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 641 E. 112th Avenue - Northglenn, CO 80233 circle  Phone: (303) 428-0310
E-mail: info@arcadams.org circle Fax: (303) 650-9070

General Information:

Purpose: Special education is specially designed instruction, support and services for students with an identified disability that requires an individual educational program to meet unique needs. The purpose of special education is to allow students to reach their fullest potential by providing a free appropriate public education. Special education and related services are available to eligible students, ages 3 to 21. To be eligible the student must;

  • have an identified disability,
  • have a disability that adversely affects the student’s academic performance, and
  • require specialized instructional program.

Special Education Websites:

Wright’s Law: www.wrightslaw.com – Offers information about special education law, education law and advocacy for children with disabilities.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – http://idea.ed.gov - Provides information regarding federally mandated special education services for children ages birth to 21.

CDE:ESLU (Office of Special Education) - http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped - Provides educational information on services within the state of Colorado

Individual Educational Programs (IEP)

IEP: Each student who receives special education and related services must have a specially developed Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP process is an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational benefits for the student involved. To create an effective IEP, the IEP team must review the student’s unique needs when developing a program that will assist the student to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum. The IEP guides the delivery of special education supports and services for the student with a disability.

Possibly Special Education Process:

  • Child is identified as needing special education and related services or may be considered for the Response to Intervention (RtI) process.
  • Child is evaluated in all areas of suspected disability.
  • Eligibility for special education services is determined by the findings of the evaluation process.
  • If the student is found to be a “child with a disability” as defined by IDEA, that student is eligible for special education and related services.
  • School district will schedule a meeting to develop the IEP.
  • The IEP meeting is held and the team discusses the student’s strengths and needs while creating goals and objectives which will be supported through related services.
  • Services are provided to the student which may include specific accommodations, modifications and supports.
  • Progress on goals and objectives/benchmarks is measured and periodically reported to parents.
  • The IEP is reviewed annually by the team.
  • Student is reevaluated every three years and the results are discussed at the “triennial” meeting.

IEP Meeting:  An Overview:

Types of IEP Meetings – A general education teacher should be present.  Parent Rights and Responsibilities information is provided.

  • Initial Staffing – student to be found eligible for services
  • Annual Review – meeting held for the first 2 years after the initial staffing
  • Triennial Staffing – every 3 years; involves updated assessment information
  • Additional Review – team meets as needed to discuss issues

Present Levels of Functioning, Strengths and Needs – Annual Goals and Objectives

  • Education/ Academics
  • Social/Emotional/Behavior
  • Physical/Motor/Health
  • Communication/Language
  • Cognitive/Psychological
  • Transition/Life Skills

Identify Related Services –

  • Academic Support
  • Speech/Language Services
  • Physical/Occupational Therapy (PT/OT)
  • Behavioral/Mental Health Support
  • Direct vs. Indirect Services

Other Considerations –

  • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
  • Involvement in General Education Curriculum
  • Extended School Year (ESY)
  • Transportation
  • Health Care Plan
  • Assistive Technology
  • State/District Assessment
  • Communication Plan
  • Literacy Plan

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) -

Least restrictive environment or LRE as it is more commonly called, is one of several vital components in the development of a student’s IEP and plays a critical role, influencing where a student spends his or her time at school, how services are provided, and the relationships the child develops within the school and community. In basic terms, LRE refers to the setting where a child with a disability can receive an appropriate education designed to meet his or her educational needs, alongside peers without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate.

Student Progress -

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as amended in 2004 (IDEA) emphasizes educational outcomes for students in special education. IDEA guidelines require that schools track educational progress for children with disabilities. Here are four of the best sources:

Results of a student’s most recent evaluations

  • Measurable annual goals
  • Progress reports
  • Annual IEP review

Advocating for your Child

The parent/guardian is the primary decision-maker for the student and is considered to be a member of the special education team. Parents or guardians have knowledge of the student and need to share information.

Prepare for a Meeting –

  • If the date and time of the meeting does not work, call the school and request to reschedule
  • Know what assessments are being done and ask for results prior to the meeting if desired
  • Bring ideas for goals and objectives
  • Bring notes of your thoughts, concerns or questions
  • Be prepared to take notes at the meeting
  • You should receive a copy of the “Parent and Child Rights in Special Education:Procedural Safeguards”
  • Ask questions if you do not understand something
  • Review the child’s strengths and needs
  • Review current goals and objectives and discuss level of progress
  • Educational needs
  • New goals and objectives
  • Least restrictive environment
  • Behavioral support
  • Related services and time provided
  • Accommodations and modifications
  • Extended School Year (ESY)
  • Maintain contact with teacher and service providers either through periodic meetings, daily/weekly log, telephone calls or emails
  • Students on IEPs should be receiving periodic progress reports on goals and objectives as often as report cards
  • If concerns arise, discuss the matter with the teacher

BEHAVIOR SUPPORT - In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, the IEP team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior. Conducting a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) can help you to understand why a student is exhibiting a challenging behavior. An FBA collects information about the student’s behavior to determine what the purpose or function of the behavior is. This in turn is used to develop a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) which should include:

  • Description and Explanation of Behavior
  • Previous Interventions
  • Behavior Goals
  • Positive Instruction/Teaching Strategies
  • Crisis Plan, if necessary
  • Description of Success/Positive Reinforcements
  • Timeline and Monitoring
  • Who is responsible and for what?

