A month ago, I posted an article about an In-School Alternative Program the Capital School District Board of Education would be voting on at upcoming board meeting. When I read the contract and heard the board audio recording, I had several questions about the program. I do understand the Christina School District runs the same program but I had some concerns for it in Capital’s middle schools and high school.
Guest Post by Lauren O’Connell Mahler with McAndrews Law About Delaware IEPsDelaware IEPs
Lauren O’Connell Mahler is a special education attorney in the Wilmington offices of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. McAndrews has two offices in Delaware, the one in Wilmington and one in Georgetown which opened last year. The original article appears on the website of McAndrews Law Offices. This article was republished with the permission of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. This is a must-read for Delaware parents, especially now when IEPs are in the creation process or getting an annual revisit. Special education law is very tricky and many parents are unprepared for what is allowable by law and what is not. Parents are the #1 advocate for their children with disabilities and they should always prepare ahead of time for any IEP meeting. Know your child’s rights with special education!
Learning to read your child’s Delaware Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be an intimidating task. IEPs are filled with legal language and educational jargon that can be overwhelming. Without a basic understanding of your child’s IEP, you may be feeling reluctant to offer input at your child’s IEP meeting.
As a parent, you are an equal member of your child’s IEP team. Thus, it is essential that you understand your child’s IEP so that you can help the IEP team develop the IEP, monitor your child’s educational progress, and advocate for his/her needs. The following is a list of the basic components that make up your child’s IEP in Delaware. Items are addressed in the order in which they typically appear in Delaware IEPs:
- “Disability Classification” – Your child must meet one of the 13 eligible disability classifications in order to qualify to receive special education services. The categories are Autism; Developmental Delay; Deaf Blind; Emotional Disturbance (ED); Hearing Impairment; Learning Disability (LD); Intellectual Disability; Orthopedic Impairment; Other Health Impairment (OHI); Speech and/or Language Impairment; Traumatic Brain Injury; Visual Impairment; and Preschool Speech Delay. The classification does not dictate the services that your child can receive. His/her services should be based on your child’s unique, individual needs.
- “Data Considerations” – Here, the IEP team should list all current data about your child that they reviewed in developing the IEP. This includes, but is not limited to, current school district evaluations, independent evaluations obtained by the parent, State and local test results (such as DCAS scores), classroom test results, progress reports, and the parent’s educational concerns. The data should serve as the basis for the services and supports that the team puts into the IEP.
- “Other Factors to Consider” – These list special factors that the IEP team might need to be aware of with your child. The boxes should be checked if your child has difficulty with communication, is blind or visually impaired, is deaf or hearing impaired, is limited in his/her English Language proficiency, needs Assistive Technology, or has a print disability that prevents them from using materials presented on a physical page.
- “Transition Services” – This page is included in beginning at least by age 14 or 8th grade. It should include a statement of your child’s measurable, individualized goals for life after high school, including where they plan to live, work, and whether they intend to pursue any higher level education or training. It should be based on data (such as Parent and Student Transition Surveys). It also lists the classes your child is taking, which should be tailored to help them achieve his/her post-high school goals, as well as any activities they will complete to help them reach his/her goals, and any outside agency who will help your child prepare for the transition to adult life (such as Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, DART Bus Service, and POW&R).
“Unique Educational Needs and Characteristics” – The middle pages of your child’s Delaware IEP should list each of your child’s unique educational needs. The need will be identified in box at the top, left-hand corner of the page. The rest of the page will detail the services and accommodations being provided to address that need as follows:
- The top, right-hand box includes a statement of any supplementary aids, modifications, services, or accommodations that will be put in place to address your child’s unique educational need. These should be based on the supports that were recommended in your child’s evaluations.
- “Services, Aids & Modifications” – This is a statement of the duration, frequency, and location of any special instruction that your child is receiving to address the unique need (for example: Small Group Reading Instruction – 3 times per week for 30 minutes in a Push-In location). Push-In means within the general education classroom. Pull-Out means in a separate classroom.
- “PLEP” – The Present Level of Educational Performance is a specific statement of what your child is currently able to do in that unique area of need. It should be based on current data and should be measurable. The PLEP is the starting point for setting an annual goal and measuring your child’s progress.
