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Friday, September 30, 2016

Revoking Consent for Your Child's IEP: Good idea or terrible mistake?

Revoking consent for special education: A good idea or terrible mistake? Two Case Studies Parents Revoke Consent for IEP

Case Study 1: Suzie and the Bad Advice Advocate

Suzie is a six year old with diagnoses of High Functioning Autism, including Sensory Processing Disorder and academic deficits. She and her family lived in School District A in a state with good special education service options. At the beginning of first grade, Suzie was having serious behavioral challenges at school. Parents and school disagreed on why these behaviors were occurring. Trust broke down and the parent-school relationship was strained. School District A changed Suzie's Individualized Education Program and changed her placement. School District A wanted to send Suzie to a separate school for children with disabilities. School District A filled Suzie's file with documentation of many extreme behaviors, stating that she was removed from the regular classroom up to 5 hours per day due to misbehavior. After some homebound instruction, the parent did try to send Suzie to the special school. It was a disaster. 

Parent disagreed with the placement, and believed that Suzie's Least Restrictive Environment should be in the regular classroom with special education and related services supports. The parent could not afford a due process hearing, and School District A filed a due process hearing against the parent trying to force the parent to send Suzie to the separate school.

The parent received some bad advice by a parent advocate. The parent advocate (not me, of course!) told the parent that all she had to do is move to School District B, reasoning that County B has more of an 'inclusive' philosophy. The parent advocate said School District B would put Suzie back in the regular classroom. Why was this bad advice?

When a family moves, the student's IEP is implemented as written by the previous school district, until the new school district evaluates the student and creates a new IEP. In most transfer cases, the new school district will maintain the previous placement, since the new school district does not know the child and relies on the previous district. So, you can guess what happened.

School District B placed Suzie in a full day, special education program for children with emotional disabilities. The parent was in total disagreement. What can the parent do? Her options were:
1-File a due process hearing. 2-Ask for mediation. 3-State Complaint. 4-Revoke Consent.

Option 1 would mean that the parent would have to prove that Suzie's LRE is the regular classroom. Since Suzie had not been in the regular classroom for many months. Option 2 was off the table because the school district refused to mediate. Option 3 wouldn't be effective because the State will not change a placement over an IEP team. So Suzie's parent revoked consent all together, taking her off of her IEP and forcing School District B to educate her in her neighborhood school in the regular classroom. IT WAS A SUCCESS!




Since every child who is eligible for special education with an IEP is also automatically eligible for a 504 Plan, Suzie received a 504 Plan with accommodations and services and is on her way to a successful school experience in the least restrictive environment. Although this case study is about a family who moved to get the child what she needs, parents can revoke the IEP within the school district, and the child is automatically placed in the neighborhood school in the regular classroom. A 504 Plan should be developed along with a behavior intervention plan, as needed. 

Case Study 2 Justin, A computer Wiz Who needs Understanding Teachers

Justin is a middle school child with diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Anxiety. Justin is also highly gifted and very capable of learning; he likes computers, coding, and someday would like to go into cyber security or designing video games. He also has a difficult time writing, staying organized, and sometimes he gets frustrated and emotional. He had an IEP for his Other Health Impairment (this list of definitions is in alphabetical order) but he was placed by the school district into a program in a different school from his neighborhood school for children with emotional disabilities. As in most states, Justin lives in a state where the parents do not have to agree or consent to a change in placement. So his parents, disagreeing with the more restrictive placement, had the same options as Suzie's parents. 

Parents revoked consent by writing a letter, and Justin remained in his neighborhood school with his friends. The school developed a 504 Plan for his condition of ADHD, provided counseling, and positive behavior supports. Justin is now successful in high school, on his way to a great career and fulfilled life. 

Revoking consent for special education: A good idea or terrible mistake? 

So revoking consent can be a really good idea and it can also be detrimental and a mistake. Some students will be suspended over and over again. Others will experience academic failure if there is no specialized instruction. Individualization is key, and each parent should seriously consider whether this is a good idea for the child. While the child can still be entitled to a free appropriate public education under a 504 Plan, most school districts will (inappropriately) refuse to provide specialized instruction under the 504. Some states are open to providing related services under the 504. The reality is that both special education and related services can be provided under the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as stated here is this guidance by the US Department of Education, 

"The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met."
Source: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html

A quick quiz. True or False? Answers below. 

1. When a parent revokes consent for all special education services, the parent has a right to request evaluations which may again lead to eligibility for special education.

2. The school district can take a parent to a due process hearing to require parents to allow the school to do evaluations. 

3. After parents revoke consent, and the school does evaluations, the school district can take a parent to a due process hearing to force the parents to put the child back into special education under the 'initial' IEP.

4. There are some states that do not allow a parent to revoke consent.

How did you do?

