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Parents, Students and Schools as Partners

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1 Parents, Students and Schools as Partners
Rights and Responsibilities in Special Education This workshop is being conducted by the school district in cooperation with the local Parent Advisory Council (PAC). State special education law requires that at least once per year each school district conducts a workshop on the rights of students and their parents or guardians under the special education law of Massachusetts and under the federal special education law. The Massachusetts Department of Education, in cooperation with a number of key parent and advocacy organizations, developed this presentation to meet this requirement. Optional: In our school district we also offer other training opportunities or other written information for parents and students regarding special education. (Describe such additional opportunities.)

2 Goal of Presentation The goal of this presentation is to provide information so that: parents will understand their rights regarding special education; and collaboration between family and school personnel will be enhanced; and parents and school personnel will participate in special education matters as knowledgeable partners. For the purposes of this presentation we assume that most of the members of the audience are parents and are interested in learning more about special education on behalf of your children or simply to become more familiar with this area of educational services.

3 Special Education Laws
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act -- also known as IDEA. Sometimes referred to as IDEA-97. Chapter Massachusetts’ special education law. In Mass. General Laws at Chapter 71B. In Regulations at 603 CMR (Code of Massachusetts Regulations) Section RE: IDEA This is the Federal law for special education and many of the protections of special education come from this law which is longer and more detailed than the Massachusetts special education law. The term IDEA “97” refers to the date that Congress re-authorized the law and made some changes. Approximately every five years Congress takes another look at this major law and considers if changes are necessary. The law has different “Parts” -- Part B, like Massachusetts’ state law, covers special education services provided by school districts for children ages 3 through 21 and Part C covers direct and preventative services for babies and young children to age 2 and their families. Part C requirements are managed by the Department of Public Health in Massachusetts. Optional (for school year and after if applicable): For those of you who follow activities at the national level, IDEA is scheduled for another review by Congress during this school year and you may hear about the various discussions in Congress and with organizations who provide comment to the Congress. You also, of course, can participate as an individual in this process if you are interested. RE: Chapter People commonly refer to both the law and the regulations by this name because the original law was Chapter 766 of the Acts of However, it is important that you recognize the other ways that people may refer to the Massachusetts special education law or regulations, since this reference is somewhat outdated.

4 Related Laws The Massachusetts Education Reform Act, also known as “Ed. Reform” Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, also known as “Section 504” Chapter 688 of the Acts of 1983 The Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the “ADA” The Education Reform Act includes language making it clear that Education Reform is intended to apply to ALL students, including students with disabilities. Section 504 is considered a civil rights law (as are the special education laws) and provides for both accommodations and services to people with disabilities. It applies not only to school age people, but also to adults in all areas of their life. It defines disability more broadly than special education does and may be a source of support for your child if your child has a disability, but is not found eligible for special education services. Chapter 688 is often referred to as the “Turning 22 Law” and the more current designation is in the Mass. General Laws at chapter 71B, section 12B. This Massachusetts requirement provides for planning for possible services that may be needed from Adult Human Service Agencies such as the Department of Mental Retardation, the Department of Mental Health, or the Mass. Rehabilitation Commission. Planning needs to occur at least two years before the student graduates or turns 22 years of age. This planning does not entitle the student to adult services, but provides the basis for the consideration of what services may be made available as well as providing information for the state legislature to determine funding levels necessary for adult human service agencies. The ADA ensures that people with disabilities are not subject to discrimination in their life activities. It is less likely to be applicable to your child’s education in school (because, in most cases, these other laws are more applicable to the school environment), but it is an important law that provides protections throughout life for people with disabilities. We mention it here simply to help you become acquainted with the various laws that may provide protections if your child has a disability.

5 One Source of Information
The Parent’s Rights Brochure Distribute copies of Parent’s Rights Brochures to participants Parent’s Rights Brochure - This brochure is provided regularly to parents (at least once every year) and provides detail on the rights of parents in the special education process. These rights are based on both state and federal special education law. Informational note: The brochure is on the DOE special education web page in 17 languages and can be downloaded by anyone with access to the internet and a printer. Also, the district or parent may request an individual printed copy from the DOE.

