The Lakeland School District and the Intermediate Unit (IU19) provide special education and related services to resident children with disabilities who are ages three through twenty-one. The purpose of this notice is to describe: (1) the types of disabilities that might qualify the child for such programs and services, (2) the special education program and related services that are available, (3) the process by which the public schools screen and evaluate such students to determine eligibility, and (4) the special rights that pertain to such children and their parents or legal guardians.
CHILDREN SERVED IN SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS
Special education services are available to children who have one or more of the following physical or mental disabilities:
- emotional disturbance
- hearing impairment, including deafness
- mental retardation
- multiple disabilities
- orthopedic impairment
- other health impairment
- specific learning disability
- speech or language impairment
- traumatic brain injury; and
- visual impairment, including blindness
- developmental delay (in the case of a preschool child)
DESCRIPTION OF SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS
The Public Schools/IU19 provide appropriate special education programs and related services that are:
- provided at no cost to parents;
- provided under the authority of a school entity, directly, by referral or by contract;
- individualized to meet the educational needs of the child;
- reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and progress and designed to conform to an Individual Education Program.
Special education is designed to meet the needs of each eligible student, including specially designed instruction conducted in the classroom, home, community settings, hospitals, institutions and other settings. Related services are available to students including transportation, corrective, and other supportive services that help an eligible student benefit from special education. Examples include: speech pathology, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, social work services, school health services, parent education, and assistive technology services.
REFERRAL OF CHILDREN FOR SCREENING AND EVALUATION
The Public Schools/IU19 have procedures to identify children needing special education. Those procedures are “screening” and “evaluation.” If a disability is suspected, teachers, other school personnel or parents may refer a child for screening and/or evaluation. Parents suspecting that a child may have a disability and need special education can request a screening or evaluation at any time by contacting their school principal. Screening activities include: reviewing immediately available data sources such as health records, parent interview and history; functional vision and hearing evaluations; reviewing the student’s response to attempted intervention; and speech and language screenings are completed on request. If the screening leads to a recommendation for evaluation, the evaluation team will conduct the evaluations. No evaluations may be conducted without written parental permission. Consult the Supervisor of Special Education for further information. State and federal law affords many rights and protections to children with disabilities and their parents. A summary of these rights and protections follows. Interested persons may obtain a complete written summary of the rights and protections afforded by the law, together with information about free of low cost legal services and advice, by contacting the special education coordinator or principal of the local public school.
RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS
Prior Written Notice: The public school must notify you in writing whenever it proposes to initiate or to change the identification, evaluation, educational program or placement of a child or whenever it refuses to initiate or make a change in identification, evaluation, educational program, or placement requested by a parent. Such notice must be accompanied by a written description of the reasons for the proposal or refusal, the options considered, if any, and the reason why such options were rejected.
Consent: The public school cannot proceed with an evaluation or with the initial provision of special education and related services without the written consent of the parent. A public school may not seek a hearing to override the refusal of a parental consent to an initial placement in special education. A public school may override the lack of consent for an initial evaluation by requesting the approval of an impartial hearing officer of judge following a hearing. If the parent fails to respond to a written request for permission to re-evaluate, however, the public school may proceed the proposed re-evaluation without consent.
Protection in Evaluation Procedure: Evaluations to determine eligibility and current need for special education and related services must be administered in a manner that is free of racial, cultural, or linguistic bias. Evaluations cannot consist of a single test or assessment and testing must be a valid measure of the psychological, social, emotional or other learning characteristic or behavior that the school is using it to measure. Testing and assessment must be administered in accordance with professional standards and the criteria established by the publisher. It must be administered in the native language of the child.
Confidentiality: The records and documents that are part of the evaluation and screening process are confidential and protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). School districts, intermediate units, and charter schools maintain records concerning all children enrolled in the school, including students with disabilities. All records are maintained in the strictest confidentiality. Your consent, or consent of an eligible child who has reached the age of majority under State law, must be obtained before personally identifiable information is released, except as permitted under FERPA. The age of majority in Pennsylvania is 21. Each participating agency must protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information at collection, storage, disclosure, and destruction stages. One official at each participating agency must assume responsibility for ensuring the confidentiality of any personally identifiable information. Each participating agency must maintain, for public inspection, a current listing of the names and positions of those employees who have access to personally identifiable information. For additional information related to student records, the parent can refer to FERPA. This notice is only a summary of the Special Education services, evaluation and screening activities, and rights and protections pertaining to children with disabilities, children thought to be disabled, and their parents. For more information or to request evaluation or screening of a public or private school child contact the responsible school entity listed below.
Melissa Orman, Supervisor of Special Education at 570-254-9485 ext. 1022 or via email at [email protected]