1 INITIAL REFERRAL FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION ELIGIBILITY 1. Pre-Referral Student Support Team (SST) Referral for special education services typically culminates with the recommendation for referral from the Student Support Team (SST) following a student s progression through the RTI process. In rare occurrences when students exhibit obvious and significant disabilities, it is realistic to determine ongoing interventions may not be appropriate and the SST may request an expedited evaluation. Referrals for evaluation may also be initiated at parent request. However, parents should note special education eligibility requires RTI data be collected in order to eliminate other explanations for the student s problems. Thus, if the individualized RTI process is bypassed for any reason, data will need to be gathered during the evaluation process. Evaluations should be conducted if a parent requests unless very convincing circumstances exist to do otherwise. Response to Intervention RTI The Response to Intervention (RTI) Handbook outlines the SST referral process. A student is typically referred for an evaluation by the SST when it has documented sufficient evidence to suspect that a disability may be the primary cause of the student s learning or behavior problem(s). This usually occurs after appropriate interventions in the general education classroom have failed to find a satisfactory solution. Intervention Review Team (IRT) If the SST is considering referral of a student, the Intervention Review Team (IRT) is involved to review the integrity of the interventions that were prescribed and to assist with development of additional interventions if necessary. The IRT is a school-based team that typically consists of a school administrator, SST chairperson, special education instructional facilitator, and school psychologist or others designated by the school administration. Parental Rights Once a referral for evaluation has been deemed appropriate, it is important that parents be provided a thorough explanation of their parental rights in special education. It is recommended the In-School Coordinator (ISC) acquaint parents with their rights and obtain Parental Consent for Evaluation (PCE) during the SST meeting in which referral is recommended. Multidisciplinary Evaluation When a referral for evaluation is made, the comprehensive evaluation will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team. The team may consist of a psychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational and/or physical therapist, audiologist, and others as appropriate to the evaluation. The team is responsible for assessing the student in all areas related to any suspected disability and in any other areas deemed relevant. It is recommended the student be given a vision and hearing screening during the SST process or otherwise prior to the evaluation and that results be no older than one calendar year. The parent is asked to give input into the evaluation process as a member of the multidisciplinary team in better understanding the child. Timelines Once a student is referred to special education, the evaluation and eligibility must be completed within 60 calendar days after receipt of PCE. It is imperative referral procedures be followed in order to meet this timeline. School administrators, SST chairpersons, school psychologists, and ISCs must work cooperatively and efficiently with no delay in providing necessary information and obtaining consents. An annual report is submitted by Exceptional Children s Services (ECS) to the State Department of Education to include the reason for any violation of the timeline
2 requirement. Particular guidelines are reported in the GaDOE Rules and Regulations related to extended (more than 5 days) periods of time for school closing, i.e. summer break. A 60 Day Timeline Calendar is provided annually by ECS indicating corresponding timeline dates with PCE receipt dates. Planned school closings have been taken into consideration in the development of the 60 Day Timeline Calendar. 2. Referral By Student Support Team for Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation: SST Chairperson: 1. Notifies of referral by of Referral for Spec. Ed. Evaluation to: 1. (all referrals). 2. School administrator (all referrals). 3. In-School Coordinator (all referrals). 4. School Psychologist (psychological). 5. Speech/Language Pathologist (speech). 6. Other appropriate providers (as needed: VI, HI, OT/PT, PALS). 2. Provides within 5 days the SST Referral Packet (refer to RTI Handbook) to: 1. School psychologist and/or other provider (Copy of SST information). 