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WHEN THE SCHOOL CALLS ME IN FOR A MEETING ABOUT MY CHILD’S PROGRESS OR LACK OF PROGRESS IN SCHOOL, I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO DO OR SAY. THIS ISN’T A PARENT/TEACHER MEETING. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE PRESENT. AM I AT AN INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN(IEP) MEETING? IF SO, WHAT IS AN IEP MEETING AND WHAT DO I DO?
Q: WHAT’S AN INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN (IEP)?
An IEP is the legal contract between the parent and school district for a child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in a meeting that must include:
A statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance
A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to:
Meet the child’s disability needs in order to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; as well as other educational needs;
For children who will take the CSAP-A, a description of short-term objectives;
A description of how the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured
When periodic reports on the progress the child is making 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 any individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure
A statement explaining the extent to why a child will not participate with children without disabilities in the general education classroom, non-academic activities and extra-curricular activities;
The academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and district-wide assessments.
If the IEP team determines that the child must take an alternate assessment instead of a particular regular State or district-wide assessment of student achievement, a statement of why the child cannot participate in the regular assessment and why the particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child….
When the child turns 15, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and updated annually thereafter, the IEP must include transition services related to:
independent living skills (where appropriate)
If a child with a disability transfers to a new school district in the same State, and enrolls in a new school within the same school year, the new school district must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child until the new public agency either:
Adopts the child’s IEP from the previous public agency; or
Develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP.
If a child with a disability transfers to a school district in a new State, and enrolls in a new school within the same school year, the new public agency must provide the child with FAPE until the new public agency:
Conducts an evaluation, if determined to be necessary by the new school district
Develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP
To facilitate the transition for a child:
The new school district, in which the child enrolls, must take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the child’s records, including the IEP and supporting documents and any other records relating to the provision of special education or related services to the child, from the previous school district in which the child was enrolled. The previous school district in which the child was enrolled must take reasonable steps to promptly respond to the request from the new school district.
Q: WHO Creates the IEP?
An IEP Team comes together and creates the individual educational plan to meet the unique needs of the child. At minimum, the IEP Team consists of:
The parents of the child;
Not less than one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment);
Not less than one special education teacher of the child, or where appropriate, not less than one special education provider of the child;
A representative of the school district (who has certain specific knowledge and qualifications);
An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results and who may also be one of the other listed members;
At the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate; and
Whenever appropriate, the child with a disability.
Q: A GOOD IEP HAS BEEN DEVELOPED FOR MY CHILD. HOW CAN I MAKE SURE THAT THE IEP IS BEING IMPLEMENTED EFFECTIVELY?
Make sure all of the teachers working with the student have a copy of the IEP and have read it.
Ask for a meeting with everyone who works with the student or meet with him or her separately. Put your request in writing when asking for a meeting and keep in mind that it’s a business meeting. Putting your request in writing helps the school know that you are serious about making sure the IEP is followed and that they don’t just “put it away in a file.” Remembering it is a business meeting helps you keep your emotions in check and helps everyone work together to benefit the student. The following are items to note and things to be discussed at this meeting with teachers and those who work with the student:
Know your rights as a parent on the IEP team
Show examples of previous accommodations and/or modifications that were successful.
Be clear on what kinds of school to home and home to school communications works best.
Be sure to tell those working with your student your vision for the future and the reasons why some things are very important to you.
Discuss at this meeting who will be responsible in educating the teachers about their obligation to the implement the IEP.
Discuss your understanding of the responsibility of all the teachers your child will have including the paraprofessionals.
To make sure there is appropriate accountability for the school team you might want to consider writing into the IEP a statement such as “If the school or teacher does not provide the accommodations and/or modifications that are list on the IEP, the student is not responsible for the content of the class and cannot be graded on such work.”
Work in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation as much as possible. Show appreciation throughout the year for things that are going well and for new ideas that have been tried. If they try something that “doesn’t work,” communicate your appreciation to them that they are trying new and innovative approaches, but keep helping them “brainstorm” new ideas.
