Steps In The Special Education Process In New Hampshire ©

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Steps in SpecEd Process IdentificationReferralEvaluationDetermination of Educational DisabilityDevelopement of the Individualized Education ProgramPlacementMonitoring

The special education process can be complicated and may seem overwhelming to parents. The law and regulations can sometimes be difficult to understand. This is especially true when a parent has just learned that their child may have an educational disability. The Parent Information Center (PIC) has developed this booklet so that parents of children with disabilities, young adults with disabilities and educators can be better informed about the special education process, and the steps to ensure that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

The special education process is most effective when parents and school personnel are well-informed and able to work together. If problems occur that cannot be settled easily, procedures are available to resolve them.

This booklet is based primarily on the state regulations, the New Hampshire Rules for the Education of Children with Disabilities, (formerly called the N.H. Standards for the Education of Students with Disabilities) in effect 7/1/01. While the New Hampshire Rules comply with federal requirements mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA) in some areas (timelines, for example), New Hampshire has some additional provisions and clarifications to the basic requirements of IDEA.

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This booklet is an overview of parentsí rights and responsibilities. It is not meant to be a complete listing of rights or a legal opinion. Individuals wanting a copy of the New Hampshire Rules should access the N.H. Department of Educationís website www.ed.state.nh.us or contact them at (603) 271-3741. Persons wanting more information may attend one of the Parent Information Center's free workshops.

PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT

Parental involvement is a critical component of the special education process. Parents have a right to participate in all meetings with respect to the:

Additionally, in New Hampshire, parental written consent is required for evaluation, determining/changing the disability classification, the IEP, placement, and changing the nature or extent of the childís special education or related services.

However, if a parent fails to respond to a request for his/her consent for:

the NH Rules give the school district or local education agency (LEA) the authority to implement its proposed changes as long as they took reasonable measures to obtain informed written parental consent (telephone calls and correspondence by certified mail). Parents may appeal any proposed changes.

To ensure that parents are able to participate in the special education process, the LEA must provide a 10 day advance notice of meetings. The notice must indicate the purpose, time, location and identification of the participants. Parents have the right to invite other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise about their child. If neither parent can attend, other methods of involvement can be used, such as individual or conference telephone calls.

The LEA must ensure that parents understand the proceedings at the IEP meeting, including arranging for an interpreter for parents who are deaf, or whose native language is not English.



IEP TEAM

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The IEP team is responsible for making decisions throughout the special education process, including evaluation, eligibility, IEP development, placement and monitoring. Team members are:

  1. The parent(s), guardian, or surrogate parent of the child with a disability
     
  2. The child, if appropriate, or if he/she is an adult student (18-21, unless determined by a court to be incompetent, or an emancipated minor)
    Note: Once a child with a disability becomes an adult, all parental rights transfer to him/her. A student with a disability may receive services until the age of 21, or the receipt of a regular high school diploma.
     
  3. At least one regular education teacher of the child if the child is or may be participating in the regular education environment
     
  4. At least one special education teacher or one special education provider of the child
     
  5. A vocational education representative, when appropriate
     
  6. A representative of the local education agency (LEA) who is qualified to provide or supervise specially designed instruction, and is knowledgeable about the general curriculum and the resources of the LEA
     
  7. An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results (may also be on the team in some other capacity)
     
  8. Other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, at the discretion of the parent or school (such as a paraprofessional)
     
  9. the student and representatives from any adult agencies who would be either paying for or providing transition services, if transition needs or services are considered
     

When eligibility is being determined, the IEP team must also include:

TIMELINES

The NH Rules include clear timelines for each step of the process, including:


Note: Parents may waive the 10 day advance notice when the situation warrants.
 

There are two new exceptions to these timelines:

  1. While parents must be given written notice no fewer than 10 days before an IEP meeting, meetings for a manifestation determination review for disciplinary reasons require 5 days written notice
     
  2. Timelines for parental consent requiring a response within a specified timeframe begin when the district sends the request, not when the parent receives it.

