How to Use IDEA 2004 to Improve Your Child’s Special Education

Prior to IDEA 2004 the standard for a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) was that schools had to provide services so that the child received some educational benefit.  Congress said that the purpose of IDEA 2004 is to provide FAPE that “emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their (the child’s) unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.”  “Further education” is an outcome that had not been stated previously.  This sets a higher standard for parents to push for their child.

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Tutoring as a Direct Service in IDEA

Too often public schools do not have, within their educational structure, someone who is trained to provide direct one to one tutoring, nor do they have the staffing to provide such.

Tutoring is typically provided at least one period per day if the child attends a private special education school, such as one of the Orton-Gillingham based (reading) programs around the country. This period of tutoring is not viewed as either an accommodation or modification, but a direct educational service.

Tutoring and/or direct one to one remediation of a required academic skill, such as reading, is clearly supported in IDEA 2004.

If you do not have an IEP, I think it can be argued as necessary as part of a 504 Plan in that the child needs to be taught how to read in order to be able to access the curriculum in the same manner as typical non special education, regular education children.

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Protections for Students Not Yet Identified as Eligible for Special Education

The parent may assert any of the IDEA protections (i.e. manifestation determination, due process hearing, mediation, complaint, and functional behavior assessment) if the LEA has knowledge that the student is a student with a disability before the behavior that precipitated the disciplinary action occurs. When a parent asserts IDEA protections, the LEA must determine if it has a basis of knowledge or not.
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“Since your child just moved here, there is no reason to review the IEP.”

It’s time for another of Chuck’s Comments that Parents Hear posts!

How should you respond if the school says: “Since your child just moved here, there is no reason to review the IEP. We will just transfer the old goals to our new forms.”

Recall the Law

The regulations differentiate between a student who has transferred within the state and one who transferred from another state.

If the student came from another school within the same state, the new school “in consultation with the parents” must provide FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) to the child (including services comparable to those described in the child’s IEP from the previous public agency), until the new public agency either (1) Adopts the child’s IEP from the previous public agency; or (2) Develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP that meets the applicable requirements in 300.320 through 300.324.” 300.323(e)

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IDEA Guidance from the DOE

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education regularly provides guidance to the field on the nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). “Guidance” can take several forms:

  • OSEP’s correspondence in response to questions received from the field;
  • policy documents and letters on priority issues; and
  • non-regulatory guidance.

All are intended to clarify elements of the law and its regulations. Often, OSEP responds directly to questions from state and local special education directors. These letters are an important part of understanding IDEA and how to implement it.

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