What Every Educator Should Know About Special Education Law

What Every Educator Should Know About Special Education Law

September 9, 2019 1 By Ronny Jaskolski


Well, welcome. Thank you, everyone, for
joining us this afternoon for our webinar, “What
Every Educator Should Know About Special
Education Law,” presented by Beverley Johns. My name is Sharon Larkin. And I’m a senior marketing
manager at Brookes Publishing. I will be your moderator today. And Brookes Publishing
is our proud sponsor for today’s webinar. So we are able to offer
Continuing Education certificates for
today’s webinar. If you’re logged into
the live webinar, your certificate will be
emailed to you within 24 hours. If you’re logged in by phone
or watching the recording, you will need to be
sure to take that CE quiz to get your Continuing
Education certificate. You can find that quiz in
the Webinar Archives folder in the Teaching All
Students Community, located at
edweb.net/inclusiveeducation. So without any
further delay, I am so pleased to introduce our
presenter today, Beverley Johns. In addition to being the author
of the new book, Your Classroom Guide to Special
Education Law, she also has over 35 years of experience
in special education. She ran a public
school for children with the most significant
behavioral disorders in West Central Illinois
and provided consultation to local districts. She’s now a professional
fellow at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois,
and is a learning and behavior consultant. She has chaired
legislative committees for a number of
professional organizations and was the recipient of the
2000 Outstanding Leadership Award from the Council
for Exceptional Children. Beverley, thank you so much
for being with us today. Oh, I am delighted to be here. And I welcome all
of the individuals that are on the line with us. So we’re going to go
ahead and get started. And again, thank you to all
of you who are participating, who are continuing
your education about learning as
much as possible about special education law. As I well know, sometimes,
it becomes very overwhelming because we think we
may know the answer. And then the laws and
the regulations change. So we have to become
lifelong learners when it comes to special education law. So let’s, without further ado– I like to open with this
because in so many areas, we’ve all heard the
saying, ignorance is bliss. In special education law,
ignorance is not bliss because, in fact, what can happen is
it can cause your local school district a lot of money
because you said something or you did something
that was not correct. So the first thing is all
of us have to know the laws and regulations. Now, granted, none of
us have such a memory that we could remember them all. But the important
thing is that we really need to know how to find the
answer because there will be people that will say, the law
says this, the law says that. And I always say,
when someone says that, you need to also look
that up yourself and verify it because just the other day, I
had someone send me an email. And they said their
administrator had said to them, there’s a new law,
and it says that we have to collect 10
data points before we can make a referral
to special education, and what is that new
law, to which I said, there is no new
law that says you have to have 10 data points. And in fact– was
the administrator had made a decision that
that’s what would occur. But it, in fact, is not in
the laws and regulations. The other thing that
really is very important is that you never fake your
knowledge of the information and give out incorrect
information because what I find is that more and
more families keep up with the latest in
special education law. And when we say something
that is not correct, that’s going to come
back and haunt us, not to mention we just
don’t want to be giving out incorrect information
because there’s a lot of that that goes on as is. And we don’t need
to be contributing. The information that we
give out should be correct. Now let’s look at
staying current. Oh my goodness,
is that important, but is that difficult. Look
at– for a number of years, we had No Child Left Behind. Now we have ESSA, Every
Student Succeeds Act. And now we have regulations
that are coming out about ESSA. So we have to stay
current because a law may be in place one year, and
it’s changed the next year. And that really happens
in your various states because your legislative
body may make changes to special education
laws and regulations. So you say to yourself,
oh my goodness, this seems overwhelming. How am I going to keep up? Well, the first thing
that’s important is to have an actual copy
of the laws and regulations and to know how to
access those laws and regulations electronically. It’s a much easier
world now because we can access the information. So if we have a
question about a letter, for instance, that the
Office of Special Education Programs in Washington,
DC has told us about, we can go online. And we can access
that information. And it’s always important when
people say, well, it says this, we need to check
it out ourselves. And then I’m a firm
believer in engaging in professional development. So that’s why I say kudos
to all of you who are really working to learn more about
special education laws and regulations. And it’s also important
to stay involved in your professional
organizations because they keep you current
with what is happening. So you can also participate. There are some wonderful
blogs out there. There are some wonderful
electronic newsletters. So the important thing is
that we read and we access information and we talk to
individuals just as much as we can so that we know
when there are changes made or we want to verify certain
information that other people have told us about. So let’s just take
a minute or two. And you tell– just think about
how many of these acronyms that you know because I think
in special education– not just in special education,
it’s in all other fields as well– but we have our own vocabulary. And we have to remember that
because we know the vocabulary, maybe some other people
don’t understand it. But just take a
couple of minutes to see how many of
these acronyms you know. And then we’ll talk about
what those acronyms stand for. OK. Wonderful. I saw at least one person who
knew them all except for FERPA. So let’s go through these
and see how you did. I think if you knew six of them,
that’s absolutely wonderful. FAPE, of course, stands for Free
Appropriate Public Education. And all students
with disabilities have the right to go to school
and receive an education that is both free, appropriate,
and it’s a public education. And IDEA is the
name that we use. And it’s the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act. And that was last
reauthorized in 2004. And now that we have
the reauthorization done on the Every Student
Succeeds Act, ESSA, the work probably will begin
on the IDEA reauthorization. So FERPA– some of
you didn’t know FERPA. And FERPA is a very important
law because what it does is it protects the
right to privacy of students and their records. So it deals with
confidentiality. And it stands for Family
Educational Rights and Privacy Act. So it’s the Family Educational
Rights and Privacy Act. And it deals with, and
we’ll talk more about that– it deals
with the difference between permanent records
and temporary records. It deals with who you can
disclose information to and who you can’t
disclose information to. And BIP, of course, which is a
topic near and dear to my heart because I’ve worked
with children with significant behavior
challenges most of my career, is the Behavior
Intervention Plan. And we’re going to
talk more about that. And LRE– and I’m going
to– in this webinar, we’re going to talk about
the four-prong test for Least Restrictive Environment. And the ADA is the Americans
with Disabilities Act. And CAP is the Continuum
of Alternative Placements, meaning that school districts
are supposed to have options, plural, for students. So they cannot say, if
the student has a learning disability, they’re
in this placement. If a student has
behavioral disorders or serious emotional
disturbance, they are in this placement. You have to have
options for students. So CAP, again, is Continuum
of Alternative placements. And so now let’s look at the
whole situation with the laws and regulations that all of
us need to keep current with. First of all, at
the federal level, we have the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act, which that is our special
education law that governs what we do with students who have
been identified as having a disability that
adversely affects their educational performance. And then we also need to
know about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973 because the bottom
line here is that is an anti-discrimination law. And it says we cannot
discriminate against someone because of their disability. And then the Americans
with Disabilities Act covers the rights of
individuals with disabilities in the workplace, in
other public settings. And certainly, school
districts must follow ADA because they have to
follow those requirements about both physical
accessibility and other types of
accessibility within the school. And the last one is FERPA,
the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which governs
how we integrate records and how we handle records. Now you say, well, that’s
enough laws and regulations to keep up with– but oh, not
so, because in every state, there is a different set of
state laws and regulations. What we know about our state
laws and regulations that govern special education or
anti-discrimination or records is that state laws and
regulations cannot do less, but they can do additional
requirements on top of what’s being done
at the federal level. So they can add
to federal level. So I always say to
people, the best place to find out where your state
laws and regulations are is to look at your State Department
of Education’s website. And again, go to your
professional organizations because they can also help
you access that information as well. And again, state
laws and regulations can go beyond federal. They cannot do less. And then you say,
oh, this is enough– but not the case because
there are many instances where I can read the federal laws
and regulations one way, and you might read
them another way. And that happens
more than you think. And then what happens
is somebody says, I think it says this. And the parent says, no,
I believe it says this. And I want these
services for my child. And the school district may say,
no, those are not appropriate. And when there is a
dispute about what the laws and regulations
say and what might be an appropriate
placement for a child, then we go to due process,
and ultimately to the courts. And if you’ve been following
on a variety of blogs and newsletters, you know
that we have currently a case pending in the
Supreme Court that deals with service animals. And you may have seen a
picture of the Goldendoodle because it deals
with a Goldendoodle and whether a Goldendoodle
can be within the school and come to school
with the child. So we have a case going to the– that is in the Supreme Court. And then we have Office of
Special Education Program letters. Those are letters
that, when there seem to be some problems with
clarification about the law and the Federal Office of
Special Education Programs is getting a lot
of complaints, they will issue a letter that will
help people better understand exactly what the laws
and regulations mean and, when the law was
passed, what it meant to say. So those are all the
various laws and regulations that we need to
stay current with. Now, think about these. Which of these
components are included in Section 504 or IDEA? And I’ve given you four options. So in which law would you
find listed 13 different types of disabilities? OK. And if you said IDEA,
which the majority of you did, wonderful, because the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides a
list of 13 different types of disabilities. OK. Terrific. Let’s go onto the next one. Which of the laws talks about
comparable education, Section 504 or IDEA? OK. Terrific. A comparable education to the
education of other children is what Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 says. Now, what does that mean? We always get the
question about sports. And can students with
differing disabilities participate in sports? The issue is what do
the other children who do not have disabilities get? What is the comparable
education or the comparable role of extracurricular activities? So all students would have the
right to go out for sports. That would be comparable. So children with
disabilities have the right to go out for sports. Children have the
right, all children have the right, to
access the school. So that’s a
comparable education. They have the right to get
in that classroom door, and students with
disabilities also do. And so that deals with the
issue of physical accessibility, that children have
to be physically able to get in the school
door because that would be a comparable education. How about an IEP? Is that in 504,
or is it in IDEA? Terrific. And everybody said
that is the cornerstone of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act– is the Individualized
Education Program or plan for each student. So that is individualized. So special education
differs from Section 504 because 504 is talking
about a comparable education to the other children. IDEA is talking about what does
this individual child need. And how about our last one,
which is birth to death? Is that 504, or is that IDEA? And it is Section 504
because Section 504 is going to protect
an individual who has an identified disability
that impairs a major life function. Section 504 has a