Options available to parents such as mediation, due process, and federal complaint are more formalized ways to deal with conflicting issues with the IEP and team communication.
(Above answer was taken from an article written by Shirley Swope and Wayla Murrow for PEAK Parent Center’s SPEAKOUT Newsletter, Fall 2006)
Q: WHEN THE SCHOOL CALLS ME IN FOR A MEETING ABOUT MY CHILD’S PROGRESS OR LACK OF PROGRESS IN SCHOOL, I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO DO OR SAY. THIS ISN’T A PARENT/TEACHER MEETING. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE PRESENT. AM I AT AN INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN(IEP) MEETING? IF SO, WHAT IS AN IEP MEETING AND WHAT DO I DO?
Chances are, you were at your child’s IEP Meeting. When your child receives special education services they are entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that is designed to your child’s unique needs at no cost to you. This is where the IEP comes in, it is the plan used to implement FAPE. You, the parent are an important member of the IEP team. Parents tend to feel intimidated at IEP meetings but that shouldn’t be the case. It’s a good idea to have someone come with you to the meeting for support.
It’s also a good idea to prepare before the meeting any questions or concerns you have regarding your child’s education. If you have an professional that can support your concerns or recommendations it’s good to have them attend the meeting or put their professional opinion in writing.
Charmaine Thaner, an advocate for students, has helpful one-liners for parents to use at an IEP meeting and a one-pager that deals with the 3 R’s of Relationship. Click here for the one-liners: CTone-liners.pdf Click here for the 3 R’s of Relationship: CT3rs.pdf
Q: THE SCHOOL SAYS MY CHILD IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES
BUT IS ELIGIBLE FOR A 504 PLAN. WHAT IS A 504 PLAN?
According to the Colorado Department of Education’s Parent Guide to Section 504, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects persons from discrimination based upon their disability status.
A person is disabled within the definition of Section 504 if he or she:
has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities; The impairment must impact the child’s education. “Major life activities” include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. When a condition does not substantially limit a major life activity, the individual does not qualify under Section 504. In order to determine eligibility for Section 504 services, your child must be evaluated by a team of individuals who are familiar with your child. The results will be shared at a team meeting in which you are involved.
For more information about section 504 Plan, click the link below:
Q: I WANT A DIFFERENT THERAPIST, PARA-PROFESSIONAL OR TEACHER FOR MY CHILD BECAUSE IT’S NOT WORKING OUT, BUT THE SCHOOL REFUSES TO DO SO. CAN THEY REFUSE MY REQUEST?
The short answer is yes they can refuse your request. The school is in charge of who they hire and who they pay to render the services in their school. However, if your child is being denied FAPE (free appropriate public education) you have the right to address that issue. The best way to do that would be to document all of the ways the child’s IEP is not being followed or all the ways the child is being denied a free appropriate public education – regardless of who is providing the services to the student. If the administration sees these issues perhaps they would come to the conclusion that it is because of a specific staff member then they would remedy it on their own. Sometimes the problem could be solved with some additional training for the staff member which the school should provide. However, if it is a personality conflict, the school is not necessarily required to make changes unless the child is being denied FAPE.
There are requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act for schools to have teachers that are “highly qualified”.
Here is a link to the US Department of Education for information on that:
Q:THE SCHOOL TELLS ME THAT MY CHILD’S BEHAVIOR IS A PROBLEM, WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
You can request a functional behavioral assessment.
According to the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice, “Functional behavioral assessment is generally considered to be a problem-solving process for addressing student problem behavior. It relies on a variety of techniques and strategies to identify the purposes of specific behavior and to help IEP teams select interventions to directly address the problem behavior. Functional behavioral assessment should be integrated, as appropriate, throughout the process of developing, reviewing, and, if necessary, revising a student’s IEP.”
For a sample Functional Behavioral Assessment, click the link below:
Q: THE SCHOOL WANTS TO REMOVE MY CHILD FROM HIS/HER CLASSROOM. I DISAGREE, WHAT CAN I DO?
