Avoiding Litigation… THE SPECIAL EDUCATION EDITION AUGUST 18, 2014 HTTPS://TODAYSMEET.COM/AVOIDINGLIABILITY81814 What shouldn’t be said in IEP meetings… “We don’t serve students with behavior needs here” “We can’t afford that piece of equipment” “We never provide one-on-one assistants” “We don’t think it’s appropriate, but if you (parent) want it, we’ll put it in the IEP” “We give all students with autism this amount of service” “We only allot 45 minutes per IEP meeting” Schedule an IEP meeting when… the IEP is said/believed not to be meeting the needs of the student (whether by parent or staff) a Release from District Education Services request is made claiming the student’s needs aren’t being met by the current IEP the IEP needs to be addended or revised FAPE… Free Appropriate Public Education is denied when: a parent is not allowed meaningful participation in an IEP meeting the IEP services are not individualized to specific needs the IEP progress reports are not shared with parents per the IEP schedule the IEP is insufficiently implemented Discipline… If a student is exhibiting challenging behaviors involve IEP team in conducting a Functional Behavioral Assessment developing a Behavioral Intervention Plan BEFORE suspensions accumulate to more than 10 days RtI PSM Guidance Ongoing PD To foster consistency, reducing liability To maintain focus on: Prevention of disproportionality Prevention of inappropriate identification Decreasing special education referrals (disability vs instr casualty) To respect the process so that the focus is upheld Distinguish between “informing” of right to request evaluation vs “encouraging” to request evaluation To understand suspicion of a disability Speaking of Evaluations… Request for evaluation When there’s debate, evaluate Refrain from suggesting parents are responsible for obtaining educationally-relevant evaluations Use a variety of assessments to identify presence of a disability probes/norms in conjunction with other data as needed (i.e. standardized or nationally-normed assessments as determined by the team) “We have to meet by, WHEN?!?” (aka…Compliance with Timelines) 90 days To complete initial assessment (all components necessary to make eligibility determination) To determine eligibility To develop IEP when eligible Annual Reviews 3-year Re-evaluations …not able to defend this denial of FAPE Educational Performance Academic performance Grades, EOG/EOC scores, etc Functional performance) Communication deficits (i.e. students with Autism) Social/behavioral deficits …”any” negative impact is upheld by courts, not required to qualify as “substantial”/”significant”/”marked” Need for specially designed instruction? IDEA requires 3 prong eligibility: 1. disabling condition that… 2. adversely affects (harms) educational performance 3. to the degree that the student needs special education (and possibly related services) Use multiple data sources Not special ed w/o an IEP PSM plans have to be transitioned away from Sp Ed staff to avoid liability Implement IEP (incl BIP) as written Avoid costly private school placements “Predetermination” vs Preparedness Predetermination: appearing to deny parental input into educational decision-making Parent can lose trust in school staff/process Can often result in court finding a denial of FAPE However…being prepared and having drafts are not prohibited For discussion only… not to be presented as final documents Must ensure full discussion of all aspects of IEP Come with an open mind, but not a blank mind Availability/Cost of Resources? Avoid comments/discussion in IEP meetings about staff or resources available Communicate with Liaisons/Director when in need Make IEP recommendations/decisions based on individual student needs… NOT on cost of resources NOT on availability of resources such as staff, schedule flexibility IEPs must drive schedules, not vice versa. “Feet under the table” Ensure proper attendance at IEP Meetings Parents General Education Teacher (at least one) Special Education Teacher (at least one) LEA Representative who is qualified to provide/supervise provision of Special Education is knowledgeable about general curriculum is knowledgeable about the availability of resources Liaisons and psychologists should not be used as LEA Reps Required for entire meeting, or meeting must be stopped… no defense for this denial of FAPE Placement Recommendations Finalize and Formalize placement recommendations Discuss in an IEP team meeting Meet even if parents say they are in disagreement over proposal Document all proposals and refusals in prior written notice section (last) section of the IEP document Call for IEP meeting if there is any doubt about appropriateness of the IEP if there is any doubt about the ability to implement the IEP Avoid being “Witherish” “Although the IDEA provides that student success is not guaranteed, it IS required that teachers engage in good faith, reasonable efforts to implement the provisions of an IEP.” “Willful and intentional violations of the IDEA can lead to the possibility of personal liability.” $15,000 for compensatory and punitive damages LRE = open-mindedness Schools are obligated to provide a variety of services to students with unique needs by cross-trained staff Maximum service programs are for maximum needs, after all other less restrictive options are exhausted Support staff can assist along the way to build teacher capacity, not only to problem solve Expected Outcomes Reduced liabilities Compliance Curriculum Behavior Increased support to teachers through coaching Increased outcomes on state reporting for LRE Increased responsiveness to parent concerns regarding academic and behavior issues Increased student achievement! Thank you for your teamwork and partnership! Questions?