- “Benchmark” – These are the interim steps your child will take over the course of the year to reach his/her annual goal. They are typically measured each marking period. Monitoring whether your child is meeting his/her benchmarks will help you determine if they are making sufficient progress toward his/her annual goal. If your child is failing to meet his/her benchmarks, his/her IEP may need to be revised to provide more support.
- “Annual Goal” – This is a statement of what the IEP team feels the child can achieve within 1 year’s time. The goal should be specific and measurable and should clarify how it will be measured. The amount of progress should be realistic and attainable, but not trivial. The language in the annual goal should be aligned with the language of the PLEP and benchmarks.
- “Related Services” – Related services provide extra help and support to your child in needed areas. They can include, but are not limited to, any of the following: Speech/Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Counseling Services, Parent Training and Counseling, Social Skills instruction, Audiology, Therapeutic Recreation, Social Work Services, School Health Services, Medical Services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes, Orientation and Mobility Services, and Psychological Services. The IEP must specify the frequency and duration of these services.
- “Consideration of Eligibility for Extended School Year Services (ESY)” – The team must document whether your child is eligible for extended school year services. ESY is different from summer school or credit recovery. It is based on the needs and goals in your child’s IEP. There is no single factor that determines whether a child is eligible for ESY. Instead, the IEP team must consider a variety of factors, including whether the child has made meaningful progress towards his/her IEP goals or has a tendency to regress in critical skill areas during the summer. Note: Under Delaware law, children classified under certain disabilities automatically receive 12-month educational programs.
- “Least Restrictive Environment” – The IEP must specify what placement your child is in. The placement (or LRE) is the extent to which your child will not participate in general education classes and extracurricular activities. The IEP lists a continuum of placements ranging from Setting A (for children who spend at least 80% of the day in the regular classroom) to Settings E, F, and G (for children who are in separate Residential Facilities, Homebound or Hospital placements, or Correctional Facilities).
- Additional components attached to Delaware IEPs – If your child has a Behavior Intervention Plan or Positive Behavior Support Plan, this should be attached to your child’s IEP and is part of the document. Additionally, if your child needs accommodations on the State-wide Smarter Balanced, DCAS, or SAT assessments, the checklist of Smarter Balanced, DCAS, or SAT accommodations should be attached to the IEP.*
This article was designed to provide you with a basic framework for understanding your child’s Delaware IEP. The information within this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
Editor’s note: The * in the last bullet point was edited by myself to reflect the Smarter Balanced and SAT assessments as well as DCAS.
Delaware’s Special Education Plan To Prevent IEPs & Improve Smarter Balanced ScoresSpecial Education
Ever since Delaware received the label of “needs intervention” with special education in June of 2014 from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the United States Department of Education, the Delaware Department of Education made every effort to do everything but tackle the number one problem of special education: making sure IEPs are implemented with fidelity.
Their solution to the problem: make sure children can read by 3rd grade so they can score proficient on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Every state in America has a checklist of items, dictated by the US DOE, that they are monitored on by OSEP. One of them, Indicator 17, is a plan each state must come up with to improve special education outcomes. The Exceptional Children Resources Group, the special education area at the Delaware DOE, chose the Delaware Early Literacy Initiative as their project for Indicator 17.
To say this is a confusing mess would be an understatement of epic proportions. I find it even more troubling they would pick Kindergarten to 3rd Grade as their test subjects when they know children in those grades don’t receive basic special education funding. The students who are considered intense or complex do, but the bulk of the students with disabilities in those grades fall under “Basic Special Education”. As a result, some schools in Delaware are hesitant to grant IEPs for these students since they know the cost will fall on the district or charter school without any extra money from the state.
The Delaware DOE relies on Response to Intervention as a way of determining if a child needs special education services or not. It is a faulty system, mandated by the feds, that can take years before a child is fully identified for special education. As a result, these children become lost in a system while their neurological disabilities manifest. An IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is designed for that particular student. The IEP team, consisting of the school Special Education director, a Principal or Vice-Principal, the primary teachers, the school nurse, the school psychologist, and the parent or parents of the child.
Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves, of the website Make Special Education Work, recently wrote an article about why RTI isn’t working. In the article, they wrote:
Even though RTI instruction may be high quality and research-based, can it meet your child’s unique needs? Meeting these needs through an individualized education program is your child’s right under IDEA.
