Free Parent/Guardian IEP October Class

We hope you all have had a wonderful summer and school is off to a terrific start.  We would love to help you prepare for any meetings or communication with your child’s school through understanding the components of your child’s IEP.  Our next free parent/guardian class will be held on Wednesday, October 11th. Due to the needs of families, this class is more of a drop in time from 12:00-1:00. Please join us during this time at your convenience and bring any paperwork or questions you have. We are finding it to be most helpful for families to have the opportunity to ask individual questions about an IEP process or specific parts of an IEP rather than have a formal class. We still love to hear that you’re able to drop in! Please send  an e-mail to confidentsolutions7@gmail.com  Classes are held at 1905 JN Pease Pl, Suite 201, Charlotte, NC 28262. We look forward to seeing you!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

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Accountability

We get a lot of calls asking who can be held accountable for parts of the IEP or 504. After asking a few questions, we realize parents are typically talking about the modifications/accommodations on their child’s IEP or 504. We have seen that a lot of IEPs or 504s have very vague descriptions written of these.  A good modification/accommodation will answer these questions “who” will do “what”, “when”, “where” and “how”.  For example, an accommodation of “modified assignments” would be written something like this:  ” the regular education teacher will provide (student’s name) with a math assignment with 20% of the math problems. These math problems will determine understanding of the math concept taught. The number of the math problems that (student’s name) should complete will be circled. The regular education teacher will ensure that Student understands which problems to complete.”

Another example is “modified seating” or “preferential seating”. This accommodation is on many IEPs. An example of a good accommodation would be “the regular education teacher will provide (student’s name) with a seat close to the front of the class during instruction so teacher can check for understanding”. Or instead of “check for understanding” it could be “to help student maintain attention/focus”. This could also be changed from “close to the front of the class” to “an area with minimal distractions”. Each accommodation on your child’s IEP should be specific to your child. There should be an adult responsible for providing this accommodation or modification. When we sit as advocates we commonly see that schools want to make the child the “who” in these accommodations. For example, if the child is allowed to have frequent breaks during assignments, we are seeing “student will request a break when he is feeling overwhelmed”. If this is an accommodation that is allowed, then the “who” needs to be an adult helping to facilitate these. If this is something the child is working to learn, then this needs to be a self-advocacy goal. A better way to write this accommodation would be “the teacher will allow (student’s name) to have a break when he is overwhelmed. Signs that “student” is overwhelmed include flapping, spinning, talking louder. If “student” does not initiate a break, the regular education teacher should discreetly ask/determine if “student” should have a break. “student” can be overwhelmed during assemblies, before a test, or when there is a change in his schedule.”

Take a look at your child’s IEP or 504 to see how his or her modifications/accommodations are stated.  They should be clearly written with answering all of the who,what, when, where, and how questions.  If you have missing pieces, we recommend asking for a meeting before school starts to clarify them.  This will help set your child up for success this coming school year.

We also offer a paperwork review in which we read through your paperwork thoroughly, and will write specific notes for you to ask your school to clarify.  We are always happy to answer any questions you have over the phone or through e-mail as well.  We have free IEP classes to empower you in how to better understand your child’s paperwork.  Please enter your e-mail on the home page to receive the latest updates!

With Gratitude,

Wendy and Christina

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March’s Free Parent IEP Class

Our next free parent/guardian class on understanding the components of an IEP will be held on Wednesday, March 15th. Due to the needs of families, we have a drop in time from 11:00-1:00.  Please join us during this time at your convenience and bring your questions. We are finding it to be most helpful for families to have the opportunity to ask individual questions about an IEP process or specific parts of an IEP. We still love to hear that you’re able to drop in! Please send us an e-mail to confidentsolutions7@gmail.com. Classes are held at 9700 Research Dr., Suite 132, Charlotte, NC 28262. We look forward to seeing you!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

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Resources

Good morning!  We wanted to share some websites that we either subscribe to or have read useful articles from.   If you have a favorite site, please share it with us in the comments or e-mail it to us! We love keeping up with new information.

The Wrightslaw website can be overwhelming, but there is a lot of useful and important information to be found here.  They also have the option to subscribe to their newsletter on their homepage.  Here is a link to their website http://wrightslaw.com

This website provides information for ADD/ADHD for parents and caregivers http://www.chadd.org

Autism Speaks and TEACCH is another excellent resource https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/teacch

You can visit the NC DPI website for Exceptional Children here http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov

We have shared ECAC’s website in the past and we wanted to make sure if you’re new to our website that you have this link as an available resource in our area http://www.ecac-parentcenter.org

This website not only gives information but links to other websites relevant to EC needs in North Carolina http://www.disabilityrightsnc.org/education-self-advocacy-resources

Here is a copy of the latest handbook on parent’s rights and responsiblities http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/ecparenthandbook.pdf

 

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

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December’s Free Parent Class

Please join us on Wednesday, December 14th for a free parent class on understanding the components to an IEP.  We will have two sessions 10:00-11:00 and 12:00-1:00.  Please drop us a line at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com and let us know you’re coming!