2. In-School Coordinator 3. Continues SST plan during evaluation. Retains the original SST file so that SST plan can be continued while evaluation completed. In-School Coordinator (ISC): 1. Receives complete SST packet and creates a confidential special education school file with SST information and a Record of Access stapled to inside of folder. 2. Creates a blank folder for compiling information from psychologist and/or any other service provider(s) to be submitted to ECS within 10 calendar days after Placement Committee Meeting (PCM) for permanent special education file. Psychologist 1. Receives complete SST packet and notates date on Referral for Spec. Ed. Evaluation. Notifies ECS and school administrator of any delays (>5 days) in receiving complete referral packet 2. Enters due process information into system referral data base. Other Service Provider (As appropriate) 1. Receives complete SST packet and notates date on Referral for Spec. Ed. Evaluation. Notifies ECS and school administrator of any delays (>5 days) in receiving complete referral packet. 2. Enters timeline information into personal tracking log to ensure compliance with due process timelines. 3. Parental Consent for Evaluation Parental consent is required to conduct the initial evaluation to determine eligibility for special education services. Parental Rights are in effect and need to be reviewed with parents when the recommendation for referral is made. Ideally, the ISC, or other school staff knowledgeable of special education procedures, is in attendance at the SST meeting in which the recommendation for referral is made so that Parental Rights and information regarding evaluation instruments
3 can be reviewed and the PCE obtained. If parents are not in attendance at the SST meeting when referral is recommended, the ISC is responsible for obtaining the PCE and recording attempts to obtain the PCE. A variety of means may be necessary to obtain PCE including involvement of the school social worker. As the 60 day time line begins with receipt of the PCE, it is important that the date of receipt of the PCE is recorded on the PCE and immediately forwarded to the school psychologist or other service provider. If there are any delays in obtaining PCE or a parent refuses to provide consent for initial evaluation, school administration, ECS, and the school psychologist or other service provider is to be informed. In-School Coordinator (ISC): 1. Obtains Parental Consent for Evaluation (PCE), and provides Parental Rights & Guide to Understanding Your Child s Evaluation and Test Results to the parents by: 1. Attending SST meeting & discussing with parents OR Mailing/Sending parents information. b. Documenting attempts (notes, phone calls, etc.) to obtain PCE. Contacting school social worker for assistance if needed. c. Informing school administrator & school psychologist of any delays in obtaining PCE. 2. Documents date school receives PCE on the form. 3. Immediately forwards PCE to school psychologist and/or other service provider(s) as appropriate. 4. Evaluation IDEA requires a student be evaluated in all areas of suspected disability to determine the impact of the disability on the student s educational progress. To accomplish this, a team approach is essential beginning with the collecting of information and defining specific areas of concern through the RTI and SST processes. During the evaluation, additional information is often required. School psychologists are to communicate with ISC s who will assist in gathering required data. In order to meet the 60 day timeline the school psychologist and ISC should have the Placement Committee Meeting scheduled within 30 days of receipt of PCE. School Psychologist: 1. Receives PCE. Notifies ECS and school administrator of any significant delays in receiving PCE. 2. Informs ISC to send Notification of Evaluation to parents. 3. Conducts evaluation. 4. Requests additional information from ISC as needed to complete evaluation and/or to determine eligibility. 5. Within 30 days of receipt of PCE, schedules Placement Committee Meeting with assistance of ISC to be held within 60 day timeline. 6. Enters projected PCM date on system referral database. In-School Coordinator (ISC): 1. Sends Notification of Evaluation (NOE) to parents at psychologist s request. Retains a copy of NOE for documentation in case parent does not return. Parent signature is requested but is not required for psychologist to begin evaluation. Promptly notifies psychologist if parents note any concerns on NOE.
