Monday, March 10, 2008

Talking Points for public hearings and comments on Article 7



The following talking points for the public hearings reflect the major issues as identified by the Division of Exceptional Learners. They correspond with the online feature which allows individuals to comment online here: http://www.doe.in.gov/exceptional/article7/comment-article7.html The final box allows you to comment on ANY item and some suggestions follow.

We STRONGLY encourage families and individuals to ATTEND AND SPEAK AT THE PUBLIC HEARINGS. Special education personnel have been advised to do so and we do not want theirs to be the only voice heard. This law will affect your child for YEARS to come and outside of litigation, this is your only chance to affect change. You may wish to remind the state board that this law affects children and young adults with disabilities, and should protect their right to an appropriate education.




PRESCHOOL: LENGTH AND FREQUENCY OF INSTRUCTIONAL DAY AND CASELOAD REQUIREMENT – 511 IAC 7-36-5

Proposed language regarding preschool students with disabilities eliminates the full-time minimum hours of instruction per week requirement (12.5 hours).

The proposed revision also eliminates the caseload requirement of one teacher plus one instructional assistant for eight students, and one teacher plus two instructional assistants for 9 or 10 students. Under the proposed language, caseloads for preschool students would be determined (just as caseloads are determined for school aged students) by:

· The nature and severity of the students' disabilities;

· The type and intensity of services needed as specified in student IEPs;

· The chronological age of the students; and

· The total number of students with and without disabilities for whom the teacher has instructional responsibility.





Currently, 12.5 hours per week is considered a full-time program for students age 3-5. This does not prevent a case conference from determining that an individual student receives more or less services based on their individual needs.


Sec. 5 (b) The number of students assigned to an early childhood
teacher is subject to the requirements of 511 IAC 7-32-13.


Article 7 currently states there should be no more than 10 students with disabilities per class. For a class of 1-8 children with disabilities, there should be one teacher and one full time aide, and a class of 9-10 should have an additional aide. Proposed language
would rely upon case conference decision to determine appropriate staffing levels. The reasoning behind this language is flawed, as privacy issues prevent parents from knowing the needs, diagnosis and labels or even number of other students in the class, leaving the parent unable to advocate for appropriate staffing.

Family Voices Indiana recommends that both the definition of full time as 12.5 hours and the designated staff ratios remain as part of Article 7.





Families may wish to share how ratio- class size limits and length of school days impact their child's access to an appropriate education.




CONSENT FOR CHANGE OF EDUCATIONAL PLACEMENT – 511 IAC 7-42-7

Current and proposed Article 7 have an additional consent requirement: parental consent for a change of the student's placement. The DOE recommends that the State Board remove this additional consent requirement from Article 7. Although IDEA '04 does not require consent for change of placement, it affords parents the procedural safeguards of mediation and due process if parents disagree with an IEP being proposed by the school. If a parent exercises the procedural safeguards of mediation or due process, the school is precluded under IDEA '04 from implementing the IEP it is proposing. Instead, the school must continue to implement the current IEP.




Family Voices recommends that at the very least, change of placement be defined as an event when "a student's placement has changed on the continuum of placement options set forth in 511 IAC 7-42-10(e) and (f)." It further recommends that change of placement includes any change in location, length, frequency or duration of
services specified in a student's individual education plan(IEP) unless the change is contained in the currently agreed-upon IEP.

Family Voices believes that parents should be a part of decisions related to the finite
details of student's plans and provisions of their services. To strengthen home-school partnerships and ensure effective implementation of Individual Education Plans (IEPs), families need to be a part of all planning and in a position to support the plan. Their consent should be required to make changes to a child's IEP.



The shift in proposed Article 7 language that diminished the circumstances under which parental consent is required significantly intensifies the importance of this section. The written notice will be the avenue by which families can clearly see what changes may be
initiated without their consent and prepare adequately to be effective
advocates for their children's education.

Family Voices Indiana believes Prior Written Notice should be a separate document and follow the guidelines of a model document as provided by OSEP: Under 34 CFR §300.503(a), the school district must give a parent a written notice (information received in writing), whenever the school district: (1) Proposes to begin or change the
identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to your child; or (2) Refuses to begin or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child or the provision of FAPE to your child.



The proposed language for this provision is:

The written notice required under subsection (a) must include the following:

(1) A description of the action proposed or refused by the public agency;

(2) An explanation of why the public agency proposed or refused to take the action;

(3) A description of each evaluation, procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the proposed or refused action;

(4) A description of other options that the case conference committee considered and the reasons why those options were rejected.

(5) A description of other factors relevant to the agency's proposal or refusal.

(6) A statement that the parent of a student with a disability has protection under the procedural safeguards described in 511 IAC 7-37-1 and the means by which a copy of a description of the procedural safeguards can be obtained. The statement must also explain that after a public agency provides written notice regarding a proposed or refused action that is subsequent to the initial individualized education program, the parent may challenge the action proposed or refused by the public agency by doing any of the following:

(A) Requesting a meeting with an official of the public agency who has the authority to facilitate the disagreement between the parent and the public agency;

(B) Initiating mediation under 511 IAC 7-45-2; or

(C) Requesting a due process hearing under 511 IAC 7-45-3.

(7) Sources for the parent to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of this article.



(c) [k1] There is nothing in this article that prohibits a public agency from using the individualized education program as part of the written notice as long as the documentation the parent receives meets all the requirements in this section.





There is additional information on this issue in the public testimonies posted at http://www.blogger.com/www.fvindiana.blogspot.com




Families may want to explain their desire to be an equal partner with the school and to be involved in their child's education. This is a CRITICAL issue and will greatly impact a family's ability to have a voice in the IEP process.

Families may want to request that at a minimum, this striken language should be reinstated in the law:

the public agency must obtain written consent from the parent:

Before implementation of a proposed individualized education program that results in a change of educational placement as defined in 511 IAC 7-32-14




COMPREHENSIVE PLANS – 511 IAC 7-35-1

Comprehensive plans were first required by state statute in 1969 as a mechanism to ensure that all students with disabilities were part of an approved special education planning district. The plans required (and still require) a listing of participating school corporations (and now charter schools), enrollment, and how special education services would be provided. Proposed language eliminates this requirement.



Families may want to voice a concern that changes in comprehensive plans can affect staffing, especially of therapy providers. Current procedures evaluate those impacts and a process needs to be in place to ensure adequate services.

Families may wish to advocate for this language that was striken from the law:

Assurance of appropriately licensed and certified personnel, including a description of the ability of current personnel to meet the special education and related service needs of students with disabilities in the planning district.







DELETION OF THE GENERAL EDUCATION INTERVENTION PROCESS AND EARLY INTERVENING SERVICES – 511 IAC 7-40-2

The proposed revision of Article 7 deletes the requirement that all public agencies have a general education intervention (GEI) process implemented at the building level. Instead, each public agency, as part of the student assistance services that must be provided under the state rule regarding student assistance services (511 IAC 7-4-1.5-5), may establish and maintain an integrated and focused system of prevention, assessment, intervention, problem solving, and referral for students who are experiencing problems that adversely affect educational performance. Under IDEA '04 and the proposed revision, parents of students participating in an integrated system that assesses a student's response to scientific, research based intervention must receive notification regarding data, services provided, strategies, and the parent's right to request an educational evaluation.




Additionally, the proposed revision requires public agencies to refer students for special education evaluations if they do not make adequate progress after an appropriate period of time, as determined by the parent and the public agency, when provided with scientific, research based interventions. Such an evaluation must be completed and the CCC convened within 20 days of obtaining parental consent for the evaluation.




Families may wish to share that the success of Response to Intervention (RTI) will depend on whether it is appropriately implemented by highly-trained professionals and the strategies used.



TIMELINES FOR EDUCATIONAL EVALUATIONS – 511 IAC 7-40-2

Under the proposed changes, public agencies still have 60 instructional days for the educational evaluation process. When a parent requests an evaluation, the public agency has 10 instructional days to provide the parent with written notice explaining why the public agency is conducting or refusing to conduct the evaluation. After the public agency secures written consent from the parent, it has 50 instructional days to conduct the evaluation.

The proposed revision of Article 7 contains a definition of the term assessment. This definition explains that assessments can be norm-referenced, criterion referenced, and other types of procedures (such as informal tests, interviews, and observations). This definition will give public agencies a broader means to gather and interpret information about a student's cognitive, academic, social, emotional, behavioral, or functional performance.





The previous timeline on 60 instructional days for the completion of
initial educational evaluation too often meant that the evaluation process for students might span two school years. The change to 50 instructional days, while not a complete resolution of this issue, will help to improve to the timeliness of evaluation for some
students. Additionally, (h)'s provision that the educational evaluation be made available to parents five days prior to a scheduled case conference committee meeting serves to ensure that families have the opportunity to review reports prior to the meeting and are able to be effective partners in the process.


Families may wish to share instances when the extended timeline has delayed services.









SERVICES TO ALL PARENTALLY PLACED NONPUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS AND SERVICE PLAN REQUIREMENTS – 511 IAC 7-34

Under current Article 7, private school students must have IEPs. However, IDEA '04 only requires that private school students have service plans as opposed to IEPs. Service plans are not as detailed as IEPs and do not have to meet all of a student's special education and related service needs. Proposed Article 7 aligns with IDEA '04, requiring service plans as opposed to IEPs for private school students.

Although service plans are not as detailed as IEPs, such plans must, to the extent appropriate, meet the requirements of IEPs. See, 34 CFR § 300.138(b)(2)(ii). Finally, IDEA '04 makes it clear that the private school provisions do not apply to students aged 3 thru 5 unless such students attend a private school that meets the definition of an elementary school



Parents should understand the obligations of their local school district as required by IDEA so they can be sure their child is receiving services to the maximum extent allowed. A private school does not have to offer FAPE, only access to special education services.

Additional information on this complicated issue can be found at:
Question and Answer on Children placed in Private Schools by their
Parents IDEA 2004
http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/faq-parent-placed.pdf and
Students Placed in Private Schools- from NCLD
http://www.ncld.org/content/view/910/456094/

Families may wish to share what they believe a "service plan" should include in order to ensure appropriate progress. The proposed law will state:



a service plan must include:

(1) A statement of the student's present levels of educational performance.

(2) A statement of measurable annual goals related to the services that will be provided, describing what the student can be expected to accomplish within a twelve (12) month period.

(3) A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the student, or on behalf of the student, by the public agency, or supports for school personnel that will be provided.

(4) If applicable, a statement regarding the student's participation in statewide or district assessments, including documentation of any appropriate testing accommodations that will be utilized by the student, according to the requirements in 511 IAC 7-36-10[idoe2] .

(5) The projected dates for initiation of services by the public agency and the anticipated length, frequency, location, and duration of services.

(6) A statement of the student's progress toward annual goals including how the parents will be informed of the progress.







TRANSITION PLANNING FOR ADULT LIFE – 511 IAC 7-43-4

IDEA '04 changed the age at which transition planning begins from 14 to 16 years of age. However, a committee convened by the Indiana Department of Education's Division of Exceptional Learners recommended that Article 7 continue to require that transition planning begin at 14 years of age, primarily because career planning for nondisabled students also begins at approximately 14 years of age.






The transition from school is a critically important process for students and families. It is appropriate to align the start of those services with the increased emphasis on career
development that occurs within the general education curriculum at age 14.



Family Voices Indiana supports the retention of 14 as the age at which a transition IEP begins.





Families may wish to voice support of transition occurring at age 14 in Indiana, earlier than IDEA '04 requires.




"AGING OUT" OF SPECIAL EDUCATION – 511 IAC 7-33-2

Current Article 7 language states that students with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education when they are at least 3 years of age, but less than 22 years of age. The proposed revision states that unless a student graduates from high school with a regular diploma, the right to a free appropriate public education ends at the conclusion of the school year in which the student turns 22 years of age. However, the CCC may determine that the student will leave school earlier






The previous practice of dismissing a student on his/her 22nd birthday was unnecessarily disruptive to a student's IEP. Additionally, it makes it difficult for a student to identify with a "graduating class" of non-disabled peers. The provision to allow students to remain in school through the school year in which they turn 22 is essential to
an appropriate program.

Family Voices Indiana supports the proposed language which ensures services to a student through the school year of their 22nd birthday.





Families may want to reiterate that this should be a case conference decision, which includes the wishes of the parents and student with disabilities.




BOARD OF SPECIAL EDUCATION APPEALS (BSEA)

Current Article 7 language includes a two-tiered due process system. At tier one, an independent hearing officer (IHO) renders a decision regarding the issues. After the hearing officer renders a decision, the parties can appeal the decision to the Board of Special Education Appeals (BSEA). IDEA '04 allows a two-tiered due process system. The proposed revision of Article 7 maintains the current two-tiered system





The direction given to the SAC by the State Board of Education has clearly been to align with the intentions of IDEA 2004. Families find it troublesome that this is an instance where the state is considering stronger language than the federal law, one which significantly skews the appeals process in favor of school systems and thus against
individuals and families. The Board of Special Education Appeals is not a federally mandated part of the appeals process; the majority of states do not require this step but instead allow appeals to go directly from independent hearing officers to state or federal court.
The BSEA brings additional cost to all parties, and the Board's current ability to opt to receive oral or written arguments creates a closed door, non-transparent system, undermining the integrity of the entire appeals process.


