Policy Changes from Washington DC

You may read about some policy change in special education law or a school person may say, did you know that the US issued a letter changing the meaning of this or that, altered the requirements of the IDEA?

These policy letters help explain what the law means and gives guidance to school districts and parents.  For example a recent policy letter focused on  “behavior-focused treatments” for children; another stated that students who are English-language learners and are suspected of having a disability should be evaluated for special education in “the appropriate language based on the student’s needs and language skills.”  A third stated that a school district that fails to stop bullying based on disability may be found to be denying disabled students their right to a free, appropriate public education.

These letters can be of help as you work on  your child’s IEP (Individualized Education Program).  The easiest way to access these is to search:  “OSEP Policy Letters“.

By |November 30th, 2015|Hints / Tips, IEP|0 Comments

Special Education Blog – What Happens When School Districts Make a Decision about Your Child before the IEP Meeting?

Have you been to an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting where it seems that the important decisions about your child’s program have already been decided by the school and before the meeting?  If so this is against the law and good educational practice.

The IDEA – federal special education law which applies to all states – requires that all IEP decisions – whether eligibility, goals and objectives, related services or placements – must be made at the IEP meeting, must represent a consensus of all members and cannot have been “pre-determined” by the school.

If the school has “pre-determined” any portion of the IEP they have taken away your legal right to be a co-equal member of the team.  They are making a unilateral decision which violates the law.

What constitutes “pre-determination?”  It does not mean that an IEP team member can’t come in with thoughts about what he or she thinks is right or that the school cannot pre draft goals and objectives.  What it does mean is that each member must come with an open mind and must not have already made up his or her mind.  The line between an open mind, a pre IEP meeting thought and pre-determination can be a thin one.  Look for statements that suggest a decision is already formulated, e.g., “we don’t provide that in our district” or that the speaker is clearly not open or flexible, e.g., “I reviewed the assessments before the meeting and concluded your daughter does not need that service.”  And it may just be an over-all sense that the discussion is perfunctory and not a true give and take about the IEP items.

If the school has “predetermined” then if you were to […]

By |November 12th, 2015|IEP, Special Education|0 Comments

IEP Hints

When you have an IEP planned think about the following steps/strategies:

  1. Make a specific list of what your child needs; do not use general terms, but be detailed, “Mary needs physical therapy 3 times a week, 45 minutes each session, 1:1 with the PT.”
  2. Be sure to highlight and bring to the IEP meeting written material that supports each item on your list; you probably have a lot so use post-its for easy access.
  3. Be sure to bring those people to the IEP, particularly experts who can make the argument for what you want for your child.
  4. Tell your school district in advance of the meeting who you are bringing and ask them who will attend for them.
  5. At the beginning of the IEP meeting indicate what you think are the key issues and that you want to be sure that all are covered.
  6. While you have the right to tape the meeting it is better to have someone take notes – tape recorders will put people on guard and you can’t always make out who is saying what.
  7. If you know school staff supports your list (some or all) be sure they are at the meeting and ask them their opinion if they hold back.
  8. Your note taker should especially write down when someone says something supportive of your list or something negative that seems not quite right, e.g., “we know Mary needs PT, but we don’t have enough in the budget to provide 3 times a week.”
  9. Often the district will have some taking notes which will become part of the IEP document; be sure to read it (take it home) and note anything that is incorrect or anything that was covered during the meeting and is missing from the Notes […]
By |September 21st, 2015|Hints / Tips, IEP|0 Comments