SUPREME COURT TO HEAR FRY V. NAPOLEON COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

Issue: Whether the Handicapped Children’s Protection Act of 1986 commands exhaustion in a suit, brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act that seeks damages – a remedy that is not available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

On June 28, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an order accepting to hear an appeal out of Michigan in the case Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, No. 15-497, order granting cert, (June 28, 2016), that presents the issue whether parents must exhaust the administrative due process procedures under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) before filing a lawsuit for money damages for disability-based discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In January 2014, the district court dismissed the case reasoning that the Fry family was required to exhaust administrative remedies under IDEA. The court of appeals was split but upheld the district court’s ruling. In October 2015, the Fry family appealed the case to the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to help determine whether the US Supreme Court should hear the case.

The ACLU argues that students with disabilities should be allowed to file with the courts without going through due process to save time and money. The school argues that alternative methods for achieving resolution should be the preferred route.

In May 2016, the Solicitor General filed a brief and stated that the US Supreme Court should hear the case. The brief stated that the Court of Appeals’ decision was incorrect. The Solicitor General opined that even if the Frys won all their arguments under IDEA they “would have had to file exactly the same suit under” the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. The Courts of Appeals are split about the proper interpretation of the exhaustion requirement. Therefore, the Solicitor General concluded that the issue is important and recurring, and the Supreme Court should hear it.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on October 31, 2016.

 

Should you have any further questions, please contact Kristin Springer at specialedlegaljourney@comcast.net.

(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)

DISABILITY SPOTLIGHT: DOWN SYNDROME

According to the CDC Down syndrome continues to be the most common chromosomal disorder. Each year about 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome, which is about 1 in every 700 babies born. Parents, early intervention teams, and schools can help babies and children with Down syndrome improve their physical and intellectual abilities.

Although most children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate impairments, they are also very similar to other children. They have their own unique strengths and talents. It is important to remember that children with Down syndrome have feelings just like anyone else.

Definition:

The Mayo Clinic provides the following definition of Down syndrome:

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21. This genetic disorder, which varies in severity, causes lifelong intellectual disability and developmental delays, and in some people it causes health problems.

Early Intervention:

At-risk infant or toddler means an individual under three years of age who would be at risk of experiencing a substantial developmental delay if early intervention services were not provided to the individual. (34 C.F.R. Section 303.5; 20 U.S.C. Section 1432(1))

Early intervention is a system of services designed to help infants and toddlers with disabilities (before their 3rd birthday) and their families. (34 C.F.R. Section 303.13; 20 U.S.C. Section 1432(4) Early intervention is designed to assist with physical, cognitive, communication, social or emotional, or adaptive development.

The National Society of Down Syndrome recognizes that research indicates that early intervention improves outcomes for children with Down syndrome. Under 20 U.S.C. Section 1436 an infant or toddler with a disability receives a multi-disciplinary assessment to identify the strengths and needs of the infant or toddler in a effort to identify the services appropriate to meet the child’s unique needs. Once the assessment is completed, a multidisciplinary team, including the parents, develops what is known as an Individualized Family Services Plan, or IFSP. The IFSP is similar to the IEP. Early intervention services may be provided on a sliding-fee basis, meaning that the costs to the family will depend upon their income.

To identify the EI program in your neighborhood, contact your child’s pediatrician. Your local school district’s special education office may also have the information.

School-Aged Children

IDEA requires the public school system to become responsible for educating the child with Down syndrome and addressing the child’s unique needs after his or her 3rd birthday. Children with Down syndrome are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Children with Down syndrome experience various degrees of developmental delays. Once the assessments are complete, it is important for the IEP team to meet to discuss the unique needs of each child with Down syndrome. The legal rights and limitations are the same under IDEA for a child with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

 

Should you have any further questions, please contact Kristin Springer at specialedlegaljourney@comcast.net.

(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)

 

 

FOCUS ON THE IEP: LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT

After the IEP team establishes measurable goals for the student it is their job to determine the least restrictive environment (“LRE”) for the student to be educated. There cannot be a one size fits all class for disabled students. Therefore, many schools offer various alternatives to consider for their special education students.

Federal and California Statutes

One of the discussions that can quickly bring adversity to an IEP meeting is the discussion regarding the LRE for receiving special education services. While most people only think about the least restrictive environment relating to classroom setting, however other services may be subject to the same legal analysis.

Special education students have a right to be educated to the maximum extent possible with non-disabled peers. Removal from regular classes can only occur if the nature or severity is such that supplementary aids and services cannot assist in the student satisfactorily participating in the regular education class. (34 C.F.R. Section 300.114; 20 U.S.C. Section 1412(a)(5)(A); Cal. Ed. Code Section 56031.) Per statute, the IEP must contain an explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with non-disabled children in the regular class and in the activities.

General Terms

Federal and state laws do not define the terms “mainstream” or “inclusion”. However, they are often used during IEP meetings. Therefore, it is important to have a general understanding of these terms.

Mainstreaming typically refers to placing the student in the regular education classroom without aids or support. Mainstreamed students are generally required to keep up with their students.

Inclusion typically refers to educating the student in the general education classroom while bringing the services to the student. Inclusion provides the students individualized attention.

Many parents confuse the two terms. Federal and state law support the idea that a student should be included in a regular classroom environment and removed only when appropriate services cannot e provided in the regular classroom.

Court Guidance

In Sacramento City Unified School District v. Rachel H. (9th Cir. 1994) 14 F.3d 1398, 1400-1402, the Ninth Circuit held that the determination of whether a particular placement is the “least restrictive environment” for a particular child involves an analysis of four factors, including:

(1) the educational benefits to the child of placement full-time in a regular class;

(2) the non-academic benefits to the child of such placement;

(3) the effect the disabled child will have on the teacher and children in the regular class; and (4) the costs of educating the child in a regular classroom with appropriate services, as compared to the cost of educating the child in the district’s proposed setting.

The IEP Team must look at each proposed educational placement using this balancing test.

Contact Our Office

If you have any questions regarding this or any other special education issue, feel free to contact our office via email at specialedlegaljourney@comcast.net.

(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)

 

DISABILITY SPOTLIGHT: ADHD

According to the CDC, ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. According to the American Academy of Psychiatry 5% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD. Advocating for a child with ADHD requires a good grasp of the disability and the tools for supporting them in school.

General Information

ADHD is listed in the DSM-5TM  as a neurodevelopmental disorder. The DSM-5TM defines ADHD as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development, has symptoms presenting in two or more settings (e.g. at home, school, or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities), and negatively impacts directly on social, academic or occupational functioning. Several symptoms must have been present before age 12 years.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidelines on the treatment of ADHD. My understanding is that they recommend behavioral therapy as a first line of treatment of preschoolers and combination therapy of medication and behavioral therapy for children between the ages of 6 -17. If you believe your child has ADHD you can read more by following this link: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/108/4/1033.

Can a Child with ADHD Qualify for Special Education?

Three federal laws exist to protect students with disabilities in public school: IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. A child with ADHD may qualify under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act and/or IDEA for special education services, accommodations, and interventions. Both statutes, under Child Find, require schools to identify and evaluate any student who is believed to need special education or related services because of a disability. Both statutes also require the school to provide a free and appropriate public education that meets the student’s unique needs.

In order for a student to qualify under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, it must be shown that the student meets any of the following criteria:

  • Physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity;
  • Has a record of such an impairment; or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

In order for a student to qualify under IDEA it must be demonstrated that the student meets the criteria applicable to one or more specific disability category and they need special education and related services because of their disability.

A student who qualifies for protection under IDEA is automatically protected under Section 504. A student who qualifies under Section 504 does not necessarily qualify for services under IDEA.

Office of Civil Rights: Guidance for Students with ADHD

On July 26, 2016, the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) published a Notice of Rights: Students with ADHD and a “Dear Colleague” letter to provide clarification and guidance to schools receiving federal funds regarding students with ADHD. Both documents can be found using the following links:

http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/dcl-know-rights-201607-504.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201607-504-adhd.pdf.

The guidance letter was written because between 2011 and 2015 OCR received more than 16,000 complaints alleging discrimination. Approximately 2,000, or one in nine, allege discrimination of students with ADHD.

OCR’s letter clarifies the school’s obligation to identify and evaluate students with ADHD. A school may not use the student’s IQ as the sole basis for determining eligibility. The student and their teacher(s) benefit when appropriate accommodations, services are put in place.

Whether a child qualifies for an IEP or 504 Plan it is necessary to establish clear accommodations, tools, services, and, if applicable, goals for students with ADHD. Parents, teachers, and school administration should all be able to read the document and understand the expectations contained therein. The school shall use an evidence-based system of interventions. Each student may be different. Therefore their individual educational needs should be considered.

Contact Our Office

If you have any questions regarding this or any other special education issue, feel free to contact our office via email at specialedlegaljourney@comcast.net.

