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SPECIAL EDUCATION: Pro Bono Representation at IEP Meetings Equip for Equality.

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Presentation on theme: "SPECIAL EDUCATION: Pro Bono Representation at IEP Meetings Equip for Equality."— Presentation transcript:

1 SPECIAL EDUCATION: Pro Bono Representation at IEP Meetings Equip for Equality

2 Special Education: What You Need to Know 2 Why do parents need attorneys to represent them on special ed matters? Federal law is complicated Districts often violate the law and have attorneys to protect them

3 Special Education: What You Need to Know 3 Special Education: Who Needs It? Does a student have difficulty in school? Does a student need tools or services to understand materials or teachers in school? Does a student need help to get into the school or use school equipment? Does the school staff understand students’ needs?

4 Special Education: What You Need to Know 4 Special Education Laws Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 (IDEA) Section 504 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Act(FERPA) State Laws and Regulations

5 Special Education: What You Need to Know 5 Special Education Laws Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 (IDEA) 20 USC 1400 purpose 1401 definitions 1412 child find, LRE,FAPE 1414 evaluations, consent, eligibility, IEP, Placement 1415 Procedural Safeguards

6 Special Education: What You Need to Know 6 Purpose of Special Education Purpose 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

7 Special Education: What You Need to Know 7 How long does a student receive special education? A student receives special education until the day before his/her 22 nd birthday in Illinois.

8 Special Education: What You Need to Know 8 FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION FAPE SPECIAL EDUCATION DEFINED  Specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability,…

9 Special Education: What You Need to Know 9 Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) 20 USC 1412(a)(5) To the MAXIMUM extent appropriate children with disabilities… are educated with children who are not disabled. Removal nature and severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes – with the use of supplementary aids and services – CANNOT be achieved satisfactorily.

10 Special Education: What You Need to Know 10 Special Education Services 1. Request Written Request by Parent, State agency, or school may initiate request for initial case study evaluation – Sample letters available – Keep a copy with date and time it was delivered and to whom it was delivered

11 Special Education: What You Need to Know 11 Special Education Services 2. Consent Parent can include consent in request letter or School must provide parent consent form within 14 days of request

12 Special Education: What You Need to Know 12 Special Education Services 2. Consent for Case Study Evaluations Parental Consent not referral, starts the Case Study Evaluation (CSE) timeline, which must be done within 60 CALENDAR days (IDEA) – a different timeline may be set by the state. (IL Admin Code: 60 SCHOOL days from Consent)

13 Special Education: What You Need to Know 13 Special Education Services 1. Request 2. Consent 3. Case Study Evaluation (CSE) 4. Eligibility Meeting –MDC 5. Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting

14 Special Education: What You Need to Know 14 Special Education Services 3.Case Study Evaluation Variety of assessment tools must be used Testing must be done in the “language and form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally.”

15 Special Education: What You Need to Know 15 Special Education Services 1. Request 2. Consent 3. Case Study Evaluation (CSE) 4. Eligibility Meeting –MDC 5. Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting

16 Special Education: What You Need to Know 16 Special Education Services 4.Eligibility Meeting –Multidisciplinary Conference Team of qualified professionals and parents decide Whether child is a child with a disability (1401)(3) 1. Disability – mental retardation, hearing impairment, speech or language impairments, visual impairments, serious emotional disturbance (emotional disturbance), orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments (OHI), or specific learning disabilities (LD or SLD): AND 2. who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services

17 Special Education: What You Need to Know 17 Special Education Services 1. Request 2. Consent 3. Case Study Evaluation (CSE) 4. Eligibility Meeting –MDC 5. Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting

18 Special Education: What You Need to Know 18 What is an IEP? Legally binding Like a contract Every special ed student has one

19 Special Education: What You Need to Know 19 SPECIAL EDUCATION RULE IF IT’S NOT WRITTEN DOWN IT DIDN’T OR WON’T HAPPEN

20 Special Education: What You Need to Know 20 Special Education Services 5.Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting IEP meeting held at least annually IEP TEAM – Parents – Not less than ONE regular ed teacher (if child IS or may be participating in regular education) – Not less than ONE special ed teacher, or where appropriate…special education provider of such child – Representative of Local Education Agency (LEA)

21 Special Education: What You Need to Know 21 Special Education Services 5.Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting IEP TEAM Continued.. – An individual who can interpret the instructional implication of evaluation results – Other individuals who have “knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate: and – whenever appropriate, the child with a disability

22 Special Education: What You Need to Know 22 IEP Meeting Case manager will run the meeting Informal meeting Sit around conference table at school

23 Special Education: What You Need to Know 23 What’s in an IEP? Present Levels of Performance Goals & Objectives/Benchmarks Progress Reports Special Education Services Related Services Supplementary Aids and Services Special factors Transition Services (IL 14 ½ and up) – IDEA 16

24 Special Education: What You Need to Know 24 Present Levels of Performance (PLOP) A Statement of the child’s academic achievement and functional performance – Present Level of Performance “PLOP”

25 Special Education: What You Need to Know 25 IEP Goals A statement of measurable annual goals including academic and functional goals designed to – Meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and – Meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability – SMART goals – specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-sensitive

26 Special Education: What You Need to Know 26 Progress Reports The parents need to know about their child’s progress The IEP should specify how the parents will be notified of their child’s progress

