Special Education and Student Services Policy Manual

Special Education and Student Services Policy Manual

SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES

  1. Special Education Department Mission 

The Student Support Team commits to an unwavering belief in educational equity as we work to support CCPCS diverse group of learners. Through direct instruction and service delivery, we will empower scholars’ future opportunities that include college, post-secondary training options and active community participation.

Our Core Beliefs:

  • Students with support needs are capable of learning and leading at their greatest capacity with our guidance. They are more than able to reach their dreams.
  • Special and General Educators are partners in serving students with service needs students effectively and equitably.
  • We value a holistic approach that addresses students’ academic, social, and behavioral needs.
  • Through self-empowerment students succeed not in spite of their circumstances but because of them.

Our Vision in Action:

  • Providing a consistent and transparent model of service delivery will help to support students who struggle and avoids over referral to special education programming.
  • Practicing the application of Maslow’s hierarchy to accurately identify student need and plan accordingly.
  • Using data and research to reach our struggling students’ academic and behavioral achievement goals.
  • Driving instructional leadership through Special Education teachers and staff in content and skill acquisition.
  • Developing character traits and post-secondary skills comparable to students without disabilities.
  • Investing in families as a strong foundation and support for students being served in Student Services. 
  1. Child Find

Cesar Chavez PCS will identify, locate and evaluate enrolled students who either have, or are suspected of having, disabilities and need special education as a result of those disabilities. Cesar Chavez PCS attempt academic and/or behavior interventions prior to referring a student for an initial evaluation for special education.

III. Special Education Evaluations

Cesar Chavez PCS will have a parent’s informed written consent and signature before it can conduct an initial evaluation to determine if your child is eligible for special education and/or related services. If a parent or legal guardian has concerns about his/her child’s academic progress, please make a request in writing addressed to Director of Special Education and Student Services at Cesar Chavez PCS to convene a Student Evaluation Plan team meeting. A referral for an initial evaluation may also be made by the student, if he/she is 18 years old, or a Cesar Chavez PCS staff member. Upon receipt of a referral, an IEP team must meet to review existing data, information from the parent, pre-referral interventions and strategies (CARE Team), current classroom-based assessments, and observations by teachers and related service providers to determine whether to proceed with an initial evaluation for special education.

If an initial evaluation for special education is warranted, Cesar Chavez PCS will conduct a comprehensive initial evaluation in all areas of suspected disability. In conducting the evaluation, Cesar Chavez PCS will follow the evaluation procedures set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 34 CFR § 300.304 through 300.311. Cesar Chavez PCS completes all special education evaluations and convenes the Multidisciplinary Team meeting to determine eligibility and develop an IEP, if necessary, within 120 calendar days of receiving the written referral for the evaluation.

Cesar Chavez PCS must conduct a reevaluation of students with disabilities at least once every three years unless the parent and Cesar Chavez PCS agree that the reevaluation is unnecessary upon review of existing data. In this case, Cesar Chavez PCS will confirm this joint decision in writing, the reason for it, and the parent’s right to request a formal reevaluation. Cesar Chavez PCS will conduct a reevaluation of a student with the parent’s consent sooner than three years if it deems that the educational and related services needs warrant a reevaluation. A parent may also request a reevaluation at any time, however a reevaluation will not occur more than once a year unless Cesar Chavez PCS and the parent agree otherwise.

  1. Determining Student Eligibility for Special Education Services 

Cesar Chavez PCS will notify the parent in writing of any evaluation procedures it proposes to administer to a student. Cesar Chavez PCS will employ a variety of assessment tools and strategies and obtain parent input in evaluating the student to determine whether the student has a disability under Federal law, specifically the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). Upon completion of the evaluations by qualified individuals, Cesar Chavez PCS will convene a MDT (Multi-Disciplinary Team) meeting consisting of you (the parent) and a group of qualified professionals to review the evaluations and other data and determine whether the child meets the criteria for one of the recognized disabilities under IDEA. The following disabilities are recognized under IDEA: intellectual disability; hearing impairment; deafness; ;speech or language impairment, visual impairment (including blindness); emotional disturbance; orthopedic impairment; autism; traumatic brain injury; other health impairment, specific learning disability; deaf-blindness; or multiple disabilities. Copies of the evaluation reports and the documentation of the determination of eligibility will be provided at no cost to the parent.

If a child is found eligible for special education services, the parent must provide informed consent for the initial provision of services before an IEP can be developed.

  1. Transition Services

In order to adequately prepare our students with disabilities for life after high school, Cesar Chavez PCS must have in effect, no later than the first IEP to be in effect when the student turns 16, a transition plan designed to prepare the student to make the transition from school to adulthood. Transition plans are to be developed by the IEP team and will include a graduation plan, transition goals and transition services. The transition services and transition goals will be designed to assist the student in reach his/her post-school goals and will be based on each individual student’s need, taking into account the student’s preferences and interests. With parent consent, Cesar Chavez PCS will invite a representative from the District of Columbia Rehabilitation Services Administration (DC RSA) to any IEP meetings in which the student’s transition plan will be discussed.

  1. Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

 Cesar Chavez PCS is required under the law to place a student in the least restrictive environment that will meet the student’s individual needs. This means that Cesar Chavez PCS must ensure that to the maximum extent possible the student is educated with other children who are not disabled. Cesar Chavez PCS must ensure that the student child is removed from the general education environment only when the nature and severity of the student’s disability requires the removal.

In the situation where Cesar Chavez PCS and the parent have determined that the child’s needs cannot be adequately addressed at Cesar Chavez PCS or that the child requires more special education services than what can be provided, the school will request assistance from OSSE, with regard to placement.

Under OSSE’s Policy and Procedure for Placement Review, if OSSE’s assistance is requested to determine an appropriate placement for a student, a 30 day review process will take place in which OSSE reviews the student’s educational records, interviews school staff and relevant MDT members, and an MDT/change in placement meeting is held. At the change in placement meeting, OSSE will issue a recommendation regarding whether it believes the student is in need of a more restrictive placement. Ultimately the decision is made by the MDT at the change in placement meeting. If it is determined by the MDT that the student requires a change in placement, OSSE will choose the specific school location within 10 business days from the date of that decision.

VII. Notifying Parents and Students of Progress towards IEP Goals

Parents and students will receive by mail IEP Progress Reports indicating progress toward IEP goals from special education teachers and related services providers with the report card for each marking period (quarterly). IEP Progress Reports are also maintained in the student’s special education file. 

VIII. Notice to Parents

Cesar Chavez PCS will give notice to parents anytime it proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation or location/placement of the student.

No fewer than 5 business days before a scheduled meeting whether an IEP or eligibility for special education services will be discussed, the school will provide parents with a copy of any evaluation, assessment, report, data chart, or other document that will be discussed at the meeting. If the meeting is scheduled less than 5 business days before it is to occur, then these documents will be provided no fewer than 24 hours before the meeting.

No later than 5 business days after a meeting at which a new or amended IEP has been agreed upon, Cesar Chavez PCS will provide parents with a copy of the IEP. If additional time is needed to comply with the DC Language Access Act of 2004, the school will provide the latest available draft IEP and final copy upon its completion, no later than 15 business days after the meeting.

  1. Parent Requests

 A Parent has the right to request that a Multidisciplinary Team meeting convene with their child’s special education team at any time. To do so, please contact the Student Services Department at 202-627-3995.

  1. A Parent has the right to request a Copy of the Procedural Safeguards at any time. The Procedural Safeguards is a document that is designed to help parents and students understand their rights under the reauthorization of the Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act Amendments of 2004 (IDEA).
  1. A Parent has the right to request a Due Process Hearing regarding any concerns that a free appropriate public education is being denied to their child. To request a hearing the Parent may contact the Office of Dispute Resolution located at 810 First Street, NE, Suite 2001 Washington, D.C. 20002, 202-698-3819. Cesar Chavez PCS has a right to conduct a Resolution meeting with the Parent within 15 days of the date that the Parent files a request for a Due Process Hearing to attempt to resolve the issues and concerns raised in the Parent’s Due Process Complaint. Cesar Chavez PCS has an additional 15 days to perform the agreed upon resolution. The Parent may request mediation as an alternative to a hearing or in addition to a hearing. A Due Process Hearing must be conducted and a decision must be rendered within 75 days from the date that the Parent requests a hearing. The Parent has a right to be represented by legal counsel and the Office of Dispute Resolution can provide with the names of free or low cost legal representatives.
  1. Discipline

Cesar Chavez PCS abides by IDEA requirements regulating disciplinary actions against students with disabilities.

  1. Removal for 10 or fewer school days in a school year

 Students in special education can be suspended for up to 10 consecutive or cumulative school days in a year to the same extent that suspension is used for general education students. The school is not required to provide services for the first 10 days in a school year that the student is suspended

  1. Removal for more than 10 cumulative school days when the student’s behavior does not represent a pattern 

No manifestation determination is required when a student is suspended for more than 10 school days in a school year and the series of suspensions does not constitute a pattern. However, students who are suspended for more than 10 school days in a school year must continue to receive educational services while on suspension so as to enable them to continue to participate in the general education curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting their IEP goals. Students who are suspended for more than 10 days in a school year must also receive, as appropriate, a functional behavior assessment and behavior intervention services and modifications to address the behavior violation so that it does not recur.

  1. Removal for more than 10 consecutive school days or 10 cumulative schools days when the behavior represents a pattern 

Disciplinary action that results in a student being suspended for more than 10 consecutive school days or 10 cumulative school days in a year where the series of suspensions constitute a pattern result in a disciplinary change in placement. A disciplinary change in placement requires a manifestation determination to be made by the IEP team.

The following is required under these circumstances:

  1. Parent Notification- the parent/ guardian must be notified of the disciplinary action to be taken and informed of the procedural safeguards on the day the decision to take disciplinary action was made.
  1. Manifestation Determination - an IEP team meeting must be convened within 10 school days to determine whether the student’s behavior was a manifestation of his/her disability.
  1. Review of Behavior Intervention Plan- at the manifestation determination meeting, the IEP team must also conduct a functional behavior assessment, unless one has already been conducted, and develop a behavior intervention plan for the student or review the student’s current behavior intervention plan and modify it as necessary.

Students who are suspended for more than 10 school days in a school year must continue to receive educational services while on suspension so as to enable them to continue to participate in the general education curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting their IEP goals.

 A manifestation determination meeting reviews the relationship between the student’s disability and the student’s behavior that is subject to the disciplinary action.

If it is determined that the student’s behavior was a manifestation of his or her disability, then the student must return to Cesar Chavez PCS unless the parent and Cesar Chavez PCS agree otherwise. There are special circumstances where a student with a disability can be removed from Cesar Chavez PCS for up to 45 school days without regard to whether the student’s behavior was determined to be a manifestation of his/her disability: possession of a weapon at school on school premises or during a school function; possession or use of an illegal drug at school on school premises or during a school function; infliction of serious bodily injury at school on school premises or during a school function. At any time the IEP team, with parent consent, may change the student’s placement.

If it is determined that the student’s behavior was not a manifestation of the student’s disability, the same disciplinary procedures applicable to a student without a disability, including long term suspension or expulsion mat be applied to the student with a disability. Students who are suspended for more than 10 school days in a school year must continue to receive educational services while on suspension so as to enable them to continue to participate in the general education curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting their IEP goals.

  1. Hearing officer

If maintaining a student with a disability in his or her current placement would prove harmful to the student or to others, the school can request a hearing officer to order placement in an alternative setting for up to 45 days. In this case, the school is required to provide services for a student with a disability so as to enable them to continue to participate in the general education curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting their IEP goals

Section 504

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”) prohibits discrimination against disabled persons, including students and staff members, by schools receiving federal financial assistance. Included in the US Department of Education Regulations for Section 504 is the requirement that disabled students be provided with free appropriate public education (FAPE). As such, Cesar Chavez PCS is required to provide the full range of special accommodations and services necessary for students with disabilities to participate in and benefit from its education programs and activities.

The regulations require identification, evaluation, the provision of appropriate services and procedural safeguards. The regulations also require that parents or guardian be provided with notice of actions affecting the identification, evaluation, or placement of the student and are entitled to an impartial hearing if they disagree with district decisions in these areas.

Section 504 Defined:

“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States….shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance….”.

The Section 504 regulations require Cesar Chavez PCS to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.

Eligibility Criteria:

Under Section 504, a student eligible for FAPE is any student who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.

What is a Physical or Mental Impairment?

  • Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the body systems – neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitor-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin and endocrine.
    • This definition includes such diseases and condition as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impediments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, attention deficit disorder (ADD), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and human immune deficiency virus (HIV+)
  • Any mental or psychological disorder such as but not limited to mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

What is the meaning of Substantial Limitation?

In order to meet this standard, the student must be unable to perform a major life activity that the student’s average peers can perform OR, the student must be restricted to a substantial degree as to the condition, manner, or duration under which the major life activity is performed by the student’s average peers.

  • An impairment need not prevent or severely or significantly limit a major life activity to be considered “substantially limiting.” Nonetheless, not every impairment will be substantially limiting.
  • The term “substantially limits” should be construed broadly and determination of substantial limitation should not require an extensive analysis.
  • The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity requires an individualized assessment.

Episodic or in Remission: An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.

Mitigating measures: The “substantially limits” determination must be made without regard to any ameliorative effects of mitigating measures. The team must make a Section 504 determination based upon the student’s disability as it presents itself without the mitigating measures. Mitigating measures included but are not limited to:

  • Medication, medical supplies, equipment, or appliances, low-vision devices (which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), prosthetics including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies;
  • Use of assistive technology;
  • Reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or
  • Learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.

What are Major Life Activities?

Major life activities include, but are not limited to, activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working.

Major life activities may also include the operation of a major bodily function, including, but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. 

Student Identification and Referral:

Section 504 contains a child find requirement that requires school districts to “undertake to identify and locate every qualified [individual with a disability] residing in [its] jurisdiction.” As such, school districts must conduct an evaluation of students “who, because of a handicap, need or are believed to need special education and related services.”

The school or parent may initiate a referral for an initial evaluation.

What to be on the lookout for:

  • History of physical or mental impairment or disorder
  • Poor behavior with an impact on learning or academic performance
  • Poor academic performance
  • Poor attendance
  • Serious health conditions
  • Any other issues that may interfere with student’s ability to participate in and benefit from the education program

For students who are identified and referred for possible evaluation under Section 504, a review of the student’s records, including medical, academic and behavioral records, will be conducted by the Student Support Team (SST) to determine whether an evaluation is warranted. Any student who has or is believed to have a disability special education or related aids or services to participate in or benefit from the education program should be referred for an evaluation.

Identification procedures:

  • Any student who is suspected of having a disability may be referred by a parent, teacher, or other school employee to the SST using the appropriate Parent or Staff Referral form.
  • The SST will be composed of persons knowledgeable about the student, the student’s history, and the student’s individual needs.
  • The SST will consider the referral and, based upon a review of the student’s existing records, including medical, academic, social and behavioral records, make a decision as to whether a referral for a 504 Plan is warranted.

504 Team

All decisions regarding a student’s eligibility, 504 Plan, and placement will be made by the 504 Team. The 504 team will be composed of persons knowledgeable about the student, the student’s school history, the student’s individual needs, the meaning of evaluation data, and the placement options. Parents are necessary members of the 504 team and will be encouraged to present information relevant to consideration of the team.

If a student is determined to be eligible for FAPE under Section 504, the 504 Team must develop a 504 Plan and determine placement for the student. If the team determines that despite having a disability under Section 504, the student does not require special education or related aids and services, the team will indicate the basis for this decision on the 504 Plan. In making determinations about the student’s 504 Plan and placement, the 504 Team shall consider all available relevant information, drawing upon a variety of sources, including, but not limited to, aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social or cultural background, adaptive behavior and input from the parents. Determinations about the student’s 504 Plan and placement will be made by a group of individuals knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of evaluation data, and the placement options.

All students will be educated with those who are not disabled to the maximum extent appropriate based on their individual needs. A disabled student shall be placed in the general education environment, unless it is demonstrated by Cesar Chavez PCS that education of the student in the general education environment with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. Placement in a setting other than the general education environment will not be made without taking into account the proximity of the alternate setting to the student’s home.

In providing or arranging for the provision of nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, including meals, recess periods, counseling services, physical recreational athletics, transportation, health services, recreational activities, special interest groups or clubs sponsored by Cesar Chavez PCS, referrals to agencies which provide assistance to handicapped persons, and employment of students, including both employment by Cesar Chavez PCS and assistance in making available outside employment, Cesar Chavez PCS shall ensure that disabled students participate with nondisabled students in such activities and services to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the disabled student in question.

If a case manager has not already been assigned prior to the development of the initial 504 Plan, a case manager will be assigned following the development of the initial 504 Plan. The case manager will monitor implementation of the plan and student progress. The case manager will also ensure that a copy of the 504 Plan, Notice of 504 Plan and Placement, and Notice of Parental Rights are provided to the parent or guardian following the 504 Team meeting. The case manager will also distribute the 504 Plan to relevant school staff and provide or arrange for any education necessary for staff regarding implementation of the plan.

FAPE

An “appropriate education” is the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet the student’s individual needs as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met. An appropriate education must also be designed in accordance with the procedures that satisfy Section 504’s identification, evaluation, placement and due process requirements.

Review of the Student’s Progress

The 504 Team will monitor the progress of the disabled student and the effectiveness of the student’s educational plan at least annually or sooner if necessary or requested, to determine whether the plan is appropriate and necessary, and that the disabled student’s needs are being met as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students.

Procedural Safeguards:

Parents should be provided with notice of their rights and procedural safeguards at any time they are notified of decisions regarding the identification, evaluation or educational placement of the student. Such notice should always be provided in writing.

Social Work and Behavior Support Services

The Social Work Team is part of the Department of Student Services at Cesar Chavez PCS. They work with students, staff, and families to support students’ social emotional needs, so students are available for learning and are able to successfully navigate the boarding program.

The Social Work Team is based on the campus of Cesar Chavez PCS, and services are available to all enrolled students on an as-needed basis or as assigned on their IEP. Social Work services include:

  • Individual and group counseling
  • Social, emotional, and behavioral supports and interventions
  • Crisis intervention
  • Parent consultation
  • Consultation with Cesar Chavez PCS staff
  • Providing families with outside referrals

Referrals

The Social Work Team will follow up on all referrals within two weeks. Referral forms can be completed online at Cesar Chavez Student Services Website using the Referral Form. Students may self-refer for counseling. Parents/guardians, teachers, student life staff, and any Cesar Chavez PCS staff can also refer a student for counseling.

 Suicide Prevention/Crisis Intervention

If a student is observed or heard speaking about harming themselves or others, the following steps will be taken:

  1. An immediate report of the incident will be filed and given to a supervisor and a member of the Counseling Team.
  2. The reporting party will complete a mental health emergency incident form including as much detail as possible and return the form to school administration.
  3. A member of the Counseling Team will complete a risk assessment and notify the parent/guardian.
  4. All recommendations will be shared with administrators. Further assessment may be recommended, which may require that parents/guardians follow up with outside resources.

 

Cesar Chavez PCS reserves the right to contact and use services provided by ChAMPS, when required.

ChAMPS (Child and Adolescent Mobile Psychiatric Service) is a mobile emergency service for families and children experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis in the District of Columbia. ChAMPS staff will assess the crisis and link the student and family to appropriate services. This service is provided at no cost to District residents and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for children and youth ages 6 to 18.

Parental Notification

If a student self-refers for counseling services or is referred by a Cesar Chavez PCS staff member, the parent/guardian will receive written notification of the referral and the outcome of the initial counseling assessment. If a student participates in more than three counseling sessions, the student’s assigned counselor will follow up with the parent/guardian by phone, email, or in person.

Please note that counseling services are voluntary and students are not required to attend sessions, with the exception of students who have been identified by a counselor as being in crisis (i.e., suicidal ideation or attempt). At such times, counseling becomes mandated. Services are also mandated if specified in a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan.

Faculty and Staff/Mandated Reporting

Federal legislation provides a foundation for States by identifying a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect, The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. §5106g), as amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:

  • Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or
  • An act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

This definition of child abuse and neglect refers specifically to parents and other caregivers. A “child” under this definition generally means a person who is under the age of 18 or who is not an emancipated minor.

Please note that it is the legal and ethical responsibility of all Cesar Chavez PCS faculty and staff to comply with all mandatory reporting laws, policies, and procedures.