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Kennett Consolidated School District (KCSD) provides special education and related services to resident children with disabilities, between the ages of five and twenty-one. Additionally, resident children ages three through five may qualify for early intervention services provided by the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU).

The purpose of this notice is to describe:

  • the types of disabilities that might qualify a child for such programs and services
  • the process by which the district screens and evaluates such students to determine eligibility
  • the special rights that pertain to such children and their parents or legal guardians
  • special education programs and related services that are available
  1. What types of disabilities might qualify a child for special education and related services?
  2. What programs and services are available for children to determine eligibility for special education and related services?
  3. How does the district screen and evaluat children to determine eligibility for special education and related services?
  4. What special rights and protections do children with disabilities and their parents have?
  5. Student Records

This notice is only a summary of the special education services, evaluation and screening activities, and rights and protections pertaining to children with disabilities, children thought to be disabled, and their parents.

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Open quote

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
- Sir John Lubbock

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Question 1: What types of disability might qualify a child for special education and related services?

Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, children qualify for special education and related services if they have one or more of the following disabilities and, as a result, need such services:

  1. mental retardation
  2. hearing impairments, including deafness
  3. speech or language impairments
  4. visual impairments, including blindness
  5. serious emotional disturbance
  6. orthopedic impairments, or physical disabilities
  7. autism, including pervasive developmental disorders
  8. traumatic brain injury, or neurological impairments
  9. other health impairment
  10. specific learning disabilities

Children age three through the age of admission to first grade are also eligible if they have developmental delays and, as a result, need special education and related services. Children with more than one of the foregoing disabilities could qualify for special education and related services as having multiple disabilities.

The legal definitions of these disabilities, which the public schools are required to apply under IDEA, may differ from those used in medical or clinical practice. The legal definitions, moreover, could apply to children with disabilities that have very different medical or clinical disorders. A child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for example, could qualify for special education and related services as a child with "other health impairments", "serious emotional disturbance", or "specific learning disabilities" if the child meets the eligibility criteria under one or more of these disability categories and if the child needs special education and related services as a result.

Under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, some school age children with disabilities who do not meet the eligibility criteria outlined above might nevertheless be eligible for special protections and for adaptations and accommodations in instruction, facilities, and/or activities. Children are entitled to such protections, adaptations, and accommodation if they have a mental or physical disability that substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program.

Question 2: What programs and services are available for children with disabilities?

The district must ensure that children with disabilities are educated to the maximum extent possible in the regular education environment, and that the instruction they receive conforms as much as possible to the instruction that non-disabled students receive. Depending on the nature and severity of the disability, the district provides special education programs and services in:

  • the public school the child would attend if not disabled
  • an alternative regular public school either in or outside the district
  • an alternative regular public school either in or outside the district
  • a special education center operated by a public school entity
  • an approved private school or other private facility licensed to serve children with disabilities
  • residential school
  • an approved out-of-state program
  • the home

Special education services are provided according to the primary educational needs of the child, not the category of disability. The types of service available are:

  • learning support, for students who primarily need assistance with development academic skills
  • emotional support, for student who primarily need assistance with social or emotional development
  • deaf or hearing impaired support, for students who primarily need assistance with deafness
  • blind or visually impaired support, for students who primarily need assistance with blindness
  • physical support, for students who primarily require physical assistance in the learning environment
  • autistic support for students who primarily need assistance in the areas affected by autism spectrum disorders
  • multiple disabilities support, for students who primarily need assistance in multiple areas affected by their disabilities
  • life skills support, for students who primarily need assistance with development of skills for independent living
  • speech-language

Related services are designed to enable the child to participate in or access his or her program of special education. Examples of related services are speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing services, audiologist services, counseling, and family training.

