Your Family s Special Education Rights

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1 VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DIVISION OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND STUDENT SERVICES Your Family s Special Education Rights VIRGINIA PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS NOTICE SPECIAL EDUCATION PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS REQUIREMENTS Revised September 2013 This document amends the October 2012 Procedural Safeguards Document of the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). The revisions reflect the mandates as found in the: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA; P.L ; 20 USC 1400 et seq.) Issued December 3, 2004; effective July 1, Federal Regulations implementing IDEA. 34 CFR Part 300. Issued August 14, 2006; effective October 13, Additional federal IDEA regulations; 34 CFR Part 300; Federal Register, Vol. 73, No Issued December 1, 2008; effective December 31, Additional federal IDEA regulations: 34 CFR Part 300; Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 31. Issued February 14, 2013; effective March 18, Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia (Virginia Regulations). 8 VAC et seq. Issued and effective July 7, This document conforms to the U.S. Department of Education s Model Procedural Safeguards Notice (June 2009 revised) and includes specific Virginia requirements that must be included in this Notice. Additional information about special education and these procedural safeguards is available by contacting the local director of special education or school principal, your local school division s Parent Resource Center, the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC), or VDOE s Office of Dispute Resolution and Administrative Services, This document is also available at: ral_safeguards.pdf Toll free voice: Toll free TDD:

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS General Information... 1 What are the Procedural Safeguards... 1 Overview: What are Some of the Important Special Education Terms... 1 Prior Written Notice... 2 Native Language... 3 Electronic Mail... 3 Audio and Video Recording... 3 Parental Consent-Definition... 4 Parental Consent... 5 Independent Educational Evaluation... 9 Confidentiality of Information Definitions Personally Identifiable Information Notice to Parents Access Rights Record of Access Records on More Than One Child List of Types and Locations of Information Fees Amendment of Records at Parent s Request Opportunity for a Hearing Hearing Procedures Result of Hearing Consent for Disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information Safeguards Destruction of Information Alternative Dispute Resolution Mediation State Complaint Resolution Procedures Difference Between Due Process Hearing and State Complaint Procedures Adoption of VDOE Complaint Resolution Procedures Minimum VDOE Complaint Resolution Procedures Filing a Complaint i

3 Due Process Procedures Filing a Request for a Due Process Hearing Request for Due Process Model Forms The Child s Placement While the Hearing is Pending Resolution Process Impartial Due Process Hearing Hearing Rights Hearing Decisions Timelines and Convenience of Hearings and Reviews Civil Actions, Including the Time Period in which to File Those Actions Attorneys Fees Procedures When Disciplining Children with Disabilities Authority of School Personnel Change in Placement Because of Disciplinary Removals Determination of Setting Appeal Placement During Appeals Protections for Children Not Yet Eligible for Special Education and Related Services Referral To and Action By Law Enforcement and Judicial Authorities Requirements for Unilateral Placement by Parents of Children in Private Schools at Public Expense General Notice of Parental Rights Concerning the Use of Public Benefits or Insurance. 40 ii

4 GENERAL INFORMATION 1 INTRODUCTION: WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS? "Your Family's Special Education Rights" identifies key parts of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), a federal law governing the education of students with disabilities. IDEA 2004 requires that families be informed of their special education rights, including how families and schools can resolve problems. If you have questions or want to learn more about how special education works, please contact VDOE s Parent Ombudsman at , your local director of special education, your local Parent Resource Center, or the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center at or OVERVIEW : WHAT ARE SOME OF THE IMPORTANT SPECIAL EDUCATION TERMS? IDEA says that each student that a school identifies as having a disability and who needs special education and related services to benefit from their education is entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). FAPE must be provided in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). This means that as much as possible, given the educational needs of a child, each child with a disability will attend class and participate in other activities with children without disabilities. The plan for how to provide FAPE to each student is developed each year, and it is called the Individualized Education Program (IEP). IEPs are written by the child's IEP Team, which includes the parent(s). Parents have "consent rights," which means you must approve certain actions before the school can act. Families must receive regular progress reports about their children's progress toward reaching IEP goals. IEPs include, in part, the following: A present level of academic achievement and functional performance, Statement of the specialized aids and services to be provided, Annual goals stated in measurable terms, An explanation of the amount of time when the child will not be participating in regular education classes, A list of accommodations necessary for classes and testing, and A plan for how the child will participate in the state's accountability system, including SOL tests. 1 The Section of the IDEA that covers the provisions in this document is known as Part B. Hereinafter in this document, IDEA will be identified as IDEA, without the identifying section Part, unless needed for clarity. Virginia s Regulations governing special education are identified in this document as Virginia Regulations.

