After you’ve had your initial meeting (Know Your Forms-Referral For Help), the next meeting will be to discuss all the data and any new evaluations that have taken place since your last meeting. There are 14 categories a child can qualify under in North Carolina. They are the following: Autism, Deaf-Blindness, Deafness, Developmental Delay, Serious Emotional Disability, Hearing Impairment, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Speech or Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Visual Impairment including blindness. Your child must meet at least one of these areas to qualify for special education in North Carolina. There are times where a student will meet two of the criteria and you can list a primary disability and a secondary disability on the eligibility form.
Each of the fourteen areas have their own worksheet with specific criteria for qualification. Again, here is the link to a list of the worksheets and forms from NCDPI http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/policies/forms/statewide-forms Your team will meet to discuss the overall evaluations which were conducted and any new data as well as review which categories your child may fit best under. Each worksheet for each possible category must be filled out and discussed at your child’s eligibility meeting. Remember, you are meeting as a team (Who Is On Your Child’s Team?). If your child meets the criteria on at least one of the worksheets, the team can then decide that he/she qualifies for specialized education and you can then move on towards writing an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). The DEC 3 form will also be filled out and all members of the team will sign the form in agreement. It is common to move directly into developing an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). To keep this post shorter and focused on the eligibility requirements, we are going to have a separate post this week regarding the IEP.
After this meeting, you will have a copy of the following forms: Invitation to the meeting, Eligibility Determination (also known as a DEC 3), the completed worksheets of the categories that were discussed at the meeting, and the DEC 5 (The Importance of a DEC5).
This determination is good for 3 years. Every three years, your child’s special education teacher (0r case manager) will have a Reevaluation meeting (the form is called a DEC 7) to review your child’s data as a team. The team will decide if he/she continues to meet the criteria for the disability and a new DEC 3 form as well as the qualifying worksheet(s) will once again be filled out and discussed. It is a good idea to keep all of your copies of your child’s paperwork organized at home. It’s also a good idea to be aware of the last time your child had his/her Eligibility Evaluation meeting and when his/her three-year mark is up.
As always, your school should offer you a copy of the Parents Rights and Responsibilities Handbook in Special Education at each meeting. Here is a link with the newest copy of the handbook: http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/ecparenthandbook.pdf
If you have any questions about a referral or eligibility meeting, drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing from you!
Christina and Wendy
Appreciating the unique needs of our children is important. We use the word “our” because it does take a team to help a child. As teachers, find that connection with your child that has unique needs in your class. When you recognize his/her gifts, we promise your heart will fill with gratitude. All children have gifts and strengths. When we take the time to notice those gifts in detail, we appreciate what they have to offer to us as educators and parents.
Christina and Wendy
As we begin a new school year, it’s helpful to remember who is on your child’s team at school. By definition, a team is “a number of persons associated in some joint action.” Special education meetings are made up of a team that meets to discuss and make decisions about your child’s specialized needs. Ideally, just like a team, all members are participating for one common goal…to help your child succeed. There are certain members that are required to attend each meeting and it is okay to put a meeting on hold until all members are there.
So who is on your child’s team? Who should be at a meeting to discuss your child’s specific needs in special education? Teachers are stretched for time these days with the requirements that are put on them by the state. However, legally, you should not have a meeting when one of these members is absent. These members must be present even if your child is in a separate setting and even if your child is a “speech only” student. They are the following:
LEA Representative: This will typically be your school’s principal or assistant principal. This person is responsible for making any final decisions and is the person who has all knowledge regarding budget and how your district meets state and federal requirements.
Regular Education Teacher: Typically, your child’s general education teacher will be at your meeting. There are times, however, where another teacher that works with your child may be in attendance. Sometimes, there may be more than one general education teacher that attends. This is more frequent in middle and high school where your child has several general education teachers. Even if your child is in a separate setting, there should still be a regular education teacher present from your child’s grade.
Special Education Teacher: The exceptional education teacher will most likely be running most of your meetings and answering specific questions regarding the process. This EC teacher will typically also be your child’s case manager and the contact person for specific questions.