 

Overview of the Steps in the
Special Education Process in New Hampshire

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IDENTIFICATION - (CHILD FIND)

All school districts are required to identify, locate, evaluate and count all children who may have educational disabilities, ages birth to 22 (and name the category of disability for ages 3-21). This includes children in public and private schools, and other settings, as well as homeless and migrant children. Districts must ensure that children who are known or suspected to have disabilities are referred to the IEP team.

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REFERRAL

If parents suspect or know that their child has an educational disability, they may make a request to the superintendent, special education director, classroom teacher, building principal, or other appropriate individual to have their child evaluated for special education consideration. The referral should be in writing, including the childís name and the reasons why you suspect the child may have an educational disability. Parents should keep a copy of this letter for their files. The studentís teacher, physician or other person who knows the student and suspects the child may have an educational disability may also make a referral.


SAMPLE REFERRAL LETTER

Date

Dear ___________:

I am making a formal request for a complete educational evaluation for my child (name of child), who is a student at (name of school) in (grade/class). I am making this request because I believe that my child may have educational disabilities. (Briefly list your concerns-see suggestions on next page.)

Please contact me in writing, within 15 days, with your plans for disposition of this referral. Let me know if I can provide any additional information to assist you in better understanding (my childís) needs. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

(Your name, address and telephone number)

cc: (List any others to whom you are sending a copy of this letter.)

 

Contact PIC for information about other sample letters used in the special education process.

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Concerns leading to a referral may include, but are not limited to:

  • Short attention span or inability to concentrate
  • A medical diagnosis indicating an educational disability
  • Failure to pass a vision or hearing test
  • Unsatisfactory performance on group achievement tests or other assessments
  • Extreme, ongoing anxiety or reluctance to attend school
  • Performance well below expectations with no obvious reason
  • Multiple academic and/or behavioral warnings
  • Repeated failure in one or more academic subjects
  • Speech/language or physical issues
  • Inability to get along with others

Once the school has received it (unless the parent made the referral), the parents must be immediately notified, in writing, that a referral has been made.

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DISPOSITION OF REFERRAL
(How the concerns raised in the referral will be resolved)

Once a referral is received by the school, a decision must be made within 15 calendar days to determine whether the school can meet the studentís needs through regular educational services, or whether the student may have an educational disability and needs to be evaluated. Regular education services may include school counseling, team teaching, reading support, hands-on activities, a change in group/classroom, or modified workload. Within the 15 days, the school must give parents written notice of the team decision regarding the disposition of the referral, including the reasons. If the parents do not receive notice within 15 days, they should follow up with a call or letter to the school.

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If the team determines that additional testing is necessary, they must notify the parent and obtain their written consent to conduct any needed individual evaluations. If the parents refuse consent, the school district may file for a due process hearing.

If the parents disagree with a referral decision, they may consider using informal methods to resolve their differences. This might include scheduling a team meeting for further discussion or providing the team with additional information about the childís needs/issues. If informal means are unsuccessful, formal dispute resolution procedures are available, including mediation, neutral conference or a due process hearing (see page 20). Complaints may be filed by the parents with the Commissioner of Education if they believe that their or their child's legal rights have been violated.

If the parents disagree with a referral decision, they may consider using informal methods to resolve their differences. This may include scheduling a team meeting for further discussion or providing the team with additional information about the child's disability. If informal means are unsuccessful, formal dispute resolution procedures are available, including mediation, neutral conference or a due process hearing. All of these procedures are administered by the N.H. Department of Education. Complaints may be filed by the parents with the Commissioner of Education if they believe that legal rights have been violated.

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EVALUATION

Each child being considered for special education and related services must be given a full and individualized evaluation. The purpose is to determine eligibility for special education and to identify the childís educational needs. Areas to be tested may include academic, communication, developmental, language, motor, self-help, social/behavioral, vocational, and others.