5 PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE You have the right to be given written information about the school division s actions which involve your child s educational needs. The information will assist you in providing informed consent for educational decisions. Notice Your school division must give you written notice (provide you certain information in writing), whenever it: 1. Proposes to initiate or to change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to your child; or 2. Refuses to initiate or to change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child, or the provision of FAPE to your child. Content of Notice The written notice must: 1. Describe the action that your school division proposes or refuses to take; 2. Explain why your school division is proposing or refusing to take the action; 3. Describe each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report your school division used in deciding to propose or refuse the action; 4. Include a statement that you have protections under the procedural safeguards provisions in the IDEA; 5. Tell you how you can obtain a description of the procedural safeguards if the action that your school division is proposing or refusing is not an initial referral for evaluation; 6. Include resources for you to contact for help in understanding the IDEA; 7. Describe any other choices that your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team considered and the reasons why those choices were rejected; and 8. Provide a description of other reasons why your school division proposed or refused the action. Notice in Understandable Language The notice must be: 1. Written in language understandable to the general public; and 2. Provided in your native language or other mode of communication you use, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so. 2

6 If your native language or other mode of communication is not a written language, your school division must ensure that: 1. The notice is translated for you orally by other means in your native language or other mode of communication; 2. You understand the content of the notice; and 3. There is written evidence that 1 and 2 have been met. NATIVE LANGUAGE You have the right to have information in a language you understand. Native language, when used with an individual who has limited English proficiency, means the following: 1. The language normally used by that person, or, in the case of a child, the language normally used by the child's parents; 2. In all direct contact with a child (including evaluation of the child), the language normally used by the child in the home or learning environment. For a person with deafness or blindness, or for a person with no written language, the mode of communication is what the person normally uses (such as sign language, Braille, or oral communication). ELECTRONIC MAIL If offered by your school division, you have the right to choose to get information by . If your school division offers parents the choice of receiving documents by , you may choose to receive the following by 1. Prior written notice; 2. Procedural safeguards notice; and 3. Notices related to a request for due process. AUDIO AND VIDEO RECORDING You have the right to audio record meetings involving your child s eligibility, IEP, and/or to review discipline matters. 3

7 The federal law and regulations governing special education leave it to the states to determine the provisions, if any, for parents to audio or video record meetings related to their children s special education program. Virginia s special education regulations include provisions under Procedural Safeguards that define these requirements. You may audio record meetings involving your child s eligibility; IEP; and/or to review discipline matters. You must inform your school s personnel in writing before the meeting that you will be audio recording the meeting. If you do not inform school personnel of this action, you must provide them with a copy of the audio recording. You are responsible for your own audio equipment and materials for audio recording. If school personnel audio records the meeting or receives a copy of your audio recording, the audio recording becomes a part of your child s educational record. The school division may have polices that prohibit, limit, or otherwise regulate the use of: Video recording devices at meetings; or Audio or video recording devices at meetings other than those meetings identified above. The school division s policies must: stipulate that the recordings become part of the child s educational record. ensure that the policy is uniformly applied. If the policy prohibits the use of the devices, the policy must provide for exceptions if they are necessary to ensure that the parent understands the IEP, the special education process, or to implement other parental rights under the laws and regulations governing special education. PARENTAL CONSENT DEFINITION You have the right to allow information to be shared or certain actions to be taken, and you must be told of that right in a language you understand. You have the right to take away (revoke) your consent. Consent Consent means: 1. You have been fully informed in your native language or other mode of communication (such as sign language, Braille, or oral communication) of all information about the action for which you are giving consent. 2. You understand and agree in writing to that action, and the consent describes that action and lists the records (if any) that will be released and to whom; and 3. You understand that the consent is voluntary on your part and you may withdraw your consent at any time. Your withdrawal of consent does not negate (undo) an action that has occurred after you gave your consent and before you withdrew it. 4

8 PARENTAL CONSENT You have certain consent rights. For example, the school must get your consent to evaluate your child for special education, and to start, change, or stop providing special education and related services. Consent for Initial Evaluation Your school division cannot conduct an initial evaluation of your child to determine whether your child is eligible under the IDEA to receive special education and related services without first doing the following: 1. Providing you with prior written notice of the proposed action; and 2. Obtaining your consent. Your school division must make reasonable efforts to obtain your informed consent for an initial evaluation to decide whether your child is a child with a disability. Your consent for initial evaluation does not mean that you have also given your consent for the school division to start providing special education and related services to your child. If your child is enrolled in public school or you are seeking to enroll your child in a public school and you have refused to provide consent or failed to respond to a request to provide consent for an initial evaluation, your school division may, but is not required to, seek to conduct an initial evaluation of your child by utilizing mediation or due process procedures later described in this document. Your school division will not violate its obligations to locate, identify and evaluate your child if it does not pursue an evaluation of your child in these circumstances. Special Rules for Initial Evaluation of Wards of the State [If a child is a ward of the State and is not living with his/her parent] The school division does not need consent from the parent for an initial evaluation to determine if the child is a child with a disability if: 1. Despite reasonable efforts to do so, the school division cannot find the child s parent; 2. The rights of the parents have been terminated in accordance with State law; or 3. A judge has assigned the right to make educational decisions and to consent for an initial evaluation to an individual other than the parent. Ward of the State, as used in the IDEA, means a child who, as determined by the State where the child lives, is: 1. A foster child; 2. Considered a ward of the State under State law; or 3. In the custody of a public child welfare agency. Ward of the State does not include a foster child who has a foster parent. 5

9 Parental Consent for Services The school division must make reasonable efforts to obtain your informed consent before providing special education and related services to your child for the first time. If you do not respond to a request to provide your consent for your child to receive special education and related services for the first time, or if you refuse to give such consent, your school division may not use the procedures for mediation and due process in order to obtain agreement or a ruling that the special education and related services (recommended by your child's IEP Team) may be provided to your child without your consent. If you refuse to give your consent for your child to receive special education and related services for the first time, or if you do not respond to a request to provide such consent and the school division does not provide your child with the special education and related services for which it sought your consent, your school division: 1. Is not in violation of the requirement to make a free appropriate public education (FAPE) available to your child for its failure to provide those services to your child; and 2. Is not required to have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting or develop an IEP for your child for the special education and related services for which your consent was requested. Parental Consent for Reevaluations Your school division must obtain your informed consent before it reevaluates your child, unless your school division can demonstrate that: 1. It took reasonable steps to obtain your consent for your child's reevaluation; and 2. You did not respond. In that case, the school division will proceed with the re-evaluation process. If you refuse to consent to your child's reevaluation, the school division may, but is not required to, pursue your child's reevaluation by using the procedures for mediation and due process to seek to override your refusal to consent to your child's reevaluation. As with initial evaluations, your school division does not violate its obligations under the IDEA if it declines to pursue the reevaluation in this manner. Documentation of Reasonable Efforts to Obtain Parental Consent Your school division must maintain documentation of reasonable efforts to obtain parental consent for initial evaluations, to provide special education and related services for the first time, to reevaluate, and to locate parents of Wards of the State for initial evaluations. The documentation must include a record of the school division s attempts in these areas, such as: 1. Detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls; 2. Copies of correspondence sent to the parents and any responses received; and 3. Detailed records of visits made to the parent s home or place of employment and the results of those visits. 6