While the Delaware DOE’s Early Literacy Initiative is certainly a long read, it is chock full of errors and omissions that fail to adequately address the unique and individual attention a child with disabilities truly needs.
Delaware Senate Bill 33 To Implement Findings of IEP Task ForceDelaware Special Education
Senator Nicole Poore submitted legislation yesterday to turn the recommendations of the IEP Task Force into law. House Bill 33 is now in the hands of the Senate Education Committee. I think the most important change will be from paragraph 3131, section d.
148th General Assembly
Senate Bill # 33
|Primary Sponsor:||Poore||Additional Sponsor(s): & Sen. Lawson & Rep. Heffernan & Rep. Miro & Rep. Hudson|
|CoSponsors:||Sens. Blevins, Hall-Long, Hocker, Lavelle, Sokola, Townsend; Reps. Baumbach, Bennett, Hensley, Jaques, Q. Johnson, Kenton, Mulrooney, Paradee, Ramone, M. Smith, Viola, K. Williams, Wilson|
|Introduced on :||01/29/2015|
|Long Title:||AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION AND THE INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM.|
|Synopsis of Orginal Bill:
|Current Status:||Senate Education Committee On 01/29/2015|
|Full text of Legislation:
(in HTML format)
|Legis.html||Email this Bill to a friend|
|Full text of Legislation:
(in MS Word format)
|Legis.Docx (Microsoft Word is required to view this document.)|
|Fiscal Notes/Fee Impact:||Not Required|
|Jan 29, 2015 – Assigned to Education Committee in Senate|
Priority Schools: FOIAs, Injunctions, Meetings, Petitions, Legislators **UPDATED**Delaware Priority Schools Takeover
The priority school crisis in Delaware has reached a fever pitch this week. Today, the Christina School District “Negotiation” team is making a last ditch effort to try to negotiate with the despotic Delaware Department of Education. Most believe it is for naught, as the DOE and Governor Markell have already made up their mind and are gearing up to present this to the public.
There are still a few things that could stop or stall this authoritarian initiative. Unreleased FOIAs could give insight to any irregularities or outright illegal actions on the part of the DOE. The DOE could accept CSD’s new MOU (about the same time as North Korea becomes a free and open country). Someone or a group could file an injunction which would buy some time for other alternatives. A petition will be hand delivered to Mark Murphy’s office today with well over 600 signatures by Delaware Parents & Teachers For Public Education, maybe this will have some weight. The 148th General Assembly will step in and put a stop to it.
This is what I think will happen: Meeting goes south today, Markell makes an announcement either on his weekly public address tomorrow or Monday, an injunction is filed, much awaited FOIAs get released Monday that will be so heavily redacted nothing will make sense, and this starts getting sold to the public the week after next if the injunction doesn’t prevent that. And for those who think Red Clay is in the clear, think again.
Here’s the thing though: This violates Federal law. There are many students with IEPs. ANY change in placement is an IEP Team decision. So unless every single student’s IEP Team had the opportunity to be given every single choice and decided on it, any priority school MOU is illegal. We are dealing with least restrictive environment, FAPE, and educational placement here. Any change, whether it is extending the school day, or Extended School Year summer classes, or a change from public school district to charter is something the IEP Team decides, not the Delaware DOE or Governor Markell.
So if Markell and the DOE want to go ahead with their plans, go right ahead. But you will be facing the above. And I will personally spearhead this special education initiative. You always forget about the special needs students, don’t you?
UPDATED, 1/9/15: As of 1:00pm, the negotiations are still going on. I will keep you updated if I hear anything!
Governor Markell, what are you doing the morning of January 7th?Delaware Priority Schools Takeover
Something is up the morning of January 7th. I keep hearing this date. Christina School District is having a board meeting on January 6th. Certain FOIA requests have been postponed (one since October) until January 7th. If I were a betting man, I would say Governor Jack Markell is going to make a big announcement the morning of January 7th concerning priority schools.