The team may use information, such as the following, about the student:

  • Educational history
  • Past opportunities to have acquired skills and information
  • Academic and achievement tests
  • Intelligence testing
  • Teacher recommendations
  • Physical condition
  • Other information from team members, such as medical records, observations, or independent evaluations

Note: Parentís written permission is needed for any individual testing, as well as for the school to access copies of reports or other information developed by professionals outside of the school.

Evaluation requirements include the following;

  • Evaluations must be nondiscriminatory and generally in the childís native anguage/mode of communication.
  • Standardized tests are to be validated, selected and administered to accurately reflect what the test measures, not the childís impaired skills, unless that is the purpose of the test.
  • Students are to be assessed in all areas of suspected disabilities.
  • A single procedure may not be used to determine eligibility or an appropriate educational program.
  • The studentís current academic performance must be assessed.
  • Evaluations must identify all of the childís special education and related service needs, whether or not commonly linked to the childís disabilities.
  • Evaluation materials must assess specific areas of educational need and not merely provide a single general intelligence quotient.
  • Evaluations must include a variety of assessment tools and strategies to be used to provide relevant information that directly assists in determining the childís educational needs, including information from the parents.
  • A vocational evaluator must assess students for whom vocational education is being considered.
  • Technically sound instruments must be used to assess the relative contribution of cognitive, behavioral, physical or developmental factors, including intelligence tests.
  • In New Hampshire, teachers or other specialists who are participating in the evaluation must be certified or licensed for each disability suspected.
  • Standardized tests are to be administered in accordance with the test instructions by trained and knowledgeable, certified or licensed personnel.
    Note: The NH Rules list the type of individual who would be considered a qualified evaluator for each disability classification.
  • If an assessment is not conducted under standard conditions (ex: portions of the test were read aloud to the student), a description of how it varied must be included in the evaluation report.
  • For students suspected of having specific learning disabilities, the team must include at least one person qualified to conduct individual diagnostic examinations. An observation of the studentís academic performance in the regular classroom setting must be conducted and a written report developed.

INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION

If parents disagree with the results of a schoolís evaluation, they may request an independent evaluation at public expense. The request should be in writing to the school district, dated and include:

  • the reason(s) for the request; and
  • the names of any qualified examiners the parents would like the school district to consider.

Once a request is received, the school district must either agree to it and provide (pay for) an independent evaluation, or file for a due process hearing to show the schoolís evaluation was appropriate.

Parents also have the right to obtain, at their own expense, an independent evaluation by a qualified private examiner. Sometimes, public or private health insurance may pay for assessments. The school must consider the results of independent evaluations when making decisions about the childís program and placement.

As part of an initial evaluation or re-evaluation, the IEP team must review existing evaluation data on the child, including:

  • evaluations and information provided by the parents
  • current classroom-based assessments and observations
  • observations by teachers and related service providers

On the basis of that review and input from the parents, the team identifies what additional data, if any, are needed to determine:

  • whether the child is, or continues to be, eligible for special education and related services and under which category,
  • the present levels of performance and educational needs, and
  • for re-evaluation, whether any changes to the special education and related services are needed to enable the child to meet the measurable annual goals in the IEP and to participate, as appropriate, in the general curriculum.

Within 45 calendar days from the date the parents give their written consent, all evaluations are to be completed and a written report provided to the parents. Time requirements may be extended, if the parent and the school district agree, but should be reasonable and the exception, to prevent unnecessary delays in providing services to children who need them.

RE-EVALUATION

The school district must reevaluate every child with an educational disability:

  • at least once every 3 years, or more frequently
  • if the parent or teacher requests; or
  • if conditions warrant; and
  • before a child may be determined no longer eligible for special education except for termination due to high school graduation or reaching age 21.

If the team determines that no additional information is needed, the school district must give parents written notice of their decision, the reasons for it, and the parentís right to request an assessment. In some instances, a full reevaluation may not be necessary. For example, a student who is blind may not need a re-evaluation of his/her visual impairment, but academic and other testing may be appropriate. If the parents request a reevaluation, it must be conducted.