6 When is a student eligible for Special Education?
A student is eligible if all three of the following are true: The student has one or more disabilities. The student is not making effective progress in school as a result of the disability(ies). The student requires special education in order to make effective progress. A school has many instructional and supportive services to offer a student. Special education is one of those services, and it is a service provided only to eligible students. It is important to realize that special education is not just designed as a supportive service for any student who is struggling in school. Special education was designed for students who have disabilities that affect their ability to make progress in education and require special services. The term “special education” should always be assumed to include either the need for specially designed instruction or the need for a related service(s) that is necessary to access the general curriculum, or both.

7 Referring a student for an evaluation to determine eligibility
Parents, or other adults involved with the student can make a referral for an evaluation. A referral can be made at any time. A district may not refuse a referral in order to try other supportive services. A parent is always entitled to refer their child for an evaluation to determine if he or she is eligible for special education. Parents should make such referrals whenever they have a concern about their child’s school performance and think it may be associated with a disability or are concerned about their child’s development. The school district must respond to these referrals within 5 school working days. The school district must provide written notice to the parent of the referral and any information related to the referral as well as a list of proposed assessments to evaluate the student. The parent has the right to consent (or refuse) an evaluation. The school district cannot evaluate unless the parent consents in writing to the evaluation. Parents also have the right to consult with the school about the types of evaluations and the evaluators that will be used. This type of discussion may be important for the parent before the parent agrees to an evaluation and school districts are required to ensure that parents know about this right of consultation. The law, therefore, recognizes that parents know their children well and may have important concerns or ideas about how an evaluation should occur. This consultation is intended to assist both the school district and the parent in engaging in open and responsive communication from the beginning.

8 Types of Disabilities that may adversely affect educational progress
12 Different Types of Disabilities are defined in state and federal regulations 1. Autism 2. Developmental Delay 3. Intellectual Impairment 4. Sensory Impairment Hearing Loss or Deafness 5. Sensory Impairment - Vision Loss or Blindness 6. Sensory Impairment - Deafblindness 7. Neurological Impairment Emotional Impairment 9. Communication Impairment 10. Physical Impairment 11. Health Impairment 12. Specific Learning Disability The term “disabilities” in the context of “special education” should always be considered to include adverse educational impact. Having a specific disorder or a disability does not automatically mean that the student will be eligible for special education, if the student’s educational progress is not affected by the disability. The definitions of these disabilities are detailed in state and federal special education regulations. The federal regulations also define the term “multiple disabilities” -- we do not define it explicitly in our state regulations. Provide the hand-out on disability types with definitions to all participants in the workshop. You will note that some specific disorders or diagnoses are included in the definitions. These definitions can help you to understand what the disability term includes -- there is some flexibility among terms, but in most cases you will find the definitions provide added focus if you are trying to determine what type of disability you suspect your child may have. Note that “Developmental Delay” includes an age limitation. Note also the definition for “health impairment” -- it is typically under this definition that a student who has ADD/ADHD would be found eligible if the ADD/ADHD affects educational progress and requires special education.

9 Instructional Support Services
Special Education Special Education Bilingual Education Instructional Support Services General Education Vocational Education Title 1 Special Education - is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of an eligible student, and/or related services necessary to access and make progress in the general curriculum. Specially designed instruction varies, based on individual student needs: Specially designed instruction can mean changes in the information a student is taught, or changes in how the student is taught or demonstrates learning. Special education may consist only of related services (such as speech and language, occupational, or physical therapy) that are necessary for the student with a disability(ies) to make progress or to access the general curriculum. Special education is always designed to meet each individual student’s needs. A unique feature of special education is that it is not a “cookie cutter” approach -- not a “one size fits all” -- it is individually designed to meet an individual student’s needs by addressing the disability(ies) and assisting the student to both make progress and become more independent in demonstrating his or her learning. As you see from the illustration here, we again emphasize that special education is only one of the types of supportive services that may be available in the general education program. Special education is not a location. Special education services may be delivered in a variety of ways and in a variety of settings, ranging from supportive services in the general education classroom to services provided in separate environments or schools. Optional: Presenter may highlight types of supportive services available in the district. (e.g., Title 1, vocational education, instructional support services, bilingual education, counseling services, after-school services, tutorial services, etc.). NOTE: The term “general curriculum” will be defined in greater detail in a succeeding slide. 9

