Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Cornerstone of IDEA the Special Education Law

     In yesterday's issue of Education is Special, I answered the questions: What is special education?  How does a child qualify for special education? What are the thirteen categories of special education? and: What is an Individualized Education Plan?
     We learned that special education is governed by a federal law, called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Today I'm going to discuss the eleven categories that make up the cornerstone for IDEA.

  1. Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) - FAPE is the educational right for every child with disabilities to receive a free and appropriate education at the expense of the public. Every child's education is different. Your child's education will be dictated by the IEP which was determined by the IEP team which includes the parents and the child when appropriate. I always invite my students to their own IEP meeting. Students need to learn to self-advocate and take ownership in their education. Students do have a say. In some situations a student attending may not be appropriate but if the student is able and wants to participate then they can.
  2. Evaluation-  IDEA states that the child must be assessed by various assessments and scales to determine if the child has a disability. the initial evaluation must be completed within 60 days after the school district has been given the consent by the parents or guardians. Parents may request only one evaluation per year unless the school agrees that more testing is needed. If the parent disagrees with the outcome of the evaluation, then an education evaluation by an independent provider may be conducted at no cost to the parent.
  3. Informed parental consent- Prior to completing an educational evaluation, the school district must be given written consent. The parent is allowed to be informed of the information for the consent in their own native language. If a parent does not speak English, then an interpreter must be provided at no cost to the parents. Consenting to the educational evaluation, does not mean that the parent consents to the child being placed in soecial education. That is a separate consent. Parental consent is voluntary and may be revoked in writing at any time. Should the school district want to continue after the parent has revoked the consent in writing, then the district must use due process procedures to continue. Due Process is the 11th category that will be discussed.
  4. Least Restrictive Environment- The least restrictive environment (LRE) depends on the child's unique, individual needs. This means that the child will complete classes that are deemed the most appropriate for the child always starting with the learning environment that the child performs the most optimally in. 
  5. Cumulative File-The cumulative file contains all important information relevant to the child. It may contain: report cards, medical information, attendance records, testing scores, discipline records and teacher reports. IDEA mandates that the school district grants the parents right to see the cumulative file before an IEP meeting and/or within 45 days of a parents request.
  6. Transition Plan-  A transition plan will include how a student is going to proceed after high school. The special education teacher will begin transition planning prior to the child's 15th birthday.  The school district has the legal responsibility to coordinate transition planning and to coordinate transition services.
  7. Stay put right-All students must follow the rules and procedures of the school. They all can be disciplined which may include a detention, suspension, or expulsion. Before, the school district can take action IDEA requires that the school district determines whether or not the student's disability played a part in the student's  behavior. This is referred to as manifest determination.
  8. Ten Day Rule- Stay Put protection, only applies if the child is facing more than ten consecutive days out of school, thus the name ten day rule. a special education student who is suspended for less than ten days is not eligible for IDEA protection under the special education law.
  9. Weapons and drug related offenses-IDEA also makes an exception if a student brings drugs or weapons to school. In this case scenario the student can be removed for up to 45 days without parental consent.
  10. Private Placement-IDEA only provides the right to a child being placed in a private school if the school district cannot provide an appropriate program based on the child's needs.  The school district must prove that they cannot serve this child before they pay for and place a child in a private placement.
  11. Due Process-After a dispute, the parents have two years to file for due process. After a dispute is filed the other party has ten days to respond. The school district has fifteen days after receiving the due process to conduct a meeting to try and settle the dispute. There may be a mediation or a hearing. The parents have the right to take their dispute to a neutral third party. The decision may be appealed all the way yo the supreme Court.                                 Most of all, remember, you are your child's advocate. In my experience all parties involved with your child want what's best for your child. Check your states guidelines for special education services. Know the laws. My blog is to provide information but i would suggest checking at the state and district level to know your rights as a parent.  
Daily Parent Link: Think it's Attention Deficit Holding Your Child Back in School?

Educator Link: Ten Tips to Know Before Becoming a Google Educator

Teen Book Review:

     Red Scarf Girl, is an absolute treasure. It is a memoir of twelve year old Ji Li Jiang from Communist China. The year was 1966.  Ji Li had everything a girl could want:  she was respected by her school mates, she was smart, she had a close knit family, and had a bright future ahead of her. Then everything changed when Mao Zedong began the Cultural Revolution. 

     Ji Li's family was afraid and humiliated over and over again. They struggled daily. This is a wonderful book for students to read to help them understand the Cultural revolution in China. It is one of those books, that once started you can't put it down.

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