10 Revoking Your Consent You have the right to revoke your consent for your child to continue receiving special education and related services at any time. Such revocation of consent applies to all the special education and related services that your child is receiving. If you disagree about a particular service, you may address this issue with your child s IEP team and if the issue remains unresolved, mediation and due process are available options to resolve the matter. You must put this request in writing to your local director of special education, your child s principal, or your child s IEP Coordinator. Your school division must then provide you with written prior notice before ceasing the services for your child. Your school division may not use mediation or due process to attempt to change your mind or get a hearing officer to rule against your decision. Your school division may not require you to explain your reasons for requesting that the services stop for your child. If you change your mind later and want your child to receive services again, your school division must treat your request as a request for an initial evaluation, rather than a reevaluation. Please keep in mind that after your revocation of consent goes into effect; Your child is treated the same as any other non-disabled student, along with access to accommodations, if any, that are available to non-disabled students. Your child s IEP is no longer in effect. Your child will be subject to the discipline rules for students without disabilities. If your child was on the Modified Diploma track, your child will no longer be eligible for this diploma option. Your child will have to meet all requirements of the regular diploma in order to earn a diploma. Other Consent Requirements In Virginia, your consent is also required before: Any changes in the identification of your child s disability and for any changes to your child s IEP; Any changes made to your child s eligibility for special education and related services; and 7

11 Any partial or complete termination of special education and related services, except if your child graduates with a standard or advanced studies diploma. Your consent is not required before your school division may: 1. Review existing data as part of your child's evaluation or a reevaluation; or 2. Give your child a test or other evaluation that is given to all children unless, before that test or evaluation, consent is required from all parents of all children. Your school division may not use your refusal to consent to one service or activity to deny you or your child any other service, benefit, or activity. If you have enrolled your child in a private school at your own expense or if you are home schooling your child, and you do not provide your consent for your child's initial evaluation or your child's reevaluation, or you fail to respond to a request to provide your consent, the school division may not use its consent override procedures (i.e., the mediation and due process procedures) and is not required to consider your child as eligible to receive equitable services (services made available to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities). Consent Special Requirement Regarding Foster Parents If your child is living with a foster parent, and your parental rights have not been terminated, your school division must send you a written notice that school personnel will rely on the foster parent to make decisions regarding your child s special education program. These decisions relate to matters regarding your child s IEP services and placement, as well as eligibility decisions. The school division will send you this written notice in the beginning of the school year or at any time throughout the school year when there is a meeting related to your child s IEP or eligibility for special education and related services. The school division s notice remains in effect until you advise the school division that you will respond as your child s biological or adoptive parent in matters involving your child s special education program. Do make sure that the school division has your current mailing address and contact information. Transfer Students What happens if you move? If your family moves to another school division in Virginia or you have moved from another state to Virginia, your new school division does not need your consent to immediately implement your child s IEP in the new school; however, your new school division must ensure that your child has available special education and related services, in consultation with you, and include services comparable to those described in your child s IEP. Your new school division will contact your former school division and make every effort to obtain your child s records relative to the provision of special education and related services. Your new school division then will decide on one of the following options, to either: adopt and implement the previous IEP with your consent, or 8

12 develop and implement an interim IEP with your consent while obtaining and reviewing whatever information is needed to develop a new IEP, or conduct an evaluation and develop and implement a new IEP with your consent. If you and school personnel cannot agree on interim services or a new IEP, either you and/or your new school division may initiate the dispute resolution options of mediation or due process to resolve the dispute. During the resolution of the disagreement, your new school division must provide FAPE, in consultation with you, including services comparable to those described in your child s IEP from the previous school division. INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL EVALUATIONS If you disagree with an evaluation completed by the school division, you have the right to have your child evaluated by someone not connected to your child s school division, at the school division s expense. General As described below, you have the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation (IEE) of your child if you disagree with the evaluation of your child that was obtained by your school division. If you request an independent educational evaluation, the school division must provide you with information about where you may obtain an independent educational evaluation and about the school division s criteria that apply to independent educational evaluations. Definitions Independent educational evaluation means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the school division responsible for the education of your child. Public expense means that the school division either pays for the full cost of the evaluation or ensures that the evaluation is otherwise provided at no cost to you, consistent with the provisions of the IDEA, which allow each State to use whatever State, local, Federal and private sources of support are available in the State to meet the requirements of the IDEA. Parent Right to Evaluation at Public Expense You have the right to an independent educational evaluation of your child at public expense if you disagree with an evaluation of your child obtained by your school division, subject to the following conditions: 1. If you request an independent educational evaluation of your child at public expense, your school division must, without unnecessary delay, either: (a) File a request for due process to request a hearing to show that its evaluation of your child is appropriate; or (b) Provide an independent educational evaluation at public expense, unless the school division demonstrates 9

