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© 2012 Know Your Rights and the Law So You Can Be the Best Advocate for Your Special Needs Child Presented By: Sheryl Frishman, Esq.
© Why is the relationship between the Parent & the School District so adversarial?
© “The Special Education Battlefield” “The War to Get Services for Children: the Parents and the School Districts are the Soldiers” “Us Against Them”
© What are the Barriers to a Cooperative Relationship? Parents AND district not understanding their legal obligations Limited resources “Turf Wars” Coming to the table with preconceived or a predetermined program or services
© Understand that there is a mutual goal: the appropriate education of the child Shared responsibility in the education of the child Good Communication! BOTH parents and the school district need to understand their legal rights and obligations under the law HOW DO YOU BUILD A MORE COOPERATIVE RELATIONSHIP?
© You may have a relationship with your school district for up to 21 years…. You do not want to start in an adversarial fashion or it will be a more difficult road.
© SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW 101
© IDEA - Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Federal special education law (cited as 20 U.S.C §§ and 34 C.F.R Part 300) The purpose of IDEA is “to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.” IDEA
© Ed. L. & NYCRR - Article 89 of the NY State Education Law & Part 200 of the commissioner of education’s regulations New York’s special education laws. These laws fully take into account the Federal Law and also offer more State specific rules and regulations. PART 200
© Two tier test: (a) a child with an intellectual disability, hearing impairments, speech or language impairments, visual impairments, serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments (includes ADD), or specific learning disabilities (includes dyslexia) (b) who, by reason of the disability, needs special education and related services (emphasis added) CHILD WITH A DISABILITY
© Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 A civil rights law that: (a) protects individuals from discrimination; and (b) entitles children with disabilities that limit a major life activity, such as learning, to a free appropriate public education designed to meet their individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of children without disabilities are met. 504 provides fewer protections than IDEA. There is no requirement that a §504 Plan be written. SECTION 504
© No Child Left Behind – reauthorized a number of federal programs aiming to improve the performance of U.S. primary & secondary schools Schools must implement NCLB standards in order to receive certain federal funding Main Components: Teacher Quality Student Testing Scientifically Based Research Public School Choice NCLB
© 2012 DASA and Bullying Research shows that students with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to harassment and bullying. Bullying can cause educational decline, anxiety, physical ailments and missed classes. A new tool and mandate exists to prevent and address student bullying and harassment. The Dignity for All Students Act prohibits harassment and bullying based on disability and other characteristics. To implement the law, each school must appoint a Dignity Act Coordinator. If your child is the victim of bullying, do not delay in reporting this. 13
© FAPE Free Appropriate Public Education Special education and related services that are (a) provided in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) (b) designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability (c) meet state standards (d) are provided at public expense
© Least Restrictive Environment To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities should be educated with children who are not disabled Placement in special classes or removal from the regular education setting occurs only when the disability is so severe that satisfactory education cannot be achieved in regular classes with the use of supplementary supports Special education setting must be as close as possible to the students local school. LRE
© 2012 Early Intervention: Children age 0-3 Run through Department of Health Focus on development and family To be eligible child must have a 33% delay in one area or 25% delay in two or more areas of development (cognitive, adaptive, communication, physical, social emotional) Individual Family Service Plan For Early Intervention Only Based on child development needs and family needs, not school needs EI 16 EI IFSP
© 2012 Committee on Preschool Special Education The CPSE determines whether a child is eligible for services from ages 3-5 Focus changes from whole child/family centered to child’s ability to succeed in school. Classified as a “preschooler with a disability” Services based on school calendar not necessarily eligible for summer services Parents are dealing directly with the school district CPSE 17
© 2012 Committee on Special Education Ages 5-21 Who is on the CSE/CPSE committee? CSE 18 Comprised of the parents of the child, a regular education teacher of the child, a special education teacher of the child, a representative of the school district (CSE Chair), the child (when appropriate), the school psychologist (New York law) and a parent member. All members of the CSE must participate in meetings. However, the parents of the child can decline participation of the parent member.
© 2012 What? When? Who? Do You Understand? Ask Questions! Right to Independent Evaluations EVALUATIONS! 19
© 2012 Individualized Education Program A written statement for a child with a disability that describes special education programming and related services designed to meet the unique needs of the child. The IEP must include: a statement of the child ’ s present levels of academic achievement and functional progress measurable annual goals that are designed to enable the child to make progress in the general education curriculum a description of how the child ’ s progress will be measured measurable post-secondary school goals IEP 20
© 2012 Foundation or blue print for the student’s program Too to measure success of the program and services Tool for monitoring accountability Clarifies resources to be committed Provides consistency Communication tool for teachers & parents to understand the unique needs of the child Allows for mutual decision-making by parents and team members Purpose of An IEP 21
© 2012 Make it specific Needs to be understood by anyone who reads it Make it a useful tool Needs to be objective Make it comprehensive, yet concise Needs to reflect the student’s strengths as well as areas of disability Guidelines for Writing an IEP 22
© 2012 Present Level of Performance Statement of student’s present levels of performance in four areas: Academic, Social, Physical Development, and Management How disability affects involvement in the general curriculum or, for preschool, how it affects participation in age appropriate activities PLOP 23
© 2012 There should be at least one annual goal for each need identified For students who qualify for the alternate assessment, short-term objectives or benchmarks to comprise each annual goal must also be developed Goals must be meaningful and should be different yearly GOALS 24
© 2012 Can include: Special classes Resource rooms Direct or indirect consultant teacher services Travel training Home instruction Special teachers including itinerant teachers SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM 25
© 2012 Developmental, corrective and other supportive services required to assist a student with a disability. This is in addition to the special education program. Can be done individually or in a group. Examples of related services: speech & language pathology, audiology services, psychological services, physical therapy, counseling services, parent counseling and training, school health services, etc. Related Services 26
© 2012 Supplementary aids and services and/or program modifications or supports are aids, services and other supports that are provided in general education classes or other education-related settings to enable students with disabilities to be educated with non-disabled peers in the LRE. Program Modifications 27
© 2012 Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a student with a disability Should include training Can student take it home? Assistive Technology 28
© 2012 Transition What are transition services? Transition services refers to a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that focuses on “improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from post-school activities. Post-secondary school activities include: post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing/adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation. IEP must include transition goals that are based on the student's needs, taking into account the student’s strengths, interests and preferences and should be person-centered.
