Procedural Guide

Rev. 04-24-2023

Table of Contents

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In California, every local education agency (LEA) is required to belong to a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPAs). The SELPAs are a consortium of LEAs responsible for the development of special education policies and procedures, the distribution of federal and state special education funds, and providing a range of professional development opportunities pertaining to special education. Individuals at an LEA/district may contact a SELPAs representative about a student-related issue when:
  • Conducting a manifestation determination.
  • Considering a non-public school (NPS), day treatment, or residential facility.
  • Support is needed to come to a resolution on any component of the IEP.
  • Requested by an IEP team member (parent or LEA/district).
  • The LEA/district or parent requests a facilitated IEP meeting.
  • There has been a request for records from the parents and/or an attorney.
  • There is an attorney or advocate involved with the case.
  • The parent has filed a request for a due process hearing or mediation only.
  • The parent has filed a California Department of Education (CDE) or Office of Civil Rights (OCR) complaint.
  • The parent would benefit from or requests outside guidance in understanding legal elements and/or processes around special education.
  • Support is required following an IEE request.
  • Any time more information is needed and/or provide additional consultation on policy and procedures for special education.
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The parent(s)1 of a student will be contacted whenever there is a concern about their child’s academic, behavioral, or social-emotional performance. Concerns may be addressed in a Student Study Team (SST) meeting. An SST is a multi-disciplinary team that considers, plans, and assesses general education interventions and supports for students experiencing academic, speech/language, and/or social-emotional/behavioral difficulties. The purpose of the SST is to problem-solve and to identify supports in the general education setting to allow a student to be successful. Early intervention planning for students through the SST process is a function of the general education program. The SST process provides an opportunity for an in-depth focus on improving school success one student at a time.  It is highly recommended that every LEA/district has an SST process in place. This process may be initiated by school staff or the parent/student. During an SST meeting, the Student Study Team will document concerns and current strategies being implemented or that will be implemented to attempt to address the student’s concerns related to their learning. Areas that are important to discuss and document during the SST meeting are: 
  • Developmental/medical history
  • Attendance/school enrollment history
  • Review of current hearing and vision results. vision, hearing
  • Social-Emotional skills
  • Behavior
  • Academics:
    • Current academic performance, results of past interventions, results of current interventions.
    • Current or past services provided by LEA/district and/or private provider.
For in-depth information regarding the SST process and other pre-referral considerations, please refer to the El Dorado SELPA’s Student Study Teams Handbook. This comprehensive document includes the following helpful topics as well as several appendices and sample forms:
  • What is a Student Study Team (SST)? 
  • Who Participates on the SST Team 
  • SST Referral
  • SST Flowchart
  • Insufficient Student Progress
  • Legal Requirements
  • Parent/Guardian Referral for Special Education Assessment
  • Special Considerations for English Learners
  • Helpful Suggestions for Effective SST Meetings
  • Sample SST Interventions
  • Commonly Asked Questions
Please note: If a parent makes a written request for a special education consideration, the LEA/district must respond within 15 days. Should the LEA/district determine testing is merited, they should respond by sending an assessment plan and a Prior Written Notice (PWN), with a copy of Procedural Safeguards to the parent. 1 The term “parent” refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except in cases when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. Therefore, references to the parent may also include adult students. 
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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. § 1400 et. seq) and California Education Code §56301 require every local educational agency (LEA) to identify, locate, and evaluate students enrolled with known or suspected disabilities to determine whether a need for special education and related services exists. LEAs/Districts are obligated to develop and implement a plan to locate all IDEA-eligible students, including but not limited to students who are homeless or wards of the state. The process an LEA/district develops to locate and identify students with disabilities is known as Child Find. To fulfill their Child Find obligation, each LEA/district conducts what are known as Child Find activities. Such activities may include the following:
  • The use of a child find letter (i.e. “Child Find Sample Letter” in Spanish and English, located in the SEIS Document Library under Child Find) to parents1 or the responsible party of a child who may need special education or related services, in their primary language. 
  • Inclusion of targeted questions regarding areas of need and/or previous Special Education services in enrollment packets. 
  • Carefully screening files and enrollment documentation of all students transferring into the LEA/district to identify students who may have been receiving special services in their prior LEA/district. 
  • Complete a California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) record search for all students transferring into the LEA/district, looking for reported Special Education data to identify students who may be eligible for special education. Please refer to the Monitoring 16.7 and 16.8 Overview guidance documents (located in the SEIS Document Library under Child Find) for further detail on this process. 
  • Providing information in languages spoken in the community to parents that explains the LEA’s/district’s special services and whom to contact if they suspect their student may have a disability. 
  • Utilizing a clear referral system (i.e. Student Study Team process. Please refer to the EDCOE Charter SELPA’s Student Study Teams (SST) Handbook for more information). 
  • Providing annual in-service activities to assist all staff in making appropriate referrals and on the Child Find process and obligation. Consider using the “Referral for Special Education and Related Services” form located in the SEIS Document Library under Child Find. 
  • Screening all students entering kindergarten to identify students with suspected disabilities. 
  • Review of files for all students with a health plan to screen for suspected disabilities. 
  • Publication of a child find notice in the LEA/district newsletter or website. This notice may also be included in the enrollment packet and sent home annually to parents. 
  • Creation of a poster or other document for display in the main office (and other prominent areas) which includes whom to contact if there is a student suspected to be eligible under IDEA. 
Failing to meet Child Find requirements is a matter of serious concern that can deny a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) to a student whom an LEA/district should have identified. This failure may entitle a student to compensatory education or educationally related reimbursement accruing from the time the LEA/district first should have suspected the disability (Department of Education State of Hawaii. v. Cari Rae S., 2001). Additionally, an LEA/district may be violating its Child Find duty by repeatedly referring a student for interventions rather than evaluating the student’s need for special education and related services (see the Office of Special Education (OSEP) Memorandum to State Directors of Special Education, January 2011).   1 The term “parent” refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except in cases when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law.  
Useful Links:
SST Handbook: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/SST_Handbook_Charter_2018-06-28.pdf
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A parent1 or a public agency may initiate a request for an initial evaluation to determine if a student qualifies as a student with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) (34 CFR §300.301). Additionally, the IDEA’s “Child Find” mandate requires that LEAs/districts seek out potentially IDEA-eligible students and refer those students for an evaluation. For more information relating to Child Find please see the section of this procedural guide titled, “Child Find Basics.” More specifically, referrals for special education assessment and eligibility may be submitted by the following persons: 
  • The holder(s) of educational rights (e.g., biological parent, adoptive parent, other individuals identified through court order) 
  • Student Study Team/Student Intervention Team (SST)  
  • School staff 
  • Student (may self-refer) 
  • Community agency 
  • Court officers 
  • Any individual with knowledge of a child who may have a disability or may need related services 
A referral for special education must follow legal timelines. For additional information on timelines, see the section of this procedural guide entitled “General Timelines”.  All referrals should be submitted to the student’s LEA/district of attendance, including for students enrolled in the LEA/district Transitional Kindergarten (TK) or Universal Pre-K (UPK) programs.  If the student is not of school age, the student shall be referred to the district of residence. If the student is of preschool age and enrolled in a charter school, the referral will be made at the district of residence.  All referrals for special education and related services shall initiate the assessment process and shall be documented. When a verbal referral is made, a staff member of the LEA/district or Special Educational Local Plan Area (SELPA’s) shall offer to assist the individual in making a written request for assessment for special education. To assist in the referral process, there is a “Referral Form” located in the SST Guidelines and Resources Handbook should you choose to use this document in the process.  Upon receipt of the written referral, the LEA/district must initiate one of the following actions: 
  1. It is recommended to document the information received as part of the referral and any correspondence to assist with determining the appropriateness of the request. Under C. R. Sec. 3021(a), there is no specific language requirement for a request to be valid, however, it should be in writing.  In the event the parent makes a verbal request for assessment, the LEA/district shall assist in putting their request in writing (see sample parent request for assessment, located on page 9 of the El Dorado SELPA’s Parent Handbook). In the event a referral is made on behalf of the student, it is recommended that the LEA/district confirm the referral request with the holder of educational rights.
  2. Once the written request has been received by the LEA/district the process below should be followed:
    • If the referral is received and the LEA decides to proceed with the assessment, the LEA/district personnel will:
      • Notify the holder of education rights that a referral was made
      • Input the student’s information into SEIS
      • Develop an “Assessment Plan” (located in the SEIS Document Library)
      • Deliver the completed assessment plan, Prior Written Notice (PWN), and a copy of Procedural Safeguards to the holder of educational rights within 15 calendar days from receipt of the referral.
      • If the referral is received and it is determined that additional information is needed before proceeding with the development of an assessment plan, a meeting (such as an SST) should be convened with the holder of education rights and the referring party (if not referred by the holder of educational rights) to explore educational concerns as well as relevant background and health information.
        • As a reminder, a final determination regarding the request for assessment and subsequent PWN, copy of procedural safeguards, and assessment plan (if applicable) must still be provided to the holder of educational rights within 15 calendar days. Therefore, it is highly recommended that a meeting convened to discuss the assessment referral be scheduled immediately upon receiving the request to adhere to the 15-calendar day requirement.
      • After a careful review of student data, if it is determined that the student is receiving a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and further assessment is not warranted, the LEA/district must notify the holder of education rights within 15 days with a “Notice of District Refusal” PWN (located in the SEIS Document Library) outlining why the requested assessment will not be initiated. The LEA/district shall include data in the PWN which illustrates that the student is not suspected to be eligible for special education services under any of the 13 eligibility categories of the IDEA. If the LEA/district determines further assessment is not warranted, it is strongly encouraged that the LEA/district consult with their LEA’s assigned SELPA Program Specialist before sending the “Notice of District Refusal” PWN. 
1 The term “parent” refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except in the case of a child with a disability who has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. 
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Procedural Safeguards
Procedural safeguards refer to the educational rights of students with disabilities ages three through 21 and their parents, legal guardians, or surrogate parents under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the California Education Code. Adult students with disabilities who have reached the age of 18, referred to as the age of majority, are also entitled to these rights unless deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California law.    Although LEAs/districts must provide the parent of a student with a disability with notice of the procedural safeguards at least once per year, it is recommended that the parent be provided a copy for review at the start of each IEP meeting. Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) should ensure the parent(s) understand the notice by offering to review the document together, providing ample opportunities for questions or clarification, and documenting receipt on the signature page of the IEP document. The “Notice of Procedural Safeguards and Parents’ Rights” document can be found in multiple languages in the “Procedural Safeguards” section of the El Dorado SELPA’s SEIS Document Library.   In addition to the requirement to provide notice of procedural safeguards at least once per year, a copy must also be provided to parents [34 CFR §300.504; EDC §56301(d)(2); EDC § 56321; and EDC § 56341.1(g)(1)]: 
  • Upon initial referral or parental request for evaluation. 
  • When sending out an Assessment Plan and/or Prior Written Notice. 
  • Upon receipt of the first state complaint in the school year. 
  • Upon receipt of the first due process complaint in the school year. 
  • In accordance with disciplinary procedures. 
  • Upon parental request. 
Under IDEA, the procedural safeguards notice must be: 
  • Written in a language understandable to the general public; and 
  • Provided in the native language of the parent or in another mode of communication that is used by the parent, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so. [34 CFR §300.504(d)]
If the native language or other mode of communication used by the parent is not a written language, then the school must take steps to ensure that:  
  • The notice is translated orally or by other means to the parent in his or her native language or other mode of communication; 
  • The parent understands the content of the notice; and 
  • There is written evidence that these requirements have been met. 34 CFR §300.503(c)] 
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What is prior written notice? 

Prior written notice is a legal requirement per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and a protection afforded to parent(s)1 per their Procedural Safeguards. IDEA includes prior written notice as a measure to ensure that parent(s) have adequate notification and understanding of special education decisions made about their student, including elements of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). 

A Prior Written Notice letter should provide comprehensive documentation of all actions proposed and/or refused by a Local Education Agency (LEA)/District. The information included should be sufficient to ensure that parent(s) understand the rationale by which decisions were made, and all things that were considered. Providing prior written notice affords parent(s) an additional opportunity to consider and/or object to decisions that were made prior to implementation by an LEA/district. 

Under what circumstances is prior written notice required? 

A Prior Written Notice letter is a document that is required following the proposal and/or refusal related to the initiation or change in the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or offer of FAPE (34 CFR §500.503). 

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) team may make decisions regarding the identification of a student including, but not limited to: 

  • Determination of initial identification (eligibility) for special education 
  • Refusal to identify a student as eligible 
  • Changing the identification of a student (eligibility category) 
  • Termination of identification (student no longer found eligible) 

An IEP team may make decisions regarding the evaluation of a student including, but not limited to: 

  • Requesting consent for initial evaluation 
  • Requesting consent for reevaluation 
  • Refusal to conduct an evaluation requested by parent(s)/guardian(s) 
  • Proposal or refusal to provide a requested independent educational evaluation (IEE) 

An IEP team may make decisions regarding the placement of a student including, but not limited to: 

  • Offering initial placement 
  • Proposing a change in educational placement 
  • Refusal to change placement as requested by parent(s)/guardian(s) 
  • Termination of special education placement due to a student being found no longer eligible 
  • Proposal or refusal to offer placement to parent(s)/guardian(s)who has unilaterally placed a student with an IEP in a residential facility or nonpublic school 

Graduation with a regular high school diploma is also considered a change of placement, though not through an IEP team decision, thus requiring the provision of prior written notice (EDC §56500.5). Additionally, any disciplinary removal of more than 10 consecutive days or a series of removals accumulating more than 10 days is considered a change of placement, triggering the prior written notice requirement (34 CFR §300.530(h)). 

An IEP team may make decisions regarding the provision of FAPE to a student including, but not limited to: 

  • Changes in IEP services, including addition, deletion, change in minutes, frequency, location, or refusal to change a service 
  • Changes in accommodations/modifications or refusal to change per parent/ guardian request 
  • Change(s) in annual goals or refusal to change goals per parent/ guardian request 
  • Changes in how a student will participate in statewide and districtwide assessments 
  • Refusal to provide a specific instructional methodology requested by a parent/ guardian 

Any changes made to FAPE in an IEP or through the amendment process also generate the requirement to provide prior written notice. 

Parent(s) may submit a letter revoking consent for special education services when they no longer wish for their student to receive special education services or be considered a student with a disability. The LEA/district must terminate the provision of special education services upon receipt of a revocation of consent, thus generating the requirement to provide prior written notice (EDC §56346(d)). When the LEA/district receives revocation of consent from the parent(s), they may not be required to attend any additional meetings, and are not required to provide an explanation for their request. The U.S. Department of Education requires that the LEA/district “promptly” respond to parent(s) written revocation letter with prior written notice (34 CFR §300.503). Prior written notice must be provided prior to ending any services, and allow parent(s) the opportunity to consider the change(s) that will result from revoking consent. For further information on revocation of consent, see the “Parental Consent and Parental Revocation of Consent” section of this Procedural Guide. 

What are the required elements of a Prior Written Notice? 

To be considered compliant, a Prior Written Notice must include seven required elements (34 CFR §300.503), including: 

  1. A description of the action proposed or refused by the LEA/district;
  2. An explanation of why the LEA/district proposes or refuses to take the action;
  3. A description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the proposed or refused action;
  4. A statement that the parent(s) of a student with a disability have protection under the procedural safeguards of this part and, if this notice is not an initial referral for evaluation, the means by which a copy of a description of the procedural safeguards can be obtained;
  5. Sources for parent(s) to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of this part;
  6. A description of other options considered by the IEP Team and the reason why those options were rejected; and
  7. A description of the factors that are relevant to the LEA’s/district’s proposal or refusal. 

In addition to including these elements, the Prior Written Notice letter must be provided in a language that is understandable to parents and the general public and should be provided in the native language or another mode of communication of the parent unless it is not feasible to do so. To ensure that the Prior Written Notice letter is understandable, it is recommended that it be written without the use of acronyms or abbreviations. It should serve as a stand-alone document that can be understood by a person who does not have other reports and/or IEP documents to which they may refer. Phrases such as “N/A” and “see above” should be avoided. 

How soon after educational decisions should prior written notice be provided? 

Though there are not any specific timelines around when to provide prior written notice, it must be provided “within a reasonable timeline prior to action” (34 CFR 300.503(a)). This means prior written notice must be given to parents in a reasonable time before the LEA/district implements that action, but after the LEA’s/district’s decision on the proposal or refusal has been made. It is recommended that the LEA/district use their best judgement when considering the timeline for providing a Prior Written Notice letter. It should be provided after the meeting but soon enough so that a parent has time to review and provide a response prior to the change in the IEP taking place. 

How should prior written notice be formatted? 

Neither federal nor state special education regulations specify the format in which a Prior Written Notice letter must be provided. Permissible formats include a formal letter on letterhead, the use of fill-in-the-blank forms (located in the SEIS document library), and the use of the IEP form in the SEIS tower of forms. It is recommended that LEAs/districts exercise caution when considering the use of the IEP document itself to provide prior written notice. It is not generally the case that an IEP document contains the seven elements that are required for prior written notice to be considered compliant. If the LEA/district is not confident that all the required elements for prior written notice exist in the IEP document, it is strongly recommended that a separate Prior Written Notice letter be provided along with a copy of the IEP. 

How should the LEA/district document that prior written notice has been provided? 

IDEA does not require that a parent acknowledge receipt of a Prior Written Notice letter. Since the LEA/district will not receive copies of a Prior Written Notice letter with parent signatures or other confirmations of receipt, it is recommended that the LEA/district develops a system and record-keeping mechanism to document that the Prior Written Notice letters have been provided. 

1 The term “parent” refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except in cases when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. Therefore, references to the parent may also include adult students. 

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GENERAL TIMELINES

SPECIAL EDUCATION TIMELINES

Initial Assessment and Individualized Education Program (IEP) Development
ServiceTimelineConsiderations & Supporting GuidanceRegulation

Proposal of Assessment Plan (AP) for Initial Assessment

15 calendar days from the date of referral

Exceptions may include:

*School breaks in excess of 5 school days

*If a referral is received 10 days or fewer before the end of the school year, then the AP must be sent to the parent/guardian within the first 10 days of the following school year

See the “Assessment Plan” section of this Procedural Guide for more information on the content of the assessment plan and accompanying documents.

EDC §56043(a)

EDC §56321(a)

IEP team meeting to review initial assessments60 calendar days from the receipt of parent/guardian consent on the Assessment Plan, to determine eligibility and areas of need

Exceptions may include:

*Student enrolls in another LEA

*Student is not made available

*School breaks in excess of 5 school days

*If the referral is received 30 days or fewer before the end of the school year, the IEP meeting must be held within the first 30 calendar days of the next school year.

EDC §56043(c)

EDC §56302.1

EDC §56344(a)

IEP Team Meetings
ServiceTimelineConsiderations & Supporting GuidanceRegulation
Plan ReviewNot to exceed 12 months (365 days) from the date of the last IEP

IDEA makes parents/guardians mandatory members of the IEP team.

See the “Parent Participation” section of this Procedural Guide for more information on parent participation and conducting an IEP meeting without a parent in attendance.

EDC §56043(d), (j)

EDC §56343(d)

EDC §56380

IEP team meeting to review reassessments including eligibility evaluations60 calendar days after the receipt of parent/guardian consent on the Assessment Plan

Exceptions may include:

* School breaks in excess of 5 school days

*If the referral is received 30 days or fewer before the end of the school year, the IEP is due within the first 30 calendar days of the next school year

EDC §56043 (f) (l)

EDC §56343 (a)

EDC §56344 (a)

Parent/guardian requests an IEP meeting for a student with an existing IEP30 calendar days after a written request is received

Exceptions may include:

*School breaks in excess of 5 school days

If a verbal request is made by the parent/guardian, the LEA must direct and/or assist the parent/guardian in making the request in writing.

EDC §56043 (I)

EDC §56343.5

IEP to review student’s lack of progress toward IEP goalsNo specific timelineConsideration: Convene the IEP team within 30 days of determining that a student is demonstrating a lack of progressSee the “Annual Review and Re-Evaluation” section of this Procedural Guide for more information regarding steps the IEP team may take when considering a lack of progress towards IEP goals.EDC §56343(b)
Notify parents of the IEP team meeting and send the IEP Notice of MeetingEarly enough to ensure an opportunity to attend the meeting

Consideration: At least 10 school days before the meeting date

See the “Individualized Education Program Meeting” section of this Procedural Guide for more information on parent notification of IEP team meetings.

EDC §56043(e)

EDC §56341.5(b)

Notice of Procedural SafeguardsGive a copy of procedural safeguards at each IEP meeting and at least once each year

See the “Procedural Safeguards” section of this Procedural Guide for other instances where a copy of the procedural safeguards must be provided to parents/guardians.

Notice of Procedural Safeguards and Parent’s Rights” can be found in many languages in the SEIS Document Library. languages in the SEIS Document Library.

EDC §56500.1

34 CFR §300.504

Implement the signed IEPAs soon as possible after receiving the signed IEP from the parent/guardianSee the “Parental Consent and Parental Revocation of Consent” section of this Procedural Guide for the definition of parental consent.

EDC §56043(i)

EDC §56344(b)

Progress reports on IEP goals provided to the parent(s) /guardian(s)Frequency is determined by the IEP team and should be provided at least in concurrence with the issuance of report cards at the LEA EDC §56345(a)(3)
Eligibility Evaluations
ServiceTimelineConsiderations & Supporting GuidanceRegulation
Eligibility EvaluationEvery 3 years based on the date of the last eligibility evaluation

May occur more often if needed, but no more than once per year, unless the IEP team agrees

Parent/guardian and LEA may agree in writing that eligibility evaluations are not necessary and may also agree to limit the scope of the review

See the “Annual Review and Re-Evaluation” section of this Procedural Guide for more information regarding Eligibility Evaluations, circumstances warranting more frequent eligibility evaluations, and instances in which the team may consider a review of records.

EDC §56043(k)

EDC §56381

Proposal for re-assessment15 calendar days from the date of referral

Exceptions may include:

*School breaks in excess of 5 school days

*If a referral is received 10 days or fewer before the end of the school year, then the AP would be due within the first 10 days of the following school year

See the “Assessment Plan” section of this Procedural Guide for more information on the content of the assessment plan and accompanying documents.

EDC §56043(a)

EDC §56321(a)

Individual Transition Plans (ITP)
ServiceTimelineConsiderations & Supporting GuidanceRegulation
Individual Transition Plan (ITP)

Must be in the IEP when the student turns 16

ITPs must be updated at least annually

See the “Transition Planning” section of this Procedural Guide for considerations of transition planning.

EDC §56043 (g)(1), (h)

EDC §56341.5(e)

EDC §56345(a)(8)

Students are informed of the transfer of rights at the age of 18, known as the “age of majority”LEA must inform the parent(s)/guardian(s) and special education student before the student turns 17See the “Age of Majority” section of this Procedural Guide for more information on the age of majority timeline and IEP requirements.

EDC §56041.5

EDC §56043(g)(3)

EDC §56345(g)

Notice to parent(s) /guardian(s) of student’s graduation from high school with a diplomaNo specific statutory timeline, “reasonable” Prior Written Notice must be givenSee the “Graduation Options for Students with Disabilities” and “Age Out Timelines” sections of this Procedural Guide for information on the termination of special education services.EDC §56500.5
Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
ServiceTimelineConsiderations & Supporting GuidanceRegulation
Respond to a request for an IEENo specific statutory timeline, but should respond without unnecessary delay

Consideration: Respond within 15 days of parent/guardian request for IEE.

See the “Independent Educational Evaluations” section of this Procedural Guide and the “Independent Educational Evaluations” guidelines resource for IEE policy and procedure recommendations.

34 CFR §300.502(b)

(b)

Discipline
ServiceTimelineConsiderations & Supporting GuidanceRegulation
Provide parent(s) /guardian(s) with notice of change of placement if a student has been removed from current placement as well as a copy of procedural safeguardsThe day a decision is made to remove a student for disciplinary purposes for more than 10 school daysSee the “Suspension, Expulsion and Manifestation Determination” section of this Procedural Guide for information on discipline procedures.34 CFR §300.530(h)
Conduct a manifestation reviewWithin 10 school days of the decision to remove the student for disciplinary purposes that result in the removal of the student for more than 10 days within the same school yearSee the “Suspension, Expulsion and Manifestation Determination” and "Manifestation Determination Flowchart” sections of this Procedural Guide for information on the process of a Manifestation Determination.34 CFR §300.530(e)
Student Records/Records Request
ServiceTimelineConsiderations & Supporting GuidanceRegulation
Provide parent(s)/guardian(s) with copies of student recordsAfter an oral or written request from the parent(s) /guardian(s); the records should be provided within 5 business days and before any IEP meeting or resolution session, if applicableSee the “Student Records” section of this Procedural Guide for guidelines that apply to each type of student record and access to records.

EDC §56043(n)

EDC §56504

Provide a receiving LEA with special education records for students that have transferred5 business days after a request for records from the receiving LEA is receivedSee the “Student Records” section of this Procedural Guide for information on transferring records.EDC §56043(o)
Notification to the District of Residence when a student leaves a charter schoolA charter school must notify the superintendent of the school district of the pupil’s last known address within 30 days if a pupil is expelled or leaves the charter school without graduatingSee the “Student Record” section of this Procedural Guide for details on what records must also be provided upon request.EDC §47605(d)(3)

 

Recommended Links:

Special Education Timelines in California — Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP

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An Assessment Plan (AP) is a document that outlines the assessment tools and methods used to determine eligibility for special education services as well as present levels of performance, the types of measurements used to collect this information, and the assessor(s) responsible for the collection/review of the data. Assessments will be comprised of data from multiple sources and require a multidisciplinary team of specialists to gather and interpret the data.  An AP can be initiated for several reasons. Some examples may include the following:  
  • When a parent1 requests assessment 
  • To initiate an assessment for an initial evaluation  
  • To initiate an assessment for a triennial evaluation (e.g., in preparation for an eligibility determination meeting)  
  • If a student is suspected as having an area of need that is not identified in the current IEP (including but not limited to behavior, social-emotional, and/or speech-language) 
  • If a student is suspected of having an additional disability that is not identified in the current IEP 
Before carrying out any testing outlined by the AP, the LEA is required to receive written consent from the parent. If a test or other assessment is administered to all students, individual parent consent is not required, unless, before the administration of that test or assessment, consent is required of the parent for all students. Although recommended, parent consent is also not required when doing a review of records based on existing data CA EDC §56321(f). However, when a review of records includes new information such as observations, interviews, and/or rating scales, consent is required.   Parent Request for Assessment   A parent has a right to request an evaluation at any time. Under EDC §56320.1(a), if a parent is requesting an assessment, the LEA/district must respond in writing within 15 days of the written request. For a student with an existing IEP, a triennial re-evaluation may be held early if mutually agreed upon by the school and parent(s).   An LEA/district may deny a parent’s request for an initial assessment or additional assessment for a student with an IEP using a Prior Written Notice (PWN) within 15 calendar days from the date of the request if the school team determines that data indicates the student is receiving a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). For initial assessments, the LEA/district must include data in the PWN to demonstrate that the student is not suspected to be eligible for special education services under any of the 13 eligibility categories of the IDEA. If an LEA/District is considering denying a request for an initial assessment or additional assessment for a student with an IEP, it is strongly encouraged that the LEA/District consult with their LEA’s assigned SELPA Program Specialist.  Assessment Plan Content   The proposed AP (along with a PWN) given to parents shall meet all the following requirements:  
  • Be individualized to reflect the concerns identified through the referral process 
  • Be provided in the primary language of the parent(s) (EDC §56321(b)(2)) or another mode of communication used by the parent(s), unless doing so is not feasible.  
  • Explain the types of assessments to be conducted and the professional personnel who is responsible for the administration and interpretation of the assessment (EDC §56321(b)(3)). The El Dorado SELPAs recommends that assessors be listed by titles rather than by their names. 
  • Address all areas of suspected disability.  
  • State that no educational placement will result from the assessment without the consent of the parent(s) (EDC §56321(b)(4)) 
Areas of Assessment    The AP must be comprehensive and allow for assessing the student in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate (34 CFR, EDC §56320): 
  1. Health and developmental history 
  2. Vision, including low vision, and hearing (must be completed within the past year and before conducting assessments) 
  3. Motor Abilities 
  4. Speech and language functioning  
  5. General intelligence or cognitive abilities* 
  6. Processing skills  
  7. Academic achievement  
  8. Adaptive skills  
  9. Orientation and mobility skills 
  10. Career and vocational interests (transition planning) 
  11. Social, emotional, and/or behavioral functioning  
  12. Any other area of suspected disability 
The AP must reflect an evaluation that is sufficiently comprehensive to identify all the student’s needs for special education and related services by including assessment tools and strategies that provide relevant information that directly assists in determining the educational needs of the student. The LEA/district is entitled to select who will conduct the evaluations and determine how the process will work by deferring to the professional judgment of the appropriately credentialed/licensed evaluators. Parents have the right to information about the types of assessments an LEA plans to conduct. However, parents may not dictate terms or set conditions for an evaluation for special education purposes.   *Please note: Because of the Larry P. litigation, the use of cognitive tests is prohibited for African American students, even with informed parental consent. For further information on selecting appropriate tests for African American students, please see the procedural guide section titled “Assessment, Test Selection, and Reports.”  Obtaining Parent Consent to Assess  An AP requires consent from the student’s educational rights holder. Most commonly, the educational rights holder is the student’s parent(s). If there are questions about who holds educational rights, please contact the LEA/district’s assigned SELPAs Program Specialist. For this section, the educational rights holder is referred to as the “parent”.  The AP must be provided either in person, sent electronically (with permission from the parent), sent home with the student, and/or mailed to the parent’s home. In some cases, the school may need to require a return receipt via certified mail to provide documentation that the parent received the assessment plan. When the AP is provided to a parent for review, the following must be attached:  
  1. A copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards 
  1. A Prior Written Notice (PWN) 
Follow-up with the parent is strongly encouraged to allow the parent(s) an opportunity to communicate questions and/or concerns before providing consent for an assessment. An assessment shall not be conducted unless the written consent of the parent is obtained. Assessment may begin immediately upon receipt of the AP signed by the parent(s).   If a parent is not identified or the location of a parent is unknown, a surrogate parent must be appointed to represent the student with a suspected disability. For more information on surrogate parents, please see the section of this Procedural Guide entitled “Surrogate Parents.” If the student is a ward of the state and is not residing with their parent(s), the LEA/district must make reasonable efforts to obtain informed consent from the parent(s).   When a parent consents to the proposed AP, the LEA/district may proceed with assessments for determining special education eligibility. Consent to an AP does not grant the LEA/district any authority to implement changes to the student’s educational program. Consent for initial assessment shall not be construed as consent for initial placement of initial provision of special education and related services to the student 34 CFR §300.300(a)(ii)  When Parents Refuse Consent to the Proposed Assessment Plan  When a parent refuses to consent to an assessment, it is recommended that the LEA reach out to the parent to discuss their concerns with the proposed AP. When a parent of a student with IEP refuses an AP or is non-response to a proposed AP, an IEP meeting should be scheduled to review the parent’s concerns with the IEP team. The LEA must provide the parent with the necessary information to fully understand the AP and document their attempts to obtain parental consent. If a parent continues to deny a proposed AP, the LEA must make every effort to obtain a signature on the AP with the box checked for “I do not consent to the proposed assessment described above.”   For initial assessments, if a parent refuses to consent or doesn’t respond to requests for consent, an LEA may, but isn’t required to pursue the initial evaluation of the student by utilizing the procedural safeguards in the IDEA, which include mediation procedures under 34 CFR §300.507 through 34 CFR§300.516  and 34 CFR §300.300 (a)(3)(I).   For triennial re-evaluations, in situations where an LEA/district believes a re-evaluation is necessary but the parent disagrees and refuses consent for re-evaluation, the public agency may but is not required to use the consent to override procedures (34 CFR §300.300 (c)(1)(ii) and 34 CFR §300.300(a)(3)).   When a parent refuses to consent to an AP proposed by the LEA/district, it is recommended to reach out to the LEA/district’s assigned SELPA Program Specialist.   Assessment Timelines 
  • Initial Evaluation Referral: The AP will be developed and sent to the parent(s) for review within 15 calendar days from the receipt of the referral. Once consent is received, the assessment team has 60 days to conduct assessments and hold an IEP meeting to determine initial eligibility for services EDC §56043(c).  
  • Triennial Evaluation: The AP will be developed and sent to the parent(s) for review, giving the evaluation team enough time to complete the assessment before the triennial due date. The IEP team has 60 days to conduct assessments and hold an IEP meeting to determine if the student continues to qualify for special education services.  
  • It should be noted that the triennial IEP due date, as listed in the “Information/Eligibility” section of the current IEP, is the date on which the IEP must be held, regardless of the 60-day assessment plan timeline. If the 60-day timeline generated from the AP results in a date before the triennial due date, then the team must convene by the 60-day timeline’s established date.  
  • Transition Evaluation: The AP will be developed and sent to the parent for review, giving enough time to complete and review the transition assessments and hold the IEP before the student’s 16th birthday (EDC § 50643((g)(1)).   
  • Other Requests for Evaluation: Upon request for assessment by the parent or other interested parties, the AP will be developed and sent to the parent(s) for review within 15 days of the receipt of the referral.  
When a referral has been made ten calendar days or less before the end of the academic school year, the assessment plan must be developed within the first ten calendar days of the following school year. Note: existing IEP due dates (e.g., annual & triennial dates) supersede the 60-day assessment plan timeline. For additional information about timelines affiliated with IEP procedural requirements, please refer to the Procedural Guide section titled “Assessment Timelines.”  1 The term “parent” refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except in cases when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. Therefore, references to the parent may also include adult students.  Recommended Links: Eligibility Criteria PG guide doc: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ELIGIBILITY-CRITERIA.pdf Assessment Plans PG guide doc: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ASSESSMENT-PLANS.pdf NPS & RTC guidelines doc: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Charter-NPS-RTC-Guidelines-2020.pdf Assessments, Test Selection, and Reports PG doc: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ASSESSMENT-TEST-SELECTION-AND-REPORTS.pdf Prior Writen Notice PG guide doc: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PRIOR-WRITTEN-NOTICE.pdf
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General Guidelines for Conducting Assessments:  Assessments must:  
  1. Address all areas of suspected disability.
  2. Be sufficiently comprehensive to identify the student’s special education and related services needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the child has been classified (34 CFR §300.304).
  3. Be conducted by a multidisciplinary team, including input from the parent1.
  4. Include, if appropriate: 
      • Health and developmental history 
      • Vision, including low vision, and hearing (unless completed within the past year) 
      • Motor abilities 
      • Speech and language function 
      • General intelligence or cognitive level 
      • Processing skills 
      • Academic achievement 
      • Adaptive skills 
      • Orientation and mobility skills 
      • Career and vocational interests (transition planning) 
      • Any other area of educationally related suspected disability (EDC §56320) 
At least one member of the assessment team, other than the student’s general education or special education teacher, shall observe the student’s performance in the classroom setting and document the observation.  No single procedure/assessment is used as the sole criterion for determining an appropriate educational program for an individual with exceptional needs (20 CFR §1414(b)(2). Only by collecting data through a variety of approaches (e.g., observations, interviews, tests, curriculum-based assessment, and so on) and from a variety of sources (parents, teachers, specialists, and student) can an adequate picture be obtained of the student’s strengths and weaknesses.  Legal Timelines  If an assessment is proposed for evaluation/re-evaluation for special education services, the assessment team who recommends the evaluation has 15 calendar days from the date of the referral to create the Assessment Plan and provide it to the parents (the “Assessment Plan” form is located in SEIS).  If an assessment is proposed within the last 10 days of the end of the regular school year, then the Assessment Plan must be developed within the first 10 days of the next school year.  The assessment will be completed, and an IEP meeting held to review the results of the assessment within 60 calendar days from the date of receipt of the signed Assessment Plan. The 60-day timeline does not include days between the student’s regular school sessions, terms, or days of school vacation in excess of five school days.  If the signed assessment plan is received within the last 30 days of school the school year, assessments must be completed, and the IEP Meeting held, within the first 30 days of the next school year (EDC §56043). 
Service/Obligation Timeline Exceptions / Notes / Considerations Authority
Propose an assessment plan for initial assessment. 15 calendar days from date of referral.
  • Tolled for school breaks in excess of 5 school days.  
  • If referral received 10 days or fewer before end of school year, then due within first 10 days of next school year. 
  • Note: Attach procedural safeguards notice to proposed assessment plan and prior written notice.
EDC §56043(a)  EDC §56321(a) 
IEP team meeting to review initial assessments. 60 calendar days to determine the student’s eligibility and areas of need after receipt of parent consent to assessment plan.
  • Exception: Student enrolls in another LEA. 
  • Exception: Student not made available for assessment by the parent/guardian. 
  • If signed AP received 30 days or fewer before end of school year, then due within first 30 days of next school year. 
  • 60 day timeline stops for breaks in excess of 5 days, such as:  days between the pupil’s regular school sessions, terms, or days of school vacation. 
EDC §56043(c)  EDC §56302.1    EDC §56344(a)
Assessment Considerations (Vision, Hearing, Health, and Medical) 
  • All students being assessed for initial and three-year reviews shall be screened in the areas of hearing and vision, unless parent consent is denied (CCR Title 5 §3027).  
  • All students continuing to fail a threshold hearing test shall be assessed by appropriately trained personnel for hearing, such as an audiologist (CCR Title 5 §3028). This is the responsibility of the LEA/district and access to these services shall be provided by the LEA/district.  
  • For students with residual vision, a low vision assessment shall be conducted by a specialist. 
  • For students who have been medically diagnosed with a chronic illness or acute health problem, relevant information shall be included within the assessment and reviewed by the IEP team (CCR Title 5 §3021.1). 
Test Selection and Administration  Tests and other assessment materials must meet all of the following requirements: 
  • Are selected and administered so as not to be racially, culturally, or sexually discriminatory (EDC §56320(a)). 
  • Are provided and administered in the student’s native language or other mode of communication, unless the Assessment Plan indicates reasons why such provision and administration are clearly not feasible (EDC §56320(a)).  
  • Are used for purposes for which the assessments or measures are valid and reliable. 
  • Are administered by trained personnel in conformance with the instructions provided by the producer of such tests and other assessment materials (EDC §56320(b)).  
  • Are tailored to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely those that are designed to provide a single general intelligence quotient (EDC §56320(b)).   
  • Best ensure that when an assessment is administered to a student with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the test produces results that accurately reflect the student’s aptitude, achievement level, or any other factors the test purports to measure, rather than the student’s impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (unless those skills are the factors the test purports to measure) (EDC §56320(d)).  
  • Materials and procedures used to assess a student with limited English proficiency are selected to ensure that they measure the extent to which the student has a disability and needs special education services, rather than measuring the student’s English proficiency. 
Assessors should attempt to use the most up-to-date version of assessment tools and ensure that assessment tools are valid, reliable, and appropriately normed. Test selection is at the discretion of the assessor using the best practices set forth in their field of expertise. Eligibility decisions should not be made based on data from assessment tools that are obsolete.  In addition, assessments and reassessments shall be administered by qualified personnel who are competent in both the oral or sign language skills and written communication skills of the student. They should also have a knowledge and understanding of the cultural and ethnic background of the student. If it is clearly not feasible to do so, an interpreter must be used and the assessment report shall document this condition and note that the validity of the assessment may have been affected. (CCR Title 5 §3023(a)).  All testing shall be conducted by persons knowledgeable of the suspected disability (EDC §56320(g)).  Qualified Assessors by Assessment Type   Please note: This list is not inclusive of all possible special education-related assessments; rather, it is intended to provide an overview of the most common assessments. 
Type of Assessment Minimum Qualifications
Academic Achievement Credentialed Special Education Teacher Licensed Educational Psychologist Pupil Personnel Services Credential
Adaptive Behavior Licensed Educational Psychologist Pupil Personnel Services Credential
Adaptive Physical Education Credentialed Adapted Physical Education Specialist
Assistive Technology Certified or Licensed Speech/Language Pathologist Occupational Therapist Certified Assistive Technology Specialist
Auditory Acuity Licensed Educational Audiologist Clinical or Rehabilitative Services Credential Language, Speech and Hearing and Audiology Credential
Auditory Perception/Auditory Processing Language, Speech and Hearing and Audiology Credential Clinical or Rehabilitative Services Credential Education Specialist Instruction Credential: Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Licensed Educational Psychologist Pupil Personnel Services Credential
Functional Behavioral Assessment Credentialed Special Education Teacher Pupil Personnel Services Credential Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Licensed Clinical Social Worker Licensed Educational Psychologist Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Cognitive Licensed Educational Psychologist Pupil Personnel Services Credential
Health Licensed Physician Registered Nurse School Nurse Services Credential
Motor Licensed Physical Therapist Registered Occupational Therapist Adaptive Physical Education Specialist
Occupational Therapy Licensed Occupational Therapist
Orientation and Mobility Clinical or Rehabilitative Services Credential Education Specialist Instruction Credential: Physical and Health Impairment
Physical Therapy Licensed Physical Therapist
Social/Emotional Licensed Educational Psychologist Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Pupil Personnel Services Credential
Transition/Vocational Credentialed Special Education Teacher Adult Education Credential with a Career Development Authorization Pupil Personnel Services Credential
Visual Acuity/ Developmental Vision Licensed Optometrist Licensed Ophthalmologist Education Specialist Instruction Credential: Visual Impairments
Visual Motor Licensed Educational Psychologist Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Pupil Personnel Services Credential
Functional Vision Education Specialist Instruction Credential: Visual Impairments
Assessment Reports  Personnel who assess the student shall prepare a written report of the results of each assessment. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following (EDC §56327): 
  • Whether the student may need special education and related services and the basis for making that determination; 
  • The relevant behavior noted during the observation of the student in an appropriate setting and the relationship of that behavior to the student’s academic and social functioning; 
  • Summarize relevant background information (including the educationally relevant health and development and medical findings, if any); 
  • Make a determination concerning the effects of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage, where appropriate; 
  • Assessment in all areas of suspected disability; 
  • Be understandable;
  • List tests conducted; 
  • State areas of educational need/interventions previously attempted and their results; 
  • Include interviews and/ or questionnaires; 
  • Include assessment results and conclusions; 
  • Make recommendations for teaching strategies and additional assessment if necessary; 
  • Include a statement on whether the student appears to meet eligibility criteria, with specific criteria stated (it may be relevant to not only determine eligibility but also to rule out other areas of suspected disability). 
  • For additional guidance on the development of assessment reports, please refer to the EDCOE SELPAs assessment report templates available in the SEIS document library. 
If an assessment is not conducted under standard conditions, meaning that some condition of the test has been changed, a description of the extent to which it varied from standard conditions must be included in the assessment report.  For example, if an interpreter must be used, the assessment report shall document this condition and note that the validity of the assessment may have been affected.  The LEA/district may not use any single procedure as the sole criterion for determining whether a student is a student with a disability. Multiple measures must be used (34 CFR §300.304(b)(2)).      A copy of the assessment report and the documentation of recommendation for eligibility shall be given to the parent or guardian.  LEAs/districts can prepare and present an assessment report, provided they make it clear to the parents that the eligibility criteria listed is a recommendation to the IEP team by the psychologist, but that eligibility is ultimately the IEP team’s decision.  LEAs/districts must avoid any predetermination of program, services, and placement.   Outside Reports  The following are general guidelines for addressing the receipt of outside reports (EDC §56329):  
  • Outside reports may be submitted by the parent for consideration by the IEP team. Information gathered from outside reports may guide the IEP team in identifying the need to assess new areas of disability. 
  • Outside reports do not automatically determine eligibility or drive goals. LEAs must conduct their own evaluations to examine student health/mental health needs in the school setting and how those needs impact the student’s education or how the medically diagnosed condition manifests in the school setting. 
  • An outside report may trigger the need for further assessment but does not immediately change or determine eligibility in the school setting (medical diagnosis versus educational eligibility).  Conversely, a medical diagnosis is not required for determination of eligibility in the school setting. For example, a student with a medical diagnosis of ADHD does not necessarily automatically qualify under OHI.    
Presentation of Assessment Reports  IDEA (20 U.S.C. §1414) requires an LEA/district to ensure that an IEP team for a child with a disability includes:  
  • The parent(s) of the child. 
  • Not less than one general education teacher of the child (if the child is or may be participating in the general education environment). 
  • Not less than one special education teacher of the child, or, where appropriate, not less than one special education provider of the child. 
  • An LEA/district representative who:  
  • Is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities;  
  • Is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and  
  • Is knowledgeable about the availability of LEA/district resources. 
  • A correctly credentialed or certified individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results. 
  • At the discretion of the parent or the LEA/district, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate. 
  • Whenever appropriate, the child. 
Assessment reports should be presented by an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results.  Most often, reports should be presented by the assessor who conducted the assessment.  Should the assessor be unable to present their findings (due to extenuating circumstances) at an IEP meeting, another individual with the same credentials may share their results and answer questions during the IEP meeting. Should an assessor be unable to attend an IEP meeting in person, they may attend remotely via telephone or video conference.  If an assessor is unable to attend the meeting in its entirety and no replacement is available, the best practice would be to complete as much as possible of the meeting and reconvene at a different time to review the assessment results.  For absent team members, an “Excusal” form is required, which can be found in SEIS.  Prior notification and consent from the parent/legal guardian of the excusal are also required.”  Test Selection Considerations for African-American Students  In the state of California, the use of cognitive tests is prohibited for African-American students as a result of the Larry P. vs. Riles litigation, regardless of informed parental consent.  However, parents are not required to self-identify their race or ethnicity.  If an assessment report is found that includes information on IQ testing of an African-American student, practitioners have been instructed to follow the procedure set out in the sub-section entitled Purging Assessment Reports and Records at the end of this section. It should be noted that this law and its implications are controversial and evolving in the field of Special Education. The El Dorado SELPAs encourages LEAs to engage in additional research and reflection when developing an approach to assessing African-American students for special education services. Additionally, the California Association of School Psychologists (CASP) has provided resources and opinions on this topic. Please access the CASP webpage titled “Larry P. Assessments and Related Issues FAQ” to learn more.   The following intelligence tests are prohibited based upon the original 1979 Larry P. court decision: 
  • Arthur Point Scale of Performance Test
  • Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale
  • Columbia Mental Maturity Scale
  • Draw-a-Person (Good enough)
  • Gessell Developmental Schedule
  • Good enough – Harris Drawing Test
  • Leiter International Performance Scale 
  • Merrill- Palmer Pre-School Performance Test 
  • Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (P147) 
  • Raven Progressive Matrices 
  • Slosson Intelligence Test 
  • Stanford – Binet 
  • Van Alstyne Picture Vocabulary 
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) 
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC- R) 
  • Wechsler Pre-School and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) 
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) 
The 1986 Larry P. Settlement recommended additional tests, which purport to be or are understood to be a standardized test of intelligence, would be subject to the Larry P. prohibitions.  These may include but are not limited to the following tests: 
  • Cognitive Abilities Test 
  • Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test (EOWPVT) 
  • K- ABC Mental Processing Subtests 
  • McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities 
  • Structure of Intellect Learning Aptitude Test 
  • Test of Nonverbal Intelligence (TONI) 
  • Test of Nonverbal Intelligence- II (TONI- II) 
  • Test of Cognitive Ability from the Woodcock-Johnson (including the cognitive section of the Bateria Woodcock Psico-Educativa en Espanol) 
  • Test of Cognitive Ability from the Woodcock- Johnson- Revised (WJ- R) 
  • Test of Cognitive Ability from the Woodcock- Johnson -Ill (WJ -Ill) 
  • Cognitive Subtest of the Battelle Developmental Inventories 
Any tests that have undergone revisions that appear on these lists should be considered prohibited to use with African-American students.  The above lists may not be inclusive of all assessment tools which should be prohibited or used with caution in the assessment of African-American students. In making a determination of whether a test falls under the IQ test ban for African-American students, one should consider: 
  • Is the test standardized and does it purport to measure intelligence (cognition, mental ability or aptitude)? 
  • Are the test results reported in the form of IQ or mental age? 
  • Does evidence of the (construct) validity of the test rely on correlations with IQ tests? 
An affirmative answer to any of these questions indicates that the use of the test may fall within the ban. If you have additional questions regarding the assessments and/or considerations included on this list, please contact your El Dorado SELPA Program Specialist.   Purging Prohibited Reports and Records Under Larry P. v. Riles   In California, LEAs/districts are prohibited from administering IQ tests to African-American students. IQ scores from any other source also cannot become part of a student’s record. If the records of an African-American student are received from out-of-state and/or another agency and contain IQ test information, the IQ scores (and all references to them) must be purged. The following steps are recommended when it becomes necessary to purge IQ information from a student record2: 
  1. Review the case file to determine if prohibited information is contained therein.
  2. Remove any prohibited protocols and all assessment reports which contain IQ information.
  3. Copy the original report.
  4. Use a black tip marker or liquid “white-out” to remove the following information on the copy:
    • Any reference to a test instrument that yields an IQ score or standard score that is an indication of cognitive functioning.
    • Any test data summary scores from the test instruments(s).
    • Commentary in the report or IEP, which discusses the student’s performance on the test instrument(s).
  5. Make a copy of the purged report. File this in the student record.
  6. Destroy the copy with the black tip marker or liquid “white-out.” 
  7. Notify the parent/guardian that the student’s records are being sealed.
  8. Seal the original report, any relevant protocols, and a copy of the letter sent to the parent/guardian in an envelope. Indicate the student’s name and destruction date of five years hence on the outside of the envelope. Attach a label indicating the envelope is only to be opened for purpose of litigation, official state or federal audits, or upon parent request.
  9. Add the student’s name to an LEA/district-level master list of students whose files have been purged and reports sealed due to the Larry P. v. Riles ruling.
You may also be interested in the following resources related to this topic:   Test Selection and Assessment Considerations for English Language Learners  The following requirements of test selection and administration are specifically related to students who are in stages of English Language Development (ELD).  Tests must: 
  • Be selected and administered so as not to be racially, culturally, or sexually discriminatory (EDC §56320(a)). 
  • Be provided and administered in the student’s native language or other mode of communication, unless the Assessment Plan indicates reasons why such provision and administration are clearly not feasible (students who have been formally re-designated/reclassified as Fluent English Proficient may not need testing in their native language) (EDC §56320(a)).  
  • Materials and procedures used to assess a student with limited English proficiency are selected to ensure that they measure the extent to which the student has a disability and needs special education, rather than measuring the student’s English proficiency.  
Best practices include the use of informal assessment in addition to standardized measures. Informal and formal assessment procedures should include: 
  • Background information 
  • Developmental milestones  
  • Language use:  home survey to determine predominant language 
  • Interviews with parents and teachers regarding students’ language use and academic progress 
  • Health history 
  • Observations in multiple settings 
  • Assessment in both native language and acquiring language 
  • Criterion-referenced measures  
When evaluating students who are in the stages of EL development, it is important to consider the following: 
  • Nonverbal Tests of Intelligence: Nonverbal tests are often used in testing bilingual students. Unfortunately, nonverbal measures of intelligence are less reliable than verbal measures as they measure limited aspects of overall intellectual ability. 
  • Translated Tests: Assessors are cautioned against the use of translated tests due to the impact on validity. While it is not difficult to translate a test, it may be difficult to translate psychometric properties from one language to another. For example, a word in English may have a different meaning when translated into another language such as Spanish, Hmong, Russian, or Chinese. Furthermore, translation assumes that the EL student has the same cultural background as the norming population, which may not be the case.  
  • Use of Interpreters: The use of trained bilingual paraprofessionals is an invaluable resource to an evaluator when she/he does not speak the language(s) of the student to be assessed. Qualified individuals can be used to gather information in interviews and to collect data from non-standardized, criterion-referenced instruments.  
  • Test Results:  Assessors should interpret results with caution and take into account developmental history, observations, and other forms of data to inform decisions. 
Possible indicators for a language disability are listed below:    
  • The student has made slow progress in learning English and academics despite accommodations and special classroom interventions.  It is suggested that interventions are evidence-based and implemented with consistency and fidelity for 6-8 week periods before evaluating effectiveness.    
  • The student has a significant medical history that may have impaired speech and language development.  
  • Family reports impairment in the primary/native language.  
  • Teachers and parents report student is learning very differently from other siblings and/or students who have had similar linguistic background and learning opportunities.  
  • The student has signs of language loss that seem to transcend normal limits. 
For an in-depth comparison of language difficulties vs. disabilities, please refer to the California Practitioners Guide for Educating English Learners with Disabilities (page 113).   Reports must document the use of an interpreter. As appropriate, assessment reports should also include, but not be limited to, some or all of the following:  
  • The impact of language, cultural, environmental, and economic factors on learning.  
  • The presence of a disability or impairment in both the native language and language(s) the student is acquiring. 
  • How standardized tests and techniques were altered, if appropriate.  
  • Use of translation of English tests, including reference to validity and reliability.  
  • Limitations of non-verbal measures and comparison of those results to other areas assessed.  
  • Examiner’s level of language proficiency in a language other than English and its effect on the interpretation of results.  
  • Use of an interpreter and its effect on the tests results and overall assessment.  
  • Cross-validation of information from the home setting that supports findings from more formal measures.  
  • Recommendations for linguistically appropriate goals.  
Additionally, when determining eligibility criteria for ELD students, it is necessary to determine that their learning problems are not primarily the result of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. It is important that the following factors be revisited when completing a triennial reevaluation:  
  • Student’s language level in both languages (such as ELPAC scores) 
  • History of language of instruction  
  • Change in language used at home  
  • Response to Interventions 
  • English Learners who qualify for Special Education services may not meet the district/LEA’s reclassification criteria. Therefore, reclassification of English Learners should be considered. In order to consider reclassification, the IEP team should be expanded to include district/ LEA English Learner program personnel.   
Additional Resources: 
  • In 2019, the California Department of Education developed the California Practitioners’ Guide for Educating English Learners with Disabilities to provide information on identifying, assessing, supporting, and reclassifying English learners who may qualify for special education services and pupils with disabilities who may be classified as English learners.  
  • In collaboration with the California Department of Education (CDE) and California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE), the Imperial County SELPA has developed several resources with the aim of improving outcomes for English learners with Disabilities.
1 The term "parent" refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. 
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INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM MEETING

Parent Notification 

Parents are critical and necessary members of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team and shall be given sufficient written notice of the IEP meeting so that they can attend and participate. The term parent refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). To ensure parent participation, the following is advised:  Contact parents and IEP team members (at school and outside service providers) to arrange a meeting at a mutually agreed upon time and place. 
  • It is recommended that parents be sent a Meeting Notice a minimum of 10 days before the IEP Meeting (the Meeting Notice form is available in SEIS). 
  • On the Meeting Notice, indicate the purpose of the meeting, time, location, and the titles of those in attendance. 
  • Ask the parent(s) to sign and return the meeting.  
  • Arrange for an interpreter if necessary. 
  • Notify all IEP team members of the upcoming meeting to ensure their attendance. 
  • Place a copy of the signed Meeting Notice in the student’s special education file and upload this notice to the student’s record in SEIS.  
According to EDC §56341.1(g), parents, LEAs/districts, and the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) may electronically record an IEP meeting if the requesting party provides other IEP team members with 24 hours’ notice. If the recording is at the request of the LEA/district or the SELPAs, and the parent objects or refuses to attend the meeting because it will be recorded, then the meeting shall not be recorded. 

IEP Team Membership 

As defined in EDC §56341, the following individuals are required members of an IEP Team to develop, revise, or review the IEP, determine eligibility, and/or recommend placement for any pupil.  The student’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s)/surrogate parent or an individual selected by the parent. For further information regarding the definition of parent or information on surrogate parents, visit the "Surrogate Parent Procedures" section of this Procedural Guide. It is important to note that no individual or agency is authorized to sign with consent to an IEP unless they possess educational rights for the student. 
  • An administrator or an administrative designee (other than the student’s teacher) who is knowledgeable of program options appropriate for the student. This person must be authorized to make decisions and allocate resources. 
  • Not less than one general education teacher. The El Dorado SELPAs advise that the student’s current general education teacher attend the meeting. If the student does not have a general education teacher, the teacher with the most recent and complete knowledge of the child and who is qualified to teach a student of their age should attend.  
  • Not less than one special education teacher of the student, or, if appropriate, not less than one special education provider of the student.    
When appropriate, the IEP team may also include the following: 
  • The student. 
  • Other persons who possess expertise or knowledge necessary for the development of the IEP. 
  • An assessor(s) who conducted an assessment and is presenting their report for the IEP team; or an individual with the appropriate qualifications to present the assessment report on behalf of an assessor. 
  • For students with suspected learning disabilities, at least one member of the IEP team other than the student’s general teacher who has observed the student’s educational performance in an appropriate setting. 

Membership Excusal 

34 CFR §300.321 allows for the excusal of IEP team members based on the following:   Not Necessary: A member of an IEP team may not be required to attend an IEP meeting, in whole or in part, if the parent of a child with a disability and the LEA/district agree that the attendance of such member is not necessary because the member’s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting. 
  • Necessary, but excusable: A member of the IEP team may be excused from attending an IEP meeting, in whole or in part, when the meeting involves a modification to or discussion of the member’s area of the curriculum or related services, if both of the following occur: 
  • The parent and the LEA/district consent to the excusal in writing by completing the IEP Excusal Form (available in SEIS) and 
  • The excused IEP team member submits, in writing, to the parent and the IEP team input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting. 
When an IEP team member is excused, other team members should refrain from reinterpreting the data of the excused team member or answering questions outside of the scope of their credentials. 

Agenda 

It is essential that a well-organized and structured IEP team meeting be conducted. The meeting outline which follows is recommended as a guide for conducting IEP team meetings. Depending on the purpose of the meeting, the IEP Meeting agenda may be amended. An example IEP Meeting agenda can be found in the SEIS document library. Additionally, please see the "Initial and Triennial Planning Sheet”  and "Educational Benefit Guidelines"as additional resources when planning IEP Meetings.   Efforts should be made to present information in a manner that is easily understood by all members of the IEP team, including the parents. This includes providing parents with translated documents when necessary.  
  • Welcome: Welcome all participants to the meeting and thank them for their participation. 
  • Introduction of All Persons Present: Record the names, titles, and agency/school of all attendees, including individuals who may be participating by phone, in the meeting notes. Use the Excusal Form if necessary and obtain parent signature. The IEP team may wish to sign the attendance sheet at this point or at the close of the IEP. 
  • Purpose: The meeting facilitator should briefly review the purpose of the meeting. 
  • Agenda Overview: The meeting facilitator should briefly review the proposed agenda and request additional agenda items or questions from IEP meeting team members. The IEP team shall finalize and agree on an agenda before continuing the meeting. 
  • Establish Time Parameters: The meeting facilitator should review the previously agreed-upon start and end time for the IEP meeting. If anyone has to leave the meeting at a specific time, address it with the entire team and document the time the individual(s) leave in the IEP meeting notes. An excusal form should be completed and signed by the parent and the Administrative Designee. If the parent disagrees with someone’s request to leave early, the team will have to adjourn the meeting at the point of the member’s departure and schedule a continuation meeting when the member can attend the entire meeting. Assign a designated person to be the timekeeper, if necessary. 
  • Procedural Safeguards: Provide/verify that the parents have received a copy of their Notice of Parental Rights and Procedural Safeguards. The meeting facilitator shall ask the parents if they have any questions or would like further clarification regarding their rights and procedural safeguards. A copy of Parent Rights and Procedural Safeguards should be presented at minimum one time annually, but it is suggested that they be provided at the beginning of each IEP Meeting. Parents may decline an additional copy of these rights, although one must be offered. It is recommended that the note-taker document in the IEP notes that these rights were offered and accepted or offered and declined and whether the parent had any questions. Further information can be found in the "Procedural Safeguards"  section of this Procedural Guide. Copies of the Procedural Safeguards in English and additional languages can be found in the SEIS Document Library.  
  • Review of Information/Eligibility Page: Review the Information/Eligibility page of the IEP to make sure that parent(s) address(es) and phone number(s) are up to date. 
  • Statement of Eligibility/Non-eligibility: If eligibility is being considered or reviewed, the following applies: 
    • If the IEP team determines that the student is not eligible for special education services or no longer eligible, document on the IEP form that "assessment results indicate that special education services are not appropriate at this time" and check the box on the form indicating "not eligible". 
    • If further assessment is needed to clarify eligibility, the IEP team meeting may be suspended pending further testing or evaluation but reconvened as soon as possible. 
    • If the student is not eligible for special education services but educational concerns are present, the IEP team meeting should be adjourned. The general education support options may be explored, including possible referral to the Student Study Team (SST) and/or consideration of an assessment for 504 eligibility. 
    • If the student is determined by the IEP team to be eligible for special education, proceed with the rest of the IEP meeting agenda.
  • Student Strengths/Preferences/Interests: Any member of the IEP team may share student strengths with the team. These may include but are not limited to academic, social, and behavioral strengths or student preferences, likes, hobbies, and talents. 
  • Parent Concerns: Parents should have an opportunity to share their concerns and provide relevant information to the team. The person taking the notes should document how the parent’s concerns were addressed during the meeting or capture the discussion regarding how the team will address that concern in the future. 
  • Present Levels of Performance: The meeting facilitator should request each IEP meeting participant to provide data to update the student’s present levels of performance, including the parent(s)/guardian(s). Each classroom teacher should provide input, as well as parents and each assessor. When appropriate (student will turn 16 years of age before the next annual IEP), complete transition paperwork in conjunction with present levels, goals, and services.  
    •  Areas of Need: For the student to receive educational benefit, in which areas of need do goals need to be written? The areas of need should align with the present levels and be supported by data. 
      • Assessment reports conducted by specialists trained in these specific areas should provide information indicating the need for specialized materials, devices, or supports. 
  •  Individual Transition Plan (ITP): As defined in California Education Code section 56345, an ITP must be included in the IEP that will be implemented when the student turns 16 years of age, or younger, if deemed appropriate by the IEP Team. The IEP Team must discuss, implement, and review the student’s ITP annually. For further information, guidelines, and resources, visit the "Transition” portion of the SELPA’s website or the "Transition Planning” section of this Procedural Guide. 
  • Special Factors: 
    • Assistive technology: Does the student require assistive technology devices and/or services to access learning? Did the team have an assistive technology assessment completed?
    • Low incidence: Does the student require low incidence services, equipment and/or materials to meet educational goals? Is this student eligible under a low incidence disability (visual or hearing impairment, severe orthopedic impairment, or any combination thereof)?
    • Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Consider the communication needs of the child, including: 
      • Child’s language and communication needs, 
      • Opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the child’s language and communication mode, 
      • Academic level, and 
      • Full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child’s language and communication mode
      • If yes, does the student need primary language support?
      • If yes, who will provide language support? 
      • What will be the language of instruction for the student? 
      • Who will provide ELD services to the student? What type of ELD services will be provided?
    • Behavior: Does the student’s behavior impede the learning of self or others, yes or no?  
    • If yes, specify positive behavior interventions, strategies, and supports. Consider whether a behavioral goal and/or a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is appropriate depending on the student’s needs.
  • Statewide Assessments: The IEP team shall discuss participation in statewide assessments, including any needed accessibility resources to be documented in the student’s IEP. The "California Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix” presents the current universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations adopted by the State of California for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessment. 
  • Review of Progress on Current Goals/Objectives: At plan review and eligibility evaluation meetings, IEP teams must address the previous year’s goals and objectives and note on the document whether goals were met. If previous goals were not met, document action to be taken (i.e., continue with additional supports, discontinue or modify) and revise the goal.
    • New Goal/Objectives Based on Current Needs: At initial meetings, plan review, and eligibility evaluation meetings, the IEP team shall develop goals tied to the areas of need identified by assessments and/or present levels. As a team, the IEP meeting participants shall establish goals and/or additional support for all areas of need that were identified in the present levels of performance.
  • Each measurable annual goal, including academic and functional goals, shall be designed to do the following: 
  • Meet the individual’s needs that result from the individual’s disability to enable the pupil to be involved in and make progress in the general curriculum 
  • Meet the pupil’s other educational needs that result from the individual’s disability 
  • Be linguistically appropriate for the student if the student is an English Language Learner 
  • Offer of Program/Services Based on Goals/Objectives: In considering program alternatives, the IEP team shall make a recommendation based on the individual needs of the student and not based on the category under which the student is determined to be eligible for special education. 
    •  The IEP team shall consider the full continuum of program options to ensure that all students are provided a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) and document options considered on the services page of the IEP. 
    • After reviewing all program options, the IEP team shall recommend appropriate related services, calculated to offer the student the opportunity to achieve educational benefit. 
  • Accommodations/Modifications: Consider what classroom and campus supports the student will need to obtain educational benefit. These accommodations and modifications are those that the student requires beyond what is currently available to general education students. Further information regarding accommodations and modifications can be found in the "Curriculum Adaptations"  section of this Procedural Guide.  
  • Supplementary Aids, Services and Other Supports for School Personnel, for the Student, or on Behalf of the Student: The IEP team shall develop a list of supplementary aids and services based on peer-reviewed research to the extent possible. The frequency, duration, and location of services to be provided must be specified on the IEP. It is not recommended to write in "as needed" for duration or frequency. The IEP team shall also document program modifications or supports for school personnel. The services, supplementary aids, program modifications, and/or supports will be provided to enable the student to do the following: 
    • To progress towards obtaining their annual goals 
    • To be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum in accordance with their present levels and functional performance 
    • To participate in extra-curricular and non-academic activities 
    • To be educated and participate with other students with exceptional needs and non-disabled peers. 
The El Dorado SELPAs recommends that the IEP include all accommodations and supports a student requires, including those related to behavior intervention plans or state testing. Document needed classroom supports at the top portion of the "Services- Offer of FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education)" form under supplementary aids, services & other supports. Classroom support refers to support in the classroom, which may include additional adult support. If a student requires individualized support from an aide, it would be documented on the bottom portion of the "Services-Offer of FAPE" form under special education and related services. 
  • Emergency Circumstances Page: The Emergency Circumstances Page must be discussed and completed at the initial and subsequent annual plan review meetings. If instruction, services, or both, cannot be provided to the student, either at school or in person for more than 10 school days due to one or more emergency conditions as defined by EDC §46392(a) and EDC §41422(a), student’s IEP services will be provided to the extent practicable, taking into consideration the student’s unique circumstances, the specific emergency circumstance(s), district policy, and federal, state and local orders. 
  • Educational Setting-Offer of FAPE: What is the most appropriate placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for this student? Each LEA/district must ensure that:
    • To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and 
    • Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily [34 CFR §300.114(a)].  
      • Additional Considerations: 
        • Percentage (%) of time in/out of general education classes and rationale for time out of general education 
        • Indicate other agencies working with the student 
        • Indicate promotion criteria 
        • Progress monitoring/progress reporting 
        • Activities to support transition  
  • Extended School Year (ESY): Complete the "Extended School Year" (ESY) forms located in SEIS to help the team determine if a student needs ESY support. For more information, see the "Extended School Year” section of this Procedural guide.  
  • Ending the Meeting: 
    • Confirm Agreements 
    • Obtain Signatures:
      • All IEP team members, including parents and the student (when the student is present), sign in attendance of the IEP. If parents agree to the IEP and placement of their child, they will also sign in consent to the IEP document. 
      • If the parent does not consent to all components of the IEP, then the parent should indicate those areas of exception on the signature page. If the parent needs more writing space, an additional piece of paper can be used and attached to the IEP. Whether the parent submits their letter of exception at the IEP meeting or returns with a letter that explains the areas of exception, it shall be accepted as a supplemental document to the IEP and attached in the Special Education Information System (SEIS). 
      • The notes page should reference the additional page of exceptions. If a parent submits consent to some components of the IEP and lists exceptions to others, the case manager should work with the parent to schedule a future IEP meeting to discuss the areas of exception. Any areas of the IEP to which the parent does not consent will become areas of exception and will not be implemented. 
      • The components of the program to which the parents have consented may be implemented so as not to delay providing support and services to the student. 
      • Written parent permission must be obtained prior to initiating services and/or educational placement.  The services and/or placement will begin following the parent’s written approval of the IEP. 
      • Follow Up: If there are any outstanding agenda items or concerns that the IEP team was not able to discuss/reach a consensus on, another IEP meeting shall be scheduled as soon as the team can set a mutually agreeable meeting date. 
      • Provide parents with a copy of the IEP. 
      • Place a copy of all IEP Documents into the student’s special education file and upload all signed documents (i.e., Notice of Meeting, Parent Consent, Excusal Forms, and Reports) into SEIS. 
      • The LEA/district may need to send parents a Prior Written Notice (PWN) after the meeting. The purpose of this is to document any changes or proposed changes to the IEP. For further information, see the "Prior Written Notice” section of this procedural guide. 
Useful Links:
Surrogate Parent Procedures Section of the PG: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SURROGATE-PARENT-PROCEDURES.pdf Procedural Safeguards Section of the PG: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PROCEDURAL-SAFEGUARDS.pdf Initial and Triennial Planning Sheet: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Initial-and-Triennial-Planning-Sheet.pdf Educational Benefit Document: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Ed-Benefit-Document.pdf SELPA’s Transition Page: https://charterselpa.org/transition/ Transition Planning Section of the PG: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/TRANSITION-PLANNING-AND-STUDENT-LED-TRANSITION-MEETINGS.pdf CA Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/accessibilityresources.asp Curriculum Adaptations Section of the PG: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/CURRICULUM-ADAPTATIONS.pdf Extended School Year Section of the PG: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/EXTENDED-SCHOOL-YEAR.pdf Prior Written Notice Section of the PG: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PRIOR-WRITTEN-NOTICE.pdf
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General Information 

Following an assessment, the IEP team, including assessment personnel, shall make the decision as to whether or not the assessment results demonstrate that the degree of the student’s impairment requires special education and/or related services (EDC §56320 & §3030) .   The IEP team shall consider all the relevant information available about the student. No single score or product of scores shall be used as the sole criterion for the decision of the IEP team as to the student’s eligibility for special education.  In making a determination for eligibility, a student shall not be determined to be an individual with exceptional needs if the determining factor is one of the following (EDC §56321(a)(2)) : 
  • Lack of appropriate instruction in reading 
  • Lack of appropriate instruction in mathematics 
  • Due primarily to limited school experience or poor school attendance 
  • Is a result of environmental, cultural differences, or economic disadvantages 
  • Could be corrected through other interventions and supports offered within the general education program 
  • Limited-English proficiency 
To receive special education and related services under Part B of IDEA (34 CFR §300.8), a child must be evaluated to determine both: 
  • Whether they have a disability, and 
  • Whether they, because of the disability, need special education and related services. 
The need for special education and related services is determined by the adverse impact of the disability on educational performance, despite consistently applied and documented general education accommodations to support a student’s academic progress, social-emotional functioning, and/or behavioral functioning. The term “educational performance” as used in the IDEA and its implementing regulations, is not limited to academic performance (Letter to Clark, Office of Special Education Programs March 8, 2007). Adverse impact on educational performance could be documented by the pervasive nature of any combination of the following: 
  • The student is not making satisfactory progress toward grade-level standards. 
  • There is an overall pattern of poor or failing grades present for an extended period of time on grade reports. 
  • Quality and degree of task completion are significantly below the range of the class. 
  • The student demonstrates a significant difference between ability and achievement on standardized and curriculum-based achievement tests. 
  • The student demonstrates a pattern of missing instruction due to behavior challenges. 
  • The student’s social-emotional functioning is interfering with the student’s ability to attend school, engage with peers, and/or complete schoolwork.   

Eligibility Categories 

Under the IDEA, a student with a disability refers to a student “evaluated in accordance with 34 CFR §300.304   through §300.311 as having an intellectual disability, a hearing impairment (including deafness), a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment (including blindness), a serious emotional disturbance (referred to in this part as “emotional disturbance”), an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, an other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities, and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.” 34 CFR §300.8(a)(1) The IDEA sets forth how states define who is eligible for special education, and these 13 categories are defined by the California Code of Regulations (5 CCR §3030) for determining eligibility in California. The list below reflects all 13 categories followed by corresponding definitions.   

  • Specific Learning Disability (SLD) 
  • Other Health Impairment (OHI) 
  • Emotional Disturbance (ED) 
  • Speech or Language Impairment (SLI) 
  • Autism (AUT) 
  • Intellectual Disability (ID) 
  • Hard of Hearing (HH) 
  • Deafness (DEAF) 
  • Visual Impairment (VI) 
  • Orthopedic Impairment (OI) 
  • Deaf-Blindness (DB) 
  • Multiple Disabilities (MD) 
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) 
Eligibility Summarized (per EDC §56320  and 5 CCR §3030). 

Specific Learning Disability (SLD) 

A specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken, or written, that may have manifested itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.  A specific learning disability can include conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. These conditions are medically diagnosed and do not automatically make a student eligible for special education and related services. A medical diagnosis may trigger an evaluation to determine the corresponding impairment in psychological processes and the need for special education and related services in the school setting.  The basic psychological processes include: 
  • Attention 
  • Visual processing 
  • Auditory processing 
  • Sensory-motor skills 
  • Cognitive processing 
Specific learning disabilities do not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.  A severe discrepancy shall not be primarily the result of limited school experience or poor school attendance, or limited English proficiency, and it must have been documented that before, or as a part of, the referral process, the pupil was provided appropriate instruction and intervention in general education settings, delivered by qualified personnel.  In determining whether a student has a specific learning disability, the public agency must ensure  that the student is observed in the student’s learning environment. 

SLD Eligibility Models 

Within all models, both of the following items apply: 
  • Disabilities do not include learning problems that are primarily the result of the visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage, and 
  • The student is observed in the student’s learning environment. 

Discrepancy Model 

In determining whether a student has a specific learning disability, the public agency may consider whether a student has a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement in any of the following: 
  • Oral expression 
  • Listening comprehension 
  • Written expression 
  • Basic reading skill 
  • Reading fluency skills 
  • Reading comprehension 
  • Mathematical calculation 
  • Mathematical reasoning 
The decision as to whether a severe discrepancy exists shall take into account all relevant material that is available for the student. No single score, test, or procedure shall be used as the sole criterion for the decisions of the IEP team as to the student’s eligibility for special education.  In determining the existence of a severe discrepancy, the IEP team shall use the following procedures. When standardized tests are considered to be valid for a specific student, a severe discrepancy is demonstrated by: 
  • Converting into common standard scores, using a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15, the achievement test score and the intellectual ability test score to be compared, 
  • Computing the difference between these common standard scores, and 
  • Comparing the computed difference to the standard criterion, which is the product of 
1.5 multiplied by the standard deviation of the distribution of computed differences of students taking these achievement and ability tests.  A computed difference that equals or exceeds this standard criterion, adjusted by one standard error of measurement, the adjustment not to exceed four common standard score points, indicates a severe discrepancy when such discrepancy is corroborated by other assessment data, which may include other tests, scales, instruments, observations, and work samples, as appropriate.  If the standardized tests do not reveal a severe discrepancy, the IEP team may find that a severe discrepancy does exist (between cognitive ability and academic achievement), provided that the team documents in a written report that the severe discrepancy between ability and achievement exists as a result of a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes. The report shall include a statement of the area, the degree, and the basis and method used in determining the discrepancy.  The report shall contain information considered by the team, which shall include, but not be limited to: 
  • Data obtained from standardized assessment instruments 
  • Information provided by the parent 
  • Information provided by the student’s present teacher 
  • Evidence of the student’s performance in the general and/or special education classroom obtained from observations, work samples, and group test scores 
  • Consideration of the student’s age, particularly for young students 
  • Any additional relevant information 
A severe discrepancy shall not be primarily the result of limited school experience, poor school attendance, or limited English proficiency.  Per Larry P. vs. Riles litigation, African American students in the state of California cannot be administered cognitive assessments. For additional information on Test Selection and Eligibility for African American Students as a result of the Larry P. vs Riles litigation, please see the corresponding section of this procedural guide titled, “Assessment, Test Selection, and Reports”.  Response to Intervention Model (RtI) and Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses Model (PSW)  Regardless of whether a student shows a severe discrepancy, a student may be determined to have a specific learning disability if:  The student does not achieve adequately for the student’s age or meet state-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the student’s age or state-approved grade-level standards: 
  • Oral expression 
  • Listening comprehension 
  • Written expression 
  • Basic reading skill 
  • Reading fluency skills 
  • Reading comprehension 
  • Mathematical calculation or 
  • Mathematical reasoning 
-AND-  Response to Intervention Model (RtI) – The student does not make sufficient progress in meeting age or state-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the areas identified above when using a process based on the student’s response to scientific, research-based intervention;  -OR-  Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses Model (PSW)- The student exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, state-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the group to be relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability, using research/evidence-based assessments. To ensure that underachievement in a student suspected of having a specific learning disability is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math or due to limited English proficiency, the group making the decision must consider the following: 
  • Data that demonstrate that before, or as a part of, the referral process, the student wasprovided appropriate instruction in general education settings, delivered by qualified personnel; 
AND- 
  • Data-based documentation of repeated assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals, reflecting formal assessment of student progress during instruction, which was provided to the student’s parents. 
Although the law allows LEAs/districts the option of using RTI and PSW procedures as part of the evaluation procedures for special education eligibility, a comprehensive assessment is still required to ensure that IEP team members have carefully evaluated and considered all relevant aspects of a student’s performance and history. The comprehensive assessment must occur before determining that a student has a disability that impacts progress in the general curriculum, thus making them eligible for special education services.  SLD Eligibility Related to Reading Fluency Reading fluency is a defined criteria for the PSW and RTI models but not the discrepancy model, which identifies basic reading skills and reading comprehension. Reading fluency is recognized as a foundational reading skill and likely an integral part of basic reading skills. Additionally, a deficit in reading fluency is typically accompanied by a deficit in reading comprehension. Therefore reading fluency may meet the threshold for "basic reading skills" for the purposes of SLD eligibility under the discrepancy model. A Comparison Between SLD Models   For an overview of each model for identifying SLD, please refer to the SELPA’s handout titled, Specific Learning Disability Models.
Specific Learning Disability Models
Specific Learning Disability (SLD) Defined: A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may have manifested itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The basic psychological processes include attention, visual processing, auditory processing, sensory-motor skills, and cognitive abilities including association, conceptualization, and expression. Specific Learning Disabilities do not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. *Note: the criteria listed above, including the presence of a processing deficit and consideration of exclusionary criteria, applies to all three models of identification: Discrepancy Model, Response to Intervention, and Patterns of Strength and Weakness.
Models of Identifying SLD  Brief Overview 
Discrepancy Model The IQ-achievement discrepancy model assesses whether there is a significant difference between a student’s scores on a test of general intelligence (e.g., an IQ test such as the WISC-V) and scores obtained on a test of academic achievement (e.g., the Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Test).   If a student’s score on the IQ test is at least two standard deviations (23-30 points) higher than his or her scores on an achievement test, the student is identified as having a significant discrepancy between IQ and achievement. In addition to the discrepancy, testing must indicate a psychological processing disorder in one of the basic psychological processes. The discrepancy paired with a processing disorder yields eligibility under SLD.  
Response to Intervention (RtI) Model The term Response to Intervention (RtI) refers to a process that emphasizes how well a student responds to meaningful and targeted changes in instruction. The essential elements of the RtI approach are: the provision of scientific, research-based instruction and interventions in general education; monitoring and measurement of student progress in response to the instruction and interventions; and use of these measures of student progress to inform instruction and make educational decisions.  A student is identified as having a Specific Learning Disability if they display insufficient response to scientific, research-based intervention as well as insufficient progress toward grade-level standards.
Patterns of Strength and Weakness (PSW) Model The Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses model refers to a thorough examination of a student’s basic psychological processes (i.e. visual, auditory, memory, attention, etc.) using a range of information gathered through standardized assessment in conjunction with school-based performance measures.  There are pre-established and research-based methods a psychologist may rely on (e.g., Cross Battery Assessment, Dehn’s Processing Model, Discrepancy/Consistency Method). Regardless of the model a psychologist uses, the focus is to answer the following questions:  
  1. Does a student have a cognitive weakness, or are all their scores within the average to above-average range?  
  1. If a student has a weakness, is there a clear and consistent pattern to show what they are? In other words, can the psychologist easily establish which tasks are easier or harder for the student?  
  1. If there is a clear pattern, does the student also have academic weaknesses? In other words, did they also score below average for their age in one or more of the following: oral expression, listening comprehension, math calculation, math reasoning, reading fluency, basic reading skills, reading comprehension, or written expression?  
  1. If a student does have academic weaknesses, do those weaknesses make sense given their cognitive abilities? 

Other Health Impairment (OHI) 

Other health impairment means 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, Tourette syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; 
-AND- 
  • Adversely affects a student’s educational performance. 

OHI and ADHD 

If a student exhibits ADHD-like behaviors, the IEP team should attempt to differentiate indicators that would be more closely associated with conditions such as: 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Mood disorders (i.e.: anxiety/depression) 
  • Conduct disorders 
  • Oppositional defiant disorder 
  • Malnutrition 
School-based assessments do not diagnose ADHD or any other medical/mental health disorder(s). Instead, they document the presence of behavior that may be symptomatic of ADHD or other conditions. If the school deems a medical diagnosis necessary to determine special education eligibility, the school would be liable to provide access to the medical diagnosis from the doctor along with the cost of the doctor’s visits. 

Emotional Disturbance (ED) 

Emotional disturbance means 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 student’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 
  • Emotional disturbance includes schizophrenia 
The term does not apply to students who are socially maladjusted unless it is determined that they also have an emotional disturbance.  School-based assessments do not diagnose mental health disorders. They document the presence of behavior that may be symptomatic of mental health disorders and how those symptoms impact educational performance.  Due to the complexity of ED assessments, assessors may wish to provide differential eligibility criteria to rule in and/or rule out other areas of eligibility such as OHI, AUT, or SLD. ED assessments typically include both broadband and narrow-band assessments to help IEP team members pinpoint specific areas of need and target IEP Goals. A thorough ED evaluation should encompass all the components of an Educationally Related Mental Health Services (ERMHS) assessment and provide ample documentation to support students’ need for ERMHS services, which may include counseling or Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). In very rare circumstances, a student who meets the eligibility criteria for ED may not additionally require ERMHS support, including a BIP. 

Speech or Language Impairment (SLI) 

A student has a language or speech disorder once it is determined that the student’s disorder meets one or more of the following criteria: 
  • Articulation disorder- The student displays reduced intelligibility or an inability to use the speech mechanism which significantly interferes with communication and attracts adverse attention. Significant interference in communication occurs when the student’s production of single or multiple speech sounds on a developmental scale of articulation competency is below that expected for his or her chronological age or developmental level, which adversely affects educational performance. A student does not meet the criteria for an articulation disorder if the sole assessed disability is an abnormal swallowing pattern. 
  • Abnormal voice- A student has an abnormal voice which is characterized by persistent, defective voice quality, pitch, or loudness. 
  • Fluency disorders- A student has a fluency disorder when the flow of verbal expression including rate and rhythm adversely affects communication between the student and listener. 
  • Language disorder- The student has an expressive or receptive language disorder when he or she meets one of the following criteria: 
    • The student scores at least 1.5 standard deviations below the mean, or below the 7th percentile, for his or her chronological age or developmental level on two or more standardized tests in one or more of the following areas of language development: morphology, syntax, semantics, or pragmatics. When standardized tests are considered to be invalid for the specific student, the expected language performance level shall be determined by alternative means as specified on the assessment plan, or 
    • The student scores at least 1.5 standard deviations below the mean or the score is below the 7th percentile for his or her chronological age or developmental level on one or more standardized tests in one of the areas listed in section A and displays inappropriate or inadequate usage of expressive or receptive language as measured by a representative spontaneous or elicited language sample of a minimum of 50 utterances. The language sample must be recorded or transcribed and analyzed, and the results included in the assessment report. If the student is unable to produce this sample, the language, speech, and hearing specialist shall document why a fifty-utterance sample was not obtainable and the contexts in which attempts were made to elicit the sample. When standardized tests are considered to be invalid for the specific student, the expected language performance level shall be determined by alternative means as specified in the assessment plan. 

Autism (AUT) 

Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, and adversely affecting a student’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.  Autism does not apply if a student’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the student has an emotional disturbance.  A student who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three could be identified as having autism if the criteria are satisfied.  Autism can be medically diagnosed; however, a medical diagnosis does not automatically make a student eligible for special education and related services. A medical diagnosis may trigger a school-based evaluation to determine the corresponding need for special education and related services in the school setting. Conversely, a student does not require a medical diagnosis to meet the eligibility criteria for autism.  School-based assessments do not diagnose autism. They document the presence of behavior that may be symptomatic of autism or autism spectrum disorders and how those behaviors impact a student’s learning performance.  Assessors may wish to provide differential eligibility criteria to rule in and rule out other areas of eligibility such as OHI, ED, or SLD. Other areas of assessment for students with autism may include pragmatic language (speech) or a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA), resulting in a BIP. 

Intellectual Disability (ID) 

Intellectual disability means significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. 

Hard of Hearing (HH) 

Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance, but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section.  For more information on referral to the California School for the Deaf for additional assessment, please see the section titled, “State Special Schools and Services”. 

Deafness (DEAF) 

Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the student is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.  For more information on referral to the California School for the Deaf for additional assessment, please see the section titled, “State Special Schools and Services”. 

Visual Impairment (VI) 

Visual impairment, including blindness, means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.  For more information on referral to the California School for the Blind for additional assessment, please see the section titled, “State Special Schools and Services”. 

Orthopedic Impairment (OI) 

Orthopedic impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a student’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). 

Deaf-Blindness (DB) 

Deaf-blindness means 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 students with deafness or student with blindness.  For more information on referral to the California School for the Blind for additional assessment,  please see the section titled, “State Special Schools and Services”. 

Multiple Disabilities (MD) 

Multiple disabilities mean concomitant impairments, such as intellectual disability-blindness or intellectual disability-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. 

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) 

Traumatic brain injury means 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 student’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; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; 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.  Neither the IDEA nor California law expressly requires medical documentation of TBI before determining whether a student qualifies under the TBI eligibility category. If a parent provides the IEP team, either verbally or in writing, with information that a student has suffered a TBI, the IEP team should consider the information and determine whether the information suffices to prove the student suffers from a TBI or whether additional information is necessary. If the IEP team requires further information, such as a medical evaluation to determine whether the student is suffering from a TBI caused by external physical force or some other impairment, the district is required to provide the assessment at no cost to the parents, just as it would under any other disabling condition. 

Other Considerations with Regard to Eligibility: 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)  A student whose educational performance is adversely affected by a suspected or diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may meet eligibility requirements under the following categories: 
  • Other Health Impaired (OHI) when ADHD is a chronic, acute health problem that causes a limited and/or heightened alertness to the educational environment and adversely impacts educational performance. 
  • Specific Learning Disability (SLD) with a significant discrepancy between ability and achievement and a deficit in attention which is one of the five basic psychological processes; or 
  • Emotional Disturbance (ED) when the lack of attention is causing a severe emotional condition so pervasive that it adversely affects educational performance. 
It is suggested that the Assessment Team provide differential eligibility criteria (in assessment reports) to examine all three of the above criteria (SLD, ED, OHI) to rule in or rule out each category and assist the IEP team in documenting that these needs were fully explored. 

Medical Diagnosis: ADHD, Autism, Other Medical Conditions, and/or Mental Health Disorders 

Eligibility for special education differs from a medical diagnosis provided by an outside medical provider in the following ways: 
  • Educational eligibility allows a student to access IDEA services and is determined by a school-based IEP team after assessments are conducted within the school setting. 
  • Medical diagnosis is a process conducted by a doctor or team of doctors to determine whether a medical need exists, including a physical or a mental health disorder. 
There is no requirement for medical documentation from a doctor for a student to become eligible for or continue to receive special education services, unless the IEP team deems it necessary.  If an IEP team suspects ADHD, autism, other medical conditions, and/or mental health disorders may be impacting a student’s learning, the team should conduct a school-based assessment to examine the ways in which the suspected disability is manifesting at school and impacting the student’s ability to learn.  In some circumstances, an IEP team may determine that additional medical documentation is required. If the school deems a medical diagnosis necessary to determine special education eligibility, the school would be liable to provide access to the medical diagnosis from the doctor and incur responsibility for the costs of the doctor’s visits.  In order to access special education services, a student must have an assessment for special education conducted to examine how the student’s learning is impacted by the disability. A doctor’s recommendation, report, prescription, or letter is not sufficient to determine eligibility, but must be taken into account by the IEP team. 

Eligibility for Related Services 

For a student to access related services (e.g., occupational therapy, counseling, transportation, adapted PE), they must have an evaluation conducted by the appropriately credentialed specialist. A written report must identify that the student qualifies for the related service and must outline areas of need. The IEP team must convene to discuss the assessment results. Based on the evaluator’s findings, the student’s needs will be outlined in the present levels to drive goals and services. The goals must include baseline data to indicate present levels of functioning specific to each goal area. Services and goals should be updated at each annual IEP and re-evaluated at each triennial IEP. Should a service provider wish to exit a student from a related service, they should complete a full reevaluation to provide the IEP team with documentation that the related service is no longer necessary.  For information regarding eligibility for Educationally Related Mental Health Services (ERMHS), please refer to the El Dorado SELPA’s ERMHS Program Guidelines.   If you have any questions regarding the guidance provided in this document, please contact your El Dorado SELPA’s Program Specialist. 
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As a student with disabilities moves into their teen years, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) focuses more on the interests of the student and what they hope for in the future. It is the IEP team’s responsibility to create a transition individualized education program to support those interests.  Transition, in reference to individuals receiving special education services, is defined as a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that: 
  • Is designed to be within a results-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the student with a disability to facilitate the student’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation; 
  • Is based on the individual student’s needs, taking into account the student’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and 
  • Includes 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. 
[34 CFR §300.43 (a)] [20 U.S.C. 1401(34)]  The student’s IEP must be updated, prior to their 16th birthday (or younger if deemed appropriate by the IEP Team), to include the following transition components: 
  • Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and, where appropriate, independent living skills; 
  • The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the student in reaching those goals; and 
  • Beginning not later than one year before the student reaches the age of majority under state law (18 in California), a statement that the student has been informed of the student’s rights under Part B, if any, that will transfer to the student on reaching the age of majority, must be included in the IEP. 
The LEA/district must invite the student with a disability to attend the student’s IEP Team meeting if a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals for the student and the transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals.  If a purpose of a student’s IEP Team meeting will be the consideration of postsecondary goals for the student and the transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals, the LEA/district must invite a representative of any participating agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services to attend the student’s IEP Team meeting. 

Overview of Transition Planning 

Collaborate closely with the student through each step of the process: 
  • Transition Assessment: Conduct age-appropriate assessments to determine interests, aptitudes, and areas of need. 
  • Assessment Results: Describe the student’s strengths and present levels of performance, achievement, and functioning. 
  • Measurable Postsecondary Goals: Based upon assessment information and present levels, develop student-centered measurable postsecondary goals. 
  • Course of Study: Determine the course of study that will support the student’s transition goals. 
  • Coordinated Set of Activities to Support Transition Goals: Develop a “coordinated set of activities” that supports the measurable postsecondary goals and transition plan. 
  • Transition Services: Determine transition services and document those services in the student’s IEP. 
  • Student-Led Transition (IEP) Meeting: Assist the student to plan and prepare to lead the IEP meeting. Be sure to include these additional components: 
  • Age of Majority: Document the information shared with the student around the Age of Majority. Please see the section of this Procedural Guide titled, “Age of Majority” for more details on this topic. 
  • Invite Appropriate Outside Agencies: Ensure appropriate agencies are invited to the IEP meeting. 
  • Implementation: Implement the IEP, monitor progress on goals and course of study, and modify and update the plan annually. 
  • Annual Review of Goals and Updates to Plan: Develop annual IEP goals that align with and support the transition plan and postsecondary goals. 
  • Summary of Performance: The Summary of Performance must be completed in the final year of a student’s high school education. It is intended for postsecondary schools, service providers, and employers to be used at the student’s discretion. 

Transition Assessment 

Transition Assessment is the ongoing process of collecting data on the individual’s needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future working, educational, living, and personal and social environments. Assessment is the common thread in the transition process and forms the basis for defining goals and services to be included in the IEP. Transition assessment should include activities, assessments, content, environments, instruction, and/or materials that reflect a student’s chronological age and/or developmental level.  Each year, the transition assessments should be revisited in a more specific manner, targeting the student’s development. For students in grades nine and ten, a career exploration measure or interest inventory is typically satisfactory. For an older student, a vocational skills assessment is more appropriate. Assessment should address all three components of transition- employment, postsecondary education and training, and independent living.  It is best practice to use information in addition to a student’s self-report when assessing for transition. Input from parents, teachers, and other providers is helpful in determining needs a student may have but not recognize themselves in employment, independent living, and education.  Tools that can be used to assess a student’s transition needs may include: 
  • Psycho-educational Assessments 
  • Job Evaluations 
  • Labor market Surveys/Aptitudes Tests 
  • Progress on IEP Goals 
  • Transition Inventories 
  • Observations & Record Reviews 
  • Interest Surveys 
  • Personality Inventories 
  • Academic Assessments/Curriculum-Based Assessments 
  • Computerized Career Systems
  • Student and family interviews 
If completing an individual transition assessment, there should be an assessment plan signed by the parent1. Some assessments are often done as group activities and may not require an assessment plan. For example, if a whole class is taking an online career interest inventory, individual parent consent is not required. But, if an individual student is asked to complete a career interest inventory and the assignment is not required class-wide, an assessment must be consented to by a parent or guardian.  Document the assessment(s) done each year in the transition assessment section of the IEP. Include the name and date of each tool used, a brief summary of the results, and outcomes of any work, training, or community service in which the student has participated. 

Measurable Postsecondary Goals 

Measurable Postsecondary Goals (MPSGs) should be student-centered and directed by assessment. They typically focus on 12-24 months after high school graduation or completion. It is important that the goals are measurable and identify an outcome rather than a process. These measurable postsecondary goals must be reviewed and updated annually but are not required to change. They may become more specific as a student matures. Measurable postsecondary goals are required for all students in two areas: 1) training/education and 2) employment. Measurable postsecondary goals in the area of training/education may include college studies (university and community college), occupational certification, technical training, industry certification, or on-the-job training. Measurable postsecondary goals in the area of employment might include paid, competitive, supported, or sheltered employment. It may also include unpaid opportunities such as volunteering in a training capacity, military, etc.  A third measurable postsecondary goal in the area of Independent Living is recommended but not required. It is up to the student’s IEP Team to determine whether IEP goals related to the development of independent living skills are appropriate and necessary for the student to receive Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) (71 Fed. Reg. 46668 (Aug. 14, 2006)). Measurable postsecondary goals in the area of independent living should be considered for students who are Regional Center clients, students taking alternative assessments, students on a non-diploma track, and for students with medical and mental health issues.  Recommended best practice is to have a goal in independent living for all students with an IEP. 

Suggested IEP Language for Measurable Postsecondary Goals 

The IEP template in SEIS starts the MPSG with “Upon completion of school I will…” From that point on, you could choose to add specificity, i.e., “receive a certificate of completion and…,” or “receive a high school diploma and…” and align MPSGs with the outcome identified in the student’s Course of Study.  Use results-oriented terms such as, “Will enroll in, will work at, will live independently,” etc. (Avoid “hope to,” “plan to,” or “will seek employment,” etc.). Use descriptors such as full-time, part-time, independently, with adult support, etc.  Annual goals should be specifically and directly linked to measurable postsecondary goals. Annual goals must be reasonably calculated to assist the student in achieving readiness for postsecondary goals. Skills targeted should be based on identified areas of student need, and there should be at least one annual goal tied to each measurable postsecondary goal. 

Course of Study 

Federal and state law require that transition pages in an IEP include a multi-year description of coursework planned to achieve the student’s desired postsecondary goals from the student’s current year to the anticipated graduation or exit year. A transcript does not meet this requirement unless it includes courses the student will take in the future, by year, that are  specifically related to the student’s postsecondary goals. List any courses that are LEA/ district,  student, or site-specific and how they link to measurable postsecondary goals.  Based on a review of legislation and California Education Code that inform the course of study for the state of California, and with the goal of making sure we do not create liabilities for any students, the California Secondary Transition Leadership Team has recommended1: 
  • The course of study must intentionally and explicitly reflect each student’s secondary 
completion goals and postsecondary transition goals. 
  • For students who plan to earn a high school diploma, the student must meet state and district graduation requirements. 
  • Elective classes or those meeting the state and district graduation requirements such as performing and visual arts, foreign language (language other than English including American Sign Language), and career technical classes should reflect the individual 
student’s career interests and postsecondary goals. 
  • The course of study should be sufficiently generic to be portable across district or state lines.
  • Student progress toward achieving a high school diploma or certificate of completion should be monitored at least once annually with consideration given to attendance, grades, credit status and other educational performance measures. The course of study should also be reviewed at least once annually for all students. 
  • It should be recognized that, to the maximum extent possible, attainment of a high school diploma should be recognized as partially meeting postsecondary education and employment goals. (Some employers require a diploma to meet their minimum requirement when considering job applicants). 
  • It should be emphasized that the course of study and attainment of a diploma or certificate are not sufficient to document the provision of transition services as mandated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
  • For students whose course of study will lead to certificates that are alternatives to a high school diploma, the certificate should intentionally and explicitly reflect each student’s secondary completion goals and postsecondary goals. 
Note: The certificate of completion option is available to those students who are not able to complete the requirements for a regular high school diploma as offered by the LEA/district. These students are eligible for educational placement and services in accordance with their IEP until the age of 22. If the school is a charter school, the governing board of the LEA/district approves the requirements for the certificate of completion option. In a standard public school, the certificate of completion option is in accordance with EDC §56390.   Also note, effective June 30, 2022, EDC §51225.31 established a new high school diploma pathway exclusively for students with significant cognitive disabilities in alignment with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (“ESSA”) (20 U.S.C. §7801(23)(A)(ii)(I)(bb)).  For more information on the certificate of completion or a new pathway to a high school diploma, please see the El Dorado SELPAs Certificate of Completion Guidelines and New Pathway to a High School Diploma For Students with Cognitive Disabilities 

Coordinated Set of Activities to Support Transition Goals 

IDEA requires a “coordinated set of activities” for individual students to meet their postsecondary goals. These activities should be listed in the transition pages of the student’s IEP and must be individualized based on the needs of the student. While some activities included in the list may be general activities offered to all students at a school site, other activities should be identified that help each individual student work toward their measurable postsecondary goals.  Many of these activities may already be happening at a school site and may benefit all students. Examples might include: 
  • Career Day for all students 
  • Visits to local community college(s) 
  • Visit local recreation centers 
  • Taking public transportation to community activities 
  • Community Service 
  • Job shadow other peers 
Activities to support a student’s transition goals may be provided by a variety of properly qualified personnel, depending on the needs of the student. Some examples might include: 
  • A school counselor provides information on college admissions, financial aid or campus information 
  • An occupational therapist provides fine motor therapy for a student to be able to brush her hair on her own 
  • A special education teacher provides specialized academic instruction to improve math skills in the area of banking and money management 
  • A case manager arranges for job shadowing opportunities in the community 
  • A “careers class” provides instruction in job search and interviewing skills 

Transition Service Codes 

Many service codes for transition services are 800 codes in SEIS. Students who struggle with activities of daily living may need direct instruction in areas such as hygiene, cooking, budgeting, etc. In some cases, “specialized academic instruction (code 330)” may be the appropriate service to support a measurable postsecondary goal in independent living, even though it is not an 800 code.  800 Codes available in SEIS are as follows: 
820  College awareness: College awareness is the result of acts that promote and increase student learning about higher education opportunities, information, and options that are available including, but not limited to, career planning, course prerequisites, admission eligibility, and financial aid. 
830  Vocational assessment, counseling, guidance, and career assessment: Organized educational programs that are directly related to the preparation of individuals for paid or unpaid employment, and may include provision for work experience, job coaching, development and/or placement, and situational assessment. This includes career counseling to assist a student in assessing his/her aptitudes, abilities, and interests in order to make realistic career decisions.  
840  Career awareness: Transition services include a provision for self-advocacy, career planning, and career guidance. This also emphasizes the need for coordination between these provisions and the Perkins Act to ensure that students with disabilities in middle schools will be able to access vocational education funds.  
850  Work experience education: Work experience education means organized educational programs that are directly related to the preparation of individuals for paid or unpaid employment, or for additional preparation for a career requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree. 
855  Job Coaching: Job coaching is a service that provides assistance and guidance to an employee who may be experiencing difficulty with one or more aspects of the daily job tasks and functions. The service is provided by a job coach who is highly successful, skilled and trained on the job who can determine how the employee that is experiencing difficulty learns best and formulate a training plan to improve job performance. 
860  Mentoring: Mentoring is a sustained coaching relationship between a student and teacher through ongoing involvement. The mentor offers support, guidance, encouragement and assistance as the learner encounters challenges with respect to a particular area such as acquisition of job skills. Mentoring can be either formal, as in planned, structured instruction, or informal that occurs naturally through friendship, counseling, and collegiality in a casual, unplanned way. 
865  Agency linkages (referral and placement): Service coordination and case management that facilitates the linkage of individualized education programs under this part and individualized family service plans under part C with individualized service plans under multiple Federal and State programs, such as title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (vocational rehabilitation), title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid), and title XVI of the Social Security Act (supplemental security income). 
870  Travel training (includes mobility training) 
890  Other transition services: These services may include program coordination, case management and meetings, and crafting linkages between schools and between schools and postsecondary agencies. 

Summary of Performance (Postsecondary Exit) 

The Summary of Performance (SOP) is required under the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. The language as stated in IDEA 2004 regarding the SOP is as follows:  For a student whose eligibility under special education terminates due to graduation with a  regular diploma or due to exceeding the age of eligibility, the local education agency “shall provide the student with a summary of the student’s academic achievement and functional performance, which shall include recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting the student’s postsecondary goals” (CFR §300.305(e)(3)).  The Summary of Performance (SOP), with the accompanying documentation, is important to assist the student in the transition from high school to higher education, training, and/or employment. This information is necessary under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act to help establish a student’s eligibility for reasonable accommodations and supports in postsecondary settings. The information about students’ current level of functioning is intended to help postsecondary institutions consider accommodations for access. These recommendations should not imply that any individual who qualified for special education in high school will automatically qualify for services in the postsecondary education or employment setting. Postsecondary settings will continue to make eligibility decisions on a case-by-case basis (adapted from the Council for Educational Diagnostic Services, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children).  The Summary of Performance (SOP) must be completed in the final year of a student’s high school education. It is intended for postsecondary schools, service providers, and employers, to be used at the student’s discretion. The different organizations may have their own standards regarding the documentation required to establish eligibility. Students may (but are not required to) share their Summary of Performance with colleges, adult agencies, vocational and rehabilitative centers, employers, and others.  The SOP helps such organizations identify services and accommodations the student might need in the classroom, the workplace, or the community.  Each Summary of Performance must include information about the student’s academic  achievement, information about the student’s functional performance, and recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting their postsecondary goals. IDEA does not identify a specific individual responsible for preparing the Summary of Performance. Typically, a student’s special education teacher completes the SOP when a student exits high school.  There is no mandate in IDEA that requires a meeting to be held to discuss a Summary of Performance, and if a meeting is held, membership at the meeting is not prescribed. Typically, there can be a meeting with the case manager, student, and parent. If an exit IEP is being held, an SOP discussion could naturally occur during this meeting. 

Performance Indicator 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was reauthorized on December 3, 2004, becoming effective on July 1, 2005. In conjunction with the reauthorization, the U. S. Department of Education required states to develop six-year State Performance Plans on 20 indicators. Data on each of the 20 indicators are to be submitted annually in Annual Performance Reports.  Indicator 13 relates to transition services for students and includes eight specific components to determine compliance with transition mandates:  “Percent of youth with IEPs aged 16 and above with an IEP that includes appropriate (1) measurable postsecondary goals, (2) that are annually updated and based upon an age appropriate (3) transition assessment and (4) transition services, including (5) courses of study, that will reasonably enable the student to meet those postsecondary goals and (6) annual IEP goals related to the student’s transition services’ needs. There also must be evidence that (7) the student was invited to the IEP team meeting where transition services are to be discussed and evidence that, if appropriate, a representative of any (8) participating agency was invited to the IEP team meeting with the prior consent of the parent or student who has reached the age of majority (20 U.S.C. 1416(a)(3)(B)).”  There are eight questions that must be answered in the Transition Plan of a student’s IEP to satisfy  Indicator 13: 
  • Are there appropriate measurable postsecondary goals (MPSGs) that address education/training, employment, and as needed, independent living? 
  • Are the MPSGs updated annually? 
  • Is there evidence that MPSGs were based upon assessment? 
  • Are there transition services in the IEP that will reasonably enable the student to meet the MPSGs? 
  • Will the course of study (in the transition services) reasonably enable the student to meet the MPSGs? 
  • Are there annual IEP goals related to the transition needs of the student? 
  • Is there evidence the student was invited to the IEP? 
  • Is there evidence of an invitation to the IEP extended to a representative of an involved agency (as appropriate)?
An IEP may be considered compliant in meeting the requirements of Indicator 13 if it includes evidence of the eight (8) required components stated above.  For more information on State Performance Indicators, please visit the resources section on the System Improvement Leads website.  For resources and guidance with IEP transition planning, please visit: California Department of Education Secondary Transition Planning website. 

Student Participation in the IEP

IDEA requires the student to be invited to the IEP meeting whenever appropriate. The IEP is based on the individual student’s needs, strengths, preferences, and interests. When planning for the transition from high school to post-school life, the student’s input is essential for their success. In accordance with 34 CFR §300.321(a)(7), the public agency must invite a student with a disability to attend the student’s IEP Team meeting if a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals for the student and the transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals under 34 CFR §300.320(b).  There are four areas where a student can be involved in the IEP process2: 
  • Planning the IEP: includes laying the foundation for the meeting by identifying strengths and needs, establishing goals, considering options, and preparing materials for the IEP meeting. 
  • Drafting the IEP: provides practice in self-advocacy skills and includes having students create a draft of their IEP that reflects these strengths and needs, as well as their interests and preferences. 
  • Participating in the IEP meeting: in which students have the opportunity to share their interests, preferences, and needs and participate in dialogue with other members of the IEP team to develop a plan. 
  • Implementing the IEP: involves students evaluating how well they are achieving the goals identified in their IEP. 
Suggested Self-Advocacy strategies to prepare students to participate actively in the IEP1: 
  • Inventory strengths: areas to improve or learn, goals and choices for learning or needed accommodations. Students complete an inventory sheet they can use at the IEP meetings. 
  • Provide inventory information: Use inventory, portfolio, presentation video, etc. 
  • Listen and respond: learn the proper times to listen and to respond. 
  • Ask questions: teach students to ask questions when they don’t understand something. 
  • State goals: students list the goals they would like to see in their IEP. 
  • Use the IEP as an opportunity to develop self-advocacy and leadership skills. 
Below is a Student-Led IEP Script and Transition (IEP) Meeting Agenda.  1 Compiled by Sue Sawyer, California Transition Alliance, 2015, Secondary Transition Planning: The Basics  2 Konrad, M., & Test, D. W. (2004). Teaching middle-school students with disabilities to use an IEP template. Career  Development for Exceptional Individuals, 27, 101-124.  SAMPLE STUDENT-LED IEP MEETING SCRIPT  Hello everyone. Welcome to my IEP meeting. I am……………………….. .  Today we will talk about how I am doing in school right now, the progress I’ve made on my special  education goals, my goals for the future, and what type of help I will need to reach my goals.  I will be leading this meeting, so please be sure to address me directly with all of your comments. Will everyone please introduce yourselves? Starting with… Thank you.  Here is a copy of your parent rights (hand to parent). When I turn 18, I will be legally responsible for myself (Team may discuss transfer of rights).  My strengths and interests are……………….……………………………………………………………..  The reason I have a right to special education services is because I which makes it hard  for me to …………………………………………  I am interested in working as a ……………………………………………………………………………..  Would anyone like to add to what I have already shared?  After high school I want to (Student shares Measurable Post-  Secondary Goals)  My concerns about school are…. …………………………………………………………………………..  What are your concerns, Mom or Dad?   Here is how I am doing in school right now:  State testing Credits I need to earn  Current grades Attendance  Progress on last year’s IEP goals Work samples  Student asks Team Members (specialists) to share reports in other areas (health, social, motor, vocational, living skills).  This year I want to (Student or teacher shares Annual Goals  for this IEP)  The kind of help I will need is…………………………………………………………………………………………  The services I need are………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 
  • Support in….. 
  • Special attention on….. 
  • Work with….. 
Are there any other questions or things we need to cover? Will everyone please sign the attendance page?  Thanks for coming, everyone.   

Suggested Transition Individualized Education Plan Agenda (with Annual IEP) 

  • Welcome 
    • Introductions 
    • Purpose of Meeting/Expected Outcomes 
    • Agenda Overview 
    • Review Child/Parent Rights 
  • Present Levels of Performance 
    • Parent Concerns 
    • Review of Reports (General Education, Related Service Providers, other agencies, if applicable) 
    • Review of Progress on Current Goals/Objectives 
  • Transition Plan (for Students 16 Years and Older) 
    • Discuss Student Strengths/Preferences/Interests 
    • Review Results from Transition Assessments 
    • Develop/Review Measurable Postsecondary Goals 
    • Discuss Activities and Services to Support Postsecondary Goals 
    • Document Course of Study 
    • Discuss Age of Majority 
  • New Goals/Objectives 
    • Based on Current Need Areas 
    • Aligned with Postsecondary Goals 
    • Based on Student’s Plan for the Future 
  • Special Factors 
    • Assistive Technology requirements, if needed 
    • Low Incidence Requirements, if needed 
    • Blindness or Visual Impairment, or Deaf or Hard of Hearing, if appropriate 
    • English Learner, if appropriate 
    • Behavior Supports, if needed 
    • Areas of Need Identified 
    • Participation in State/District-wide Assessments 
  • Offer of Program/Services Based on Goals and Transition Plan 
    • Service Delivery Options (LRE) 
    • Supplementary Aids, Services and Other Supports 
    • Accommodations/Modifications 
    • Special Education and Related Services 
    • Review Transition Services 
  • Offer of Educational Setting 
    • Percentage of time in/out of general education classes (rationale for time out of general education) 
    • Other Agencies Involved 
    • Promotion Criteria 
    • Progress Monitoring/Progress Reporting 
    • Special Education Transportation 
    • Graduation Plan 
  • Closing 
    • Confirm Agreements 
    • Gather Signatures 
*At Exit IEP or Graduation IEP, complete the Summary of Performance. 
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School health services and school nurse services are designed to enable a student with a disability to receive FAPE as described in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). School nurse services are provided by a qualified school nurse. School health services may be provided by either a qualified school nurse or other qualified person. For specific recommendations and guidance on these qualifications, see California Department of Education (CDE) Program Advisory on Medication Administration, p. 7, www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/documents/medadvisory.pdf). School health services and school nurse services are considered related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  An IHP is a formal written agreement developed in collaboration with the school staff (School Nurse), the student, the student’s health care provider(s), and the student’s family. An IHP is written for students whose healthcare needs affect or have the potential to affect safe and optimal school attendance and academic performance. An Individual Health Plan (IHP) generally focuses exclusively on addressing a student’s medical needs and may be appropriate for a general education student through a 504 Plan as well as a student receiving special education services.   Per the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) the IHP should include: 
  • Assessment: The data collection phase helps determine the student’s current health status and any actual or potential health concerns. 
  • Diagnosis: The school nurse uses the assessment data to formulate a nursing diagnosis, including a diagnostic label, etiology, and presenting signs and symptoms. 
  • Outcome Identification: The school nurse identifies the desired results of nursing intervention and states these in measurable terms. 
  • Planning: Interventions are selected to achieve desired results. 
  • Implementation: The written IHP is put into practice, and the care provided is documented. 
  • Evaluation: The professional school nurse measures the effectiveness of nursing interventions in meeting the identified outcome. Changes are made to the plan as needed. 
According to California Educational Code §49426, "school nurses strengthen and facilitate the educational process by improving and protecting the health status of children and by identification and assistance in the removal or modification of health-related barriers to learning in individual children. The major focus of school health services is the prevention of illness and disability and the early detection and correction of health problems. The school nurse is especially prepared and uniquely qualified in preventive health, health assessment, and referral proceduresIt is the intent of the Legislature that the governing board of each school district and each county superintendent of schools maintain fundamental school health services at a level that is adequate to accomplish all the following: 
  • Preserve pupils’ ability to learn 
  • Fulfill existing state requirements and policies regarding pupils’ health 
  • Contain health care costs through preventive programs and education" 
(EDC §49427)  Holders of the School Nurse Services Credential shall be authorized to perform the following services: 
  • Conduct immunization programs pursuant to California Education Code, Section 49403, of the California Code of Regulations. 
  • Assess and evaluate the health and developmental status of pupils. 
  • Interpret the health and developmental assessment to parents, teachers, administrators, and other professionals directly concerned with the pupil. 
  • Design and implement individual student health maintenance plans, incorporating plans directed by a physician. 
  • Refer the pupil and parent or guardian to appropriate community resources for necessary services. 
  • Maintain communication with parents and all involved community practitioners and agencies to promote needed treatment and secure reports of findings pertinent to educational planning. 
  • Interpret medical and nursing findings appropriate to the student’s individualized education program and make recommendations to professional personnel directly involved. 
  • Consult with, conduct in-service training for, and serve as a resource person to teachers and administrators. 
  • Develop and implement the health education curriculum. 
  • Act as a participant in implementing a comprehensive health instruction curriculum for students. 
  • Counsel and assist pupils and parents in health-related and school adjustment services. 
  • Teach health-related subjects under the supervision of a classroom teacher 
The California Department of Education has a page of information to assist schools in effectively managing diabetes, one of the most common chronic diseases in school-aged children. https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/diabetesmgmt.asp  The California Department of Education has a page of comprehensive medical guidelines for Local Education Agencies (LEAs)/districts to use when developing individualized health plans. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/ 
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Plan Review (Annual Review) 

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) shall be scheduled for review by an IEP team at least once a year, determined by the month and day of the initial or previous annual IEP (EDC §56343).  This annual review requirement also applies to students in non-public schools (NPS) and residential treatment center (RTC) placements, in addition to yearly NPS site visits (EDC §56381.1). For more information regarding NPS and RTC requirements, visit the El Dorado Charter SELPA’s Nonpublic Schools and Residential Treatment Centers Guidelines  For students placed in a community treatment facility, regular evaluations are necessary to determine continuing student needs and appropriate placement in the least restrictive environment.  In addition, a parent may request that an IEP review be conducted at any time. When the Local Educational Agency (LEA)/district receives such a request (preferably in writing), an IEP meeting must be held within 30 days.  It is necessary to hold an IEP meeting if the student is not making sufficient progress toward goals and objectives. Parents and members of the IEP team must be notified by established notification procedures. The IEP team may: 
  • Modify the IEP or program, including the provision of related services and other support services. 
  • Discuss the appropriateness of current goals and make changes as appropriate based on data and input from members of the IEP team. 
  • Review and discuss the appropriateness of the current educational program and/or placement. 

Eligibility Evaluation (Triennial Review) 

According to 34 CFR §300.303, a reassessment of the student shall be conducted at least every three years or more frequently, if conditions warrant. As part of this reassessment, the IEP team shall review existing evaluation data, including evaluations and information provided by the parents of the student, current classroom-based assessments and observations, and teacher and related service providers’ observations.  If an assessment is warranted for an eligibility evaluation, then an assessment plan will need to be completed and sent to the parent for signature. The procedures for completing an assessment plan are detailed in the “Assessment Plan” section of this Procedural Guide.  For additional information, the eligibility evaluation process is explained in the section entitled “Assessment, Test Selection and Reports” in this Procedural Guide.  As part of the eligibility evaluation process, if the student qualifies under Specific Learning Disability (SLD) the psychologist must also complete the appropriate SLD page that corresponds to the SLD Eligibility model used. The SLD pages are listed in each student’s future IEP in SEIS, and signatures on the completed SLD page must be obtained. The different SLD eligibility models are detailed in the “Eligibility Criteria” section of this Procedural Guide.   Review of Records vs. Comprehensive Reassessment  The IEP team must identify what additional information, if any, is needed to establish: 
  • The present levels of performance. 
  • The educational needs of the student. 
  • Whether the student continues to have a disability. 
  • Whether the student continues to need special education and related services. 
  • Whether the student requires any additions or modifications to the educational program to meet their annual goals and participate in the general curriculum. 
The form entitled “Triennial Re-eval”, located in the future IEP record in SEIS, may assist in documenting the decision-making process for this determination.  According to EDC§ 56381(g), a formal IEP meeting is not required to decide on whether additional assessment is necessary unless requested by the parent, or agreement can’t be reached.  A reassessment shall be conducted if the LEA/district determines that the educational or related service needs including improved academic achievement and functional performance of the student warrant a reassessment, or if the student’s parents or teacher requests a reassessment.  If the team agrees to a review of records, the Assessment Plan should reflect this decision, and a Prior Written Notice (PWN) should be provided to confirm the decision with parents. The requirements for legally compliant PWN are detailed in the “Prior Written Notice” section of this Procedural Guide.  Assessment is required in the following situations:  
  • Upon parent or teacher request (document on assessment plan) [EDC § 56381(a)]. 
  • At least once every three years (for students in special education), unless the parent and the local educational agency agree, in writing, that a reassessment is unnecessary [EDC § 56381(a)]. 
  • When dismissal from special education is being considered [EDC § 56381(h)].  
If an LEA/district believes that a student no longer requires special education or related services, the student must be reassessed in all areas of suspected disability. The LEA/district may exit the child from special education if, after a comprehensive evaluation, it is determined that the student does not require Special Education and/or related services to obtain meaningful educational benefit. Related services include but are not limited to speech, occupational therapy, counseling, behavioral supports, and adapted physical education. A comprehensive list of related services under IDEA can be found in Section 300.34 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).  Circumstances When Reassessments May Be Necessary  The following circumstances are examples of conditions warranting more frequent reassessment: 
  • If a substantial change has been observed in the student’s academic performance or disabling condition. 
  • If the IEP team suspects that the student has an additional area of eligibility for Special Education or needs that have not been previously assessed/accurately assessed. 
  • A request for a change in placement may trigger a reassessment, particularly when the new placement is more restrictive. This is suggested, but not required by IDEA. Assessment prior to a placement change will ensure that the student’s eligibility is accurate, that appropriate needs have been defined via past assessments, and that supports, goals, and services reflect identified needs. 
Useful Links:
Eligibility Criteria PG guide doc: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ELIGIBILITY-CRITERIA.pdf Assessment Plans PG guide doc: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ASSESSMENT-PLANS.pdf NPS & RTC guidelines doc: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Charter-NPS-RTC-Guidelines-2020.pdf Assessments, Test Selection, and Reports PG doc: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ASSESSMENT-TEST-SELECTION-AND-REPORTS.pdf Prior Writen Notice PG guide doc: http://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PRIOR-WRITTEN-NOTICE.pdf
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General Guidelines 

Curriculum adaptations include accommodations, modifications, and supports that allow a student with a disability access to the general curriculum and assessments. LEAs/districts are responsible for ensuring that each teacher and provider is informed of their specific responsibilities  related to implementing the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the student in accordance with the IEP (34CFR 300.342 (b)(3)). 

What are Accommodations? 

Accommodations are adaptations that enable a student with a disability to participate in educational programming and complete schoolwork or tests with greater ease and success. Accommodations DO NOT fundamentally alter the curriculum or lower expectations or standards in instructional level, content, or performance criteria. Accommodations are changes made to the curriculum to provide equal access to learning and equal opportunity to demonstrate what is known. 

What are Modifications? 

Modifications are adaptations that provide a student with meaningful and productive learning experiences based on individual needs and abilities. Modifications DO fundamentally alter the curriculum and/or lower expectations or standards in instructional level, content, or performance criteria to meet the student’s needs.   Adaptations to Assessments  Accommodations and modifications should not simply be applied at the time of testing as a means of support. To justify the use of accommodations/modifications during testing, a student should also have access to the needed supports during instruction in the classroom.  Grading When Adaptations Have Been Made to the Curriculum  Because accommodations do not fundamentally alter the curriculum, a student’s grades should not reflect that accommodations have been made. Accommodations provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in the general education curriculum.  If modifications have been made to the curriculum of any course, it is important that the student’s grade reflect the student’s achievement in the modified curriculum, as long as modified grades are available to all students. However, any modifications to programming, instruction, and grading must be documented in the student’s IEP and be directly related to the student’s disability. To automatically give modified grades to all special education students would be discriminatory and potentially violate Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Additional information on grading when students have had accommodations or modifications can be found in the GRADING section of our Procedural Guide.  

How to Determine the Appropriate Adaptations to Curriculum 

The IEP team may use the Nine Types of Curriculum Adaptations (Diana Browning Wright, Teaching and Learning, 2005) matrix shown below to determine the most appropriate adaptations required for a student with a disability to gain access to the general curriculum. Once the team has agreed upon the necessary adaptations, it is recommended that they be shared with teachers and service providers to ensure that the accommodations, modifications, and supports written into the student’s IEP are being implemented with fidelity.  Nine Types of Curriculum Adaptations 
* Quantity   Adapt the number of items that the learner is expected to learn or number of activities student will complete prior to assessment for mastery.  For example:  Reduce the number of social studies terms a learner must learn at any one time. Add more practice activities or worksheets.  * Time   Adapt the time allotted and allowed for learning, task completion, or testing.   For example:  Individualize a timeline for completing a task; pace learning differently (increase or decrease) for some learners.  * Level of Support  Increase the amount of personal assistance to keep the student on task or to reinforce or prompt use of specific skills. Enhance adult-student relationship; use physical space and environmental structure.  For example:  Assign peer buddies, teaching assistants, peer tutors, or cross-age tutors. Specify how to interact with the student or how to structure the environment. 
* Input   Adapt the way instruction is delivered to the learner.  For example:  Use different visual aids, enlarge text, plan more concrete examples, and provide hands-on activities, place students in cooperative groups, pre-teach key concepts or terms before the lesson.  * Difficulty  Adapt the skill level, problem type, or the rules on how the learner may approach the work.  For example:  Allow the use of a calculator to figure math problems; simplify task directions; change rules to accommodate learner needs.  * Output  Adapt how the student can respond to instruction.  For example:  Instead of answering questions in writing, allow a verbal response, use a communication book for some students, allow students to show knowledge with hands on materials. 
* Participation  Adapt the extent to which a learner is actively involved in the task.  For example:  In geography, have a student hold the globe, while others point out locations. Ask the student to lead a group. Have the student turn the pages while sitting on your lap (kindergarten). 
  • Alternate Goals 
Adapt the goals or outcome expectations while using the same materials. When routinely utilized, this is only for students with moderate to severe disabilities.  For example:  In a social studies lesson, expect a student to be able to locate the colors of the states on a map, while other students learn to locate each state and name the capital. 
  • Substitute Curriculum 
Provide different instruction and materials to meet a learner’s individual goals. When routinely utilized, this is only for students with moderate to severe disabilities.  For example:  During a language lesson a student is learning toileting skills with an aide. 
* This adaptation is an accommodation if the student can demonstrate mastery of the standard on an assessment. The key concept is: Will the student ultimately master the same material but demonstrate that mastery in alternate ways or with alternate supports? If standards are not fundamentally or substantially altered, then this adaptation is an accommodation to a learning or performance difference.  * This adaptation is a modification if the student will not demonstrate mastery of the standard on an assessment. If routinely utilized, these adaptations are modifications and require individualized goals and assessment. 
Substantially altered by Diana Browning Wright with permission from Jeff Sprague, Ph.D. from an original by DeSchenes, C., Ebeling, D., & Sprague, J. (1994). Adapting Curriculum & Instruction in Inclusive Classrooms: A Teachers Desk Reference. ISDDCSCI Publication.  Diana Browning Wright, Teaching & Learning 2005 
Recommended links: https://www.pent.ca.gov/is/am/index.aspx https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/accessibilityresources.asp
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Introduction 

In order to make grading most useful to students, parents/guardians, and educators, it is important that clear policies and grading systems be established within each LEA/district and consistently followed by teachers. While the El Dorado SELPAs recommends board-approved policies, LEA/districts are cautioned to avoid creating policies solely related to students with disabilities, as this may be perceived as discriminatory. Therefore, policies related to grading, report cards, and transcripts must be inclusive and made available to all students. 

Impact of Curricular Adaptations on Grades 

Curricular adaptations include accommodations and modifications that allow a student with a disability access to the general education curriculum and assessments. LEAs/districts are responsible for ensuring that each teacher and provider is informed of their specific responsibilities related to implementing the student’s IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the student  in accordance with their IEP.  In some cases, IEP teams will determine that a student with an IEP will be graded using alternate achievement standards. In other instances, a student with an IEP will be graded based on grade-level achievement standards, with accommodations. In both cases, an LEA/district shall develop an objective rating criterion determining grade point averages that will lead to a ranking of students based on their grade point average for honor roll and college scholarship purposes. However, LEA/districts may not use a grading system that assigns lower grade weights to all special education courses as it would be considered discriminatory practice on the basis of disability.  For more information on determining appropriate, individualized adaptations, please reference the SELPAs Procedural Guidelines section on Curricular Adaptations.  

Accommodations 

Accommodations are adaptations that enable a student with a disability to participate in educational programming and complete school work or tests in a manner that allows a student to demonstrate knowledge without their disability impacting their performance. Accommodations do not fundamentally alter the curriculum nor lower expectations or standards in instructional level, content, or performance criteria. Accommodations are changes made to the curriculum to provide equal access to learning and equal opportunity to demonstrate what is known. Students with disabilities, as documented through a Section 504 plan or IEP, may have accommodations related to their disabilities that afford them equal access to education, including grading practices.   

Impact of Accommodations on Grading 

Because accommodations do not fundamentally alter the curriculum or lower expectations or standards in the instructional level, guidance from the California Department of Education (CDE) suggests that a student’s grade should not reflect that accommodations have been made. For students with IEPs taught in a general education classroom, general and special educators may work collaboratively when grading. By working together to grade a student with an IEP, both teachers may be able to more closely track and monitor student growth and progress in the general education curriculum. 

Modifications 

Modifications are adaptations that provide a student with meaningful and productive learning experiences based on individual needs and abilities. Modifications fundamentally alter the curriculum or lower expectations/standards, in  1) instructional level, 2) content, or 3) performance criteria to meet the student’s needs. Therefore, modifications to grade level curriculum shall be an IEP team decision, and not simply determined because the student has an IEP or is receiving specialized services and/or in a specialized program. Agreed-upon modifications by the IEP team shall also be appropriately documented in the IEP. 

Impact of Modifications on Grading 

An LEA/district may indicate course modifications made or alternative grades awarded in any subject or course, however they must ensure that modified grades are not based exclusively on the student’s disability or educational program alone. To systematically modify grades for all students in special education is discriminatory and potentially violates Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Any modifications to programming, instruction, and grading must be determined by the IEP team. Once the IEP team has determined that a student will receive modified curriculum and supports, then the modifications to curriculum and grading need to be clearly documented in the student’s IEP in order to outline the curriculum, instruction, program, and grading design.  In the event that a student with an IEP is receiving a modified program, an LEA/district may exclude the student from general grading practices and evaluate the student based on IEP goals and objectives. However, a student cannot be marked as non-graded, grades cannot be modified, and eligibility for honors awards cannot be decided solely on the basis of special education status. As previously referenced, this is an IEP team decision and must be carefully considered and documented in the IEP should modified grades be used. The IEP should clearly outline the modified curriculum and grading once it has been determined that this is appropriate by an IEP team. 

Considerations When Grading a Student with an IEP 

The El Dorado SELPAs suggests that LEAs/districts consider the following when establishing grading policies: 

Practices to Consider  

  • Establish and follow a clear grading policy based on criteria set for aligning progress toward grade-level standards. 
  • Ensure general and special education teachers are reviewing data and collaborating on progress toward grade-level standards or meeting the grading criteria set forth in the student’s IEP. 
  • Use a variety of objective assessment methods to monitor student progress toward reaching grade-level standards or progress on alternate achievement standards. For example: 
    • Monitoring daily assignments 
    • Multiple testing formats  
      • Multiple choice, cloze technique, short answer, and long answer responses) 
    • Performance assessments based on portfolios, demonstrations, projects, and presentations 
    • Observation of student learning and growth 
    • Checklists 
    • Rubrics 
    • Student self-assessment 
  • When averaging several scores over an extended period of time, provide proportionate weight to individual scores, ensuring that low scores in the grading period don’t discourage the student and overshadow higher scores in the grading period. It is important to ensure that on formative assessments, a student is provided the opportunity to practice a skill without being penalized on their final grade. On the other hand, it is important that scores on the summative assessment are not so heavily weighted that a low score brings down the grade so significantly and diminishes the effort a student put into learning a new skill or offsets student mastery of that particular skill. 

Practices to Consider Avoiding 

  • Avoid traditional grading practices that are fixed. Instead, create a flexible grading system that promotes student success at the beginning of a unit/learning a new skill/standard. Allow frequent opportunities for practice, feedback, and corrections for improved performance and work production. 
  • Avoid placing an uneven amount of weight on non-academic factors, such as behavior, attendance, and effort, into the final grade. Consider evenly distributing the weight of non-academic factors, while ensuring that formative and summative assessments are appropriately proportioned in a way that the grade is an accurate reflection of mastery of standards and curriculum combined with the learning process that a student experiences along the way. 
  • Avoid penalizing students’ multiple attempts to mastery. For example, avoid grading policies such as, “a student may retake a test, but the highest grade one could receive is a B.” or “a student may correct missed math problems, but will only earn half a point of credit for each one.” Consider allowing the students’ grades to adequately reflect the level of mastery a student has achieved toward grade-level standards, even if it is after multiple opportunities for practice and/or assessments. 
  • Avoid placing heavy weight that homework has on a student’s grade, especially if they are failing because of a homework issue. Homework is intended for students to rehearse content already mastered or provide opportunities to practice new skills without being penalized. Ensure that homework is designed in a way that encourages student engagement, is accessible for all, and provides opportunities to practice skills. Then, provide options to grade based on the meaningful learning that occurs through the process. 
  • Avoid withholding accommodations when they are needed. If an accommodation, such as a graphic organizer, is used to support students in organizing their thinking/writing during day-to-day instruction, then ensure this accommodation is provided during assessments. 
  • Avoid assessing students in ways that do not accurately indicate their mastery. Ensure students are being assessed in a way that measures what a student has learned. For example, a student with low writing skills and high artistic skills may be able to best demonstrate their learning through art, yet a student with low artistic skills and high writing skills would not be able to demonstrate mastery of content using art. 
  • Avoid extra credit and bonus points, as it could alter a grade’s accuracy for measuring what a student has mastered. 
  • Avoid group grades that may not accurately reflect what a student learned and how they came to learn it. Ensure there are multiple areas evaluated, including content mastery, collaboration or participation, meeting deadlines, and presentation or style, so that each person in a group can be graded based on their personal performance. 
  • Avoid grading on a curve. Grades that are used to document progress, provide feedback, and assess mastery of content are based on a set of criteria. Therefore, grades should be based on a student’s demonstration of knowledge and skills based on the set criteria. 
  • Avoid recording zeros for work not done, as this may skew the grade to a point where the accuracy is distorted. Instead, consider removing some of the work not completed from the overall grade, providing a mark of not-graded, or providing more weight to the assignments completed. 
  • Avoid using norm-referenced terms to describe criterion-referenced attributes. When grading based on grade level standards, report on how a student is progressing toward that standard, not how the student is performing in comparison with their peers. Avoid using the term “average” and instead, use “standard met” or “approaching standard.” 
  • Avoid grade penalties due to behavior. 

Report Card Requirements 

LEAs/districts are responsible for periodic reporting to parents1 to indicate the student’s progress or level of achievement in specific classes, course content, or curriculum. Typically, LEA/districts provide report cards to parents as a means of sharing information about their student’s academic progress. This commonly leaves LEA/district personnel with questions about how to formally document grades on report cards for students with disabilities. Procedural guidance in this section is intended to provide LEA/districts with options for developing report cards that are meaningful to parents while ensuring confidential and non-discriminatory practices.  Regarding documentation that a student has a disability on a report card, a school may document that a student is receiving special education or related services as long as the information being provided is consistent with the underlying purpose of a report card, which is to inform parents about their child’s progress or level of achievement in specific class-es, course content, or curriculum. The mere designation that a student has an IEP or is receiving related services without more information about how the student is progressing, such as providing a grade or other evaluative standards, would not be consistent with IDEA’s periodic reporting requirement. Therefore, the LEA/district should consider providing parents with progress reports which reflect progress towards IEP goals in addition to the LEA/district report card in order to ensure the reporting process is both meaningful and meets IDEA’s periodic reporting requirement.  The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) acknowledges that students with significant disabilities could have unique needs that make the use of traditional report cards and progress reports ineffective or irrelevant. Therefore, OCR has provided guidance that states an LEA/district may use a different report card for students in alternative programs. As previously mentioned, the alternate reporting system shall be as meaningful and effective in conveying information to parents as the system provided to students without disabilities and with at least the same frequency as students who do not have IEPs.  Should an LEA/district use its traditional report card for students receiving modified curriculum and/or grading, it may utilize a symbol or code to indicate that the student has received such modification to grade-level standards. However, it should be noted that this type of coding should not be used solely for students with disabilities. 

Student Transcripts 

The purpose of report cards differs from that of transcripts. While report cards are intended to inform parents about academic performance, transcripts provide post-secondary institutions with an accurate picture of a student’s coursework.  While report cards are shared with only parents, transcripts are more widely distributed. Consequently, LEAs/ districts shall ensure that transcripts comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Because transcripts may be shared with potential employers, post-secondary institutions, and other organizations, they cannot disclose the existence of a disability.  An LEA/district may not identify that a student was placed in special education classes or received special education supports and services in any particular course on their transcript. However, course designations with more general connotations, not suggestive of special education, are acceptable. The CDE suggests that LEA/districts use course codes on a transcript to indicate a modification or an alternate grading scale was provided as long as these designated codes are also used for students without disabilities who are graded on an alternate scale. Some codes LEAs/districts have used to indicate remedial courses include terms like “basic,” “level 1,” or “practical.” Other permissible designations might include “independent study” or “modified curriculum” as long as those designations are not limited to special education courses. LEAs/districts are advised to avoid using designations limited to special education courses, such as coding a class using the term “special education.” LEAs/districts are also cautioned to exclude specific information on the transcript that may suggest specialized supports were provided to a student to assist the student in meeting grade-level standards. For example, a notation indicating the use of Braille materials is not related to whether that student mastered all the tenth-grade objectives for their literature class; therefore, it does not need to be included on the student’s transcripts.  In specific circumstances, an LEA/district may disclose the fact that a student has taken special education courses to a post-secondary institution in instances where the parent and the student have knowledge of the specific information on the transcript that will be shared and provide written consent.  For More Information on Grading please refer to the California Department of Education link on Promotion, Retention, and Grading.   1 The term “parent” refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except in cases when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. Therefore, references to the parent may also include adult students. 
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Why Retention? 

A student may be recommended for retention in their current grade by a parent/guardian, teacher, or administrator for numerous reasons, including a failure to meet grade-level promotion criteria, concerns regarding developmental maturity, behavioral challenges, or extended periods of absence. Before making a final determination, it is essential to carefully consider the student’s individual needs, previous and future opportunities for support, and the scope of potential academic, social, and emotional outcomes the student may experience as a result of retention. In order to make well-informed student-centered decisions, school team members must also remain knowledgeable of research regarding student retention outcomes.  There are additional crucial considerations when making retention decisions for students with exceptional needs for whom an Individualized Education Program (IEP) has been developed. Those considerations, as well as general information regarding promotion criteria, retention research outcomes, and alternatives to retention, will be provided in this section. 

Research Related to Retention 

Retention research consistently indicates negative implications for students at all grade levels and into early adulthood. Currently, no empirical evidence exists that repeating a grade has a positive effect on long-term academic achievement or social-emotional adjustment. Although initial achievement gains may occur, research suggests that gains decline within two to three years, after which retained students perform the same or worse than similar groups of promoted students. Additionally, students who have been retained may experience increased behavioral problems, lower self-esteem, decreased attendance, and lower academic outcomes in reading, written language, and math2.  The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)1 proposes multiple explanations for the negative effects associated with grade retention. Potential causes include the absence of specific remedial strategies to enhance social or cognitive competence, a failure to address risk factors, and/or stigmatizing consequences of being over-age for one’s grade.  At the secondary level, a consistently high correlation between retention and drop-out rates has been found even when controlling for academic achievement levels and increased risks of health-compromising behaviors. Lastly, longitudinal research provides evidence that retained students have a greater probability of poorer educational and employment outcomes during late adolescence and early adulthood.  NASP indicates that retention is less likely to yield negative effects for students who have difficulty in school due to a lack of opportunity for instruction rather than a lack of ability. This effect is only the case if the student is no more than one year older than their classmates and the reason for the lack of opportunity (i.e., attendance, health, or mobility problems) has been resolved. Whether retained or promoted, it is strongly recommended that students receive specific remediation to address skill or behavioral deficits and encourage positive social, emotional, and academic outcomes. 

Promotion Criteria for Students with Disabilities 

The local governing board adopted standards for promotion apply to students with disabilities; however, IEP teams may choose to recommend individualized promotion standards for students with significant disabilities for whom substantial modifications to the general curriculum are made and defined in the student’s IEP. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that the IEP specify any alternative promotion standards or requirements that may be based on the student’s progress on IEP goals. 

Retention of Students with Disabilities 

If a student with exceptional needs is recommended for retention, it is suggested that the IEP  team meets to thoroughly consider the impact of the disability on the student’s ability to access the general curriculum and ensure that the student has been provided appropriate services, accommodations, and/or modifications with fidelity. IDEA does not explicitly address standards for retention or promotion of students with disabilities; therefore, the decision to retain is not considered an IEP placement decision. That said, the decision to retain a student with an IEP should be carefully and cautiously considered. IEP team members may provide input; however, the final determination is often made by a school administrator in consultation with the parent/guardian(s).  According to the California Department of Education (CDE)2, if a student with a disability fails to meet board-adopted or individualized promotion standards, the IEP team should reconvene immediately to consider the following (with documentation of these discussions in the IEP notes): 
  • Does the current IEP address the student’s academic, linguistic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs? 
  • Are accommodations and modifications as indicated in the IEP appropriate? 
  • Were all the services required by the student to make progress in the general education curriculum appropriately identified in the student’s IEP? 
  • Were the linguistic needs of English Learners appropriately identified? 
  • Did the student receive all the services identified in the IEP? 
  • Was the student’s promotion standard appropriate and clarified in the IEP? 
  • Was Extended School Year (ESY) considered? 
If the IEP team answered NO to any of the above questions, it is recommended that the student not be retained due to the LEA’s/district’s failure to implement the IEP. The IEP may be amended to reflect any required changes in service needed to allow the student to receive educational benefit. It may also be appropriate to provide supplemental educational services. Supplemental educational services are not to be provided during the regular instructional day and may be offered during the summer, before school, after school, on Saturdays, during intersession, or in combination.  If all questions above were answered YES, yet the student failed to meet board-approved or IEP-determined promotion criteria, it is also recommended that the student participates in supplemental educational services developed by the local board pursuant to EDC §37252.8. The IEP team should ensure that all supports and related services required for the student to benefit from supplemental instruction are clearly documented. If the student still does not meet the board-adopted or individualized promotion standards after receiving supplemental instruction, an IEP meeting should be convened to determine if additional assessment is required in order to develop an appropriate plan to support student progress1. Team members may also wish to include a statement in the IEP notes to document their recommendation for or against  retention based on needs related to the student’s disability. However, the final determination regarding retention will be the decision of the general education administrator in consultation with the parent/guardian(s).  Although a parent/guardian cannot request a due process hearing to object to retention or promotion decisions, they may choose to file for due process if a denial of FAPE directly impacted the retention decision. For example, if a student did not receive the IEP services designed to assist in meeting the promotion standards, the student’s parents could challenge the lack of services as a denial of FAPE. Therefore, a careful review of the student’s IEP and access to services that provide meaningful educational benefit is essential when a recommendation for retention is made.  Detailed information on pupil promotion, retention and related supplemental instruction can be found on the CDE’s Web page Promotion, Retention, and Grading 

Alternatives to Retention 

Schools are encouraged to consider a wide array of evidence-based strategies in lieu of retention. Specifically, NASP recommends that educational professionals3: 
  • Encourage parent/guardian involvement in their student’s education through frequent contact with teachers, supervision of homework, etc. 
  • Adopt age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, and linguistically appropriate instructional strategies that accelerate progress in all classroom settings. 
  • Incorporate systematic assessment strategies, including continuous progress monitoring and formative evaluation, to enable ongoing modification of instructional efforts. 
  • Provide effective early intervention academic and mental health programs. 
  • Consider developing a school-wide Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) to bolster academic and behavioral progress for all students. 
  • Use student support teams to assess and identify specific learning or behavior problems, design interventions to address those problems, and evaluate the efficacy of those interventions regularly. 
  • Use effective behavior management and cognitive behavior modification strategies to reduce classroom behavior problems. 
  • Provide appropriate education services for students with disabilities, including collaboration between regular, remedial, and special education professionals. 
  • Offer extended year, extended day, and summer programs that focus on facilitating the development of academic skills as needed. 
  • Implement tutoring and mentoring programs with peer, cross-age, or adult tutors. 
  • Incorporate comprehensive school-wide programs to promote the social, emotional, and academic skills of all students.
Resources:  1 National Association of School Psychologists. (2011). Grade Retention and Social Promotion. https://www.nasponline.org/x32088.xml  2 California Department of Education. (2015). Promotion, Retention and Grading FAQ. http://www.cde.ca.gov/  3 Jimerson, Shane R. PhD, NCSP and Woehr, Sarah M., & Kaufman, Amber M., MA. (2007). Grade Retention and Promotion: Information for Parents. National Association of School Psychologists.  Recommended Links: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/sr/promoretntn.asp https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-qa-20081017.html https://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/pr/faqppr.asp
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Parents are integral to the Individualized Education Program (IEP) development process. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) designates parents as mandatory IEP team members and outlines several procedural safeguards to ensure parents’ full and meaningful participation in the IEP process. Each LEA/district must take steps to ensure that one or both parents of a student with a disability are present at each IEP Team meeting and are afforded the opportunity to participate. 

Definition of a Parent under IDEA 

The 2006 IDEA Part B regulations, (34 CFR §300.30) clarify that a parent is defined as: 
  • A biological or adoptive parent of a child. 
  • A foster parent‐‐unless state law, regulations, or contractual obligations with a state or local entity prohibit a foster parent from acting as a parent. 
  • A guardian is authorized to act as the child’s parent, or authorized to make educational decisions for the child (but not the state if the child is a ward of the state). 
  • An individual acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent (including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative) with whom the child lives, or an individual who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare. 
  • A surrogate parent appointed in accordance with when a parent cannot be identified, and the school district cannot discover their whereabouts. 
  • A surrogate parent may also be appointed if the child is an unaccompanied homeless youth, an adjudicated dependent or ward of the court under the state Welfare and Institution Code and is referred to special education or already has an IEP.  
For more information on surrogate parents, please refer to the Procedural Guidelines section on Surrogate Parents, which includes a Surrogate Parent Flowchart.  

Divorced Parent 

When the parents of a student with a disability are divorced, the parental rights under the IDEA apply to both parents, unless a court order states otherwise. An LEA/district should obtain a copy of court decrees that might affect the parent’s right to participate or make educational decisions for the student, and to ensure participation of both parents, if appropriate. 

Notice of Meeting 

Under IDEA, LEAs/districts must do the following to ensure that one or both parents are present at the IEP Team meeting: 
  • Provide notice of an IEP meeting to parents early enough to ensure that they have the opportunity to attend the meeting. (For further information, see the "Meeting Notice" section of the Procedural Guide) 
  • Schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed upon time and location. 
The notice of meeting must: 
  • Indicate the purpose, time, and location of the meeting and who will be in attendance (note: personnel should be listed by title, not actual name); 
  • Inform the parents of the participation of other individuals on the IEP Team who have knowledge or special expertise about the student; 
  • For a student with a disability, beginning no later than the first IEP to be in effect when the student turns 16 years of age (or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team), the notice also must: 
  • Indicate that a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals and transition services for the student; 
  • Indicate that the LEA/district will invite the student; and 
  • Identify any other agency that will be invited to send a representative. 
Note: IDEA does not specify a timeline requirement for parental notification of an IEP meeting. Ten school days is a customary period based on a standard of reasonableness. 

Meaningful Participation of Parents 

The parents of a student with a disability must be afforded an opportunity to participate in meetings with respect to: 
  1. The identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the student; and 
  1. The provision of a free and appropriate education (FAPE) to the student. 
If a parent states in writing that they decline to participate in a meeting in which a decision is to be made relating to the educational placement of their child, the LEA/district must use other methods to ensure their participation,, including individual or conference telephone calls, or video conferencing.  LEAs/districts should consider the parents’ concerns and suggestions and, to the extent appropriate, incorporate them into the IEP. LEAs/districts should consider the results of any independent educational evaluations and any information and reports submitted by the parents, and document these in the IEP. 

Use of Interpreters or Other Action, As Appropriate 

The LEA/district must take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the parent understands the proceedings of the IEP Team meeting, including arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or whose native language is other than English. It is advised that interpreters not serve dual roles on the IEP Team and that interpreters not be members of the IEP Team. 

Parent Copy of Student’s IEP 

The LEA/district must provide the parent a copy of the student’s IEP at no cost to the parent. 

Conducting an IEP Team Meeting Without a Parent in Attendance 

A meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance only after multiple attempts by the LEA/district to schedule an IEP, and if the parent refuses to attend and communicates refusal to participate in the IEP process. The LEA/district should contact a SELPA Program Specialist for guidance.  The LEA/district should continue attempts to include the parent. The LEA/district should keep a record of attempts to arrange a mutually agreed upon time and location as well as offers to solicit parent participation, such as: 
  • Detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls. 
  • Copies of correspondence sent to the parents and any responses received. 
  • Detailed records of visits made to the parent’s home or place of employment and the results of those visits. 
  • Detailed records of attempts made via certified US mail and delivery confirmation information.  
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When a student with disabilities reaches the age of 18, the local educational agency (LEA)/district shall provide a notice of procedural safeguards to both the student and the parents of the student. All other rights accorded to a parent shall transfer to the student with disabilities. The LEA/district shall notify the individual and the parent of the transfer of rights prior to the student’s 17th birthday, pursuant to California Education Code. The parent of a student determined to be incompetent under state law may seek conservatorship.   A conservatorship is granted in a court proceeding where a superior court judge appoints a responsible person (“conservator”) to care for another adult (“conservatee”) who cannot care for themselves and their finances.  A limited conservatorship is specifically available to benefit adults with developmental disabilities. A limited conservator can do only those things granted at the time of appointment by the local superior court.  A limited conservator (usually a family member) may have the authority to: 
  • Decide where the conservatee will live. 
  • Manage the conservatee’s social affairs. 
  • Manage the conservatee’s financial affairs. 
  • Examine the conservatee’s confidential records and papers. 
  • Sign a contract for the conservatee. 
  • Give or withhold consent for medical treatments. 
  • Make decisions regarding education and vocational training. 
  • Give or withhold consent to the conservatee’s marriage. 
  • Control the conservatee’s sexual contacts and relationships. 
After the filing of a petition for limited conservatorship with the Superior Court of the county in which the proposed conservatee lives, a proposed limited conservatee is assessed at a Regional Center to determine if they are indeed developmentally disabled. The Regional Center submits a written report of its findings and recommendations regarding the conservatorship to the court. While the Regional Center report is not binding, it provides the court with guidance about the appropriateness of the conservatorship. Additionally, the court appoints an attorney and an investigator to represent the disabled adult to make certain that the proposed conservatorship is of merit. Note: An LEA/district may ask to see a copy of the court documents to ensure compliance with court orders.
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Definition of a Parent Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) The IDEA Part B regulations, (34 CFR §300.30) define a parent as: 
  • A biological or adoptive parent of a child. 
  • A foster parent‐‐unless state law, regulations, or contractual obligations with a state or local entity prohibit a foster parent from acting as a parent.
  • A guardian is generally authorized to act as the child’s parent or authorized to make educational decisions for the child (but not the State if the child is a ward of the State).
  • An individual acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent (including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative) with whom the child lives, or an individual who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare.
  • A surrogate parent is appointed in accordance with when a parent cannot be identified, and the school district cannot discover a parent’s whereabouts.
  • A surrogate parent may also be appointed if the child is an unaccompanied homeless youth, an adjudicated dependent or ward of the court under the state Welfare and Institution Code and is referred to special education or already has an IEP.  
Definition of a Surrogate Parent  A "surrogate parent" is an adult appointed by a Local Education Agency (LEA)/district or Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) to represent a student aged 0‐21 for the purpose of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) to ensure that the rights of the student to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) are protected. A surrogate parent may be appointed when the biological parents, or the parents as defined by IDEA, cannot be found, or the courts have removed their educational rights, and those rights have not been assigned to another. 

When to Appoint a Surrogate Parent 

An LEA/district shall appoint a surrogate parent for a student in accordance with 34 CFR §300.519 under one or more of the following circumstances: 
  • No parent can be identified; 
  • The public agency, after reasonable efforts, cannot locate a parent; 
  • The child is a ward of the State under the laws of the State, or the adult student is a ward of the court and has been found to be incompetent; 
  • The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth as defined in Section 725(6) of the 
McKinney‐ Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a (6)); or 
  • The child is referred for Special Education. 
A child may need an interim surrogate parent when they are initially placed in a SELPA to meet the requirements for immediate educational placement, while the status or location of the child’s parent is researched. These children may be living in the following settings:
  • Foster home 
  • Private group home
  • State hospitals and other health facilities
  • Correctional facilities 
  • Residential treatment centers 
Reasonable efforts to contact parents include, but are not limited to, the following measures: 
  • Documented phone calls 
  • Letters, certified letters with return receipts 
  • Documented visits to the parent’s last known address 
  • The placement of an agency notice of a court order that terminates parents’ rights 
If the efforts above fail to locate the parent or to obtain parent status notification from the placing agency, an interim surrogate parent appointment may be necessary. A surrogate parent shall be appointed not more than 30 days after the LEA/district determines that a student needs a surrogate parent (EDC §7579.5 (a)). This appointment will facilitate timely IEP review, establish consent for special education assessment, or both. 

When a Surrogate Parent is Not Needed 

The following are instances in which a surrogate parent does not need to be appointed: 
  • The parent’s educational rights pertaining to the student have not been removed by a court. 
  • The parent maintains educational rights and has appointed their own educational representatives for their child. 
  • A court has appointed a guardian for the student. 
  • The student was voluntarily placed in a residential facility. 
  • The student is 18 years of age or older, and they do not have a conservator or guardian, regardless of the individual’s functional level. 
  • The student is an emancipated minor. 
  • The student is married. 
  • The student has a legal guardian. 
  • The student has someone "acting" as the child’s parent, such as a grandparent or other family member, and the child resides with this person and is defined as a "parent" according to 34 CFR §300.30. 

Who to Appoint as a Surrogate Parent 

Individuals who may serve as surrogate parents include, but are not limited to, foster care providers, retired teachers or school district administrators, social workers, and probation officers who are not employees of the State Department of Education, the local educational agency, or any other agency that is involved in the education or care of the child. A public agency authorized to appoint a surrogate parent under this section may select a person who is an employee of a nonpublic agency that only provides non-educational care for the child. An individual, who would have a conflict of interest, for the purposes of this section, means a person having any interest that might restrict or bias his or her ability to advocate for all of the services required to ensure that the student has a free appropriate public education.  A person who otherwise qualifies to be a surrogate parent under this section is not an employee of the LEA/district solely because they are paid by the LEA/district to serve as a surrogate parent.  When appointing a surrogate parent, the LEA/district shall, as a first preference, select a relative caretaker, foster parent, or Court‐Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) if any of these individuals exist and are willing and able to serve. If none of these individuals are willing or able to act as a surrogate parent, the LEA/district shall select the surrogate parent. If the child is moved from the home of the relative‐caretaker or foster parent who has been appointed as a surrogate parent, the LEA/district shall appoint another surrogate parent if a new appointment is necessary to ensure adequate representation of the child.  To find an approved list of surrogate parents fingerprinted and trained, please refer to the list in the SEIS Document Library. 

Responsibilities/Expectations of a Surrogate Parent 

The surrogate parent shall serve as the child’s parent for the purpose of the IEP process and shall have the rights relative to the child’s education that a parent has under 20 U.S.C. § 1400 (2004) and pursuant to 34 CFR §300.1. The surrogate parent may represent the child in matters relating to special education and related services, including: 
  • Identification 
  • Assessment 
  • Instructional Planning and Development of the IEP 
  • Educational Placement 
  • Reviewing and Revising the IEP
  • Other matters related to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) 
The surrogate parent serves as the child’s parent and has parental rights relative to the child’s education under 20 U.S.C. § 1400 (2004).

Monitoring Surrogate Parents 

If a surrogate parent is not performing the duties appropriately or if the surrogate has a conflict of interest, the LEA/district shall terminate the appointment. The surrogate parent may represent the child until: 
  • The child is no longer in need of special education;
  • The student reaches the age of majority;
    • The age of majority is the legally defined age at which a person is considered an adult, with all the attendant rights and responsibilities of adulthood.
  • The biological parent is found, or the court restores educational rights to the parent. 
The LEA/district should inform the SELPA when a student requires a surrogate parent. The SELPA should also be notified when a surrogate no longer represents a student. 

Surrogate Parent Safeguards 

A surrogate parent: 
  • Is held harmless by the State of California during the execution of duties except when actions are found to be wanton, reckless, or malicious. 
  • May inspect and have copies of all student educational records.
  • Has permission to request changes when inappropriate or inaccurate information is contained in the student’s records.
  • Should be informed about assessment procedures, tests, and all results.
  • May seek an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).
  • Shall participate fully in the planning of the student’s IEP.
  • Can decide if the proposed offer of FAPE is appropriate for the student by either signing or refusing to sign the IEP.
  • Should receive progress reports and regular routine communications.
  • May request a teacher conference, new evaluation, or IEP as deemed necessary by the surrogate.
  • Should be notified in writing when the school proposes any educational changes.
  • May initiate due process proceedings.
  • Should be informed if any due process proceedings have been initiated.
  • Receives information about all other State and local agencies that provide services to special education students (EDC §56050(b)).
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Surrogate Parent Flowchart graphic
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Eligibility for special education services under the IDEA generally terminates when the student graduates with a regular high school diploma or reaches their 22nd birthday, whichever comes first (EDC §56026). A student’s receipt of an alternative diploma or a certificate of completion does not terminate their right to receive special education and related services under the IDEA. For further information on alternative diplomas or certificate of completion, see the "Graduation Options for Students with Disabilities" section of this Procedural Guide, the "Certificate of Completion Guidelines" section of this Procedural Guide, or the El Dorado SELPA’s "Certificate of Completion Guidelines."   Students with IEPs who have not received a regular high school diploma and are between the ages of 19 and 21 years, inclusive, must be enrolled in or eligible for a special education program before their 19th birthday to continue receiving special education services. Any student who turns 22 years of age during the months of January to June while participating in a special education program may continue their participation for the remainder of the current fiscal year (the fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30), including any extended school year (ESY) program for students with disabilities.  Any student aged 21 eligible to participate in a special education program shall not be allowed to begin a new fiscal year in a program if they become 22 years of age in July, August, or September of the new fiscal year. However, if a student is in a year-round school program and is completing their individualized education program in a term that extends into the new fiscal year, then the student may complete that term.  Any student who becomes 22 years of age during the months of October, November, or December while participating in a special education program shall be terminated from the program on December 31 of the current fiscal year unless the student would otherwise complete their individualized education program at the end of the current fiscal year. For example, if a student has a 22nd birthday in November but is on track to receive a high school diploma in June of the same fiscal year, they will not continue to receive services past June, which is the end of that fiscal year.
Useful Links:
Graduations Option for Students with Disabilities PG Section: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/17.5-GRADUATION-OPTIONS-FOR-STUDENTS-WITH-DISABILITIES-CHARTER.pdf Certificate of Complete Guidelines: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/certificate-of-completion-guidelines.pdf Parental Consent and Parental Revocation of Consent Section of the PG: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PARENTAL-CONSENT-AND-PARENTAL-REVOCATION-OF-CONSENT-1.pdf Prior Written Notice Section of the PG: https://charterselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PRIOR-WRITTEN-NOTICE.pdf  
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Important note: The term “parent” refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except in cases when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. Therefore, references to the parent may also include adult students.  “Local Education Agency (LEA)” is defined by California state law as a school district, a county office of education, a nonprofit charter school participating as a member of a special education local plan area, or a special education local plan area (EDC §56026.3) 

Parental Consent 

When the term consent or parental consent is used in IDEA, it has the same meaning as the term informed written consent. The following indicates that the parent has been fully informed regarding the action of the LEA/district for which parental consent is being requested: 
  • The parent has been fully informed of all information relevant to the activity for which consent is sought, in their native language, or through another mode of communication. 
  • The parent understands and agrees in writing to the carrying out of the activity for which their consent is sought, and the consent describes that activity and lists the records (if any) that will be released and to whom. 
  • The parent understands that the granting of consent is voluntary on the part of the parent and may be revoked at any time. 
  • If a parent revokes consent, that revocation is not retroactive (i.e., it does not negate an action that has occurred after the consent was given and before the consent was revoked). [34 CFR 300.9] 

Revocation of Consent 

A parent may revoke consent for the continued provision of special education and related services at any time. The parent must provide a written statement revoking consent for special education and related services. Upon parent request, LEAs/districts may assist in writing the revocation statement. A statement of revocation of consent must include the date, student’s name, and parent’s signature. Revocation of consent applies to the entire IEP, not to just individual sections of the IEP. A parent may also revoke consent for assessment after an assessment plan has been signed. A Prior Written Notice (PWN) must be sent once the revocation statement for assessment has been received. A "Notice of Intent to Grant a Revocation of Consent" PWN template is located in the SEIS document library in the Prior Written Notice Forms and Documents section.   Upon revocation of consent for continued special education and related services, the LEA/district: 
  • May not continue to provide special education and related services to the student and must provide Prior Written Notice (PWN) before ceasing services that explains the change in the educational program that will result from the parent’s revocation of consent. The provision of this notice gives parents the information and time to fully consider the ramifications of the revocation of consent. The PWN should include a copy of parental rights.  
  • May not use mediation or due process procedures to obtain a ruling that services may be provided to the student. 
  • Will not be considered to be in violation of the requirement to make Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) available to the student because of a failure to provide further services. 
  • Is not required to convene an IEP team meeting or develop an IEP for the student. 
Once an LEA/district has properly discontinued the provision of special education and related services, the LEA/district may place the student following the placement procedures of the general education students. As with all general education students, if the student is not progressing in the general education setting or adequately accessing the general education curriculum, the LEA/district has the responsibility to fulfill Child Find requirements. LEAs/Districts may also consider evaluating the student for a 504 Plan.  If a parent changes their mind and later requests that the child be re-enrolled in special education, the LEA/district must treat this request as an initial evaluation. The LEA/district will need to do an initial evaluation for the student and determine eligibility before developing a new IEP. A student who reaches the age of majority and retains their educational rights may revoke consent of their special education and related services; the district must provide prior written notice to the adult student as noted above. 

When Parents Do Not Agree with One Another 

In the case of two parents in conflict, the written consent of only one parent with educational decision-making authority is necessary to revoke consent for a child’s receipt of special education and related services. A Prior Written Notice should be sent to both parents.  As long as the parent has the legal authority to make educational decisions for the child, the school district must accept the parent’s written revocation of consent. A subsequent disagreement by the other parent does not overturn the revocation. Further, a subsequent request for special education services does not overturn the revocation (unless the request is made by the parent who initiated the original revocation) and would initiate the initial assessment process.  Note: Neither the school district nor the objecting parent can use IDEA due process procedures to overcome a parent’s written revocation of consent. The IDEA provides that a parent may file a due process complaint over actions by a public agency and not actions by another parent. 
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Age of Majority is a term used to describe the age after which a person is legally no longer considered a child and becomes a legal adult. In California, the legal age of majority is 18 years.  When a child with a disability turns 18, all rights under state and federal special education law transfer from the parent(s) to the adult student (except in the case of a child with a disability who has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law). At this point, the student becomes responsible for all educational, medical, financial, and legal decisions on their own behalf. This transfer of rights also applies to those students incarcerated in an adult or juvenile federal, state, regional, or local correctional institution.  Per IDEA, an LEA/district must inform the parent(s) and special education student before they turn 17 that all rights will transfer to the student on their 18th birthday (34 C.F.R. §300.320(c)). The Transition Plan section of the IEP includes a statement that must be completed to document the discussion with the parent and student regarding the transfer of rights upon reaching the age of majority. This conversation typically occurs during an IEP meeting before the student turns 17 and should be documented in the notes of the IEP meeting. Both the student and the parent must be present at the meeting for the discussion to ensure all questions are answered and that the student and parent clearly understand what is included in the transfer of rights.
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Whenever a student in special education transfers from one LEA/district to another, the LEA/district receiving the student shall: 
  • Request records from previous LEA/district as soon as student is enrolled in the new LEA. 
  • If the previous LEA/district did not use SEIS, manually enter student information to create a new student record (SELPA minimum requirement is CASEMIS A&B tabs). 
  • Complete the “Interim Placement Form” (located in the SEIS Document Library) and give it to parents. Obtain parental signature. The special education services will begin on the first day of attendance. The LEA/district will provide the student with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), including services comparable to those described in the previously approved IEP. 
  • Current information, records, and reports from the previous LEA/district will be reviewed and utilized to develop an Interim IEP. Prior to the Interim (30 day) IEP meeting, the LEA/district will determine if any additional assessment is required in order to determine student’s educational needs and make program recommendations. If an additional assessment is required, an assessment plan will be developed, and parent’s signature obtained. 
  • An Interim (30 day) IEP meeting is held to review the placement/offer of FAPE (including review of goals, accommodations & modifications, services and educational environment, etc.) within 30 days of the student’s first day of instruction. 
  • At this Interim (30 day) IEP meeting the LEA/district will adopt the previously approved IEP or develop and implement a new IEP based on updated assessment results and/or review of records. 
Additional resources (including easy-to-follow flow charts) on Interim Placements are available in the SEIS Document Library (under “Newly Joining Partners: Change of SELPA for schools that already existed”).   
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In the incidence that a student is unable to attend school due to a medical disability such as illness or hospitalization, an LEA/district may implement one of the following programs to meet the student’s general and/or special education needs for the duration of their absence from the school setting: Home and Hospital Instruction, Home Instruction, or Independent Study. The purpose of this section is to outline which instructional program is most appropriate based on the student’s educational program and level of need. 

What is Home and Hospital Instruction? 

California state law affords all students enrolled in a public school the right to access the Home and Hospital Instruction ("HHI") Program. The HHI Program serves students with temporary disabilities for whom it is impossible or unadvisable to attend regular classes, regardless of their disability status. Examples of when HHI may be appropriate for a student include when the student is in the home or hospital setting for a temporary period due to pneumonia, a communicable disease, a broken limb significantly impacting mobility, or is unable to attend school due to the death of a loved one and subsequent emotional impact.  *Medical documentation of a return date, written by a physician, is a required element of HHI. A temporary disability is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional disability incurred while a student is enrolled in regular day classes or an alternative education program, and after which the student can reasonably be expected to return to regular day classes or the alternative education program without special intervention" 1 (CDE Home and Hospital Instruction Program Summary). A temporary disability does not include a disability for which a student is identified as an individual with exceptional needs pursuant to EDC §56026.  The primary outcome of HHI is to maintain a student at their former level of performance while recovering from the temporary disability so as not to jeopardize the student’s future performance upon returning to their education program. 

Home and Hospital Instruction (HHI): Eligibility 

It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian of a student with a temporary disability to notify the LEA/district of the request for Home and Hospital Instruction. If a parent/guardian notifies a school of the request, the school must determine the appropriateness of HHI services within five days of the request. Determination of a temporary disability should be based on a physician’s written description of the disabling condition for which the student cannot attend school.
Charter Schools and Home and Hospital Instruction: Considerations for General Education
There is no law that expressly authorizes nor prohibits a charter school from providing home-hospital instruction. Therefore, a charter school may choose to either provide HHI services directly or work with the district of residence to ensure services are provided. Under current guidance, it is not recommended that a charter school refuse to provide HHI services if required for a student with a temporary disability to access their education. Assembly Bill 2109, which took effect on January 1, 2019, made several changes to the laws governing home-hospital instruction for students with temporary disabilities. AB 2109 authorizes, but does not require, an LEA/district to continue to enroll a pupil who is receiving individual instruction in a hospital, regardless of district boundaries, to facilitate timely reentry following the hospitalization and limit barriers to re-enrollment. AB 2109 provides a right for the student to return to the school of origin (the student attended prior to the health issue) if the student is well enough to attend school and returns prior to the end of the school year in which the home and hospital instruction was initiated. Accordingly, all schools must re-enroll a student who receives home-hospital instruction in another school district but is well enough to return during the same school year. AB 2109 also authorizes the school of origin to provide a partial week of instruction to a pupil who is receiving individual instruction in a hospital for fewer than five days per week. For example, a student receiving medical treatment in a hospital on Monday and Tuesday may receive individual instruction from the district in which the hospital is located on those days. Then, the student may receive instruction from the school of origin on Wednesday through Friday. This instruction may occur within the school setting or home, depending on the student’s level of need. It should be noted that AB 2109 particularly affects general education students with temporary disabilities. Any decision regarding the appropriateness of individualized instruction for students receiving special education services pursuant to an IEP must be made by the student’s IEP team3.
A school must begin HHI services within five days of determining eligibility. While out of school due to a temporary disability, a student may receive individual instruction either in the home, hospital, or other residential facility. A student may receive one clock hour of instruction per calendar day of school, up to five hours per week through the HHI program. Services are not provided over the summer or holiday breaks. Additionally, electives such as foreign languages or PE are typically not provided through HHI.  For purposes of computing Average Daily Attendance ("ADA"), the district in which the hospital or other residential health facility is located may only claim ADA for the days of the week the student is receiving individual instruction, and the school of origin may only claim ADA for the days the student attends the school. The total combined ADA cannot exceed five school days or the equivalent. As a reminder, each hour of individual instruction may be counted as one day of attendance. It is recommended that charter schools research ADA collection for home/hospital instruction and collaborate with their CALPADS administrator to ensure appropriate rules regarding enrollment and attendance reporting are followed.  As a reminder, if a student with an IEP is unable to attend school due to a temporary disability, the LEA/district where the student is enrolled continues to be responsible for provision of special education and related services during that time. General education supports would also be provided through the Home Instruction program as indicated in the IEP. For additional information please refer to the Home Instruction section below or visit the CDE Home and Hospital Instruction Guidance page: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/eo/hh/. 

Home and Hospital Instruction: Credentialing 

HHI shall be provided only by teachers with valid California teaching credentials who consent to the assignment. As a reminder, there is no provision in the statute that specifically addresses instructional content; however, the goal of home or hospital instruction should be the maintenance of the student’s former level of performance.  For more information on credentialing, see California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC): https://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/Ed-Specialist-Instruction-Cred-(CL-808CA) 

What is Home Instruction? 

Home instruction is also referred to as Homebound Instruction or Instruction in the Home and is considered a placement on the continuum of services for students receiving special education services. If a student with an IEP is deemed unable to attend school due to a temporary or ongoing medical or psychological disability, the school is obligated to continue to provide special education and related services to the student during that time. Home instruction is also available to students with disabilities who are hospitalized for medical or psychiatric purposes or who cannot be educated in the public school setting due to significant health or behavioral needs which may not be temporary in nature. 

Home Instruction: Eligibility, Services, and Teacher Requirements 

To qualify for home instruction, a student must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan. Home instruction may only be provided under the following circumstances (5 CCR § 3051.4): 
  • Student has been identified as having exceptional needs (IEP or 504) 
  • IEP team has recommended home instruction 
  • IEP team recommendation is based on a medical report which:
    • Is from the student’s attending physician, surgeon, or psychologist;
    • States the diagnosed condition;
    • Certifies that the student’s condition prevents attendance in a less restrictive setting; 
       and 
    • Contains a "projected calendar date for student’s return to school." 
*Note: As a reminder, procedures followed by the IEP team in developing an IEP for a student receiving home instruction are the same as those followed for any other student with special education services. The IEP or 504 team will determine the duration and type of instruction required to address the student’s unique needs (may be more or less than five hours per week of instruction and may require related services). If home instruction is intended to be temporary, please include an end date.  Any home instruction program must be individually designed to ensure that the student continues to make progress on goals and objectives. The law also requires that students have access to and make progress in the general education curriculum. Home instruction may be provided over the summer if required to provide FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education). It may be provided more than five hours per week if required for the student to continue progressing on goals and objectives. Equipment or technology necessary to enable the child to benefit from home instruction to access and make progress in the general curriculum or to ensure progress on IEP goals must be provided as part of FAPE.  The teacher providing home instruction shall contact the student’s prior teacher to determine: 
  • The coursework to be covered; 
  • Books or other materials to be used; and 
  • Who is responsible for issuing grades and/or promoting the student? 
For grades 7-12, a school must determine: 
  • Hours earned toward course credit in each subject; 
  • Student’s grade in each subject; and 
  • Who will issue credit or diploma when work is completed. 

Home Instruction: Credentialing 

Home instruction services may include individual, small group, or virtual instruction. They must be provided by a regular education teacher or a specialist with the appropriate teaching or related services credential. There is currently no law in California requiring a parent to be home during periods of instruction; however, it may be within the best interest of the educator and student to schedule instruction while parent/guardians are home whenever possible. 

What is Independent Study? 

Independent study provides an alternative education program available to all students across all grade levels. Independent study programs are voluntary and use alternative instructional strategies that respond to individual student needs and learning styles. Students may access independent study through a range of quality educational options that include classroom-based, hybrid, and non-classroom-based virtual programs. While a student is participating in independent study, the LEA/district is responsible for the provision of general education as well as special education and related services as deemed appropriate by the IEP team.  Independent study may be offered through a variety of formats, including: 
  • As a program or class within a comprehensive school 
  • Through an alternative school or program of choice (EDC §58500 et seq) 
  • Through charter schools 
  • Through board-approved online courses
  • As an accommodation for pupil travel
  • As specialized and/or advanced courses
  • As a credit recovery method
  • On a short-term basis (less than 15 total school days per school year) 
Students with disabilities may participate in traditional and course-based independent study programs if their individualized education programs (IEP) specifically provide for such instruction. For students with special education services, a determination as to whether independent study is appropriate must be made by the IEP team within 30 days of the request and documented in the IEP prior to initiating independent study. The IEP team may not decline a student’s request for independent study based on the student’s inability to work independently, the need for adult support, or the need for special education or related services (EDC §51745 (c)).  The offer of special education and related services must continue to be based on student need while enrolled in the independent study program and must not be decreased based solely on the availability of student, staff, and/or resources. The IEP must specify the appropriate content under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 300.302, including: 
  • The percentage of time the student will participate in independent study. 
  • The percentage of time to be spent in regular education, if any. 
  • The percentage of time the student will receive special education support.
  • Discussions of the placement options and supports considered in developing an independent study program for a student with special needs.
  • The academic goals and services that are unique to the needs of the special education student.
  • The accommodations and related services needed to maximize access in an independent study placement.
  • A plan that outlines the course of study as it relates to the independent study curriculum. 
Assembly Bill 181 was signed into law on June 30, 2022 and authorizes LEAs to claim apportionment for students served in nonpublic, nonsectarian schools through a "virtual program," as long as the LEA offers independent study, the parent or guardian requests independent study, and the IEP team determines the student can receive FAPE in the virtual program. This provision becomes inoperative on July 1, 2024. For more information on AB 181 visit: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/lr/om081922.asp  For more information, please visit the Independent Study section of this procedural guide.
Independent Study, HHI, HI: Quick Reference
Independent Study Home and Hospital Instruction Home Instruction
Brief Description Provides an alternative education program that is available to all students across all grade levels. Provides access to a general education curriculum for students with temporary disabilities for whom it is impossible or unadvisable to attend regular classes. Home Instruction is considered a placement on the continuum of services for students receiving special education services.
Eligibility Independent study programs are voluntary. Students with exceptional needs may participate in traditional and course-based independent study if their individualized education programs (IEP) specifically provide for such instruction. An IEP team shall not deny a request for independent study based on a student’s inability to work independently, need for adult support, or need for special education or related services. For additional information, please visit the Independent Study section of this procedural guide. It is the primary responsibility of the parent or guardian of a student with a temporary disability to notify the school of the request for Home and Hospital Instruction, or of the student’s presence in a qualifying hospital. Medical documentation of need and return date is required. Note: there is no law which expressly authorizes nor prohibits a charter school from providing home-hospital instruction. Therefore, a charter school may choose to either provide HHI services directly or work with the district of residence to ensure services are provided. It is not recommended that a charter school refuses to provide HHI services if required for a student with a temporary disability to access his or her education. To qualify for Home Instruction, a student must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan. Placement in Home Instruction program is the decision of the IEP team. Please refer to the section above titled Home Instruction: Eligibility, Services and Teacher Requirements for specific eligibility requirements.
Timelines For a student who has an IEP and wants to participate in independent study, a determination as to whether independent study is appropriate must be made within 30 days and written into the IEP. Upon receiving notification of an HHI request from the parent, the school must determine the appropriateness of HHI services within five days of the request. The school must then begin HHI services within five days of determining eligibility. Within five days of beginning such services, the LEA/district must notify the prior LEA/district that the student is receiving HHI and the date on which HHI services began. If a parent requests Home Instruction based on medical documentation, or if Home Instruction is deemed appropriate due to another medical or mental health need, it is recommended that the IEP team respond to the request within five days by offering IEP dates for scheduling and/or IEP meeting notice to participants. Convene an IEP meeting as soon as possible to consider the appropriateness of Home Instruction.
For additional information, please contact your El Dorado SELPA Program Specialist.
Recommended Links:
https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/eo/hh/hhprogramsummary.asp August 24th CDE Updated page
Useful Links:
1 California Department of Education (12 September 2018). Home and Hospital Instruction. Retrieved from https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/eo/hh/.   2 California Charter Schools Association (10 April 2018). CCSA Answers: Charter Schools and Home Hospital Instruction. Retrieved from http://library.ccsa.org/blog/members/2018/04/ccsa-answers-charter-schools-and-home-and- hospital-instruction.html.  3 Jassawalla, A. (19 February 2019). State Legislature Makes Changes to Home-Hospital Instruction for Students with Temporary Disabilities.  Retrieved from http://girardedwards.com/state-legislature-makes-changes-to-home-hospital- instruction-for-students-with-temporary- disabilities/. 
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School-Sponsored Non-Academic and Extracurricular Activities 

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), LEAs/districts are responsible for providing students with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in school-sponsored non-academic services and extracurricular activities. LEAs/districts must ensure that each child with a disability is afforded an equal opportunity to participate with their non-disabled peers in school-sponsored extracurricular services and activities to the maximum extent appropriate. Additionally, the LEA/district must take steps, including ensuring supplementary supports and services, generally determined by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 team, are made available for that child to ensure that the child has equal access to participate in those school-sponsored services and activities.  Per Section 504, an LEA/district is required to provide an individual with a qualifying disability the opportunity to benefit from the LEA/district’s program equal to that of individuals without disabilities. Under Section 504, a person with a disability is one who: 
  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; 
  • Has a record of such impairment; or 
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment. 
School Sponsored Nonacademic and Extracurricular Activities include, but are not limited to: 
  • Counseling services 
  • Athletics 
  • Transportation 
  • Health services 
  • Recreational activities 
  • Special interest groups, clubs, or before/after school daycare sponsored by the public agency 
  • Referrals to agencies that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities 
  • Employment of students, including both employment by the public agency and assistance in making outside employment available. 
Simply because a student is a “qualified” student with a disability does not mean that the student must be allowed to participate in any selective or competitive program offered by the LEA/district. An LEA/district that offers school-sponsored extracurricular athletics (which include clubs, intramural, or interscholastic athletics) may require a level of skill or ability of a student for that student to participate in a selective or competitive program, as long as the set criteria is non-discriminatory. Additionally, the LEA/district must afford students with a qualified disability an equal opportunity to participate in school-sponsored extracurricular athletics. This means making reasonable accommodations/modifications and providing the supports and services necessary to ensure equal opportunity unless the LEA/district can show that doing so would fundamentally alter the program or activity. 

Field Trips 

An LEA/district must afford students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in school-sponsored field trips and supply the necessary supports or services for that student to participate in the field trip. In some cases, an IEP or 504 team, or the LEA/district, may determine that a student with a disability should not participate in a field trip. A determination as to whether a student with a disability can be denied the opportunity to participate in a field trip must be made on an individual basis. In these circumstances, it is critical that the district provides sufficient  documentation and evidence to support why the student was prohibited from attending the field trip.  An LEA/district may not exclude a student with a disability from participating in a school-sponsored field trip because of a lack of funds when such funding is made available for students in general education. Additionally, an LEA/district may not deny a student with a disability the opportunity to attend, contingent upon parent supervision. Generally, an LEA/district may not require that a parent of a student with a disability accompany the student on a field trip when parents of non-disabled peers are not obligated to attend. Although a parent cannot be required to attend a field trip, they may certainly be invited to attend. In addition, an LEA/district may not deny a student with a disability the opportunity to attend a field trip due to the school’s failure to provide the student equal notice about the planned field trip.  An LEA/district may only prohibit a student with a disability from attending a field trip under the following circumstances: 
  • If the purpose of the field trip is related to curriculum and the student with disabilities is not studying that curriculum (ie. a field trip to a local museum that is intended to supplement a social studies curriculum, but the student with the disability does not participate in the general social studies curriculum, the student may be excluded from the trip). 
  • If the school has applied behavior and attendance rules to students with disabilities if they are applied equally to their non-disabled peers, and the student breaches the LEAs/district’s behavior or attendance policy. 
  • If the LEA/district believes participation presents an unacceptable risk to the student’s health or safety. 
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Helpful Links from the California Department of Education:   The purpose of independent study is to provide a voluntary alternative education program available to all students across all grade levels. Independent study programs use alternative instructional strategies to meet individual student needs and learning styles while following the Local Education Agency (LEA)/district-adopted curriculum standards and graduation requirements. This procedural guide section provides a general overview of independent study program1 requirements as well as specific considerations for students with disabilities.   General Information   According to the California Department of Education (CDE), students may access independent study through a range of quality educational options that include classroom-based, hybrid, and non-classroom-based virtual programs. LEAs/Districts are encouraged to offer more than one independent study model to best serve the needs of their students (EDC §51744), thereby improving academic outcomes while maximizing enrollment. Independent study may be offered through a variety of formats, including: 
  • Through charter schools 
  • Through board-approved online courses 
  • As an accommodation for student travel 
  • As specialized and/or advanced courses 
  • As a credit recovery method 
  • On a short-term basis (less than 15 total schooldays in a school year, see below for additional information) 
An Independent Study Written Agreement must be completed for each independent study student. The Independent Study Written Agreement outlines the course of study and must be agreed upon by the student, parent/caregiver/guardian, supervising teacher, and any other assisting person(s) responsible for the student’s program. As applicable, the certificated team member designated as having responsibility for the special education programming of the student shall also sign the written agreement. For more information about the required elements of the Independent Study Written Agreement, please visit the California Department of Education’s Independent Study Guide.  Independent study can be used on a short-term or long-term basis:   Short-term  
  • Short-term independent study refers to a student’s participation in independent study for fewer than 15 cumulative instructional days in a school year. Once the student has participated in independent study for 15 days in a school year, it is no longer short-term.  
  • LEAs/districts are exempt from the requirements to provide tiered re-engagement strategies, daily live interaction, synchronous instruction, and of returning the student to in-person instruction within five instructional days (EDC § 51747(h)(2)(i)).  
  • With the exception of the information provided above, there is no further distinction in legal requirements between short-term and long-term independent study. 
  • The student’s classroom teacher often serves as the independent study supervising teacher and provides the independent study assignments (coursework the student would have covered had they remained in the classroom during this period). 
  • For students scheduled for less than 15 school days, the written agreement shall be signed within 10 school days of the commencement of the first day of enrollment in independent study. 
  • Final determinations regarding the participation of students with disabilities in short-term independent study, including the provision of special education-related services, must be agreed upon by the IEP team and reflected in the Independent Study Written Agreement. For more information, please refer to the Considerations for Students with Disabilities section below. 
Long-term  
  • Long-term independent study refers to a student’s participation in independent study for 15 or more cumulative school days in a school year. Students may participate in independent study on a full-time basis or in conjunction with courses taken in a classroom setting.  
  • For students scheduled for more than 14 school days, the written agreement shall be signed before the commencement of independent study. 
  • Final determinations regarding the participation of students with disabilities in long-term independent study, including the provision of special education-related services, must be agreed upon by the IEP team and reflected in the Independent Study Written Agreement. For more information, please refer to the Considerations for Students with Disabilities section below. 
 
Independent Study: Compare and Contrast  
Independent Study IS…  Independent Study IS NOT… 
Is provided as an alternative instructional strategy.  Is not an alternative curriculum. 
Is, and must remain, a voluntary option for students to access.  Is not a required educational program. 
Is an educational option an LEA/district may choose and is encouraged to offer. The requirement that LEAs/districts and county offices of education offer independent study expired on June 30, 2022.  Is not an educational option an LEA/district is required to offer. 
Is an educational program offered and monitored by an LEA/district. Students work independently under the general supervision of a credentialed teacher(s) and follow LEA/district-adopted curriculum, are aligned with grade-level standards, and meet graduation requirements. The parent is a member of the team who facilitates the implementation of the master agreement. Although they may be highly involved, the parent does not serve as the instructor.  Is not synonymous with Home School. In a home school program, all instructional needs are met solely by the family, independently of an LEA/district. The parent serves as the instructor. In order to transfer a student to a home school setting, the parent(s) must file a "private school affidavit" with CDE. 
Is a short-term educational option for students who have health problems, are traveling for a period of time, are parents/guardians, need to work, or are child actors.  Is not synonymous with Home-Hospital Instruction (EDC §48206.3) which serves students with temporary disabilities for whom it is impossible or unadvisable to attend regular classes, regardless of their disability status. For more information about the distinguishing characteristics of IS and HHI, please visit [link to PG section with updated title.] 
Is an alternative education program available to all students across all grade levels.  Is not synonymous with Home Instruction (HI) which is considered a placement on the continuum of services for students receiving special education services. For more information about the distinguishing characteristics of IS, HHI, and HI, please visit [link to PG section with updated title.]  
  Considerations for Students with Disabilities  Students with disabilities may participate in short- or long-term traditional and course-based independent study programs if their individualized education programs (IEP) specifically provide for such instruction. For students with special education services, a determination as to whether independent study is appropriate must be made by the IEP team within 30 days of the request and documented in the IEP prior to initiating independent study. The IEP team may not decline a student’s request for independent study based on the student’s inability to work independently, the need for adult support, or the need for special education or related services (EDC §51745 (c)).  The offer of special education and related services must continue to be based on student need while enrolled in the independent study program and must not be decreased based solely on the availability of student, staff, and/or resources. The IEP must specify the appropriate content under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 300.302, including: 
  • The percentage of time the student will participate in independent study. 
  • The percentage of time to be spent in regular education, if any. 
  • The percentage of time the student will receive special education support. 
  • Discussions of the placement options and supports considered in developing an independent study program for a student with special needs. 
  • The academic goals and services that are unique to the needs of the special education student. 
  • The accommodations and related services needed to maximize access in an independent study placement. 
  • A plan that outlines the course of study as it relates to the independent study curriculum. 
Equal Enrollment for Students with Disabilities: Virtual or Hybrid Charter Schools  Charter schools that offer virtual learning opportunities and other hybrid learning programs through independent study must enroll all students who meet the enrollment requirements set in their charter agreement, including students with and without disabilities. Federal and state law prohibits any public school, including charter schools, from denying admission to any student based on a disability, or the nature of or extent of a disability. To ensure legal compliance, it is recommended that the LEA adopt policies and procedures to address admissions of a student with a disability in an independent study program. These policies may include, but are not limited to, the following information: 
  • Specific information pertaining to the independent study written agreement. 
  • Educational opportunities offered through independent study. 
  • The maximum length of time which may elapse between the time an independent study assignment is made and the date by which the student must complete the assigned work. 
  • An explanation that the student will have access to the same services and resources of the LEA/district in which they are enrolled, as is available to other students enrolled in the LEA/district. 
  • The provisions of independent study and restrictions for providing independent study as an alternative curriculum, as a program for the temporarily disabled, and the exclusive method of course offerings for high school graduation. 
  • Procedures to address the enrollment process for students with disabilities and the need for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team decision for placement in an independent study program for a student with exceptional needs. 
When a student with an IEP applies to enroll in a virtual or hybrid charter school, it is recommended that the LEA follow enrollment procedures to enroll the student in accordance with equal enrollment requirements. During the 30-day interim IEP process (please refer to the interim placement section of the procedural guide), the IEP team will review the IEP to determine whether independent study is an appropriate offer of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). If the IEP team determines that independent study is not an appropriate offer of FAPE, the student will remain enrolled in the LEA. In this case, the LEA maintains responsibility for funding an appropriate alternative placement. If the IEP team determines that the independent study program is appropriate, it must be written into the IEP document and consented to by the parent/guardian of the student.   IEP Team Considerations  When developing an IEP for a student in an independent study program, the IEP shall clearly demonstrate that the following have been considered: the student’s individualized needs, alternative placement options, and how the independent study program can provide the student with FAPE in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The IEP placement recommendation should reflect the independent study program. It is recommended that the LEA/district consider the following information when developing the student’s IEP:  
  • Assessments and the individual student needs including: 
  • Social-emotional 
  • Behavioral 
  • Social skill development of the student, including needs for social interaction, peer modeling, and generalization of skills learned with peers 
  • If face-to-face assistance is required and if so, how much  
  • Accommodations and/or modifications 
  • IEP goals based on the student’s individual needs, including progress on IEP goals which are individually monitored 
  • Services and supports that are required to meet the student’s needs within the independent study program. This includes all related services such as, but not limited to, specialized academic instruction, occupational therapy, speech and language services, educationally relevant mental health (ERMHS) services, behavior intervention services, assistive technology services, etc. 
  • Where and how special education services will be delivered- including the frequency, duration, and how and where the student will access service minutes 
  • Assistive technology needed to access the curriculum 
  • Transportation (see transportation section of the procedural guide for additional guidance) 
  • Progress monitoring and program review to ensure that the independent study program continues to be appropriate and the student continues to receive educational benefit 
It is important that the IEP team carefully investigate and identify student needs for socialization, language pragmatics, and emotional regulation to ensure all needs are being addressed in the independent study program.   Accommodations and Modifications  There are some basic accommodations and modifications not automatically provided to all students in traditional school environments, but are often characteristic of education provided in an independent study program: 
  • Extended time on lessons and tests 
  • Flexibility in start and end dates 
  • Continuous means of communication 
  • Parent/guardian communication of progress 
  • Prepared notes/reviews 
  • Clear rubrics 
  • Appropriate placements by skill level 
  • Working in a closely supported environment 
  • Varied activity formats 
  • Screen readers and talking browsers 
  • Daily lesson planning with the student; just-in-time remediation 
The IEP team shall consider which accommodations and modifications are necessary for the student to receive educational benefit. A student may require curricular adaptations to access, make progress, and meet standards in their grade-level curriculum.   For additional information on accommodations and modifications, please refer to the "Curriculum Adaptations" section of this procedural guide.   Assistive Technology  In virtual independent study programs, the use of computer technology may increase the need for assistive technology. The following is a non-exhaustive list of assistive technologies that may be considered for inclusion in a student’s IEP, if required for a student to access their educational program: 
  • On-screen keyboards 
  • Grammatical support tools 
  • Braille embosser and text to Braille conversion 
  • Animated signing characters (signing avatars) 
  • Switches 
  • Alternative mouse systems 
  • Word prediction 
  • Accessible online learning tools 
  • Alternative keyboards 
  • Display-based personal data assistants 
  • Voice recognition systems 
Continuum of Special Education Services  An LEA/district must provide a continuum of special education, related services, and placement options for students with IEPs. If an IEP team determines that an independent study program is not an appropriate placement for a student, the LEA/district must take steps to ensure that the student receives FAPE in the appropriate educational setting. The LEA/district will incur any costs associated with the educational placement. In some cases, such settings may include another LEA/district program, non-public school, or residential facility. The student will remain enrolled in the LEA/district until placement determinations are made and agreed upon by the IEP team. LEA/districts are cautioned to use careful consideration when determining placement for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities must not be placed in separate schools merely because of the availability of placement options, administrative convenience, or institutional barriers to providing related services rather than because of their individual needs (Letter to Johnson, OSERS 1988).  As a reminder, the IEP team may not decline a student’s request for independent study based on the student’s inability to work independently, the need for adult support, or the need for special education or related services (EDC §51745 (c)). The offer of special education and related services must continue to be based on student needs while enrolled in the independent study program and must not be decreased based solely on the availability of student, staff, and/or resources.  Virtual IEP Meetings  Parents2 are required members of the IEP team. LEAs/Districts must provide a parent with the opportunity for meaningful participation in an IEP meeting. The LEA/district shall keep a record of attempts to arrange a mutually convenient IEP meeting and attempts to convince the parent to attend the IEP meeting. This record can include detailed logs of telephone calls or e-mails, IEP notice of meetings, copies of correspondence sent to the parent/guardian and any responses received, detailed records of visits made to the parent’s home, and the result of those visits.  The law dictates who must attend an IEP meeting but does not prescribe where the meeting must be held. If the LEA/district has a central office that is geographically proximate to the student and convenient to the other team members of the IEP team, then the IEP meeting may be held in person at the central office. However, if this is not the case, the LEA/district is responsible for providing capabilities for all IEP team members to meaningfully participate in the meeting, including making reasonable accommodations for parents’ special needs under section 504 or the ADA.  Virtual IEP meetings can be held using computer software programs and services that allow attendees to log in or call into the meeting from wherever they are located. Examples may include but are not limited to, video conferencing (i.e., Zoom) or conference calling using a shared conference call phone line. If the parent is uncomfortable with the use of technology, the LEA/district may need to send a staff member to the home to help the parent meaningfully participate in the virtual IEP meeting.   1 "Independent study programs" refer to classroom-based, hybrid, and non-classroom-based virtual programs in traditional schools, charter schools, and alternative school settings.  2 The term "parent" refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law.
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Defining Extended School Year Services 

Extended School Year (ESY) services are special education and related services provided to a student with a disability during extended school breaks. These services differ from summer school, which is an extension of the regular school year available to all students. ESY services are special education and related services provided in accordance with the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). ESY services are not provided to enhance a student’s education or to provide the best possible educational program. Additionally, ESY services are not intended as compensatory time or to help a student who has missed school. Instead, ESY services should be provided when an IEP team has determined them necessary for the student to progress and benefit from their educational program. 

Legal Guidelines 

34 CFR §300.106 states the following about ESY services: 
  • Each public agency must ensure that extended school year services are available as necessary to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). 
  • ESY services must be provided only if a student’s IEP team determines, on an individual basis, that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE to the student. 
  • In implementing this section’s requirements, a public agency may not limit extended school year services to particular categories of disability or unilaterally limit the type, amount, or duration of those services. 
The ESY program shall be provided for a minimum of 20 instructional days per the California Code of Regulations (CCR §3043). 

General Guidelines 

The following general guidelines should be considered when determining a student’s need for ESY services. The case manager may use the “ESY Eligibility Worksheets” located in the student’s future IEP on SEIS to document the IEP team’s decision-making process. 
  • The key question before the IEP team is whether the student needs ESY services to secure the minimum benefits of a free and appropriate public education during the regular school year.
  • ESY services do not need to duplicate the services provided during the school year because the purpose is different (prevent regression rather than continued progression). A student may require ESY services in only one area (e.g., speech and language) but not in other areas (e.g., specialized academic instruction).
  • When an IEP team discusses ESY services, they should consider the student’s current placement to avoid placing the student in a restrictive environment for ESY services.
  • The determination of ESY eligibility must be based on empirical and qualitative data collected by the IEP team members for the student’s individual skills.
  • The IEP should clearly indicate the start date, end date, frequency, and duration of the ESY services. 

Regression and Recoupment 

The two main criteria that need to be addressed to determine if a student qualifies for ESY services are the high probability that the student will regress without additional services during the summer and, their inability to recoup that loss within 4-6 weeks (about 1 and a half months) after the start of the school year.  All students will experience regression during the summer. The problem exists when a student experiences serious regression without the ability to recoup the loss. Regression refers to a decline in knowledge and skill that can result from an interruption in education; recoupment is the amount of time it takes to regain the prior level of functioning. The issue is whether the benefits derived by the student during the regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if they are not provided an educational program during the summer months. 

Other Factors When Determining the Need for ESY Services 

In Reusch v. Fountain, the court listed other factors in addition to regression and recoupment that the IEP team should consider in deciding if the student is eligible for ESY as a related service. 
  • The degree of progress toward IEP goals and objectives
  • Emerging skills/breakthrough opportunities
  • Will a lengthy summer break cause significant problems for a student learning a key skill, like reading or speaking?
  • Interfering Behavior
  • Does the student’s behavior interfere with their ability to benefit from special education?
  • Nature and/or severity of disability
  • Special circumstances that interfere with a student’s ability to benefit from special education 
For more information about the extended school year, please see. “Charter SELPA’s FAQ for Extended School Year (ESY)"  
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Types of Graduation Options

The graduation options available to students are determined by LEA/district board policies and must be written into a school’s charter. This may include:
  • A diploma based on the state-mandated requirements, 
  • A diploma based on A-G requirements, or 
  • A charter school may set its own diploma requirements, 
  • A certificate of completion
Students with disabilities must be given adequate notice of the requirements for the types of graduation options offered.  The following table shows a comparison of the different types of graduation options. 
Subject Area State Mandated Requirements for High School Graduation (EC 51225.3) A-G Requirements (as approved by UC course approval process) Certificate of Completion (EC 56390)
English Three Years. Four years. Satisfactorily completed a prescribed alternative course of study approved by the district governing board and identified in the student’s IEP AND Satisfactorily met his or her IEP goals and objectives as determined by the IEP team AND Satisfactorily attended high school, participated in instruction, and met the objectives of the statement of transition services. NOTE: The above is a requirement of a standard public school, but not of a charter school. A charter school can use this Ed. Code as a guideline for determining criteria for the board approved certificate of completion option.
Mathematics Two years, including Algebra I. Three years, including algebra, geometry, and intermediate algebra. Four years recommended.
Social Science Three years of social science (including U.S. history and geography; world history, culture, and geography; one semester of American government; and one semester of economics). Two years of history/social science, including one year of U.S. history or 1/2 year of U.S. history and 1/2 year of civics or American government; and one year of world history, cultures, and geography.
Science Two years, including biology and physical science. Two years with lab required, chosen from biology, chemistry, and physics.  Three years recommended.
Visual and Performing Arts One year of either visual and performing arts, foreign language, or career technical education. One year of visual and performing arts chosen from the following: dance, drama/theater, music, or visual art.
Physical Education Two years Not Applicable
Electives Not Applicable One year

Termination of Special Education Services 

The following table illustrates the guidelines around the termination of special education services. Prior written notice is required upon the termination of special education services for any of the situations below.
If a student’s 22nd birthday is between January and June, the student may continue through the remainder of the fiscal year (through and ending on June 30th of that same fiscal year). EC 56026(c)(4)(A)
If a student’s 22nd birthday is in July, August, or September of the new fiscal year, then the student will not be allowed to begin a new fiscal year (school year and ESY (Extended School Year) ending July 1st of the current year). However, if a student is in a year-round school program and is completing her individualized education program in a term that extends into the new fiscal year, then the student may complete that term. EC 56026(c)(4)(B)
If a student’s 22nd birthday is during October, November, or December, the student shall be terminated from the program on December 31 of current fiscal year unless the student would otherwise complete their IEP at the end of the current fiscal year. EC 56026(c)(4)(C)
Student graduates from high school with a regular high school diploma. EC 56026.1(a)

Certificate of Completion or Regular High School Diploma 

The IEP team must determine which graduation option is most appropriate for the student, given the options made available by the LEA/district as determined by the governing board. Not all LEAs/districts offer a diploma based on the state-mandated requirements; some choose to offer only diplomas based on A-G requirements or their own requirements as outlined in their charter. If the student is on track for earning a regular high school diploma, either A-G or state-mandated, then the student has until the date indicated in the table above to complete this course of study. Students may not receive a diploma if they do not meet the requirements of the types of diplomas offered as determined by the LEA/district.  The LEA/district cannot deny a student a diploma based on their disability, but the student does not have a right to a diploma because of their disability either. The certificate of completion option is available to those students who are not able to complete the requirements for a regular high school diploma as offered by the LEA/district. These students are eligible for educational placement and services in accordance with their IEP until the date indicated in the above table. If the school is a charter school, the governing board of the LEA/district approves the requirements for the certificate of completion graduation option. In a standard public school, the certificate of completion option is in accordance with EDC §56390, as stated above.  The graduation option chosen by the IEP team shall be documented clearly as part of the Transition Plan and marked on the Offer of FAPE- Educational Settings page of the IEP.

Additional Pathway to High School Diploma for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities 

Effective June 30, 2022, California Education Code section 51225.31 established a new high school diploma pathway exclusively for students with significant cognitive disabilities in alignment with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act ("ESSA") (20 U.S.C. § 7801(23)(A)(ii)(I)(bb)). 

California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) 

The California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) is a testing program established by California law (EC 48412). Passing this test earns a student the legal equivalent of a high school diploma.  The CHSPE consists of two sections: an English-Language Arts section and a Mathematics section. If a student passes both sections of the CHSPE, the California State Board of Education will award a Certificate of Proficiency, which by state law is equivalent to a high school diploma (although not equivalent to completing all coursework required for regular graduation from high school).  If a student with an IEP takes and passes the CHSPE, the student is still eligible to receive educational placement and services in accordance with their IEP at the LEA/district until they meet the requirements of one of the graduation options offered by the LEA/district.  For more information please visit https://www.chspe.org/. 

Graduation Checklist 

When preparing a student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to graduate with a high school diploma, please ensure the IEP team has completed the following steps: 
  • Schedule an IEP Amendment to be held within the last 8-10 weeks of school to address:
  • Update Present Levels of Performance
  • Complete SEIS Post-Secondary Exit Page 1 and Page 2
  • Ensure the student’s "Age of Majority" information has been discussed with the student and documented on the SEIS Individual Transition Plan page 2 form.
  • Provide the parent1 with a copy of the most recent eligibility evaluation reports, most recent IEP documents, and a copy of the documents completed at the amendment 
Upon completion of the required credits for graduation: 
  • Send the parent a Prior Written Notice (PWN) confirming the student has met the requirement to graduate with a high school diploma. The notice shall also specify that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that students who receive a high school diploma are no longer eligible to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). As a result, the student’s graduation is a change in placement, and upon graduation from high school the student will no longer be eligible for special education-related services. Lastly, the notice should include contact information for the LEA/district, should the parent disagree with the determination.
1 The term “parent” refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except in cases when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. Therefore, references to the parent may also include adult students. 
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Helpful Links: 

El Dorado SELPAs Transportation Guidelines 

California Department of Education (CDE) Special Education Transportation Guidelines 

Legal Requirements Regarding Special Education Transportation 

Education Code Section 56040(a) states that every individual with exceptional needs who is eligible to receive special education instruction and related services shall receive that instruction and those services at no cost to their parents1 or, as appropriate, to them. “Related services” refers to transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education [34 CFR 300.34(a)]. Transportation as a related service includes travel to and from school and between schools, travel in and around school buildings, and specialized equipment (such as special or adapted buses, lifts, and ramps) if required to provide special transportation for a student with a disability [34 CFR 300.34(c)(16i‐iii)].  LEAs/districts should not automatically assign students to transportation based on the students’ disability without considering the student’s individual needs and the continuum of placements [Hopkinton (MA) Pub. Schs., 108 LRP 41626 (OCR 2007)].  For students with medical needs, 34 CFR 300.34(a)(ii) limits the responsibility of a public agency to appropriately monitor and maintain medical devices that are needed to maintain the health and safety of the student, including breathing, nutrition, or operation of other bodily functions, while being transported to and from school. 

Length of School Day, Related Services, Extracurricular Events 

The use of alternative starting times for all special education students at a site can lead to program compliance concerns. Students receiving special education and related services must be provided with an educational program in accordance with their Individualized Education Program (IEP) for at least the same length of time as the regular school day for their chronological peer group unless otherwise stated in a student’s IEP. If a student is temporarily placed on a shortened day due to an IEP team decision, the LEA/district is required to offer transportation to the student to accommodate their modified schedule if that student is otherwise eligible for special education transportation.   In addition, there may be occasions where the needs of the student require services that cannot be provided during the "established" school day. If it is determined by an IEP team that a student requires services outside the typical school day, the team must also consider whether transportation to and from the service is required. If provisions for "early" or "late" transportation are made for students within the general education program due to extracurricular events, provisions for equal opportunity to these events for students with exceptional needs who require special transportation must also be made. 

Transportation in IEPs 

It is the responsibility of the IEP team to determine whether transportation is required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education and related services, as well as how the transportation services should be implemented. Parent participation in the IEP process, including decisions relating to the least restrictive environment for transportation, is required. Denial of parent participation may result in a procedural violation that results in substantive harm to the student.  The IEP document should describe the transportation services to be provided, including transportation to enable a student with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s (IDEA’s) Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) mandate applies to all aspects of special education and related services, including the provision of transportation services. According to the comments and discussion preamble to the 2006 IDEA Part B regulations, the Education Department stated: "It is assumed that most children with disabilities will receive the same transportation provided to nondisabled children, consistent with the LRE requirements in 34 CFR 300.114 through 34 CFR 300.120 unless the IEP team determines otherwise.” LEAs/districts should start with the presumption that a student with a disability will access transportation services with nondisabled peers as long as such transportation is appropriate to meet the student’s educational needs.   It is important to remember that all students, including those receiving special education instruction and services, are subject to the rules and policies governing regular transportation offerings within the LEA/district unless the specific needs of the eligible student or the location of the special education program/service dictate that special education transportation is required.

Transportation Options 

The IEP must clearly specify how the student’s transportation needs will be met. Regarding transportation as a related service, it is recommended that services be described in sufficient detail to inform the parties of:  
  • How, when and from/to where the transportation will be provided  
  • When arrangements for the reimbursement of parents are required, the amount and frequency of reimbursement.  
Transportation options may include, but not be limited to, walking, riding the regular school bus, utilizing available public transportation (any out‐of‐pocket costs to the student or parents are reimbursed by the LEA/district), riding a special bus from a pick-up point, and portal‐to‐portal special education transportation via school bus, taxi, reimbursed parent’s driving with a parent’s voluntary participation, or other modes as determined by the IEP team. The student’s specific needs must be the primary consideration when determining transportation services.  If a student with a disability is found eligible for specialized transportation and parents voluntarily elect to arrange for their own transportation, it is advisable that the LEA/District document this decision in the IEP. Thorough documentation of this arrangement should include the following information: 
  • That the student is entitled to transportation; 
  • That parents are knowledgeable about their special education rights; 
  • That parents prefer to provide their own transportation without the involvement of the LE/district; and 
  • An explanation of how the reimbursement will be calculated. 
The school also may seek to include a waiver of liability for injuries that result from parents using their own methods of transportation and attempt to obtain parents’ signature to give legal effect to these provisions.  The IDEA does not specify the type of vehicles to be used for students with disabilities or the nature of the specialized equipment that is appropriate. Choice and type of equipment is determined by the IEP team. If decisions regarding these aspects of transportation will have an impact on the health, safety, welfare of the student, or the educational program provided to the student, then parental input into these decisions may be required. Safety is only one of many relevant considerations when deciding the appropriate equipment for transporting a student with a disability. The following criteria should also be met in selecting assistive devices: 
  • Functional assistance 
  • Whether an excessive amount of equipment is involved 
  • Normalcy of the student’s appearance in using the device 
  • Family’s acceptance of the device 
  • Student’s acceptance of the device 
While the student’s IEP can specify the type of transportation or special equipment required, it may not mandate the selection of the company that will perform the service. Even in situations justifying parental leverage over the mode of transportation and types of equipment to be used in transporting a student with a disability, parents generally cannot compel the use of a specific brand of vehicles or equipment, unless the device in dispute is the only one of its kind on the market and no substitutes would be reasonable under the circumstances. LEAs/districts generally have discretion in selecting the item to fit necessary specifications and criteria, provided the LEA’s/district’s choices are equally as suitable as parental preferences. 

Participation of Transportation Personnel and Administrators/Designees in IEPs

Effective practice requires that procedures are developed for communication with transportation personnel and that transportation staff are present at IEP team meetings when: 
  • Student needs the use of adaptive or assistive equipment 
  • School bus equipment is required to be modified 
  • Student exhibits severe behavioral difficulties, and a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is to be implemented 
  • Student is medically fragile and requires special assistance
  • Student has other unique needs 
It is often beneficial to have transportation staff present at IEP team meetings for planning, problem-solving, and communication, even if the above-mentioned conditions are not met. The LEA/district will to determine when it may be beneficial to have transportation staff attend the IEP meeting.   In order to facilitate consideration of transportation options in the LRE, It is recommended that administrative designees and case managers be familiar with the transportation options available prior to attending IEP meetings at which transportation may be identified as a necessary related service. An LEA/district may need to conduct research to identify transportation options available to serve students. 

Special Education Transportation Evaluation 

Districts must evaluate the student’s transportation needs prior to determining what services to provide. LEAs/districts should keep in mind that, in many instances, the results of the evaluation will be essential in designing appropriate transportation programs for students. For example, findings about motor skills, communication abilities, health, vision, and hearing are not only important in the classroom, but they also can impact the student’s ability to access transportation and may present unique needs that do not arise among the general student population. Medical evaluations of transportation needs may be necessary for some students with medically fragile needs.  While some transportation requirements will remain constant, others may change in direct response to a student’s needs or other circumstances unrelated to the student’s disability. LEAs/Districts must stay responsive to such developments as they arise. Evaluation is also important when considering changes in an existing transportation program. While the student need not be observed on the school bus or other form of transportation, LESs/districts have found observation to be extremely helpful in gauging the student’s needs. 

Key Considerations When Determining Need for Transportation  

The case‐by‐case determination of students’ eligibility for transportation should include consideration of a student’s mobility, behavior, communication skills, physical needs, age, ability to follow directions, the distance the student will have to travel, the nature of the area, and the availability of private or public assistance. Factors that may contribute to the consideration of special education transportation may include, but are not limited to: 
  • Medical diagnosis and health needs: consideration of whether long bus rides could affect a student’s health (duration, temperature control, need for services, health emergencies); general ability and/or strength to ambulate/wheel; approximate distance from the school or the distance needed to walk or wheel oneself to the school; consideration of student needs in inclement weather.
  • Physical accessibility of curbs, sidewalks, streets, and public transportation systems.
  • Consideration of a student’s ability to arrive at school on time, to avoid getting lost, to avoid dangerous traffic situations, and avoid other potentially dangerous or exploitative situations on the way to and from school.
  • Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIP) specified by the student’s IEP and consideration of how to implement such plans while a student is being transported.
  • Mid‐day or other transportation needs as required on a student’s IEP (occupational or physical therapy or mental health services at another site, community-based classes, etc.) must also be taken into consideration when the IEP team discusses a student’s placement and transportation needs.
  • Extended school year services should be another consideration of a student’s need for transportation if considered necessary to provide a free appropriate public education as specified in a student’s IEP. 

IEP Goals and Services to Increase Transportation Independence 

The determination as to whether goals and objectives addressing transportation are required in a student’s IEP depends upon the purpose of the transportation. If transportation is being provided solely to enable the student to attend school, no goals or objectives may be needed. However, if transportation is provided for some other purpose related to the student’s education and the student receives instruction during the provision of the related service, then goals and objectives must be provided. For instance, if services are being provided to increase a student’s independence while in transit, goals and objectives would be necessary. When developing specific IEP goals and objectives related to the student’s use of transportation, the IEP team may wish to consider a blend of transportation services as the student’s needs evolve. Students may require ongoing assessment and refinement of IEP goals as transportation skills increase.  The 2006 IDEA Part B regulations continue the requirement of travel training for some students. Travel training is "instruction, as appropriate, to children with significant cognitive disabilities, and any other children with disabilities who require this instruction, to enable them to: 
  • Develop an awareness of the environment in which they live; and 
  • Learn the skills necessary to move effectively and safely from place to place within that environment (e.g., in school, in the home, at work, and in the community.” 
The IEP team may wish to consider the travel training needs of some students for whom transportation is being considered as a related service. 

Bus Suspension 

Occasionally, students receiving special education services are suspended from bus transportation. The suspension of a student receiving special education services from transportation can constitute a significant change of placement if the LEA/district: 
  • Has been transporting the student;
  • Suspends the student from transportation as a disciplinary measure; and
  • Does not provide another mode of transportation. 
A significant change in placement requires a meeting of the IEP team to review the student’s IEP.  An alternative form of transportation must be provided if transportation is specified in the student’s IEP. During the period of any exclusion from bus transportation, students must be provided with an alternative form of transportation at no cost to the student or parent to ensure access to the required special education instruction and related services. 1 The term "parent" refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. 
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The State Special Schools and Services Division is a subdivision of the California Department of Education (CDE). It provides services to deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind, and visually impaired students in addition to offering LEA/district special education programs with assessment services, technical assistance, and staff development. State-run schools for the deaf (EDC §59001) and schools for the blind (EDC §59100) also provide intensive, disability-specific educational services to students ages 3 to 22 who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. The Diagnostic Centers provide comprehensive assessments to special education students and staff development and training services to LEA/districts.

Referral to Special Schools and Services for Further Assessment

A referral to a Special School or the Diagnostic Center must follow the guidelines below:
  • Prior to referring a student for further assessment to California Schools for the Deaf or Blind or to one of the Diagnostic Centers, assessments shall first be conducted locally within the LEA’s/district’s capabilities. Results of local assessments shall accompany the referral request. The reason for the referral shall be discussed with the parent1 
  • The LEA/dis