Special Education is not a place, it is support and services brought to the child. Below is IDEA statue: Sec. 612 (a) (5). It states the following;
In general.–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 not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
As a parent, it is your right to make sure that the school your child attends is not denying him/her a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment. Usually a parent will enroll their child in his/her neighborhood school, in the general education class. The IEP Team will decide what supports and services will be required. If it looks like a child needs to be pulled out of a classroom for 15 minutes, an hour or half a day, the IEP team has to agree and it must state the reason.
If the school wants to remove your child from school because of disciplinary reasons, the school has a right to consider unique circumstances, on a case-by-case bases when a child violates a school’s code of conduct. For more information, please click the link below:
Q: THE SCHOOL WANTS TO SUSPEND MY CHILD FOR BREAKING A SCHOOL RULE BUT MY CHILD COULDN’T HELP IT BECAUSE OF HIS/HER DISABILITY. CAN THE SCHOOL DO THAT?
Schools have rules called “codes of student conduct.” If the punishment for violating the code of student conduct is suspension then the school may suspend a student who breaks these rules for up to 10 days. In a situation where a child has a disability, schools may consider these on a “case by case” basis. Removing a student for more than 10 days is considered a “change in placement” and before the placement is changed the school must conduct a meeting called the “manifestation determination”. This is a process used to make sure students are not being punished for behavior that is caused by their disability. The district has 10 school days to hold this manifestation determination meeting. This meeting should include parents. school district and relevant members of the IEP team. The parents and the school decide who should be included. This team will review all of the pertinent records and available information and will determine:
if the misbehavior was caused by the student’s disability
if the misbehavior was the result of the school not following the IEP
If the team determines that either of these occurred then the misbehavior is determined to be a manifestation of the student’s disability.
If the behavior IS determined to be a manifestation of the student’s disability then the entire IEP team will meet and will do the following:
Conduct a functional behavior assessment and implement a behavioral intervention plan
If a behavioral intervention plan has already been developed then the team will review the plan and modify it as needed
Unless there are special circumstances the student will be returned to the current placement where the student was before the removal. However, the school and the parents may agree to change the placement as a part of the behavioral intervention plan.
If the behavior is determined NOT to be a manifestation of the student’s disability then the student may be disciplined in the same way as other students who do not have a disability, but the student must still continue to receive a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) so that the student can continue to progress toward meeting the IEP goals. This may be provided in an alternative educational setting which is determined by the IEP team.
*Information adapted from “The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law” by Randy Chapman, Esq.
Here is a link for a FAQ sheet:
Q: THE SCHOOL AND I DON’T AGREE ON WHAT’S APPROPRIATE FOR MY CHILD. WHAT CAN I DO?
The THRIVE Center encourages collaboration between parents and school. However, sometimes two parties are unable to come to an agreement and a third party is necessary.
If you are in disagreement with the school, consider involving school personnel in a meeting to resolve the conflict. If that is not successful, the next step to consider is to request Mediation.
The Colorado Department of Education has a list of trained mediators. A mediator is an impartial person who works with both sides of a dispute to find an agreement that is satisfactory to all. Mediation is optional, however both parties have to agree to participate. This is not a legal procedure where evidence is presented and legal jargon is spoken. What is shared in mediation is considered confidential and can not be used in a due process hearing or lawsuit.
If the disagreement is resolved and an agreement is met, the law states that the agreement be in writing and become a legally binding contract.
Below is additional information from the Department of Education website on mediation. On the right side of the webpage is a list of sections from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations that you can click and read for yourself.
If you believe that the school has violated the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA), you have the right to file a State Complaint with the Department of Education. A parent files a complaint with the Colorado of Department of Education when there has been a clear violation of IDEA. The written complaint is sent to the Federal Complaint officer, Colorado Dept. of Ed., 201 East Colfax, Denver, CO 80203. The complaint should describe how the violation occurred, who were involved, when it happened, and what was done or not done.
Once the federal complaint officer receives the complaint, he/she has within 10 days to accept or reject the complaint. If the officer rejects the complaint, he/she has within 10 days after the decision is made to inform parents.
Below is additional information from the Department of Education website on filing a complaint. On the right side of the webpage is a list of sections from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations that you can click and read for yourself.