The DOE has gone ahead and set up a new potential leader hailing from the great state of New Jersey to oversee the priority schools. And SHE comes from a big charter school chain. The writing is on the wall people. It has been since September 4th. But if your mind is already made up Jack, did you think of this simple fact: Did you consult with special needs parents and IEP teams? Uh-oh…did you know if you change kid’s academic placement it has to be approved by the IEP team? Will they still be in the least restrictive environment? You might want to check out what’s going on in York, PA before you make any hasty decisions Jack. In the meantime, please tell your office to get rolling on the FOIA requests.
Office For Civil Rights Gives Stern Warning To Schools About Bullying Against Students With Disabilities @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @TNJ_malbright @DeDeptofEd #netde #eduDEBullying Against Students With Disabilities
The Office For Civil Rights division of the United States Department of Education wrote a colleague letter today about the rapid increase of bullying against students with disabilities. The department has seen a huge rise in bullying reports since 2009 according to a report by Disability Scoop. Even though they have written letters about this issue to US schools in the past, this new one gives more detail about what constitutes bullying against students with disabilities.
One part even suggests that even if a report rules that bullying did “not create a hostile environment” the school is still obligated to determine if a free and public education (FAPE) was violated under Section 504 and IDEA guidelines.
“When a student who receives IDEA FAPE services of Section 504 FAPE services has experienced bullying resulting in a disability-based harassment violation, however, there is a strong likelihood that the student was denied FAPE. This is because when bullying is sufficiently serious to create a hostile environment and the school fails to respond appropriately, there is a strong likelihood both that the effects of the bullying included an impact on the student’s receipt of FAPE and that the school’s failure to remedy the effects of the bullying included it’s failure to address those FAPE-related concerns.
This ruling by the OCR also indicates a significant shift in how IEP or 504 teams must handle bullying issues.
“If the school suspects the student’s needs have changed, the IEP team or the Section 504 team must determine the extent to which additional or different services are provided, ensure that any needed changes are made promptly, and safeguard against putting the onus on the student with the disability to avoid or handle the bullying.”
This means that a response to bullying on a school’s part cannot be isolating a student away from situations or peers where bullying can occur. The letter reminds schools they need to be vigilant in regards to preventing any type of bullying, whether it is disability discrimination or not.
It gives three examples of the following classifications: 1) Disability-Based Harassment Violation and FAPE Violation, 2) FAPE Violation, No Disability-Based Violation, and 3) No Disability-Based Violation, No FAPE Violation.
To read the full letter, please go to http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-bullying-201410.pdf
The US DOE has also issued a fact sheet for parents: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/dcl-factsheet-bullying-201410.pdf
Crucial Laws Parents Need To Know For IEP Meetings @DeStateBoardEd @usedgov #netde #eduDEIDEA and IEPs
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:
126.96.36.199 The parent, in writing, and the public agency consent to the excusal; and
188.8.131.52 The member submits, in writing to the parent and the IEP Team, input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting.
My Public Comment at the IEP Task Force Meeting and What I Gave The Task Force #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_deIEP Task Force
During public comment at the IEP Task Force meeting, I read the below statement. It was emotional, I admit, but it had to be. I didn’t want it to be, but it was. Some things were ad libbed while I was reading, and I will update this when I hear the digital recording when it is released. I tried to update it as best I could. Below that you will find out what I gave to each member of the IEP Task Force.
My name is Kevin Ohlandt. Some of you may know me as Jon’s Loving Father, or Jacob’s loving father, or that annoying guy who speaks at public meetings about special education. Who I am isn’t important. Who we are here for today is. In the state of Delaware, over 13% of our students have IEPs and are classified as special education. As we all know, there are an extreme number of problems with this process. We can sit here and blame the schools and districts, and we would be right. But that is a disservice to these children because the accountability from the state is horrible.
The Delaware DOE is the watchdog for special education in our state. Every year, there are certain compliance measures the federal government dictates to the DOE that they must follow. These measures are NOT enough. The DOE does not even look at IEPs that are denied. This is a crucial part of the process, and is a huge reason for the many, many lawsuits in this state. I met with Mary Ann Mieczkowski a couple months ago about this. Her response was the complaint procedure the state has is fair. It is not. Not enough parents want to utilize this long procedure, and when they do, half of the cases are not ruled in the student’s favor. We need more from our state, and if the DOE cannot do it, then the legislators need to step in and demand accountability from our DOE. They need to pass legislation demanding denied IEPs are also conveyed from the districts to the DOE. The DOE needs to audit these denials, and hold the schools accountable. They also need to do more than review 159 IEPs a year, and look for more than what the feds dictate. During the June Board of Education meeting, the Exceptional Children Group said about special education “We don’t know how to move forward.” They need to stop trying to move forward and embrace what is already there.
