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Serving Students With Disabilities . Robert Compton, ph.d. , Director of federal programs. Obligations of the Charter Schools. Who’s Who Obligations of the Charter S chool Lessons Learned Your Special Education Coordinator Working with the SC Public Charter School District

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serving students with disabilities

Serving Students With Disabilities

Robert Compton, ph.d.,

Director of federal programs

obligations of the charter schools
Obligations of the Charter Schools
  • Who’s Who
  • Obligations of the Charter School
  • Lessons Learned
  • Your Special Education Coordinator
  • Working with the SC Public Charter School District
  • Monitoring and Oversight
  • Funding IDEA
  • Potpourri
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
who s who in special education
Who’s Who in Special Education
obligations of the charter school
Obligations of the Charter School
  • Simply put, “[INSERT THE NAME OF ANY CHARTER SCHOOL HERE] will comply with all aspects of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (PL 108-446) and with applicable State and State Board of Education Regulations.”
  • Does your school fully understand what this obligation means?
  • Do you have an appropriately certified and highly qualified special education teacher?
  • Do you have other service providers on staff (School Psychologist, OT, PT,…? Or under contract? Or on standby?
  • Are you prepared to meet the Child Find requirements?
  • Are you prepared to provide a variety of programs, services, and placement options?
obligations of the charter school1
Obligations of the Charter School
  • Charter schools chartered with the SC Public Charter School District will:
    • REALLY meet the obligations of IDEA and State Regulations relating to students with disabilities;
    • Offer a variety (not a full, but more than 1) continuum of services and placement options;
    • Appoint one special education coordinator (we’ll talk about this later);
    • Adhere to the District’s Policies and Procedures (we’ll talk about this later);
    • Use District’s forms and State’s IEP management program (Excent);
    • Expend IDEA funds in a manner consistent with IDEA; and
    • Attend district training and professional development.
lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • Hiring a GREAT special education who is unable to “coordinate” the non-teaching aspects of IDEA:
    • Evaluations (exceeding timelines)
    • Maintaining compliance
    • Dealing with “high-needs” parents
    • Working with general education teachers

These are the “process” things that are typically handled by district staff (school psychologists, coordinators,…) in a traditional district

  • True text message received: “I hear you now Robbie. It sounds like I’ve hired someone who is good with the students but is not able to handle the administrative side of things.”

Lesson Learned: Hire someone who can handle the “administrative side” of IDEA.