13 in a hearing that the evaluation of your child that you obtained did not meet the school division s criteria. 2. If your school division requests a hearing and the final decision is that your school division s evaluation of your child is appropriate, you still have the right to an independent educational evaluation, but not at public expense. 3. If you request an independent educational evaluation of your child, the school division may ask why you object to the evaluation of your child obtained by your school division. However, your school division may not require an explanation and may not unreasonably delay either providing the independent educational evaluation of your child at public expense or filing a request for due process to defend the school division s evaluation of your child. You are entitled to only one independent educational evaluation of your child at public expense each time your school division conducts an evaluation of your child with which you disagree. Parent-initiated Evaluations If you obtain an independent educational evaluation of your child at public expense or you share with the school division an evaluation of your child that you obtained at private expense: 1. Your school division must consider the results of the evaluation of your child, if it meets the school division s criteria for independent educational evaluations, in any decision made with respect to the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to your child; and 2. You or your school division may present the evaluation as evidence at a due process hearing regarding your child. Requests for Evaluations by Hearing Officers If a hearing officer requests an independent educational evaluation of your child as part of a due process hearing, the cost of the evaluation must be at public expense. School Division Criteria If an independent educational evaluation is at public expense, the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, including the location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria that the school division uses when it initiates an evaluation (to the extent those criteria are consistent with your right to an independent educational evaluation). Except for the criteria described above, a school division may not impose conditions or timelines related to obtaining an independent educational evaluation at public expense. CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION Virginia s document, Management of Student Scholastic Records, is available on the web at: 10

14 DEFINITIONS As used under the heading Confidentiality of Information: Destruction means physical destruction or removal of personal identifiers from information so that the information is no longer personally identifiable. Education records means the type of records covered under the definition of education records in 34 CFR Part 99 (the regulations implementing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. 1232g (FERPA)). PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION Personally identifiable means information that has: Your child's name, your name as the parent, or the name of another family member; Your child's address; A personal identifier, such as your child s social security number or student number; or A list of personal characteristics or other information that would make it possible to identify your child with reasonable certainty. NOTICE TO PARENTS You have the right to be told by the state about how information about your child will be used and kept confidential by the state and the local school division. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) must give adequate notice to fully inform parents about confidentiality of personally identifiable information, including: 1. A description of the extent to which the notice is given in the native languages of the various population groups in Virginia; 2. A description of the children on whom personally identifiable information is maintained, the types of information sought, the methods Virginia intends to use in gathering the information (including the sources from whom information is gathered), and the uses to be made of the information; 3. A summary of the policies and procedures that participating agencies must follow regarding storage, disclosure to third parties, retention, and destruction of personally identifiable information; and 4. A description of all of the rights of parents and children regarding this information, including the rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and its implementing regulations in 34 CFR Part 99. Before any major identification, location, or evaluation activity (also known as child find ), school divisions must publish or announce the notice in newspapers or other media, or both, with circulation adequate to notify parents throughout the state of the activity to locate, identify, and evaluate children in need of special education and related services. 11

