PALS Meeting Minutes
May 25, 2022 9:30 a.m.
Virtual Meeting using Zoom
Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education.
Change of Placement
We discussed a change of placement preformed by the LEA without holding an IEP meeting or informing the parent prior to doing so. The question then becomes what is the law regarding change of placement. PaFamiliesInc.org explains, "A change in placement for a student must be made by the team. Parents are required members of that team. A student’s placement can NOT be changed outside of the appropriate meeting (i.e. IEP Meeting, Manifestation Determination Hearing). A transfer to another educational setting (including an alternative school) for more than 10 school days in a row OR for more than 15 total school days in the school year is also a change in placement."
If you have questions about your child's change of placement or you feel the LEA has wrongfully preformed a change of placement, you may be interested in contacting the following for assistance:
- The Bureau of Special Education has established ConsultLine, a toll-free information line for your questions and concerns: 1-800-879-2301.
- The Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) provides the resources for parents and educational agencies to resolve educational disputes for children served by the early intervention system, students who are gifted (or thought to be gifted), and students with disabilities (or thought to have disabilities).
- Tyann Neal or Cortney Verner, Special Education Advisor, Bureau of Special Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education
- Achieva Education Advocates
The Arc of Pennsylvania 800-692-7258 www.thearcpa.org Bureau of Special Education ConsultLine 800-879-2301 Disability Rights Network of PA (DRN) 800-692-7443 www.drnpa.org Education Law Center 215-238-6970 www.elc-pa.org Hispanics United for Exceptional Children (HUNE, Inc.) (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) 215-425-6203 Mission Empower 855-222-3353 Office for Dispute Resolution 800-825-0788 www.huneinc.org www.missionempower.org http://odr-pa.org Office of Vocational Rehabilitation 800-442-6351 www.tinyurl.com/pa-ovr Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center 412-281-4404 www.pealcenter.org 866-950-1040 Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania 888-727-2706 www.parenttoparent.org Pennsylvania State Task Force on the Right to Education (Each intermediate unit has a local task force.) 800-360-7282, option 5 www.pattan.net 717-541-4960, option 5 →About →Partners Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) 800-441-3215 (East) www.pattan.net 800-360-7282 (Harrisburg) 800-446-5607 (Pittsburgh) Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP) 215-627-7100 www.pilcop.org
Dual-Eligibility or Twice-Exceptional Students
Make no mistake, a student who has an IEP and receives special education support for a learning challenge CAN ALSO have a G-IEP to receive gifted support. These students are often referred to as 2E, Dual-Eligibility, or Twice-Exceptional students.
The US Department of Education has made it clear that twice-exceptional students are protected under the IDEA or Individuals w/ Disabilities Education Act. If there is suspicion of disability, schools are mandated to evaluate the child. If eligible, the student must have a 504 plan or an IEP. However, let me clarify. Not all states recognize giftedness or have an obligation to provide services to gifted students. What IDEA tries to clarify is that being gifted is not a reason to withhold an IEP for the areas of need.
On March 11, 2020, The Pennsylvania Department of Education issued the circular: Process for Gifted Documentation of Dual Exceptionalities and Caseload Assignments
Wrightslaw has an extensive list of 2E resources.
National Association of Gifted Children suggestions for supporting 2E students at school and home.
Life After Graduation
We had the good fortune of being joined by a parent of a FCASD graduate who frequently joined PALS meetings in the past. The parent came with a warning for others to be mindful of school district's pushing students through, leaving some graduates struggling, and parents feeling shut out. This particular family dealt with their student's inability to adjust to college and dropping out after struggling to maintain the required grades.
The disappointing part of this is that this is not the first time a parent has expressed their disappointment in FCASD promoting students with IEP with high grades only to fail basic college academic courses after graduating. In this particular case the family was unaware of The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), what it was and how the organization could have helped their child transition from high school to college.
What is OVR?
"The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, or OVR, provides vocational rehabilitation services to help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment. OVR provides services to eligible individuals with disabilities, both directly and through a network of approved vendors. Services are provided on an individualized basis. The OVR counselor, during face-to-face interviews, assists customers in selecting their choice of vocational goals, services and service providers. An Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) is developed, outlining a vocational objective, services, providers and responsibilities. Certain services are subject to a Financial Needs Test (FNT) and may require financial participation by the customer. Counseling and guidance, diagnostic services, assessments, information and referral, job development and placement, and personal services such as readers or sign language interpreters are provided at no cost to the individual. Also, by law OVR customers receiving Social Security benefits for their disability (SSI, SSDI) are exempt from OVR’s Financial Needs Test.
Statewide there are 21 District Offices staffed with trained, professional Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors which serve Pennsylvania in all 67 counties. The Hiram G. Andrews Center in Johnstown provides vocational training and comprehensive rehabilitation services to people from across the state. OVR’s Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services also provides specialized services to blind and visually impaired individuals. These services are designed to increase an individual’s independence and employability. OVR's central administrative offices in Harrisburg provide technical assistance to local district offices in order to improve service delivery."
The parent credits OVR for paying for their child's participation with Evolve Coaching and credits Evolve for changing the trajectory of their graduates future. With the assistance of OVR and Evolve Coaching their child was able to go back to college with accommodations and assistance in completing class assignments and assessments in a timely manner.
What is Evolve Coaching?
"Providing support to individuals with disabilities and our community through education, employment, and the arts.
Evolve provides highly specialized coaching services to more than 200 people each year in the Pittsburgh area, helping these individuals become integrated and productive members of the local community. Neurodiverse adults require a spectrum of support that is just as diverse as the people themselves. Living independently, navigating the college environment, making friends, and transitioning to the workplace are common challenges faced by the population we serve. Through one-on-one coaching services, social groups, and peer mentorship, Evolve provides each client with individualized support to help them meet their goals.
Through our work we strive to address and remedy institutional, cultural and cognitive systems of oppression. We seek to hold organizations, institutions, and ourselves accountable for repairing cultural erasures and harmful assumptions. We work to educate our communities and raise awareness of neurodiversity in its many intersecting forms. We do this by working to close the services gap created by systemic inequities that marginalize communities of color, low income communities, and New American communities."
Considerations for Long-Term Care
- Achieva can help advise and manage trusts
- PA Able - helps w/ savings to address soc sec considerations (i.e. not getting services because you have too many assets)
- Geriatric lawyers - help with disabilities, social security considerations
- Pittsburgh Connections - works w/ people to help them live on own dorm room setting
- Special Needs Trusts - A special needs trust is established to prevent people from losing benefits from certain government programs after receiving a settlement. An influx of wealth can make one ineligible for benefits from Supplementary Security Income (SSI), Veterans Aid and Attendance, Medicaid, and government housing.
Next Meeting: June 29, 2022 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum; we will be discussing the proposed FCASD Special Education Plan.
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