Posts tagged with "special education law"

What is the evaluation process used to determine a child’s special education requirements?

What is an Initial Evaluation?

An initial evaluation is the first step in the evaluation process for special education. Following a referral, the state education agency or local education agency is obligated to conduct a full and individualized initial evaluation for each child in order to determine his or her eligibility under the IDEA. Prior to conducting an initial evaluation, the agency must obtain informed written parental consent. Consent to this initial evaluation must be in writing and may only be given following full disclosure of all information needed for you to make a knowledgeable decision pertaining to your child’s educational needs. It bears repeating that parental consent to an initial evaluation may not be construed as consent for the placement of your child in special education or related services. However, failure of a parent to consent to an initial evaluation may allow the school district to initiate a due process hearing as a way to proceed with an initial evaluation.

Conducting the Evaluation

In conducting the evaluation, the local educational agency, “shall use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information, including information provided by the parent, that may assist in determining – (i) whether the child is a child with a disability; and (ii) the content of the child’s individualized education program, including information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum…” An evaluation study will include a review of information collected by the school district through formal and informal observations, a review of schoolwork, standardized tests and other information provided by your child’s teachers and other school personnel.

Reruirements Under IDEA

Additional requirements in the evaluation assessment under the IDEA provide that:

(A) assessments and other evaluation materials used to assess a child under this section-
(i) are selected and administered so as not to be discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis;
(ii) are provided and administered in the language and form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is not feasible to so provide or administer;
(iii) are used for purposes for which the assessments or measures are valid and reliable;
(iv) are administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel; and
(v) are administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of such assessments;
(B) the child is assessed in all areas of suspected disability;
(C) assessment tools and strategies that provide relevant information that directly assists persons in determining the educational needs of the child are provided; and
(D) assessments of children with disabilities who transfer from one school district to another school district in the same academic year are coordinated with such children’s prior and subsequent schools, as necessary and as expeditiously as possible, to ensure prompt completion of full evaluations.

Parents During Evaluation

As a parent you will receive written notice of the particular tests and procedures that will be used in conducting your child’s evaluation. It is important as a parent to have an active voice in the initial evaluation process and you should share any and all relevant information you have regarding your child’s skills, abilities and needs.
The local educational agency conducting the initial evaluation is required to determine whether your child is one with a disability within sixty (60) days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation and to determine the special educational needs of your child if he or she is eligible. As a parent, if you fail or refuse to produce your child for an initial evaluation the sixty-day time constraint will not be applicable.

Following the initial evaluation, the child’s Planning and Placement Team will meet to evaluate the data and determine whether your child meets the necessary criteria to receive special education and related services. As a parent you will be provided with a written report of the evaluation that was conducted.
What is an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)?

Independent Educational Evaluation

If you disagree with the school district’s evaluation you may request an Independent Educational Evaluation, referred to as an IEE. Upon a request for an IEE, the local educational agency must provide information to parents as to where you may obtain an IEE and the criteria necessary in conducting an evaluation. An independent educational evaluation is one that is conducted by a qualified examiner, who is not an employee of the local educational agency, such as your child’s private therapist. Moreover, a parent is not required to inform the school district in advance of plans to obtain an IEE.

Evaluation Disagreements

Although parents should work alongside their local educational agency to resolve any disagreements pertaining to evaluations, there are times where an independent evaluation will be necessary to resolve such disagreements. Parents have the right to an IEE at the local educational agency’s expense unless the local educational agency challenges the need for an IEE. If the local educational agency challenges the IEE they must, “without unnecessary delay” file for a due process hearing to demonstrate that its evaluation was appropriate or that the evaluation obtained by you did not meet the requisite evaluation criteria. If the local educational agency files for a due process hearing and its evaluation is found to be sufficient, you still have the right to obtain an IEE, but not at public expense. A parent is only entitled to one IEE at public expense each time the local educational agency conducts an evaluation with which the parent disagrees. If, however, a hearing officer requests an IEE during the course of a due process hearing, the evaluation shall be conducted at the expense of the agency.