broader definition of what a disability is. And it covers, essentially, the
lifespan from birth to death. So that’s why we have
separate parking places. We have sign language
interpreters not just for the children
within the school, but also their families
if their families wish to go to a public event. So OK. That’s wonderful. OK. Now, I always say
it’s like cherry pie. And you’re saying,
what does cherry pie has to do with
special education law? Well, here’s my analogy. The law itself forms the
bottom crust of a pie. All of us love pie. But most pies have
a bottom crust. And that’s the foundation. That’s the law. And then when the
law is passed, there are some issues
that aren’t as clear as they should be in the law. So we fill it in with cherries. And the regulations are the
filling to the cherry pie. And then, even when
we have the laws and we have the
foundational crust and we have the
cherries in the pie, we still have some
unanswered questions, which is why we have court cases. And those make the
top crust of the pie. And the court cases answer
a lot of questions for us. But by golly, if you’ve got
a slit in the top crust– because there may still be
some questions unanswered. So that’s my analogy
about laws and regulations and cherry pies. So let’s look at the roles and
responsibilities of IEP team members because I
always say to people, take that
responsibility seriously because when you are part
of a meeting about a child’s special education, you
are making decisions that impact that child’s life. And so they’re very
serious decisions. And sometimes, we say, oh,
I have to go to another IEP. The bottom line is those IEPs
are very, very important. We need to take them seriously. And we need to have done
adequate preparation because when we go to an IEP,
we come in with evaluation instruments of various
evaluations they’re– we’ve done. For instance, we
may be an observer of that– we may have
collected observational data about the child. We may have done some
individualized assessment. We may have looked at
how the child compared with other children on whatever
test the school district is using. And we’re a required IEP
team member and contributor. One of the most frustrating
things, having participated in thousands of IEPs– I would see people
come into the IEP as a required
member of the team. They wouldn’t say anything. The team would decide something. And then they would
get out of the meeting and say, well, I really didn’t
agree with what was done. And the whole point is
that you need to speak up because you are a contributor. Otherwise, you wouldn’t
be in that meeting. Then, once you have
decided all of the– what the child needs, you’re
an implementer of the IEP. So if you’re the general
education teacher where the students spends the
majority of their day, you’re going to be
implementing the IEP. If you’re a special
educator, you’re going to be implementing the
specially designed instruction. If you’re a social
worker, you’re going to be working together to
meet the social-emotional needs of the child. And then identifying
the supports that are needed for the student– and we say be really careful
because the evaluation process is an ongoing process. And so we need to
identify the supports. And let’s say the student
is still struggling. Then we need to look at, are
we providing adequate supports not only to the child,
but to the teacher so that the teacher can meet
the needs of the student? And the bottom line is
we also monitor that IEP to make sure that that– that what’s written on the
IEP is what’s being done. You remember our required
participants in the IEP process are the parents. The parents are an
integral part of the team. The parents are evaluators. They know their child
better than anyone does. So they are part of
that evaluation team. And they bring to
the table what can that child do at
home versus what can the child do at school. And they provide
relevant information for us about medications,
about social issues, about some of the things that the
child may be going through. So the parent is
an integral part. The student, where appropriate,
the general education teacher, the special education
teacher, and someone who can commit services,
which would usually be the building administrator– so those are the required
participants in the IEP. And there may be a
number of other people. There may be the school
psychologist, the school social worker, or the
occupational therapist. But the bottom line is required
are the special educator, the general education
teacher, the parent, someone who can commit
services, and someone who can interpret the
instructional implications about the IEP. Certainly, a number of other
folks can be involved as well. Here are the areas of concern. One is that– we had talked
a little bit before we went live online about
there is no such thing as unilateral action
in special education. And that’s a very difficult
concept for some individuals to understand. So when we are going
to make decisions about the placement of a
student or anything that impacts the individualized services that
we’re providing to the child, the IEP team makes the decision. We don’t make it unilaterally. And we also know that the
IEP has to be followed. So the individuals who
are implementing the IEP need to have a copy of the IEP. Certainly, the parent
has a copy of the IEP. Anyone who’s implementing
are– needs to have it. So that IEP is placement. It’s accommodations, whether
the student needs a behavior intervention plan, and what
is the parent involvement because good IEPs talk about
the strengths of the child. And they must address
parental concerns. So when parents come in, not
only do we need to fill them– make them feel very
welcome in the process because they are such
a valuable resource, but we also need to talk about
what are the parent’s concerns. What are they concerned that
their child needs to know or doesn’t need to know? Now, we need to beware of the
failure to evaluate students because we’re going to talk
about a letter that was issued by the US Department
of Education and the Office of Special
Education Programs. And we hear of school districts. So remember, I gave you the
example of the person saying, we were told we have
to collect 10 data points before we can refer a
child to special education. The bottom line is
if you have knowledge that a child has a
disability or you have suspicion that the
child has a disability, you must evaluate the
child because sometimes, what occurs is
that they will say, well, we require the child
to go through Responsible to Intervention, RTI,
or we require the child to go through MTSS, the
Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, before we evaluate. If we have knowledge of or
suspicion of a disability, we need to evaluate the child. The other thing that I
think sometimes happens– I know it happens– is that we fail to recognize