SUSPENSIONS & PLACEMENTS IN INTERIM ALTERNATIVE SETTINGS – If a student with a disability violates a code of student conduct, school officials may suspend the child for up to 10 days.  If the student has been removed for 10 days or more, the team must have a manifestation determination meeting to determine if the negative behavior was caused by the disability, had a direct relationship to the disability or was a result of the school’s failure to implement the IEP/behavior support plan.

45-Day Suspension:  Dangerous Weapons, Drugs and Serious Bodily Injury – If a student carries a dangerous weapon to school, knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs at school or inflicts serious bodily injury on another while at school, the school may remove the student to an alternative placement for not more that 45 school days.  The school must continue to provide FAPE.

TRANSITION

Age 18-21 Services - As students prepare to move from school to community living and employment, good program planning can help them become independent, productive adults. Early and long-range planning are critical in order for the student to receive many post-school programs or services whether they include support services in college or residential services from an adult provider. In the public education system, students are entitled to free services; however, in the adult system, people must be determined eligible for services based on specific criteria. Students and families are often faced with much paperwork to meet eligibility requirements and some adult services have long waiting lists.

How Do You Plan? Transition planning involves a team of people drawn from different parts of the student’s school and community life. It is important that students be linked to various adult agencies and organizations, such as mental health agencies, vocational rehabilitation, community colleges, housing, and employment and training agencies.

Transition goals may be achieved in one year. Transition planning, services, and activities can be approached as a multi-year process. While involving the student in his/her own transition planning is required by law, perhaps the most important reason for student involvement is to facilitate the development of his/her self-determination skills. These are essential for the student to develop the ability to manage his or her own life.

What Should the Transition Plan Include?  IDEA contains detailed requirements for planning the education of individual students including a statement of what must be included in the IEP. Students 15 and over must be invited to attend the IEP meeting. After first identifying the student’s long range measureable post school goals in the areas of career/employment, post-secondary education and training, and community or residential needs, the focus of the IEP should be framed to identify the projected course of study related to the student’s post-school outcomes.

SELF-ADVOCACY SKILLS - Self-advocacy is understanding your strengths and needs, identifying your personal goals, knowing your legal rights and responsibilities, and communicating these to others. Because your child lives with their learning struggles on a daily basis, they must learn how to maneuver through life's challenges and obstacles to make sure their needs are met.  Until now, you’ve been your child’s best advocate — protecting them from life's harsh realities. But the earlier you teach them to advocate for them self the more prepared they’ll be for life ahead.

SPECIAL EDUCATION LAWS

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – Purpose: “…to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare

them for further education, employment and independent living ...” However, a child with a disability is not automatically eligible for special education and related services under IDEA.  The key phrase is “who needs special education and related services.”  Does the child’s disability adversely affect education performance? To be eligible for a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under IDEA, the child must meet both criteria. The purpose of the law is:

  • Ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a FAPE that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living.
  • Ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected.
  • Assist states, localities, educational service agencies and Federal agencies to provide for the education of all children with disabilities.
  • IDEA requires that all states receiving federal assistance must:
  • Make FAPE available to all children with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21, including students with disabilities who have been suspended or expelled from school.
  • Identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities.
  • Develop an Individual Education Program (IEP) for each student with a disability and review annually.
  • Educate children with disabilities in the “least restrictive environment” (LRE) to the maximum extent possible.

State - Exceptional Children’s Education Act (ECEA) - Colorado enacted the “Exceptional Children’s Education Act” (ECEA) prior to IDEA to meet the educational needs of children who are eligible for special education services. Children are served under the ECEA if they are between the ages of 3 and 21, have a disability as defined by ECEA and “are unable to receive reasonable benefits from general education without additional supports in the public schools because of specific disabling conditions.”

504 Plan - Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 contains safeguards to protect the rights of all persons with disabilities from discrimination.  This is a civil rights law rather than a special education law like IDEA and ECEA.  Section 504 prohibits discrimination based upon disability by any recipient of federal funds.  This means that any entity (school district) that receives federal dollars must meet requirements of Section 504 to provide equal access to the services, programs, activities that the recipient offers.

The definition of a “handicapping condition” under Section 504 is much broader than the definition of a disability under IDEA.  Therefore, a student could qualify for services under Section 504 and not qualify under IDEA.  To qualify under Section 504, a person must have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more life activities; have a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment. The physical or mental impairment must have a substantial limitation (permanent or temporary) on one or more major life activities.  These activities include caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working and learning.  If a student is found to be eligible under Section 504, a written plan called a Section 504 Plan will be developed which outlines accommodations and modifications required by the student to afford the student learning opportunities equal to those of students who do not have a disability.