Know Your Rights!



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Know Your Rights!

  • You have the right to bring an advocate or advisor to meetings (advise school ahead of time of person you will bring)
  • You have the right to record meetings (advise school ahead of time of your intent to do so)
  • You have the right to refuse to sign an IEP you disagree with

Understand the Situation

  • Understand what is possible for the school to do
  • Understand what is reasonable for the school to do
  • You win more flies with honey than with vinegar!

Present Level of Performance (PLOP)

  • Also called the “Present Level of Academic Achievement”
    • 20 U.S.C. § 1414 (IDEA)
    • 34 C.F.R. § 300.320

PLOP

  • Must include a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including:
    • How the child’s disability affects their performance in the standard curriculum
    • For preschoolers, how the child’s disability affects their participation in appropriate activities

PLOP (cont.)

  • Includes both academic achievement and functional performance
  • This is different for each child, meaning that evaluations and decisions must be done on a case-by-case basis
  • Focus is on describing how the child’s disability affects his or her ability to learn

How is PLOP Determined?

  • The IEP Team looks at standardized test scores, professional evaluations, and observations of parents and educators
  • Parent input is essential!
    • You have the right to draft your own PLOP statement and have it attached to the IEP

Goals of the PLOP

  • Describe the child’s areas of strength and of weakness
  • Determine what holds the child back and what helps the child learn
  • Describe how the child’s disability affects his or her ability to learn

Examples of PLOP Statements

  • Kari’s difficulty in organizing materials and information affects her ability to complete assignments independently and compose written essays.

Examples of PLOP Statements

  • Dayton prefers to play in isolation and becomes upset (e.g., cries and hits others) when another student comes too close. As a result his peer interactions at playtime are limited.

Examples of PLOP Statements

  • Joey follows basic written directions in community settings (e.g., vending machines and work schedules). He is able to travel in his wheelchair for short distances in school, but needs adult assistance to travel in the community. He can read simple sentences but does not generalize his reading skills to functional activities (e.g., reading a menu in a restaurant).

Sources:

  • Sample PLOP statements taken from New York Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) website
  • http://www.vesid.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/policy/iep/presentlevels.htm

Individualized Education Program

ABCs of IEPs

  • Accountability
  • Baselines
  • Clarity

ACCOUNTABILITY

    • 1. CURRENT IEP
  • REVIEWING REQUIRED

ACCOUNTABILITY

  • 2. EACH OBJECTIVE
  • ORGANIZATION NEEDED

ACCOUNTABILITY

  • 3. PROGRESS REPORTS
  • COMMUNICATION IS KEY

ACCOUNTABILITY

BASELINES

  • Where is your child NOW?

CLARITY

  • One interpretation, no explanation needed

ABCs of IEPs

  • BAD EXAMPLE
  • By June 2010 Tammy will add and subtract whole numbers up to fifteen with and without the use of a calculator with 80% accuracy

ABCs of IEPs

  • BAD EXAMPLE
  • By June 2010 Tammy will tell time to the half hour using an analog and digital clock with 80% accuracy

ABCs of IEPs

  • BAD EXAMPLE
  • Todd will independently read a 2.25 level text with 80% accuracy using picture-cueing, initial and ending sound, and chunking strategies to decode unknown words by December 2009. He will use reading on, re-reading, and context clues strategies. Todd will also decode the 2.25 level text using sight-word knowledge for frequently used sight words in Kindergarten, first and second grade as determined by the Dolch word lists of high frequency sight words by grade level.

ABCs of IEPs

ABCs of IEPs

  • BAD EXAMPLE
  • By December 2009, Todd will use strategies to follow classroom routines and meet classroom expectations in 4 out of 5 instances. He will follow three step directions given to him by his teacher. He will demonstrate behavior that causes peers and teachers to react in a positive manner to him. Todd will accept consequences and direction from adults

ABCs of IEPs

  • GOOD EXAMPLE
  • By December 2009, Todd will raise his hand before asking a question in class 4 out of 5 instances.