4 2. Provides additional information as requested by psychologist to complete evaluation and/or to determine eligibility. 3. Within 30 days of receipt of PCE, schedules Placement Committee Meeting with psychologist and other appropriate personnel to be held within 60 day timeline. Other Service Providers 1. Receives a copy of PCE. Notifies ECS and school administrator of any significant delays in receiving PCE. 2. Sends Notification of Evaluation to parents if applicable. 3. Conducts evaluation. 4. Within 30 days of receipt of PCE, schedules Placement Committee Meeting with assistance of ISC to be held within 60 day timeline. 5. Initial Eligibility Determination For students receiving initial evaluations, the Placement Committee must initially determine the student s eligibility for special education services, complete Eligibility Report, and develop an IEP if appropriate. Although Eligibility Determination is a committee decision with all parties participating, the school psychologist, speech-language pathologists, or itinerant low-incidence teachers primarily are responsible for the completion of the Eligibility Report. II. DEVELOPMENT AND REVIEW OF IEP IDEA requires that each student identified with a disability have an IEP in effect at the beginning of each school year. An IEP must be in effect before special education and related services are provided. The case manager is responsible for initiating and conducting meetings (unless otherwise agreed upon) to develop, review, and revise the IEP. IEPs are to be reviewed periodically, but not less than annually to determine whether the annual goals are being achieved, to review progress and to determine any need for reevaluation. Placement Committee Meeting (PCM) Individualized Education Program (IEP) Once the committee determines eligibility, the IEP is developed. The parents are to fully participate in the development of the IEP, but do not dictate the contents of the IEP. Parents may present their views and bring along advocates/experts to support their position. If parents indicate they are bringing others to the Placement Committee Meeting, notify school administration and ECS to ensure appropriate school personnel are in attendance as well. The school will consider parental preferences, however the school must be prepared to make recommendations and develop an IEP that includes services which seem reasonable to enable the student to receive educational benefits. IEP committee members must consider the full array of supplementary aids and services to determine whether one or more aids/services would make it possible to deliver the IEP in the regular education setting. Any question regarding the provision of FAPE begins and ends with the IEP. Preparing for the IEP Meeting Parental participation is vital in the IEP. Steps should be taken to ensure one or both of the parents of a child with a disability are present at each IEP meeting or are afforded an opportunity to participate. Parents should be notified of meetings early enough to ensure they will have an opportunity to attend, and meetings should be scheduled at a mutually agreed upon
5 time and place. If neither parent can attend an IEP meeting, the school system must use other methods to ensure parent participation such as telephone conferences. A meeting may be conducted without a parent present if the school system is unable to convince the parents they should attend. In such case, detailed records should be kept that note the attempts to arrange a mutually agreeable time and place. Detailed records of phone calls made or attempted, and results of those calls; copies of correspondence sent to parents and any responses received; and detailed records of visits made to the home or place of employment and results of those visits should be maintained. In-School Coordinator (ISC) / 1. Sends Invitation to Parents (send parent and school copies home for signatures, keep ECS copy for documentation). Allow ample time for parent/guardian to arrange to attend. (Typically 7 days.) 2. Indicates on Invitation to Parents the purpose of the meeting, including eligibility determination. 3. Ensures one or both of the parents of a child with a disability are present or are afforded an opportunity to participate. If neither parent can attend an IEP meeting, offer other methods to ensure parent participation such as a telephone conference. A meeting may be conducted without a parent present if the school system is unable to convince the parents they should attend. In such case, detailed records should be kept noting the attempts to arrange a mutually agreeable time. Detailed records of phone calls made or attempted, and results of those calls; copies of correspondence sent to parents and any responses received; and detailed records of visits made to the home or place of employment and results of those visits should be maintained. A minimum of 3 attempts must be documented. 4. Invites all students in grades 8-12 or those age 14-years or older to attend Placement Committee Meeting in order to participate in required transitional planning. Invitation to Parents is used for notification and student invitation noted. 5. Invites all appropriate school personnel to Placement Committee Meeting and notates oninvitation to Parents the names of persons invited. In addition to parents and others at parents discretion, and student the committee must include: 1. 1 regular education teacher special education teacher. 3. School personnel who are: 1. knowledgeable of the general curriculum. 2. knowledgeable in interpreting instructional implications of evaluations. 3. knowledgeable about the availability of resources (Local Education Agency [LEA] representative). Designated LEA s include any school administrator and other LEA trained school system personnel. Each school is provided a list of trained LEAs. 4. Other teachers or service providers whose area of curriculum or related service is being modified or discussed in the meeting. Conducting the Meeting Special Education Staff (Typically Case Manager):
