A student in your school is being referred for special education. List the timelines and explain the procedural safeguards for the following steps:
- A parent or teacher can initiate the referral. If a parent refers, it typically goes straight to a child study meeting. If a teacher refers, it goes through a pre-referral process.
- Once a referral is received, a child study meeting must occur within 10 business days.
- Parents have the right to access any and all educational records as well as have an Independent Educational Evaluation done.
- Child Study Meeting: The parents and a team of school staff meet to discuss the reasons for referral. The team could consist of general education teacher(s), parents, an educational diagnostician, a social worker, a psychologist, an administrator(s), a special education teacher(s), school counselor, related service providers, and/or any advocates.
- At this meeting, parents are given a Parental Safeguards Informational booklet.
- If a student has completed the pre-referral process to discuss interventions and it has been determined that they have not responded to the interventions then the team will meet to discuss next steps.
- If the student has not been through the pre-referral process then at the meeting, an intervention plan for the student will be developed with input from all parties. Sometimes the team recommends putting the intervention plan in place for a period of time and then scheduling a meeting to reconvene to discuss progress and determine if further actions are needed. After they reconvene, if the interventions are working than no further action is needed. If they don’t work, then the team may determine a need for an evaluation.
- At the meeting, the team determines a need for an evaluation of the student. The team works together to determine which evaluation components are needed. These are based on suspected disabilities that the team determines the student may have. The most common components are: social history, psychological, educational, hearing screening, and classroom observation. There may be additional ones that are specific to the suspected disability such as speech, occupational therapy, and/or physical therapy.
- At a child study meeting, parents must initial and/or sign that they were a part of the team. If evaluations are recommended, the parents must initial/sign to either give consent or deny consent to evaluate.
- The recommended evaluations must be completed within 65 business days of the child study meeting. The eligibility meeting must also occur before the 65-day cut off.
- The expert for each component completes the evaluations.
- The Multi-disciplinary Report (the findings of the evaluations) must be made available to parents at least two business days prior to the eligibility meeting.
- This must occur within 65 business days of the child study meeting.
- The child study team reconvenes to review the findings of each evaluation component.
- Once all reports have been shared and parents have had any questions answered, the team completes criteria sheets (checklist) for the suspected disabilities.
- At this time, it will be determined (based on the criteria sheets) whether a student will be eligible or ineligible for special education services.
- If eligible, an IEP meeting will be scheduled which must take place within 30 calendar days of the eligibility meeting.
- Parents are asked to initial that they were part of this meeting.
- A draft IEP is developed based on the most recent evaluation results, current classroom performance, a file review, teacher(s) and parent input, as well as any recommendations made by the child study team at the eligibility meeting.
- IEPs are made available to parents to review two business days prior to the scheduled IEP meeting.
- The IEP team consists of classroom teacher(s), parents, special education teacher(s), administrator(s), and any related service providers (if necessary).
- Draft IEPs include:
- Factors considered
- Present level of academic performance
- Annual goals (benchmarks/short term objectives as needed)
- After the IEP has been explained, the administrator will go over the Prior Written Notice. The Prior Written Notice includes a statement of the county’s proposal to add or deny SPED services for the student and whether or not any other options were considered.
- At this point, the parents are asked if they’ve been refused anything.
- Lastly, the parents are asked to initial that the Prior Written Notice has been explained and to check the option giving permission to implement the IEP or not implement the IEP. They also initial that they were part of this meeting.
- Once parents have given permission to implement services, the IEP will take effect immediately.
- Placement (where the services will be received) can be in the general education setting and/or the special education setting.
- The IEP team can reconvene at anytime to amend the IEP when necessary.
Additional Safeguards that parents have throughout this process:
- The language used for all notices and consent must be understandable and in the parent’s native language.
- The school must protect the child’s confidentiality at all times.
- If a parent disagrees with a proposed change or placement, they can enact their “Stay Put” rights, which allows their child to stay where they are until the parents and school go through a dispute resolution process.
- If there are disputes, parents may also have the right to:
- Due process
- File a civil action lawsuit
- Reimbursement of any attorney fees
- Make a state level appeal
- Make a state complaint