The special education programs in schools are mainly based on the rules and guidelines developed by the federal government. These rules are established to protect special education students and parents and to promote the well-being of the students. Because these rules and regulations are many, varied, and quite specific on a number of points, special education administrators as well as building principals must make sure that their schools conform to both the substance and the intent of these rules. That is not always an easy job.
Many rules and regulations that these administrators must understand and comply with revolve around ARD (Admission/Review/Dismissal) committees and IEP’s (Individual Educational Program). For example, a program could be deemed non-compliant because all the required members of an ARD committee were not present, or properly informed, or noted in the minutes of the committee meeting.
Another way the program might be found non-compliant is that parents might not be afforded an opportunity for meaningful participation in the ARD meeting. The parents might not have been notified of the ARD committee meeting in a timely way. The meeting may have been set up at a time or place that was not mutually agreed on. The parents might have disagreed with the ARD and no meeting was set to reconvene. The parents might have refused to sign agree or disagree. Any or all of these problems could have a school sited for non-compliance, especially if there is a pattern of this behavior.
The IEP itself can be the center of a host of other non-compliance problems. This can happen if an IEP was not calculated to provide educational benefit to the student. Maybe the goals and objectives were not set up so that they were measurable. Maybe the levels of academic achievement were not aligned with goals, assessments, or services provided.
Even the structure of the IEP can cause non-compliance issues. The IEP might not address: the present level of performance, goals and objectives, assessments, frequency, location, or duration of related services, progress reports, state assessments, strengths of a student, or concerns of parents. All of these must be addressed in a fully-compliant IEP.
Once the IEP is properly developed and approved, schools can be non-compliant by not implementing the IEP properly. Proper modifications may not be made. The schedule of services may be lacking. The behavior intervention plan may not be followed. There may be no record of content mastery. Further, related services may not be provided, such as speech therapy, or not provided appropriately. An extended school year may not be implemented, or the instructional setting may not be appropriate, especially concerning placing students in an appropriate LRE (Least Restrictive Environment).
Finally, schools may comply with all of the above and yet not conduct evaluations, reevaluations, or reviews of existing evaluation data properly. These, too, can make a school non-compliant.
Being a special education administrator or a building administrator is a tough job. It gets really hard when you have to deal with the many compliance issues surrounding special education students in the form of ARD’s, IEP’s, and evaluation/reevaluation meetings. On the one hand, it’s a lot to wade through to make sure your special education program is fully compliant. On the other hand, it is good that we have a system now that fully protects the rights of some our most vulnerable students and parents.
I’ll take this system any day rather than have students with disabilities treated the way they were when I went through school in the 1950’s and 60’s. Yes, we now have to dot our i’s and cross all of our t’s to make sure that our special education programs are compliant, but the result is a much fairer, much more humane system for supporting our students with disabilities.
Grant Name: Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation Educational Grants
Funded By: Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation
Description: Giving on a national basis, with emphasis on areas of company operations; giving also to national organizations to support programs designed to advance the independence, productivity, and community of young people with disabilities. Special emphasis is directed toward programs designed to have a national scope and impact, with preference to those that are inclusive of youth with and without disabilities. No grants to individuals, or for endowments, capital campaigns, equipment or devices for individual users, fund raising events, controversial social or political issues, or local activities without national impact; no loans. No support for religious organizations not of direct benefit to the entire community, intermediary organizations, fraternal, labor, political, or lobbying organizations, discriminatory organizations, or individual schools or school districts.
Program Areas: Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Disabilities, General Education, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies, Special Education
Recipients: Public School, Private School, Higher Education, Other
Proposal Deadline: 6/1/13
Contact Person: Kevin Webb, Program Officer
Average Amount: $10,000.00 – $75,000.00, 1 to 3 years
Availability: All States