Information for parents of disabled children

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year, New I.E.P.

Autism Awareness Ribbon, Colorful Puzzle Piece...Image by Beverly & Pack via Flickr
Case conference time again. Must be January. This time I'm devoting my post to my understanding of one aspect of the conference. You're all together again, catching up on old times and reminiscing about IEPs past. Oh, wait that was in my dream.

In reality, staff changes and gets busy, so a CCC can be a cold, impersonal place. I think it's helpful for parents to remember that. Everyone at that table has the best of intentions, most of the time, but you're the only one who doesn't get paid to do it, Mom and Dad.

So here's what we need to do. We need to be up on procedure. This is a legal contract we're writing, and we want it right.  There is a resource online that can help. IdealIndiana
The law alone is the discussion, but it's complete, if dry.

I like to tell parents to learn the Istart 7 system and just follow the dotted lines. Each point in there should be discussed with no skips. It's so common to rush over one section or another. Extended school year in particular gets jumped quite a bit. If that starts to occur, parents can just politely stop everything and go back to discuss it. We have that ability. Don't move on, until you've determined something even if it's that you can't determine anything at this time.

Information on ESY is confused even among professional sources. Here's the best explanations from IPAS:

If your child needs services beyond the regular school year in order to make reasonable progress, the school system must provide these services.
Extended school year services are special education and related services that
  • are provided to a student with a disability.
  • beyond the public agency's school calendar or instructional day;
  • in accordance with the student's IEP;
  • at no cost to the parent of the student; 
  • and meet the standards of the Department of Education.
Each public agency must:
  • ensure that extended school year services are available as necessary to provide free appropriate public education;
  • provide extended school year services only if a student's CCC determines, on an individual basis, that the services are necessary for the provision of free appropriate public education for student;
  • may no limit extended school year services to particular categories of disability, or unilaterally limit the type, amount, or duration of those services.
The decision about ESY services must be made at your child's annual IEP review meeting, IEP Amendment, subsequent CCC meeting, or at a meeting in time for you to challenge a decision not to provide services so that the issue can be resolved before the summer. ESY must be individualized to meet your child's needs, and must be provided in the least restrictive environment.
Remember: ESY services are not just an extension of time in school, they are not automatic, and they are not enrichment programs. ESY services are individualized services designed to give your child the ability to meet certain objectives in his or her IEP that cannot be achieved without education time beyond the regular school day.
Training is essential for a parent. You can get training at among others, however Insource is free. Start preparing for your IEP in advance, get your documentation in order and know you have the power to advocate for your child. Use procedures in place to guarantee your IEP conference is as painless as possible. Things can get heated at times, so just stick to the procedures and talk it all out. This is too important to rush.

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