independent evaluations. So let’s say that
the parent has had an independent evaluation done. And it showed that
the child was ADHD. And the parent brings
the evaluation in. And the school district
says, oh, well, that’s fine. We’ll put that in the file. No. The school district has to
recognize that evaluation in a team meeting. They don’t have to accept it. But they must recognize
the evaluation. And then we know
that our evaluations have to be
multi-disciplinary, meaning they need to be done by
at least three people. And we can’t ignore the
timelines for an evaluation. Our federal law provides
us with timelines for when an evaluation has to
be done from the time there was parent permission. And then some states
go beyond that. So it’s– this is an excellent
example of where you have to not only look at the federal
guidance of the federal law, but you also have to look that
your state may have an even stricter process for when
you evaluate the student. Here is the Office of Special
Education Programs letter that was issued to school
districts on January 21, 2011 because there were so
many school districts that were saying the children
have to go through RTI. And in the case
of one instance, I knew the child had
been in the Response to Intervention process for four
years and was not evaluated. What happens is you never
recover that four years. And the student had a clearly
identified disability. But yet they made the
student go through Response to intervention for that
long of a period of time. OSEP said, you can’t do that. And then here is
another issue, which is one size doesn’t fit all. And you say, what
do you mean by that? I mean that sometimes,
we fail to individualize for the specialized
needs of the child. We had a court case some years
ago in a Southern state– it actually could
happen to any place– where when the hearing
officer looked at the IEPs for the children,
the hearing officer found that every child in the
classroom had the same goals. That’s a problem because
that would say you really haven’t individualized. And we have to remember
what the I is in the IEP. I know that a lot of people
utilize computerized IEPs. Probably most school districts
would use computerized IEPs. And they may be wonderful. But we have to be careful
that they’re individualized. You’d have to be alert to
problems with checklists because here’s what
sometimes happens. The school district
will say, well, we have an
accommodations checklist. And so I’m not really
sure what the child needs on the checklist. So I’ll just check
everything off. Well, that really
doesn’t tell anybody who’s looking at that IEP what
are the accommodations that are meaningful
and individualized for the students. And the bottom line
is special education is about specially
designed instruction. A whole ‘nother topic
is this whole issue of we make accommodations for
children, which we should. But if the child cannot
read and we say we’re going to accommodate by reading
information to the child, but we don’t teach
the child to read, we have done a real disservice
to the child so that– yes, we accommodate. But we also say to ourselves,
what is the reading approach that that individual child needs
that will result in him making benefit in reading? And an individualized– and you
say, what on Earth is PLAAFP? It used to be PLOP
in the old IDEA because it was Present
Levels of Performance. But when IDEA changed,
it became PLAAFP, which is Present Levels
of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance,
and goals and objectives and placement. This is an area where
some states only do goals because IDEA requires goals. And IDEA requires objectives
for children who participate in alternate assessment. But many states require
both goals and objectives for students. And the whole issue of
placement is also important, that we never can say all
children with behavior problems go to this placement,
because that’s not individualized for children. This is why special
education really is meeting the individualized
needs of the child. And first and foremost, it’s
specially designed instruction that’s delivered by
the special educator. And it’s based on a thorough
assessment of the child. It may be remediation. It may be compensation. And then it may also
be related to service. And then because
many of our children are in the regular
education environment, the classroom teacher
needs to differentiate us to involve all of the students. So that’s delivered by
the general educator. And then accommodations
and modifications– and the term is “reasonable
accommodations.” So we cannot expect a child or
a teacher to make accommodations that would require them staying
up all night doing that. These are reasonable
accommodations. And they’re delivered within
the general education classroom. And in good settings, they’re
both the responsibility of the classroom teacher and
the special education teacher because we need to collaborate. So OK. Now, when we’re talking
about placement of children, we say, how do we
determine placement? Actually, back in 1994, we had
a court case that came out– came from California. And I know we have some
California participants on the webinar. And that’s wonderful. And in this case, this
was a little girl. Her name was Rachel. And Rachel was a young lady. And Rachel had
intellectual disabilities. And Rachel’s parents
wanted her to spend time in the general
education environment. And the school district said no. And the parents said,
but we want our child to be around children who
don’t have disabilities. And the school district said,
well, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll have her part of the
time in general education, and part of the time
in special education. So little Rachel is
going back and forth between special education
and general education numerous times in the day. And her parents said, she’s
losing instructional time doing this. So what happened was the
Ninth Circuit gave us a test. And a lot of the other
circuits have used that. And the first question
we need to ask is, when we’re
deciding on placement, will the student derive
educational benefit from the placement considered? And the second question
is, will the student derive non-educational benefits? So the example for
Rachel was that she could have friends in the
general education classroom. She could have
excitement from learning, improved self-confidence. Now, the third prong
of the test was, will it be detrimental
because the student is disruptive to other children? And is the student taking up too
much of the teacher’s time so that the other students would
suffer from lack of attention? And the last prong of the test–
and you’ll say, my goodness, I can’t believe you can
actually consider cost. But yes, the answer is
you can consider cost. Now, when the courts
applied this four-prong test to Rachel Holland,
they found that she could derive educational benefit
from the general ed classrooms. She could also derive
non-educational benefit. Rachel was not a disruption
because she did not exhibit behavior problems. And the cost of educating her
in the general ed classroom was not too much. So now keep that
four-prong test in mind as we move to the next one,
which was in the same circuit. In the Ninth Circuit,
there was a young man in the state of Washington. And this young man– it was a different
story because Ryan was causing disruptive behavior
in the general education classroom. Now, important in this case
is that this school district was really working very hard
to provide all of the supports that this child needed in the
general education classroom. And it still was not enough. So the courts ruled that his
disruptive behavior kept him from learning and he had an
overwhelmingly negative effect on teachers and other students. And the court said
the third prong of the test, the
four-prong test, is that the third prong
will take precedence. But always remember, this
was a school district who had made every effort
to provide supports in the general
education classroom. So the school couldn’t just
say, well, we won’t do anything and he should be
in a separate class because he is causing
too much disruption. The question would
be, well, what have you done to show that
you were trying to meet his needs in this setting? So now let’s talk about
collaborating with families because the bottom
line is that we need to work together with families. And we need to understand
the needs of the family. I always say, it
would be very easy for us to criticize families. And the bottom line is we do
not live with the children. And so we don’t live
with the children. And the parents may
work and come home. And there’s a lot of
stress on the parent. And so we need to
understand that there is a lot of stress on the
parent and be very cognizant that we’re not being
critical in blaming some of the things on the parents. We need to work collaboratively
with the parent. And then we need to
recognize their expertise. They know their child. And we need to– it’s
just like our students. We recognize,
hopefully– none of us ever take good
behavior for granted. We recognize it. That’s the same
thing with families. Everything that that
family does that’s positive and that is truly
collaborative– we need to let them know
that and accept that fact and tell them how much we
appreciate their partnership. And then we need to
respect the right to disagree because
we may think we know all– we have all the answers. And we may think that we know
what’s best for their child. But they may have another idea. But we need to come together to
see what our common ground is. And then a lot of our children
coming into schools today need other types of services. They may need mental
health services. They may need additional
support systems. And we need to link them
to those services that are available. I was just presenting on
trauma-informed practice in the schools. And we were talking about– as I told you, I live in
the state of Illinois. And it’s rough because a lot
of our human services programs have been cut. And so we’re trying
to link parents to services that may or may not
be available because of budget cuts. And the next thing, the last
one, is to seek their input. So we do things like
homework evaluation sheets. Be very careful of giving
children homework that they cannot do independently
because the bottom line is if the teacher
doesn’t have the– if the parent does not
have the teacher’s manual, they may not know how to
do the homework, either, because we have a lot more
expectations in schools now. We have to be very
careful with home notes. I was called in to a
school that it was– they were about to
go into due process. And they were about to go into
due process over home notes because the teacher was being
very negative in the home notes. Well, the parent
was stressed enough. And the parent actually
dreaded getting the home note because the home notes said
what the child couldn’t do as opposed to saying what
happened at school that day. So if you frame home
notes, which I’m a firm believer in those
communications systems– but if you frame
home notes about what happened at school
that day, then the parent can talk to
the child about what happened at school that day. I often understand why some
parents don’t give their phone number to school personnel,
because if their child has a behavior problem, they don’t
want to hear from the school. And they dread the home notes. So we have to carefully frame
how we present information to families to not
become negative. OK. So you’ve been
listening a while. Let’s do a two truths and a lie. So one of these
statements is a lie. And which one is it? Now, the first one is,
if the parent can only attend an IEP on Saturday,
then the school district must schedule a
meeting on Saturday. Then the second one is,
under certain circumstances, the school can hold an IEP
if the parent can’t attend. And the third one
is, parental concerns must be addressed at the IEP. OK. Terrific. Terrific. It’s true. If the parent can only
attend an IEP on Saturday, then the school district
must schedule the meeting on Saturday– not,
because the law is very specific
that we schedule IEPs at a mutually agreeable time. So most educators
would say, Saturday is not a mutually
agreeable time for me. So that’s where, if you have
a collaborative relationship with parents, you
won’t have those issues because you work together. You value their time. They value your time. And number 2 is correct. That’s true because under
certain circumstances, the school can hold an IEP
if the parent can’t attend. However, just make
sure that you, as school personnel, if you’re
school personnel participating, that you have
written documentation that you have made every
effort to get the parent there. And generally, the
rule of thumb is you at least have three sources
of written documentation. You send the letter. You may then follow
up with a phone call. And maybe you follow
through with another note. So one of the examples
I use in the book was that there had not been
any type of, shall we say, effort to find out the
correct address of the family. And what was being
done was the form was being sent to
a wrong address. And they sent forms. And they did it three times. But they sent it
to a wrong address because they had
failed to realize that the parent had moved. And lastly, parental
concerns have to be addressed at the IEP. So again, the IEP
is a team effort. And we talked about there is no
such thing as unilateral action in special education. OK. And look at these. Look at number 1. The principal decides the
testing accommodations. Is that right, or is that wrong? Very good. It’s wrong. Who decides the
testing accommodations? That is the IEP team. And they have to know as much
as they can about the student. And incidentally,
testing accommodations should be comparable
