DOE Shellshock! Delaware Educators, DO NOT LOOK AT DOE WEBSITE For Special Education Guidance!!!!

Thank you to the baffled soul who sent this to me.  Usually when I look up special education law for Delaware, I just go straight to Title 14.  I never look at the DOE website.  Silly me for assuming it would be the same as Delaware law….

An Independent Educational Evaluation is used when a parent may not agree with the school’s evaluation for a potential IEP request.  The parent has the right to ask for an independent evaluation at public expense.  Let me repeat those words again… at public expense.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) clearly spells this out. The information from Sec. 300.502 came from the Federal IDEA website found here: http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/,root,regs,300,E,300%252E502,

Sec. 300.502 Independent educational evaluation.

(a) General.

(1) The parents of a child with a disability have the right under this part to obtain an independent educational evaluation of the child, subject to paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section.

(2) Each public agency must provide to parents, upon request for an independent educational evaluation, information about where an independent educational evaluation may be obtained, and the agency criteria applicable for independent educational evaluations as set forth in paragraph (e) of this section.

(3) For the purposes of this subpart–

(i) Independent educational evaluation means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question; and

(ii) Public expense means that the public agency either pays for the full cost of the evaluation or ensures that the evaluation is otherwise provided at no cost to the parent, consistent with Sec. 300.103.

(b) Parent right to evaluation at public expense.

(1) A parent has the right to an independent educational evaluation at public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the public agency, subject to the conditions in paragraphs (b)(2) through (4) of this section.

(2) If a parent requests an independent educational evaluation at public expense, the public agency must, without unnecessary delay, either–

(i) File a due process complaint to request a hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate; or

(ii) Ensure that an independent educational evaluation is provided at public expense, unless the agency demonstrates in a hearing pursuant to Sec. Sec. 300.507 through 300.513 that the evaluation obtained by the parent did not meet agency criteria.

(3) If the public agency files a due process complaint notice to request a hearing and the final decision is that the agency’s evaluation is appropriate, the parent still has the right to an independent educational evaluation, but not at public expense.

(4) If a parent requests an independent educational evaluation, the public agency may ask for the parent’s reason why he or she objects to the public evaluation. However, the public agency may not require the parent to provide an explanation and may not unreasonably delay either providing the independent educational evaluation at public expense or filing a due process complaint to request a due process hearing to defend the public evaluation.

(5) A parent is entitled to only one independent educational evaluation at public expense each time the public agency conducts an evaluation with which the parent disagrees.

(c) Parent-initiated evaluations. If the parent obtains an independent educational evaluation at public expense or shares with the public agency an evaluation obtained at private expense, the results of the evaluation–

(1) Must be considered by the public agency, if it meets agency criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision of FAPE to the child; and

(2) May be presented by any party as evidence at a hearing on a due process complaint under subpart E of this part regarding that child.

(d) Requests for evaluations by hearing officers. If a hearing officer requests an independent educational evaluation as part of a hearing on a due process complaint, the cost of the evaluation must be at public expense.

(e) Agency criteria.

(1) If an independent educational evaluation is at public expense, the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, including the location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria that the public agency uses when it initiates an evaluation, to the extent those criteria are consistent with the parent’s right to an independent educational evaluation.

(2) Except for the criteria described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section, a public agency may not impose conditions or timelines related to obtaining an independent educational evaluation at public expense.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1415(b)(1) and (d)(2)(A) )

So this spells out very clearly what the Federal law states.  What about Delaware law? I looked in Title 14, section 926 for students with disabilities, which can be found here: http://regulations.delaware.gov/AdminCode/title14/900/926.pdf

2.0 Independent Educational Evaluation

2.1 General: The parents of a child with a disability have the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation

of the child subject to 2.4 through 2.9.

2.2 Each public agency shall provide to parents, upon request for an independent educational evaluation,

information about where an independent educational evaluation may be obtained, and the agency criteria

applicable for independent educational evaluations as set forth in 2.9.

2.3 Definitions for the purposes of this subpart:

“Independent Educational Evaluation” means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not

employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question.

“Public Expense” means that the public agency either pays for the full cost of the evaluation or ensures that

the evaluation is otherwise provided at no cost to the parent, consistent with 14 DE Admin. Code 923.3.0.

2.4 Parent right to evaluation at public expense; A parent has the right to an independent educational evaluation at

public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the public agency, subject to the

conditions in 2.4.1 through 2.5.

2.4.1 If a parent requests an independent educational evaluation at public expense, the public agency shall,

without unnecessary delay, either:

2.4.1.1 File a due process complaint to request a hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate; or

2.4.1.2 Ensure that an independent educational evaluation is provided at public expense, unless the

agency demonstrates in a hearing pursuant to 14 DE Admin. Code 926.7.0 through 926.13.0 that

the evaluation obtained by the parent did not meet agency criteria.