10 How quickly can I get services?
Consent to Evaluate School Working Days (SWD) to Evaluate. Team meeting to determine eligibility no later than 15 SWDs later If eligible, development of IEP and determination of placement at that Team meeting. Proposed IEP & Placement to parent. Services upon parental consent. If your child requires special education, then, from the time that you consent to the evaluation, the school district has 45 school working days (SWD) to (1) Complete the evaluation. (This is required to be done within the first 30 SWD of the 45 day period.). (2) Convene the Team meeting to consider eligibility. (You have the right to ask for and receive written assessment results two days in advance of the Team meeting. We recommend you do so, so that you are prepared and are able to determine if you have any questions regarding the assessment information.) (3) And, if the student is found eligible, at that same meeting the Team will also develop an IEP and, in most cases also at that meeting, the Team will determine the appropriate placement to provide the services on the IEP. Immediately following that Team meeting the District must provide you, the parent, with the proposed IEP and proposed placement and you then have the right to accept in part or in full the IEP and placement or refuse that IEP and placement. (4) The regulations require that you exercise these consent/refusal rights within 30 days of receiving the proposed IEP and proposed placement from the school district. If you consent, as soon as the district receives your written consent, services should begin promptly. That means: If your child does need special education and you provide your consent immediately, then services will begin as soon as you have provided your signature accepting the IEP and placement. If you have to discuss or consider other services or placements, or if you wish to think about the proposed IEP and placement before consenting to it, then it may take a little longer. 45 School Working Days

11 The federal and state Six Basic Principles
special education laws and the rights of parents and students in special education are grounded upon six basic principles.

12 The Six Principles 1. Parent and Student Participation
2. Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) 3. Appropriate Evaluation 4. Individualized Education Program (IEP) 5. Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) 6. Procedural Safeguards An understanding of these six principles will provide a strong understanding of the purposes of the law and parent and student rights in relation to the law. This presentation will provide more detail on each of these principles.

13 Principle #1 - Parent and Student Participation
Parents have the right to participate in all special education planning and decision-making activities. Students are the focus of special education and, as they grow older, students are expected to participate in planning for their own future as much as possible. It is the obligation of the school district to make strong efforts, in multiple ways, to ensure parental and student participation. Parent and student participation is the first of the six principles. Parents are encouraged to involve themselves in multiple ways and are full partners with the school in all planning and decision-making related to their child. Parental involvement continues in all aspects up to the time the student becomes an adult (see next slide). Participation is not just attendance at a meeting. Schools must make and document multiple efforts to ensure that parental participation and input is sought and to ensure that the needs and interests of the student are central to the process of considering appropriate services. If necessary for your participation, schools must provide information in your native language. When a student is 14 years of age, or younger if appropriate, he or she will be invited to participate as an active member of the Team. The opportunities provided for your participation are intended to promote a dialogue between you and school personnel on behalf of your child and to ensure that you, as the parent, have full knowledge of the information used to plan or propose services. Your rights do not stop with participation, they start there. Parents have ultimate decision-making authority on most aspects of their child’s school program. NOTE: Throughout this presentation we will primarily be using the word “student” to refer to your child. The Massachusetts special education regulations use the word “student” rather than child to emphasize the educational nature of special education.

14 Specific participation rights:
School districts must make multiple efforts to facilitate parental attendance at Team meetings. If parents cannot attend, schools must seek parent input through other means. Students at age 14, or younger if appropriate, are entitled to participate in all Team meetings. Students at age 18 are adults under Massachusetts’ law and assume all the rights formerly held by their parents for participation and decision-making. The final bullet on this slide, regarding age 18, is often referred to as reaching the “Age of Majority” --- schools should be talking with both you (the parent) and the student at least a year in advance of the 18th birthday in order to discuss this transfer of rights to the student. This discussion usually takes place at a Team meeting, but may take place at another mutually convenient time and place. Massachusetts regulations provide adult students with the option of delegating decision-making to their parent or sharing decision-making with their parent. No adult student, however, can be forced to delegate or share their rights unless a court has awarded guardianship to the parent (or another adult). Notes for the next slide: On the next slide we have an additional opportunity for participation that is not specifically related to your own child but rather provides for parental participation related to special education policy and practice within the district as a whole.

