The Special Education ProcessThe special education process determines whether or not your child is eligible for special education services and if so, what special education services are most appropriate for your child.
There are four (4) basic steps in the special education process:
1. Referral for Evaluation
3. Development and Implementation of an Individualized Education Program (IEP)
4. IEP Review
Step 1: Referral For EvaluationIn many cases, parents or guardians refer their child for assessment for special education services. Teachers, other school personnel, and community members may also refer a child for assessment. Within fifteen (15) days, not counting school vacations greater than five (5) days, of the receipt of a referral for assessment, you will receive a written response from the District. If the District determines that an assessment of your child is not appropriate, you will receive a written notice of this decision. If the District Determines that an assessment is appropriate, you will receive an Assessment Plan.
An Assessment Plan describes the types and purposes of the assessments which may be used to determine your child's eligibility for special education services. Before your child can be assessed, you must consent to the assessment by signing the Assessment Plan. You have at least fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the Assessment Plan to consent to and sign it. The school has sixty (60) days, not counting school vacations greater than five (5) days, of the receipt of your signed Assessment Plan to complete the assessment and hold an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting.
Before any child with a disability can receive special education or an Individualized Education Program (IEP), an initial evaluation of the child must be conducted. This evaluation must meet the requirements of IDEA’s regulations.Written consent by the child’s parent must be obtained for the evaluation to be conducted. As part of these requirements, a Review of Existing Data (ROED) must be completed. A ROED is the process of looking at astudent’s existing data to determine if additional data are needed for aninitial evaluation (if appropriate) or as part of a reevaluation. The district is not required to obtain parental consent before reviewing existing data as part of an initial evaluation or a reevaluation.
Specifically,the Multidisciplinary Education Team (MET) conducting the ROED must determine whether further assessments are required to determine:
· Whether the student has or continues to have a disability and the educational needs of the student;
· The present levels of academic achievement and related developmental needs of the student;
· Whether the student needs or continues to need special education and related services; and
· Whether any additions or modification to the special education and related services are needed for the student to meet the measurable annual goals set out in the individualized education program (IEP) and to participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum
If the MET conducting a ROED determines that no additional data are needed and the student does not need to be evaluated for special education eligibility, the district mustnotify the student’s parent or the adult student through prior written notice thereasons the team determined not to evaluate for special education.
If the MET conducting a ROED determines that additional data are needed, the district must:
· Provide the parent or the adult student with prior written notice that describes any assessments that it proposes to conduct;
· Obtain consent from the parent or the adult student before conducting any additional assessments (except that an district need not obtain consent to conduct a reevaluation if it can demonstrate that it made reasonable efforts to obtain consent); and
· Administer the assessments and evaluation measures needed to produce the necessary data.
School districts must be sure the tests they use are not racially or culturally biased against the child. This provision of the law helps prevent children ofdifferent backgrounds from misdiagnosis. For example, children’s cultural backgrounds may affect their behavior or test responses in ways the review personnel do not understand. Similarly, if a child speaks another language with limited English proficiency, he/she may not understand directions or words on tests and may not be able to respond correctly. As a result, a child may mistakenly appear to be a slow learner or to have a communication problem. To prevent this, the law states that tests and other evaluation materials given to thechild during the evaluation process must be provided and administered in the language the child shows cognitive academic language proficiency or through another modeof communication comfortable to that child’s background.
In keeping with therequirements mentioned above, then, the MET must collect information about your child from a variety of sources, which could include you, the parent. In addition to testing, the evaluation process may include:
- observations by professionals who have worked with your child;
- your child’s medical history, how it is relevant to his/her performance in school; and
- information about your child’s school experience; abilities, needs, and behavior outside of school, and his/her feelings about school.
The information gatheredfrom the evaluation assessments will be examined to determine your child’sneeds for special education services. The school system then holds a meeting toconsider these. If the results show thatyour child meets the definitions of IDEA’s disabilities, and needs specialeducation services, this will form the basis of your child’s IndividualizedEducation Program (IEP).What is an IEP?
The IEP is the written plan that describes a child's abilities and needs, and the placement and services designed to meet the child's unique needs. Your child must have an IEP before he or she receives special education services. Your child's IEP must be implemented as soon as possible after the IEP meeting. In addition, your child's IEP must be reviewed and, if necessary, revised once a year or more often upon request. If your child is found to be eligible for special education services, the IEP will contain:
- annual goals and short-term objectives focusing on your child's current level of performance;
- the services that your child will receive;
- when services will begin, how often they will be provided, and for how long;
- the instructional program(s) where these services will be delivered;
- the amount of time your child will spend in general education. If your child is not educated completely in general education, it should state why; and
- how the school will measure your child's progress.
Children with disabilities should attend the school they would ordinarily attend if they were not in special education. This requirement may be waived when a student's IEP requires it and states why.
You will receive a copy of the IEP at the IEP meeting. If you do not attend the IEP meeting, a copy will be mailed to you. You have the right to agree or disagree with any part of the IEP. The school is required to get your consent to the IEP before your child receives special education services. Upon your request, you must be given a copy of the
IEP in your primary language, whenever possible.
Will I Receive Notice of the IEP Meeting?
The school must provide you with notice of the IEP meeting within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. This notice will include: the date, time, and place of the meeting; the reason for the meeting; who will be at the meeting; and a statement of the right of participants to electronically record the meeting. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you may call the school to reschedule.
When Must an IEP Meeting be Held?
An IEP meeting must be held:
- once a year to review your child's progress and placement and to make any needed changes to the IEP;
- every three years to review the results of a mandatory comprehensive reevaluation of your child's progress;
- after your child has received a formal assessment or reassessment;
- if you or a teacher feel that your child demonstrates significant educational growth or a lack of anticipated progress;
- when you or a teacher request a meeting to develop, review, or revise the IEP;
- to develop a transition plan, beginning at age sixteen (16) or younger, if appropriate; and/or
- to determine whether a student's misconduct was a manifestation of his or her disability before expelling or suspending the student from school for more than ten (10) school days.
If your child is already enrolled in a special education program and you request an IEP meeting, you must do so in writing. Once your request is received, the meeting must be held within thirty (30) days, not counting school vacations greater than five (5) days.
What are Transition Services?
Transition services are a set of coordinated activities to assist a student's movement from school to post-school activities. These services are designed to help your child adjust to life after he or she is no longer eligible for school-related services. The law requires that transition services be provided to all students with disabilities, beginning at fourteen (14) years of age or younger, if appropriate. When appropriate, the IEP team will plan and oversee the implementation of these transition services.
The law also requires that coordinated activities for transition include instruction, community experiences, and the development of employment and other post-school living skills. If services in any of the previously listed areas are not needed by your child, your child's IEP must state so and why. The coordinated activities for transition must be based on your child's individual needs and take into account his or her preferences and interests. If appropriate, the coordinated activities may also include the acquisition of daily living skills and/or functional vocational evaluation.
If transition services are going to be discussed at an IEP meeting, the notice of the IEP meeting will include the following information:
- indicate that the meeting will discuss transition services;
- indicate that the student will be invited; and
- identify any agency representatives that the school invited who may be able to pro-' vide and/or pay for transition services.
If any agency representatives cannot be at the meeting, the District will attempt to obtain their input through other means.
Step 4: IEP Review If your child is receiving special education services, his or her IEP will be reviewed in an IEP meeting at least once a year to determine how well it is meeting his or her needs. In addition, every three years, your child will be reassessed and his or her IEP reviewed as part of an overall comprehensive reevaluation of your child's progress.If there are concerns that your child's educational needs are not being met, either you or school personnel may request a reassessment or an IEP meeting to review the IEP at any time during the year. You may request an IEP meeting to review the IEP at anytime during the year. You may request an IEP meeting by sending a written request to the school. Once your request is received, the meeting must be held within thirty (30) days, not counting school vacations greater than five (5). You may request a reassessment by sending a written request to the school . The school must get your permission before it reassesses your child.IEP Questions and AnswersTo view an IEP Information Sheet prepared by the Department of Education, click here: