PARENT RESOURCE GUIDE TO SERVICES FOR STUDENTS VOLUNTARILY ENROLLED IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS
Is your child having difficulty in school? 4
Has your child been identified as needing special education? 4
Evaluation Timelines 5
Evaluation Process Flowchart 6
Reevaluation Process Flowchart 7
Child find and Evaluation Questions and Answers8
Services Provided in the Non-Public Schools 9
Categories of Disability under IDEA 10
Westmoreland County Non-Public Schools Contact List 13
Westmoreland County Public Schools Contact List 15
Westmoreland Intermediate Unit Contact List 17
Sample Letter Requesting an Evaluation18
Introduction The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires each state to ensure that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is available to all eligible children with disabilities residing in that state. The information is this booklet explains the provisions related to, and benefits available to, children with disabilities who are enrolled by their parents in private schools, including religious schools, when the provision of FAPE is not at issue. In IDEA, these children are often referred to as “parentally placed private school children” with disabilities, and the benefits available to them differ from the benefits for children with disabilities in public schools.
IDEA is designed to improve educational results for all children with disabilities. Therefore, it provides benefits and services to children with disabilities in public schools and requires school districts to make services and benefits available to children with disabilities enrolled by their parents in nonpublic (private) schools. The law includes language requiring state education agencies (SEA’s) and local education agencies (LEA’s) to ensure the equitable participation of parentally placed children with disabilities in programs assisted by or carried out under the equitable participation requirements that apply to them.
The LEA’s obligations to parentally placed private school children with disabilities are different from its responsibilities to those enrolled in public schools or to children with disabilities placed in a private school by a public agency (rather than by parents) as a means of providing FAPE. Parentally placed children with disabilities do not have an individual entitlement to services they would receive if they were enrolled in a public school. Instead, the LEA is required to spend a proportionate amount of IDEA federal funds to provide equitable services to this group of children. Therefore, it is possible that some parentally placed children with disabilities will not receive any services while others will. For those who receive services, the amount and type of services also may differ from the services the child would receive if placed in a public school by the parents or in a private school by a public agency. LEA’s are required to consult with private school representatives and representatives of parentally placed children with disabilities during the design and development of special education and related services for these children.
Further information regarding IDEA regulations can be found at http://www.idea.ed.gov
Is your child having difficulty in school? If you believe that your child may have a disability and be in need of a special education program, an evaluation process to assess your child’s needs is available to you at no cost through the school district in which you live or from the intermediate unit (IU) in which your private school is located. Special education often involves adapting materials and modifying instruction to better meet your child’s specific learning/behavior needs.
If you request these services, your child will receive an evaluation from a team of experts trained in assessing children. This team will determine if your child has a disability and, if so, is in need of special education and related services. You are an important member of your child’s evaluation team.
Before the school district or the intermediate unit proceeds with an evaluation, it will notify you in writing (Permission to Evaluate) of the specific types of tests and procedures it plans to use, and of your rights throughout this process. The evaluation cannot be scheduled until you sign the written notice (Permission to Evaluate), indicating that you consent to the proposed testing and assessments, and return the notice to the school district or intermediate unit.
If, after the evaluation, your child is found to have a disability and in need of special education and related services, the public school will offer to write an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is a written document that specifically describes the services your child needs. The services in the IEP will be offered to your child in a public school placement. If you wish to accept the offer, you will have to enroll your child in the public school. It may also be possible to dual enroll your child so that your child attends the nonpublic school for part of the day and the public school for part of the day. (There is no requirement to offer special education services under dual enrollment.)
If your child has already been evaluated and offered services in an IEP, and you chose not to accept the services, communicate this to your child’s principal. Again, your child may still be eligible for certain services.
Has your child been identified as needing special education services?
Certain services are available to students identified as eligible for special education who are unilaterally placed by their parents in private schools through a federal requirement called Equitable Participation (EP). In Pennsylvania, the IU is the agency responsible for the implementation of the federal requirement of EP. EP requires that each IU, following a federal funding calculation, must expend a designated amount of federal IDEA funds on services and/or resources for students identified as eligible for special education services whose parents have unilaterally chosen to place their child in a private school. The IU is not required to offer the same services that would be offered as a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the public school. The IU is mandated to offer those services determined by their annual consultation with their private school agencies. In circumstances where the allocation of funds for EP under the federal calculation is exhausted, the IU would cease to provide any EP services until the next fiscal year. The IU must participate annually in the notification, consultation, and collaboration with their private school agencies in their local geographic area as required under IDEA 2004 regulations.
If you are interested in finding out more about the special education process, please speak with your child’s principal. For additional information, feel free to contact the school district in which you live or the Equitable Participation Specialist at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.
Contact information can be found at the end of this document.
Evaluation Timelines The evaluation must be completed and a copy of the Evaluation Report (ER) or Psychological Report must be provided to the parent within 60 calendar days from the date the Permission to Evaluate form is signed by the parent.
Reevaluation Students receiving equitable participation services must be reevaluated every three years, unless the school and parent decide that the reevaluation is unnecessary. Waiving the reevaluation is appropriate if after reviewing student records and progress it is determined the student is making adequate progress in the current program and accommodations are effective. If both the school and parents agree to waive the reevaluation, the Agreement to Waive Reevaluation form will be sent to the parents. Students diagnosed with Mental Retardation must be reevaluated every two years and agreeing to waive the reevaluation is not permitted.
If it is determined that the reevaluation is necessary, parental consent is required to conduct the reevaluation. However, please be aware that after reasonable attempts to obtain parental permission, if your response is not received the law states that the school may proceed with the reevaluation. A team will conduct the proposed reevaluation and you as parents are an important member of the reevaluation team. In the reevaluation, your child’s educational needs and strengths will be reviewed as well as educational progress. Additional assessments may be administered to your child at this time. The reevaluation must be completed within 60 calendar days of receipt of the Permission to Reevaluate.
Parents that are interested in having their child evaluated should contact…
** Initial evaluations from schools in the Diocese of Greensburg will mainly be conducted by the public school.
Options are explained and evaluation process is started.
Child’s building principal
Evaluation is completed within 60 calendar days from the date parent signed the permission form
District issues “Permission to Evaluate”
Parent must contact the home school district where they reside and request an evaluation.
Parent is only interested in Equitable Participation services (no individual entitlement)
Evaluation is completed within 60 calendar days from the date the parent signed the form
An evaluation is completed within 60 calendar days from the date the permission is received
Meeting is scheduled with district, parents, and nonpublic school to review the report.
If eligible, the district will offer FAPE.
Parents must decide to:
Accept IEP and enroll child in public school
Accept IEP and seek dual enrollment
Keep child at non-public school- student may be eligible for agreed upon equitable participation services, not FAPE
Meeting is scheduled with district, parents, and nonpublic school to review the report. If eligible, the district will offer FAPE. Parentsmustdecide to Accept IEP andenrollchild in public school
Accept IEP and seek dual enrollmen
Keep child at non-public school- student may be eligible for agreed upon equitable participation servicenot FAPE
Meeting is scheduled with nonpublic school, parents, and WIU EP Specialist to review the report. At that time, the parents may decide to forward the report to the public school for an offer of FAPE.
Meeting is scheduled with nonpublic school, parents, and WIU EP Specialist to review the report. At that time, the parents may decide to forward the report to the public school for an offer of FAPE.
The parents can decide to keep child at the nonpublic school for agreed upon equitable participation services
Prior to the Re-Evaluation Anniversary Date
LEA (WIU Equitable Participation Specialist) and School review student data.
LEA and School proposes that the Re-Evaluation is needed
LEA and School proposes that the Re-Evaluation is unnecessary
LEA, School, and Parent reviews existing data
Issue to parent: Agreement to Waive Re-Evaluation
LEA, School, and Parent determines additional data is needed
LEA, School, and Parent determines no additional data is needed
Parent agrees and checks the Re-Evaluation is unnecessary. Process is complete and no Re-Evaluation Report is completed
Issue: “Permission to Re-Evaluate” Complete Re-Evaluation Report and indicate that additional data is not necessary
Collect additional data and complete Re-Evaluation Report
Meeting held to review Re-Evaluation Report and discuss strategies and interventions to help student.
Child Find and Evaluation Process Questions and Answers
(Questions and Answers reviewed and revised by PA Bureau of Special Education, May 2014) 1. What educational agency has Child Find responsibilities for Equitable Participation (EP)?
For purposes of (Free Appropriate Public Education) FAPE, the school district of residence has
with the local education agency where the private school is located. In Pennsylvania this local
education agency is the Intermediate Unit where the private school is located. It is conceivable that a parent could obtain evaluations from both entities.
