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October 26, 2022 Meeting Minutes - 504s, Evaluations, and Timelines

PALS Meeting Minutes

October 26, 2022 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom


Open Forum

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.


504 Plans

Our conversation started with the concern that the accommodations and modifications written within a 504 Plan were not being followed. As a reminder, a child is eligible for Section 504 Protection when they have physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. When a 504 Plan is written every teacher who works with the child should be knowledgeable in the accommodations and modifications to be provided that student. Although it is the responsibility of the school to ensure teachers have a copy of the 504 Plan and understand the accommodations and modifications, frequently families will make sure each teacher has a copy.


If you believe teachers are not following your child's 504 Plan, prepare your documentation and have a conversation. Documentation can be email communications addressing issues that should be solvable when the 504 Plan is in use, classwork or assessments that were done without accommodations or modifications, and conversations you and your child are having about the school day.


For more information on 504 Plans, please watch the video from our May 2021 meeting when Cindy Duch from The Peal Center joined us and provided a training on Section 504.


Evaluations

In some cases families may realize that the physical or mental impairment is impacting more than just a major life activity, it is interfering with the student's education. This is again the time to gather the documentation to support the idea and request an Evaluation. When a student's disability begins to interfere with their education it may be time for an IEP and an Evaluation will show the student's strengths and challenges. In preparation for requesting an Evaluation and responding to the Parental Questionnaire, it is a good idea to pull documentation together like classwork, typical classroom assessments and scores from local and state standardized test, strategies that you see work at home when doing homework, etc. Breakdown each subject area and depending on the grade level, even things like lunch, recess, art, music, social behaviors, personality, extracurricular activities, etc.


When requesting an Evaluation, it is important to know there is a timeline that the school must legally follow and it isn't short. It could be three to four months from requesting an Evaluation to sitting down and reviewing the Evaluation with school faculty. The Evaluation process includes testing and observations with all information and findings being compiled in an Evaluation Report.


Timelines

According to Pennsylvania Law, Chapter 14 Special Education Services and Programs and Federal Regulations Part 300, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), special education services must be delivered according to mandatory timelines. Chapter 14 regulations are adopted by the State Board of Education. These provisions are in addition to the federal regulations adopted for the delivery of special education to students in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


In addition, a "reasonable amount of time" is generally considered to be 10 calendar days; however, there may be individual circumstances that would require additional days to respond to the parents’ request for an evaluation (e.g., when a student has recently enrolled in the district). A "school term" is the period of time elapsing between the opening of the public schools in the fall of one year and the closing of the public schools in the spring of the following year. (Pennsylvania Public School Code. Section 102: Definitions. [Online]. Available: www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/US/HTM/1949/0/0014..HTM) Note: The time starts when the entire staff is present, not the first instructional day for students.


Click here for the Special Education Timeline pamphlet provided by PaTTAN.


More in Relationship to the Above

We touched on the question on how to determine if it is a student's disability or a choice the student is making when not completing school work, whether that be classwork, assessments, or homework. We were reminded of our September 2022 meeting when Impact Parents joined us to discuss their coach approach to parenting. These strategies may be helpful in determining what is impacting a student's education. Read more about Impact Parents and watch the video of that meeting here.


If you're looking for support from a professional during the evaluation, 504 or IEP process, educational advocates are available for free through Achieva.


The Peal Center offers webinars, tutorials, and videos to help families navigating the special education process.


During our August 2022 meeting we discussed the IEP process in-depth. We encourage you to read those meeting minutes here.

 

Next Meeting: November 30, 2022 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. We will be joined by Impact Parents and learn about the coach-approach to parenting complex kids.

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SPECIAL NOTE

All meetings will be held virtually until further notice.


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