Another option for parents is to have a Due Process Hearing. A parent has within two years from when an incident occurred to file a due process hearing. However, this doesn’t apply if a parent thought the school had resolved the problem and realized at a later date that the school didn’t, or if the school didn’t share information to parents required under the law. A parent begins the process by writing a letter to their school district and to the Colorado Department of Education. The letter must contain the following:
Your child’s name and address
The name of the school your child attends
A description of the incident
How you believe the incident can be resolved
The school district must respond to your letter within 10 days.
A due process hearing is a legal procedure where the following takes place: evidence is presented, lawyers are in attendance, witnesses are cross-examined and witnesses are subpoenaed if necessary. But before the hearing occurs, the law requires that a resolution process takes place within 15 days of the school district receiving a parent’s letter. This doesn’t have to occur if both the parents and school district agree, in writing, that they want to skip the resolution process. The resolution process is where the IEP team meets again and tries to resolve the conflict one last time before going to due process.
The hearing officer is impartial. He/she does not work for the Colorado Department of Education or work for the school district. They have an understanding of IDEA and legal procedures and practices.You have the right to appeal a hearing officer’s decision. You can file a civil action in state or federal court but you only have 90 days after receiving the hearing officer’s decision to file.
Below is additional information from the Department of Education website on due process hearing. On the right side of the webpage is a list of sections from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations that you can click and read for yourself.
The link below is to the Colorado Department of Education. Once there, you will see the following:
Educational Rights of Parents
Federal Complaint Services
Dispute Resolution Rights
Request for Due Process/Mediation forms
Q: WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY CHILD ONCE HE/SHE GRADUATES FROM HIGH SCHOOL?
Much of the answer to this question depends on the student and family and the thought that they have put into developing a plan for what will happen after high school. Some of these plans can start happening while the student is in school and can be addressed in the student’s IEP. During the year when the student turns 15 the IEP team should develop a “transition plan”. This is a plan that outlines a coordinated set of activities that helps to facilitate moving the student from school to post-secondary education, vocational training, employment, independent living, and community participation.
Depending upon the student’s needs the team may also want to include representatives or input from other agencies such as the State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and others that may provide services to adults with disabilities. When developing this plan it is important to have the student’s interests and preferences considered, so it is very important for the student and parent to be an integral part of this transition planning process. Many times this is called “Person Centered Planning” because it puts the student at the center of the planning process to consider his or her interests rather than just “plugging the student in” to systems or programs that have already been established.
Q: MY TODDLER IS NOT DEVELOPING TYPICALLY, WHERE DO I GO FOR HELP?
Parents can call 1-888-777-4041 to get connected with a local resource to help begin the process of determining whether or not a child is eligible for early intervention and planning for the most appropriate supports and services. A service coordinator is assigned to help the family through the process. After you call your child should receive a multi-disciplinary evaluation within 45 days.
If your child is found eligible for early intervention services, your assigned service coordinator are required to do the following:
Prepare an Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP): The plan puts in writing (a) the services and support your family and child will receive, (b) the name of qualified personnel who will deliver the services to the family (c) how often the services will take place, for example speech therapy for 1 hour, once a week (d) which agency will pay; and (e) where the services will take place. The law requires services take place in natural environments. For example, instead of taking your child to a therapist’s office for services, the services would be brought to you in your daily routines and activities in places such as the home, child care, pre-school, etc. This enables the family and care givers the ability to support the child in receiving early intervention.
Service Coordinator provides a smooth transition from early intervention to pre-school or other appropriate services at age three. A transition plan must begin 9 – 12 months before your child turns three years old. A written transition plan must be completed 3 months before your child turns three.
You have parental rights. If you disagree about services, or anything else, you have the right to make a complaint and have it resolved in a timely manner. You have the right to request mediation, file a formal complaint, or request due process procedure. Call the Early Intervention Community Coordinator, at 303-866-7262.
An additional resource is the Early Childhood Connections State of Colorado website which is:http://eicolorado.org/
Enter on the “family member” tab to find all kinds of information about how children develop and what can be done.