Posts Tagged ‘Special Education Law’

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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Definition of Child with a Disability under IDEA

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

By Theresa Kraft, Esq.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the NH Rules for the Education of Children with Disabilities have defined a child with a disability as:

• a child evaluated in accordance with IDEA as having
o mental retardation,
o a hearing impairment (including deafness),
o a speech or language impairment,
o a visual impairment (including blindness),
o a serious emotional disturbance (referred to in this part as “emotional disturbance”),
o an orthopedic impairment,
o autism,
o traumatic brain injury,
o an other health impairment,
o a specific learning disability,
o deaf-blindness, or
o multiple disabilities,
• and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.

The disability categories are also defined within the law and in most cases the educational definition is not the same as a medical diagnosis.

For example the evaluations considering eligibility under Emotional Disturbance would not include diagnoses from the DSM-IV, but rather
• a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:
o An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
o An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
o Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
o A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
o A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
Notice there is no need for an underlying diagnosis such as depression or mood disorder.

It is important to remember that a medical diagnosis does not automatically qualify a child for special education. Even if a child has a medical diagnosis, the evaluations and team have to determine that because of the disability the child requires special education and related services. Special education is defined as specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. Specially designed instruction means adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child under this part, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability and to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the educational standards within the jurisdiction of the public agency that apply to all children.

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

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.