Special Education End of Year Checklist

The end of the school year is a good time to review your special education child’s progress and determine what changes might be needed to his/her educational program for success the following year.

  • Review your child’s grades and meet with teachers and the IEP team to discuss any concerns.
  • Check the progress your child has made toward his/her goals, review goal data sheets where applicable, and address goals that are not being met with the IEP team.
  • Schedule an IEP meeting to discuss what has or has not worked with the education program and changes that should be made to address these concerns.
  • Discuss with the IEP team whether your child is eligible for Extended School Year (ESY). ESY is not the same as summer school. ESY services are based on your child’s needs as described in the IEP.  [intlink id=”458″ type=”post”]Click here for more on ESY[/intlink].

Other end-of-year considerations:

  • Consider enrolling your child in summer activities such as sports programs or camps.
  • Be sure you understand the Individualized Education Program being offered for the following school year. Are the goals clear and measurable?
  • Be sure you have a complete record of your student’s special education file, including all IEPs and evaluations.

1-Year Well-Baby Check-Up As Early Autism Detection

Since 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that all children be screened for autism during their 18 and 24 month well-baby check-ups. Recent research suggests it is possible to identify children at risk of developing autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and thus begin treatment significantly earlier, around the child’s first birthday.

The research study screened children during their one-year well-baby check-up. Parents were asked to complete a simple 24 question questionnaire called the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile (CSBS DP) Infant-Toddler Checklist. Pediatricians scored the questionnaires and referred children whose scores fell below a certain range for further evaluation.

Of the 10,479 babies screened, 184 were referred for further evaluation. Of those 184 children, 37 were diagnosed with autism. After three more years of observation, 32 still met the criteria for autism. Considering that autism occurs in approximately 65 of every 10,000 children, the study’s results suggest the CSBS DP Infant-Toddler Checklist identify approximately 50 percent of children with autism.

This simple checklist could allow autistic children to be diagnosed and begin receiving treatment much earlier than the typical child with autism. The children identified in the study as having autism, for example, were referred for behavioral therapy at an average age of 17 months and began treatment at 19 months.

Parents should consult with their pediatricians about this screening approach. The Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile (CSBS DP) Infant-Toddler Checklist and scoring instructions are also available online and can be downloaded for free here:

http://www.brookespublishing.com/store/books/wetherby-csbsdp/checklist.htm

Is Grade Retention – Repeating a Grade – Best for Your Child?

School districts sometimes propose (or insist) grade retention for your child in order to allow the child more time to develop the skills that s/he did not develop this school year or to allow the child time to mature before moving on to the next grade level. Is this an effective or appropriate course of action?

The research of various departments of education and other organizations do not support use of grade retention (See, for example, Of Primary Interest by the Colorado Department of Education, et. al.; National Association for School Psychologists; National Association of School Psychologists; and the U.S. Department of Education: “Students who are required to repeat a year are more likely than other students to eventually drop out, and few catch up academically with their peers. The right approach is to ensure that more students are prepared to meet challenging academic standards in the first place.”).

Parents must demand that school officials consider whether their child’s deficiencies are the result of immaturity or an inappropriate Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Deciding that your child be retained may not be in his/her best interest. The IEP team should consider the effectiveness of grade retention against the potential for improvement under a refined educational program.

Applications Open for Modesto City School Board

Original article appeared On Modbee.com on 9/14/2012

Modesto City Schools trustees unanimously decided Thursday morning to fill the seat of Cathy Flores Hallinan with a provisional appointment, avoiding an estimated $125,000 cost to hold a special election.

Hallinan resigned Tuesday, citing work commitments, after nine months on the board.

The appointment will take effect 30 days after the choice is made and last until November 2013, when voters will elect someone for the remaining two years of Hallinan’s term.

Those interested must turn in applications to the district office reception desk by noon on Sept. 21. The forms will be available online and at the office, 426 Locust Ave. The board will conduct public interviews and make a choice no later than Oct. 3.

Can School Districts Charge a Fee to Copy Student Records?