2. Who makes the eligibility determination?
Eligibility is determined by a group of knowledgeable professionals and the parents for both FAPE and EP. For purposes of FAPE, the qualified professionals should be from the district of residence; for EP purposes, the qualified professionals should be from the IU w
here the private school is located.
3. What process is required when the parent is seeking FAPE?
(a) Evaluation; (b) Eligibility determination; (c) Offer of FAPE by the school district of residence; (d) Acceptance or refusal of FAPE by the parents.
4. What process is required when the parent is seeking EP only?
(a) Evaluation; (b) Eligibility determination; (c) Offer of EP may occur if the (Local Education
Agency) LEA (IU in PA) has determined that the EP funds will be directed to direct service for an individual student, however, there is no entitlement to EP services for individual children; therefore, the sequence may end at step (b); (d) Acceptance or refusal of EP by the parents.
5. If the parent is undecided regarding EP or FAPE what would the process be?
public information brochure developed by PaTTAN, King of Prussia available to all IUs. Once the parent understands the options, they are better prepared to make the choice between EP and FAPE.
6. Can parents insist that the school district of residence conduct an evaluation even if they
know they do not want FAPE, and they indicate at the onset their intention is EP services at
the private school?
A parent can request an evaluation from their school district of residence under any circumstances.
The school district has the option of either conducting the evaluation or issuing a Notice of
Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) declining to evaluate and offering the parents the opportunity to initiate due process proceedings. The resident district cannot refuse to evaluate a child because the child is attending a private school or because the IU also has a duty to evaluate the child
Services Provided in the Nonpublic School
Services must be provided by personnel meeting the same standards (certification) as personnel providing the services in the public school
Nonpublic school students with disabilities may receive a different amount of services than children would receive if in the public schools.
Nonpublic school students have no entitlement to any service or to any amount of service the child would receive if enrolled in a public school.
School District and/or IU, in consultation with nonpublic schools, will make the final decision about the equitable participation services to be provided.
Service decisions should be made annually.
Type and amount of services may vary from year to year.
No guarantee that the same services would continue for specific schools, staff, or individual student
Types of services that can be provided to nonpublic school students with disabilities proportionate to services provided to student with disabilities in the public schools of the Intermediate Unit 7.
Equitable Participation Services (IDEA-Part B)
Technical assistance, training/staff development, observation, or consultation, etc. will be provided in the following areas:
Each year the Pennsylvania state budget allocates funds to support auxiliary services for nonpublic schools under the provisions of Act 89 or 1975. These funds are allocated on the basis of the number of students enrolled in private, nonprofit, approved nonpublic schools, K-12.
Speech and Language Services
Categories of Disability Under IDEA
As a part of making special education and related services available to children with disabilities in the public schools, IDEA defines the term “child with a disability”. That definition includes specific disability terms, which are defined below.
A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.
Concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.
A hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:
An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors
An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances
A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression
A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems
The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.
An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section.
Significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness or mental retaration-orthopedic impairment), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. Multiple disabilities does not include deaf-blindness.
A severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures.)
Other Health Impairment
Having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that
Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and
Adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Specific Learning Disability
A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Speech or Language Impairment
A communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Traumatic Brain Injury
An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Traumatic brain injury applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
Non Public Schools/Equitable Participation Specialist
Westmoreland Intermediate Unit
102 Equity Drive
Greensburg, PA 15601
724-836-2460 ext. 2310
SAMPLE LETTER REQUESTING AN EVALUATION
Your Phone Number
Principal’s Name Date
Name of your Child’s School
Dear School Official:
I am the parent of _____________________________, whose date of birth is_________.
My child has not been doing well in school and I am therefore requesting a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation to determine whether my child needs special education services, and if so, what services are needed.
I would like to participate with the rest of the IEP Team in the review to determine what data and testing are needed. I would also like to know when the testing (if any) will be held, and whether any meetings will be scheduled so that I can attend.
I understand that the evaluation must be completed, and a written report given to me, within 60 calendar days of my consent to the evaluation. I also understand that it is my right to request an evaluation, without enrolling my child in your district, so that I can make the most informed decision for my child. Please send me, as soon as possible, a permission to evaluate form to sign so that we can begin the process. [Or, I would like to come to the school and sign the form immediately].
Should you have any questions or problems with the request, please contact me at:
Keep a copy of this letter for your file. We recommend that you hand-deliver this request to the School District Official, or that you send it certified mail, return receipt requested