Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What are the IDEA eligibility categories?

The first prong of IDEA eligibility requires the existence of a specific condition of disability. In Arizona, the MET (Multidisciplinary Education Team) must identify at least one of the following conditions before considering is a student qualifies for special education and related services:
Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) Section 15-761(2)(a):
(i)        Autism (A, which is now Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD)
(ii)       Developmental delay (DD)
(iii)      Emotional disability (ED)
(iv)      Hearing impairment (HI)
(v)       Other health impairments (OHI)
(vi)      Specific learning disability (SLD)
(vii)     Mild, moderate or severe intellectual disability (what used to be called mental retardation) (MID, MOID)
(viii)    Multiple disabilities (MD)
(ix)      Multiple disabilities w/ severe sensory impairments (MDSSI)
(x)       Orthopedic impairment (OI)
(xi)      Preschool severe delay (PSD)
(xii)     Speech/language impairment (SLI)
(xiii)    Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
(xiv)    Visual impairment (VI)

Diagnosing certain mental or neurological disabilities in very young children is often difficult, and thus Arizona may choose to designate children as experiencing "developmental delays." Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states may recognize children ages 3 years through 9 years who need special education and related services as a result of developmental delays in physical development; cognitive, communication, social, or emotional development; or adaptive development, as children with disabilities. 34 CFR 300.8 (b).

In order to be eligible for an IEP, a child must fit the definition of one of those disabilities expressly listed above.   However, the list of specific impairments included within the definition of each of the categories of disabilities is not meant to be exhaustive.  Thus, for example, children with dyslexia fit within the category of Specific Learning Disability (SLD) and children with anxiety disorder may fit within the category of Other Health Impaired (OHI) or sometimes Emotional Disability (ED).  

For more information, visit

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What are the EDUCATIONAL PLACEMENTS available for the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment)?

The LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) means "to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” 20 U.S.C § 1412(a)(5)(A).  Educational placements along the continuum, from least restrictive to most restrictive, include the following:
1.  General Education (Only accommodations no additional services)
Students with disabilities are educated with students without disabilities, to the maximum extent possible.  (In Arizona, this is Level of Service [LOS] A.)

2.  General Education (push in services)
Is a collaborative teaching model; the Resource Specialist or other therapists provides assistance to students who require help accessing the curriculum in the general education classroom. 
3.  Resource Specialist (pull out services)
Students are pulled out of the general education classroom by the Resource Specialist to receive academic instruction in a small group.
4.  Special Day Class
An intensive educational program designed for students who have special needswhen they cannot be appropriately educated in a general education environment.  The types of classes available usually include mild, moderate or severe. (In Arizona, this is Level of Service [LOS] C.)

5.  Non-Public School
An elementary or secondary school within the state, other than a public school, offering education for grades kindergarten through 12, or any combination of thereof, wherein any child may legally fulfill compulsory school attendance requirements.  Placement in Non-Public Schools occurs via an IEP when the public school is not able to fulfill its requirements to provide a free appropriate public education.  Many Nonpublic schools specialize in Autism, Learning Disabilities and other special needs. 
6.  Day Treatment Center
A program designed to address a student’s Mental Health and Educational needs during the school day only.  It usually refers to a licensed or certified facility which is licensed to provide a behavioral health treatment program, outpatient care, and treatment of mental or nervous disorders under the supervision of physicians. 
7.  Residential Treatment Center
A program designed for a student who suffers from Severe or Chronic Emotional Disabilities in a residential setting.  Residential treatment centers generally are clinically focused and primarily provide behavior management and treatment for adolescents with serious issues. 
8.  Home and Hospital Instruction Program

Home and Hospital Instruction Programs serve students who have a disability, which makes attendance in the regular day classes or alternative education program impossible or inadvisable. The district in which the home or residential health facility is located is responsible for instructing and educating pupils who must be hospitalized or remain at home due to disability issues.

Due Process in Arizona

For information on the due process procedures under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") in Arizona, including decisions from Due Process Hearings in Arizona, visit  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Are you prepared for your child's IEP meeting? Here's your CHECKLIST.

Are you prepared for your child's IEP meeting?
Make a checklist of what you should do, minimally, to prepare:
  • Obtain your child's records in advance of the meeting.  The law allows you to do so without waiting 45 days (which is the time the school district or charter school can make you wait, unless you have a meeting where your child's identification, evaluation or placement are discussed.  
  • Review the records, especially your child's progress reports over the last two years.
  • Graph the progress - making a graph help you actually see the progress.
  • Invite all the people you want to participate, even if they can only participate via phone, such as the other parent, step-parents, outside evaluators, etc.  Remember that they all become members of the IEP team!
  • If you expect to have anyone of the people you invite attend via telephone, ask the school (the case manager or SPED director, or whoever is your contact at the school) to have a speaker phone available and a call in number, or make sure you can call out, including long distance if anyone is out of town or state, and at worst, make sure your cell phone is powered up and you know how to use the speaker on your cell phone.
  • Make sure the meeting is scheduled at a time and at a place that is mutually agreed upon, and that there will enough time to address all issues.
  • Make a list of the issues and concerns and questions you have.
  • Obtain a draft of the IEP in advance of the meeting.  
  • Decide if your child is old enough and/or mature enough to attend.  If you think the attendees don't know your child, then bring your child to introduce him or her to the attendees and then have arrangements for your child to leave the meeting when you deem it is no longer appropriate for him or her to remain in the meeting. 
  • Have your tape recorder ready, with enough battery power.
  • Make sure your "IEP" book is organized.  You can organize any way you like so long as you know where everything is.  You can group all IEPs together, all PWNs together, all tests together, for instance, or you can put each IEP in its own section along with the meeting notice(s), drafts, final and PWN(s) for that IEP.  You may want to put the PWNs on different color paper for ease of reference.
  • Read and re-read your parental rights in advance of the meeting.
  • Bring flash drive to meeting to obtain electronic copies - some schools will provide electronic copies at the meeting.
  • Make a note to remind yourself to request a draft of the IEP that was prepared at the meeting - BEFORE you leave the meeting.
  • At the meeting, remember to be cordial and respectful, just as you expect the school members of the IEP team to treat you.