IDEA 2004

It's the Law

It’s the Law: Comprehensive Evaluations

Whether your child is receiving an initial evaluation for eligibility or being reevaluated at a later date, the evaluation must be a comprehensive evaluation.

In the case of initial evaluations, §300.301(a) of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is your go-to regulation:

Each public agency must conduct a full and individual initial evaluation, in accordance with §§300.304 through 300.306, before the initial provision of special education and related services to a child with a disability under this part.

Students Must Meet These Requirements to Qualify for Special Education

Your child is struggling in school. You suspect he or she might need special education.

Are your child’s struggles and your gut feeling enough for your child to qualify for special education?

No. However, your gut feeling and your child’s struggles shouldn’t be discounted either.

Failing Grades Are Not A Prerequisite For Special Education Evaluations

Failing grades are not a prerequisite for special education evaluation and/or IEPs or 504s.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that child find must include “Children who are suspected of being a child with a disability under §300.8 and in need of special education, even though they are advancing from grade to grade”. (Emphasis added. See 34 CFR 300.111(c)(1).)

Are Parents Members of IEP Teams and Eligibility Teams? Yes!

Parents are full members of IEP teams and eligibility teams. Their roles as members are not limited to basic participation and/or providing input. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates full membership on the teams, not just a seat at the table.

Parents have key roles in evaluations preceding eligibility determinations, in the actual eligibility determinations, and in IEP development following determinations. For evaluations, as one example, members must draw upon information from various sources, including parent input. This doesn’t mean schools simply have to consider parent input and then decide if they’ll use it or not. They are required to draw from parent input.

In this article, you’ll find federal regulations (as well as Viriginia regs for those in the area), that define and guarantee parents’ rights.

A Response to Intervention Cannot Be Used To Delay Or Deny An Evaluation For Special Education Services

What Is A Response to Intervention?

According to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), in its 1.29.19 Letter to Zirkel, “IDEA does not define RTI . . . RTI is only mentioned in IDEA when determining eligibility for specific learning disability. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(b)(6)(B) and 34 C.F.R. § 300.307(a)(2).”

However, the United States Department of Education has stated that, “States and LEAs have an obligation to ensure that evaluations of children suspected of having a disability are not delayed or denied because of implementation of an RTI.”

Mediators: Know Who Constitutes an “Impartial Mediator”

§300.506(c)(1) states mediators may not be an employee of the state education agency (SEA) or local education agency (LEA) that is involved in the education or care of the child.

Makes you think that the mediator lined up for your mediation will be impartial—and won’t be an employee of the SEA or LEA—right?

That sort of thinking does make sense, but in this Bizarro World of special education regulations and laws and school divisions and lawyers and parents and kids . . . Things don’t always turn out as they should.

Samantha Hollins Prohibits Recording of Resolution Meeting; Hangs Up on Parent

July 13, 2020: Article first published. January 23, 2023: Republished with new introduction (see italics below).

January 24, 2020, Samantha Hollins, assistant superintendent of VDOE’s Department of Special Education and Student Services, provided incorrect guidance on the recording of resolution meetings.

She first indicated that there is a Virginia regulation prohibiting the recording of resolution meetings.

Not true.

Schools are Required to Provide Access to Education Records Prior to IEP Meetings

Parents have the right to access their child’s education record in advance of IEP meetings.

This access is key to ensuring parents are able to meaningfully participate during IEP meetings and provide informed consent (or refusal) to a school’s proposal/s.

Access to education records, meaningful participation, and informed consent are three rights afforded to parents under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

It’s the Law: Why Does VDOE Allow Vague Language in IEPs?

If you’ve read any of “The Language of IEPs and 504s” articles on this site, you know broad and vague language is a problem and it will slip by you from time to time.

Thankfully, it isn’t the parent’s job to create IEPs that are written with clear, concise language that ensures provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). That’s the school division’s job.

And yet . . . Vague and broad language persists and the Virginia Department of Education has allowed this.

Privacy is a Right, NOT an Accommodation

A parent requested the following accommodation after his teachers repeatedly mentioned his Individualized Education Program (IEP) to the class:

“Teachers should not intentionally allow other students to know that XXXXXX has an IEP and receives special education services.”

The parent didn’t understand that privacy is a right, not an accommodation, simply because the privacy violations modeled by the teacher pointed in the opposite direction.