15 ACCESS RIGHTS You have the right to review your child s records. Your school division 2 must permit you to inspect and review any education records relating to your child that are collected, maintained, or used by your school division under the IDEA. The school division must comply with your request to inspect and review any education records on your child without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an Individualized Education Program (IEP), or any impartial due process hearing (including a resolution meeting or a hearing regarding discipline), and in no case more than 45 calendar days after you have made a request. Your right to inspect and review education records includes: 1. Your right to a response from the school division to your reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of the records; 2. Your right to request that the school division provide copies of the records if you cannot effectively inspect and review the records unless you receive those copies; and 3. Your right to have your representative inspect and review the records. The school division may presume that you have authority to inspect and review records relating to your child unless advised that you do not have the authority under applicable Virginia law governing such matters as guardianship, or separation and divorce. RECORD OF ACCESS If your child s education record is seen by someone other than you, or an employee of the school division, the school that maintains your child s record must keep a record of who saw your child s record, and when and why they reviewed it. Each school division must keep a record of parties obtaining access to education records collected, maintained, or used under the IDEA (except access by parents and authorized employees of the school division), including the name of the party, the date access was given, and the purpose for which the party is authorized to use the records. 2 These provisions regarding records apply to participating agencies. Participating agency means any school division, agency or institution that collects, maintains, or uses personally identifiable information, or from which information is obtained, under Part B of the IDEA. However, since this document focuses on the parent s involvement with the local school division, the term local school division is used, rather than participating agency. 12

16 RECORDS ON MORE THAN ONE CHILD If any education record includes information on more than one child, the parents of those children have the right to inspect and review only the information relating to their child or to be informed of that specific information. LIST OF TYPES AND LOCATIONS OF INFORMATION On request, each school division must provide you with a list of the types and locations of education records collected, maintained, or used by the agency. FEES Each school division may charge a fee for copies of records that are made for you under the IDEA, if the fee does not effectively prevent you from exercising your right to inspect and review those records. A school division may not charge a fee to search for or to retrieve information under the IDEA. AMENDMENT OF RECORDS AT PARENT S REQUEST You have the right to ask that your child s education record be changed if you think the record is not correct or that it violates your child s privacy. If you believe that information in the education records regarding your child collected, maintained, or used under the IDEA is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the privacy or other rights of your child, you may request the school division that maintains the information to change the information. The school division must decide whether to change the information in accordance with your request within a reasonable period of time of receipt of your request. If the school division refuses to change the information in accordance with your request, it must inform you of the refusal and advise you of the right to a hearing for this purpose as described under the heading Opportunity For a Hearing. OPPORTUNITY FOR A HEARING You have the right to a hearing if your request to have your child s education record changed is denied. The school division must, on request, provide you an opportunity for a hearing to challenge information in education records regarding your child to ensure that it is not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy or other rights of your child. 13

17 HEARING PROCEDURES A hearing to challenge information in education records must be conducted according to the procedures for such hearings under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In Virginia, school divisions have the option of using the due process hearing procedures as described in the section of this document, Due Process Procedures, or maintain their individual procedures as long as those procedures conform with FERPA. RESULT OF HEARING You have the right to have your child s education record changed as a result of a hearing or to include a statement in the education record noting that you disagree with information in the record. If, as a result of the hearing, the information is found to be inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the privacy or other rights of your child, the school division must change the information accordingly and inform you in writing. If, as a result of the hearing, the information is found not to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy or other rights of your child, the school division must inform you of your right to make a statement commenting on the information or providing any reasons you disagree with the decision. This statement must be placed in the records that the school division maintains on your child. Such an explanation placed in the records of your child must: 1. Be maintained by the school division as part of the records of your child as long as the record or contested portion is maintained by the school division; and 2. If the school division discloses the records of your child or the challenged portion to any party, the explanation must also be disclosed to that party. CONSENT FOR DISCLOSURE OF PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION You have the right to consent to release information that identifies your child. Your consent is not needed in some circumstances. Unless the information is contained in education records, and the disclosure is authorized without parental consent under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), your consent must be obtained before personally identifiable information is disclosed to parties other than officials of participating agencies. Except under the circumstances specified below, your consent is not required before personally identifiable information is released to officials of participating agencies for purposes of meeting a requirement of the IDEA. 14

