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

 

Know Your Forms-Referral For Help

In order to be prepared for a meeting, it is important to know your forms. We’re going to break down the forms into separate blog posts because it can be confusing as there are several forms for each step. This post is for initial referrals for specialized help.  Please also refer to the post The Importance of a DEC5

An excellent reference to all of the forms is the North Carolina’s Department of Public Instructions (NCDPI) page. http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/policies/forms/statewide-forms This page tells you what each form is and even gives directions on how it should be filled out.  Do not hesitate to also call or e-mail your child’s case manager with questions about the process, forms, or information you would like to see noted.

Before every meeting, you will receive a paper invitation stating the day and time of your meeting.  If there is a conflict, you can write on the form requesting a second option and send it back to the school.  If the day and time work, you sign the invitation and send it back to the school.  You can also write in the people you are bringing to the meeting on this form. Examples would include tutors, therapists, advocates, or psychologists.

Most schools will have a draft prepared before you arrive. You can request to see the draft prior to the meeting so you are also prepared for what will be discussed. Always remember, you are part of your child’s team. You have the right to add information or even make suggestions for how some things can be worded.

At this initial referral meeting, your child’s team will first address if your child has had a recent vision and hearing screening. This rules out your child’s specific needs are not caused by any possible hearing or vision problems.  You will then discuss his/her strengths in all academic and functional areas (such as reading, writing, math, gross and fine motor skills, and daily living activities).  The next step will be to address any areas of concerns and any medical diagnosis your child may have.  After discussing and documenting the areas of concern, your team will then decide one of three things: The first option is for no evaluations to be conducted based on the information reviewed. A statement will be written to explain this decision. If this choice is made, the special education process stops.  However, there are times the team decides your child would benefit from a 504 Plan.  That will be a separate meeting.  For the differences in IEPs and 504s, please check out our blog post 504 and IEP’s: What’s the difference?  The second option is the team determines the current data is enough to say your child qualifies for one of the 14 disabling conditions North Carolina recognizes. This most typically would happen when a child is aging in to the school district through early intervention. The third option would be to conduct evaluations.  The team may decide they need more data such as a speech and language therapy evaluation or a psychological and educational evaluation.   If you decide on option 3, then you will also then sign a form called a DEC 2 which gives permission for your child to receive these evaluations. The third option is the most common.

The process for a referral, which includes gathering more data through evaluations if necessary,  is 90 days.  The end of 90 days date will be marked on your initial referral paperwork which is also called a DEC 1.

By the end of this meeting, you should have a copy of the following paperwork: Invitation To the Meeting, the Referral (also known as a DEC1 form), the Prior Notice/DEC 5 (The Importance of a DEC5) and the Informed Consent for Evaluation (also known as the DEC 2 form) if the team decided to collect more evaluations.  It is a good idea to start a new file folder or have an organized place to file these forms.  That way, you can easily access them when you have questions or concerns for your child’s school or need to refer to them for counselors, etc.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

Who Is On Your Child’s Team?

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.

 

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

What Can I Do if My Child is Struggling in School?

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/

 

With Appreciation,

Wendy and Christina

 

What Does the School Do if My Child is Struggling?

Your child is struggling in school. You’ve noticed it and most likely your child’s teachers have noticed the struggles.  It could be in behavior, reading, math, sensory, etc.  You’ve brought up your concerns with your child’s teacher and the two of you have talked about possible ways you can help him/her at school as well as at home.  Yet, the struggles continue and your child is falling behind.  This seems like something that is beyond what common classroom modifications can help alone.

If your child is in a public school, it is common for him/her to then go through the RTI or MTSS process.  RTI stands for Response To Intervention and MTSS stands for multi-tiered system of supports.  RTI is a multi tiered system that identifies specific struggles within a student and collects data on how the interventions have helped or not helped your child.  The overall method is a common one, however, it may look a little different depending on what county you live in and if your child attends a public school or a charter school. If you would like to learn more about RTI and MTSS  you can ask your school for further details and/or check out the following links:  www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/6880 and http://mtss.ncdpi.wikispaces.net

The RTI method can be lengthy but it is intended to gather good information on how your child learns, what interventions have worked and what specific struggles your child continues to have.  If your child has worked through this tier system and continues to need specialized help, he/she is typically then referred to the exceptional children’s department (special education).

With Appreciation,

Wendy and Christina