6 1. Designates a chairperson of the meeting and someone to record minutes (if applicable). 2. Ensures appropriate committee members are present (#6 above). Notes names and roles of members invited on IEP or PCM Minutes and has them initial indicating attendance. A LEA representative must be noted. The LEA must be prepared to attend the meeting until all IEP issues have been determined. 3. Ensures parent agreement that an IEP team member (#6 above) may not be required to attend or may be excused from all or part of the meeting. Notes absence/excusal oniep or PCM Minutes and has parents initial to indicate their agreement. 4. Determines eligibility prior to the development of an IEP. Psychologist typically facilitates eligibility discussion and completes eligibility form. Eligibility committee members signeligibility Report. 5. Develops an IEP if the student is determined eligible and in need of services. Carroll County IEPs must meet the standards set forth by the Georgia Department of Education. Specific requirements regarding IEPs can be found in the Georgia Department of Education Special Education Rules Implementation Manual. Initial IEPs are coordinated by the school s In School Coordinator and/or assigned to a specific case manager. IEP reviews are the responsibility of each special education case manager. The Carroll County School System uses Easy IEP. Easy IEP is a complete tool for our system s Special Education Program. It provides for the entry of the vast amount of data required to operate a compliant Special Education Program. It also creates required documentation such as the IEP, IEP Report Card, IEP Amendment, and letters. Easy IEP can keep up with important dates and alert teachers and administrators when they are approaching or have passed. These include: Date that an eligibility decision must be made after the initial referral Date of first IEP after student becomes eligible Date of yearly IEP Date of three-year review of eligibility The IEP committee must complete the Assistive Technology Checklist at the time of the initial IEP development and at the time of the IEP development at any eligibility redetermination. 6. Records minutes (Placement Committee Minutes) if appropriate. All initial IEP s should include minutes. Typically, formal minutes are not required for IEPs, as all required information is documented on the IEP form. If the IEP team conducts meetings where no written document is produced (such as an IEP, IEP addendum, or eligibility report), then formal minutes are needed to document the committee s discussion. 7. Obtains the Parent Consent for Placement (PCP) indicating special education programs in which student will receive services. Students cannot receive any special education services until the PCP is obtained. Parents may refuse to consent to initial placement into special education. All special education programs for which the student receives services should be listed on 1 PCP. Write out all program names. Do not use abbreviations such as, LD, MI, and EBD. Write in student s first and last name. Related services are noted only on the IEP, not the PCP. 8. Identifies a case manager who is responsible for:
7 1. Providing information to general education teachers regarding their IEP implementation responsibilities. 2. Recording 9 week progress on goals/objectives. 3. Communicating with parents. 4. Ensuring due process. 9. Provides parents with a copy of the Parental Rights, Psychoeducational Evaluation,Eligibility Report, IEP, and Placement Committee Minutes (if applicable). With parental agreement minutes may be forwarded to parents in a reasonable time period. If parent does not attend meeting, special education services cannot be initiated until parents receive all Placement Committee Meeting documents and the PCP is obtained. School social workers may assist as needed in contacting parents. If parents do not give consent for placement, contact ECS. Although parent signature on the PCP is necessary for initiation of services, signature on the IEP is not. However, at least 3 documented attempts to involve the parent/guardian are necessary. Amending the IEP Following the development of the annual IEP, there may be a need to change the IEP. This can be done either by reconvening the IEP Team to amend it or by mutual agreement between the parent and special education staff to make changes to the written document without a meeting. The parent always retains the right to request a meeting for any and all changes or amendments to the IEP. Regardless of the method of changing the IEP, the parent must be provided a copy of the changes in a timely manner and an explanation of those changes. 1. Makes a professional judgment as to whether it may or may not be appropriate to request an amendment to the IEP without a formal meeting. If a formal meeting is necessary, or parent requests a meeting, follows same procedures above as for annual IEP meeting in regards to scheduling IEP meeting, inviting IEP team members, etc. 2. Completes Addendum to Individual Education Plan summarizing IEP changes and reason(s) for change. **(As a student enters the Easy IEP system, the addendum form is contained in Easy IEP.) 1. Notes the final special education and related services provided to the student without regard to whether there was any change in services. 2. Attaches any additional pages as necessary (e.g. adding goals, changing assessment accommodations, etc.). 3. Documents parent/guardian involvement either through invitation to meeting OR via their agreement to make changes without convening a formal meeting. Note the date parent/guardian agreed not to convene a meeting and the method via which they were contacted under the Comments section. 4. If IEP team meeting held, notes names/titles of IEP team members and requests those presents initial the form. 5. Requests parent signature on bottom of page. III. REEVALUATION PROCEUDRES Three-Year Reevaluation Decision-Making