1. TRUE
2. TRUE
3. FALSE
4. FALSE

I hope this has helped parents and educators better understand the parent right to revoke consent. Please comment and discuss! And remember, if you need assistance, ABCs for Life Success is committed to extraordinary service! Contact us today!


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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Top Ten Transition Tips for Administrators


What do Administrators need to know about involving parents in effective Transition Planning?


These top 10 tips for school administrators are designed to effectively bring parents into the transition planning process as equal partners with the school team. I’ve broken down these top 10 tips in an easy-to-remember format with the acronym TRANSITION.

TIP 1
Take the parents’ perspective.

Whether a student’s goal is community college, vocational training, four-year university, or other outcome, transition planning can be daunting and stressful for parents. Many parents are overwhelmed by the notion of a child with a disability becoming an adult, and ‘making it on her own’. If a student has significant disabilities, parents are worried about the child’s livelihood, ability to live a fulfilled and independent life, and are concerned about who is going to care for the adult child after parents pass away. To add to the parents’ stress, the multidisciplinary team and IEP development process requires parents to digest lots of information with which they are not familiar. Parents may have also had past disagreements or mistrustful relationships with school teams, which can make transition planning by the age of 16 (or earlier, as needed) difficult for parents and school teams alike.  Additionally, parents know the student best in settings outside of school and understand the child’s strengths, interests, aptitudes and abilities. Parents can be a valuable asset in transition planning. Ask parents what would be helpful for them as equal partners. Assigning members of the IEP team, such as a specialist in transition, counselor or social worker, can help the IEP team understand a parent’s perspective, build trust, and create effective parent-school partnerships.


TIP 2
Resource allocation

Be sure your multidisciplinary team has the resources, including time, it needs to assess the student, work with parents, create a transition plan, and deliver the services needed for the coordinated set of activities defined in the plan. Assign a transition specialist as case manager to coordinate transition planning.




TIP 3
Assessments

A good transition plan will begin with assessment of the student’s strengths, preferences, aptitudes, abilities, and interests. The assessment can include interest inventories, vocational assessments, career planning assessments, job shadowing, job sampling, or a variety of other tools to guide the development of the transition plan. Assessments should be completed before developing the IEP and transition plan.

TIP 4
KNowledge of Transition

Administrators need to know the definition and importance of transition planning. Because adults with disabilities generally are underemployed, over-incarcerated, and participate much less in post-secondary education as compared with adults without disabilities, transition planning is designed to improve post-secondary outcomes related to living independently, schooling, career and job success, and overall independence.

Transition is defined by IDEA 2004 as:
“a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that is designed within a result-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.”

 TIP 5
Student involvement

Involving the student is critical in transition planning, development of activities, and development of self-advocacy skills. After all, as an adult, the student will likely be in charge of advocating for herself as she navigates her way into adulthood.




 TIP 6
Individualize the transition plan.

We know that the IEP must be individualized, and the transition plan is no different. Parents and school teams that work together to create a meaningful plan, individualized to a particular student, will have the best chance to assure the student’s success in adulthood.  As a result of transition planning, the student’s IEP will contain instruction, daily living skills, related services, accommodation, community experiences, post-secondary goals, and vocational evaluation designed to allow the student to experience success in the adult world. The transition plan is part of the IEP, not a separate entity.

TIP 7
Trusting relationships

Parents and school teams develop a trusting partnership when parents and students understand the transition planning and transition services process. Providing parents and students with documents in advance of meetings, taking time to explain the language used in the documents, and generally understanding the importance to the family of effective transition planning are ways to accomplish effective parent-school partnerships.

 TIP 8
Invite community agencies and institutions

Businesses, colleges, vocational training institutions, agencies providing adult services, and other community partners will be the receiving the young adult into their worlds. Inviting community partners such as businesses, agency representatives and other community partners to the IEP team for transition planning will assist the parents, student, and multidisciplinary team in understanding the demands for each setting. Having these people attend the IEP meeting will also positively affect the student’s acquisition of self-advocacy skills. 

 TIP 9
Offer support and training

Administrators are key in providing support to parents and training for staff in the area of transition planning for students with disabilities. Even if the administrator assigns someone to care for the parents’ concerns or staff development, the administrator who offers support and training will provide necessary leadership to foster partnerships and empower school teams and parents working together for the student’s life success.

 TIP 10
Nurture the Team

Providing praise and acknowledgement for team members who are effective in developing parent partnerships, navigate the transition planning process with parents, provide services toward successful transition to adulthood, develop community partnerships and who are extraordinary deserve special recognition. After all, the team’s actions can make a huge difference in our communities. The student with the disability who transitions to adulthood successfully is as fiscally independent as possible, successful in a job or career, participates fully in the community, has family and friendships, contributes to others, and advocates for himself…this is something to celebrate!


Please comment and add to these tips!