Request Corrections. The right to request, in writing, that the LEA correct information that the parent believes is incorrect. The request must be addressed to the Director of learner Support Services and contain information about the alleged error and why the parent believes the information should be removed or replaced.
o Presumed Parental Authority. The LEA may presume that the parent has the authority to inspect and review records relating to his/her child unless the LEA has been advised that the parent does not have the authority under applicable State law governing such matter as guardianship, separation and divorce.
o Log Record Access. The administrator or administrator’s designee must keep a log and record the name of those individual obtaining access to the education records, including the name of the individual, the date access was given, and the purpose of the review.
IX. DISCIPLINE OF learnerS WITH DISABILITIES
If a learner violates the I Dream Code of learner Conduct, before consequences or punishment are imposed, a school must consider whether the learner has a disability evidenced by an IEP or 504 Plan. While all learners may be disciplined, it is both illegal and unjust to punish a child when the offense is directly related to his disability or when the IEP or 504 Plan is not implemented.
Disciplinary actions give learners with disabilities extra legal protections when the discipline constitutes a change in placement. A “change in placement” is a legal term that applies to the following situations:
If all team members agree that the learner’s conduct was not a manifestation of his disability, then the learner may be subject to the same consequences as all learners. If a parent disagrees with the team’s decision that the behavior was not a manifestation of the learner’s disability, the parent may request a due process hearing to challenge this finding. If the Hearing Officer agrees with the parent, the learner will remain in the school where the offense was committed unless the parent and the school agree otherwise. However, during the period of expulsion or transfer to an alternative placement or remedial disciplinary setting, the learner must continue to receive special education services prescribed by his IEP and a Behavior Plan must be created or revised to address the offending conduct.
If I Dream orders a disciplinary removal that meets the definition of a change in placement, it must continue to make FAPE available to the learner. This means that even if the child is suspended or expelled from a school, the LEA must ensure that the learner continues to receive educational services.
Emergency Circumstances Involving School Safety: Weapons, Drugs or Serious Injury
If a learner: possesses illegal drugs; is selling prescription drugs; carries a weapon; or causes serious bodily injury to another, either at school or during a school related activity, the school may immediately remove the learner for up to 45 school days to an alternative or remedial disciplinary setting. To comply with the law, a 45 school day emergency removal for serious bodily injury must be serious, i.e., requiring medical treatment.
Because drugs, weapons and serious bodily injury are so dangerous to a safe school climate, a school may remove a learner under these circumstances for 45 school days regardless of whether a child has an Intellectual Disability or even if the team believes that the behavior is a manifestation of the learner’s disability. During the 45 school-day periods, the school must convene a manifestation determination meeting. If the school determines that the conduct is a manifestation, the school may have the child re-evaluated, create or revise an existing behavior plan, or hold an IEP meeting to consider a more intensive special education placement upon the expiration of the 45-day alternative placement or sooner. If all team members determine that the conduct was not a manifestation of the learner’s disability, then the 45 school day emergency placement may proceed to a disciplinary proceeding afforded to all learners.
If a school has solid reasons to believe that keeping the learner in his current school is “substantially likely to result in injury to the child or to others”, the school should consult with the Special Education Coordinator who may request an emergency hearing to ask a Hearing Officer to transfer the learner to an alternative setting for up to 45 school days. Dangerousness may exist even if there is no Code of Conduct violation. It is a consideration based on serious safety concerns for the learner and/or the school community.
Notice to Parents
Any time a learner with an IEP or 504 plan is removed to an alternative or remedial disciplinary setting, the parent must be given a NOREP stating this decision and a copy of the procedural safeguards.
Considerations for learners with Disabilities
Inability to Implement IEP
In some cases, the parentally-preferred school is unable to provide the services or placement required by the learner’s IEP and/or is not physically accessible to meet the learner’s needs.
• Process -The administrator must immediately contact the I Dream Homeless Liaison and the Special Education Coordinator to which the learner seeks to ensure that the administrator’s concern about meeting the learner’s needs cannot be addressed by implementing other available options. In the event that this is not possible, the administrators will work to identify the school closest to the learner’s new living arrangements that is capable of providing services to the learner, and arrange for the learner’s immediate enrollment in the identified school.
Expulsion or Disciplinary Procedures
If a learner has been expelled or given a disciplinary transfer, the above provisions are not to be used to allow a learner or family to overturn the disciplinary action or to exempt the learner from appropriate disciplinary proceedings.
X. PROTECTED HANDICAPPED learnerS
This Chapter provides schools with procedures to respond to the needs of learners with disabilities that substantially impair their access to educational and extra-curricular activities and who are not eligible for special education services under the IDEA.
Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its implementing regulations,
34 Code of Federal Regulation Part 104 prohibit discrimination and require the LEA to provide accommodations to identified learners with disabilities to access schools and school activities and programs.
I Dream must provide each identified Protected Handicapped learner enrolled in the District, without cost to the learner or family, those related aids, services or accommodations which are needed to afford the learner equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities without discrimination and to the maximum extent appropriate to the learner's ability.
Parents -A birth or adoptive parent, a guardian or a person acting as a parent of the learner.
NOTE: Procedures applicable to the appointment of surrogate parents apply to Protected Handicapped learners.
Protected Handicapped learners Criteria
• Age – learner is of an age at which the LEA offers public education.
Section 504 Coverage
While IDEA only covers learners with disabilities that require special education services, Section 504 is broader in scope and covers any learner that meets its disability definition, including those who do not need special education services and require only accommodations or supplementary aids and services. For example, a learner may have diabetes and not require any specific special education services but needs substantial attention from a variety of school staff throughout the day. Such a learner would not be covered under IDEA but would be under Section 504 and entitled to a Service Plan.