ABCs of IEPs

  • GOOD EXAMPLE
  • By December 2009, Todd will refrain from hitting, pinching or yelling at peers and teachers in 4 out of 5 instances.

ABCs of IEPs

  • Tammy will write three sentences with correct grammar, punctuation and capitalization four out of five trials
    • By November 2009, Tammy will write one sentence with correct grammar, punctuation and capitalization four out of five trials
    • By January 2010, Tammy will write two sentences with correct grammar, punctuation and capitalization four out of five trials
    • By March 2010, Tammy will write three sentences with correct grammar, punctuation and capitalization four out of five trials

ABCs of IEPs

  • Accountability
      • Current IEP
      • Each Objective
      • Progress Reports
  • Baselines
      • Where is your child NOW?
  • Clarity
      • One interpretation, no explanation needed

Accommodations, Modifications and Services in your child’s IEP

What is the difference between Accommodations and Modifications?

Accommodations

  • Accommodations are designed to allow a student to complete the same assignment or test as other students, but with a change in the timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response and/or presentation. Accommodations do not change the educational content.
  • Example of an Accommodation: A student who is blind taking a mainstream test in Braille, and a student with Dyslexia being given extra time on a test.

Modifications

  • Modifications alter the educational content to address the unique needs of the child that result from the child's disability.
  • Example of a Modification: Requiring a 2 page report from the student instead of the 4 page assignment required of his/her peers

The Main Difference

  • Accommodations help your child to receive the mainstream curriculum.
  • Modifications allow your child to receive an especially tailored education that meets his/her individual needs and skill levels.

What does IDEA say about accommodations and modifications?

  • IDEA Appendix A says, "The Act requires the IEP team to determine, and the public agency to provide, the accommodations, modifications, supports, and supplementary aids and services, needed by each child with a disability to successfully be involved in and progress in the general curriculum achieve the goals of the IEP, and successfully demonstrate his or her competencies in State and district-wide assessments."

IDEA also says…

  • Each teacher and provider must be informed of: The specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the child in accordance with the IEP.
  • The teacher/provider must know what provisions have been decided upon in order to utilize them effectively.

Stipulations of Accommodations and Modifications

  • The IEP team must determine the accommodations and modifications needed for a child with disabilities in order to achieve the IEP goals.
  • Accommodations and modifications should be specifically included in the body of the IEP.
  • All accommodations and modifications specified by the IEP must be provided by the public agency (the child’s school).
  • Each teacher and provider for the disabled child must be informed of and understand the accommodations and modifications chosen in order to use them effectively.

Types of Accommodations

  • Curriculum adaptations alter or enhance the way the student is taught the same material:
    • Ex- English as a second language (ESL), remedial reading
  • Lesson accommodations alter the method of instruction to fit the child’s style of learning:
    • Ex: Use of visual aids in instruction, allowing students to tape record lessons
  • Environmental Accommodations allow the IEP team to ensure that the student is learning in the least restrictive environment:
    • Ex- Providing preferential seating, increasing distance between desks.
  • Modified Assignments alter the assignment given to the student but not the academic content.
    • Ex- Giving a student extra time to complete a task.
  • Modified Testing Procedures change the way that the student is evaluated but not the academic standards.
    • Ex- Allowing a student to take an oral exam rather than a written exam.
  • Physical/Heath Accommodations
    • Ex- Giving a student extra time to transition between classes.

What are “related services?”

  • Related services are any supplemental services that are necessary in order for a child with a disability to benefit from special education
  • Related services include the early identification and assessment of disabling conditions in children
  • Related services include consultations, in which the therapist would directly communicate with the child’s teachers and IEP team about what the child needs and what progress she/he has made.

Related Services, contd.

  • Children do not attend school in order to receive related services, they receive related services in order to participate fully in school. This means that schools must provided services if and only if those services are necessary for the child to receive an appropriate education.
  • The IEP team (including the parents) is responsible for evaluating if and which related services are necessary in order for the child to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
  • No related service is automatically included or denied from your child’s IEP due to his/her disability, because each IEP team must determine what is needed for each individual child.

