Tag Archives: eligibility

Special Education Child Search in Rockland, Massachusetts

Wicked Local Rockland has published the following news article online:

Rockland parents or people in a care giving or professional position of a Rockland child ages 3 through 21 that suspect the child has a disability and may require special education should call the Office of Pupil Personnel Services at 781-878-1380 for assistance.

Rockland Public Schools offers special education programs at the preschool level and for children enrolled in kindergarten through high school.

The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal matters throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.
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Norwell Public Schools Trying to Identify Students With Disabilities

The following article, published today in Wicked Local Norwell, might be of interest to Norwell residents:

It is the responsibility of Norwell Public Schools to identify any child who is a resident of Norwell who may have a disability, regardless of the severity of the disability. Further it is the responsibility of Norwell Public Schools to evaluate these students to determine if any of these students are eligible for special education or related services under IDEA 2004 (Individual with Disabilities Education Act) or the Massachusetts Special Education Regulations.

Norwell Public Schools is committed to locating children before their third birthday in order to provide early intervention services to three and four year olds. If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s development and would like to have him/her screened, you may call for an appointment at (781) 659-8800. If you or your pediatrician believes your child should be evaluated to determine eligibility for special education services, please either request verbally by calling the Office of Special Education at 781-659-8800 or by making the request in writing (include your child’s date of birth, name, address and telephone number and a brief description of your concerns) and send it to:

Suzan A. Theodorou, Administrator of Special Education, Norwell Public Schools, 328 Main St., Norwell MA, 02061.

Read more: Norwell: Special education evaluations – Norwell, Massachusetts – Norwell Mariner http://www.wickedlocal.com/norwell/news/x1768343815/Norwell-Special-education-evaluations#ixzz1nJ8wWzLP

 

The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal matters.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.

Massachusetts Special Education Evaluation Timelines

The law regarding timelines for special education evaluations can be confusing.  State law can vary from the federal IDEA requirement, and parents also need to be aware of whether the law refers to “days” or “school days.”  The term “days” refers to calendar days, which includes weekends, holidays and vacations; the term “school days” refers to days in which school is in session.

Federal law states that evaluations must be conducted within 60 days of receipt of parental consent for the evaluation, but defers to state timelines if such timelines exist (34 C.F.R. 300.301(c)).  Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire have implemented their own specific timelines.  The remainder of this article will be specific to Massachusetts law; I will post a separate article specific to New Hampshire law.

In Massachusetts:

“Within 45 school working days after receipt of a parent’s written consent to an initial evaluation or reevaluation, the school district shall: provide an evaluation; convene a Team meeting to review the evaluation data, determine whether the student requires special education and, if required, develop an IEP in accordance with state and federal laws; … The evaluation assessments shall be completed within 30 school working days after receipt of parental consent for evaluation. Summaries of such assessments shall be completed so as to ensure their availability to parents at least two days prior to the Team meeting.” 603 C.M.R. 28.05(1).

In other words, in Massachusetts, once a parent provides consent, the school district has 30 school days to complete the evaluation.  The entire process, including conducting the evaluation and convening the Team meeting to discuss the results, must be complete within 45 school days of parental consent.  Furthermore, a summary of the evaluations must be provided to the parents at least 2 days prior to the Team meeting.

We can look at an example to better understand these timelines.  Let’s assume that a parent provided consent for an evaluation on 09/12/11.  Counting ahead 30 school days, including a day off for Columbus Day, brings us to 10/25/11, which in this example is the deadline for conducting the evaluation.  Counting ahead 45 school days from 09/12/11, including days off for Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day, brings us to 11/16/11, which is the deadline for conducting the Team meeting and drafting the IEP.

But what happens if consent is provided at the end of the school year, and there is not enough time under the law as listed above to complete the evaluation and conduct the Team meeting?  In Massachusetts, parents may still be in luck.  Massachusetts has added the following protection:

“If consent is received within 30 to 45 school working days before the end of the school year, the school district shall ensure that a Team meeting is scheduled so as to allow for the provision of a proposed IEP or written notice of the finding that the student is not eligible no later than 14 days after the end of the school year.” 603 C.M.R. 28.05(1).

Again, let’s look at an example to better understand this law.  Assume that the school year ends on Friday, June 22, 2012.  45 school days prior to June 22, 2012 brings us to April 12, 2012.  30 school days prior to June 22, 2012 brings us to May 10, 2012.   Thus, we have three time frames to consider:

  1. Consent provided prior to April 12, 2012: the school district will be expected to complete the evaluation, Team meeting, and draft IEP before the end of the school year on June 22.
  2. Consent provided after May 10, 2012: the school district will not be required to complete the evaluation prior to the end of the school year, because there are fewer than 30 school days remaining.
  3. Consent provided between April 12, 2012 and May 10, 2012: the school district will be required to complete the evaluation prior to and of the school year.  If the 45 day rule would go beyond June 22, then the school district will be required to convene the Team meeting no later than 14 calendar days following the end of the school year.
 The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal matters.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.

Special Education Eligibility

For a child to be eligible for special education services, all of the following must be true:

  • The child must be between the age ranges specified by federal and state law:
    • Massachusetts: Ages 3 – 21, inclusive. 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(1)(A) and 603 C.M.R. 28.02(9). 
    • New Hampshire: Ages  3 – 20, inclusive.  New Hampshire also requires the identification and evaluation of special education students starting at age 2.5, so that an IEP can be in place immediately upon reaching age 3.  Ed 1105.
  • The child must have a disability (see below for more information);
  • The child must not be making effective progress in regular education due to that disability; and
  • The child requires specially designed instruction or a related service.

To qualify as a child with a disability for special education purposes, your child’s disability must be categorized according to terms set out under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) or under state law.  New Hampshire follows the IDEA categories, which are:

  1. intellectual disabilities,
  2. hearing impairments (including deafness),
  3. speech or language impairments,
  4. visual impairments (including blindness),
  5. serious emotional disturbance (referred to in IDEA as “emotional disturbance”),
  6. orthopedic impairments,
  7. autism,
  8. traumatic brain injury,
  9. other health impairments, or
  10. specific learning disabilities.

20 U.S.C. 1401(3)(A); 34 CFR 300.8.

New Hampshire also recognizes developmental delays in children ages 3 – 9 as a disability category.  20 U.S.C. 1401(3)(B); 34 C.F.R. 300.8(b); RSA 186-C:2, I-a.

Massachusetts has its own disability category list, which is as follows (603 C.M.R. 28.02(7)):

  1. autism,
  2. developmental delay,
  3. intellectual impairment,
  4. sensory impairment (including hearing impairment, deafness, visual impairment, and blindness),
  5. neurological impairment,
  6. emotional impairment,
  7. communication impairment,
  8. physical impairment,
  9. health impairment, or
  10. specific learning disabilities.

 The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal matters.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.

Categorizing Your Dispute

The school year is now well underway.  It is a sad fact of life that as the school year rolls along, more and more disputes arise between parents and school systems regarding a child’s education.  For disputes that cannot be resolved directly between the parents and the school systems, it is sometimes necessary to engage an attorney.  When parents call my office, one of the first things I do is to categorize the dispute into one of four major categories (and then further sub categorize within those categories):

  1. Eligibility and Evaluations.  Does the child have a disability?  Is the child not making effective progress in regular education due to that disability?  Does the child require specially designed instruction or related services in order to access the curriculum?  If the answers to these questions are yes, then the child should be eligible for special education services.
  2. The Team process and IEP services.  Who makes up the Team?  Do Team meetings take place when and how they are supposed to according to the law?  Does the IEP properly reflect the special needs of the child?  Do the accommodations and services match what the medical professionals and recommended in the evaluations?
  3. Placement.  Where will services be provided?  In-district or out-of-district?
  4. Discipline.  Has a child been removed from their educational placement because of discipline?  Has this happened for more than 10 days?  Did the school conduct a Manifestation Determination and a Functional Behavioral Assessment?

Once you know where the dispute exists within this special education “lifecycle,” you can then better understand your rights and the school district’s responsibilities under the law.

The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal disputes.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.