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SPECIAL EDUCATION and the LAW National PTA Legislative Conference March 11, 2009 Nancy Reder, Esq. Deputy Executive Dir PowerPoint Presentation
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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 LAW National PTA Legislative Conference March 11, 2009 Nancy Reder, Esq. Deputy Executive Dir

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

    2. Some Background Information • A little bit about me…. • A little bit about NASDSE….

    3. 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

    4. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can be very confusing.

    5. What is the IDEA? • 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

    6. Funding for IDEA • 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, click on ‘budget’

    7. Parts of the IDEA • 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

    8. Why IDEA is So Complicated • It’s a federal civil rights statute • There are federal regulations • There are state laws and regulations • There are local implementation rules

    9. What Are State/District Responsibilities? • 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

    10. What States/Districts Must Do (con’t) • Provide educational services in the least restrictive environment (LRE) • Provide procedural safeguards • Include all students with disabilities in state and district assessment programs

    11. Don’t Get Confused • 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.

    12. Identify, Locate and Evaluate Children With Disabilities • 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?

    13. 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

    14. Evaluate Every Child Suspected of Having a Disability • 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 (RTI)?

    15. What is Response to Intervention • 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

    16. More on RTI • 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

    17. Resources on RTI • • (click on ‘collaboration on issues’) • RTI Action Network, • The National Center on Response to Intervention,

    18. Annually Develop an IEP for Each Child • 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 birthday

    19. Who Must Attend an IEP Meeting? • 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*

    20. How Often Does an IEP Meeting Occur? • 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

    21. What Is Meant By Least Restrictive Environment? • 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

    22. 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?

    23. Procedural Safeguards • 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

    24. Two Types of Complaints • Complaints filed with the state – failure to provide FAPE • Complaints filed with the school district – failure to provide services on the IEP

    25. Filing of Complaint • 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

    26. Alternate dispute resolution • Mediation • Opportunity to meet with disinterested party • Facilitated IEP meeting • For more information, go to: • and •

    27. Withdrawing Your Child from Special Education • New regulation gives parents the unilateral option to withdraw their child from special education

    28. 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 or

    29. Important Components of Special Education That Are Key to General Education (con’t) • Positive behavioral supports (PBS) • For more information, go to • Braided funding – stimulus money is coming to your school so be prepared

    30. Section 619 and Part C • 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)

    31. More on Section 619 and Part C • 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

    32. IDEA Reauthorization • 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

    33. 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

    34. Establish Faculty/Parent Team • 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 District • Identify resources in the community

    35. Resources in the School • Special education personnel • Administrators, teachers, school social workers, psychologists • General ed personnel • Career and tech ed personnel • Parents • Students (if high school)

    36. Resources in the School District • District Special Education personnel • But…don’t just think special ed • Career and tech ed personnel

    37. Resources in the Community • Business leaders • Vocational Rehabilitation • Medicaid/SSI • Parent Information Centers (for information, go to • Community groups that work with non-English speaking families in your school community

    38. Communities of Practice • A new way of working – can be done at any level

    39. Providing/Sharing Information • Hosting informational meeting • IDEA 101 • Transition • What’s the difference between 504 and IDEA • Facilitating meetings to help address systemic concerns

    40. Resources • NICHCY: • U.S. Department of Education: •

    41. NASDSE Contact Information • • • •