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A Principal’s Role and Special Education in Massachusetts

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1 A Principal’s Role and Special Education in Massachusetts

2 Goal of This Presentation
To provide information regarding general and special education laws and regulations to assist you in integrating the various components of your role as principal. Introduce self. Introduce module. Developed by SEPP / DOE as part of the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) Training Project This presentation is being provided to you to help you improve educational outcomes for all students in your school.

3 How Did We Get Here? June 1993 Education Reform Act
June 1997 IDEA Reauthorization March 1999 IDEA ‘97 Regulations Summer 2000 Changes to the Massachusetts state special education law through outside budget sections in the FY2000 Budget January 2001 Massachusetts final Special Education Regulations January No Child Left Behind Act December 2004 IDEA 2004 Reauthorization October 2006 IDEA 2004 Regulations This is background information to enable you to understand how regulatory changes have impacted your world. The Education Reform Act of ‘93 and IDEA ‘97 compliment each other. Ed Reform provided Curriculum Frameworks, the general curriculum, MCAS, which is individual assessment of knowledge of the curriculum, and accountability of the schools. IDEA provides for access to the general curriculum, and participation in state and district wide assessments for all special education students. NCLB and IDEA 2004 have placed greater emphasis on the results for ALL students, and the role of general education with ALL students The Massachusetts Special Education Regulations define the role of the Principal in Special Education. Previously, in practice special education and general education were treated as separate worlds. In order to promote the most effective outcomes for all children special education must be treated as an integral part of school life and as one of the services that supports general education.

4 The Principal and Massachusetts Special Education Regulations (603 CMR 28.00)
28.01 Authority, Scope and Purpose 28.02 Definitions 28.03 School District Administration and Personnel 28.04 Referral & Evaluation 28.05 The Team Process & Development of the IEP 28.06 Placement Types & Service Options 28.07 Parent Involvement Special education regulations, Updated - March 2007 Specifically addresses: 1. Instructional Support 2. Coordination with the Special Education Administration 3. Educational services in home or hospital Please make sure you are using the regulations dated March You can access the regulations at

5 Selected Components of the Principal’s Role
Be Involved in the IEP Process Develop Instructional Support Services Implement Professional Development Requirements Coordinate with Special Education Administrator There are elements in each of these areas that are important for the Principal to be aware of in order to improve outcomes for all students. Administer Home or Hospital Educational Services

6 District Professional Development Plan (Updated August, 2000)
School districts are required annually to adopt and implement a professional development plan for all principals, teachers, other professional staff employed by the district, and school council members. The plan must identify specific content to be addressed, including training in the teaching of the curriculum frameworks and other skills required for the implementation of the Education Reform Law, including participatory decision making and parent and community involvement (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 71, Section 38Q).

7 District Curriculum Accommodation Plan (DCAP)
Section 38Q½. A school district shall adopt and implement a curriculum accommodation plan to assist principals in ensuring that all efforts have been made to meet students' needs in regular education. The plan shall be designed to assist the regular classroom teacher in analyzing and accommodating diverse learning styles of all children in the regular classroom and in providing appropriate services and support within the regular education program Handout - Commissioner’s Memorandum on DCAP, Feb. 20, ‘01

8 District Curriculum Accommodation Plan
DCAP, an educational activity for the general education program A systemic plan rather than an individualized student plan To assist Principals in ensuring that all efforts have been made to meet students’ needs in general education Intent is to assist school leaders in planning and providing a general education program that is able to accommodate students’ diverse learning needs DCAP is a systemic plan to address the diverse educational needs of students. And to avoid unnecessary referrals to special education

9 DCAP Assistance to general education classroom
teachers, such as professional development Support services that are available to students through the general education program, including services to address the needs of students with disruptive behavior Direct and systematic instruction in reading for all students Encourages teacher mentoring and collaboration Encourages parental involvement in their children’s education DCAP recommends various strategies that will help to achieve the objective of strengthening and improving the general education program for the benefit of all students. Professional development for the general education teacher may include managing students’ behavior effectively; and methods to help students who are English language learners.

