Tag Archives: Special Education

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.

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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.

Referral: The First Step in the Special Education Process

As the school year moves along, you may start to suspect that your child should be evaluated for special education.  To start the process, you should make a “referral.”  The following describes the referral process and timelines for Massachusetts and New Hampshire:

  1. Write a Letter to the special education director in your school system requesting a special education evaluation.  Explain that you are the parent or guardian of the child, and then explain some of your concerns (e.g. failing grades, distractibility, emotional concerns, etc.).  Be very clear that you are requesting an evaluation to determine eligibility for special education services or accommodations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  If you are able to go to the school office in person, you should obtain a date-stamped receipt as proof that you submitted the request on a certain date (read on to see why proof of the date is important).  If you are not able to go to the school office in person, you should send the letter certified, return receipt requested.  E-mail is also acceptable, as long as you get a response indicating that the e-mail has been received.
  2. Consent Form.  Federal law requires school districts to obtain parental consent before performing any evaluations.  This process can be more difficult for New Hampshire parents than for Massachusetts parents:
    1. Massachusetts: In Massachusetts, school districts must send the consent form to the parents within 5 school days of receiving the referral (i.e. your letter). 603 C.M.R. 28.04(1)(a).
    2. New Hampshire: In New Hampshire, when a referral is made, the IEP team must meet within 15 days of the referral to determine:
      1. whether the concerns raised by the referral can be addressed by existing educational supports that are available to all children;
      2. whether additional information is required; and
      3. what testing, if any, is needed to address any remaining concerns raised by the referral. Ed 1106.01(d).
  1. Evaluation.  If an evaluation will take place, federal law requires that it occur within 60 days of receiving parental consent. 300 C.F.R. 300.301(c)(1)(i).  Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire provide shorter timeframes, though.
    1. Massachusetts: Schools must complete the evaluation within 30 school days of receiving the consent form.  603 C.M.R. 28.04(2).
    2. New Hampshire: Schools must complete the evaluation within 45 days of receiving the consent form. Ed 1107.01(c).

I will examine the Evaluation procedures in more detail in a subsequent blog post.

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.

Barnstable Special Education Parent Advisory Council to Meet on 10/18/10

The Barnstable Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) will meet on October 18, 2010 from 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM at the Barnstable High School (Room 1202), 744 West Main St., Hyannis. For more information, please contact: 774-994-0713, 508-246-0467, or BarnstableSEPAC@comcast.net.

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 for more information.

Milton to Undergo Special Education Review

The Patriot Ledger newspaper published the following article today:

Special-education review in Milton set for mid-November

By Anonymous
Posted Sep 30, 2010 @ 02:00 AM

MILTON —

Representatives from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be in local schools during the week of Nov. 15 to review the town’s compliance with special-education laws.

Included will be an examination of selected student records, classroom visits, and interviews with staff members, parents and others.

Federal and state special-education laws ensure that students with disabilities receive educations that prepare them for employment, independent living and possible post-high-school education.

Parents who feel their child is not receiving proper services are encouraged to meet with a state education staff member prior to Nov. 15.

To request an interview, call Paul Aguiar at 781- 338-3781.

SPEDWatch Inc., a statewide nonprofit working to secure the educational rights of all Massachusetts schoolchildren with disabilities, is also offering its services to parents in connection with the state’s review of the Milton school system.

For more information about the organization, go to http://www.spedwatch.org.

Copyright 2010 The Patriot Ledger. Some rights reserved
Please visit my web site for more information about the Law Office of James M. Baron: http://www.lawbaron.com

Foxboro Proposes Changes to Comply with State Observation Law – But Do They Comply?

The Foxboro school committee has proposed some changes to its policies on classroom observations.  These changes are intended to comply with a new law providing much more liberal access for parents and their representatives to observe special education classrooms.  Actually, the law is not so new – it was passed nearly two years ago.  The proposed changes, as reported by The Sun Chronicle, include the following:

  1. A requirement that the observer not interfere with classroom proceedings.
  2. A requirement that the observer be there to observe the suitability of a program given the child’s needs, and not to be there to evaluate a teacher’s ability.
  3. A parent must sign a release for a representative to observe.
  4. A request may be denied for specified reasons.

For the complete article, go to this URL: http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2010/04/20/news/7216730.txt

What I find interesting in this article is its pro-school and anti-parent slant.  The actual law is much more parent-friendly. It was passed because of unreasonable observation restrictions that were placed by schools on parents and their representatives.  The actual wording of Chapter 363 of the Acts of 2008 is as follows:

“To insure that parents can participate fully and effectively with school personnel in the consideration and development of appropriate educational programs for their child, a school committee shall, upon request by a parent, provide timely access to parents and parent-designated independent evaluators and educational consultants for observations of a child’s current program and of any program proposed for the child, including both academic and non-academic components of any such program. Parents and their designees shall be afforded access of sufficient duration and extent to enable them to evaluate a child’s performance in a current program and the ability of a proposed program to enable such child to make effective progress. School committees shall impose no conditions or restrictions on such observations except those necessary to ensure the safety of children in a program or the integrity of the program while under observation or to protect children in the program from disclosure by an observer of confidential and personally identifiable information in the event such information is obtained in the course of an observation by a parent or a designee.”

Please visit my web site for more information about the Law Office of James M. Baron: http://www.lawbaron.com.