to accommodations that are done in
terms of instruction because we don’t suddenly
introduce a new accommodation when the child does not
have that within instruction in the classroom and
the child has not been taught how to
use the accommodation. All right. Let’s look at the second one. The teacher changes the time
the student sees the speech and language pathologist. Is that right, or is that wrong? And that would be right, too. That’s wrong because
I don’t think that a speech and language
pathologist would be happy if the teacher just
changes the time. And again, let’s say that the
child has speech and language for 40 minutes a week. And the teacher
says, I don’t really want to let him go to the
speech and language pathology except for 20 minutes. They can’t do that. That’s a collaborative
decision through the IEP. So the teacher
sends a student home for the rest of the day because
of the student’s behavior. OK. That is also wrong. And why is that wrong? Because the bottom line
is that’s a suspension. And I can’t tell you
the number of times I was called into another
school where the teacher had been sending the student home. The principal had
not been informed. The principal was suspending
the student sometimes. The teacher was sending
the student home. The assistant principal was
sending the student home. By October, there were
15 days of suspension– a problem. That is a suspension. So the importance of– So when we look
at the IEP, we’re looking at the student, their
background, evaluation results, strengths. This is always strength-based. And sometimes when we’re
working with children with behavior problems, the
bottom line is peoples– you’ll say, tell me what
the student does well. And people will
say, I don’t know. Well, every child has strengths. And if we really talk about
the strengths in the IEP, we go a lot further in
collaboration with the family because the family doesn’t want
to come into a meeting where all they ever hear is what
their child cannot do. They want to hear the good
things that the child can do. So from that, we then do
present levels of achievement, academic achievement, and
functional performance, everything written in MOO terms. MOO is Measurable,
Observable, and Objective. And we’ll talk a little
bit more about that– goals and, where appropriate,
objectives, depending upon the state
you’re in, and then where and how can the
child’s needs be met. So we look at
where the child is. We look at where we
want the child to be. And then we look at where and
how can we meet those needs. So let’s look at these. Are these statements written
in Measurable, Observable, Objective terms? Dakota is truant. Right. That is not Measurable,
Observable, and Objective. I always say, too, a stranger
should be able to pick– like a new school
district should be able to pick up
the IEP and say, I know exactly what that means. The child has missed
10 of 35 days. That’s MOO terms. “Dakota is truant” is not. We don’t know. And if a child moves
from state to state, it may very well be that
truancy in one state is different than it
is in another state. How about this one,
Kiara can’t read? I just heard this one the
other day from somebody. I said, what do you mean? That’s right. That’s not written in
Measurable, Observable, and Objective terms. What would be better
to say would be, Kiara’s reading comprehension
is at a mid-second grade level, or Kiara’s word recognition
is at the second grade level, so that I know
exactly what’s meant. And the last one, Blaine
has weak math skills. And you’re absolutely right. What I need to say is
exactly, does Blaine have difficulty
with multiplication? Does he have difficulty
with word problems at the fourth grade level? I need to break it
down as much as I can so that when a stranger
would pick up the IEP, they should know
exactly what I mean. So now let’s look at the lingo
of behavior interventions. Look at these and just jot down
any of them you don’t know. Well, this is good. Everybody knows these. OK. Very good. OK. We have lingo in
the IEP process. And we certainly have lingo
in behavior interventions, don’t we? So the BIP is the BIP, the
Behavior Intervention Plan. The FBA is the Functional
Behavior Assessment. That’s what we do before
we do a BIP because we need to assess what the student– what is the function
of the behavior, and what are the multitude of
issues it could be impacting. And we can’t do a good BIP if
we haven’t done a Functional Behavioral Assessment. MD is Manifestation
Determination, what we do when a student
engages in a behavior and we believe and
we’re going to have to try to find out
if that behavior was related to the disability. PBIS– some of you probably
are working in PBIS schools. And that’s Positive Behavior
Interventions and Supports. And SWPBIS is what we use as
School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. And the last one
is ABCs, which is all part of the whole
notion of behavior, which is what happens before
the behavior occurs, what is the behavior
specifically written in MOO terms, and then what happens
after the child behaves in a certain way, what
is the consequence. So let’s look at the key points. Do we only do
appropriate– do we only do BIPs if the child
is receiving services for having behavioral
disorders or serious emotional disturbance, whatever
term your state uses? No. We do a behavior intervention
plan any time behavior is interfering with learning. It’s always based on the FBA. And we’re always monitoring
the days of suspensions so that we’re never going
over 10 days a year. And one of the positive things
is I’m seeing more and more states actually adopt laws that
would say that you cannot be suspending children
because, in fact, the majority of suspensions
are for defiance of authority. They’re not going to be– they’re not for
dangerous behaviors. So we need to monitor and
look at those behaviors. OK. So let’s talk about “I
didn’t see it happen.” One of the things
in today’s world is that we have to provide
adequate supervision of children because if
we don’t, we don’t always see what has happened. And let’s look at the
issues with para-educators. The teacher is ultimately
responsible for the education of students in his or her class. And the teacher is
supervising the para-educator. So the teacher needs to know
exactly what the para-educator is doing because the teacher
is the one who’s supposed to be planning the instruction. And then issues with bullying– we need to pump up supervision. And we need to not
ignore aggression. And sometimes, I
think that we don’t want to see things that happen. We think if we just act
like we didn’t see it, maybe it will go away. In fact, it will not go away. It will get worse. Field trips, hallways,
cafeteria, recess, technology– we really
have got to pump up our supervision of
students so we know what’s going on at all times. And remember, if it
isn’t written down, it wasn’t done because a