The LEA must provide each Protected Handicapped learner enrolled at I Dream, without cost to the learner or family, those related aids, services or accommodations which are needed to afford the learner equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities without discrimination and to the maximum extent appropriate to the learner’s abilities.
On or before the first day of a school year, I Dream informs parents of enrolled learners that the District does not discriminate against Protected Handicapped learners and the District’s responsibilities under this Chapter. The notice may be included in a document reasonably expected to reach the parents of learners enrolled in the School District, such as school calendars or brochures and the I Dream Family Handbook.
Procedures for Determining Eligibility Referral
Notice related to School District Referral for Evaluation
Basis for Notice. The administrator’s designee sends a written notice to the learner’s parents if it is believed that the learner meets one or more of the following condition:
Native Language or Mode of Communication. The School District’s notice to the parents shall be in the parents’ native language or mode of communication and shall state the following:
Need for Additional Information. If the LEA needs additional information before it can make a specific recommendation concerning the related aids, services or accommodations needed by the learner, the LEA may ask the parents to provide additional medical records which the parents may have and to grant the LEA permission to evaluate the learner.
• Parental Request. Parents shall request in writing that his/her child be evaluated and provided services if they believe his/her child meets one or more of the following conditions:
o Should be identified as a Protected Handicapped learner.
o Should no longer be identified as a Protected Handicapped learner.
o Requires a change in or modification of the child’s current service agreement.
o The specific reasons the parents believe the learner is nor is no longer a Protected Handicapped learner;
o The specific related aids, services or accommodations the parents believe the learner needs; and
o The specific modifications the parents would like the LEA to make in the learner’s current service agreement, if the parents are requesting modification of the learner’s current service agreement.
Response to Referral
o Case Manager;
o Administrator or his/her designee;
o Certified School Nurse;
o If appropriate, the Case Manager will consider designating or including the learner’s LST Team as the learner’s Planning Team.
o The Planning Team may also include other members of the school staff appropriate to plan and implement accommodations (for example, counselor; teachers; school psychologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, transportation and equipment experts and other professionals with relevant expertise, as appropriate).
o Whether the parent’s request or a portion of the parent’s request is being granted or denied;
o The parent’s right to meet with the appropriate school officials to discuss the issues associated with accommodating the learner;
o The procedural safeguards available to learners and their parents; and
o That in addition to the procedural safeguards available to learners and their parents, parents may also file suit in Federal court under Section 504.
• Language of Notice. Provide the written response in the parent’s native language or mode of communication and provide the information above.
The Planning Team meets to determine if the learner meets the criteria as a Protected Handicapped learner as described above. If the learner is not eligible, the Case Manager gives the parent written notice of this determination and of his/her procedural rights. If the learner is eligible for services, the Team continues to develop the Service Agreement.
Developing the Service Agreement
Assess Need for Services or Supports
Determine if the learner requires aids, services and/or accommodations to benefit from his/her education, including extracurricular activities, and if so, develop a Service Agreement (504 Plan).
Implementation of Service Agreement
Review of Service Agreement
In the Service Agreement, the Planning Team establishes a date to review the document, which should be a maximum of one year from the date of the Service Agreement. If the Service Agreement does not require modification, the Case Manager should complete a new Service Agreement, attaching the current Agreement and indicate that no changes are needed; obtain signatures from the Team, including the parent; and establish a new review date that is within one year from the date of the Service Agreement.
Modification of Service Agreement
Whenever the parents or school staff believes that a modification of the Service Agreement may be warranted, the Case Manager will utilize the procedures.
The Case Manager will facilitate a reevaluation of the learner when necessary to determine the current needs of the learner.
Whenever the parents or school staff believes that the learner no longer qualifies as a Protected Handicapped learner, the Team must be convened to review relevant evaluative data or obtain new data to consider the learner’s eligibility.
Parents, guardians, and learners who want to learn more about their rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act can obtain a copy of their procedural safeguards from the Section 504 Coordinator, NAME Anyone who believes that I Dream has violated the regulations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Americans with Disabilities Act can submit a complaint with the Section 504/ADA coordinator pursuant to I Dream’ Grievance Procedures. A copy of the grievance procedures can be obtained by request through the Section 504/ADA coordinator.
XI. Contact Information
NAME, Special Education Coordinator, ADDRESS, EMAIL, PHONE
NAME, Head of School, ADDRESS, EMAIL, NAME
The LEA must protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information related to a Protected Handicapped learner; require parental consent before releasing personally identifiable information to unauthorized persons; provide access to educational records of the learner to the parent or a representative of the parent; and comply with Section 513(a) of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and 34 CFR Part 99 (relating to family education rights and privacy).
AAC: Alternative augmentative communication
LST: Learner Support Team
AT: Assistive technology
BIP: Behavior Intervention Plan
BSP: Behavior Support Plan
ELL: English Language Learner
ER: Evaluation Report
ESY: Extended School Year Services
FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education
FBE: Functional Behavioral Assessment
IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEEs: Independent Educational Evaluations
IEP: Individual Education Plan
LEA: Local educational agency
LEP: Limited English proficiency
LRE: Least restrictive environment
NOREP: Notice of Recommended Educational Placement
PBS: Positive Behavioral Support
PT: Physical therapy
PTE: Permission to evaluate
PTRE: Permission to reevaluate
PWN: Prior written notice
OSSE: Office of the State Superintendent of Education
OT: Occupational therapy