Crucial Laws Parents Need To Know For IEP Meetings @DeStateBoardEd @usedgov #netde #eduDE

These are some crucial things for parents to understand for an IEP meeting. Listed below, taken from the actual statutes for IDEA are the purpose of IDEA, what related services are available under IDEA, and attendance requirements for an IEP meeting. The last part is very important for parents to understand. Once an IEP meeting begins, teachers cannot just leave the meeting on their own whim. Parents and the team must agree ahead of time on this matter. It’s not a suggestion, it’s the law.

“(d) Purposes.–The purposes of this title are– “

(1)(A) 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;

“(B) to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected; and

“(C) to assist States, localities, educational service agencies, and Federal agencies to provide for the education of all children with disabilities;

“(2) to assist States in the implementation of a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families;

“(3) to ensure that educators and parents have the necessary tools to improve educational results for children with disabilities by supporting system improvement activities; coordinated research and personnel preparation; coordinated technical assistance, dissemination, and support; and technology development and media services; and

“(4) to assess, and ensure the effectiveness of, efforts to educate children with disabilities.

“(26) Related services.– “(A) In general.–The term `related services’ means transportation, and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services (including speech-language pathology and audiology services, interpreting services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, social work services, school nurse services designed to enable a child with a disability to receive a free appropriate public education as described in the individualized education program of the child, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services, except that such medical services shall be for diagnostic and evaluation purposes only) as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes the early identification and assessment of disabling conditions in children.

(C) IEP TEAM ATTENDANCE –

(i) ATTENDANCE NOT NECESSARY – A member of the IEP Team shall not be required to attend an IEP meeting, in whole or in part, if the parent of a child with a disability and the local educational agency agree that the attendance of such member is not necessary because the member’s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting.

(ii) EXCUSAL – A member of the IEP Team may be excused from attending an IEP meeting, in whole or in part, when the meeting involves a modification to or discussion of the member’s area of the curriculum or related services, if–

(I) the parent and the local educational agency consent to the excusal; and
(II) the member submits, in writing to the parent and the IEP Team, input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting.

(iii) WRITTEN AGREEMENT AND CONSENT REQUIRED – A parent’s agreement underclause (i) and consent under clause (ii) shall be in writing.

And for citizens in Delaware, under Title 14, just to make sure our state has it covered. Yeah, they do!

900 Special Populations

925 Children with Disabilities Subpart D, Evaluations, Eligibility Determination, Individualized Education Programs

21.5 IEP Team attendance: A member of the IEP Team described in 21.1.2 through 21.1.5 of this section is not required to attend an IEP Team meeting, in whole or in part, if the parent of a child with a disability and the public agency agree, in writing, that the attendance of the member is not necessary because the member’s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting.

21.5.1 A member of the IEP Team described in 21.5 may be excused from attending an IEP Team meeting, in whole or in part, when the meeting involves a modification to or discussion of the member’s area of the curriculum or related services, if:

21.5.1.1 The parent, in writing, and the public agency consent to the excusal; and

21.5.1.2 The member submits, in writing to the parent and the IEP Team, input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting.

 

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SPED Parents Beware!: 10 SPED Mistakes to Watch Out For

I really like this site, especially this article. I would recommend the IEP Taskforce in Delaware checks this out whenever they begin their meetings to evaluate Special Education in Delaware.

spedsupport4parents

Deciding to place your child in special education is never an easy decision to make.  As parents we worry if we are making the right decision and if the school will do their best to service our child’s needs.  I like to think that all schools, every where, are doing their best to meet the need of all the children they serve.  However, I know this is not true, so, based on my experience as a parent and teacher, I have come up with a list of ten things to watch out for.  Any of these things could* signal to you that your child’s school is not complying with special education regulations.

10.  Not Informing You of Your Rights:  The school should give you a copy of your rights (called the Parental Safeguards) every year.

9.  Completing Paperwork Late:  A new IEP is written every 12…

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IDEA: What Disabilities, Disorders or Conditions Qualify for an IEP? Find out here, along with the key rule!

The following are listed as qualifying conditions, disabilities, or disorders for an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP.  The important thing to remember for any IEP is that the condition MUST affect a child’s educational outcome.  If they are brilliant and have no problems whatsoever with learning or adapting to a classroom environment affecting the ability to learn, chances are they may not qualify.  This is a very important thing for parents to remember.  Evaluations will be done to help determine disabilities, but parents should always find out ahead of time which ones are being done, and should also do some research to make sure they are the appropriate evaluations.

The federal criteria indicates a child must be impacted in the following areas to the point where they cannot perform at grade level when given instruction at that grade level. The term the federal government gives is “adversely affected”.  The following are the educational areas where a child must be adversely affected: Oral Expression, Listening Comprehension, Written Expression, Basic Reading Skills, Reading Fluency Skills, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Calculation, and Mathematics Problem Solving.  The key to determining all of these criteria is is a history of assessments showing what areas a child may have struggled in, as well as a guarantee of appropriate professional instruction by an educator.  Once again, educational outcome must be affected!

The following are disabilities that can qualify a child for an IEP as long as they are adversely affected educationally:

Autism: A developmental disability that overwhelmingly affects a child’s verbal and nonverbal communication, as well as the ability to socially interact appropriately or at the child’s age level.  Autism typically needs to be diagnosed before the age of 3.  If the primary diagnosis that affects the ability to have a good educational outcome is an emotional disturbance it is not considered autism.

Deafness: A child would need to be completely deaf or the hearing must be so bad that they cannot function at an educational level appropriate to their age, with or without technical assistance or amplification.

Deaf-Blindness: A child with both of these afflictions must be in a position where they cannot reasonably be educated in classrooms with students who are just deaf or just blind.

Developmental Delay: This would be a delay in one or more of these disadvantages- physical development, cognitive development, communication, social or emotional development, or behavior development.

Emotional Disturbance: The following must be present over a long period of time and to the extent that the educational outcome is affected.  These include an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual or sensory or health factors, not being able to create or maintain social relationships with peers and teachers, behavior that is not normal under usual circumstances, a continuing depression or feeling of unhappiness, and an ability to create symptoms or fears in regards to school and social life.  Schizophrenia would be covered under this.

Hearing Impairment: The child is not deaf, but their ability to hear impacts them to such a degree that an educational outcome is affected.

Intellectual Disability: Not being able to significantly function intellectually at an age appropriate level.  This has to co-exist with an inability to show signs of adaptive behavior.  Another key factor is this must be shown while a child is still in development.  This used to be called mental retardation, but a law in 2010 changed the terminology.

Orthopedic Impairment: These must be conditions that stem from disease such as tuberculosis or polio, an amputation, the permanent shortening of a muscle or joint (this would include those caused by burns or fractures), and cerebral palsy.

Other-Health Impaired: This is easily the most controversial category involved in identifying whether a child qualifies for an IEP because the following do not have their own category.  It is not a one-size fits all listing though where any condition must occur, but it MUST be looked at by anyone determining a qualification for an IEP.  Disabilities or Conditions listed in this category are: ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Asthma, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Heart conditions, Hemophilia, Lead Poisoning, Leukemia, Nephritis (A kidney inflammation disorder), Rheumatic Fever, Sickle Cell Anemia and Tourette’s Syndrome.  With any of these, there must be clear signs that educational outcome is affected.

Specific Learning Disability: This is another one that can be easily missed that includes dyslexia, perceptual disabilities, brain injury (including those that cause minimal brain dysfunction), and developmental aphasia (also known as word blindness).

Speech or Language Impairment: These would be listed as a communication disorder with the following types of conditions- stuttering, a voice or language impairment, or an impaired articulation.  Once again, educational outcome must be affected.

Traumatic Brain Injury: Put simply, this means any brain injury cause by an “outside physical force”.  It must cause total or part dysfunction, and affect abilities such as language, reasoning, memory, cognition, judgment, problem solving, or attention.  It could also cause problems with your motor, sensory, or perceptual abilities.  Other factors could include problems with physical functions, information processing, and social behavior.

Visual Impairment (including Blindness): This covers any impairment with a child’s vision whether it can be corrected or not that also affects a child’s educational outcome.

Multiple Disabilities: Having more than one disability, disorder or condition on this list, with the exception of deaf-blindness (as that is already a multiple disability), that would cause additional special education to cover the multiple disabilities.

It is very important for any parent to know that their child does not have to be failing to have their educational outcome in trouble.  Federal law states that any child with one or more disabilities must have a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that requires “special education or related services”.

In the world of special education, teachers, special education departments and administrators live by acronyms.  They will refer to FAPE, IEP, IDEA, and other terms all the time.  If you aren’t familiar with these terms, it can get very confusing for a parent.  So it is worth it to brush up on these prior to any IEP meeting.

For a lot of parents who have already been thrust into the special education world, most of this is familiar to us.  For new parents introduced to these terms, I hope this provided some insight and clarification for you.

What Smarter Balanced Assessment Means to Education in Delaware

The Smarter Balanced test will roll-out in the 2014-2015 academic year if passed by the Senate and Governor Markell.  While parents may think this will be a once a year test, they are very wrong.

According to Brian Touchette, the state director for assessment at the Delaware DOE, modified teaching curriculum is in the process of being introduced to help teachers with transition to Smarter Balanced testing.  This could change teaching as we know it.  One of the biggest hurdles to teaching has been the implementation of Common Core standards, and now how teachers educate will be challenged.  Any educator I have talked to has been against Common Core, but they can never admit it publicly for fear of losing their job.  The DOE, Governor Markell, and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy continuously state that educators are behind this, but fear outweighs common sense.

Mr. Touchette gave a presentation at the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens on 5/20/14.  Several questions were asked about the Smarter Balanced testing.  One parent asked how accommodations for students with an IEP could conflict with the testing, especially in the usage of a human reader.  Mr. Touchette responded that accommodations cannot change the construct of the test.  Since when does Federal law get trumped by state law?

Interim assessments, to be decided on by the local school district, will replace the fall DCAS and the 1st Spring DCAS.  These assessments will help to prepare students for the Smarter Balanced tests.  This was decided on before House Bill 334 was even voted on, months ago.

Other questions were asked about the “human scorer” which will be handled outside of Delaware to an outside vendor.  Educators will train the scorers, but the human scorers were not said to be educators.  And since a lot of the test is essay based, can we really trust non-educators to accurately score our children’s capability to learn?  I don’t.

The Smarter Balanced Consortium will determine what the grade level standards will be.  Mr. Touchette stated each state involved in the consortium will have a representative to decide on these standards.  Of course, a representative from the Delaware DOE will be our state’s rep.

The same parent from above asked what the DOE’s stance is on opting out of the test, to which he said they have no policy.  It is up to the school district to determine that, but for a district to get funding they must have a 95% participation rate for the test, so there is some “wiggle room”.  He also said for special education children that promotion or retention could be decided on by the IEP team or the school district if an opt-out occurs.  Again, a state rewriting federal law to serve a state’s interests.  He also said school districts are allowed to “use the test for whatever purpose they serve.”  I hope that purpose is to crumple up the test, and see how many students can make a basket into the trash can.  If 95% of the students make it, maybe the DOE can call that a success!

Another Delaware blogger put out some sample tests that were being fielded last Spring: http://kavips.wordpress.com/delawares-smart-balanced-assessments-by-grade-level/

Several people who tried them couldn’t correctly answer many of the questions.  Honor roll students didn’t do well on the field tests.  So how can we expect our special ed students to do on it?  These are kids that struggle everyday with their disabilities.  Some are medicated.  Some can’t even get through the day without special assistance.  And the state is going to measure their success based on one day of testing?  What if they have a bad day?  Parents of special needs children know their kids have very bad days sometimes.  This is a very big mistake for Delaware.  Out of the 22 states that decided on Smarter Balanced testing, only 10 are left.  But Markell and the DOE are treating it like the best thing to come around since sliced bread.  Of course they are, their future depends on it…financially.