The Goals and Objectives section of the IEP is the”meat” of the IEP. Goals and objectives should be directly linked to the child’s educational needs. Special educators determine what a child’s education needs are through formal and informal assessments, through observations of the child’s behaviors and social interactions, through parent feedback, through work products the child creates and through evaluating the child’s level of success with different teaching interventions. The goals and objectives are the specific skills the child is going to learn during the course of the IEP, which is usually one year. Read the rest of this entry →
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Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is a myth! Generally speaking, if your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) they are either receiving a Free Public Education or an Appropriate Public Education but not both. The term FAPE means special education and related services that:
- have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge;
- meet the standards of the State educational agency;
- include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the State involved; and
- are provided in conformity with the IEP required under Section 1414(d) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Read the rest of this entry →
The phrase “Elephant in the Room” has been a part of the English language for a very long time; I’m sure as adults we’ve all used it in conversation at one time or another. Wikipedia defines it as “is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed.” The two words that I think stand out the most in the definition are “ignored” and “unaddressed.” Let’s now apply this definition to children with disabilities; the “Elephant in the Room” in many schools or households is a child with a disability. There are many reasons why a child’s disability may be ignored or not addressed. Read the rest of this entry →
One of the most devastating calls you can receive as a parent is the School calling to tell you they have initiated an expulsion proceeding against your child due to poor behavior. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) before the expulsion process can start they must hold a Manifestation Determination review. This review must be held within 10 days of the conduct. At which time the IEP team must review the complete file and consider all relevant information, including the IEP, any teacher observations, and any information supplied by the parents. The IEP team must then answer two questions: Read the rest of this entry →
Pete Wright, the Godfather of Special Education law, has often been quoted saying, “Unless you are prepared to remove your child from public school forever, you need to view your relationship with the school as a marriage without the possibility of divorce.” While this may be true regarding the School relationship, this isn’t the case for individual members of the IEP Team. IEP Team members change frequently and it’s amazing how adding or removing one person from the IEP Team can make a huge difference in the quality and implementation of an IEP. While the Parents are not normally in control of the IEP team members from the School, there are methods the Parents can use to add or remove members. Read the rest of this entry →
More students than ever are currently attending school with such chronic conditions as diabetes, cancer, asthma, severe food allergies and seizure disorders.
For more than a decade, I supervised the school nurses in an 11,000-student school district. I often consulted with parents, principals, and nurses about students’ health concerns.
If your child has a specific condition, you are your child’s best advocate. Make sure you are thoroughly informed about your child’s needs and rights. It is critically important for you to communicate with the school principal, school nurse, and your child’s teachers. Be actively involved in helping the school to understand and provide the services and attention your child needs to succeed.
Prescriptions, doctor’s orders and other necessary paperwork should be updated by parents at the start of each school year or when there is a change in your child’s treatment. You should also check the school’s policies, protocols and guidelines in regard to the handling of specific health conditions.
Often, health issues can be addressed successfully by developing a medical management plan that gives the school guidance on your child’s specific needs. Creating a medical management plan for how your child’s health needs will be handled at school should be a team effort that includes you, your child, school personnel, and your child’s doctors. It is very important that the plan is documented in writing.
Parents often ask about whether they need a 504 Plan to manage their child’s health needs at school. Whereas a medical management plan provides guidelines, a 504 Plan is legally binding. It is your call whether you want to request a 504 Plan for your child.
School districts are required by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 794) to provide all students, regardless of disability, with a “free appropriate public education.” This provision, found in section 504, applies to any condition – physical, mental, or emotional – that might interfere with a student’s ability to receive an education in a public school. That means that no student with a disability can be excluded from school. 504 Plans are comprehensive plans created collaboratively by parents, nurses, and other interested parties to address the student’s individual needs.
Severe peanut allergies, diabetes, and seizure disorders are a few of the conditions that may or may not fall under the Rehabilitation Act. For example, 504 Plans may address the use of anaphylactic medications, such as epi-pens, and how staff will be utilized to recognize and respond to allergy symptoms. 504 plans sometimes require nurses to be on school premises at all times to administer glucagon for diabetes or seizure disorder medication. 504 plans may also address specific responsibilities of students and staff.