Family Voices Indiana recommends that Indiana dismantle the BSEA and
become a single tier system.




Families can share their thoughts on this two tier system and its implications on families.



DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL EDUCATION

Under current Article 7 and the proposed revision, each public school corporation, charter school and the department of correction, or two (2) or more school corporations or charter schools operating under an approved comprehensive plan, must employ a licensed director of special education to administer and supervise its special education program. This is not required under IDEA '04.




Families may want to mention that while a special education director may not be needed, someone who can commit district services and resources in an IEP should be at every case conference.




OTHER ISSUES IN THE PROPOSED RULES



Extended School Year



The proposed revision defines the DOE's standards by requiring CCCs to address the following questions when determining whether a student needs ESY services:

1. Whether the student:

A. will or is likely to experience a regression, which means a significant decline, in the mastery of critical skills as a result of an interruption of services; and

B. is not expected to recoup the level of critical skills within a reasonable period of time after the interruption of educational services.

2. Whether the student is at a critical point of skill acquisition or readiness, and the student's ability to acquire the skill will be lost or greatly reduced as a result of an interruption of services.

3. Whether there are special circumstances that make extended school year services necessary to the provision of a free appropriate public education.

THE DOE RECOMMENDS THAT THE STATE BOARD DELETE THE QUESTIONS CCCs MUST ASK WHEN DETERMINING A STUDENT'S NEED FOR ESY.





It is important to note that not every student demonstrates a need for extended school year services, and not every student that demonstrates a need will access services. However, the expanded questions provide an important structure within which to evaluate the student's unique needs.


Family Voices Indiana supports current Article 7 Extended School Year (ESY) language to include (e) 2 and 3 as included in the ESY technical assistance document.



Families may wish to share personal experiences with any difficulty in obtaining extended school year services for their child even when there is a documented need.





Training and Technical Assistance



(a) Each public agency must carry out activities to ensure that public
agency personnel and administrators:
(1) are fully informed about their respective responsibilities for
implementing this article;
(2) are provided with technical assistance and training necessary to
assist them in this effort; and
(3) are provided with the necessary knowledge and skills to implement each
student's individualized education program
(b) A student's case conference committee, during the development, review, or
revision of a student's individualized education program, must
consider, pursuant to
511 IAC 7-42-4(g)(2), whether technical assistance and training are necessary to
provide public agency personnel with the knowledge and skills necessary to
implement the student's individualized education program.
(c) If the case conference committee determines that technical assistance and
training are necessary under subsection (b), the case conference committee must
document:
(1) the types of technical assistance and training that will be provided; and
(2) the intended outcomes of the technical assistance and training.
Intended outcomes can be related to public agency personnel, the
student, or both.

Students interact with a variety of school personnel within the provision of services, and it is critical that those personnel receive appropriate training and technical assistance. The specific skills and knowledge required to meet individual student needs often exceed
the scope of general and even special education professional pre-service training. To ensure that staff are supported and equipped to meet student needs, appropriate student-specific training must be provided.

Family Voices Indiana supports the provision that all public agency personnel receive appropriate training and technical assistance.




Families may wish to advocate that ALL personnel, including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc are adequately trained in a child's unique needs.



There are additional issues families may wish to comment on in the position paper located at www.fvindiana.blogspot.com.

If you need additional assistance, please contact Family Voices at fv.indiana@gmail.com

ALL HEARINGS WILL TAKE PLACE
FROM 5:30 P.M. TO 8:00 P.M.

April 15, 2008 - Evansville
Southern Indiana Career and Technical Center
Assembly Hall
1901 Lynch Road
Evansville, IN 47711

April 16, 2008 – New Albany
New Albany Educational Support Center
2801 Grant Line Road
New Albany, IN 47150

April 22, 2008 – Merrillville
Merrillville High School Arena
276 East 68th Street
Merrillville, IN 46410

April 23, 2008 – South Bend
South Bend Administration Building
215 South Saint Joseph
South Bend, IN 46601

April 24, 2008 – Fort Wayne
Homestead High School Transportation Building
4814 Homestead Road
Fort Wayne, IN 46814

Indianapolis
Date and Time to be Announced

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