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SPECIAL EDUCATION and the LAW National PTA Legislative Conference March 11, 2009 Nancy Reder, Esq. Deputy Executive Director, NASDSE. Some Background Information. A little bit about me…. A little bit about NASDSE…. Overview of this Presentation. Overview of IDEA and your rights under IDEA

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SPECIAL EDUCATION and the LAWNational PTA Legislative ConferenceMarch 11, 2009Nancy Reder, Esq.Deputy Executive Director, NASDSE

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Some Background Information

  • A little bit about me….

  • A little bit about NASDSE….

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Overview of this Presentation

  • Overview of IDEA and your rights under IDEA

  • The reauthorization of IDEA

  • How to work with your school

  • Where to turn for help in your community

  • How your PTA can strengthen your school-based IDEA community

  • On-line resources

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What is the IDEA? be very confusing.

  • IDEA provides a free appropriate public education to 6.1 million school age children in the U.S.

    • Also serves almost 1 million children ages birth to five.

    • But it does not serve all children with disabilities

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Funding for IDEA be very confusing.

  • The federal government provides more than $10 B; yet this is less than 20% of what it costs to educate students with disabilities

  • States and local school districts (LEA) cover most of the costs of special eudcation

  • To track federal expenditures for IDEA, go to www.ed.gov, click on ‘budget’

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Parts of the IDEA be very confusing.

  • Part B -- basic grants to states for 3-21 year old program

  • Section 619 – 3-5 year old program

  • Part C – infant –toddler program; birth through 2 years of age

  • Part D – federal technical assistance supports

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Why IDEA is So Complicated be very confusing.

  • It’s a federal civil rights statute

  • There are federal regulations

  • There are state laws and regulations

  • There are local implementation rules

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What Are State/District Responsibilities? be very confusing.

  • Identify, locate and evaluate children with disabilities

  • Ensure that all special education teachers are highly qualified

  • Evaluate every child suspected of having a disability

  • Annually develop an individualized education program (IEP) for each child

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What States/Districts Must Do (con’t) be very confusing.

  • Provide educational services in the least restrictive environment (LRE)

  • Provide procedural safeguards

  • Include all students with disabilities in state and district assessment programs

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Don’t Get Confused be very confusing.

  • Requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) are different from IDEA. There are areas where the two laws overlap but there are differences between the two.

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Identify, Locate and Evaluate Children With Disabilities be very confusing.

  • Child Find

    • As a parent, you don’t need to wait for the school to come to you

    • What if your school says your child doesn’t need an evaluation?

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Ensure That All Special Education Teachers Are Highly Qualified

  • Full state certification

  • Holds a license to teach in the state

  • Holds at least a B.A. degree

  • Highly qualified in core content if teaching in core content area as defined under NCLB

    • Note: depends on classroom setting

    • Note: rule differs for charter schools

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Evaluate Every Child Suspected of Having a Disability Qualified

  • Generally district has 60 days to complete evaluation unless state policy has different timeframe

  • Note new options for students with specific learning disabilities

    • No longer required to use discrepancy model

    • What is Response to Intervention


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What is Response to Intervention Qualified

  • Multi-tiered model of service delivery

  • Uses a problem-solving method

  • Uses research-based, scientifically validated interventions/instruction to the extent available

  • Monitor student progress to inform instruction

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More on RTI Qualified

  • Three key components of RTI

    • High-quality instruction/intervention

    • Learning rate and level of performance are the primary sources of information

    • Decisions about intensity and duration of interventions are based on individual student response to instruction

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Resources on RTI Qualified

  • www.nasdse.org

  • www.ideapartnership.org (click on ‘collaboration on issues’)

  • RTI Action Network, www.rtinetwork.org

  • The National Center on Response to Intervention, www.rti4success.org

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Annually Develop an IEP for Each Child Qualified

  • An IEP is a written statement that includes:

    • Present level of performance

    • Measurable goals

    • Statement of special education and related services

    • Explanation of the extent (if any) that the child will be educated and participate with general education peers

    • Accommodations, if any

    • Transition plan (before the student’s 16th


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Who Must Attend an IEP Meeting? Qualified

  • Parents

  • General education teacher

  • Special education teacher

  • LEA representative

  • Individual who can interpret evaluation results

  • When appropriate the child

  • A member of the team may not attend if both the parent and the LEA agree that they are not relevant (area not being discussed or modified)

  • *New regulation on parent advocates*

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How Often Does an IEP Meeting Occur? Qualified

  • The IEP team will review the IEP not less than annually

  • The IEP team revises the plan as necessary to address any lack of progress

  • Re-evaluations occur at least every three years unless the parent or teacher request a re-evaluation sooner or unless the parent and the LEA agree it is unnecessary

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What Is Meant By Least Restrictive Environment? Qualified

  • School districts must offer a range of placements – what’s an LRE for one child may not be an LRE for another child

  • Not every school has to provide every service

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What If the School District Can’t Provide the Services in the IEP?