10 Building Based Support Team
could be a DCAP component! Many schools already have something similar to a Building Based Support Team or Teachers Assistance Team. These are teams of teachers who sit together to determine the needs and suggest instructional supports for a student who has been referred to them by a classroom teacher. Of course this process would not prevent or delay appropriate referrals to special education.

11 Massachusetts Special Education Regulations on Instructional Support
28.03(3) The principal shall implement the plan developed and adopted by the district to ensure that efforts have been made or will be made to meet the needs of diverse learners in the general education program. As part of his/her responsibilities, the principal shall promote instructional practices responsive to student needs and shall ensure that adequate instructional support is available for students and teachers. Instructional support shall include remedial instruction for students, consultative services for teachers, availability of reading instruction at the elementary level, appropriate services for linguistic minority students, and other services consistent with effective educational practices and the requirements of M.G.L. c. 71B, § 2. Handout - This is the citation from regulation for your information. It continues on to the next slide.

12 Regulations Continued
The principal may consult with the Administrator of Special Education regarding accommodations and interventions for students. Such efforts and their results shall be documented and placed in the student record. Additionally, if an individual student is referred for an evaluation to determine eligibility for special education, the principal shall ensure that documentation on the use of instructional support services for the student is provided as part of the evaluation information reviewed by the Team when determining eligibility. . Allow time for audience to finish reading.

13 Instructional Support For the Individual Student
Jill is a general education student who has not mastered the concept of long division. The School Based Support Team recommends the teacher give Jill individual help in long division for a couple of weeks. It is documented in Jill’s cumulative folder that she received the help and has now mastered long division. Here is an example of how instructional support can work for an individual student. When a specific intervention is provided for an individual student it should be documented in the student’s cumulative folder.

14 Regulations Continued
Coordinate with the Special Education Administrator 603 CMR (3)(b) The Principal with the assistance of the Administrator of Special Education shall coordinate the delivery and supervision of special education services within each school building. Here is another responsibility of the Principal which is outlined in the same section of the Massachusetts Special Education Regulations. The collaboration between Principals and Special Education Administrators is essential for the success of both general education and special education programs.

15 Educational Services in Home or Hospital 28.03(3)(c)
Regulations Continued Educational Services in Home or Hospital (3)(c) Any student enrolled in a public school Students enrolled in a private school who are eligible for Special Education Physician's order Out of school not less than 14 days in any school year Arrange educational services Not Special Education unless student is eligible and services are IEP Services Although arranging educational services for students at home or in the hospital was previously a responsibility of the Special Education Administrator, it now comes under the purview or the Principal as cited in the new Massachusetts Special Education Regulations . Services are required for any student, not just special education students, enrolled in a public school who has a physician’s written order to remain at home and/or in hospital for a period of not less than fourteen school days in any school year. This requirement also applies to private school students who have been found eligible for special education. The fourteen days are not required to be consecutive. Services are to be provided with sufficient frequency to allow the student to continue his/her educational program. The Principal makes a determination of what is appropriate for each student. There is no minimum nor maximum required services/time. The Principal needs to consider the impact of the absences on the student’s progress in the general education program. Reminder: Collaborate with the Special Education Administrator for special education students.

16 Why the Principal? The Principal will be the first to hear about
students with prolonged absences. Educational tutoring services are not considered special education unless the student has been determined eligible for special education and the services are according to the IEP Educational tutoring services are not intrinsically a special education service. The Special Education Administrator will be the first to learn that an out of district student with an IEP has extended absences. Accordingly, he/she will be responsible for determining if services are necessary.

