Director of Instructional Services - Letter to Community
Dear Barker Community,
Recently, there have been a lot of questions around special education, the referral process, and what happens if a student is classified as a student in need of special education services. Our goal is to make this process as easy as possible for students and families. Therefore, we want to take some time, clarify, and answer questions.
There are actually three separate committees that meet on children regarding special education.
1. Early Intervention (EI). Children up to 3 years of age are eligible for services through EI, based on the child’s need, through their county of residence. If you suspect your child might need additional help with their speech, their motor skills (moving from place to place or climbing stairs), or their cognitive understanding (skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention), please don’t hesitate to call the county. The earlier intervention can be provided, the better it is for children. Children in EI are eligible to receive services year-round.
2. Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE). Once children reach 3 years of age, they transition from EI to CPSE, a committee comprised of both school and county staff. If students are already in EI, the school will be notified and the transition will be completed by outside providers. If you are concerned about a child who did not receive services before the age of three, a request for evaluation must be made to the school. This request must be in writing and can be mailed or emailed to the Director of Instructional Services. All new referrals will follow the process outlined below. Students receive services during the school year (September-June); summer services are available if the child has regressed or not shown progress during the year.
3. Committee on Special Education (CSE). Once students reach Kindergarten age, they are now served by the CSE. Unlike the EI to CPSE transition, the CPSE to CSE transition is done by either outside providers or the district. For students who are new referrals, the request for evaluation would be sent, in writing, to the Director of Instructional Services and follows the process outlined below. Students receive services during the school year (September-June); summer services are available if the child has regressed or not shown progress during the year.
THE FIVE STEPS OF THE SPECIAL EDUCATION PROCESS
1. Initial Referral for Special Education Services
2. Individual Evaluation Process
3. Determining Eligibility for Special Education Services
4. Individualized Education Program (IEP)
5. Implementation & Annual Review/Reevaluation
STEP 1. INITIAL REFERRAL FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES
If your school-aged child is having difficulty in school, you may wish to first talk to the teacher. We offer additional classroom supports to help students who may be behind expectations. These services are called “Response to Intervention” services or “RTI services.” However, you may also choose to refer your child—in writing—to the school’s Committee on Special Education (CSE) without your child first receiving RTI services. This written referral to the CSE should state that you are asking the school district to evaluate your child to determine if he or she needs special education services. You should list all your concerns regarding your child’s educational difficulties. You, the parent, can always make a referral for your child. Your child’s teacher or a professional in your child’s school, doctors, or judicial officers may also request a referral to the CSE. Once a request has been made, the CSE must ask the parent to consent to the evaluation. Before testing can begin, we must have the signed consent for evaluation.
STEP 2. INDIVIDUAL EVALUATION PROCESS
Once the consent for evaluation form has been received by the district, the CSE has 60 days to complete the evaluation. The tests determine what your child’s learning difficulties may be and how those difficulties affect his or her participation and progress in the general education curriculum. The evaluation is at no cost to the parent. An initial evaluation to determine your child’s needs must include: a physical examination, a psychological evaluation, a social history, observation of your child in his or her current education setting, and other tests or assessments that are appropriate for your child. The results of the evaluation must be provided to the parents.
STEP 3. DETERMINING ELIGIBILITY FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES
Once the evaluation is completed, you will be invited to a CSE meeting to talk about the results. The CSE, of which the parent is a member, decides if your child is eligible to receive special education programs and/or services. In order to be eligible, a child must have a disability that affects his or her ability to learn. The members of the CSE meeting include but are not limited to the parents; a general education teacher and a special education teacher; a representative of the school district who is qualified to provide or supervise special education; an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results; the student, if appropriate; other persons having knowledge or special expertise regarding the student. As a parent, you have the right to invite anyone to the CSE meeting.
STEP 4. INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP)
When your child is eligible for special education services/programs, the CSE must develop a plan to meet your child’s needs, called the Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Things to be considered when developing the IEP: Your child’s strengths; your concerns for your child’s education; evaluation results; test or assessment results; and any unique needs related to the child’s disability.
STEP 5. IMPLEMENTATION AND ANNUAL REVIEW/REEVALUATION
After the CSE meeting has concluded, appropriate follow-up is necessary to ensure proper implementation of the IEP.
1. Notice and Consent. Parents should receive a notice and a copy of the evaluation report and documentation of eligibility.
2. Implementation. The Board of Education must arrange for the implementation of the IEP with no delay. All the recommendations made during the meeting should be implemented according to the timeline specified on the IEP. A copy of the IEP must be provided to the parents. Teachers and other service providers must receive a copy to be informed of their responsibilities.
3. Annual Review. At least once a year, the CSE will review the IEP. The meeting may be requested sooner at a parent’s request. The child’s parents, teachers, and school service providers are invited to the meeting.
4. Reevaluation. Each student with an IEP should be re-evaluated every three years. A reevaluation may also be conducted if conditions warrant one or upon request of you or your child’s teacher. Prior to any testing, the parent’s “consent to evaluate” is required. A CSE is then convened to discuss the results and to ensure that the child is receiving the proper services.
Please understand that in order to meet a child’s needs, we want to ensure a thorough evaluation process. As a result, the initial referral to special education is not always a fast process. We also understand this is a lot of information to go through and is overwhelming. Please don’t hesitate to call or email if you have any questions about this process or if you have concerns about your child’s academic performance.
Dr. Mariah Fiona Kramer
Director of Instructional Services
Phone: (716) 795-3350
Fax: (716) 795-3394