2.4.2 If the public agency files a due process complaint notice to request a hearing and the final decision is that

the agency’s evaluation is appropriate, the parent still has the right to an independent educational

evaluation, but not at public expense.

2.5 If a parent requests an independent educational evaluation, the public agency may ask for the parent’s reason

why he or she objects to the public evaluation. However, the public agency may not require the parent to

provide an explanation and may not unreasonably delay either providing the independent educational

evaluation at public expense or filing a due process complaint to request a due process hearing to defend the

public evaluation.

2.6 A parent is entitled to only one (1) independent educational evaluation at public expense each time the public

agency conducts an evaluation with which the parent disagrees.

2.7 Parent initiated evaluations: If the parent obtains an independent educational evaluation at public expense or

shares with the public agency an evaluation obtained at private expense, the results of the evaluation shall be

considered by the public agency, if it meets agency criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision

of FAPE to the child; and may be presented by any party as evidence at a hearing on a due process complaint

under 14 DE Admin. Code 926 regarding that child.

2.8 Requests for evaluations by hearing officers. If a hearing panel or a single hearing officer appointed for

expedited appeals under 32.0 requests an independent educational evaluation as part of a hearing on a due

process complaint, the cost of the evaluation shall be at public expense.

2.9 Agency criteria: If an independent educational evaluation is at public expense, the criteria under which the

evaluation is obtained, including the location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the examiner, shall be

the same as the criteria that the public agency uses when it initiates an evaluation, to the extent those criteria

are consistent with the parent’s right to an independent educational evaluation.

2.10 Except for the criteria described in 2.9, a public agency may not impose conditions or timelines related to

obtaining an independent educational evaluation at public expense.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1415(b)(1) and (d)(2)(A); 14 Del.C. §3110)

So the Delaware state law on this is very similar to the federal IDEA law.  Not a heck of a lot of difference.  But look at this information found on the Delaware DOE website:

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE)

Parents and guardians have the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) for their student’s IEP team to review. An independent evaluation is appropriate if an IEE is likely to offer recommendations for a student that are different from his or her current IEP. Districts are not required to pay for an IEE and most-often this cost is paid for by the parent or guardian.

 
IEE requests must be made in writing to a district or charter school. Each district has their own process for honoring or denying this request. 

Did they really put this on their website?  Yes, they did.  http://www.doe.k12.de.us/Page/2337

I thought this was a joke when my friend sent it to me.  But no, this is real.  Now imagine a Delaware educator, without a lot of time in their day, looking to find quick information when a parent asked for an independent evaluation.  Instead of rifling through Title 14, which can be a chore in itself unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, they decide to check out the DOE website.  And they find this, and go by it.  They contact the student’s parent, or wait for an IEP meeting, and tell them “Hey, you can get an independent evaluation, but you have to pay for it.”  That school is now in violation of Federal IDEA law and Delaware law.  I will be going through their website (cause it doesn’t look like they do) and find out if there is more of this foolishness.  And in case they change the page tomorrow based on this find:

DOESnafu

I am beginning to understand why special education is considered to be horrible in Delaware.  If this is the guidance our Department of Education gives our schools and districts…  But yet if schools don’t adhere to their standards, they are labeled and shamed.  I have to wonder when this Department is ever going to learn.  Do they care?  I have to wonder.  As long as they continue to treat special education as something less than what it is and deny parents one of the cornerstones of state and federal law, these children will suffer.  And they do.

I urge all Delaware educators, in every single traditional school district, to NOT look at the DOE website at all for special education law.  Go to Google, and take the time to learn Title 14. Many new laws are now enacted stemming from the IEP Task Force.  As well, Google IDEA and know that like the back of your hand!

The Delaware Department of Education is the one giving training to school districts?  They want all our students to have “standards-based” IEPs when they have no clue about some of the fundamental parts of IDEA law?

Delaware Having IEP Blitz to make September 30th Numbers @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @delawareonline @TheStateNews @Cape Gazette @WBOC #netde #eduDE

September. The first month of fall, football comes back, and schools begin again around the country. But in Delaware, a crazy thing is occurring across the entire state. Public schools are cramming IEP meetings in so they can get their numbers in by what’s known as the “September 30th count”. By Delaware state law, all schools in the state that receive state and federal funding must have their enrollment numbers in by the 30th of September. This becomes especially crazy for special education in the state.