15 District Parent Advisory Council
PAC duties include but are not limited to: Advising the district on matters pertaining to the education and safety of students with disabilities. Meeting regularly with school officials to participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school district’s special education programs. Conducting, with the district, the annual workshop on the rights of students and parents under special education law. (This workshop) The PAC is entitled to receive assistance from the district without charge, upon reasonable notice, and subject to the availability of staff and resources. As mentioned, the PAC is an opportunity for you to be aware of and participate in discussions regarding the district’s special education programs. Every district is required to develop a parent advisory council for special education. Participation on the PAC is voluntary and available to all parents. If you choose to be a member of the PAC, you will have the opportunity to influence the types of activities in which the PAC engages. Each PAC may establish its own by-laws regarding officers and procedures. OPTIONAL: The presenter may provide examples of the types of activities in which the district PAC has engaged in the past or which are planned for the current school year. REFERENCE: The PAC is required by state statute. Detail on the PAC requirements are provided in the state special education regulations at 603 CMR 28.07(4).

16 Areas of Education Where Parent and Student Participation is Guaranteed
Referral Evaluation Eligibility Determination IEP Development MCAS Participation Placement Decisions Disciplinary Actions These are all areas of the special education process or areas of education where special education includes the right for parents and students to be involved in the planning and decision-making. Parents and students have participation rights throughout the special education process as well as the general education process. Usually parental or student participation will occur in the context of being a member of a Team of people who are discussing the needs of your child and/or planning services. This “Team” is required under federal law and the parent must always be invited to participate as a member of the Team. Parents also have the right to ask other individuals to participate in Team meetings either to assist the parent or to provide information about the student that the parent believes is important for the Team to consider. Sometimes, participation will occur through the exercise of parent consent rights to the evaluation or to the IEP, or in other ways. For the moment, however, let us simply be very clear that parents and students have the right to be fully included as participants in the special education process.

17 Principle #2 - FAPE Free and Appropriate Public Education.
Free = At no cost to the parent. Appropriate = Services sufficient to enable the student to appropriately progress in education and advance toward achieving the IEP goals. Public = Provided by the public school district or under the direction of the public school district. Education = Preschool, elementary and secondary education, including extra-curricular and non-academic school activities. The law ensures that students with disabilities have the right to go to school and to experience all of the benefits that school has to offer to students without disabilities. In other words, school is for every student. FAPE in special education ensures that when an eligible student receives special education, his or her special education program must be developed in such a way that it is reasonable to expect the student to receive measurable educational benefit. It would not be acceptable, for instance, for a school district to accept or propose a program for a student that results in little or no progress from year to year. Please also note that “education” includes both academic and non-academic activities and specifically includes extra-curricular activities. This is referred to as “life of the school” and speaks to the right of students to be full participants in the life of the school. For presentations occurring prior to January 1, 2002: One key element of FAPE in Massachusetts is the term commonly called “maximum feasible benefit” or “maximum possible development” -- this language is in our state statute and is a part of FAPE in Massachusetts until January 1, 2002.

18 Principle #2 - FAPE (continued) What is the General Curriculum?
The same curriculum as students without disabilities receive. Including all Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks - in particular, English Language Arts, Math, Science & Technology, and History and Social Science One particular aspect of FAPE is ensuring that students with disabilities have access to the same academic curriculum and standards as students without disabilities. This is referred to as the “general curriculum.” This means that receiving special education services doesn’t require the development of a special or different academic curriculum, but rather provision of the types of services and supports that make it possible for the student to be successful with the same curriculum that is provided to students without disabilities. The curriculum frameworks in Massachusetts provide a general format and specific grade level standards in each academic subject area. This is the general curriculum in Massachusetts and the student’s right to access that curriculum protects his or her right to also demonstrate learning just like any other student in Massachusetts’ schools.

