The IDEA 2004 provides a process for amending an IEP between annual Team Meetings, this can be initiated by parents or by the school district to make changes in a student’s IEP without having to convene a meeting (reference: 34 CFR 300.324(a)(4)(i)) To be implemented, it must be agreed to by both the district and the family (in writing), more on this in another post.
It is also possible for parents to send an amendment letter to correct or clarify the IEP meeting notes for accuracy. Often, that is a needed step. In fact, our special education advocate suggested to us that Every IEP could benefit from an Amendment Letter. Often the notes taken by the school district focus on documenting that they followed the appropriate legal processes at the meeting. However, things like discussions about present levels of functioning, progress toward goals, requested services and other items of parent input are sometimes left out of the notes or they are recorded incorrectly. In cases like this, an Amendment Letter can be sent from the parents/family to the school with the request that the notes be corrected and the letter be added to the student’s educational records. There is a good sample letter online at The Parent Information Center on Special Education.
For more information about Amendments to the IEP see:
Sometimes finding the resources and help that you need can be challenging. There are websites out there that can help, but with the overwhelming amount of information available, it can be hard to sort through all the information to find what is really relevant and pertinent to your situation. Here’s a handy table with links to the Ed.Gov’s webpage for each state that lists the departments of education, departments of higher education, departments of special education, etc. (Thank you Michael Marcinek for compiling this information! :-))
Sec. 300.303 Reevaluations.
(a) General. A public agency must ensure that a reevaluation of each child with a disability is conducted in accordance with Sec. Sec. 300.304 through 300.311–
(1) If the public agency determines that the educational or related services needs, including improved academic achievement and functional performance, of the child warrant a reevaluation; or
(2) If the child’s parent or teacher requests a reevaluation.
(b) Limitation. A reevaluation conducted under paragraph (a) of this section–
(1) May occur not more than once a year, unless the parent and the public agency agree otherwise; and
(2) Must occur at least once every 3 years, unless the parent and the public agency agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1414(a)(2) ) Reference: IDEA Website
The law permits the triennial evaluation to be dispensed with if the parent and the district agree that the re-evaluation is unnecessary. Because of the time and costs associated with a reevaluation, it is likely that, if the student clearly continues to qualify for special education services, the school will recommend dispensing with the triennial evaluation. I urge you NOT to agree with this. The purpose of the triennial reevaluation is not only to determine continued eligibility for special education services, but also to “assess whether any additions or modifications to the special education and related services being provided are needed to help the child meet the child’s IEP goals.” Since we know how fast our children change and how their needs change with them, it is almost always very valuable to have the triennial evaluations completed. Needs drive Goals and Goals drive Services. The first step is always to identify the needs of the student. Triennial Evaluations can help you do that more completely.
In a state that transfers rights at the age of majority, beginning at least one year prior to the student reaching the age of majority under state law, the student’s IEP must include a statement that the student has been informed that his or her rights under Part B, if any, will transfer. The school must comply with IDEA notification requirements to both the student and the parents. National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
It’s important for families to understand the legal implications of a student reaching the age of majority and to talk about decision-making before that point. If your student feels that they are not ready to make decisions about their education on their own, an Educational Power of Attorney can be instated, which allows parents to actively participate in the decision-making as related to education and transition services for their student. A sample of an Educational Power of Attorney can be found by clicking here.
This is something that often takes families by surprise. Transition Planning must begin early in the high school years. This excerpt from the IDEA website from Section 300.320:
(b) Transition services. Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and updated annually, thereafter, the IEP must include–
(1) Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and
(2) The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.
(bold emphasis is mine)
It’s important for families to know the laws that govern the part of the process that they are facing. When you are preparing for (or are in) the Transition Years, you need to know how Congress and the IDEA define “Transition Services”
Congress also made significant changes in the legal definition of “transition services” in IDEA 2004.
– The term `transition services’ means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that-
(34) Transition Services – The term `transition services’ means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that-
(A) is designed to be a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
(B) is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests;
(C) includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation. (See “Definitions” in Section 1401, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, page 56)
Families of Students who are about to transition from the Special Education System must understand that their student is moving from a system of Entitlement into a a system of Eligibility. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has published a concise guide to the differences in the laws, definitions and rights.
I think one of the hardest things for parents to overcome is the idea that the school district will be your best source of information for Transition Planning. The unfortunate truth is that by the time a student is in the transition years, often the School district’s main concern is how to exit the student from special education as quickly and inexpensively as possible. This means that sometimes the information you get from case managers, school administrators or at the Planning and Placement Team Meetings is skewed or even incorrect. This is why it’s important to do your Research and make sure you know the laws in your State that apply in your student’s situation.
Here’s the snippet from the US Department of Education about the availability of a Free and Appropriate Public Education:
Statute: TITLE I
(1) Free appropriate public education.–
(A) In general.–A free appropriate public education is available to all children with disabilities residing in the State between the ages of 3 and 21, inclusive, including children with disabilities who have been suspended or expelled from school.
(B) Limitation.–The obligation to make a free appropriate public education available to all children with disabilities does not apply with respect to children–
(i) aged 3 through 5 and 18 through 21 in a State to the extent that its application to those children would be inconsistent with State law or practice, or the order of any court, respecting the provision of public education to children in those age ranges; and
(ii) aged 18 through 21 to the extent that State law does not require that special education and related services under this part be provided to children with disabilities who, in the educational placement prior to their incarceration in an adult correctional facility–
(I) were not actually identified as being a child with a disability under section 602; or
(II) did not have an individualized education program under this part.
(C) State flexibility.–A State that provides early intervention services in accordance with part C to a child who is eligible for services under section 619, is not required to provide such child with a free appropriate public education.
I’m never quite sure I’m reading these right, but I think this means that unless the State Law prevents it, students are entitled to an appropriate education through the age of 21. Here’s a link to a listing of Special Education Ages by State, which may limit the “thru age 21” statement in the Federal Statute: http://askjo.co/EDAgesbyState
What a great resource I stumbled upon today when looking for a source of Advocates and Attorney’s who specialize in Special Education! Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities.