Saturday, November 22, 2014

Is SPS legal dept now writing IEPs?

I've been told IEP decisions and IEP content is being directed by SPS legal dept and SPS special education supervisors , this is in violation of IDEA LAWS. Here are some guidelines to know before your IEP meeting.



What is an IEP?


IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. It’s a legal document which is a written agreement between you and the school. This annually written plan is a “map of your child’s
education services”. The IEP defines the special education and related services that your child with disabilities will receive. The IEP ensures that your child’s unique needs will be met. Every
child receiving special education must have an IEP.

Who writes an IEP?

The IEP is written by a Team. The Team works together, collaborates, and decides by consensus not by vote. Everyone on the team has an equal voice.

Who makes up the IEP team?


• Parents/Guardians Parents are equal partners in the IEP process and critical members of the decision-making team. Parents should be actively involved with developing, reviewing and revising
the IEP. Parental input and attendance at all meetings is one of your rights!
• Your child (when appropriate)
• At least one general education teacher of your child
• At least one special education teacher of your child
• A school or district administrative representative (such as the school administrator or the Intervention Specialist)
• Someone qualified to explain assessments and evaluation reports (such as a psychologist or speech pathologist)

The school and/or parents may request other individuals to ttend the IEP meeting. For instance, it may be helpful to invite someone who can provide additional information, support, or expertise about your child such as a neighbor, relative, friend, private therapist or parent advocate. Please
keep in mind that these guests may provide valuable input about your child.



Parents, you are your child’s best advocate! By learning to be a
good advocate, you will help ensure that your child receives the
appropriate education to which s/he is entitled under law.

What must an IEP include? 


• Description of your child’s abilities (strengths & needs) and present level of performance
• List of goals for the year that are meaningful, specific and measurable. No goal should last
forever. If progress is not being made, the IEP team must meet to review the IEP and, if needed, to revise it.
• Description of related services that your child will receive such as speech, occupational therapy,
physical therapy, assistive technology etc. This description should include how often, when and
where the services will be received
• Description of how your child’s progress will be measured and by whom. The data collected on
progress will be reported back to parents at regular intervals
• Description of how much time your child will spend in a general classroom, known as Inclusive Practices or Inclusive Education. The goal is to keep your child in the Least Restrictive Environment which means that according to federal law, students with disabilities must be educated with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate based on the students needs.
• Details about necessary accommodations or modifications. Accommodations do not change
curriculum. They only change the way your child is taught or allowed to respond or test (such as in the timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response and/or presentation of assignments). Modifications do change the type and/or amount of curriculum taught and are used when the student is expected to learn less or different content. Modifications can include less content for struggling students. Modifications help customize assignments, tests, worksheets, and other classroom materials.
• Transition Planning after high school (begins at age16)
• Whether your child will receive ESY (ExtendedSchool Year)
• IDEA does not include the Functional Behavioral
Intervention Plan (FBIP) as a required component of the IEP; it merely states that problem behaviors must be addressed by the IEP team.

Key points


• The purpose of the IEP meeting is to focus on the child’s educational services and work towards
finalizing and agreeing upon goals. Parents should receive a copy of both the IEP and the meeting minutes.
• The IEP is reviewed at least once a year, or more often if needed, to see if revisions are needed
• The child is re-evaluated at least every 3 years (Triennial), or more often if needed, to determine if
child still has a disability and what are the educational needs
• No changes can be made to the IEP unless parents have had the opportunity to participate in the decision making process and have received Prior Written Notice of the IEP team’s decision. All changes must be supported by current data
• If concerns have not been fully addressed and agreed upon, parents need to request that this is documented in the meeting minutes with a plan for follow-up resolution
• By signing the IEP, it is only an indication you were present and participated in the IEP meeting

Be prepared


Before IEP meeting parents should

• Be proactive
• Organize and collect your own data
• Communicate with other members of the Team ahead of time, including your own child
• Review child’s current IEP (if applicable)
• Make a list of child’s academic and functional strengths and needs
• Consider what motivates your child and what is your child’s learning style
• Create a list of desired goals that you would like for your child to achieve
• Submit all of your lists to the Service Coordinator at least 2 weeks prior to the IEP meeting
• Request that you receive a copy of the IEP “Rough Draft” prior to the actual IEP meeting
so that you can keep working on continued concerns or desired changes. Remember, this is only a draft
• Be prepared to work as an integral part of the Team in order to best meet the needs of your child
• Be realistic and think “outside of the box” During IEP meeting parents should
• Bring copy of IEP “rough draft”, along with questions and concerns that you may still have
• Ask for a copy of the IEP Meeting Agenda
• While not an official part of the IEP, ask who is taking the minutes for the meeting so that you may obtain a copy before leaving
• Take personal notes to include concerns, as well as positive feedback
• Address these 5 areas:
Where are we now?
Where are we going?
How are we going to get there?
What does success look like?
How will progress be reported?
• Ask for a copy of the finalized IEP and meeting minutes
• Be assertive, not aggressive
 * stay calm, be proactive, and focus on the needs of your child *

After IEP meeting parents should

• Periodically review IEP to compare it with class work and child’s progress
• Continue to communicate with other Team  members
• Frequently talk with your child about school and encourage your child to learn self-advocacy skills
• You can request a meeting at any time if concerns arise
• When things are going well, tell your Team members

 When should I request a formal IEP meeting?


Not all concerns require a formal IEP meeting with the entire  Team. First try to communicate and resolve concerns by calling, emailing, writing the appropriate teachers, therapists, etc. Perhaps
an informal conference with the appropriate people will remedy a concern.

Some reasons to request a formal IEP meeting:
• To discuss unresolved concerns and CHANGES that need to  be made in your child’s program/IEP such as: child has met a goal, child does not appear to be making progress, you feel additional services are needed or services are no longer needed, child has experienced a major change such as illness, surgery, injury, death of a family member.
• To request that school re-evaluate your child

Practical Dispute Resolution
• Attempt to address the issue with teacher(s) first
• Document concerns and efforts you made to resolve problems
• Use the following road map after you have talked with your child’s teacher and feel there are still unresolved
Talk with your child’s service coordinator
Talk with your child’s IEP Team Intervention Specialist
Talk with your child’s school principal
Request an IEP review meeting
Work with your IEP Team
• Request your school’s Student Support Services Facilitator come to a formal IEP meeting
• If after following the above road map there are still unresolved problems contact one of the Student Support Services Managers or the Director of Student Support Services.

Formal Dispute Resolution


Mediation – is the most informal dispute resolution option. Mediation is a voluntary process that is held only if both parties (the parent and the district) agree to mediate. OSPI contracts with a company called Sound Options Group to provide mediation services to parents and districts. Sound Options uses mediators who are trained in conflict resolution techniques and help parties communicate to focus on problem solving. The mediators are neutral third parties and do not act as advocates for either parents or school districts. They also have training in state and federal special education law and regulations.

File Citizens Complaint – Administrative complaints must be in writing, signed and filed with the OSPI. Complaint investigators have authority to investigate alleged violations of state and federal special education laws. Once a complaint containing all the required information is received by our OSPI, an investigator is assigned to the case and has 60 days to complete the investigation and issue a Letter of Findings.

Due Process Hearing Is the most formal of the dispute resolution options, Parents, districts or attorneys for either party submit a signed, written request for a special education due process hearing. A written request for a due process hearing is made by a parent or district relating to issues about the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or provision of Free Appropriate Public Education to a student. Requests must be made within—and allege violations that occurred not more than—two years before the date you knew or should have known about the allegation. Only an administrative law judge may allow an exception to the two-year timeframe.

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