© 2012 Transition (cont) Transition services include: “instruction, related services, community experiences, development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation” Transition process begins with the IEP year that the student turns fifteen but parents should be familiar with the transition process prior to that Student should be included, where appropriate Consider including local agencies in transition planning; local agencies can also provide services and training Consider opportunities in the community
© 2012 SUMMER SERVICES? 31 Regression? Maintenance Only!
© 2012 NOW WHERE SHALL THESE SERVICES BE PROVIDED? 32
© 2012 DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE MEETING TO DEVELOP THE IEP & GOALS! Review all evaluations and progress reports with team members Develop goals collaboratively Preparing for the CSE Meeting 33
© 2012 Create a vision statement (long-range) for your child Keep in mind educational outcomes necessary for the vision to become a reality Create a list of your child’s strengths, interests and needs – use evaluations and progress reports for this Come up with your own suggestions for the IEP – maybe a parent report If possible, get draft goals to review prior to the meeting Fill out the sample IEP form found on the VESID website Prepare yourself mentally, organize your thoughts, and create an agenda. WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE MEETING 34
© 2012 The Parent What Are Your Roles During the Meeting ? If you do not feel comfortable with any of the above roles, then you may want to bring someone to the meeting with you! 35 ▪ The Parent ▪ The Listener ▪ The Questioner ▪ The Active Team Member ▪ The Creative Thinker ▪ The Advocate
© 2012 After the Meeting Thank everyone for their time and effort Ask to see a draft of the IEP before it is finalized Write a letter confirming what occurred during the meeting 36
© 2012 A Checklist Are there clear statements about what my child can do right now in various areas? Do these statements of what my child can do agree with my own observations? Is what my child is supposed to accomplish by the end of the year clearly stated? Do I think these skills are important for my child to work on? Are the expectations reasonable? Do You Understand Your Child’s IEP? 37
© 2012 Do I understand how learning is going to be measured and how well my child must perform each task? Have my ideas about what is important been considered in the development of the program? Do I know the specific educational services that will be provided? Do I know how much time my child will participate in the regular education program? Checklist Continued… 38
© 2012 Checklist Continued… Do I know when the program will begin and how long it will last? Are there things that I can do as a parent to help my child succeed in the program? How often will progress be reported to me? Are there opportunities throughout the year for the team (including the parent) to meet? 39
© 2012 WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T AGREE? 40 NO YES
© 2012 THE IMPARTIAL HEARING 41 The Hearing State Review Appeal to Court
© 2012 Pendency / “Stay Put” During a due process hearing and appeals, the child must remain (“stay put”) in the current educational placement as per the last agreed upon IEP There are some exceptions to this STAY PUT 42
© 2012 Mediation New York State Education Department Complaint Is There Any Other Way Rather Than the Hearing? 43
© 2012 Private Insurance OPWDD Medicaid Waiver Outside of the School District, Is There Anywhere Else I Can Get Services for My Child? 44
© 2012 Office of Special Education of the New York State Dept of Education The best resource out there! OSE 45
© 2012 QUESTIONS? 46
© 2012 Sheryl R. Frishman, Esq. (914) Special Education Advocacy from Birth through Age 22 Advocacy for School Accommodations & Modifications Transition Planning & Advocacy School Discipline Matters Estate Planning, Supplemental Needs Trusts and Guardianships 399 Knollwood Rd ▪ White Plains, NY ▪ P ▪ F
© 2012 This Handout/Presentation may not be reproduced without the express prior permission of Sheryl R. Frishman, Esq. Nothing in this handout should be construed as legal advice. Please consult with your own attorney before relying on the information contained herein Disclaimer 48
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1 IDEA 2004: Issues, Implications and Strategies in the Development of Transition Plans and Understanding State Performance Plan Indicators 13 & 14 Only.
Free and Appropriate Public Education FAPE. The major purpose of IDEA is to make a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) available to every child.
Implementing RTI Using Title I, Title III, and CEIS Funds Key Issues for Decision-makers U.S. Department of Education 1.
Processes and Practices for Postsecondary Transition Planning A Focus on Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment Amy Szymanski, M.Ed. Consultant February/March.
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