9700 Research Drive, Suite 132, Charlotte, NC 28262

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With Appreciation,

Wendy and Christina

Free Class on Understanding the Components to an IEP

Please join us on Wednesday, December 12 for a free parent/guardian class on understanding the components to an IEP.

9700 Research Dr., Suite 132, Charlotte, NC 28262

There will be two free sessions offered: 10:00-11:00 a.m. and 12:00-1:00.

We are able to host ten people per class.  Please RSVP to confidentsolutions7@gmail.com to let us know you are coming and which session you will attending.

We look forward to seeing you!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

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My Child’s Team Doesn’t Agree on a Decision-Now What?

First, never forget you are part of your child’s team. Who Is On Your Child’s Team? When you walk into an IEP meeting about your child, it may not always feel that way. Sometimes, it may seem like everyone else on the team has had conversations about their expectations for the meeting and you are feeling less than confident in your knowledge. If a draft IEP was created for your child, those prior conversations are very necessary. The only problem is that often, the parent is left out of these conversations. As the meeting progresses, you realize that you wanted a service, or goal, or accommodation that others on the team did not. In an ideal world, everyone on the team would give input and a consensus would be reached. A consensus is when, after hearing all of the information, everyone re-adjusts what they think is best for the child and everyone comes to an agreement.  Please know there are people and places where this occurs. Where every adult puts their agenda to the side and really considers what is best for the child. However, more often, parents call us letting us know that a decision was made and they feel they had no input. We have even heard parents say that the other members of the team skipped entire sections of discussing their child’s IEP. If a decision was made with you in the meeting and you do not agree with it, you have several options.

Advocacy- If you know you are walking into a situation and you feel like you will not be heard or that you will not understand the lingo, bring an advocate. Someone who can listen to what is being said and help you navigate the meeting. This person should never make your decisions for you, but instead guides you and explains in parent friendly language what is being said.

Facilitated IEP- You can request a third, neutral party come to an IEP meeting. The school will fill out paperwork and submit it the state. A new IEP meeting will be scheduled and the facilitator will make sure the child is considered and not adult agendas. http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/dispute-resolution/facilitation

Formal Written Complaint- You have the right to file a formal written complaint with the Department of Public Instruction. They will notify the school that you have done so. The investigator will encourage the school to come to a signed agreement with you. They will also conduct an investigation of all your complaints. The investigator will review all documentation regarding the complaint, hold interviews with those involved  and could do a site visit. If the school is found non-compliant, a corrective action plan will be established. The school will be required to follow the corrective action plan or could face further sanctions. http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/dispute-resolution/formal-written-complaints

Mediation- Anyone on the team can request mediation. A mediator will be assigned and will work to make sure everyone feels heard. They will work towards a written agreement on which everyone agrees. This is an informal meeting where everyone has the chance to be heard regarding the child’s education. http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/dispute-resolution/mediation

Due Process-You also have the right to file Due Process. This will initiate a hearing based on your complaints and the resolution you would like to see. Both sides will be allowed to present evidence to an administrative law judge. More details, including a time line can be found here  http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/dispute-resolution/due-process-hearings

If you do not agree with a decision being made and you decide to move forward with any of the formal due process options (mediation, formal written complaint, or due process) “stay put” is invoked. This means the decisions made prior to the point of complaint must be followed. For example, if the Team decided to change your child’s placement from regular education to a separate setting, and you disagreed and started a formal due process, then your child’s placement will continue to be “regular” education.

As you consider which approach is best for your child’s education, always try to keep the lines of communication open with your child’s school. The first avenue recommended is to have an open and honest discussion with your child’s educators. Sometimes, just feeling heard and hearing their thoughts and opinions is all that is necessary.  If you feel like you are not comfortable with the lingo, we recommend hiring an advocate to help you navigate the meeting.  We also recommend the book, “From Emotions to Advocacy” https://www.amazon.com/Wrightslaw-Emotions-Advocacy-Education-Survival/dp/1892320096/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476899427&sr=8-1&keywords=from+emotions+to+advocacy

With Gratitude,

Wendy and Christina

 

 

 

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