I’m attaching this document, just in case someone needs to reference any acronyms or isn’t sure what I’m referring to Sped Acronyms and Glossary of Terms. Obligatory disclaimer, as usual, please remember this is based on my experiences in Texas and Louisiana. Laws can change so make sure you are referring to your district's and state’s policies and procedures.
So as I’m moving into advocacy, I’ve had a few clients that seem to be confused as to what paperwork they should have received and when they should have received it. I’m hoping to clear this up because this is (as a previous SPED teacher) frustrating and completely unacceptable. These timelines can seem overwhelming, so I have broken them down into a graphic at the bottom.
Please remember, these are legal timelines and documents. If the school is not abiding by them, it is your right to request the documents via email or a printout. If they are ignoring your requests, it might be time to seek the guidance of an advocate.
For starters, when you request that your child be tested, the school has 15 days to get your consent for the evaluation or a few other options. They can choose to recommend a screener, consider RTI, or refuse to evaluate. No matter what they choose, they are legally required to send you the Procedural Safeguards and to explain your rights. These are required one time per year, so if you received them at this time or in the initial ARD, they may be offered again, but you don’t need to take them every time.
Should they refuse the evaluation, they need to send written documentation of this. It’s called Prior Written Notice and should be given at least five days in advance of the ARD. This form will also be sent if the district chooses to screen instead. Should the school choose not to evaluate at all, you have a right to due process, but that will be a different post. Should you choose to revoke your consent, then a prior written notice should be sent as well. This is all just legal documentation, to keep everything and everyone accountable.
You have the right, as a parent, to know the name of the test and how it will be administered, so feel free to ask these things. Also, keep in mind you only have to sign the documentation if you agree to it. If you disagree, DO NOT SIGN. However, the school also has due process rights. Remember, they are supposed to have your child’s best interest in mind.
Once they have started the testing, they have 45 school days, from when they received consent, to get this evaluation completed. And yes, covid may be affecting that timeline as well, so if it takes longer, make sure that they have kept you in the loop as to why. If additional tests are needed after the initial consent, the district must send out a new consent form and notify the parent of the reason.
Technically, all assessments can be given on the same day. I’ve personally never seen it practiced this way, but if this would pose a problem for your learner, please let them know in advance. Teachers, parents, psychologists, and diagnosticians are required for each evaluation. Others that may be included, but are not limited to, are speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and audio/visual specialists.
The ARD committee is required to meet within 30 calendar days of the completion of the full and independent evaluation (FIE). The ARD committee includes the parents. You should decide as a team, what is in the best interest of the learner that has been tested.
Within those 30 days, the teachers and specialists should have been able to look over the data and should have sent you their recommendations at least five days before the ARD to allow you enough time to review them. These recommendations should include IEP annual goals and (if in a self-contained class) progress report objectives, accommodations, modifications, schedules, etc. I’ve gone into more detail on this in my first two posts, so please see those for more information.
So you will continue to see the Prior Written Notice, for each evaluation and those are redone every three years. The most common name is the FIE, some districts refer to them as triennials.
There is also what is known as a REED (review of existing data). This must involve ARD committee members and discusses evaluations provided by the parents, observations by teachers and specialists, and any response to intervention or other data that the school can provide.
Lastly, when you sign the ARD paperwork, you will be allowed to take five days to review the paperwork and make a decision. Alternatively, you’re able to sign and waive those five days allowing your learner’s new IEP to take effect the following school day. Again, if you disagree with anything, please do not sign off on it. You may have to reconvene or request an advocate, but if you feel something isn’t right, that is ok.
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