Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Conference

We wanted to share an opportunity that is coming up on March 13th in Greensboro.   We are both attending this conference to keep ourselves updated  on information  to better serve as advocates.  Please check out this amazing day training here http://www.wrightslaw.com/speak/17.03.nc.htm

Let us know if you’re going and we’ll catch up with you there!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

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Know Your Forms-IEPs

This is the last post in the “Know Your Forms” series.  It is a lengthy one, however, we feel it is important to understand all pieces of your child’s IEP (whether it’s your child’s first one or the annual review).  Your team should discuss each piece of the IEP during your meeting.

You’ve been through the process and you are FINALLY at the point where your child is eligible for an IEP. IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan. The IEP meeting can be held at the same time as the eligibility meeting or it can be held up to 10 days after the eligibility meeting, but still within the 90 day deadline (Know Your Forms-Eligibility and  Know Your Forms-Referral For Help). After your initial IEP meeting, you will have this meeting annually to review your child’s progress and update his/her goals.

You should receive an invitation to the IEP meeting. You always have the right to ask for a different day or time. Your child’s team should be present for all special education meetings.  (Who Is On Your Child’s Team?).

The first section of the IEP reviews your child’s strengths, any progress he/she has made, and how your child performed on any assessments. This will be a summary of all the data that you have already discussed at the initial referral and eligibility meetings.   If it’s the annual review of your child’s IEP, it will be a summary of data on his/her goals, testing data, and progress from the year.

After this, you will be asked for any concerns you have for enhancing your child’s education and what your vision is for your child’s future.  Take your time here! Really think about your concerns regarding your child’s education. When considering your vision for your child’s future, you can consider the future to be tomorrow, the end of the school year, or even after your child has finished school.  This is something that you can prepare ahead of time and bring with you to your child’s IEP meeting.

Next, the special education teacher will ask if there are any upcoming transitions for your child as well as document any special factors ( such as deaf, blind, special communication needs, specially designed physical education, or limited English proficiency).

The next area is known as “PLOP”–Present Level of performance and written goals.  You will have a separate page for each area of your child’s needs.  For example, you could have a present level summary and goals for  math and another one for reading.  Measurable annual goals will be written to match your child’s present level of performance summary.  You may also have short term objectives or benchmarks written. This is required if your child is on extended standards. Some districts do not require objectives or benchmarks for annual goals if your child is following the standard course of study.  Each annual goal will align to the common core/ NC standard course of study for your child’s current grade level. At the bottom of  each present level and goals page, your special education teacher will document how he or she will gather data to track your child’s goals.  For example, it could be through anecdotal notes and student work samples.  It is ok to speak up here too. Make recommendations or express concerns. Don’t worry if you don’t know the verbage or how to fully express what you want. The team should help with this. During this time, the team will also decide if any related service your child qualified for should be integrated into this goal or if any assistive technology is needed.  What that means is, if your child is also going to receive speech language services or occupational therapy services, will those therapists also work on the same goal as the special education teacher?   Typically,  you will receive a progress report on your child’s IEP goals with each report card.

Accommodations and modifications, North Carolina testing, and least restrictive environment will be discussed next. Accommodations are a way the general education teacher (i.e.. classroom teacher) can help your child be more successful in his/her school day. For example, an accommodation may be that your child uses a slant board and a modified pencil during writing assignments. A modification is typically done by a special education teacher and related service providers but can be used in the regular education classroom. Modifications are specific strategies and tools that will help your child achieve their IEP goals. For the North Carolina testing program, your team will decide what accommodations or modifications are necessary for your child.  For example, your team may decide that your child needs extended time on tests or needs to be tested in a smaller group in a separate room. Any accommodations for any state test must be implemented throughout the year for classroom tests. Please remember that you can always make suggestions for accommodations that you have seen your child use successfully. You are a part of your child’s team.  Least restrictive environment (LRE) will be discussed and decided upon next. This will determine where your child will receive their special support within the general education classroom or the resource classroom. If the team decides that your child will be more successful within the resource classroom, a statement will be written justifying why the decision was made to pull them from the general education classroom.

Please note that this section of your child’s IEP could be “visually overwhelming”. It breaks down your child’s school day (including lunch, core academic subjects, and specials/connect classes) into sections where each accommodation is listed in detail. 

The team will then consider how much time is needed for specially designed instruction. Services will be broken down into how many times per week, month, or reporting period and for how many minutes per session. This includes times spent with the special education teacher as well as times with any related service providers.

Continuum of Placement should be considered next. This is the percentage of minutes your child spends away from their general education classroom. If your child attends a special education preschool or is served in a different setting (home, separate school, etc.) there is a box to be checked.