The Parent Information Centerís IEP Organizer can help you set up an effective organizational system for your childís important educational and medical documents. Contact PIC to purchase an IEP Organizer. IEP organizer

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DETERMINATION OF ELIGIBILITY

Once all the evaluations are completed, the IEP team develops a written summary of the test results. Next, the team, including the parents, meet to consider all available information, determine if the student has an educational disability, and whether the student requires special education, or special education and related services, as a result of that disability.

If the student is found eligible for special education, he/she is identified as having one or more categories of educational disability:

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  • mental retardation
  • hearing impairment, including deafness
  • speech or language impairment
  • visual impairment, including blindness
  • emotional disturbance
  • orthopedic impairment
  • autism
  • traumatic brain injury
  • other health impairment
    Note: this may include ADD/ADHD
  • specific learning disability
  • deaf-blindness
  • multiple disabilities
  • developmental delay for children, ages 3-9

To be eligible for special education, the child must be between the ages of 3 and 21, but not yet have achieved a regular high school diploma.

If the student is found not to have an educational disability, the student is not eligible to receive special education or related services under IDEA (the federal special education law). However, if the student has a disability, he/she may be eligible for services, supports, or accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (a Federal civil rights law).

For more information on Section 504, request a copy of PICís free brochure, Section 504 and Students with Disabilities.


The NH Rules address the provision of special education to eligible incarcerated adult students with disabilities. If a person, ages 18-21 who is incarcerated in an adult prison, was not identified as being eligible for special education prior to their incarceration, he/she is not entitled to evaluation, determination of eligibility or special education services. Also, the special education services that an eligible incarcerated adult student with a disability may receive, as well as the placement, may be modified because of the individualís status as a convict.

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DEVELOPMENT OF THE INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP)

If a child is found eligible for special education and related services, the IEP team meets to create an IEP within 30 days of the determination. Once a child has an IEP, it must be reviewed/revised annually and be in place by the beginning of each school year. The IEP must include the following components:

  • A statement of the childís present levels of educational performance, and how the disability affects the childís involvement and progress in the general curriculum (or in appropriate activities for preschoolers)
  • Measurable annual goa, including benchmarks or short-term objectives, which meet the childís educational needs and enable the child to be involved and progress in the general curriculum (or in appropriate activities for a preschooler)
  • A statement of how the studentís progress towards annual goals will be measured
  • An explanation of how parents will be regularly informed of their childís progress, and whether the progress is sufficient to meet the annual goals
  • An explanation of the extent, if any, the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular classroom
  • A statement of special education and related services and other supports for the student, or on behalf of the student, to enable him/her to advance towards his/her annual goals, progress in the general curriculum, participate in extra-curricular and nonacademic activities and be educated with non-disabled students. Examples of related services include special transportation, paraprofessional services, speech and language services, occupational or physical therapy, and parent counseling and training
  • The projected date for services to begin, and the anticipated frequency, location and duration of the services
  • The length of the school year and the school day required to implement the IEP
  • Modifications needed for the student to participate in state or district-wide assessments. If the team determines that the child cannot participate in these assessments, a statement of why, and what alternate assessments will be conducted
  • Beginning at age 14, a statement of the studentís transition service needs focusing on courses of study (see next page)
  • Beginning at age 16 (younger if appropriate) a statement of needed transition services, including any interagency responsibilities or linkages (see next page)
  • A vocational education component, if appropriate
  • At least one year before the student reaches the age of majority (18 in NH), a statement that he/she has been informed of the rights that will transfer to him/her at age 18
  • A list of individuals or service provider(s) who will be responsible for implementing the IEP
  • A statement of the party or parties financially responsible for implementing the IEP
  • Signatures of the representative of the LEA and the parent(s), legal guardian, surrogate parent or adult student (when appropriate) stating approval of the IEP

TRANSITION AND THE IEP

Transition services are required to better enable students with disabilities to move from school to post-school activities.

