Observation by Independent Evaluators for Children in Special Education

Are you the parent of a child with a disability, who will be getting
an Independent Education Evaluation (IEE), for your child? Have you
been told by special education personnel, that the evaluator may not
observe your child in the classroom? This article will discuss the rules
about independent evaluators observing your child in their current
placement.When school districts conduct evaluations, they usually include an
observation of the child with a disability, in their classroom. This
is one reason, that it is important for independent evaluators to
observe the child in their classroom, as part of an IEE. Another
reason is because special education personnel will challenge any IEE,
where the evaluator has not observed the child in their placement.Even though school personnel will challenge a parent’s IEE, for lack
of evaluator observation, they often tell parents that their evaluator
is prohibited from observing the child in their classroom.Some special education personnel blame HIPPA and Ferpa, for theprohibition, but this is not true. There is nothing in HIPAA, that
prohibits a parent’s evaluator from observing the child in the classroom.In the court case: JH vs. Henrico County School Board 395 F. 3d. 185
(2005), the court found that an expert needs to observe a child in the
classroom. It would derive from the weight the Court gave to actual
observation of the child in the classroom.Also in an Office of Special Education Program (OSEP) letter to Mamas,
they confirmed the right to observe, when the district used
observations as part of the evaluation process and referred parents to
state and local policies on observation.In the Supreme Court Case Schaffer vs. Weast the justices emphasized
that parents should have equal power to school districts, thus
supporting the right to observe. The court also said that “IDEA thus
ensures parental access to an expert who can evaluate all the
materials that the school must make available, and who can give an
independent opinion.”Courts in the past, have stated that little weight should be given to
parent’s witnesses, who have not observed in the classroom, and
greater weight be given to school district witnesses because they have
extensively observed the child. This is why it is frustrating, when
special education personnel, refuse to allow parents independent
evaluators to observe the child.If your school district is refusing to allow your independent
evaluator to observe your child in school, send them a letter. Ask for
a written response as to why they are refusing. Take this response,
and file a state complaint, with your state board of education. The state
complaint could state, that your rights and your child’s rights are beingviolated, by the school districts prohibition of your independent evaluator
observation.You can stand up to special education personnel, that tell you lies
and deceptions. Independent evaluators must observe the child in their
current placement, to make the evaluation acceptable to the school
district. This is especially true if you are considering filing for a
due process hearing. If you file, and the school district refuses your
evaluator access to your child’s placement, ask the hearing officer
to make a ruling that will allow your evaluator to observe. Good luck!

You Can Fight Back Against Special Education Denials That Hurt Your Child!

Are you the parent of a child with autism, learning disabilities, or another disability receiving special education services? Are you sick and tired of special education personnel in your district denying your child needed related and special education services? This article will empower you to fight back for your child by addressing important advocacy skills.Advocacy Strategy 1: Educate yourself about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA 2004) and your states regulations on special education. You can do this by reading books, attending conferences and developing friendships with more experienced parents of children with disabilities. By being educated on federal and state law your chances of success with your advocacy increase.Advocacy Strategy 2: Documentation is critical in winning a special education dispute. Begin sending letters to document what is occurring in your child’s education. Important verbal conversations must be followed up by a short letter, to the person you spoke to. For Example: Your child’s teacher states in a phone conversation that your child is not progressing, and needs more intense related and special education services. Immediately write a letter to the teacher, including the date and time of the conversation, and what was said. The letter needs to be Hand delivered to the teacher, or sent certified with a return receipt. This will document what the teacher said, even if she denies that she ever said it.Also, save any letters or other documentation sent from special education personnel. You should save important school papers, any notes about negative behavior, any documentation that you need to strengthen your advocacy position. I once advocated for a young boy who had negative behavior at school. The school was sending home daily behavior sheets, and I advised the mother to date them, and not throw them away. We used them at a due process to show that when the school district stated the child’s behavior was out of control, the behavior sheet said he was fine. Documentation can win a case, or lack of documentation can lose a case.Advocacy Strategy 3: Tape record all IEP meetings, and if possible and necessary have a transcriber transcribe them for future use. Transcriptions of IEP meetings can be used at due process as documentation.In all my years of advocacy, I have never been a huge fan of tape recording, but I have recently changed my mind. School districts have become so bold in denying things they tell parents, that it is critical that parents have documentation of what is being said in meetings, and what the school district is agreeing to. I find a huge discrepancy between what many special education personnel agree to in a meeting, and what is being documented in a child’s IEP. A transcript of a tape recorded meeting could be used as evidence in a due process hearing, to show what the school district agreed to.Advocacy Strategy 4: Whenever special education personnel want to change a child’s label placement or refuse to change your child’s label or placement, they must give prior written notice (PWN) to you. Also, if they deny services that your child needs, they must also give PWN. For example: If you take your child to an independent evaluator and bring the report of recommendations to the school district, and they refuse to follow the recommendations, they must give you PWN, on why they are not following the recommendations.Advocacy Strategy 5: Be willing to file state complaints or due process for non compliance with IDEA 2004, or if the school district does not give your child FAPE. Going over the school districts head is the best way to ensure that your child is getting the appropriate services that they need.With these advocacy strategies under your belt, you will have a better chance of prevailing in a dispute with your school district. Your child is depending on you so work hard for their benefit.

