It is the time of year that all of us have been looking forward to. SCHOOL IS STARTING!
For those of us who have children with special needs this can be either wonderful or not so wonderful. We, as parents, really need to understand that changes, anytime of the year, to our children’s program, services or placement cannot take place until the district provides us with Prior Notice in WRITING. At the end of a IEP meeting or at least 14 calendar days prior to changing of a child’s placement, a school official must send you Prior Written Notice (PWN) of the proposed change of placement.
Prior Notice should be taken seriously (WAC 392-172A-05010). It has been a part of the law that guaranteed our children the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) passed in 1976. Clearly parents are to be part of the IEP team. That team makes decisions about services and placement.
Let’s look at this placement question as an example. “Last year my child had been receiving 90 minutes a day in a resource classroom to support his academic needs in general education. This year my child’s schedule says that all of his specially designed instruction will take place in a general education classroom and the person responsible for this instruction is the general education teacher. . . I am really confused. I thought specially designed instruction can only be provided or supervised by a person who is qualified and general education teachers are not qualified. So what happened between last year when he needed Specially Designed Instruction and this year when he apparently needs none? I received no notice! I was not invited to an IEP meeting!”
What can I do?
- I can let his schedule stay the way it is and hope things work out.
2. I can call the principal, special education teacher or counselor for their input.
3. I can request in writing an immediate IEP meeting with the Special Education Director present to discuss the change, reminding the district about Prior Notice.
4. I can file a Citizens Complaint or use any of my other procedural safeguards such as mediation or Due Process.
5. I can move to another district or another state.
So what am I going to do?
- I am going to email or in writing, contact my Special Education Director and document what has happened with copy’s to others that I feel need to know.
2. I am going to state that until there is Prior Notice my child will return to his previous placement.
3. I am going to request an IEP meeting in writing and make sure it is at a mutually agreed upon time.
4. I am going to expect that his team will be able to explain how this placement is likely to benefit him and ask for the data used to make this decision.
5. I will not put my house up for sale.
Special education and related services under IDEA are tightly connected to principles of individualization and are designed to respond appropriately to the needs of each specific child. Those needs drive the IEP that’s developed for the child of which the parent is a full participating member and in turn, drives the placement decision.
Special Education is a service, Not a place!