Types of Related Services

  • Related services include, but are not limited to:
    • Psychological services
    • Physical and occupational therapy
    • Recreation, such as therapeutic recreation
    • Speech-language pathology and audiology
    • Counseling services
    • Rehabilitative services
    • Medical services that are used for diagnostic and evaluation purposes only

Make it specific

  • If the IEP team determines that a related service is necessary in order for the child to benefit from special education, the team members must also include goals, objectives and measurable ways to evaluate the child’s progress in that service
  • The IEP team must specify what measures will be used to monitor the student’s progress in that service.
  • ALWAYS compare the services in the current IEP to the services in the proposed IEP.
    • As the parent, you need to understand where your child has made progress and what your child needs now.

Put an AMOUNT on Everything!

  • It is important that in the IEP you specify the AMOUNT of services the child will receive. For example, you should not just say that “the child will work on hand-eye coordination through physical therapy” but instead “the child will work on hand-eye coordination through three 20 minute sessions of physical therapy each week of the school year.
    • Remember that even if you child misses a service session due to a field trip or a shortened school day, the school must still provide that service for the time missed.

Related Service in Action

  • Example: The IEP team determined that Alexandra, a child diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder, needs speech therapy in order to improve her oral communication skills

Related Services in Action

    • PLOP: Currently Alexandra only uses an average of 3 words per sentence, refers to herself in the 3rd person, does not use personal pronouns, and calls her teachers “teacher” rather than addressing them by their names.
    • Goal: By the end of the 2009-2010 school year, Alexandra will be able to verbalize her needs through full sentences. She will use personal pronouns and address others by their names.

Related Services in Action

    • Objectives:
      • Through speech therapy Alexandra will learn to use an average of 7 words at a time in sentences in order to better express her needs. She will use at least 7 words in sentences 7 out of 10 documented times.
      • The speech therapist will teach Alexandra how to use pronouns including “me,” “my,” “I,” “you” and “your.” She will use personal pronouns when appropriate 8 out of 10 documented attempts.
      • The speech therapists will use pictures and verbal markers to teach Alexandra the names of her teachers. She will refer to her teachers by name 7 out of 10 documented attempts.
    • In order to meet these objectives, Alexandra will receive speech therapy for 30 minute sessions 3 times every week of the academic year.

SOLs and Alternative Testing

Statutory Requirements

    • VA Requirement
      • All students with disabilities must participate in the assessment section of Virginia’s accountability system
  • No Child Left Behind

Testing Options

  • Standards of Learning (SOL)
  • Virginia Grade Level Assessment (VGLA)
  • Virginia Substitute Evaluation Program (VSEP)
  • Virginia Alternative Assessment Program (VAAP)

Testing Options

  • SOL with or without accommodations
    • when is this assessment option appropriate?
      • 1. If the student has the ability to demonstrate his or her knowledge in a multiple choice format and
      • 2. If the student is working on a grade level SOL
        • However, the IEP team can decide to use the SOL simply to determine the level of progress

Testing Options

  • VGLA
    • When is this assessment option appropriate?
      • 1. If the student is in grades 3-8 and
      • 2. The student has an IEP and
      • 3. The student is unable to demonstrate knowledge on a multiple choice format test as a result of his or her disability and
      • 4. The student is able to demonstrate his or her knowledge in a format other than multiple choice

Testing Options

  • VSEP
    • When is this assessment option appropriate?
      • 1. If the student has an IEP and
      • 2. Is in grades 9-12 and
      • 3. Is enrolled in a course with a year end SOL or is pursuing a modified standard diploma and
      • 4. Is unable to demonstrate knowledge in a multiple choice test format due to his or her disability

Testing Options

  • VAAP
    • When is this assessment option appropriate?
      • 1. If the student has an IEP and
      • 2. Significant cognitive disabilities and
      • 3. Requires intensive and frequent individualized instruction and
      • 4. Is not working towards obtaining an advanced, standard, or modified standard diploma
      • 5. Is unable to demonstrate knowledge in a multiple choice format