  (Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)

 

SECTION 504 OF THE REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973

While preparing for my blog on ADD/ADHD I realized I hadn’t covered Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Students with ADD/ADHD may receive services under Section 504 so this general guide should be helpful for my next blog.

Section 504: General Information

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is a division of the U.S. Department of Education. It oversees enforcement of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as well as other anti-discrimination laws. They do not handle claims relating to enforcement of IDEA. That is the job of Office of Special Education Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Students who qualify for special education under IDEA automatically fall under the protections of Section 504. Students who qualify for services or accommodations under Section 504 do not automatically qualify for protections of IDEA. Section 504 protects a much broader student population.

Section 504 states that “no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under” any program or activity that either receives Federal financial assistance or is conducted by any Executive agency or the United States Postal Service. [29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)]. To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:
(1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or

(2) have a record of such an impairment; or

(3) be regarded as having such an impairment.  [34 C.F.R. §104.3(j)(1)].

A few examples of major life activities include: walking, seeing, speaking, learning, breathing, eating, reading, caring for one’s self, working, etc.

Students who are protected under Section 504 shall be afforded a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.

Section 504 requires recipients to provide to students with disabilities appropriate educational services, accommodations, and modifications designed to meet the individual needs of such students. One of the major differences between a 504 Plan and IEP is the 504 Plan does not contain annual goals.

Section 504: Process

  • Referral to the 504 Coordinator
  • Written Consent for Evaluation by parent
  • Evaluation Completed (Not required to include formalized testing, unless the team determines it is necessary.) Evaluation should:
    1. Be based on information from a variety of sources (teachers, other school staff, parent/guardian, physician, nurse, other professionals, or persons in the community). This may include interviews, reports, and observations.
    2. Document and consider all pertinent information (records, assessment data, medical reports).
    3. Conducted by a team or group of persons including those who are knowledgeable about the child, the suspected condition, evaluative procedures, the meaning of evaluative data, and accommodation/ placement options.
    4. Utilize assessment materials, tests, and/or evaluation procedures, which are tailored to assess specific areas of educational need.
  • Team Meeting
  • Idenficiation/Determination
  • Draft a 504 Accommodation Plan/Services
  • Implementation
  • Review/Re-evaluation

(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)

 

FOCUS ON THE IEP: MEASURABLE GOALS

Once the IEP team identifies present levels of academic achievement and functional performance for a student eligible for special education services they can begin to formulate measurable goals for the student. According to 20 U.S.C. Section 1414(II) and (III) an IEP must include:

 (II) a statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, designed to—

          (aa) meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and

          (bb) meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability;

(III) a description of how the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals described in subclause (II) will be measured and when periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals (such as through the use of quarterly or other periodic reports, concurrent with the issuance of report cards) will be provided;

 

The present levels of academic achievement and functional performance provide the basis for written annual goals. All goals must be meaningful, measurable, able to be monitored, and useful in making decisions. In preparing goals ask yourself:

  • What do you want the student to know or do in 12 months as a result of this IEP?
  • Is the goal clear to all members of the IEP team? Will others be able to understand the expectation of the goal?
  • Is this information measurable?
  • How will it be measured?
  • What are the short term benchmarks that the student should meet?

Under IDEA students are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”). FAPE is “an opportunity to achieve her full potential commensurate with the opportunity provided to other children.” Bd. of Educ. v. Rowley  (U.S. 1982) 458 U.S. 176, 188-189 An IEP which contains goals that are not specific and measurable and do not include academic and functional goals are open to a challenge that it denies the child a FAPE. A student receives FAPE if the education (1) addresses the student’s unique needs, (2) provides adequate support services to allow the student to take advantage of the educational opportunities, and (3) is in accord with the individualized education program. See Rowley.

(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)

 

FOCUS ON THE IEP: Present Levels of Academic Performance

Once eligibility is determined, the IEP team has the task of preparing an IEP for the student with a disability. The components of the IEP are: present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, measurable annual goals, progress towards meeting annual goals, appropriate accommodations, and, when appropriate, explanation of the extent the child will not participate with non-disabled children in the regular class and transition requirements. This post will focus on levels of academic achievement and functional performance.

According to 20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d)(1)(A) and Cal. Ed. Code Section 56345(a)(1), present levels of academic achievement and functional performance includes:

  • how the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum;
  • for preschool children, as appropriate, how the disability affects the child’s participation in appropriate activities; and
  • for children with disabilities who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate achievement standards, a description of benchmarks or short-term objectives.