17 George George is a fourth grader enrolled in a public school who is scheduled to have corrective back surgery and is expected to be out of school for at least a month. The Principal decided, after consultation with George’s classroom teacher, that George will require tutoring for four hours a week in order for him to not fall behind his classmates. Now we will discuss three examples that may provide guidance for Principals when making appropriate decisions regarding home/hospital educational services. Our first example is George, a non-disabled, fourth grader. The Principal needs to consider the following in order to make an appropriate decision: What might be the impact of George’s absences on his progress in class? Will George be able to study while recuperating or will he be incapacitated? Can services be provided to George prior to his absence? Consultation with the classroom teacher regarding the material George will miss will enable the Principal to determine the appropriate service. Note, services provided to George are not special education services, in this example. (If there are any questions related to who pays for these services the questioner should be referred to his/her local district.)

18 Tianna Tianna is an eighth grade student who receives special education services. She is out of school three days each month for dialysis treatment. The Principal decided, after consultation with Tianna’s key teachers and the Special Education Administrator, that Tianna does not require additional educational services due to her absences. The teachers will provide her with work prior to her absences in order to prevent her from falling behind her classmates. Again the Principal will go through the same process as with George. In Tianna’s case, the decision to not provide additional service was made because her key teachers and the Special Education Administrator felt that Tianna would not require special education services. They also felt that she would not require tutoring for her general education classes. The teachers will, each month, ensure that Tianna does not miss critical information and will supply her with her lessons in advance of her absences. Tianna has an emotional impairment. She is able to continue to progress academically on par with her classmates when she is supplied in advance of her absence with the necessary materials and performance criteria for assignments she would have otherwise missed.

19 Julio Julio is an eleventh grade student who receives special
education services in reading. Julio will be absent from school for four weeks while he convalesces from an operation on his shoulder. The Principal decided, after consultation with Julio’s key general and special education teachers and the Special Education Administrator, that Julio will receive one hour per day of special education services and three hours per week of general education services. In Julio’s case, his special education teacher and the Special Education Administrator felt that Julio would need reinforcement of his missed reading service. It was felt an hour a day would be adequate. Julio’s general education teachers, on the other hand, felt that Julio could be kept current in his other subjects with three hours a week of educational services. Julio is expected to complete his assignments while convalescing. Again, coordinating with the Special Education Administrator will be helpful to the Principal.

20 The Principal and the Special Education Process
Are you the Team Chairperson? Do you participate in supervising the special education staff? Do you interact with students who have disabilities and their parents? Do you coordinate with the Special Education Administrator? At this point we will begin discussing the role of the Principal in relation to the Special Education Process. Read slide. Are there other ways you interact with Special Education that we haven’t listed? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you will want to have a working knowledge of the Federal and State Special Education laws.

21 Federal & State Special Education Laws
Parent and Student Participation Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) Appropriate Evaluation Individualized Education Program (IEP) Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Procedural Safeguards The federal and state special education laws are grounded upon these six basic principles. We will talk about each one in more detail because they will give you a basic understanding of the Special Education process as it relates to your role as building principal.

22 Parent and Student Participation
Involvement in decision making Involvement in planning educational goals and services Consideration of the concerns of the parent and/or the student Principals know that parent involvement and participation in the life of the school fosters student success, as well as a positive ongoing relationship with the school. Likewise, the IEP process is built on parent and student participation. Therefore, if you chair the Teams in your building or even if you don’t, you’ll want to know more about fostering parental and student involvement. The parent/student is an integral part of the Team when it discusses eligibility, IEP and placement. The Team meeting needs to be at a mutually convenient time for the parents/students and the other team members. For parents difficult to reach, multiple attempts in various formats need to be made and documented. If the parent/student is not able to participate in the Team meeting, the district is required to use other methods e.g., phone conferencing to obtain their input. Procedural safeguards also have significant protections for parent and student participation most particularly regarding consent. There will be more on procedural safeguards in a later slide.

23 ‘free and appropriate public education’
FAPE ‘free and appropriate public education’ ‘Free and appropriate public education’ is known as FAPE. A student is entitled to receive FAPE. Students with disabilities may need services to receive FAPE. The services are written on the IEP. Case law interprets FAPE to mean that students receive programs reasonably calculated to provide educational benefit. Educational benefit does not mean minimal services. The student is expected to receive sufficient services and supports so that he/she can progress along with his/her nondisabled peers if the student is able to make such progress. The concept of FAPE is to provide the access to the same playing field.