Assessment Formats

  • SOL
    • multiple choice test
  • VGLA / VSEP / VAAP
    • Collection of student work samples used to demonstrate the students level of performance on every grade level SOL for which they have received instruction
  • VAAP
    • only work samples for math and reading are required
    • The Virginia Department of Education STRONGLY RECOMMENDS sending work samples for every course the student is enrolled in that has an SOL

Participation Decisions

  • The IEP team decides which test the student will take
  • All students must be considered for participation in the general SOL first
  • If the IEP team determines the student will take an alternate assessment the team must document the reasoning for this decision

Irrelevant reasons for deeming a particular assessment inappropriate

  • The student’s disability
  • The student is performing below grade level
  • The student’s behavior prohibits him from taking the test with a group
  • The student has not mastered all the curriculum that are covered on grades 3-8 SOL assessment

Participation Decisions

  • If the IEP team determines that the student will not be tested at all, the reasoning for this decision, the consequences of non participation, and a description of how the student will be assessed must be explained to the parents

Consequences of non-participation

  • The student may not have a chance to experience the SOL assessment before taking the test needed for high school graduation
  • If the decision not to participate is made by the parent or student it will be considered refusal to participate

Testing Accommodations

  • Testing accommodations should be the same as those the student uses during regular classroom assessments
  • Accommodations based solely on their ability to enhance performance are inappropriate

Testing Accommodations

  • PARENTS...... you need to ask the IEP team what accommodations are available for SOLs and other testing

Types of Accommodations

  • Timing
  • Setting
  • Presentation
  • Response

Types of Accommodations

  • Timing
    • test given at a certain time of day
    • breaks given during the test

Types of Accommodations

  • Setting
    • Preferential seating
    • Individual testing
    • Special lighting
    • Test given in a non school setting such as in a hospital

Types of Accommodations

  • Presentation
    • Reading directions aloud to the student
    • Clarifying directions
    • Audio tape version of test items
    • Markers to maintain place

Types of Accommodations

  • Response
    • Mark in the test booklet
    • Respond verbally
    • Word Processor
    • Spell check
    • Tape recorder
    • Use calculator with function greater than those typically supplied

Examples

Example 1

  • Sean is a 7th grade student. He has difficulty bubbling in standardized tests because of his disability. During regular classroom assessments Sean uses a word processor rather than bubbling in his answers on multiple choice tests.

Example 1

  • Which assessment is appropriate for Sean?

Example 1

  • SOL with response accommodations
  • Sean is able to take multiple choice tests, as long as he is has a word processor to document his answers.

Example 2

  • Nicole is an 11th grade student. She has an IEP and is pursuing a modified standard diploma. She is unable to demonstrate her knowledge in multiple choice format.

Example 2

  • Which assessment is appropriate for Nicole?

Example 2

  • VSEP
  • Nicole is a high school student with an IEP. She is pursuing a modified standard diploma. She is able to demonstrate her knowledge in a form other than multiple choice

Example 3

  • Marcus is a 4th grade student. He is working on grade level. He becomes distracted when taking examinations around a large group of students. He is able to demonstrate his knowledge in multiple choice format but needs to have the test presented on audio tape.

Example 3

  • Which assessment is appropriate for Marcus?

Example 3

  • SOL with accommodations
  • A student may have more than one accommodation
  • Marcus needs both presentation and setting accommodations
  • He will need the test presented in audio tape form and needs to take the test individually, away from a large group of students

Extended School Year Services

Extended School Year Services

  • Essential Question:
    • Whether the benefits the child gained during the regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if the student does not receive ESY

Statutory Requirements

  • IDEA
    • The school can’t limit extended school year services to a particular disability
    • The school can’t limit the type, amount, or duration of those services
    • The school must make individualized determinations of the number of days, weeks, and hours per day that each student will receive ESY
    • ESY not required to be provided all day, everyday!
    • The school must make adjustments in cases where the child’s needs can’t be met by an existing summer program