19 Principle #3 - Appropriate Evaluation
Initial evaluation 3 year re-evaluation Individualized assessments Non-discriminatory assessments Includes a variety of tools and strategies, including information provided by the parent Appropriate Evaluation is the third principle. Before a student can be found eligible for special education, an individualized appropriate evaluation is required, including evaluation of the student in all areas related to the suspected disability(ies) and the student’s educational status. The Team uses the evaluation information to determine if the student has an educational disability --- that is, a disability that negatively affects the students ability to make progress in education and requires special education. Every three years, the student must be individually reevaluated to determine if he or she remains eligible for special education. Evaluation must be tailored to the individual student. No single assessment should be used as the sole basis for finding a student eligible or ineligible for special education. Sound comprehensive evaluations use a variety of assessment techniques, formal and informal, and may include observations (including parents’ observations), surveys, interviews, as well as diagnostic and standardized tests. Moving to next slide: Let’s discuss some specific rights related to evaluation.

20 Some specific evaluation rights:
Right to discuss both the proposed evaluations and evaluators prior to the evaluation. Right to an evaluation in the student’s native language or mode of communication. If appropriate, right to an evaluation of need for Braille instruction. Right of parents to consent or refuse evaluation. Right to independent educational evaluation when parents disagree with the results of the evaluation done by the school district. Right to appeal a finding of “No Eligibility.” As mentioned in an earlier slide, parents have the right to discuss with the school district in advance of the evaluation what types of assessments should be done and which evaluators will be used. The intent of this requirement is to promote parental involvement and confidence in the evaluation done by the school district. The 2nd and 3rd points on this slide highlight some ways in which an evaluation must be individualized. For limited English proficient students, the district must assure that the student’s lack of proficiency in English is not confused with disability. This may require assessment in the native language of the student. If the student has a vision loss, the district must ensure that the Team has sufficient evaluation information to determine if the student requires and would benefit from instruction in Braille. As previously mentioned, parents are always asked if they consent to an evaluation of their child when the evaluation is specifically related to special education eligibility or continuing services. The district cannot evaluate your child to determine eligibility for special education if you do not agree to the evaluation. Further, if the Team determines that your child is not eligible and you believe that determination was incorrect, you have the right to appeal that determination. The next slide provides information on your right to an independent educational evaluation.

21 Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
Anytime you are dissatisfied with the district’s evaluation. Parents’ option to participate in a sliding fee scale to share the cost of the IEE with the district. School district is obligated to consider information from IEE. If the district does an evaluation and you are dissatisfied with it and, perhaps, disagree with some of the findings, you are entitled to also seek an independent educational evaluation (IEE). If you choose to participate in the sliding fee scale option, the school district will pay for IEEs for low and middle-income families on a sliding fee scale. If you do not choose to participate in the sliding fee scale, the school district may still be obligated to pay for the IEE if they cannot demonstrate that their evaluation was complete and comprehensive. The right to an independent educational evaluation is also fully described in the Parent’s Rights Brochure that you received in this workshop and will receive periodically if your child is receiving special education services. Anytime that a parent has an IEE done (whether it is paid for by the school district, or the parent, or a combination of the two), if the IEE is shared with the school district, the district must reconvene the Team within 10 school working days to consider if the IEE information prompts the Team to amend the student’s IEP or proposed IEP. Anytime that the parents obtain and pay for an IEE with their own private funds, the contents and information of the IEE is the sole property of the parents and it is their choice whether to share the information with the district or not.

22 Principle #4 - Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Written information on the parent’s concerns and the student’s skills. A written explanation of how the disability affects the student’s ability to learn and to demonstrate his or her learning. An identification of specific, measurable goals which can be reached in a year’s time. A listing of the services to be provided to the student. The fourth principle is the Individualized Education Program (IEP). A student who is found eligible for special education has the right to receive, in written format, information on how the disability affects the student’s learning and the special education services that the student will receive from the school district in order to meet his/her unique educational needs arising from the disability. The IEP is a legal document. It must be: written in generally understandable language and provided to the parent in the parent’s native language. developed by a Team of people familiar with the student and supported by the assessment information (the Team always includes the parent). Handout: District should make available blank copies of the IEP form for any participant who has not seen or used the IEP form. Specific questions related to the IEP or contents of the IEP should be deferred until the end of the presentation depending on available time.

23 Purpose of the IEP The IEP’s purpose is to outline:
What will be done to assist the student to make effective progress in the general curriculum and in the life of the school. How the student will participate in state and local assessment. State assessment in Massachusetts means the MCAS. The goals the student is expected to reach by the end of the IEP period. One accountability measure for parents will be the student’s participation and performance in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (or MCAS). The IEP includes information on how the student will participate in state and local assessment. By state and federal law all students, including students with disabilities, are required to participate in state and district-wide tests with or without accommodations or in an alternate format. So, the Team will not be deciding IF your child will participate in MCAS, but rather HOW your child will participate. That decision will be documented on the IEP. The other accountability measure that tells how a parent will know if their child is making progress relates to the development of measurable annual goals. These goals identify the areas that the parent and the Team, together, have determined will be the focus of the student’s special education program. Parents have the right to receive progress reports on their child’s progress towards the IEP goals. Progress reports are provided at least as often as the school issues report cards or other progress measures that students without disabilities receive and if your child is participating in the general education program to any extent, then you should be receiving both report cards and progress reports. Provide information on the frequency with which your local district provides progress information or report cards to all students --- progress reports on IEP goals will be provided with the same frequency.

24 Rights Associated with the IEP
Before the school can begin IEP services, the school must obtain the parent’s consent. The parent has the right to accept or reject the proposed IEP in part or in full. The completed IEP is signed by both the school district and the parent and serves as a contract between the school and the parent. The parents can withdraw their consent at any time in relation to any service or program. If you believe that the IEP does not fully represent the determination of the Team or is not sufficient, in your view, to ensure that your child receives a beneficial education experience, then you have the right to discuss your concerns with the school district or to consent to only some of the IEP, but not all. If you accept some of the IEP, the services that you accept will be implemented immediately. If you do not accept the IEP, the school district will be obligated to continue to provide the services on the last IEP that you did accept. This right to continued services is called “Stay put.” The right to have your child continue to receive accepted services when you are involved in a dispute with the school district ensures that your child does not simply wait around for resolution. At the same time, the law does seek to prompt quick resolution of issues so that services and needs of the student will be updated and responsive to the changing needs of the student.

25 Principle #5 - Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
LRE means that to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities have the right to be educated in the general education environment & in the classroom they would have attended if they did not have disabilities. LRE means the student cannot be removed from the general education classroom solely because of needed curriculum modifications. LRE means that removal 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 satisfactorily achieved. The fifth principle is Least Restrictive Environment, which is also known as LRE. LRE is designed to ensure that students with disabilities are educated with students who do not have disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate and consistent with the needs of the individual student. Students have the right to be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Teams, however, will determine the placement where a student will receive IEP services and a student need not fail in one environment before being moved to another environment. The next slide will provide some information on educational placements that may be identified by the Team.

26 Some Types of Educational Placements
In the public school building: the general education classroom, a resource room, or a substantially separate classroom Outside of the public school building: a separate day school or a separate residential school For young children (aged 3-5): a home-based or center-based early childhood program The Team (which includes the parent as a full, active member), after developing the IEP, must decide what environment is the least restrictive environment able to deliver the services on the IEP. The placements on this slide are the most common placements identified by the Team. Sometimes the Team will identify a combination of the above or something different from the above that provides a particular student with a placement responsive to his or her unique needs. For instance, sometimes for older students the placement is a combination of work environments and school environments. All of these are possibilities that the Team may consider. Generally speaking, the more time a student spends with students who do not have disabilities, the less restrictive the placement is considered. Again, however, the student cannot be placed by the school district in an educational placement unless the parent consents to the placement. Handout: Provide participants with a copy of the Team Educational Placement Form (PL 1).