Children of preschool age are served by the Chester County Intermediate Unit in a variety of home and school-based settings that take into account the chronological and developmental age and primary needs of the child. As with school age programs, preschool programs must ensure that to the maximum extend possible, children with disabilities are educated with non-disabled peers.

education and related services that a particular child needs, based exclusively on the unique program of special education and related services that the school develops for that child. The child’s program is described in writing in an individualized education program, or IEP, which is developed by an IEP team consisting of educators, parents, and other persons with special expertise or familiarity of the child. The parents of the child have the right to be notified of and to participate in all meetings of their child’s IEP team. The IEP is revised as often as circumstances warrant but at least annually. The law requires that the program and placement of the child, as described in the IEP, be reasonably calculated to ensure meaningful educational progress to the student at all times. IEPs contain, at a minimum, a statement of present levels of educational performance, an enumeration of the annual goals and short-term objectives or benchmarks established for the child, and a statement of the special education and related services that the child needs to make meaningful progress. For children aged fourteen and older, the IEP must also include a transition plan to assist in the attainment of post-secondary objectives. The district must invite the child to the IEP team meeting at which the transition plan is developed.

Question 3: How does the district screen and evaluate children to determine eligibility for special education and related services?

Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation

The district must conduct a multidisciplinary team evaluation of every child who is thought to have a disability. The multidisciplinary team is a group of professionals who are trained in and experienced with the testing, assessment, and observation of children to determine whether they have disabilities, and if so, to identify their primary strengths and needs. Public schools must reevaluate school-age students receiving special education services every three years, and children with mental retardation and pre-school-age students receiving special education services every two years.

Parents may request a multidisciplinary team evaluation of their children at any time. They must do so in writing. The district has a procedure in place by which parents can request an evaluation. For information about the specific procedures in our district, contact the school in your area to which students of similar age to your child are assigned. (See the beginning of this notice). Parents of preschool children, ages three through five, may request an evaluation by writing the Chester County Intermediate Unit, at the address listed at the beginning of this notice.

Parents of children in private schools may request a multidisciplinary team evaluation of their children without enrolling in a district school. While some services might be available to some private school children found eligible by public school multidisciplinary teams, the district is not required to provide all or any of the special education and related services that children enrolled in the district would receive. If, after an evaluation, the multidisciplinary team determines that the child is eligible for special education and related services, the district must offer the parents an IEP and a district-sponsored placement. If parents wish to take advantage of such an offer, they might have to enroll or re-enroll their child in the district to do so. Before the district can proceed with an evaluation, it must notify the parents in writing of the specific types of testing and assessment it proposes to conduct, of the date and time of the evaluation, and of the parent’s rights. The evaluation cannot begin until the parent has signed the written notice indicating that he or she consents to the proposed testing and assessments and has returned the notice to school.

Screening

The district undertakes screening activities before referring most children for a multidisciplinary team evaluation. Screening activities typically occur at three levels, as follows:

Level 1 Screening: Review of information that is immediately available, such as health records, grade reports, discipline records, enrollment information, results of state and district-wide group testing, student portfolio or work sample review, and observation of the child in the learning environment by the regular teacher or by the guidance counselor, instructional support teacher, school psychologist, principal, or speech and language therapist.

Level 2 Screening: Review of the results of routine state-mandated hearing and vision screenings and physical examinations by the school or the child’s private physician; motor screening by the classroom and physical education teacher; and speech and language screening by the speech and language therapist.

Level 3 Screening: For children at the elementary level, each school has an instructional support team or IST, that consists of the child’s teacher, an instructional support teacher who is trained in modifying and adapting instruction and the instructional environment, the child’s parents, and other specialists as needed. With the involvement and consent of the parents, the IST will develop a written action plan for implementing various modifications and adaptations to the child’s instruction or instructional environment or providing support services other than special education. The effectiveness of IST interventions is assessed at thirty and sixty-day intervals to determine whether regular education modifications, adaptations, and supports are effective or whether evaluation by a multidisciplinary team as described above is necessary.

Most Level 1 screening occurs on an on-going basis and as concerns with performance in the regular classroom warrant. Statewide administration of achievement testing in accordance with the Pennsylvania System of Standards Assessment occurs in third, fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades. Level 2 hearing and vision screenings and physical examinations occur at regular intervals as required by state law. Other Level 2 screenings occur as concerns arise about individual children. Level 3 IST activities occur when IST intervention is requested by the child’s teacher, parents, or other concerned school personnel. For information about the dates of various screening activities in the district or to request screening activities for a particular child, contact the school directly. Telephone numbers and addresses for district schools are found at the beginning of this notice. Parents of preschool age children, age three through five, may obtain information about screening activities, or may request a screening of their child, by calling or writing the Chester County Intermediate Unit, Early Intervention Services, at the address listed at the beginning of this Notice.

Private school administrators, teachers, and parent groups, or individual parents of students in private schools, who are interested in establishing systems in those schools for locating and identifying children with disabilities who might need a multidisciplinary team evaluation may contact Dr. Joseph Coleman at Chester County Intermediate Unit, 455 Boot Road, Downingtown, PA 19335, phone 484-237-5000.

Question 4: What special rights and protections do children with disabilities and their parents have?

State and federal law affords many rights and protections to children with disabilities and their parents. A summary of those rights and protections follows. Interested persons may obtain a complete written summary of the rights and protections afforded by the law, together with information about free or low cost legal services and advice, by contacting any school or office listed at the beginning of this notice.

Notice: The district must notify you in writing whenever it proposes to initiate or to change substantially the identification, evaluation, educational program, or placement of your child or whenever it refuses to initiate or make a change in identification, evaluation, educational program, or placement requested by a parent. Such notice must be accompanied by a full written description of the parents’ rights.

Consent: The public school cannot proceed with an evaluation or reevaluation, or with the initial provision of special education and related services, without the written consent of the parents, unless after seeking such consent, it obtains the approval of an impartial hearing officer or judge following a hearing. If the parents fail to respond to a written request for permission to reevaluate, however, the public school may proceed with the proposed reevaluation without consent.

Protection in Evaluation Procedures: Evaluations to determine eligibility and current need for special education and related services must be administered in a manner that is free of racial, cultural, or linguistic bias. Evaluations cannot consist of a single test or assessment, and testing must be a valid measure of the psychological, social, emotional, or other learning characteristic or behavior that the school is using it to measure. Testing and assessment must be administered in accordance with professional standards and the criteria established by the publisher.

Independent Educational Evaluation: If parents disagree with the evaluation conducted by the district, they may request in writing an independent educational evaluation, or IEE, at public expense. The district may refuse to pay for such evaluations if the independent evaluator is not a Pennsylvania certified or licensed professional, if the evaluation is not conducted in the same manner that the law requires of public school evaluations, or if the cost of the evaluation substantially exceeds the prevailing costs of similar evaluations in the region. Exceptions to these limitations will be granted only for compelling reasons. If the district refuses to pay for the IEE, it must request an immediate special education due process hearing to defend the appropriateness of its evaluation.

Special Education Due Process Hearing: Parents may at any time request a special education due process hearing to challenge:

  • the identification, evaluation, program, or placement of their child proposed by the district
  • the refusal of the district to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, program, or placement of the child
  • the provision or failure to provide a free appropriate public education to the child.

The hearing must occur within thirty days of the parents' request unless the hearing officer grants a continuance. The hearing must be held before an impartial hearing officer at a time and location convenient to the parents. Parents have the right to request a free written or electronic transcript or recording of the proceedings, to present evidence and witnesses disclosed to the public school at least five business days before the hearing, to confront evidence and testimony presented by the public school, to review their child’s complete educational record on request before the hearing, to receive a written decision from the hearing officer, and to be represented by counsel or an advocate of their choice. Parents may, within fifteen days of receipt of the written decision of the hearing officer, appeal the ruling of the hearing officer to a state-level panel of three administrative hearing officers. Upon receipt of the written decision of the appeals panel, parents may file within thirty days an action in the appropriate federal district court or in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Failure to pursue due process hearings or to appeal decisions resulting there from in a timely manner can bar the ability of the parents to raise some or all of their claims.

Mediation and Pre-hearing Conferences: Without prejudice to the right to a hearing as outlined above, parents and district officials can agree to mediate or attempt to resolve amicably through a pre-hearing conference any or all of the issues between them. Information concerning mediation can be obtained from, and requests for mediation can be addressed to, the Pennsylvania Special Education Mediation Service, Box 130 Mar Lin, Pennsylvania 17951; telephone number (800)992-4334.

Maintenance of Placement: During any dispute between the district and the parents, the public school must maintain the child in the then-current educational placement. This “stay put” rule does not apply to programs and placements recommended by public schools in other states, to programs and placements in private schools that are not the recommended placement of the public school, and to exclusions from school for possession or use of an illegal substance or for possession of a weapon when the public school is proposing an alternative school placement for up to forty-five days.