Beginning at age 14 (or younger, if determined appropriate by the IEP team), each studentís IEP must include a statement of transition service needs, which focus on the studentís courses of study (example: participation in college preparatory or vocational education classes).

Beginning at age 16 (or younger, if determined appropriate by the IEP team), the IEP must include a statement of needed transition services, including, if appropriate, a statement of the interagency responsibilities or any needed linkages.

Transition services are a coordinated set of activities for a disabled student that are:

  • designed within an outcome-oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing/ adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.
  • based on the studentís needs, taking into account preferences and interests.

Transition services include instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.

When transition services are being discussed, the student must be invited to the IEP meeting. If the student does not attend, the school district must take other steps to ensure that the studentís preferences and interests are considered. Representatives from other agencies which may be providing or paying for transitions services are also to be invited. If they are unable to attend, the school district must take steps to ensure that the agencyís information is available to the IEP team.


Although transition services are required at age 14, it is recommended that families begin planning for their childís future as early as possible.

 

At least one year before a student reaches the age of majority under state law (18 in New Hampshire), the IEP must include a statement that the student has been informed of any of his/her rights under IDEA, which will transfer to him/her upon reaching the age of majority. cake

Note: A student may make a written request to the IEP team to enable his/her parents to continue to be involved in all educational decisions.

SPECIAL FACTORS AND THE IEP

The IEP team must consider the childís strengths, the parentsí concerns for their childís education, and the following "special factors" when developing the IEP.

  • If a childís behavior impedes his/her learning, or that of others, appropriate strategies, including positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address the behavior need to be implemented. (Please refer to page 18 regarding discipline, suspension and expulsion.)
    Note: If anyone on the IEP team has concerns regarding the behavior of a child with a disability, a functional behavioral assessment should be requested as part of an initial or reevaluation, to ensure the team has appropriate information to develop/revise the IEP.
  • If a child has limited English proficiency, the language needs of the child, as they relate to the IEP, are to be considered.
  • If a child is blind or visually impaired, instruction in Braille must be provided, unless the team determines that it would be inappropriate.
  • The communication needs of the child must be considered. For a child who is deaf or hearing impaired, that includes the opportunity for direct communication with peers and staff and for instruction in the childís mode of communication and at the childís academic level.
  • The childís need for assistive technology devices and services are to be considered.

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Parents have up to 14 days to review and sign the IEP. If parents disagree with the IEP, they may ask for another meeting, request mediation or request a due process hearing.

All individuals responsible for implementing the IEP, as well as the parent and student (if of age of majority), must be given a complete copy of the IEP, and a copy placed in the studentís file. Once the IEP is signed, the school district is responsible for providing the services in the IEP.

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PLACEMENT

Once the IEP has been approved and signed, the team decides where the studentís individualized needs (IEP) can be met in the least restrictive environment (LRE). LRE means that students with disabilities are to be educated with students who do not have disabilities, and removal to other settings occurs only when, even with supplemental aids and services, the student cannot be educated satisfactorily in regular classes.

When a student cannot be educated in the regular classroom, alternative placements must be made available by the team. The range of educational settings include:

  • regular classroom
  • regular classroom with consultative assistance
  • regular classroom with assistance by itinerant specialists
  • regular classroom plus resource room help (no more than 60% of the day)
  • regular classroom plus part-time special class
  • full-time special class
  • full-time or part-time special day school
  • full-time residential placement
  • home-based programming (time-limited for students over age 5)
    Note: When a child with a disability, ages 6-21, requires home instruction, he/she shall be provided a minimum of 10 hours per week.
  • hospital or institution

When the team (including the parents) are considering placement, the parents may agree, disagree and ask for another meeting, disagree and ask for an impartial due process hearing, or agree with exceptions (stating what those exceptions are and indicating whether or not they wish to request an impartial due process hearing or alternative dispute resolution processes). Once the parents agree with the placement, and give their written consent, services for the student begin.

If the team makes a placement to an approved public or private program, the district is responsible for the costs. However, if the district offered an appropriate program and the parents choose to place their child privately, the parents are responsible for those costs. Private school children are only entitled to the special education services the district chooses to provide them. If the parents do not believe that FAPE was made available, they may access due process to attempt to obtain district payment for the private placement.

If the team places a child in an out-of-state program, it must be one with special education approval by the host state.

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MONITORING

The IEP team must meet to review and revise the IEP at least once each year. The IEP also serves as a monitoring tool to make sure the student's progress, program and placement continues to be appropriate. Other types of monitoring include:

  • reviewing the childís schoolwork
  • tracking progress towards annual goals through report cards and other documentation, as required in the IEP
  • considering any new testing, or new information, available about the child
  • sharing information at parent/teacher conferences
  • maintaining home-school communication through communication logs, forms or telephone calls

If a parent or teacher/service provider notices that a child is not on track to meet his/her annual goals, a meeting to strategize solutions, and revise the IEP or placement, as necessary, should be scheduled.

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EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR PROGRAMMING

The school district must provide extended school year (ESY) services to any student with educational disabilities who qualifies. Most students with educational disabilities are able to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) during the typical school year without ESY services.  To be eligible for extended school year services, it must be documented that a break in the school year (ex: summer or winter break) would cause the child to suffer harm or serious regression to the extent they would lose the progress made during the regular school year. The IEP team determines if a student needs ESY services. In cases of parent/school disagreement, procedural safeguards, including mediation and due process may be utilized. ESY services may involve a change in the services, where the program is provided, the number of hours, days and/or weeks of the program, and the IEP goals/objectives to be addressed. As with any other proposal, parents must be given written prior notice regarding decisions about ESY services.

DISCIPLINE (SUSPENSION / EXPULSON) REQUIRMENTS

When a student with a disability acts out in school or violates a school rule, it is important to investigate whether or not the behavior is related to his/her disability (manifestation of the disability). Behaviors are a manifestation of a childís disabilities if those behaviors are caused by, or related to, the studentís disabilities or if the disabilities impact the studentís ability to understand the consequences of their behavior. If it is unclear which of the childís behaviors are a manifestation of their disability, a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) should be conducted.

If the behavior is a manifestation, positive behavioral interventions and other strategies/supports in the IEP and/or placement should be developed. School district discipline policies may also be modified in the IEP, as appropriate, for the student. Therefore, parents should obtain a copy of the school districtís discipline regulations.

Students with disabilities may be suspended, without services, for a total of 10 days in a school year for behaviors which would result in a suspension for a student without educational disabilities, unless the behavior is a manifestation of the studentís disabilities. In that case, the behavior should be addressed through a review of his/her IEP and/or placement, instead of by suspension. If the school district provides services to non-disabled students who are suspended, they must also provide them to students with disabilities.

If a child with a disability has been removed from his/her current placement for more than 10 school days in the same school year, during any additional removals, the child is entitled to receive educational services that enable the child to appropriately progress in the general curriculum and advance towards achieving the goals set out in his/her IEP. The actual services provided will be determined by school personnel in consultation with the childís special education teacher. After the tenth day of suspension in a school year, a team meeting must be held to conduct a functional behavioral assessment and to develop a positive behavior intervention plan for the child. If the child already has a behavior plan, the team may review and revise it if any team member requests.

In no case may humiliation, unsupervised confinement, abuse, neglect or aversives (denying nutrition, clothing, communication or contact with family) be used.

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Requirements for Longer Suspensions or Expulsions

If a child is suspended for more than 10 days at one time, or when there is a pattern of suspensions (for similar behaviors, numbers of days, etc.), totaling more than 10 days in a school year it is considered to be a change in placement. When suspension constitutes a change in placement, in addition to conducting a functional behavioral assessment and developing a behavior intervention plan as part of the childís IEP, the IEP team and other qualified individuals must hold a manifestation determination meeting. If the behavior is a manifestation of the childís disability, there would be no further punishment, but the team may revise the IEP or placement to meet the childís needs and prevent a reoccurrence of the behavior. If the behavior is not related to the childís disability (no manifestation), the child may be suspended, but would receive services during the suspension.

The following behaviors may result in a longer suspension:

  • guns or dangerous weapons,
  • illegal drugs, or
  • a determination by a hearing officer that the child would pose a significant danger to themselves/others if he/she remained in their current placement.

Any of these situations would result in the child being placed in an interim alternative educational setting for up to 45 calendar days. The setting must be one in which the child can continue to appropriately progress in the general curriculum and advance towards his/her IEP goals, and where the behavioral supports will prevent a recurrence of the behavior. An extension beyond 45 days may be given if the student continues to pose a danger to themselves or others.

While the student is in the interim alternative educational setting, a functional behavioral assessment must be conducted, a behavioral intervention plan developed (or reviewed/revised if one is already in place), and a manifestation determination meeting held. The IEP team then determines if a change in the childís IEP or placement is needed once the childís stay at the interim alternative educational setting is completed.

Parents may access procedural safeguards, including an expedited due process hearing, at any time in this process.

Note: The best practice is to conduct a functional behavioral assessment as soon as the IEP team has concerns about a childís behavior, to avoid suspensions whenever possible.

PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS

Procedural safeguards are rights provided to parents and school districts in the special education process. Some procedural safeguards for parents include the right to:

  • written prior notice before the school district proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the identification, evaluation, placement of the student, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the student
  • have the notice written in understandable language, and provided in the parentsí native language or other mode of communication used by the parent, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so
  • give or withhold consent for certain activities
  • examine educational records
  • obtain independent educational evaluations for the child (which may be presented at a team meeting or due process hearing)
  • utilize formal and informal dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve disagreements between the parents and school

Often, disputes can be resolved by further meetings or sharing of information between parents and the school district. Parents and schools should try to resolve special education disputes using informal methods as a first step.

When disagreement still exists, the N.H. Department of Education provides neutral conference and mediation as alternatives to due process for resolving disputes regarding the identification, evaluation, placement and provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). These options offer both parents and schools an opportunity to present their concerns and reach an agreement that both feel is appropriate for the child.

If agreement cannot be reached through mediation or neutral conference, or if either party wishes to file a due process hearing, then a hearing officer will hear the school and the parents and make a decision regarding the outcome. Both parties must abide by the ruling, unless they file an appeal. Generally, attorneys are involved in due process hearings.

Note: The section in the NH Rules describing due process is still being revised.

When there is a belief that the school or other public agency violated state or federal requirements (example: not following the IEP), a complaint may be filed with the NH Department of Education. The complaint will then be investigated and appropriate steps ordered to remedy any violations found.

A special thanks to all of you who advocated so diligently to maintain the critical protections for children with disabilities in the NH Rules for the Education of Children with Disabilities. Your involvement made all the difference!

Please consider joining the Parent Information Center. Your membership will help support many of PICís important activities, which are not funded by any other source.  Our membership drive enabled PIC to monitor the status of the NH Rules throughout the revision process, and disseminate accurate and up-to-date information to parents and others.

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The Parent Information Center is a private, nonprofit organization that provides information, support and training to parents and professionals regarding special education, parenting, parent/ professional collaboration and other topics. The central office is located in Concord, and serves the entire state of New Hampshire. PIC has satellite offices throughout the state that provide parents with information and referrals in their local communities.

For more information about membership or your rights, call the Parent Information Center. You may also register to attend one of PICís FREE workshops on topics such as: the IEP, laws, special education process, effective communication, parent/professional collaboration, functional behavioral assessments, and positive behavioral interventions. PIC also has print materials available on special education law, parent rights, IEP, communication, transition.

 

 

 

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