lessons learned1
Lessons Learned
  • No one calls me to say “They are providing everything they should on the IEP, but I just don’t like my teacher.”
  • The calls include:
  • “I’m not getting the services written in the IEPs.”
  • “I’ve been at school for 3 months and we’ve yet to have an IEP meeting.”
  • “I’ve not once received a progress report.”
  • “We had our meeting 3 weeks ago and I haven\'t received a copy of the IEP or PWN.”
  • “We transferred to the school and my child was receiving OT services, but the school said we don’t have an OT.”
  • Lesson Learned: The IEP is a contract . . . . . Follow it!
lessons learned2
Lessons Learned
  • Often times the principal’s background isn’t special education so they defer all special education questions and issues to the “school’s special education coordinator.” Six months into the year, come to find out that the special education coordinator hasn’t taught special education in 30 years and things have changed just a little bit in that time.
  • Lesson Learned: The school leaders needs to take an active role in special education, especially when it comes to compliance.
  • Lesson Learned: Just because someone has “special education” on his/her teaching certificate doesn’t mean that he/she is qualified to serve as the school’s special education coordinator.
lessons learned3
Lessons Learned
  • We’ve had quite a few situations where the child came from a self-contained class (extensive minutes) to one of our schools. In order to keep with the “school’s schedule,” the IEP team immediately lowered the child’s minutes from 1,800 minutes per week to 250 minutes.
  • The school almost ended up in a due process hearing and ended up spending several thousands of dollars in providing compensatory services to the child. Side note – compensatory services can not be paid for out of your IDEA funds.
  • Lesson Learned: Follow the district’s policies and procedures. It will save you lots of time and money.
lessons learned4
Lessons Learned
  • Often times the child transfers and the parents “check no” to their child having an IEP. 3 months into school, the child begins having academic or behavioral problems. At this point (prior to an expulsion), the parents say, “but my child has an IEP.”
  • Regardless on what the parent checks on the enrollment form, during the enrollment process, schools must verify from the sending district that the child did or did not have an IEP.
  • As a result, the school owed 3 months worth of compensatory services to the child.
  • Lesson Learned: Regardless what the parent checks, verbally verity (and document) that the child does or does not have an IEP.
lessons learned5
Lessons Learned
  • Don’t wait until it is too late to realize that your special education program has hit rock-bottom and is at the point of no return.
  • Take the warnings (both informal and formal) from the District staff very seriously.
  • Seek assistance from an outside consultant (who is knowable in SC’s policies & procedures).
  • Please understand that we’re doing our job . . . . “authorizers must revoke charters of schools who violate federal and state laws in which they are not exempt.”
  • Additionally, we will exercise “sanctions short of revocation” to give the school an opportunity to self correct.
  • While no one wants to call to say they made a mistake, CALL when you’ve made a mistake or are not sure what to do. The worst thing is to let the District discover the systemic non-compliance before you let us know about it.
  • Two-way communication is a must!
special education coordinator
Special Education Coordinator
  • Each school is to appoint a special education coordinator.
  • The role/purpose of the special education coordinator:
    • This person is expected to be the point of contact for the regional coordinator and the district staff.
    • It is expected that this person attends all of our district trainings and professional development (5 face-to-face and 9 web-based).
  • There is a distinct difference between a good special education teacher and a good special education coordinator (p. 34 & 39).
  • In some cases, this can be the same person; however, don’t let a good special education teacher who is a poor coordinator be the reason a school is placed on probation.
special education coordinator1
Special Education Coordinator
  • Who can be your special education coordinator?
    • Someone certified in special education
    • Someone with knowledge of IDEA and its regulations
    • Someone who has been a special education department chair (who had oversight responsibilities)
    • Someone who has been a special education coordinator at a district level
    • Someone who has recently retired as a special education director, district coordinator, or school psychologist.

While the district provides extensive training to the coordinators, the expectation is that the person is coming with some oversight experience.

We cannot teach someone to be a special education teacher over the phone.

your special education coordinator1
Your Special Education Coordinator
  • What will we have them do?
    • Coordinate Child Find activities (referrals, evaluations, eligibility decisions, initial placements)
    • Coordinate with related service providers
    • Be responsible for maintaining the school’s compliance within the IEP
    • Be responsible for the 7 federally-mandated data reports (timely and accurate data)
    • Work with difficult parents
    • “Bring back” the information from the District and share/interpret/teach to the others on your staff
working with the district
Working with the District
  • Besides making the very strong point that we need to find a good special education coordinator, what do you do for us?
established policies and procedures sort of
Established Policies and Procedures (sort of)
  • We have Policies . . . . Very good policies!
  • We lack on procedures . . . . . On purpose. You are charter schools and by nature, you want to do things your own way (within the confines of the regulations).
  • Well . . . . . .
  • Two things we’ve heard:
    • From the SCDE: Your schools are not able to produce copies of their procedures.
    • From the outside consultant at struggling schools: Your schools are not able to produce copies of their procedures.
  • We now have policies WITH a space to indicate your procedures.
    • Child Find
    • Parental Notification
    • Discipline (tracking)
    • LEA Designee
regional coordinators
Regional Coordinators
  • Each school will be assigned a regional coordinator who will work closely with the school regarding the school’s special education programs.
  • This person will work with your school to help identify strengths and needs and to develop improvement plans in the areas of identified weaknesses.
  • This person will be the school’s support person (the person to call when there’s a question).
coordinator mentors
Coordinator Mentors
  • Based on feedback from the past two years, our special education coordinators wished they had a mentor.
  • This year, we’re creating a special education coordinator mentor program.
  • Our hand-selected mentors will receive training from the State’s former special education mentor trainer this summer.
forms
Forms
  • The district has forms that the schools must use. Between Excent and our forms, we’ve got you covered.
  • The district has a procedural safeguard notice.
crisis intervention
Crisis Intervention
  • We can provide training to your staff on verbal and non-violent physical interventions.
  • You MAY NOT restrain a child with an IEP without receiving this training.
you ve got us
You’ve Got Us

We work very close with your school’s special education coordinator.