  • When private school is the only placement option

  • What is a school district’s responsibility when parents unilaterally place their child in a private school?

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Procedural Safeguards the IEP?

  • Right to examine records

  • Prior written notice in native language unless not feasible

  • Opportunity for mediation

  • Opportunity to file a complaint with the state

  • Opportunity to file a due process complaint

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Two Types of Complaints the IEP?

  • Complaints filed with the state – failure to provide FAPE

  • Complaints filed with the school district – failure to provide services on the IEP

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Filing of Complaint the IEP?

  • Complaints must be filed in writing – school district has 10 days to respond

  • IDEA 2004 added requirements that complaints be in writing, two-year statute of limitation; and face-to-face meeting within 15 days of receiving complaint

  • Specific timelines for hearing officers to hear matters

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Alternate dispute resolution the IEP?

  • Mediation

  • Opportunity to meet with disinterested party

  • Facilitated IEP meeting

  • For more information, go to:

    • www.directionservice.org/cadre and

    • www.directionservice.org/ideapartnership.cfm

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Withdrawing Your Child from Special Education the IEP?

  • New regulation gives parents the unilateral option to withdraw their child from special education

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Important Components of Special Education That Are Key to General Education

  • Universal design for Learning (UDL)

    • Is a framework for designing educational environments that enable all learners to gain knowledge and skills.

    • For information, go to www.cast.org or www.advocacyinstitute.org/UDL

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Important Components of Special Education That Are Key to General Education (con’t)

  • Positive behavioral supports (PBS)

    • For more information, go to www.pbis.org

  • Braided funding – stimulus money is coming to your school so be prepared

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Section 619 and Part C General Education (con’t)

  • Section 619 serves 3-5 year olds – they are entitled to FAPE

  • Part C serves infants and toddlers birth through age 2 (through the age of 2) –

    • There is no FAPE entitlement.

    • There is an ISFP (Individualized Family Service Plan)

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More on Section 619 and Part C General Education (con’t)

  • Section 619 served more than 700,000 children in the Fall of 2007

  • Part C served nearly 317,000 infants and toddlers in the Fall of 2007

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IDEA Reauthorization General Education (con’t)

  • When is it coming?

    • ESEA reauthorization has to come first –2010?

  • What will the major issues be?

    • Closer linkages to ESEA

    • Probably technical issues

      • IDEA underwent major changes in 1997 and 2004

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How PTAs Can Work With Their Schools to Improve the Special Ed Climate

  • Remember, students with disabilities are general education students first!

  • Identify both general and special ed personnel in your school who make up the ‘core team’ –things to keep in mind

    • Title I (NCLB) schools – cross cutting issues

    • Other cross cutting issues – e.g.,

      RTI/ PBS

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Establish Faculty/Parent Team Ed Climate

  • Find out what issues parents seem to be struggling with – what do they need information about?

  • How faculty/parent teams can help resolve issues before they become ‘issues’

    • Parent education is the key!

    • Identify resources in the school

    • Identify resources in the school


    • Identify resources in the community

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Resources in the School Ed Climate

  • Special education personnel

    • Administrators, teachers, school social workers, psychologists

  • General ed personnel

  • Career and tech ed personnel

  • Parents

  • Students (if high school)

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Resources in the School District Ed Climate

  • District Special Education personnel

  • But…don’t just think special ed

  • Career and tech ed personnel

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Resources in the Community Ed Climate

  • Business leaders

  • Vocational Rehabilitation

  • Medicaid/SSI

  • Parent Information Centers (for information, go to www.pacer.org)

  • Community groups that work with non-English speaking families in your school community

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Communities of Practice Ed Climate

  • A new way of working – can be done at any level

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Providing/Sharing Information Ed Climate

  • Hosting informational meeting

    • IDEA 101

    • Transition

    • What’s the difference between 504 and IDEA

  • Facilitating meetings to help address systemic concerns

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Resources Ed Climate

  • NICHCY: www.nichcy.org

  • U.S. Department of Education: www.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/edpicks.jhtml

  • http://idea.ed.gov

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NASDSE Contact Information Ed Climate

  • www.nasdse.org

  • www.ideapartnership.org

  • www.projectforum.org

  • www.personnelcenter.org

    [email protected]