Eligibility

My child was recently made eligible for services, or I am looking for general information.

ACCESS to RECORDS and CONFIDENTIALITY

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends school beyond the high school level. Connecticut has regulations on the timeline (see below) for receiving records from schools. For information on whether a video is considered a student's educational record here is one interpretation of the guidance from the Family Compliance Office (FPCO).

Sec. 10-76d-18. Education records and reports Each board of education shall maintain records concerning children with disabilities or children referred for an evaluation to determine the child's eligibility for special education and related services consistent with the requirements of the IDEA, except as provided in this section. (a) Access rights to records. Parents shall have the right to inspect and review any education records relating to their child which are collected, maintained or used by the board of education. (1) A request to inspect and review a child's records shall be in writing. The board of education shall comply with a request to review and inspect the child's education records without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an IEP or any due process hearing or resolution session held in accordance with the IDEA; otherwise, the board of education shall comply with such request not later than ten days of such request. (2) The parents' right to inspect and review the child's records shall include the right to one free copy of those records. A request for the free copy shall be made in writing. The board of education shall comply with such request not later than ten days of such request. Notwithstanding the fact that a test instrument or portion of a test instrument may meet the criteria of an "education record" under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 USC 1232g, any test instrument or portion of a test instrument for which the test manufacturer asserts a proprietary or copyright interest in the instrument shall not be copied. The parent retains the right to review and inspect such information and the board of education shall respond to reasonable requests from the parent for explanations and interpretations of the child's education record, which may include reviewing copyrighted testing instruments. (Effective September 1, 1980; Amended March 26, 2004; Amended July 1, 2013).

EDUCATIONAL BENEFIT - PROGRESS MONITORING

Educational benefit is not defined under the law but has been shaped by case law. In the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District the court determined that "[t]o meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP [individualized education program] that is reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances." The Court additionally emphasized the requirement that "every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives." (see Q&A on Endrew below).

How Can Parents Tell If Their Children Are Making Progress?
Keeping track of student progress is necessary to ensure that instruction is effective, that special needs are being met, and that each student is moving toward the standards set by the state and the goals developed specifically for him or her. Teachers use assignments, projects, quizzes, tests, and homework to monitor their students' understanding of concepts and their mastery of skills. Schools administer standardized assessments each year to measure academic performance.
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Questions and Answers (Q&A) on U. S. Supreme Court Case Decision Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Re-1
On March 22, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court (sometimes referred to as Court) issued a unanimous opinion in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Re-1, 137 S. Ct. 988. In that case, the Court interpreted the scope of the free appropriate public education (FAPE) requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Court overturned the Tenth Circuit's decision that Endrew, a child with autism, was only entitled to an educational program that was calculated to provide "merely more than de minimis" educational benefit. In rejecting the Tenth Circuit's reasoning, the Supreme Court determined that, "[t]o meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP [individualized education program] that is reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances." The Court additionally emphasized the requirement that "every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives."
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Encouraging High Expectations:
Parents and school staff must work together to create a challenging and appropriate program for students with disabilities.
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Aligning the IEP and Academic Content Standards to Improve Academic Achievement
If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), it's essential that you understand how your state's "academic content standards" can be used to ensure strong academic achievement.
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FAPE

A child who is eligible for special education services is entitled by federal law to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE ensures that all students with disabilities receive an appropriate public education at no cost to the family. FAPE differs from student to student because each has unique needs. As a parent of a child who has or who may have a disability that requires specially designed instruction, you will work with a team of professionals to determine the needs of your child and to design an appropriate program to address your child's educational needs. This is a critical element of special education for all parents to understand, read on for additional information.

What is and isn't covered under FAPE
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees the right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for kids with disabilities. That can include kids with learning and attention issues.

FAPE is one of the most important legal rights your child has. Knowing what it covers can help you partner with your child's school. It can also help you advocate for the services and supports your child needs.

Here's what FAPE requires if your child qualifies for special education services.

What Is An "Appropriate" Education?
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), every student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

But what exactly is an "appropriate" education?

LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT (LRE)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education (Improvement) Act states that children with disabilities are expected to receive their services in the general education setting TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT APPROPRIATE. They should be in the same school and classroom they would be in if they did not have a disability unless the nature or severity of the disability is such that the student cannot experience success in general education classroom even with supplemental aids and services. A school district is expected to offer a wide range of placement options to meet the needs of each child.

Least Restrictive Environment And Inclusion: What Is The Difference?
IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act) does not use the term "inclusion." However, IDEA does require school districts to place students in the least restrictive environment (LRE). LRE means that, to the maximum extent appropriate, school districts must educate students with disabilities in the regular classroom with appropriate aids and supports, referred to as "supplementary aids and services," along with their nondisabled peers in the school they would attend if not disabled, unless a student's individualized education program (IEP) requires some other arrangement. This requires an individualized inquiry into the unique educational needs of each disabled student in determining the possible range of aids and supports that are needed. Some supplementary aids and services that educators have used successfully include modifications to the regular class curriculum, assistance of an itinerant teacher with special education training, special education training for the regular teacher, use of computer-assisted devices, provision of notetakers, and use of a resource room, to mention a few.

In implementing IDEA's LRE provisions, the regular classroom in the school the student would attend if not disabled is the first placement option considered for each disabled student before a more restrictive placement is considered. If a student with a disability can be educated satisfactorily with appropriate aids and supports in the regular classroom in the school the student would attend if not disabled, that placement is the LRE placement for that student. However, if the placement team determines that a student cannot be educated satisfactorily in that environment, even with the provision of appropriate aids and supports, the regular classroom in the school the student would attend if not disabled is not the LRE placement for that student. Any alternative placement selected for the student outside of the regular educational environment must maximize opportunities for the student to interact with nondisabled peers, to the extent appropriate to the needs of the student.

Reference: Inclusion: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions from NEA, Wrights Law, 2009)

11 Questions to Ask About Your Child's Resource Room Placement walks the reader through what should be considered regarding a student's appropriate placement based on their unique needs.

The U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services offers guidance regarding students in preschool and also for students who are in their transition to adult phase of educational programming.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a written plan that details each child's special education and related services, and the decisions of the Planning and Placement Team meeting.
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