We provide monthly training and school-specific technical assistance.

We’re here to help and provide support with the high-needs parents.

We’re here to help you run a defendable program.

When you’re okay, we’re okay. When you’re not, we’re not . . . . Ultimately, we’re the one’s responsible

monitoring and oversight1
Monitoring and Oversight
  • Three things:
    • Lessons learned
    • Changes in the SC Charter School Law
    • IDEA Regulations
    • Authorizers’ best practice

We must monitor and provide oversight of your special education programs.

I know what you’re thinking . . . . Booo!! However, let us catch things before it gets to the point of no return.

monitoring and oversight2
Monitoring and Oversight
  • How do we do this?
  • Early Fall:
  • Schools complete the self-assessment portion of the instrument
  • District staff, including regional coordinators, will complete a district rating of each of the compliance indicators (same instrument the school completed)
  • Results to trigger the school to create an improvement plan
  • The instrument will be distributed to school leaders and special education coordinators during August’s training.

Throughout the year:

Monthly focuses (i.e. transfer meetings, present levels, meeting summaries, etc.)

monitoring and oversight3
Monitoring and Oversight
  • Other sources that could trigger onsite monitoring:
    • Parental calls
    • Formal SCDE Complaints
    • Federal/State Data reports
  • What happens with a parent calls?
slide31

1st year schools WILL receive their share of IDEA funds.

The process, in a nutshell.

  • District receives notification in September
  • District creates school allocations using a weighted per-pupil formula that involves the last known official child count. 1st year schools will have a 5th day count used (different from the 5th day count you’ll hear William or Mr. V. talk about).
  • Schools will receive an allocation and a budget request.
  • Request is returned to the district.
  • The district combines all requests into the district’s IDEA application.
  • By February, the District will receive notification that the IDEA application is approved.
  • Once approved, Tasha loads the budget and notifies the schools that they can begin seeking reimbursements.
  • There will be ONE IDEA amendment (in March).
  • Funds left over on June 30th are returned to the district and redistributed to

ALL SCHOOL next year.

idea funds1
IDEA Funds
  • Understand this:
    • These are federal funds and may only be used for the provision of special education and related services.
    • They may only be used in the allocated budget categories.
    • Historically, the IDEA federal funds will only cover about 13% of the cost associated to educate a child with an IEP (congress promised 40%, but in its best year it only covered 19%).
    • Do not buy any equipment until you’ve received written approval from the District.
potpourri1
Potpourri
  • Right now we’re interpreted “entitlement” as “when the child is marked present for his/her 1st class.”
  • We are our own LEA.
  • Because of these. . . .
    • Do not attend any IEP meetings in other districts.
    • Do not hold any IEP meetings for your new students until just a few days prior to the start of school.
    • Do not hold IEP meetings until you’ve cleared it with your regional coordinator (or us).
potpourri2
Potpourri

Rights of Children with Disabilities to Attend a School Authorized by the South Carolina Public Charter School District

Dear Parent,

  • Charter schools accept and serve students with disabilities
  • Charter schools must ensure that your child receives special education services if the child has been determined to be an eligible student with a disability by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team.
  • Your child must receive related services if the IEP Team determines the child needs them.
potpourri3
Potpourri

4) For students who require special education services that are beyond what is reasonable for the charter school to provide, an IEP Team meeting will be convened to arrange for provision of needed services.

Charter schools within the SCPCSD are held to the same standards and regulations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as traditional public schools. In some cases, the parent’s request to remain in the school of choice (charter school) cannot be granted because the IEP team determines that in order to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to a student; the services must be provided in a different setting, such as a child’s district of residence. Just like a traditional district, individual schools are not required to provide an exhaustive list of placement options within that one school. This decision will be made through an IEP meeting. You will be invited to the meeting. When the meeting occurs, the IEP Team will determine what the child’s needs are and how those needs will be met. If the IEP team determines that a FAPE cannot be provided to the student within the current charter school setting, the SCPCSD will contact the school district of residence to determine if there is a program within that school district that can meet the child’s needs. If so, based on the IEP team’s decision, placement will be made, and responsibility will return to the school district of residence.