Many parents of special needs children are caught off guard when a school district tells them they will be charged a fee for copies of their child’s student records. After all, isn’t public education, particularly for special education students, supposed to be free? Is it legal for school districts to charge for copies of a special education student’s file?

The short answer is, yes, school districts may charge a reasonable fee that does not exceed the actual copying costs, so long as the fee does not prevent the parent from exercising his or her right to receive the records. If parents cannot afford the copy fee, the copies must be provided at no cost. The district should have a written policy regarding copy costs, and you should request a copy of this policy if asked to pay a fee.

You can download a sample Student File Request letter here: Request for Student File Letter

As parents of special needs children are well aware, special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of a child with disabilities. The words, “at no cost,” however, does not preclude “incidental fees that are normally charged to nondisabled students or their parents as a part of the regular education program.” [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.39(b)(1).]

California school districts are allowed by state law to charge a reasonable copying fee. California Education Code Section 49065, for example, states:

Any school district may make a reasonable charge in an amount not to exceed the actual cost of furnishing copies of any pupil record; provided, however, that no charge shall be made for furnishing (1) up to two transcripts of former pupils’ records or (2) up to two verifications of various records of former pupils. No charge may be made to search for or to retrieve any pupil record.

California Education Code Section 56504 further states:

The parent shall have the right and opportunity to examine all school records of his or her child and to receive copies pursuant to this section and to Section 49065 within five business days after the request is made by the parent, either orally or in writing. The public agency shall comply with a request for school records without unnecessary delay before any meeting regarding an individualized education program or any hearing pursuant to Section 300.121, 300.301, 300.304, or 300.507 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations or resolution session pursuant to Section 300.510 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations and in no case more than five business days after the request is made orally or in writing. The parent shall have the right to a response from the public agency to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of the records. If a school record includes information on more than one pupil, the parents of those pupils have the right to inspect and review only the information relating to their child or to be informed of that specific information. A public agency shall provide a parent, on request of the parent, a list of the types and locations of school records collected, maintained, or used by the agency. A public agency may charge no more than the actual cost of reproducing the records, but if this cost effectively prevents the parent from exercising the right to receive the copy or copies, the copy or copies shall be reproduced at no cost.

School districts, therefore, can charge a reasonable copy fee that does not exceed actual copying costs, and only if parents can afford the fee. So what is a reasonable copying fee? I’ve seen school districts quote 5, 10, and as much as 15 cents per page. These “flat” rates are unlikely to reflect the district’s “actual” costs. Actual costs would be limited to what the district actually pays for a sheet of paper multiplied by the number of pages the parent receives, and perhaps the pro-rata cost to the district to pay a clerical staff member to make the copies.

For example, if a 500 sheet ream of paper costs the district $5.00, each page is worth 1 cent. If their lowest level clerical staff person is paid $9.00 per hour, each minute of that person’s time is worth 15 cents. Putting these two variables together, the total cost of 200 pages at 30 minutes of clerical time would be $6.50 ($2.00 for the pages plus $4.50 for the district staff member’s time). In contrast, under the “flat” rates, parents would be charged $10 at 5 cents per page, $20 at 10 cents per page, and $30 at 15 cents per page.

Special Education Extended School Year (ESY)

NOTE: the following discussion of ESY is specific to California. The law in other states may or may not be different.

What is ESY?

Extended School Year (ESY) services are special education and related services provided by school districts, special education local plan areas (SELPAs), and county offices of education during the summer months between academic years. ESY is not the same as summer school programs offered by the district to non-disabled children. ESY services must be tailored for each child’s unique needs and are a continuation of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) provided during the regular academic year. Special education and related services offered during the extended year period must be comparable in standards, scope and quality to the special education program offered during the regular academic year.
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Special Education Student IEPs Upon Transfer

What happens to your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) when you move to a new school district? In California, the answer partly depends on whether you transfer from a school district within the boundaries of one Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) to a school district in a different SELPA, or simply within school districts in the same SELPA. You can find information about the different SELPA’s on the California Department of Education website, here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/as/caselpas.asp

If you move to a different SELPA, the new school district must, without delay, provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE), including services comparable to those described in the IEP approved by the previous school district for up to 30 days. Within those 30 days, the new school district must either adopt the previous school district’s IEP or develop and adopt a new IEP that provides a FAPE.

If you move within the same SELPA, the new school district must, without delay, provide a FAPE that includes services comparable to those described in the IEP approved by the previous school district, unless both the parent and new school district agree to develop and adopt a new IEP that provides a FAPE.

For out-of-state special education students moving into a California school district, the California district must provide the child with a FAPE, including services comparable to those described in the IEP approved out-of-state, until the California school district conducts a full initial evaluation, if determined necessary by the district, and develops a new IEP, if appropriate, that provides a FAPE.

Relevant California and Federal legal references:

Education Code section 56325, subdivision (a)(1), provides, in pertinent part:

As required by [20 U.S.C., section 1414, subdivision (d)(2)(C)(i)(I)], . . . In the case of an individual with exceptional needs who has an individualized education program and transfers into a district from a district not operating programs under the same local plan in which he or she was last enrolled in a special education program within the same academic year, the local educational agency shall provide the pupil with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously approved individualized education program, in consultation with the parents, for a period not to exceed 30 days, by which time the local educational agency shall adopt the previously approved individualized education program or shall develop, adopt, and implement a new individualized education program that is consistent with federal and state law.

Education Code section 56325, subdivision (a)(2), provides:

In the case of an individual with exceptional needs who has an individualized education program and transfers into a district from a district operating programs under the same special education local plan area of the district in which he or she was last enrolled in a special education program within the same academic year, the new district shall continue, without delay, to provide services comparable to those described in the existing approved individualized education program, unless the parent and the local educational agency agree to develop, adopt, and implement a new individualized education program that is consistent with federal and state law.

Education Code section 56325, subdivision (a)(3), provides:

As required by [20 U.S.C., section 1414, subdivision (d)(2)(C)(i)(II)], the following shall apply to special education programs for individuals with exceptional needs who transfer from an educational agency located outside the State of California to a district within California. In the case of an individual with exceptional needs who transfers from district to district within the same academic year, the local educational agency shall provide the pupil with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously approved individualized education program, in consultation with the parents, until the local educational agency conducts an assessment pursuant to [20 U.S.C., section 1414, subdivision (a)(1)], if determined to be necessary by the local educational agency, and develops a new individualized education program, if appropriate, that is consistent with federal and state law.

To facilitate the transition from one school district to another, the new school in which the student enrolls shall take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the pupil’s records, including the IEP and supporting documents and any other records relating to the provision of special education and related services to the pupil, from the previous school in which the pupil was enrolled. (Ed. Code, § 56325, subd. (b)(1).)

20 U.S.C., section 1414, subdivision (d)(2)(C)(i)(I), provides:

Transfer with the Same State. In the case of a child with a disability who transfers school districts within the same academic year, who enrolls in a new school, and who had an IEP that was in effect in the same State, the local educational agency shall provide such child with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously held IEP, in consultation with the parents until such time as the local educational agency adopts the previously held IEP or develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP that is consistent with Federal and State law.

34 C.F.R., section 300.323(e) contains the same requirements as Section 1414, subdivision (d)(2)(C)(i)(I), and applies to transfer students “who had an IEP that was in effect in a previous public agency in the same State.”

20 U.S.C., section 1414, subdivision (d)(2)(C)(i)(I), provides:

Transfer Outside State. In the case of a child with a disability who transfers school districts within the same academic year, who enrolls in a new school, and who had an IEP that was in effect in another State, the local educational agency shall provide such child with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously held IEP, in consultation with the parents until such time as the local educational agency conducts an evaluation pursuant to subsection (a)(1), if determined to be necessary by such agency, and develops a new IEP, if appropriate, that is consistent with Federal and State law.