Draft IEP’s For Your Child in Special Education – Tips on Using Them to Help Your Child

Are you the parent of a child that has autism, and is receiving
special education services? Are you a parent that would like to
understand Draft individual education plans (IEP), and how you
can use them to benefit your child. This article will help you learn about
Draft IEP’s, what the requirements are, and how to use them to
help your child’s education.A draft IEP is an individual education plan that is filled out in
advance, of the IEP meeting, for your child. Many parents wonder
if it is legal for special education personnel to do this. The Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is silent on draft IEP’s.The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), which is part of the
Department of Education stated in the Federal Register Vol 71 August
12, 2006 “We do not encourage public agencies to prepare a draft IEP
prior to the IEP team meeting. . .”So, draft IEP’s are not illegal, but are discouraged by OSEP. The
Federal Register also states “. . .if a public agency develops a draft
IEP prior to the IEP meeting, the agency should make it clear to the
parents at the outset of the meeting, that the services proposed by
the agency are preliminary recommendations for review and discussion
with parents.” Special education personnel rarely state this, at the
beginning of a meeting, so you may have to bring it up. The Federal
Register goes on to say “It is not permissible for an agency to have
the final IEP completed before an IEP Team meeting begins.”The Federal Register comments from OSEP also state “The public
agency also should provide the parents with a copy of its draft
proposals if the agency has developed them, prior to the IEP
meeting. . .” You should request this in writing, and I would
also quote the comments from the Federal Register. The
request should include timelines; for Example “I will expect
to receive a copy of the Draft IEP at the same time as my
10 day written notice of the IEP meeting.”The Federal Register also has OSEP stating “so as to give the
parents an opportunity to review the recommendations of the public
agency prior to the IEP team meeting, and be better able to engage in
a full discussion of the proposals for the IEP.”One way to use Draft IEP’s to help your child, is to develop your own
draft IEP. Go to your state board of education’s Website, go to
special education and then download an IEP form (Most states have an
IEP form available for downloading). Fill out the form, with everything
that you believe your child needs.Take the form with you to your child’s IEP meeting, and cross out each
section as it is discussed. This will allow you to not only be an
active participant in your child’s IEP, but also to have your input
heard. Also, special education personnel cannot leave out important
parts of the IEP, as they do on occasion. Also by having your own
Draft IEP filled out, you can advocate for your child when special
education personnel want to change or decrease their educational
services.You can use Draft IEP’s to help your child. By requesting the school’s
Draft IEP in advance, you will be able to be an active participant in
the IEP process. By bringing your own Draft IEP, you can have your
opinions heard. Good luck!