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BASIC PRINCIPLES TO ENSURE YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION RIGHTS AND SERVICES What to expect at an IEP/504 meeting Robert C. Thurston, Esq. MDA Greater Lehigh.

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Presentation on theme: "BASIC PRINCIPLES TO ENSURE YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION RIGHTS AND SERVICES What to expect at an IEP/504 meeting Robert C. Thurston, Esq. MDA Greater Lehigh."— Presentation transcript:

1 BASIC PRINCIPLES TO ENSURE YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION RIGHTS AND SERVICES What to expect at an IEP/504 meeting Robert C. Thurston, Esq. MDA Greater Lehigh Valley Muscle Summit Saturday, November 9, 2013


3 BREATHE!!!!!

4 Take the Emotions Out Passion is good; uncontrolled emotions are bad – can harm your child’s cause  Focusing on technical details may lose bigger picture, e.g. # days notice vs. making sure child gets FAPE  FAPE is the goal! Emotions may impede the goal IEP / 504 meetings are intended to be collaborative between parents and school district Example: Political arguments on Facebook

5 This is About Legal Rights!! This is FEDERAL law  20 USC §1401... (on left)  34 CFR Part 300... (on left) State laws only fill in gaps  22 Pa. Code §14.101... Very easy and understandable to be emotional about your child’s disability and educational needs, but in the end reason will win the day!

6 Evaluations

7 Evaluations 101 20 USC §1414(a)(1) 34 CFR §§301, 302, 304, 305, 306 Evaluations are the KEY “Child Find” Initial Evaluations  State or Parent can initiate / request  Eval must be done within 60 days after consent  Determine if child has disability and the educational needs of that child  Generally requires parental consent, but exceptions allowing evaluation to proceed Evals are groundwork for IEPs/504 plans

8 Re- Evaluations 20 USC §1414(a)(2) 34 CFR §§303, 304, 305, 306 Child may be re-evaluated if needs warrant or upon request by parents or teachers At least once every three (3) years, but not more than once (1) per year (unless agreed) Notice to parents / Consent Use proper assessment tools in ALL areas of concern Review of existing data Report available to parents

9 IEEs 20 U.S.C. §1415(b) 34 CFR §502 IEE = Independent Educational Evaluation Parents have absolute right to obtain their own IEE of child If parent disagrees with school’s evaluation, school must either pay for IEE or file for Due Process  What is Due Process? IEE Report must be considered by IEP Team, but not mandatory to adopt entire IEE recommendations

10 Goals, Tools, Measurements Purpose of evaluations is to determine:  Extent of disability  Educational needs of child as a result of that disability Evaluation reports should discuss:  Short term and long term goals for the child  Suggested tools to reach those goals  Measurements to track progress towards those goals for future evaluation / assessment

11 IEP / 504 Meetings

12 Preparation Overcomes Fear

13 What is an IEP? 20 USC §1414(d)(1)(A) 34 CFR §300.320 Elements of an IEP:  Statement of present levels  Statement of annual measurable goals  Statement of how measurements will be made  Statement of special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services based on “peer reviewed research” will be provided to child  Explanation of extent child will not be in Gen Ed classes  Statement on accommodations for or alternatives to state testing

14 What is an IEP? Cont’d. 20 USC §1414(d)(1)(A) 34 CFR §300.320 Elements of an IEP Cont’d.:  Statement on when services will begin (the IEP will be implemented)  When child is 16+, a description of “transition services” to prepare child for independent, adult living or, if not, what services disabled adult will need PA IEP Form

15 The IEP Team 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(1)(B) 34 CFR §300.321, 322 At least 5 people, maybe more:  Parents of a child with a disability  Not less than 1 regular education teacher of such child  Not less than 1 special education teacher / provider of such child  Representative of the Local Educational Agency with appropriate qualifications  Individual who can interpret the educational evaluation(s) results  Other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child  When appropriate, the child

16 The IEP Team – Parent Participation 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(1)(B)(i) 34 CFR §300.322 Doug C. v. Hawaii, 9 th Circuit, 2013 Parent participation!  State agency (DOE, County, or School District) has responsibility to ensure that one or both parents are present at IEP team meeting  Proper notice given for meeting  Use other methods of participation if necessary (conf. calls, Skype, etc.)  If parents refuse, meeting can proceed but with restrictions and proper recording  Parents must be given copy of IEP  Recent case: failure to include parents in IEP meetings violates the law

