Special Education & Early Intervention Services
Special education law is a complex series of federal and state laws designed to enhance the educational progress and access of students with disabilities to the general education classroom. The Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) ensures all children with disabilities are provided a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
Special education services are outlined in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for children and youth aged 3 to 22. Children age 0 to 3 receive early intervention services, which are detailed in an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
A student with a disability is eligible for special education services if his disability adversely affects his education and the student needs special education. Special education modifies the content, methodology, and/or delivery of instruction.
We provide special education representation anywhere in North Carolina.
Common issues that we see arise related to identification, evaluation, and eligibility:
- Failing to timely identify and evaluate a child with a disability
- Waiting for a child to fail before referring for an evaluation
- Keeping a child in MTSS too long without sufficient progress
- Failing to respond to a parent's request for evaluations
- Refusing to evaluate a child after a referral
- Refusing to find a child eligible for services
- Failing to evaluate every three years or more often if the child is not making sufficient progress.
Common issues that we see arise related to IEP development:
- Refusing to provide adequate specially designed instruction and related services
- Failing to develop appropriately ambitious IEP goals
- Failure to address all the student's unique needs in the Individualized Education Program (IEP)
- Inappropriate post-secondary transition assessment, planning, and service delivery
- Developing IEP goals that are not measurable
- Vague present levels of performance that do not provide a baseline for measuring IEP goals
- Lack of sufficient supplemental aids and services
- IEP goals that repeat from year to year
- Predetermining a student's special education placement or changing the placement outside an IEP meeting
- Failure to ensure parent participation in the IEP process; and
- Failure to provide appropriate behavior services or a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).
Common issues that we see arise related to placement and LRE (Least Restrictive Environment)
- Failing to consider less restrictive placements. For example, a school district may have a separate class for students with Autism and place all students with Autism who attend the school, or a neighboring school, into the Autism class. Another example may be a school district that automatically places students with Down syndrome, or other disability, in a segregated (separate) setting without even considering the regular education classroom first)
- Failing to consider providing supplemental aids and services to a student with a disability in the regular education classroom and, instead, deciding the student must be educated in a segregated (separate) setting; and
- Deciding that a child cannot be educated in a regular education classroom, because he or she is educated on the Extended Content Standards (Adapted Curriculum)
Common issues that we see arise related to implementation
- Failing to provide the services as written in the IEP
- Failing to provide services for what amounts to weeks during the school year (e.g., during End of Grade (EOG) testing, benchmark testing, beginning and end of the school year)
- Failing to collect data on IEP goals; and
- Failing to monitor if a child is actually progressing on goals and adjusting instruction accordingly
In North Carolina, schools may use seclusion and restraint in limited circumstances, including for safety, self-defense, and when a child's IEP, Section 504 Plan, or Behavior Intervention Plan provides for the use of seclusion and restraint. When secluding a student, the space must be approved for such use by the school district, monitored by an adult who is able to see and hear the student at all times, appropriately lighted, ventilated, heated, and cooled, and free of objects that unreasonably expose the student or others to harm.
When a child is subjected to seclusion or restraint, school personnel must notify the principal if the restraint resulted in physical injury to the student or if the seclusion exceeded 10 minutes or the amount of time on the student's behavior intervention plan. Upon notification, the principal must notify the parents. Parents also must receive a written incident report for any use of seclusion or restraint.
Common issues that we see arise regarding seclusion and restraint
- Failing to document the seclusion and restraint as required
- Failing to notify parents as required
- Lack of training of school personnel administering the seclusion or restraint
- Inappropriate and unnecessary use of seclusion and restraint