18 Your consent, or consent of an eligible child who has reached the age of majority under Virginia law, must be obtained before personally identifiable information is released to officials of participating agencies providing or paying for transition services. If you have unilaterally placed your child in a private school that is not located in the same school division you reside in, your consent must be obtained before any personally identifiable information about your child is released between officials in the school division where the private school is located and officials in the school division where you reside. SAFEGUARDS You have the right to expect that your school division will keep your child s education record confidential. Each school division must protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information at collection, storage, disclosure, and destruction stages. One official at each school division must assume responsibility for ensuring the confidentiality of any personally identifiable information. All persons collecting or using personally identifiable information must receive training or instruction regarding Virginia s policies and procedures regarding confidentiality under the IDEA and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Each school division must maintain, for public inspection, a current listing of the names and positions of those employees within the agency who may have access to personally identifiable information. DESTRUCTION OF INFORMATION You have the right to ask the school division to destroy your child s education information when it is no longer needed. Your school division must inform you when personally identifiable information collected, maintained, or used is no longer needed to provide educational services to your child. The information must be destroyed at your request. However, a permanent record of your child s name, address, and phone number, his or her grades, attendance record, classes attended, grade level completed, and year completed may be maintained without time limitation. 15

19 ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION Additional information regarding the procedures, and the forms for the mediation, complaint resolution, and due process systems are available at: or by contacting VDOE. MEDIATION You have the right to ask for mediation to resolve a disagreement, including those issues which lead to a request for a due process hearing. You and the school division have the right to refuse mediation. Your request for mediation cannot slow down or stop your request for due process. General The school division must make mediation available to allow you and the school division to resolve disagreements involving any matter under the IDEA, including matters arising prior to the filing of a request for due process. Thus, mediation is available to resolve disputes under the IDEA, whether or not you have filed a request for due process as described under the heading Filing a Request for due process. Requirements The mediation process: 1. must be voluntary on your part and the school division's part; 2. is not used to deny or delay your right to a due process hearing, or to deny any other rights you have under the IDEA; and 3. is conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques. In order for parents to understand the benefits of mediation, the school division may develop procedures that offer parents and schools that choose not to use the mediation process, an opportunity to meet, at a time and location convenient to you, with a disinterested party: 1. Who is under contract with an appropriate alternative dispute resolution entity, or a parent training and information center or community parent resource center in Virginia; and 2. Who would explain the benefits and encourage the use of the mediation process to you. VDOE must have a list of people who are qualified mediators and know the laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and related services. VDOE must select mediators on a rotational basis. VDOE is responsible for the cost of the mediation process, including the costs of the mediation sessions. 16

20 Each meeting in the mediation process must be scheduled in a timely manner and held at a place that is convenient for you and the school division. If you and the school division resolve a dispute through the mediation process, both parties must enter into a legally binding agreement that sets forth the resolution and that: 1. States that all discussions that happened during the mediation process will remain confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceeding; and 2. Is signed by both you and a representative of the school division who has the authority to bind the school division. A written, signed mediation agreement is enforceable in any Virginia court of competent jurisdiction (a court that has the authority under State law to hear this type of case) or in a Federal District Court. Impartiality of Mediator The mediator: 1. May not be an employee of either the school division that is involved in the education or care of your child or of VDOE if it is providing direct services to your child; and 2. Must not have a personal or professional interest which conflicts with the mediator s objectivity. A person who otherwise qualifies as a mediator is not an employee of a school division or State agency solely because he or she is paid by the agency or school division to serve as a mediator. STATE COMPLAINT RESOLUTION PROCEDURES DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DUE PROCESS HEARING AND STATE COMPLAINT RESOLUTION PROCEDURES In addition to mediation, you have the right to use the state complaint process or a due process hearing to resolve disagreements with the school division. These methods have different procedures. For example, only a parent or a school division can ask for a due process hearing. A state complaint, on the other hand, may be filed by any individual or organization. The regulations for IDEA set forth separate procedures for State complaints and for requests for due process hearings. As explained below, any individual or organization may file a State complaint alleging a violation of any IDEA requirement by a school division, the VDOE, or any other public agency. Only you or a school division may file a request for due process on any matter relating to a proposal or a refusal to initiate or change the identification, evaluation or 17

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