If an IEE is conducted at public expense, the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, including the location and qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria that the local educational agency uses when it conducts an evaluation. However, the results of an IEE, irrespective of who pays for it, must be considered by the school district when designing your child’s educational program.

What is a Reevaluation? When and why will my child be reevaluated?

The IDEA mandates that a reevaluation must occur at least once every three (3) years, unless the parent and the local educational agency agree that a reevaluation is not necessary. Either parents or local educational agencies may request a reevaluation but the local educational agency must first obtain written parental consent before conducting a reevaluation. Failure to provide the consent needed for your child’s school district to conduct a reevaluation may lead to your local educational agency filing for a due process hearing or seeking other dispute resolution proceedings in order to conduct the reevaluation.

The purpose of conducting a reevaluation is to reassess the educational needs of your child and determine whether your child continues to have a disability, to evaluate the levels of academic achievement and developmental needs of your child, to determine whether special education and related services are still needed for your child, and whether your child’s Individual Education Plan requires modification.

In conducting a reevaluation, your child’s PPT will review existing reports and data to decide if additional testing is needed to determine whether your child is still eligible and continues to need special education and related services.
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If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

 

How NCLB Implements it’s Goals

One of the stated goals of NCLB is that every child be able to read by the end of third grade. To this end, the Federal government invested in scientifically based reading instruction programs to be implemented in the early grades. An expected collateral benefit of this initiative is reduced identification of children requiring special education services resulting from a lack of appropriate reading instruction. NCLB funds screening and diagnostic assessments to identify K-3 students who are at risk of reading failure, and to better equip K-3 teachers in the essential components of reading instruction. Funds are also available to support early language, literacy, and pre-reading development of pre-school age children.

In keeping with its major themes of accountability, choice, and flexibility, NCLB also emphasizes the use of practices grounded in scientifically based research to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality teachers. Once again, local school administrators are afforded significant flexibility in teacher staffing, provided they can demonstrate annual progress in maintaining and enhancing the high-quality of their teachers.

Finally, in an effort to ensure safe and drug-free schools, NCLB, as proposed, requires states to allow students who attend a persistently dangerous school, or who have been victims of violent crime at school, to transfer to a safe school. To facilitate characterizing schools as “safe” or “not safe,” NCLB requires public disclosure of school safety statistics on a school-by-school basis. In addition, school administrators must use federal funding to implement demonstrably effective drug and violence prevention programs.

It is within this overarching educational framework of NCLB that the State of Connecticut oversees and administers its constitutional and statutory obligations to educate your children.

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Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

What are the Duties of the Board of Education in Connecticut?

Each Board of Education is required to maintain good public elementary and secondary schools, carry out the educational interests of the state, and provide such other educational activities as in its judgment to best serve the interests of the school district.  The Board is also required to provide an appropriate learning environment for its students.  This includes providing adequate instructional books, supplies, materials, equipment, staffing, and facilities.  The Board is also responsible for the equitable allocation of resources among its schools, maintaining school facilities, and providing a safe school setting for students.  Importantly, the Board is also tasked to maintain records of allegations, investigations and reports that a child has been abused or neglected by a school employee.

Each year the board of education of each local school district shall prepare a statement of educational goals for the district.  Further, the board of education shall submit to the Commissioner of Education a strategic school profile report for each student under its jurisdiction and for the school district as a whole.  The profile report shall provide information on measures of: student needs; school resources; student and school performance; the number of students enrolled in an adult high school credit diploma program; equitable allocation of resources among its schools; reduction of racial isolation; and special education.

If you have any questions related to education law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Who Refers Children to Special Education?

Connecticut requires each school district to reach out and identify children from birth to twenty-one years of age who may be eligible for special education services. The IDEA covers all children with disabilities residing in the state, including those who are homeless or wards of the State, and children with disabilities attending private schools, irrespective of the severity of their disability. It is the obligation of the school district to identify children in need of special education from birth on. This duty is called “child find.” After “finding” a child with a disability, the school district must initiate an evaluation of that child to fulfill their duty under the IDEA.

A referral to special education services is the first step in determining whether a child is entitled to receive special education and related services. The referral takes the form of a written request that a child be evaluated if he or she is suspected of having a disability and who may be in need of special education and related services. If your child is over the age of three and you believe he or she may have a disability, as a parent you may submit a written request to the director of special education of your school district. If someone other than a child’s parent refers a child to special education, such as a teacher or school administrator, the parent must receive written notice of such referral.

Those who may make a referral for an evaluation are: the student, provided they are 18 years of age or older, a parent or guardian, the state educational agency, the local educational agency or individuals from other agencies, including physicians or social workers having parental permission to make a referral.

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Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

NCLB: Schools Must Continue to Make Progress

What happens if a school declines in standardized testing? Schools and school districts that fail to make “adequate yearly progress” are subject to corrective action and restructuring. Adequate yearly progress means, for example, that each year a school’s fourth graders score higher on standardized tests than the previous year’s fourth graders.

Once a school has been identified under NCLB as requiring improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, local school officials must afford its students the opportunity (and transportation, if needed) to attend a better public school within the same school district. Low-income students attending a “persistently failing school” (i.e., one failing to meet state standards for 3 out of the 4 preceding years) are eligible for funding to obtain supplemental educational services from either public or private schools selected by the student and his parents. Under-performing schools are highly incentivized to improve if they wish to avoid further loss of students (and an accompanying loss of funding). A school that fails to make adequate yearly progress for five consecutive years is subject to reconstitution under a restructuring plan.

Simply stated, NCLB provides states and school districts unprecedented flexibility in their use of federal funds in return for more stringent accountability for increased teacher quality and improved student results.
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Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

Written By: Joseph Maya 2013

School Learning Environment

Connecticut Public Act No. 08-160, An Act Concerning School Learning Environment, is of interest to parents of school age children and, in particlular, parents of children with special needs.

Two of the major changes that are enacted are (1) all suspensions starting July 1, 2009 are in school suspensions unless it is determined that the student is dangerous or disruptive to the educational process; and (2) all schools must “develop and implement a policy to address the existence of bullying in its schools.”  Also of note is a new provision that provides for in-service training for school personnel and pupils on a variety of issues they face daily.  A few examples are: (a) drug and alcohol awareness; (b) “health and mental health risk reduction;” (c) working with special needs children in regular classrooms; (d) cpr and emergency life saving procedures…..

No Child Left Behind

One of the legislative centerpieces of Federal Education Law is “The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001” (“NCLB”). The Act is 670 pages in length and almost as controversial as it is long. Therefore, parents should be familiar with at least its stated purpose and general provisions. NCLB does not, however, give parents the right to sue on behalf of their children.

NCLB funds Federal programs established by the U.S. Department of Education aimed at improving the performance of schools throughout the 50 states by imposing greater accountability on public schools, expanding parental choice in the school attended by their child, and placing increased emphasis on reading and math skills. NCLB has as one of its focal points improvement of schools and school districts serving students from low-income families.

The theory underlying enactment of NCLB was that improved educational programs would enable students to meet challenging state academic achievement standards and thereby achieve their full potential. Among other areas, the Act funds programs and resources for disadvantaged students, delinquent and neglected youth in institutions, improving teacher and principal quality, use of technology in schools, and fostering a safe and drug-free learning environment. One source of controversy is the fact that NCLB allows military recruiters access to the names, addresses, and telephone listings of 11th and 12th grade students if the school provides that information to colleges or employers.

More specifically, NCLB requires states to strengthen test standards, to test annually all students in grades 3-8, and to establish annual statewide progress objectives to ensure that all students achieve proficiency within 12 years. There are no Federal standards of achievement; each state is required to set its own standards. Test results and state progress objectives must be stratified based upon poverty, race, ethnicity, disability, and English proficiency to ensure that “no child is left behind.”
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Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

Am I Allowed Access to My Child’s School Records in Connecticut?

Although the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act serves to protect the privacy of student educational records, it also requires school districts and schools to give parents and students access to the student’s records and an opportunity to seek to have records amended if they believe the records need correcting.  Further, schools must annually notify parents and eligible students of their rights under this act.

If you have any questions related to education law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

What is a Child’s Planning and Placement Team?

Under Connecticut law, the Planning and Placement Team, or PPT, is a critical component in determining your child’s special education needs and the services to be provided. The IDEA refers to this resource as the Individualized Education Program Team (“IEP Team”). The PPT will be involved in most every request or decision made pertaining to your child, including: determining whether your child should be evaluated, and deciding which evaluations will be given to your child and whether your child is eligible for special education and related services. As a parent, you will be asked to participate as a member of the PPT. Parents should participate, since you can provide unique and valuable insight into your child’s special education needs. The IDEA requires that the IEP team (PPT in Connecticut) be composed of the following:

(i) the parents of a child with a disability;
(ii) not less than 1 regular education teacher of such child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment);
(iii) not less than 1 special education teacher, or where appropriate, not less than 1 special education provider of such child;
(iv) a representative of the local educational agency who–
(I) is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities;
(II) is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and
(III) is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the local educational agency;
(v) an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results, who may be a member of the team described in clauses (ii) through (vi);
(vi) at the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate; and
(vii) whenever appropriate, the child with a disability.

A member of the PPT shall not be required to attend an IEP meeting, however, if you and the local educational agency agree that the attendance of such member is not necessary because the member’s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting. Further, a member of the PPT may be excused from attending a meeting when the meeting involves a modification to or discussion of the member’s area of the curriculum or related services, if you and the local educational agency consent to the excusal and the member provides input into the development of the individualized education program prior to the meeting.

As a parent you have the right to understand the proceedings of the PPT meeting, and, if necessary, the school district may need to arrange for a language interpreter or a sign language interpreter. Additional parental rights at a PPT meeting include a conference telephone call if you are unable to attend the meeting in person, tape recording of meetings (all participants must be informed the meeting is being taped) and the right to invite any advisors of your choosing, including counsel, at your own expense.

A PPT meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance if the local educational agency is unable to convince you as a parent to attend. The school district must keep detailed records of its attempt to make an arrangement for a mutually agreed upon time and place to conduct the meeting. These records should include telephone calls made or attempted along with the results of those calls, copies of correspondence sent to you including any responses they received and detailed records of visits made to your home or place of employment and the results of those visits.

When scheduling a PPT meeting, the school district must work with you as a parent in scheduling the meeting at a mutually agreeable time and place. Connecticut law requires the school district to notify a child’s parent at least five (5) school days prior to the meeting in order to allow for attendance. Written notice of the PPT meeting must be provided to a child’s parent and include the purpose, time and location of the meeting along with who will be in attendance. The school district must also inform you of your right to bring other individuals who have knowledge of or expertise concerning your child. Further, the school district must give notice that if your child is sixteen years old or younger and it is found by the IEP team to be appropriate, he or she may attend the meeting, provided the purpose of the meeting pertains to your child’s postsecondary goals.

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Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

Bullying Under Connecticut Law

In 2011, the Connecticut legislature passed a comprehensive anti-bullying law that defines bullying to mean repeated communications, including electronic communications, or repeated physical acts or gestures by a student directed to another student in the same school district that:

(i) Causes physical or emotional harm to the student who is the target of the bullying or damages this or her property,

(ii) places the student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself, or of damage to his or her property,

(iii) creates a hostile environment at school for the student,

(iv) infringes on the rights of the student at school, or

(v) substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

Bullying includes, among other things, a written, oral or electronic communication or physical act or gesture based on any actual or perceived differentiating characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socioeconomic status, academic status, physical appearance, or mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability, or by association with an individual or group who has or is perceived to have one or more of such characteristics.

If you have any questions related to education law or school bullying in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.