27 Special Education: What You Need to Know 27 Special Education and Related Services IEP includes information about types of services a student receives Examples of related services – – OT – PT – Speech therapy – Social work

28 Special Education: What You Need to Know 28 Supplementary Aides and Services This may be some type of accommodation the student needs Can include staff training

29 Special Education: What You Need to Know 29 What’s in the rest of the IEP? See sample CPS IEP.

30 Special Education: What You Need to Know 30 Reevaluation - every 3 years Meet to discuss what information the school already has and what information is still needed reevaluation every 3 years UNLESS parent and school agree it is unnecessary

31 Special Education: What You Need to Know 31 What do I do if I am representing a student at an IEP meeting? You will receive an from within Winston & Strawn about pro bono opportunities. Respond to that , indicating your interest in taking the case.

32 Special Education: What You Need to Know 32 What do I do if I am representing a student at an IEP meeting? Inform EFE that you are interested in the case. We will give you the necessary information so you can perform a conflicts check. Obtain the necessary supervision within Winston & Strawn

33 Special Education: What You Need to Know 33 What do I do if I am representing a student at an IEP meeting? If you are able to take the case, inform EFE. Olga Pribyl will inform you which EFE attorney will be your backup on the case. Arrange a time to meet with the EFE attorney to get the file and ask any initial questions you may have.

34 Special Education: What You Need to Know 34 What do I do if I am representing a student at an IEP meeting? Review the file. Brainstorm about arguments in your favor, and arguments that are in the District’s favor. Call EFE with any questions you may have.

35 Special Education: What You Need to Know 35 Meet with the Parent and Child In the initial meeting, the parent and child will sign the retainer and you will discuss the family’s goals for the representation and what avenue you think you should try to achieve those goals (I.e. IEP meeting, due process request, etc.)

36 Special Education: What You Need to Know 36 IEP Meeting Once you and the parent have determined the goals of the representation and you have determined the arguments you are going to make to accomplish those goals, draft a letter to the District explaining your request for an IEP meeting and your arguments for what the student needs in order to make meaningful educational benefit

37 Special Education: What You Need to Know 37 IEP Meeting Send the letter to the District Superintendent and school principal (or if there is a lawyer on the case, then to the lawyer)

38 Special Education: What You Need to Know 38 IEP Meeting If CPS case, send letter to: Luis Rodriguez Director of Due Process & Mediation, CPS 125 S. Clark St, 8 th Floor Chicago, IL CPS fax: (773) Also suggest cc’ing the school principal on the letter

39 Special Education: What You Need to Know 39 IEP Meeting Backup person at EFE will be happy to read a draft of the letter before you send it. Be aware that Luis Rodriguez is not good at returning phone calls or s, once you send him the letter. You will have to follow up with him often to get him to return your messages. His phone number is (773) and his is

40 Special Education: What You Need to Know 40 How should you prepare for an IEP meeting? Have a detailed conversation with the parent and student prior to the meeting. Know strengths/weaknesses of your arguments as to why the student needs what the parent and student are asking for. Shadow an EFE attorney at an IEP meeting prior to your meeting, if you would like.

41 Special Education: What You Need to Know 41 What should you expect at the IEP meeting? You may have been provided with a copy of any evaluations done, and if so, you should review those ahead of time and speak with the parent about those. If you did not get those ahead of time, arrive at the meeting early, ask for the evaluations, and ask for a private room to review the evaluations and discuss them with the parent.

42 Special Education: What You Need to Know 42 What should you expect at the IEP meeting? If the attorney is willing to talk with you before the meeting (either the day of the meeting or prior to that day) about the District’s position on the case, try and find out what the District is willing to do with the case. If the District is going to agree with what you want, you will not have to do as much at the meeting.

43 Special Education: What You Need to Know 43 What should you expect at the IEP meeting? The IEP should be completed at the meeting. Occasionally, one part will not be completed and you will have to receive that part at a later date. I always ask for a draft copy of the IEP before leaving, even if the IEP is not completed. If the IEP is completed, do not leave the meeting without a copy for yourself and the parent! If you disagree with anything at the meeting, inform the IEP team that you will be writing a dissent on behalf of the parent and make sure that it is noted on the IEP that you will be writing a dissent (at CPS, this is noted on the lower right hand corner of page 1).

44 Special Education: What You Need to Know 44 What should you expect at the IEP meeting? There will always be an EFE backup person available for you to call during the meeting if necessary.

45 Special Education: What You Need to Know 45 What should you expect at the IEP meeting? After the meeting, you can take your time to write the dissent. I try to provide the dissent to the opposing counsel within a week’s time of the meeting. You can fax/ the EFE backup a copy of the IEP if you would like advice on writing a dissent.

46 Special Education: What You Need to Know 46 What should you expect at the IEP meeting? If the meeting was not successful, speak with the parent about what steps you think should be taken (if any)

47 Special Education: What You Need to Know 47 What If You Don’t Agree? CONFLICT RESOLUTION OPTIONS 1. DOCUMENTATION 2. INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION 3. REQUEST AN IEP MEETING 4. STATE COMPLAINT 5. MEDIATION 6. DUE PROCESS

48 Special Education: What You Need to Know 48 Questions????


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