Purpose of ESY

  • It is designed to maintain the child’s mastery of critical skills
  • ESY should focus on specific critical skills where regression may occur if there is a long break in instruction
  • It is not meant to be continuation of all the previous years IEP goals

Factors the IEP team considers when determining eligibility

  • Regression (child likely to lose skills)
    • A showing of actual regression is not required for a child to be eligible for ESY
  • Recoupment (child will not be able to recover these skills in timely fashion)
  • Degrees of progress toward IEP
  • Emerging skills
    • Will a long break cause problems for child who is learning a critical skill such as reading
  • Nature/severity of the disability

Examples

Example 1

  • Joseph is a 12 year old student with a communication disability. By the end of the school year he is developing his ability to verbally communicate. At the end of the last school year Joseph was making similar progress in his verbal communication skills. It has taken him a whole school year to regain his progress. Joseph’s parents are interested in ESY services.

Example 1

  • What will the IEP team consider when determining whether Joseph will receive ESY?

Example 1

  • Regression
    • Joseph lost his progress in his communication abilities over the summer break in the past, so it is likely that regression will occur again if he does not receive ESY

Example 1

  • Recoupment
    • Based on the fact that it took Joseph a whole school year to regain the level of progress that he lost over the summer break last year, it is likely that recoupment will be difficult for him again if he does not receive ESY

Example 1

  • Emerging skills
    • Joseph is making a breakthrough in his verbal communication abilities. Communication skills are critical.

Example 1

  • Will Joseph receive ESY?

Example 1

  • Maybe
  • In Joseph’s case the fact that he has made a breakthrough in the critical skill of communication and has experienced recoupment/regression issues in the past works in favor of the IEP team deciding ESY is appropriate
  • Remember.....the IEP team does not have to grant ESY because some of the factors relevant to eligibility decisions are present. Also, the team does not have to find that all of the factors considered are present in a given case in order to grant ESY

Example 2

  • Sheila is a 16 year old student. She has Asperger’s syndrome, which is a mild form of autism. It is characterized by problems with social interaction and mild language and cognitive disabilities. Sheila has never had problems with academics as a result of her disability. By the end of the school year, Sheila is making significant progress towards her social interaction IEP goals. Sheila’s parents would like her to receive ESY to maintain her progress in her social interaction abilities.

Example 2

  • What will the IEP team consider when determining whether Sheila will receive ESY?

Example 2

  • Degrees of progress towards IEP goals
    • Sheila is making progress towards her social interaction IEP goal

Example 2

  • Emerging skills
    • Sheila is making progress in the area of social interaction. The IEP team may consider social interaction ability a critical skill since is necessary to function in the real world.

Example 2

  • Nature of the disability
    • Sheila’s disability is characterized by problems with social interaction

Example 2

  • Will Sheila receive ESY?

Example 2

  • Maybe
  • Academically Sheila does not seem to need ESY. She has not had any previous experience with recoupment/regression issues and she is not severely disabled.
  • Sheila’s area of need is social interaction. She is making significant progress in that area and ESY may be necessary for her to maintain that progress over the summer.

Remember

  • The IEP team does not have find that a student is eligible for ESY just because some of the factors relevant to determining eligibility are present
  • ESY is determined on an individual basis!

Procedural Safeguards

  • 20 U.S.C. § 1415 establishes procedural safeguards to make sure each child receives a FAPE.

Parents Have a Right To…

  • Examine all records relating to the child
  • Participate in meetings regarding the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child
  • Obtain an independent educational evaluation of their child

Your Right to Notice

  • A parent is entitled to Prior Written Notice (PWN) when the local education agency:
    • Proposes to initiate or change
    • Refuses to initiate or change
    • …That relates to a child’s identification, evaluation, or education placement, or that child’s FAPE.

Other Rights You Have As a Parent

  • Mediation
    • Can address any disagreement
  • Presenting a Complaint
    • Concern is whether the law is being violated
  • Due Process Hearing

But First!

  • Before you resort to these more formal mechanisms, try to resolve the situation “in-house” with the school

Mediation

  • This is where a neutral third party who is trained as a mediator helps to resolve the dispute.
    • Confidential
    • Enforceable in court
    • Low cost

Mediation (cont.)

  • The state must bear the cost of mediation, including that of meetings
  • Meetings must be scheduled in a timely manner and in a location convenient to all parties

Mediation (cont.)

  • A Local Education Authority must have procedures for mediation that are:
    • Voluntary for all parties
    • Not used to deny or delay a parent’s rights
    • Conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator

Mediation

  • If successful, a written agreement must be formed that states the agreement and:
    • States that all discussions occurring during mediation are confidential and cannot be used in a Due Process Hearing or civil suit
    • Is signed by the parent and the LEA
    • Is enforceable in the appropriate state and federal courts

Presenting a Complaint

  • A parent has the right to present a complaint relating to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of their child
  • The complaint must allege a violation that occurred no more than two years before the parent or agency should have known about it
    • Exception if one party misrepresented or withheld information

Complaints (cont.)

  • This is a written request for investigation that you file with the Office of Dispute Resolution and Administrative Services.
  • It alleges that the school division has violated state or federal laws (or regulations) regarding special education

Complaints (cont.)

  • An ODRAS investigator will create a “Letter of Findings” describing how the school is (or is not) violating the law
  • If a violation is found, the investigator will issue a “Corrective Action Plan” for the school to follow

Complaints (cont.)

  • If you disagree with the findings of the ODRAS investigator, you may file an appeal within 30 business days of the issuing of the Letter of Finding
    • Must allege either that new information has become available or that the finding was based on an error of fact or law

Due Process Hearings

  • Must provide notice to the other party
  • A parent’s rights:
    • To be accompanied by and advised by a lawyer or someone with knowledge or training of special education for children
    • To present evidence and examine witnesses
    • To receive a written or electronic transcript of the hearing

The Resolution Session

  • Once a school division has received notice of your request for a hearing, it has 30 days to try and resolve the dispute before the hearing
    • Resolution session must be scheduled within 15 days
    • Includes parents and members of IEP team
  • By agreement, can use mediation instead

Due Process Hearings (cont.)

  • If a resolution is reached at the preliminary meeting, a Written Settlement Agreement must be created
    • Either party may void the agreement within three business days of its execution
  • Unless resolved to parents’ satisfaction within 30 days of the notification, a Due Process Hearing may occur

Due Process Hearing (cont.)

  • Each party must disclose all evaluations and recommendations intended to be used at the hearing
    • Must be done at least 5 business days before the hearing
  • Any evaluation or recommendation not disclosed cannot be used at the hearing unless the other party agrees

After Notice is Received…

  • The school division has to do five things:
    • Inform parents of right to mediation
    • Inform parents of availability of free or low-cost legal and other services
    • Provide a procedural safeguards notice to parents (unless this has already been done)
    • Find a hearing officer within 5 business days of receiving notice of Due Process hearing
    • Schedule a resolution session within 15 calendar days of receiving notice

Due Process Hearing (cont.)

  • The focus of the hearing is on whether the child received a FAPE
  • A decision must also address:
    • Whether the school gave the parents proper notice of procedural safeguards
    • Whether the child has a disability
    • Whether the child needs special education or services
    • Whether the school is providing FAPE to the child

Due Process Hearing – Appeal

  • The hearing officer’s decision is due within 45 calendar days of the request for a hearing or 45 days after the resolution period
  • If you are unhappy with the decision reached at the Due Process Hearing, you have a right to appeal the decision to the Virginia Department of Education
    • Must allege either that new information has become available or that the finding was based on an error of fact or law

Right to Bring a Civil Action

  • If a parent is not satisfied by the result of the Due Process Hearing or their child’s placement, (s)he may file suit.
    • Must be filed within 90 business days of the decision of the hearing officer under IDEA


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