24 Appropriate Evaluation
Assessment in all areas related to suspected disability (required on initial & 3 year evaluation) Individualized assessments Non-discriminatory assessments Evaluation in the native language or mode of communication A variety of tools and strategies, including information provided by the parent Participation in State and District-Wide Assessments Principals will want to know the components of an appropriate evaluation when responding to parent concerns or questions regarding their child’s evaluation. This information will also be valuable when consulting with staff regarding a particular child. The following is true for initial or 3 year re-evaluations: Evaluation of a student in all areas of suspected disability is one critical aspect of the needed evaluative information. The evaluation process should be sufficiently comprehensive and individually child driven. One aspect of an appropriate evaluation is the use of fair, responsive, and comprehensive assessments. No single procedure should be used as the sole criterion for finding a student eligible or ineligible for special education. Sound comprehensive evaluations use a variety of assessment techniques, formal and informal, such as observations, surveys, interviews as well as diagnostic and normed tests. For limited English proficient students, the district must assure that the students’ lack of proficiency in English is not confused with disability. This may require assessment in the native language of the student. This is an example of fairness. All students, including those with disabilities are required to participate in state (MCAS) and district wide testing according to federal and state law. The results of these assessments should be included with the information the Team will consider.

25 Individualized Education Program (IEP)
The law provides that the Team develops an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in written form. The IEP shall include specially designed instruction to meet the needs of the individual student and related services that are necessary to allow the student to benefit from the specially designed instruction, or may consist solely of related services that are necessary to allow the student to access the general curriculum, consistent with federal and state requirements. [603 CMR (4)(a)] The Principal will want to understand the basic elements of the IEP in order to ensure that all students are challenged to excel and progress within the general curriculum, and are prepared for independence in adult life, including post secondary education and/or employment. The IEP is a legal contract developed by a Team of people familiar with the student and the assessment information. It is a means of providing full access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities. Later in this presentation we will discuss additional highlights of the IEP.

26 Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) 603 CMR Section 28.06 (2)(c)
The school district shall ensure that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who do not have disabilities, and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with special needs from the general education program occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in general education classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. The Principal will want to know and understand the principle of Least Restrictive Environment in order to support the general educators in his/her building who have students with disabilities in their classes. LRE can be achieved through a well developed DCAP and professional development plan, which then helps educators to respond to the diverse needs of learners. IDEA –97 strengthened this principle even more by saying that no child should be removed from the general education classroom just because of needed modifications in the curriculum. First, consider what aids and services would help in the general education classroom. Allow for removal only if necessary for student progress. Ensure that students with disabilities associate with typical peers to the maximum extent appropriate.

27 Procedural Safeguards
Right to written notice Right to consent Right to dispute or disagree with school and district actions; and Right to due process including mediation, appeals or court actions Districts cannot request a hearing to dispute a parent’s refusal to consent to an initial evaluation or initial program placement. Yes, these components of the special education process are the responsibilities of the Special Education Administrator. However, the Principal will want to know about parental and district safeguards in order to more effectively coordinate with and support the Special Education Administrator. Procedural safeguards apply both to parents/students and to school districts. Parents have considerable rights to agree or disagree with proposals of the school district and also have the right to make proposals themselves. These procedural safeguards also apply to the district in that the district has the right to propose the plan they believe is appropriate. The district also has the right to due process when the parent refuses the plan. But the district’s rights do not extend to disputing parental refusal for initial evaluation or placement. Reference Parents’ Rights Brochure.

28 FYI Transition slide… Now that you have been introduced to the six main principles that the Federal and State Special Education Laws are based on, we will discuss additional components of Special Education that Principals will want to know about in order to support the general education and special education staff in the implementation of special education regulations.