8 Federal law requires the school system conduct a reevaluation of each student identified as having a disability at least every three (3) years. As each student served in special education has specific educational needs, the 3 year reevaluation process for each student is unique and determined by the IEP committee. For any reevaluation, the IEP team must determine what will constitute an appropriate evaluation through a review of existing information. A reevaluation process is also required prior to determining a student no longer has a disability. Typically, a school psychologist will participate in the reevaluation decision process. Referral for Consideration of Additional Eligibility Area(s) Some students who are already receiving special education services may be recommended for evaluation for consideration of special education eligibility in an additional area. If the IEP team is considering referral of a student for evaluation of an additional category of eligibility, generally the case manager follows similar procedures to those afforded through the SST process to include development of interventions, involvement of the ISC and School Psychologist, and determination regarding the appropriateness of referral. The case manager should acquaint parents with their rights and obtain Parental Consent for Reevaluation during the IEP meeting in which referral is recommended. Review of Existing Evaluation Data The decision regarding what will constitute the 3-year reevaluation should be discussed at the IEP meeting prior to the scheduled 3-year reevaluation date (generally the 2 nd year of the 3-year cycle). If the IEP team plans to discuss what will constitute the 3-year reevaluation, indicate on the Invitation to Parents that reevaluation for eligibility will be discussed. Re-evaluation Timelines School administrators, school psychologists, and special education case managers must work cooperatively and efficiently with no delays in ensuring eligibility reports do not expire. In addition to eligibility information noted on page 1 of the IEP, special education student data are available on Infinite Campus (Special Education Section Consolidated Tab) to assist with eligibility reevaluation compliance timelines. An annual reevaluation timeline summary report is required by the State Department of Education and must include the reason for any violation of the eligibility timeline requirement. 1. Decision-Making Procedures Determination of the Need for and Breadth of the Three-Year Reevaluation: Step 1 - Addressing the 3 year reevaluation issue: 1. Reviews students special education records and determines any student whose eligibility report will expire within one year or less of the next scheduled IEP meeting. Each school shall develop and maintain a system of data management (via Infinite Campus, an Excel spreadsheet, etc.) to track IEP and eligibility due dates. 2. Consults with school psychologist to determine and gather any information which might assist IEP committee in determining the 3-year reevaluation, (i.e. State standardized testing, analyzed work sample(s), classroom observation, behavioral checklist, etc.) 3. 3 year reevaluation issue should be discussed at the IEP meeting prior to the scheduled 3-year reevaluation date (generally the 2 nd year of the 3-year
9 cycle) and should not be any later than 90 days prior to the eligibility expiration. Psychologist: 1. Reviews school s data tracking system to determine any student whose eligibility report will expire within one year or less of the next scheduled IEP meeting. 2. Reviews student s special education folder to determine if any additional information related to eligibility determination is required (such as a student who may have transferred into the system with no supporting documentation (analyzed work samples, etc.) Consults with case manager regarding need for additional information. Step 2 Scheduling the IEP Meeting 1. Same as noted in above Section II (Scheduling the Annual IEP meeting). Indicates oninvitation to Parents the purpose of the meeting to include discussion of reevaluation for eligibility. Step 3 - IEP Meeting to Determine the Need for and Breadth of Evaluation IEP Team: 1. Reviews: a. Existing evaluation/eligibility information. 1. Information provided by the parent. 2. Current classroom-based assessments and observations by teachers and related service providers as appropriate. 3. State or system-wide assessment results as appropriate. 2. Asks critical questions related to need for and breadth of evaluation: 1. Does the student continue to have a disability as previously identified? 2. Does the student continue to need special education services? 3. Is the present level of academic achievement and functional performance clear? 4. Are student s educational needs being met and educational progress noted? 3. Recommends any of the following regarding the 3-year reevaluation: (Subsequent procedures differ based on the decision made by the IEP team.) 1. Refer for comprehensive reevaluation in order to assist in determination of continued eligibility. 2. No additional data are needed to determine eligibility. A reevaluation is not recommended. 3. Some additional data are needed to determine eligibility (noting what would constitute the partial evaluation). 4. No additional data are needed to determine eligibility, however, additional evaluation is recommended to assist with facilitation of interventions. B. Response to Recommendations Regarding 3-Year Reevaluation IEP Team Recommends Referral for Evaluation (Comprehensive or Partial) 1. Documents IEP team decision on page 1 of IEP and/or in PCM Minutes (if applicable). 2. Within one day, notifies of referral by of Referral for Spec. Ed. Evaluation to: 1. (all referrals). 2. School administrator (all referrals).