17 What is an IEP Meeting? 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(2) 34 CFR §300.321(e) and (f), 322, 323, 324 No single rule that specifically discusses “IEP meetings”; series of rules  Start of each school year, the State or Local Educational Agency (School District) must have an IEP in place for every child with a disability  Initial IEP meeting within 30 days after determination of eligibility  Development of the IEP / Transfer within State or from out of State  IEP Team attendance / excuses At least once a year (“annual review”), but more if necessary Revisions / Discipline

18 Using an Advocate at IEP Meeting 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(1)(B)(vi) 34 CFR §300.321(a)(6) Law: “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” Advocates, typically parents who have dealt with the system for their own child, who have an expertise in special education and/or your child’s disability and needs Fairly large cottage industry ranging from free to low fee services

19 Advocate or Attorney? I Pros vs. Cons of using an Advocate Pros:  Less expensive or free  May have expertise on special education and/or specific disabilities of your child and/or services available  Objective participant / takes parents’ emotions out of equation Cons:  No certification process for training  Usually don’t understand legal process  No malpractice insurance

20 Advocate or Attorney? II Pros vs. Cons of using an Attorney Pros:  More experienced and knowledgeable on legal needs and current laws (e.g. 504, ADA)  Authority / Parents “mean business”  Fees are reimburseable to parents if prevail at Due Process Cons:  May not be as knowledgeable about education and/or specific disability  May cause adversity at IEP level  Greater initial out of pocket expense

21 504 Meeting What is a “domain”?  Non-technical term to discuss the type of disability of child; / physical or mental impairment that limits “major life activities” 504 is a Civil Rights law the prohibits discrimination against person with disability in a recognized domain  Accommodations must be provided to a child in a domain to ensure that education is not blocked  Applies also to extra-curricular activities 504 Meeting similar to IEP meeting to determine what accommodations need to be put in place to prevent discrimination

22 What to Expect at the IEP / 504 Mtg. Notice / Start of Meeting  Introductions / Sign in sheet / Who’s Who  Copy of Procedural Safeguards if not already provided to you and acknowledgement  Draft IEP distributed (maybe) Evaluation / testing / data results Honest discussions about your child’s disability and challenges in education and/or social  Sometimes very difficult for a parent to hear

23 What to Expect at the Mtg. – Cont’d. Proposals / recommendations on special education curriculum and/or services Draft of IEP / Implementation Date Parents approval or not – You do NOT have to sign that day  Can take home to read, review and analyze  Sign later OR request changes Disagreement may result in Due Process and “Stay Put”

24 How to Prepare for the Meeting Know and bring:  Your child’s medical, developmental, and educational history / milestones and timing are critical  How does your child learn best – Visual? Auditory? Repetition? Other?  Observations of your child at home and play Be a GOOD LISTENER and take copious notes (or have an Advocate do this for you) Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!! Don’t take “NO” for an answer; if you feel strongly about something

25 Special Considerations

26 Assistive Technologies, etc. What are “assistive technologies”?  Also called “AT”, they are devices or technologies that can help people learn in ways different than traditional education methods  Examples: iPads and tablet computers, whiteboards, applications, etc. Evaluations should recommend these if appropriate Make sure AT is written into the IEP / 504 plan SPECIFICALLY  Don’t take “NO” for an answer  Make sure it describes exactly what is needed; may wish to consult with expert on this


28 Links for this Seminar Download this Seminar and other useful information at: in PDF format or Powerpoint or HTML Lots of other helpful documents there to download including: IEP Form for PA Special Ed Timelines Others

29 Special Education Links PATTAN ODR National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) MDA Educational Resources resources/educational-resources resources/educational-resources Assistive Technologies Info disabilities/assistive-technology- education disabilities/assistive-technology- education

30 About the Speaker Robert C. Thurston, Esq. Thurston Law Offices LLC 405 Commons Way Doylestown, PA 18901 267-209-0783 26+ years as an attorney; focuses practice on special education law and children’s rights in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; father of 14 year old boy with Autism and 11 year old neuro-typical boy THANK YOU!

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