The school is responsible for providing a free and appropriate education under the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). The Special Education Director and special education teacher assist parents in accessing and coordinating services pursuant to a current Individualized Education Plan. Parents must indicate that their child has an Individualized Education Plan on their enrollment form.
Special education services are available to students identified with a disability by a multidisciplinary team which may include but is not limited to: teachers, the parent/guardian, a school psychologist, therapists and the student. The school follows the requirements of IDEA 2004 and corresponding California laws. Documentation of the disability must be provided, such as medical records, prior educational records, and/or psychological evaluation.
For new referrals the school uses the Response to Intervention (RTI) school-wide, as a first level support to assist in the identification of educational needs and to document that the student is unable to learn with scientifically based interventions. The General Education Teacher will then forward that request onto a Special Education Teacher who will make sure the evaluation is completed.
The school is required to teach all students grade level work per directives from the state department. The curriculum used depends on the age and grade level as well as the instructional level of the student. Students in need of adapted learning support services are those whose complex learning needs impact their academic achievement and their ability to make sufficient progress within the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Services offered may include: adaptations and modifications to the curriculum, specialized instructional strategies, and adjustments in pacing.
Related services may include, but are not limited to, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and physical therapy when it is necessary to the child’s ability to make adequate progress in the general curriculum. These services, placement, and goals are determined by the IEP team on an “as needed” basis. Options for related services should be discussed with the special education staff.
Communication between special education teachers and the parent will be made via telephone, email, Skype, etc. Confidential documents will be sent via certified mail. To ensure ongoing communication, please let the teacher and school know if there is a change in phone number, email or mailing address.
Section 504 Accommodation Plans
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly referred to as “Section 504,” is a federal statute that prohibits discrimination against persons on the basis of their disability by institutions that receive financial federal assistance. It states:
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Section 504’s purpose is to assure that disabled students have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to non-disabled students. An eligible student under Section 504 is a student who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. If a student is covered by Section 504, schools must provide such accommodations as are necessary to ensure that the student has equal access to services, programs and activities offered by the school. Section 504 protects students from discrimination on the basis of disability to a similar extent as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is 504?
- This is a broad civil rights law that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in any agency or program that receives federal funding. For schools, it requires the schools to eliminate barriers that would prevent a student from participating fully in the programs, services, and curriculum, thus providing equal access. Although an IEP is NOT required, a 504 status requires a documented plan for reasonable accommodations, supports and provides auxiliary aides to allow the child to participate in the general curriculum.
What is IDEA?
- This is a federal statute with the purpose of ensuring a free appropriate public education (FAPE) services for children with disabilities, ages 3 to 21, who fall within one of the disability categories defined within the law:
- Emotional Disturbance
- Hearing Impairment, Including Deafness
- Intellectual Disabilities
- Multiple Disabilities
- Orthopedic Impairments
- Other Health Impairments
- Specific Learning Disability
- Speech or Language Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visual Impairment Including Blindness
What is an IEP?
- The Individualized Education Plan is documentation created by the special education teacher, school, and parent that must include information about the child and the services the school will provide based on the documentation of the child’s disability. The IEP will also provide information on the child’s current performance, annual goals and objectives, necessary accommodations and any special education or related services to meet the needs of the child. Since each child’s needs are different, each IEP will be different.
How does a student get into Special Education?
- Students who have an IEP from another school district must provide that documentation in order to continue receiving special education.
- Students whose MAP testing scores are below 25% will be referred with a Response to Intervention (RTI) form. This is the first level of support to identify possible disability and corresponding educational needs.
What is the process for testing for Special Education?
- A psycho-educational evaluation may be completed by a qualified examiner if and when additional data is needed during the eligibility/placement process to determine eligibility for disability categories other than a Specific Learning Disability.
How many times is my child tested for their disability?
- A reevaluation must be conducted at least every three years, or more often if conditions warrant.
Are there accommodations given for the state standardized testing?
- Yes, as determined by the IEP team.
If my child has been noted as “504,” what’s next?
- The educational needs of a student with disability must be met as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities. A child under a “504 Plan” may be placed in regular education classes with accommodations such as a tape recorder, extended time for test taking or special services such as tutoring. These case-by-case decisions will be made by the multidisciplinary team to ensure the student has equal access to the curriculum.
How often are “IEP” meetings?
- Typically IEP meetings are held at least once a year.
How is an IEP different from an ILP? Do we have both or just one?
- The ILP is required for each Epic One-on-One program student. An IEP is developed for students who qualify for special services.
Does Epic provide Speech Therapy? Occupational Therapy? Physical Therapy?
- The school provides related services (speech, OT, and PT) if the student qualifies for those services. This decision will be made within the IEP meeting.
Why do I have two different teachers? My special needs student has someone different than my other child.
- Special Education students are serviced by certified special education teachers.
What is Assistive Technology (services)?
- The IDEA defines “assistive technology as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.” “Assistive technology service” means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The IDEA requires each public agency to ensure that assistive technology devices and services are made available to each child with a disability if required as part of the child’s special education, related services, or supplementary aids and services.
Does Epic provide assistive technology (software and hardware)?
- The school provides auxiliary aides/ services if the student qualifies for those services.
Who works with my special needs child for postsecondary options?
- The IEP must include secondary transition services that are in effect not later than the beginning of the student’s ninth grade year or upon turning 16 years of age, whichever come first, or younger, if determined appropriate by the IEP team and updated annually. These transition services will explore postsecondary options such as vocational or higher education, employment (either regular or supported), self-advocacy skills, and/or independent living skills. Transition service goals will vary depending on the needs of the child.
What is an Exit IEP?
- When a student exits the school system, either by obtaining a diploma or aging out, schools must provide them with an Exit IEP to assist in the process from school to post school activities. Contents of the Exit IEP may include a summary of academic performance, list of accommodations and modifications used during secondary education, and testing. Exit IEPs will vary in information based on the student’s needs.
Are there resources I can access about disabilities and K12?