Parent or Guardian: This will be yourself.
If the meeting is to discuss special education services from a school evaluation, than someone who is qualified to interpret the results needs to be present (for example, a school psychologist or a speech language therapist).
As a parent, you also have the right to bring people who can speak on behalf of your child such as: advocates, your child’s tutor, therapist, or person that privately evaluated your child to the meeting. When you receive your invitation to your child’s meeting, you can write in who you are bringing to the meeting as part of your child’s team. Once your child turns 14, he/she is legally invited to attend the meetings as well.
Christina and Wendy
You are in agreement with your child’s school that your child needs help in his school day on specific needs. Now what? Should your child get a 504 Plan or go the route for an IEP? How does the school typically decide? It will depend on the level of needs that your chid is currently expressing.
504 Plans are designed for the student who is able to do the work with the general education teacher but needs some modifications in his school day. For example, maybe he has a difficult time remembering what to do next on an assignment which results in the assignment going unfinished. So the teacher comes up with a strategy to write short bulleted instructions on a sticky note that can either go directly on his assignment or on his desk. She helps teach him how to use his list, crossing it off as he completes each item. This is creating an interdependence between your child and his/her teacher as he gains skills to become more independent. Your child can have testing accommodations through a 504 plan as well such as testing in a small group or extended test time. The general education teacher is responsible for the modifications that are written and agreed upon at your child’s 504 meeting. This is also for students who have severe allergies and medical conditions that require modifications.
IEPs (Individualized Education Plan) are designed for students who need specialized help. There is a gap in their learning and they need more time and specific attention from a special education teacher to receive that help. At your meeting, your child’s team will write goals that are aligned with his/her grade level. If your child has a large gap in his/her abilities, the law says he should be receiving special education time to work on closing those gaps. As well as having specific goals written for your child on the IEP, it will list accommodations and modifications that he/she will also be receiving throughout the school day. So who is responsible for implementing these needed and agreed upon accommodations, modifications, and goals? The special education teacher (or EC teacher) is responsible for working on your child’s goals as well as helping support him/her with those accommodations within the general classroom environment. Your child’s general education teachers are responsible for implementing the modifications that are written on the IEP. Examples could be sitting close to the teacher or restating directions for assignments. Typically, you will receive a progress report on your child’s goals with each report card.
Wendy and Christina
The RTI system is a lenghty process. Perhaps you, as a parent, have outside evaluations and information that you can share with your child’s school. North Carolina schools must consider your private evaluations as part of the data finding process in identifying your child’s unique learning needs. A parent can also formally request a special education meeting to evaluate for special education services. Once the parent has made this request, the school has 90 days to start and complete the process. Please read the blog post Knowing Your Forms (coming very soon) to learn about the different forms and what they mean. During the first meeting, the team will discuss your child’s strenghts in various areas and his/her areas of need. The team will also discuss any evaluations or inofrmation you might have and what interventions have been tried prior to this meeting. After all data has been discussed and documented, one of three decisions will be made: 1. conduct an evaluation 2. determine your child is eligible for services or 3. do not conduct an evalution.
If the decision is to conduct the evalution, the team will decide based on the areas of need which evaluation will be conducted. If there is enough data to support finding your child eligible at this meeting, eligibility forms can then be completed and an IEP implemented.
The third choice of not conducting an evluation could happen as a reult of not having enough data. It could also result in your child moving to a meeting for a 504 instead (there is an upcoming blog post coming soon about the differences between IEPs and 504s). If the team decides that there is not enough data the team may decide to also have your child go back into the RTI process to gather more information, observations and overall data on what your child needs to be more successful in his/her school environment. The law says, however, that the RTI process can not be used to prolong or delay evaluating. If it is decided that your child should be evaluated based on current data, then the information that would be collected through RTI must be complete before the timeframe for the special education process is complete. In North Carolina, that would be 90 days from the day the school received the referral.
If you need help writing a letter to your child’s school, please check out this link: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/evaluation-2/
Wendy and Christina