lot of people will say, well, I told
somebody about this. Well, did you do a
follow-up in writing? And the issue is
if you didn’t, you have no proof that
you actually did. So I always say, document
everything in writing. So the event happens
or a request is made. Let’s say you’re a teacher and
you believe that the child has or may have a disability. So you say, I believe that
John needs an evaluation. You can talk to
someone about that. But then you need to
put the information in writing so that you have
proof that you did something. We talked a little
bit about this. This is what I call the stranger
test, which is portability. Remember that a lot of
our children move around. And therefore,
our document needs to be portable so that someone
can pick it up and know exactly what’s going on. We also need to be
very, very objective– no opinions. Well, I believe
his mother is this. On what information
do you base that on? And then a record
is anything that’s shared with someone else. So FERPA is temporary records
versus permanent records. And it deals with private files. And remember that anything
that is shared is a record. And then it deals with
destruction of records. And it says that the parents
have the right to the records and that all school
districts need to know who their records custodian is. So is this a permanent
record or a temporary record? We’re just– we’re out of time. But let’s just talk about these. Are grades a permanent
record or a temporary record? And they would be
a permanent record because the records
are kept a long time if they’re a permanent record. Special education evaluations
would be a temporary record. School districts can give notice
and get rid of those records, generally, after the student
has been out of school for five years. And a 504 Plan, because it
would designate a disability, would, in fact, be
a temporary record. So special education
evaluations, 504 Plans– those are temporary records. Grades and basic
identifying information, such as birth dates– they’re permanent record. They last for many years
in a school district. And last, the special
education classes taken– that’s a temporary record. Nothing that talks
about special education can be in a permanent record. Temporary records are destroyed
after five years, generally. But there has to be
notice that they’re going to be destroyed
because the records actually belong to the student
and the student’s family. So presenting a positive image– what do we need to do when
we’re working with children and with disabilities? Check and recheck anything
sent to someone else so that it can’t be misinterpreted. Share only with those
who need to know. And avoid any negative
statements about our profession and individual children. We hear so many people that
bash the educational profession. We need to stick up and
make positive comments about what we’re doing with
students in the schools. So one more is two
truths and a lie. Which one is the lie? Is it number 1, is it
number 2, or is it number 3? Oh, terrific. Absolutely, it’s number 2, what
an employee posts on Facebook is no business of
the school district. And yes, it is. And in today’s world,
a lot of administrators are looking at the Facebook
posts that educators do. I say to individuals,
remember that as an– if you’re an educator,
you’re a public servant. And we don’t put
anything on Facebook that we don’t want the
whole world to see. And off-duty conduct–
this is true– can be considered
when determining whether an individual
should be re-employed. And educators are
not always protected by the Constitution’s First
Amendment of freedom of speech. We’re seeing more and
more cases where teachers have said things that may have
been derogatory to the school district, and therefore
have caused problems in their everyday work. So what is our role
in moving forward? We need to ask ourselves,
are we keeping abreast of new laws and regulations? So as ESSA evolves, we need to
make sure we know what it says and what the implications are
for students with disabilities. When there is an
IDEA reauthorization, we need to make sure
we’re keeping abreast and we’re giving input. Are we putting the needs
of our students first? And are we effective
collaborators? So I thank all of you
for being on the call and hanging in there with us. I believe we can
take a few questions. Am I right? Yeah. Absolutely. Oh, wonderful. Wonderful. Yeah. Great job, Beverley. The chat has gone crazy. And it’s been [INAUDIBLE]. So let’s just jump right in. We’ll go a couple
of minutes over. Many people ask,
what’s the easiest way to stay current with laws? OK. And again, now I
think that it’s easier because we have so much
access to technology. I encourage people
to join blogs, to join blogs that deal
with special education laws. I also encourage people to
stay current with whatever their organizations are. So we had some
parents on the line. We have a number of
parent organizations. We have four educators. We have a number of
professional organizations. And those organizations
send out regular updates about the laws and regulations. And your state organizations
will do the same thing. And you have to read
because, again, we’ve got to be knowledgeable
about what is happening. And I think with technology,
it’s actually easier. Sometimes, we get overwhelmed. But we can get on
as many lists as we want because we can
always look through them and see whether there
are any that we’re particularly interested in. One question that just
popped in– what’s the impact of these laws and
regulations on private schools? Well, IDEA has a whole section
on our private schools. And end of it–
well, first of all, Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act says you can’t
discriminate against anyone with a disability. So people will say, well,
we’re a private school. And we don’t have to do that. The minute a private
school takes one penny of federal money,
they must abide by the laws and regulations
for Section 504 of the– of the Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973. So they have to do that. Now, there is a whole
section in the law that talks about
individual service plans so that if
children are going, for instance, to a
parochial school, but their parent wants them to
receive some special education services, then the
parochial school, together with the public school, can come
together, have a team meeting, and create a service
plan if the parent wants the child full-time in
the parochial school. However, what also happens
is there’s something known as dual enrollment. Some parents opt to say, I want
my child to go part of the day to the special education
program in the public school, but I also want my child to
be in the parochial school. So that’s kind of
a thumbnail sketch. But now, the service plan does
not provide a lot for students. They’re not going to get what
they would get with an IEP. But that’s really a decision