The last few boxes let you know how you will receive progress reports (typically sent with report cards). Extended School Year can be considered during this meeting, but typically is a separate meeting if your child is a candidate. Finally, everyone will sign the IEP. If this is your child’s first IEP, you will also sign a form called a DEC6. This simply is a form granting the school permission to serve your child in special education.  As always, you will also sign and receive the DEC 5 The Importance of a DEC5

A note for High School students: once your child is 14 years of age, he/she will be invited to attend the IEP meeting.

This meeting can be LONG. If you need a break, don’t hesitate to ask for one. This document is very important, but it’s also fluid. You or any other team member can call a meeting to reconsider any part of the IEP at any time.

Our intent with this post was to give you a general idea of what to expect during your child’s IEP meeting, understanding the IEP (which is also called a DEC 4),  and how to be prepared. This document is very detailed and lengthy. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us via email .

 

With appreciation,

Wendy and Christina

 

 

 

Registering for Upcoming Social Class

For some students, obtaining and utilizing good social skills do not come naturally.  They move through their environment having a difficult time communicating and understanding more than just direct language-based interactions.  For example, good social skills include sharing space with others and learning to regulate one’s own behavior to other people’s thoughts or expectations as well as using your whole body to understand what people are “saying” around you.  For some students, these skills need to be taught.

Following the Social Thinking model, we will be teaching a 6-week session on helping your child begin learning these skills.  In turn, you will learn how to shift your thoughts and vocabulary while helping your child at home.

Your child does not need a diagnosis to attend.  However,this class is designed for students with Aspergers, ADD, ADHD, or any child needing to learn how to “think” about thinking as well as understand more about the complex social world in which we live.  While times of movement will be available, students must be able to sit in a room with a small group for one hour.

This class will meet for a six-week period beginning on Sunday, October 2nd.  There will be three separate groups.  The Kindergarten-2nd grade group will meet from 2:00-3:00 p.m., the 3rd-5th grade group will meet from 3:30-4:30 and  the 6th-8th grade group will meet from  5:00-6:00 p.m.  Group sizes will be kept small with no more than eight to ten children in each group.  This six-week session will be held at 8401 Medical Plaza Drive, Suite 120, Charlotte, NC 28262.

The total cost for the six-week session plus materials is $200.00.  To keep names and information confidential, if you would like to register for this class, please fill out the attached document and e-mail it to us. If you are unable to open the document, please send us a note and we’ll be happy to e-mail you another one.  Within this week, we will then send you a pay PayPal link to your e-mail to complete your registration for the class.   Once you receive your PayPal link, please complete your nonrefundable payment within 48 hours to reserve your and your child’s spot in the class.  Once the class is full, your name will go on a waiting list and we will contact you if an availability opens.

Please fill out the attached document and e-mail it to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com  with your interest in registration for the class…social skills referral medical history-2

If you are interested in the class but have questions before deciding if this class is a good fit for your child, please reach out to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.  We would be happy to answer your questions!

Upcoming News….

We are planning on having another, shorter session around the holidays (November through early December) to help assist students learn social behaviors and skills to utilize during these times.  This class will also have a parent participation group as well as a student group.  You do not need to attend this first session to attend the later session in November.  Please enter your e-mail in “follow our blog” on the home page to receive the latest information! We will send out information about that shorter session towards the end of October.

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

Know Your Forms-Eligibility

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 confidentsolutions7@gmail.com. We love hearing from you!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

504 and IEP’s: What’s the difference?

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.

With Appreciation,

Wendy and Christina

 

The Importance of a DEC5

The DEC5 is a form that accompanies all other forms.  You will receive a DEC5 with any type of meeting you have regarding your child’s unique needs in school.  The DEC5 is important in several ways and it should be reviewed before your meeting comes to a close. It provides a summary of the meeting, stating what was discussed, what decisions were made and how/why those decisions were made.   Every meeting also documents what proposals were discussed for your child and which ones were refused and why. If you disagree with a decision, you can ask for a statement to be documented on the DEC5 as to why you disagree.   This form also documents how your child is receiving FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education).

This form can be filled out during the meeting so nothing is forgotten. Everything will be documented from the meeting.  For example, if service time was changed from a previous IEP, it will be documented and why. If a service was added or taken away, it will be documented here. This form can be critical if there is ever a dispute about what is on other special education forms.  Do not be afraid to ask for something to be written on this form.

Your child’s school should also offer you a copy of The Handbook on Parent’s Rights.  In that handbook, it will give you information of your rights as well as your child’s rights.   It is always a good idea to have a recent copy of that handbook and if your school hasn’t yet offered you one, you can request one or find it here: http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/ecparenthandbook.pdf

If you would like to see a blank DEC5, please check out this link from DPI’s website.  Scroll down to the DEC5/Prior (Written) Notice:  http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/policies/forms/statewide-forms

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy