Thursday, September 15, 2016

About Special Education...

While everybody was freaking out about the racist textbook our State Board was considering, the Houston Chronicle dropped this Special Education policy bombshell:

In honor of Brian Rosenthal's investigative journalism, I thought a SpEd themed blog post was in order. So I wanted do a post about things every parent should know about Special Education laws, as they relate to qualifying for special ed services by way of an initial evaluation.

  • A parent is allowed to request an initial evaluation to determine if a child is has a disability (as defined in 34 CFR §300.301(b)).
  • A state agency may not develop criteria that would prevent a parent from requesting an evaluation at any time.
  • Per Child Find, a district is required to identify, locate, and evaluate all children (from birth through age 21) with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilities. This obligation to identify all children who may need special education services exists even if the school is not providing special education services to the child. (20 U.S.C.1412 a(3))
  • The initial evaluation must be conducted within 60 days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation (unless state laws require that the evaluation occur in a shorter timeline). (34 CFR §300.301(c))
  • a Child with a Disability means: a child evaluated in accordance federal law as having
    • an intellectual disability, [updated per Rosa's law]
    • a hearing impairment (including deafness), 
    • a speech or language impairment, 
    • a visual impairment (including blindness), 
    • a serious emotional disturbance (referred to in this part as "emotional disturbance"),
    • an orthopedic impairment, 
    • autism, 
    • a traumatic brain injury, 
    • an other health impairment, 
    • a specific learning disability,  (specific learning disability include a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.)
    • deaf-blindness, 
    • or multiple disabilities, and 
           who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.
  • Parental consent is required for evaluation, even if the parent requested the evaluation. (34 CFR §300.300)
  • The school can decline a parent's request for evaluation. If it denies a request, it must provide notice that informs the parent of their refusal under 34 CFR §300.503(a)(2).
  • The parent can challenge the school's decision by requesting a due process hearing regarding the child’s need for an evaluation.
  • RTI may be a part of the identification process, but it may not be used to delay a parent’s request for evaluation of their child for eligibility for special education. (OSEP 1/21/11)
  • The initial evaluation shall be provided at no cost to the parent.
  • If a parent does not agree with the evaluation and would like to request an independent education evaluation, this might (or might not) be at the parent's expense. 
  • For more information, visit The Center for Parent Information and Resources or find a parent center near you.

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