10 3. In-School Coordinator (all referrals). 4. School Psychologist (psychological). 5. Speech/Language Pathologist (speech). 6. Other appropriate providers (as needed: VI, HI, OT/PT, PALS). 3. Obtains Parental Consent for Re-Evaluation (PCRE), and provides Parental Rights & Guide to Understanding Your Child s Evaluation and Test Results to the parents. Case manager obtains PCRE by: 2. Mailing/Sending parents information. b. Documenting attempts (notes, phone calls, etc.) to obtain PCRE. c. Contacting school social worker for assistance if needed. d. Informing school administrator & school psychologist of any delays in obtainingpcre. e. Documenting date school receives PCRE on the form. 4. Provides Referral Packet (including PCRE within 90 days prior to the eligibility expiration) to: 1. School psychologist (Original referral information). 2. Retains a copy in school special education file. 5. If referral packet is not submitted within 90 school days prior to eligibility expiration: a. Notifies evaluator and school administrator of reason for delay. b. Notes reason for delay on Referral for Special Education Evaluation. 6. Sends Notification of Evaluation (NOE) to parents at psychologist s request. Retains a copy of NOE for documentation in case parent does not return. Parent signature is requested but is not required for psychologist to begin evaluation. Promptly notifies psychologist if parents note any concerns on NOE. 1. Provides additional information as requested by psychologist to complete evaluation and/or to determine eligibility. 2. Schedules Placement Committee Meeting with psychologist and other appropriate personnel to be held prior to the date of eligibility expiration. 3. Works cooperatively with psychologist to gather any additional information necessary for evaluation or eligibility determination. Psychologist: 1. Receives Referral for Spec. Ed. Evaluation via and enters due process information into system referral data base. 2. Receives complete reevaluation referral packet and notates date on Referral for Spec. Ed. Evaluation. Notifies ECS and school administrator of any delays in receiving complete referral packet. 3. Informs ISC to send Notification of Evaluation (NOE) to parents. 4. Conducts evaluation. 5. Requests additional information from ISC as needed to complete evaluation and/or to determine eligibility. 6. Contacts ISC to assist with scheduling Placement Committee Meeting to be held prior to the eligibility expiration date. Administrator 1. Ensures eligibility meeting is held prior to the three year expiration date.
11 2. Ensures In School Coordinator sends in all required paperwork to county office within 10 days. See more in-depth procedures in section IV. IEP Team Recommends No Additional Data are Needed to Determine Eligibility 1. Documents IEP team decision on page 1 of IEP and/or in PCM Minutes (if applicable). 2. If parent attends, requests signatures of committee members present onreevaluation/redetermination of Eligibility. 3. If parent does not attend the meeting, case manager sends Notice of Recommendation Regarding Three Year Reevaluation to parents along with a copy of thereevaluation/redetermination of Eligibility completed by the IEP team. 4. If parent does not attend IEP meeting and disagrees with team s recommendation that no further data are needed and requests that an evaluation be completed, then case manager follows procedures in Section III, B, Referral for Evaluation. Psychologist or Designated Facilitator of the Eligibility Process: 1. Documents the team s decision regarding no further data being needed for eligibility determination on the Reevaluation/Redetermination of Eligibility which reestablishes eligibility. 2. Attaches any current relevant information which may have been gathered in support of eligibility determination. This is particularly important if any relevant data were missing from the original eligibility (i.e., analyzed work samples, classroom observation, etc.) This is often the case for students who transferred from another Georgia school system. IEP Team Recommends No Additional Data are Needed to Determine Eligibility, but are Needed for Intervention 1. Facilitates the IEP team recommendation and gathers any additional relevant information needed to conduct an evaluation for intervention purposes (i.e. PCRE, vision andhearing acuity screenings) and forwards to psychologist. 2. Ensures a follow-up IEP meeting is held to discuss evaluation findings and formulate additional recommendations as appropriate. Psychologist: 1. Documents IEP team s decision regarding no additional data being needed for eligibility purposes as described in previous section above. 2. Receives PCRE, vision and hearing screenings or clearance along with any other relevant information. Complete evaluation as recommended by IEP team. 3. Reviews evaluation findings at IEP meeting following the additional evaluation.