5) Charter schools are required to meet the needs of qualified students with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, even if the student is not eligible as a student with disabilities under federal and state special education laws (IDEA).

potpourri4
Potpourri

We’re in the “human services field” and we want to help EVERYONE. It’s hard for us to say no.

Remember though, with the exception of determining what the child is going to eat for breakfast, every other decision about the child MUST come through an IEP team.

Avoid making false promises.

Avoid “bending policies.”

These two things will come back and bite you in the long run.

potpourri5
Potpourri
  • Things not to say out loud . . . . EVER!
    • We’re not going to be able to afford that.
    • I don’t think our program is going to be a fit for your child.
    • The district says we’ll have a meeting and send your child back to your home district.
    • If I was at a school that didn\'t provide services of the IEP, I would just withdraw.”
    • We need to hurry up and finish the evaluation because the quicker he’s identified, the quicker we’ll start receiving extra money for him.
potpourri7
Potpourri
  • New Schools and New Coordinators:
    • July 17, 2013 – 9:30am
  • Everyone (transfers and intervention teams)
    • August 1, 2013 – 9:30am
  • Everyone (compliance)
    • September 5, 2013 – 9:30am
disclaimer
Disclaimer
  • Section 504 IS NOT special education; it’s a general education responsibility
  • Don’t think because “Robbie” oversees it means it’s a special education thing.
  • 504 compliance and coordination falls under the District’s Director of Federal Programs.
section 504 school expectations
Section 504 School Expectations
  • All South Carolina Public Charter School District schools are required to follow the District’s Section 504 Policies and Procedures.
  • These procedures include the identification of the principal or his/her designee as the "Section 504 School Coordinator," who is the building-level compliance monitor and coordinator for Section 504 support.
  • The District’s Section 504 Compliance Officer is Robbie Compton.
  • The District’s Section 504 Compliance Officer cannot serve on school 504 committees because this person is part of the District’s grievance process.
building level 504 coordinator
Building Level 504 Coordinator

Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Provide guidance and answer questions surrounding 504 referral, evaluation, and implementation from parents/guardians, students, and/or school staff
  • Attend professional development/training sessions throughout the school year
  • Schedule and Lead meetings with parents/guardians and relevant school staff
  • Responsible for data collection in preparation for meetings
  • Maintain school level 504 files for each student
  • Submit necessary paperwork to Zenobia Ealy in a timely manner
what is section 504
What is Section 504?
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly referred to as “Section 504,” is a federal statute that prohibits discrimination against persons on the basis of their disability by institutions that receive federal assistance.
  • Section 504’s purpose is, among other things, to assure that disabled students have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to non-disabled students.
  • If a student is covered by Section 504, South Carolina Public Charter School District Schools must provide protection and accommodations as are necessary to ensure that the eligible student has equal access to services, programs or activities offered by our schools.
section 504 is not special education
Section 504 is NOTSpecial Education

IDEA

  • Student must have a disability that falls into a defined qualifying area and adversely affect educational performance
  • Must need specially designed instruction
  • Requires a comprehensive evaluations, including screenings, psycho-educational evaluations and intervention data
  • Criteria of exclusion/narrow eligibility
    • Works well with RTI
  • Defined IEP team members
  • Parent consent required
  • Strict and specific timelines

Section 504

  • Student must have* physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life function.
  • Prevents discrimination, insures equal access with accommodations and services
  • Requires relevant information from a variety of sources
  • Broadened eligibility
    • Does not work well with RTI
  • Decision by group of “knowledgeable persons”.
  • Parent consent recommended
  • “Reasonable” timelines
can t have both
Can’t Have Both…

It should be noted that students who qualify for special education services under the

IDEA Act are automatically protected under Section 504.

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) satisfy the requirements of an accommodation plan.

section 5041
Section 504
  • Things to know:
    • Along with your Title IX person (job title of the person) being named on your non-discriminatory statement, you need to have your 504 person (job title of the person) named too.
    • We have policy, minimal procedures, and forms.
    • Robbie is the District’s Section 504 Compliance Officer (parent/student grievances come to me).
    • Robbie cannot serve on a 504 Committee.
    • Schools must have a written grievance policy and procedure.
    • Your 504 Coordinator will need to attend the district’s 504 training (web-based) which will be during the afternoon of September 9th.
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