A student must have a condition that “substantially limits one or more major life activities,” to qualify for a 504 Plan. Students have to be evaluated by the school district to determine whether they are eligible. The district will take into consideration the age and capability of the child. If parents are dissatisfied with the outcome, they may appeal.
In addition to the Rehabilitation Act, several other laws protect students with health issues. These include the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. While the Rehabilitation Act offers protection to public school students, the ADA extends protection to students in private schools and day care centers
What are the pros and cons of a 504 Plan?
• A 504 Plan is a legal document. 504 Plans can be enforced in court, or with the United States Office of Civil Rights
• A 504 Plan makes expectations for all concerned — parents, students, classmates, teachers, aides, nurses, and administrators – crystal clear.
• 504 Plans can provide specific guidelines for handling your child’s health issues even if there are changes in school personnel.
• 504 Plans can address your child’s health needs in a variety of school-related activities, including field trips, fire drills, lunch, and extra-curricular activities.
• Obtaining a 504 Plan will be time-consuming. There will be an evaluation and assessment of your child and several meetings to arrive at agreement on the specifics of the plan.
• Although you are not required to have a lawyer, you may decide to hire one to represent your child’s interests or to appeal a decision. This could be quite costly.
The bottom line has to do with the seriousness of your child’s symptoms and how capable he/she is to take care of his/her health needs. You are the best judge. It is your decision whether you want to have a legally enforceable plan or if you are comfortable with a medical management plan. Whichever you choose, it is always a good idea to make sure everything is in writing. If you are in doubt, consult with your child’s doctor and an attorney, who has expertise in this area.
Dr. Meryl Ain has worked in several large Long Island, New York school districts as a central office administrator, teacher, and school building administrator. She shares her insights and expertise on her blog, Your Education Doctor. Dr. Ain offers consulting and other professional service to individuals, groups, teachers and school districts.
I often hear from parents, I have just gotten a medical diagnosis for my child and have set up my first IEP meeting to qualify them to receive services. That medical diagnosis could be ADHD, a learning disorder, a mood disorder, an anxiety disorder, pervasive developmental disorder or a whole host of others. These are typically the same parents that are blown away when the School District tells them they don’t qualify. Read the rest of this entry →
In my opinion parents and school districts can’t collaborate because they have different agendas. School Districts are businesses that are limited by school budgets and costs. Their business is educating the masses of children in the most cost effective method possible. Parents on the other hand are only interested in educating and raising their children. Parents want the best for their children while School Districts want the cheapest cost. While I don’t believe School Districts and Parents can collaborate the good news is, I do believe Parents and School Personnel (individuals) can collaborate. Believing in collaboration between individuals is one thing, but how do you actually foster collaboration? Read the rest of this entry →
We live in an unprecedented era where schools are dealing with shrinking budgets and fewer resources but still must figure out how to educate an increasingly large number of student age children. This is compounded by the fact that class sizes are increasing and the number of credentialed Teachers are decreasing due to layoffs. Just like every other area of education, school districts are trying to figure out ways to cut special education costs as well. Even though cost cannot be a factor when determining services in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) the children receiving the appropriate services are the ones whose parents are educated and prepared when attending their child’s IEP. This makes it even more important to be prepared for your next meeting. This article will help you truly prepare for the next IEP meeting. Read the rest of this entry →
How often have you heard the School District blame the Parents for the failure of an IEP? I’ve heard it more often than I would like and it’s more common than some would like to believe. This very topic was at the heart of a recent appeals proceeding conducted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Anchorage School District v. M.P.. The 9th Circuit was reviewing a ruling from a District Court that was “declining to consider whether M.P. received a FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) because his parents were equally or more at fault for the absence of an updated IEP.” This ruling from the District Court, if upheld by the 9th Circuit, would have undermined the entire process established by Congress in IDEA and the rights afforded to parent’s to protect their child’s right to receive FAPE. The 9th Circuit understood the enormity of what the District Court had ruled and agreed to a judicial review of the lower court’s decision. During that review, “The school district argued that the parents were at fault because “they left the IEP meeting, did not file a dissenting report,” and did not adequately communicate their concerns to the school district.” The 9th Circuit Court of appeals disagreed and wrote the following: Read the rest of this entry →