that parents have to make. How important is the
parochial education versus how important
is the public school special education? I see a number of
individuals who work in parochial
schools who really make every effort possible to
learn as much as they can about students
with disabilities. So that’s very positive also. OK. Does 504 guarantee
accommodations in adult education? It guarantees reasonable
accommodations. And the issue is for
adults, the individual, which is why it’s really
very important for us to explain to our
students, before they ever leave the secondary program,
what their disability is, what it means to them, and what
accommodations they will need in the real world– because we,
as the primary and secondary educators, are not going
to be with the students who go on to the post-secondary
world or who go on to a job. But the encouraging thing is
more and more of our students are going on to
post-secondary education. And yes, post-secondary
programs generally have a disability
services coordinator who can help those
individuals access services. And individuals cannot be
discriminated against based on their disability
in the world. And hopefully, in the
secondary program, we have worked with
the students to talk about what are appropriate work
placements if they don’t want to go on to a two-year
or a four-year college or a vocational training. If they want to
get a job, we want to advise them on
what kinds of jobs they may best be suited for. We had many questions when you
were trying with the IEP team about parents, the
parents’ involvement. And kind of the working
theme is if parents are part of the IEP
team, what if they do not agree with what the team
decides at that meeting? That’s a really good question. And the bottom line is
if they don’t agree, the school can’t
do the placement. That’s one of the things
that, during my career, I have seen change because at
one time, if the parents said, I don’t want placement,
you said, OK. We will not provide services. Then there was a
period of time when, if the parents wanted
to revoke placement, they had to go to due
process to revoke placement. Well, then– now it has changed. And it’s that if, in fact, the
parent says no to the services, you can’t engage in
the services, which is why we really need
to work collaboratively with parents because
oftentimes, we’ll find out we don’t know the reason the parent
doesn’t want the services. And if we’re able to talk
together with the parent, we might be able
to find out what their thoughts are about why
they don’t like the program. And then can we work to
develop something different? OK. Kind of going on the
flip side of that, and I’m just looking
for my question here, how does one advocate for
an already classified student who has poor parental
support and child apathy, which seems partially a
result of feeling hopeless? [INTERPOSING VOICES] Yeah. A family feels hopeless. The child feels hopeless. The family may be dealing
with a lot of stressors. And I think I have
to go back to trying to find what we can do in terms
of the support to parents. Obviously, I spent a lot of
my career– and by the time I would get the students
in some of our programs, the parent had a very
negative response. And we had to build on
everything that the parent did that was right. And we had to give
the parent hope. We had to call the parent
on the phone and say, I really appreciate the way you
got your child to school today, or I really appreciate
the way you did this. So just like with
our children, we need to use positive
reinforcement. We need to look for everything
that the parent does that’s positive. And we need to give the
parent access to some services that, if they’re
feeling hopeless– they can be overwhelmed. Parenting a child
who has a disability has a lot of challenges. We have– I can say
personally, we had a neighbor. And she has two children who
have autism spectrum disorders. And one of the
children would run out of the house with no clothes on. And he was getting older. And so then she had to work
with the police department because otherwise, they’re going
to pick up this naked child. Can you imagine the
stress on the family? Yeah. That’s a lot of stress. When a family goes
to a hotel and they have a child with a disability,
in another case I knew of, and they kick the
family out of the hotel because their child had
significant emotional issues, that’s not easy for families. You’re right. That’s a good–
it’s a good point. You need to– positive
behaviors supports for parents. Right. Absolutely. It’s so true. Yeah. So I think we have time
for one more question. We do have a bunch of questions. So what we can do– I will go ahead and send these
to Beverley after the webinar. And then we’ll post them in
our Webinar Archive section so everybody can
read through them. But just to end this, how do we
deal effectively with a cliff that sometimes– that
some students fall off when they’re dropped from
special education services and are just thrown
into regular education with no classroom support? That’s a great question. It’s a wonderful,
wonderful question. And it’s the responsibility
of the IEP team to still monitor those services. They can’t say, well, he’s
out of special education. He’s no longer of concern to us. No. That child still needs support. So in that IEP, we
should have built in supports and a
transition period of time and a period of
time where we truly monitored how the child was
doing so that the child didn’t fall off the cliff. I think that’s the
responsibility of the IEP team, to look very closely at how
we transition children out of services. And we don’t just do it. We, in fact, come up with
a clear plan to monitor and to transition
from the services. Wonderful. Thank you. I cannot thank you
enough, Beverley, for being with us today. Fantastic job. Oh, thank you. I will send you all
of these questions that we didn’t get to. OK. And then we can post
them in our community. Thank you, everyone,
too, who attended. I know you guys are
very busy and it takes a lot to take an hour
of your day and spend with us. And we greatly,
greatly appreciate it. Be sure to write down your
discount code, EDWEBLAW, if you are interested in getting
a copy of Bev’s new book. Also, do not forget about
your Continuing Education certificate. Everybody who
attended live today, it’s going to be emailed to you. And if you joined by
phone, just make sure that you take the quiz in our
community– on our community site. And also, please
be on the lookout. We’re going to be adding,
publishing Teaching All Students edWeb community. We’re going to be adding our
2017 webinar schedule soon. So you’ll want to be tuned in
to see what we have in store. On behalf of Brookes Publishing,
edWeb, and Beverley Johns, thank you, everybody, so
much for attending today. And I hope you enjoy
the rest of your day. Thank you. We’ll see you next time. Thank you, everybody.