The present levels of academic achievement and functional performance link all the components of the IEP by creating a baseline for designing educational programming and measuring a student’s future progress toward annual goals. According to commentary in the Federal Register, as Page 46662, “academic achievement” generally refers to a child’s performance in academic areas (e.g. reading or language arts, math, science, and history). (71 Fed. Reg. at 46662)

Functional performance generally refers to skills or activities that may not be considered academic or related to a child’s academic achievement. These are the skills which are “routine activities of everyday living”. (71 Fed. Reg at 46662) Functional performance skills are not defined. Some examples, without limiting the scope, are social, mobility, work, and behavioral skills. The Federal Register left this term broad for teams to determine if the fit the scope. The IEP team should look at a student’s strengths and needs which impair the student’s ability to access their education.

 

(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)

DISABILITY SPOTLIGHT: DYSLEXIA

There is a movement in California to improve the identification and support for students who struggle with dyslexia. This movement also seeks to provide training for teachers on evidence-based approaches for teaching reading to students with dyslexia.

The International Dyslexia Association and National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development Dyslexia define dyslexia as a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

To find out more about dyslexia you can visit Decoding Dyslexia (CA) at http://decodingdyslexiaca.org/what-is-dyslexia/

Dyslexia falls under IDEA as a specific learning disability. Having a diagnosis of dyslexia in and of itself doesn’t entitle a student to services or accommodations. To be eligible for special education is must be shown that the student needs special education and related services. If the student has a disability but does not need special education services then the student may be entitled to protections under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The following are some important things going on related to dyslexia:

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ (OSERS) letter to Colleagues (October 23, 2015)

On October 23, 2015, OSERS released a “Dear Colleague” letter to state and local educational agencies. The letter recognizes dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia as specific learning disabilities under IDEA. The letter reiterates to state and local agencies that there is no prohibition to using the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia in an IDEA evaluation.  It also affirms that there may be situations where personnel implementing the IEP could benefit from knowing the underlying disability. For example, if the child struggles with decoding as a result of dyslexia.

The letter gives direction to the state and local agencies on the types of assessment tools and strategies required. A variety of tools must be used to measure functional, developmental, and academic information. It directs IEP teams to determine whether the student is achieving adequately for the child’s age or to meet state-approved grade-level standards. The team must determine whether the child’s underachievement is not due to lack of appropriate instruction.

OSERS encouraged state and local agencies to review their policies, procedures, and practices regarding dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. OSERS also reminded the state and local agencies of the importance of addressing the unique educational needs of students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.

A copy of the letter may be found here: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/guidance-on-dyslexia-10-2015.pdf

AB 1369 (Now Cal. Ed. Code Section 56334 and 56335)

On October 8, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown approved AB 1369. AB 1369 was legislation to assist school districts with identifying and providing services to children with dyslexia. Commentary for AB 1369 stated:

Existing law requires all children with disabilities residing in the state, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services, to be identified, located, and assessed. Existing law provides that a pupil who is assessed as being dyslexic and meets certain eligibility criteria for the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act category of specific learning disabilities is entitled to special education and related services. Existing law defines a “specific learning disability” as a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, and includes in that definition dyslexia and other specified conditions.

Cal. Ed. Code Section 56334 requires the state to include “phonological processing” in the description of psychological processes. Currently 5 C.C.R Section 3030(b)(10) states, in part, that a specific learning disability is “disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes…”  Cal. Ed. Code Section 56334 will now clarify phonological processing is a psychological process.

Cal. Ed. Code Section 56335 requires the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, before the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year, to establish guidelines for dyslexia to assist regular education teachers, special education teachers, and parents. The guidelines must relate to both the identification and assessment of students who may have dyslexia. The guidelines must also provide an evidence-based, multisensory, direct, explicit, structured, and sequential approach to instructing pupils with dyslexia.

Dyslexia Guidelines Work Group

In response to Cal. Ed. Code Section 56335, the Superintendent of Public Instruction has created a Dyslexia Guidelines Work Group to develop program guidelines for dyslexia. The meetings have been recorded and can be viewed on their website at http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/ac/dyslexia.asp.

Contact Our Office

If you have any questions regarding this or any other special education issue, feel free to contact our office via email at specialedlegaljourney@comcast.net.

(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)

PREPARING FOR AN EFFECTIVE IEP MEETING

The members of the IEP team have busy schedules. Finding a date and time that works for all members can be a logistical nightmare. When the members are able to come together it is critical that everyone be ready to discuss the necessary issues and work together to aid the student at the heart of the meeting.