As Common Core and standardized testing has rolled out, special needs students have suffered. The teachers are so stressed out about “getting it right” and the consequences for that have never been higher for teachers. Classroom sizes are getting bigger, and there is not enough support. Delaware wants special needs children to be proficient or better on testing. How about Delaware becomes proficient or better with education first! Then they can judge children who have disabilities they neither asked for nor want. How about Delaware and the US DOE stops tampering with IDEA law with standards-based IEPs when they can’t even get the initial IEPs done right? How about Delaware stops pressuring children to be college-ready when they are in 5th grade? We all know Common Core and standardized tests will go away one day. It’s not a question of if, but when. Delaware needs to stay true to the heart of IDEA law, and not reinterpret these regulations just because the US DOE is doing the same, and being questioned by others in politics about that.
I stand here today, with the cries of thousands of parents and children with disabilities in my voice. We are mad, we are tired, and we are sad. Our children suffer enough having their disabilities. School should be a safe haven, not a battleground, pitting parents against administrators and psychologists who think they know more about children because they compare them to other kids. Each IEP is individualized, and there is no room for arrogance or combativeness in the room. Schools need to understand that when parents ask a question, we are not to be ignored. We are not to be lied to, or told we must have “misheard” something. The DOE needs to support this. There is no accountability for obnoxious behavior on a school’s end during IEP meetings. As supported by Amendment 14, parents have the right to choose how they want their child to be educated. That means we have rights too. That means when we tell you we know what our child needs, you aren’t supposed to blow that off and deny services.
The DOE doesn’t see what happens when a child does not receive the right accommodations or is denied services or even an IEP. The child cannot function properly in school. Bullying occurs, whether the schools rule it as that or not, and the student feels isolated and rejected. The student may be very bright, but they are not able to access their full capability. What happens to the child is the cruelest part. Inside of them, the light that shines so bright starts to diminish. It begins to fade, and their spirit is broken. That’s why parents get so mad. That’s why I’m standing here today, because this happened to my son and it is happening right now to thousands of children across our state. The Exceptional Children group sits in their new office, and they data dive, and look for root cause analysis, and form advisory councils to make newer IEPs when they can’t even understand the old ones, that work, and work well when they are utilized to their full potential.
Thank you for your time, and I have a list of all my legislative ideas to improve special education in our state. Please do not look at these and think about what a burden some of these would be for the schools or the DOE. Think about the special needs children who come home from school crying every day because the DOE and our schools just can’t get it right. Enough is enough. Delaware needs to be the 1st state in special education.
I then gave Kim Siegel my legislative ideas which were posted on Kilroy’s last Spring, and they were passed out to each member of the task force. I did add two new ones based on articles I have done on here since then. There wasn’t time for me to get into the whole charter school aspect of special education during public comment, but that will come up at the next meeting if I am given an opportunity to speak again. I know the task force is focusing on the IEP process, but how many parents have gone from a charter to a public school due to “counseling out”, a severe lack of special services for our children, or a flat-out IEP denial? Several of us! And we are pretty lit up already due to that process, so by the time we get to the IEP meetings at the public school any impediment to progress can be combative on both sides of the table. Parents who go through this are battle-worn already, and we aren’t as forgiving a second time.
Kevin Ohlandt’s Legislative Ideas For Special Education
1) All IEP and 504 meetings must be digitally recorded. This data must be protected by the school, and parents shall receive a copy as well. Parents must never be denied their own ability to record an IEP meeting.
2) All school board meetings, for any school that receives public funding, charter, public, vocational and alternative alike, must digitally record their board meetings and have them available to the public within 7 business days.
3) All school districts, charter, public, vocational and alternative alike, must have psychiatric or neurological consultation available for any suspected neurologically-based condition within twenty days of a parent’s request for an IEP.
