Criteria For IEE’s at Public Expense – Can Special Education Personnel Do That?

Are you a parent who is interested in what criteria special education personnel can use for an Independent Educational Evaluation at Public Expense? Have you been denied an IEE at public expense, because you refuse to go along with strict criteria set by your school district? This article will discuss what criteria special education personnel are allowed to set for IEE’s at public expense.

The Office of Special Education Programs does allow school districts to make criteria for IEE’s at public expense if:

a. Parents are allowed to ask for a waiver of the criteria if their child’s disability warrants it, or
b. The criteria do not prevent the parent from getting the IEE at public expense.

Below is a discussion of the criteria that school districts are allowed to set: (Just remember that the criteria cannot prevent the parent from getting the IEE at public expense)

1. Professional qualifications; An independent evaluator must be at least as qualified, as special education personnel, who do the testing in the school district. If you want an independent evaluator who is more qualified than school person, you must put that in your initial request for an IEE at public expense.

A lot of conflict often occurs because parents want their child tested by a Clinical psychologist not a School psychologist; which increases the cost.

If you can prove, that unique circumstances require a clinical psychologist, then your school district may agree. If they do not, they should file for a due process hearing.

2. Cost; A lot of school districts, place very low cost on independent educational evaluations at public expense. A good qualified independent evaluator is going to cost quite a bit, depending on the profession and location. If the evaluation that you want is going to cost more than the amount stated by your school district, tell them that you are asking for a cost waiver because of unique circumstances. They may ask you to list the unique circumstances, which is allowed.

Another issue is that school personnel cannot prevent you from getting an IEE at public expense. If they make the cost too low, then you will not be able to get the evaluation.

3. Geographical; Some school districts want you to stay within a certain geographic area. Again they can do it, if it does not prevent you from getting the evaluation.

Below is criteria school districts are not allowed to set:

1. Pick from this list of Evaluators: This is not allowed by the Office of Special Education Programs which is part of the Department of Education.

2. We will pay but we get to pick the evaluator: Also not allowed by OSEP. On February 20, 2004 OSEP published a policy letter regarding IEE’s at public expense. In this letter OSEP states: It is the parent, not the district, who has the right to choose which evaluator. . .will conduct the evaluation.

3. If you want an IEE at public expense you must file for a due process hearing. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is clear; either school districts pay for the evaluation of they file for a due process hearing to prove that their evaluation is correct. This is important because in some states the burden of proof at due process rests on the party that files.

4. We want to determine specifically what tests are done. IDEA states that parents and school districts must agree on areas to be tested, not on the tests themselves. If an agreement cannot be reached then special education personnel must file for a due process hearing.

By understanding what criteria special education personnel can make for an IEE at public expense, you will be in a better position to get an IEE at public expense for your child.

6 Things That Special Education Personnel Can Do to Decrease Restraint and Seclusion in Their School

Are you the parent of a child with autism or another disability that is very concerned about your child’s safety at school, due to negative behavior? Has your child been physically or emotionally injured by restraint and seclusion, by special education personnel? This article will discuss 6 ways that school districts can deal with behavior rather than relying on restraint and seclusion!

Restraint is defined as any manual method, physical, material, equipment that immobilizes or reduces the ability of an individual. In school districts they mainly use holding techniques. Prone restraints (where the child is held face down) are the most dangerous and cause the most incidence of injury and death!

Seclusion is defined as the placing of a person involuntarily in a room or area alone and prevent them from leaving. Some schools have started relying on time out rooms to seclude children with disabilities when they misbehave.

Below are 6 things that special education personnel in your district can do to decrease or eliminate the use of restraint and seclusion in their schools:

1. They can have school wide policies in place with specific instructions on when restraint and seclusion will be used; and also policies developed on releasing the information to the public. By keeping written charts on when it is used, and releasing the information to the public on when it is used, will actually cause restraint and seclusion to be used less. The danger comes when special education personnel keep the information secret, and refuse to share it with the public; ask your district for accountability!

2. Stop relying on punishment, restraint and seclusion to deal with children’s negative behavior. One of the important things to know is that a lot of children with disabilities have behavior that is related to their disability. Also, it is proven in research that punishment, restraint and seclusion do not work in the long term to change a child’s behavior!

3. Have good attitudes that include all children in the school; including children with disabilities! Personnel that take a positive proactive approach to school order and behavior can absolutely have a wonderful affect, on all of the children in the school. Positive attitudes encourage learning, negative attitudes discourage learning!

4. Teachers and other special education personnel need to be taught not to overreact to behavior. By appropriately dealing with negative behavior the child’s behavior may decrease, but on the other hand overreacting to the behavior, can escalate the behavior. I have seen this many times over the years; a child with autism gets upset and the teacher jumps in; gets in the child’s face and escalates (makes worse) the child’s behavior! Teachers must learn to step back and give the child time to calm themselves down!

5. Understand the huge connection between behavioral difficulty and academic difficulty. Many parents call me when their child has negative school behavior, and ask for help. I ask them: how is your child’s academics? In 100% of the cases the child is below average in all areas of academics. The child is telling the people around them: I cannot do this work, so I am going to misbehave so that I can avoid the work! Avoidance of hard academics is the cause of a lot of negative school behavior!

6. Use research based processes; positive behavioral supports and plans to deal with a child’s negative school behavior. The process starts with a Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA) to determine what the child is getting from the negative behavior. Is it to avoid hard academics? Is it to access attention? Then a properly conducted FBA is used to develop a positive behavioral plan. This is not a punishment plan, but a plan to increase positive school behavior which then decreases negative school behavior.

Bring these 6 things to your school district and ask them to implement them for your child and other children. This will ensure that all children have a positive environment to learn; even children with disabilities!

Do I Have To Sign This Medical Release Form For Special Education Personnel?

Have you been asked by special education personnel to sign a consent form for release of your child’s medical records? Have you been told, that your child with autism or an emotional disorder cannot return to school, unless you sign a medical consent form? This article will discuss, whether parents must sign consent for release of medical records, to school personnel.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is silent, on parents being required to sign consent, for release of medical records. But just because IDEA is silent, does not mean that special education personnel have the right to require release of medical records. Medical records are considered private, and school personnel do not have any right to these records, unless you give them informed consent.

Many parents have trustingly released medical records, only to have school personnel, use these records against them or their child. Remember that some Doctors and nurses may not understand special education, and may say things that may be misinterpreted by school officials.

For Example: A 16 year old young man with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is in the Emergency room, because of behavioral difficulties (many children with TBI, due to there brain injuries have behavioral outbursts). He is interviewed in the Emergency room, by a doctor that is not well trained in people with TBI. The young man tells him, that he is in the hospital because he brought a gun to school. The doctor who has already spoke to the young man’s mother, knows that this is not true. Yet the Doctor still included this statement, in a medical record of the hospital visit.

The school district asked the mother to sign a blanket medical release form, which she did. (the mother did not understand that she had the right to refuse). Later when special education personnel kicked the young man out of school, and wanted to place him in an extremely restrictive residential placement, the mother found out about the hospital report. She was shocked and surprised that the statement was in the record. She was never asked by the Doctor if this statement was true or not. This record almost cost her son, his ability to live at home, though I was able to prove that it never happened.

At the end of the due process hearing, I asked the mother, what the one thing that I had taught her and she said: Do not give consent for release of medical records. Yah! She learned the right lesson!

If you are asked for copies of your child’s medical records, ask the special education personnel what authority they are basing their rights to medical records on (there is none). Also under HIPPA your child has the right to keep their medical records private.

If there is a specific record that school personnel want, and you are not opposed, this is how you should go about releasing the record. Tell the special education personnel that you will think about it, then get a copy of the record that they are interested in. When you get the record read it cover to cover. If you think, that the record contains important information, that would help your child and not hurt them, then you can consider giving them a copy of the record.

Under no circumstances should you give school personnel the right to blanket medical records. In my opinion, some special education personnel ask for these medical records, because they are looking for information to use against the child, or the parents.

By understanding the release of medical records, you will be able to protect your child’s privacy, and keep school personnel from using them against your child. Please remember your child is depending on you!