29 When a student is referred for Special Education 603 CMR 28.03(3)(a)
…the principal shall ensure that documentation on the use of instructional support services for the student is provided as part of the evaluation information reviewed by the Team when determining eligibility. Let’s start from the beginning - when a student is referred for Special Education: All instructional support services must be documented in the student’s cumulative file. And if there is a Student Based Support Team/Teacher Assistance Team which has reviewed concerns regarding the student, then that too should be documented in the student’s file. This information will be one aspect of the information used when determining eligibility.

30 Determining Eligibility for Special Education
Does the student have one or more of the disabilities identified in regulation? Is the student making effective progress in school? Is the lack of progress a result of the student’s disability? Does the student require specially designed instruction and/or related services necessary to access the general curriculum? The Team must first determine whether a child is eligible for special education services. This determination starts with the careful and thorough evaluation of the child in all areas related to the suspected disability(ies). These are the questions that must be answered in order to determine whether a student is eligible or not, for special education services. See Flow Chart (ED1). Remember, if the student does not meet eligibility requirements for special education, it is still the school’s responsibility to meet his/her needs in the general education environment.

31 Disability Types Neurological Autism Emotional Developmental Delay
Intellectual Sensory Hearing Vision Deaf-Blind Neurological Emotional Communication Physical Specific Learning Health Again, in the interest of effective coordination and support of the Special Education Administrator’s role, the Principal will want to become familiar with the different disability types. The definitions of these disabilities are spelled out in education law [Federal and State, 28.02(7)]. Principals will begin to hear talk about these disabilities from teachers and parents. Best practice suggests that staff and all members of the Team, including parents and students, should be encouraged to become familiar with these disability types and their definitions prior to the Team meeting. The more parents, students, and staff understand about the disability types and the requirements for the Team to make the identification, the easier the meeting will progress.

32 the lack of effective educational progress.
It is not the disability alone. It is the disability as a causal factor to the lack of effective educational progress. REMINDER Remember Principals, we are talking about an educational disability.

33 Special Education is a Service, Not a Placement
Specially designed instruction which is a modification of: content methodology/ delivery of instruction performance criteria and/or a related service necessary to access the general curriculum When a student is found eligible for special education, his/her IEP will include the specially designed instruction and/or the related service(s) agreed to by the team. Specially designed instruction is designed by or with an appropriately credentialed special education teacher or a related service provider. Specially designed instruction is a modification not regularly provided for students in the general education program. Accommodations are adaptations to presentation or setting that can typically and easily occur in general education. If the student only requires accommodations, then that student is not eligible for special education.

34 Placement Team identifies the type of placement
Placement is based on the needs of the student as reflected in the IEP Placement is decided after the IEP is developed Placement is the third step in the IEP process. Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) plays a critical role in the placement decision.

35 Special Education Progress Reports
Progress reports are required at least as often as general education students receive academic progress reports. The following is important information if you oversee the report card process in your building. Each time all general education students, in the grade, receive a report on their progress (progress report and/or report card) then students with IEP’s must in addition receive the IEP progress report. We would recommend that schools’ combine the requirements for special and general education progress reports.

36 Age of Majority At age 18 students are adults under
Massachusetts law. All the rights that parents had are now the student’s rights. The school must obtain student consent to continue. Do not wait for the IEP annual review date. This will be of particular interest to high school Principals because of the possible ramifications of the decisions made by the adult student. The law requires that students and parents are alerted to the up- coming change in the decision making authority a year in advance of the student turning eighteen. When a student turns eighteen, the parent’s decision making rights transfer to the adult child unless the court has appointed a legal guardian. The student may choose to share decision-making with his or her parent or may choose to delegate continued decision-making to his or her parent or other willing adult [603 CMR 28.07(5)]. There may be cases where a student is so seriously disabled that he or she cannot make his/her intent clear and for whom the parents have not obtained guardianship. In these cases we suggest that the district consult with their legal staff regarding continuing or discontinuing special education services.

37 In Conclusion We have reviewed with you today various responsibilities of the Principal. Knowledge and understanding of these responsibilities will enhance your support of staff for the purpose of achieving improved outcomes for all students.

38 Thank you PRINCIPAL Take Questions Even more information is just a click away:

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