Archive for the ‘Special Education Law’ Category

Does Your Child Qualify for Extended School Year Services?

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

by Theresa Kraft, Esq.

When developing an IEP for a student with disabilities, the IEP team must consider whether the student’s special education needs can be met during the traditional school year.  If the child requires an extended day or an extended year in order to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), then the school district is required to provide the student with programming.  Generally, this is referred to as Extended School Year Services (ESY).

ESY can take any form that will ensure FAPE and should not be dependent upon the school district’s schedule, services, availability of personnel, etc. – in other words ESY, like the IEP, should be based on the child’s individual needs and not the convenience of the school district.

The IEPs used by many NH school district’s include a section to consider ESY, but it is not uncommon for that section to contain language indicating that the decision regarding the need for ESY will be determined by a specific date.  April seems to be the month to discuss ESY.  Regardless of whether the discussion is taking place when the IEP is first developed or at a later date, the discussion is part of the IEP process and therefore must take place within a team meeting.  At the IEP meeting that discusses ESY, the team should consider the student’s needs for ESY, including degrees of progress, emerging skills, regression over breaks, length of time to recoup skills lost over breaks, the nature or severity of the disability, interfering behaviors, as well as any other factors the team determines appropriate in consideration of whether FAPE will be provided.

ESY is not a one size fits all program.  ESY is not reserved for only specific categories of students with disabilities.  ESY is not an enrichment program.  ESY is not determined by administration based on NECAP, NWEA, DRA, or any other acronym’s scores.  ESY does not have to take place in a school setting.  As with all IEP discussions, ESY discussions should be based on the student’s needs and a focus on how those needs will be met.

When preparing for the IEP team meeting to discuss ESY, consider:

  1. The student’s progress during the traditional school year
  2. The type of programming the student receives and best practices for that type of programming
  3. The need for consistency in schedule
  4. The ability to focus more intensely on skills to foster emerging skills
  5. The need for social interaction in a structured and supported setting

For more information regarding a ESY, see NH DOE Memo 44.

This post can be found on Attorney Kraft’s website as well.

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New NH Special Education Rules Have Been Proposed

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

By Theresa Kraft, Esq.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was reauthorized in 2004 and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act, although the statute states that we can continue to call the reauthorized act IDEA.  IDEA is considered the minimum a state must do when educating children with disabilities; each state can either follow IDEA or offer additional rights and protections.  New Hampshire has always afforded children with disabilities more rights than required by IDEA.  The state laws, or statutes, can be found at RSA 186-C.  As the name implies, the New Hampshire Rules for the Education of Children with Disabilities (Ed. 1100) are the rules based on the state statutes that govern the education of children with disabilities.

Although the New Hampshire Rules for the Education of Children with Disabilities were revised in June 2008 and amended in June 2009, there are still some areas that need to be aligned with the IDEA.  Therefore, the New Hampshire Board of Education agreed on October 14, 2009 to enter into rule making for Ed 1100.  As part of rule making, the board must hold public comment sessions.  A public session is scheduled for December 9, 2009 at 12:30 PM.

For more information visit the NH DOE’s website.

Attorney Theresa Kraft guides parents of children with disabilities through the special education process.  This article also appears on Attorney Kraft’s website.

What is Child Find?

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

by Theresa Kraft, Esq.

Every school district is responsible for locating and evaluating every child who is suspected of having a disability within the geographical boundaries of the school district to determine if that child requires special education.  The school district is responsible for developing policies and procedures that ensure any child who is potentially a child with a disability attending school and for any child 2 ½ years of age up to 21 years of age residing within the school district’s jurisdiction is referred to the IEP team.  Although special education does not begin until a child is 3 years old, the school district is supposed to make sure that the evaluations have been completed and an IEP can be implemented on the child’s 3rd birthday.

The policies and procedures must include mechanisms to allow for at least annual communication, coordination, and/or consultation with private schools, area agencies, family centered early supports, community agencies and programs, group homes, courts, health care facilities and state institutions.

Any one can refer a child to special education.  The person does not have to work for the school district or be the parent or guardian of the child to make the referral.  Some reasons why a child could be referred are:

1.    Failing to pass a hearing or vision screening;
2.    Unsatisfactory performance on group achievement tests or accountability measures;
3.    Receiving multiple academic and/or behavioral warnings;
4.    Repeatedly failing one or more subjects;
5.    Inability to progress or participate in developmentally appropriate preschool activities; and
6.    Receiving service from family centered early support and services.

Child find creates an affirmative duty for a school district to ensure that all children suspected of having a disability and in need of special education are referred, even if the child is receiving passing grades and advancing from grade to grade.

The school district is required to provide data to the NH DOE regarding the children who were found eligible and those found ineligible for special education.  As part of the data collection, school districts must report on the children who were found eligible but who are not receiving services from the district.

Child find ensures that teachers, parents, and the community have the necessary information to recognize when a child should be referred to special education.

Attorney Theresa Kraft guides parents of children with disabilities through the special education process.  This article also appears on Attorney Kraft’s website.