We have heard time and time again from parents that they have been working with Kathy Kinnon and/or Special Education department for extensive periods of time in trying to determine if their child requires Special Education Services. A few parents have mentioned that they felt as though the process is extensive and can take up to a year. This is NOT the case. Interestingly enough the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have made mention within their visit reports of the school taking too much time to complete the process from referral to IEP. Many parents may not be aware that according to special education laws that the school is only permitted so much time between referral of a student to the convening of a team meeting. We’re providing some guidelines to help parents who may not be aware of the laws governing special education. We have much more information that we are happy to provide to parents with specific questions (especially regarding having outside evaluations completed, which we highly recommend). Most importantly, if you do not feel good about the IEP or the evaluation, don't just accept it!
***PARENTS SHOULD RECEIVE A CONSENT FORM WITHIN 5 SCHOOL DAYS FROM THE TIME A REFERRAL IS SUBMITTED***
*** AN IEP MEETING SHOULD BE HELD WITHIN 45 SCHOOL DAYS FROM WHEN A PARENT SIGNS AND SUBMITS A CONSENT FORM***
The Special Education Process from Referral to IEP (information taken from DESE website)
1. The Referral Process:
a. Once a student has been referred for an evaluation by either a parent, teacher, or other professional, parents must be notified within 5 SCHOOL DAYS of the referral.
i. Forms must meet certain requirements under state and federal law but mainly to seek parent consent for the evaluation to take place and allow parents the opportunity to meet with school officials to answer any questions, the reason for the referral, provide additional input, and what the evaluation will consist of.
2. Evaluation Process:
a. Once parents have signed the consent form and WITHIN 30 SCHOOL DAYS the school shall evaluate the child. The evaluation should:
i. All assessments must be conducted by ‘appropriately credentialed and trained specialists’ per the DESE.
ii. An evaluation should include all assessments that are related to the students suspected disability including:
1. History of progress within general curriculum with input from teachers (we’d stress with both current and past year teachers for both background and perspective,
2. Attention skills,
3. Participation behaviors,
4. Communication skills.
5. Social relations with groups, peers and adults
iii. Also to be included within this evaluation is a “narrative description” of the students potential, both academically and developmentally.
b. Optional Assessments:
i. A health assessment if a medical problem may limit the student’s success within an academic setting and/or academic successes.
ii. Psychological assessment by a licensed school psychologist, licensed psychologist, or licensed educational psychologist, including an individual psychological examination.
iii. A home assessment that may be conducted by a nurse, psychologist, social worker, guidance or adjustment counselor, or teacher and includes information on pertinent family history and home situation and may include a home visit, with the agreement of a parent.
c. Assessment Reports and Results:
i. A report shall be completed and submitted in writing what assessments were conducted, the results, and “shall define in detail and in educationally relevant and common terms, the student's needs, offering explicit (i.e. VERY SPECIFIC, DETAILED) means of meeting them.
ii. Parents may request a copy of the summaries of assessments that are to be completed PRIOR to any discussion by the Team. These reports shall also be provided to parents at LEAST TWO DAYS IN ADVANCE of Team discussion.
3. Development of the IEP:
a. Convening the Team: WITHING 45 SCHOOL WORKING DAYS AFTER RECEIPT OF A PARENT’S WRITTEN CONSENT to an initial evaluation or reevaluation, the school district shall:
i. Provide an evaluation;
ii. Convene a Team meeting
iii. Determine if student requires special education services
iv. Develop and IEP in accordance with state and federal laws (if deemed necessary)
v. Provide parents with 2 copies of the proposed IEP and proposed placement
4. Contents of an IEP:
a. An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is used for students who require special education services and is developed as a direct result of the evaluation and assessments that have been approved by the parents and conducted by the school.
i. IEP’s describe what services and related services an individual student requires.
ii. While developing a student’s IEP, the school shall consider the curriculum and standards of the school and develop and incorporate instructional methods that will allow student to progress effectively (i.e. identify what accommodations the student requires to succeed within the classroom)
b. A few side notes on IEP’s:
i. An IEP is a sort of road map of the student’s learning. Be sure that a starting point is identified (what the student can do now, reading level, comprehension issues, fluency, etc. and where the student will be and when).
ii. DO NOT WAIT FOR A 1 YEAR FOLLOW UP MEETING, SET IT FOR 3 MONTHS TO ENSURE YOUR CHILD HAS PROGRESSED.