27 Or in an institutional setting run by a state agency.
Students have the right to receive special education services even when they are unable to attend school. Sometimes students are unable to attend public schools for non-educational reasons. Students may be: In a hospital, At home Or in an institutional setting run by a state agency. It is not always possible for the Team to make the decision on where a child will be educated, sometimes illness or involvement with other state agencies will play a role. Even when students are not in “educational” placements, if the student is eligible for special education, the school district will provide the services on the student’s IEP in a manner that allows the student to continue to make progress in education when absences are temporary. This will occur most often for medical reasons. Or, in some circumstances, when the student will not be in school for long periods of time either for medical reasons or other reasons unassociated with education, the Team may develop an IEP identifying the types and amounts of special education services that will be provided to the student in the non-school environment.

28 Principle #6 - Procedural Safeguards
Right to written notice Right to consent/refuse Right to “stay put” Problem Resolution System Mediation and Due Process Timelines Confidential records Right to receive evaluations 2 days in advance of Team meeting, if requested The sixth and final principle is procedural safeguards. Procedural safeguards are a part of each of the five proceeding principles. Procedural safeguards protect the rights of parents and students with disabilities and we have identified some key safeguards throughout this presentation. One major safeguard is written notice (first on the list). The right to receive written notice occurs throughout the process of special education and requires the school district to provide written notice to parents at many major junctures. For example, the district must provide written detail anytime it either proposes to do something (like conduct an evaluation, or begin IEP services, or move a student from one placement to another) or anytime it refuses to do something (like saying “no” to a parental request for additional services). The written notice should help to inform the parent why the district is or is not taking a certain action and if other possibilities were considered and so on. This particular safeguard is yet another way that parental participation and knowledge is woven throughout the law. Detail on each of the procedural safeguards of the law is contained in the Parent’s Rights Brochure that you received at this workshop and the Brochure provides greater detail than was possible in this presentation.

29 How the law can help with disputes
If you believe your rights or the rights of your child are not being appropriately provided you can: Discuss resolution with your school district. File a complaint with the Department of Education Problem Resolution System. Seek resolution through the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA). Seek knowledgeable assistance elsewhere. Many local school districts have local procedures to resolve problems, either formal or informal. Using such procedures may assist in building a positive two-way communication with the school that will help in responding to your child’s needs from year to year. The state Department of Education also will respond to written complaints from parents. The Department is obligated to investigate any written complaints and to make a finding in written form no later than 60 days after you submit your written statement. You can provide as much information as you believe is relevant. If the district is not in compliance with the law, the Department will require a corrective action plan and will follow-up to ensure that corrective actions are taken. Contact information is provided in the Parent’s Rights Brochure. The Bureau of Special Education Appeals (the BSEA) provides mediation (with impartial mediators) and regular due process hearings (with impartial hearing officers) that are available for parents to use in any dispute with the school district about the evaluation, services, or placement provided or proposed for their child. Contact information for the BSEA is provided also in the Parent’s Rights Brochure. Other resources may be helpful, including agencies, advocates, friends, lawyers and so on. The next slide provides additional resource information.

30 Resources Teachers and other staff at the local school district
Members of your Parent Advisory Council The state Department of Education The Federation for Children with Special Needs ( ) Disability rights organizations and other disability-related agencies and organizations The people who know you and your child and work at the school district are always good sources of information Optional: provide information on local district contact person(s). The state Department of Education can also answer questions you may have about the law or your rights even when you do not have a complaint. The Federation for Children with Special Needs is the federally funded Parent Information Center for special education in Massachusetts. The Federation has locations across the Commonwealth and provides training, referrals, and publications on various subjects to parents, family members and other individuals interested in services for children with disabilities. Major trainings available through the Federation are also provided in five major languages. The Federation also always maintains an extensive listing of additional resources that may provide information or assistance to parents, including contact information for disability rights organizations and other disability-related agencies and organizations.

31 Thank you for your attention.
We understand that you may still have questions about special education or about some particular safeguard or detail in relation to your own child. This presentation has provided a broad but important overview of major rights that parents and students have in the special education process. Special education is an extremely complex and highly regulated area of education law. It takes practice and time to fully understand the complexity of the law, your rights, and how to exercise them. However, knowledge of your rights is valuable information that will benefit your child’s education and assist you in being the most effective partner with the school district in planning for appropriate services for your child. We want to thank you for your attention during this presentation. Optional: Use any additional time for questions and answers Discuss local information and local resources Provide information on local PAC and PAC contact person(s)

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