Due to transfers from other schools and annual reviews, as well as new requests, September has become very busy at our schools with IEP meetings. Some feel it is too much. Last night at the IEP Task Force, a speech and language pathologist advised the task force she has had 26 IEP meetings this month, and three more by this Friday. Some school districts are shortening IEP meetings and rescheduling them due to the overwhelming number of meetings. This has an impact on everyone involved: parents, teachers, special education teachers, service providers, school nurses, school psychologists, and the most important- the students with the disabilities.

One district in the state upwards of five or more IEP meetings in a day. With an average school time of 6 1/2 hours, and having approximately 1/2 an hour for lunch, this leaves IEP meetings at an hour and twenty minutes. While some meetings can take less time if there are no major changes, this is hardly the case in many situations. IEP meetings should never feel rushed. This is very intimidating to a parent.

This was a major sticking point at the IEP Task Force last night. Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn asked if this was a federal requirement, to which Mary Ann Mieczkowski advised this is a state thing.  She indicated the full IEP must be completed to determine needs-based funding which indicates how much funding each special education student receives based on the level of severity they are labeled with for services.

To go over six pages or more of a document that basically lets you know what kind of goals and accommodations your son has for a year can be very confusing for a parent.  To be told your IEP meeting is cut short is a smack in the face for any parent.  Furthermore, there are very specific laws in IDEA about teachers leaving an IEP meeting without parental consent and in writing.  So if this happens to you, and you were not given a time when the meeting will end, make them stay.  If they leave, they are in violation of Federal IDEA law.

Discussion is happening about both the September 30th count and the length of IEP meetings.  This report to Governor Markell from the IEP Task Force should be very interesting.

Back To School: A Great Transition Meeting #netde #eduDE

Yesterday, we had a sort of unofficial IEP meeting with my son’s new school.  Transitioning from elementary school to middle school, my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to meet the IEP team in an unofficial capacity.  My son attended as well, and it was an excellent way of not only introducing him to his primary teachers, but to also let the team know what to expect with his Tourette’s Syndrome and other diagnoses. 

Everyone was very willing to listen to our understanding of TS and suggestions.  Many questions were asked in regards to certain scenarios that may come up.  It was a great way to clear the air and start the school year off on a good note.  I highly recommend doing this for any special needs child who may be transitioning from one school to another within the same district.  I have to give high props to Capital School District in Dover, Delaware for their excellent special education team!

Five Days, A New Beginning, Old Nightmares, and Common Core Hell! #netde #eduDE #edchat

In five days Jacob starts school again.  At a new school.  In Delaware, students go to middle school in 5th grade.  Not sure why, but that’s they way it is.  Jacob is very nervous.  He already knows there will be some other students there that he had problems with in the past.  Even some student’s parents as well.  My wife and I explained to him yesterday that is all in the past, and the best way to forget about those times is to move forward.  I think it will take him a while.  With any new school for Jacob, there is the reeducation of teachers and students about his Tourette’s Syndrome.  His new school will be very proactive about it.

On Monday, the teachers and staff are being trained on Tourette’s and what to expect.  This was something my wife and I insisted on.  We wanted it as an actual goal in the IEP, but we were refused on the grounds that it doesn’t affect Jacob’s educational outcome.  I still disagree with that, but since the school agreed for all staff to be trained on it prior to school starting, each year, then I will take it as a win.  Students will be trained in the first week or two of school.  I know Jacob will be nervous and he will be ticking a bit.  I just pray that no cruel bullying or teasing results from it.

Children can be cruel.  We all know this.  They don’t always understand what is different.  Sometimes adults don’t either.  I can deal with children being cruel, to a point.  Once they know and have the knowledge to understand Jacob’s condition, and they continue to do it, to me that is bullying and discrimination.  It’s no worse than making fun of someone’s race or religion.  In Delaware, somewhere around 30% of bullying in schools is directed towards kids with disabilities.

When an adult does this, it is beyond intolerant in my eyes.  It is shameful, and those people need to look inside themselves to find out why they think it’s okay to do that.  There is no reason for any adult in this day and age, with what we know, to not understand that what is different about people is what makes us unique.

My wife and I have a transitional IEP meeting on Wednesday, the day before school.  This will give us a chance to let his teacher’s know about his disabilities and what to expect with Jacob.  I know one of his primary teachers was selected as a teacher of the year last year, so that gives me hope.

I am already dreading 5th grade Common Core homework.  My hate and loathing of the CCSS has only grown since Jacob was in 4th grade.  I know if I see one more math problem that takes three times longer to do than what I had to do, I may have to take a step outside and count to ten.  Then I will come inside, take a deep breath, and attempt to help him with his homework.  It is my fervent hope the Smarter Balanced Assessment will be a thing of the past by the time they have to take that monstrosity.  I really can’t think of any other word for it.  But no matter what happens, I have to be there for Jacob and help him with what he has to do, no matter how much I loathe it.  Cause that’s what Dads do!