In order for an IEP meeting to be productive it is important for each member to prepare in advance. Here are some things to think about as you get organized:

There is a Student Behind Every Meeting: Each IEP team member should spend time thinking about the student. Behind every IEP meeting is a student with individual needs. Every member of the team should be focused on meeting the needs of the student.

Each Team Member Deserves to be Treated Respectfully: IEP team members are not drones. They are real humans with real feelings. Each member should be prepared to discuss their position on each issue without making personal attacks towards other members of the IEP team. Judgmental statements and blame have no place at an IEP team meeting and don’t help the team members work together.

Identify Agenda Items: Each member of the IEP should have an idea of the items they would like to have discussed at the IEP meeting. Items on an agenda can be checked off during a meeting so nothing is missed.

Reports: Any party who intends to share a report at the IEP meeting should circulate said report among the IEP members before the IEP meeting.

School districts are required to provide a copy of an assessment report at no cost to the parent. (20 U.S.C. Section 1414(b)(4)) The law does not provide a timeline to determine how far before an IEP the assessment reports must be provided. In my opinion, a parent should not attend an IEP meeting where the assessment reports were not provided.  If you have not had the opportunity to review the reports then you may not be able to fully participate in the meeting. (34 C.F.R. Section 300.322)

Federal Law does not give the school district the right to request copies of assessment reports obtained by parents at their own expense. For various reasons, sometimes parents don’t provide copies of the reports to the IEP team before the meeting. In deciding whether to provide copies to the IEP team members the parents need to determine whether the IEP team will be able to consider the report if they aren’t provided a copy. If the IEP team is provided a copy of the report they are required to give it consideration.

Draft IEPs and Goals: It is not illegal for a school to prepare a draft IEP to be used at the meeting. It is only illegal to prepare a final IEP. School representatives should make it clear that any draft IEP is a draft only and will not impact a parent’s ability to provide input into the final IEP. The district should provide a copy of the draft IEP to the parents so they can review it before the IEP.

It is not typical for parents to draft an IEP but they may want to think about what goals they would like to have included in the IEP. In my experience it is helpful to send goals I think are necessary to the IEP team members before the IEP.

Anticipate the Problem Issues: Review past correspondence and, if appropriate, prior IEP documents. Identify any problematic issues that may arise during the IEP meeting. For any problematic issues you anticipate brainstorm options for resolution to discuss at the IEP meeting.

Anticipate Difficult Moments: When members of the IEP team disagree over a particular issue the meeting can quickly deteriorate. Do not get overwhelmed about these situations.  The IEP team members need to remember that preparation of the IEP is a collaborative process.  Brainstorm ways to deal with difficult moments.

(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)

IEP TEAM MEMBERS

Each member of an IEP team brings important information to the meeting. An IEP team must include:

  • at least one parent;
  • a representative of the local educational agency;
  • a regular education teacher of the child if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment;
  • a special education teacher or provider of the child;
  • an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of assessment results;
  • a school district representative capable of authorizing school resources; and
  • as appropriate, the student or an interpreter. (20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d)(1)(B)(i), (iv-vi); Cal. Ed. Code Section 56341(b)(1), (5-6).

Parents (20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d)(1)(B)(i); Cal. Ed. Code Sections 56304, 56342.5.):

Parents are an important member of the IEP team. Federal and State law require that parents of a child with a disability must be afforded an opportunity to participate in meetings with respect to the identification, assessment, educational placement, and provision of a FAPE to their child. A parent who has an opportunity to discuss a proposed IEP, and whose concerns are considered by the IEP team, has participated in the IEP process in a meaningful way. (Fuhrmann v. East Hanover Board of Education (3d Cir. 1993) 993 F.2d 1031, 1036.)

Regular Education Teacher (20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d)(1)(B)):

If the student will be placed in a regular education classroom, Federal Law requires the inclusion of at least one regular education teacher on the IEP team. It is necessary for the regular education teacher to be one who has instructed the child in the past or will instruct the child in the future. (M.L. v. Federal Way School District 394 F.3d at p. 643.)

School District Representative:

The school district is required to send a representative who is able to provide or supervise special education and be knowledgeable about the general education curriculum. They must also be knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the school district and have authority to commit the necessary resources to implement the IEP.

Other Members of the IEP Team:

You are entitled to bring other professionals, consultants, and related service providers to the IEP meeting. You can also bring a friend, family member, or other individual to be your extra set of eyes and ears. You can bring an advocate and attorney, if necessary.

(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)