4) All school districts, public, charter, vocational and alternative alike, shall put on their own website, the number of IEPs, 504s, IEP denials, and 504 denials they have had in the past month, to be updated monthly. For public schools, this must be put on the district website, as well as the website for each individual school in the district. They shall also share annual numbers as well, for each school year AND on a 12 month rolling basis. If a student changes from a 504 to an IEP, or if a decline becomes either an IEP or a 504, the school must make a note of that with the monthly numbers.
5) All school districts, public, charter, vocational and alternative alike, shall be completely transparent on their website. All staff must be listed. All board minutes must be listed. All attachments must be listed with the exception of something that can only be handled in an executive session. All monthly financial information shall be listed. With that monthly financial information, you must break down the sub-groups of funding you are receiving.
6) All schools must report to the DOE, on a monthly basis, how many current IEPs and 504 plans they have, as well as any IEP or 504 denials.
7) The DOE shall do a yearly audit of all school districts, public, charter, vocational and alternative alike, not only for already established IEPs and 504 plans, but also denied IEPs and 504 plans. The individuals doing these audits must be highly qualified special education professionals who understand IEPs and 504 plans, as well as all of the disabilities and disorders that these plans accommodate children for. If the DOE determines an IEP or 504 plan was denied for the wrong reasons, the school district must contact the parent(s) within 5 business days and explain to the parent(s) of their procedural rights as well as mail a letter to the parent(s) with the reason for the change as well as a copy of their procedural rights. The Department of Education shall publish the results of these audits within 30 calendar days of their completion each fiscal year. These audits shall occur during the regular academic year, not two years ago as dictated by federal compliance.
8) All Delaware parents, custodians, guardians, et al, shall receive, along with their child’s teacher and supply list, prior to the start of the next school year, a pamphlet indicating what Child Find is, a full disclosure that any evaluations a parent requests must be done at public expense, what IDEA is, how it works, a listing of every disability covered by IDEA, even those covered in other-health impaired, an IEP timeline, a sample copy of an IEP, what a 504 plan is and how it differentiates from an IEP, a sample copy of a 504 plan, and parents procedural rights, whether a child has a disability or not.
9) Any school district found in violation of three or more individual special education audit failures, shall be put on the newly created Special Education review, which shall have the same weight as any other criteria that would cause a school to go under formal review or needing intervention from the DOE.
10) All school boards, public, charter, vocational and alternative alike, must have a parent of a special needs child as a member of their school board.
11) No charter school may ask on an application if a child has an IEP, has special needs or any questions relating to a disability. If a child is selected to attend a charter school through a lottery or the school accepts an application prior to that, then the charter school can ask that question after a student has been accepted.
12) All charter school lotteries must be a public event, published on the school web site 30 days in advance, with two members of the local school district board members in attendance, and all names from applications must be shown to them before they are placed in a closed area prior to the picking of names.
13) All public, charter, vocational, and alternative schools shall change the number of suspensions that warrants a manifestation determination from 10 to 3. As well, if a child is removed from a classroom setting 5 times for a period of more than 30 minutes, a manifestation determination must kick in as well. For any child with an IEP or a 504 plan, a Functional Behavioral Analysis must be completed as well as a Behavior Intervention Plan or modification of an already existing Behavior Intervention Plan. Ten suspensions is too much missed instructional time and doesn’t benefit anyone.
14) All Charter Schools, with the exception of the charter schools that already specialize in IEPs (ex. Gateway, Positive Outcomes), must be counted as one district when it comes to special education. The excuse of low n #s in compliance indicators can no longer be given to individual charter schools when are not counted in an audit or a matter of compliance.
15) The Delaware Department of Education must disclose to parents any release of information to any 3rd party outside of the DOE, under any and all circumstances. For example, the Medicaid Reimbursement Plan. When parents sign off on allowing this at IEP meetings, they don’t know how much sensitive and private information is being stored on a 3rd party’s computers.
I’m not sure if any of these will come up at the next meeting, and who will take them seriously. If you support these ideas, please let the task force know . Matt Denn was very serious when he said he wanted to know what parents issues are with the IEP process. We have from now until probably Thanksgiving to really make an impact, after that it will be about the draft resolution to Governor Markell. Together we can make a difference.