Attorney's Fees and Costs: When parents prevail in a due process hearing, or obtain a favorable settlement of a claim, as a result of a hearing request, they may recover from the district reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in the pursuit of the hearing or settlement. Fees and costs are not available for attendance of the attorney at IEP team meetings unless a hearing officer or judge orders the meeting. Parents can be denied some or all of their claim for fees and costs if they fail to provide written notice to the public school at least ten days before the due process hearing of the problems or concerns that they have with the actions or inaction of the public school, the specific facts that support their problems or concerns, and their proposed resolution, if any.

Private School Tuition Reimbursement: In some cases, parents of children who were identified by the district as eligible for special education and related services and who received such services can recover in a due process hearing or from a court an award of private school tuition reimbursement. Parents can also receive such awards if their child was in need of special education and related services but was not offered such services in a timely manner. To obtain an award of tuition reimbursement, parents must notify the district of their intent to enroll their child in a private school either verbally at the last IEP team meeting prior to withdrawing their child or in writing received by the district at least ten days prior to the date on which the child is withdrawn from the district. Parents can obtain tuition only when they can prove at a special education due process hearing that:

  1. the district failed to offer an appropriate program or placement to the child
  2. the parents therefore placed their child in a private school, and
  3. the private school placement was proper

Tuition reimbursement awards can be denied or reduced if the parent's behavior was improper or if the parents delay unreasonably in asserting a claim against the public school in a due process hearing. Such awards can also be denied or reduced if the parents fail to do one of the following:

  1. notify the district of their intent to place the child in a private school at the last IEP team meeting prior to the planned placement or
  2. notify the district in writing of their intent to place the student in a private school at least ten days before withdrawing the student for that purpose.

Rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

As noted above, some students with disabilities who are not in need of special education and related services are nevertheless entitled to adaptations and accommodations in their school program or in the physical environment of school buildings, grounds, vehicles, and equipment, when such adaptations or accommodations are required to enable the student to access and participate meaningfully in educational programming and extracurricular activities. Parents are entitled to a written description of the adaptations and accommodations that the district is willing to offer. This written description is called a “service agreement” or “accommodation plan”. The rights and protections described above under the headings “Notice”, “Consent”, “Protection in Evaluation Procedures”, and “Maintenance of Placement” apply to students receiving adaptations and accommodations under Section 504. Parents who have complaints concerning the evaluation, program, placement, or provision of services to a student may request either an informal conference with the district or a due process hearing. The hearing must be held before an impartial hearing officer at a time and location convenient to the parents. Parents have the right to request a free written or electronic transcript or recording of the proceedings, to present evidence and witnesses disclosed to the district, to confront evidence and testimony presented by the district, to review their child’s complete educational record on request before the hearing, to receive a written decision from the hearing officer, and to be represented by counsel or an advocate of their choice. An appeal may be taken from the decision of the hearing officer to a court of competent jurisdiction.

Student Records

The district maintains records concerning all children enrolled in public school, including students with disabilities. Records containing personally identifiable information about or including students with disabilities could include, but are not limited to, cumulative grade reports, discipline records, enrollment and attendance records, health records, individualized education programs, notices of recommended assignment, notices of intent to evaluate and reevaluate, comprehensive evaluation reports, other evaluation reports by public school staff and by outside evaluators, work samples, test data, data entered into the PennData system, correspondence between school staff and home, instructional support team documents, referral data, memoranda, and other education-related documents. Records can be maintained on paper, on microfiche, on audio or videotape, and electronically. Records can be located in the central administrative offices of the public school, the administrative offices of the Chester County Intermediate Unit, the school building or building at which the student attended or attends school, private schools and facilities at which the public school has placed the child for educational purposes, central storage facilities and electronic storage systems, and in the secure possession of teachers, building administrators, specialists, psychologists, counselors, and other school staff with a legitimate educational interest in the information contained therein. All records are maintained in the strictest confidentiality. Records are maintained as long as they remain educationally relevant. Public schools are required by law, however, to maintain a written record of each child’s name, address, telephone number, grades, attendance records, classes attended, grade level completed, and year completed for at least 100 years beyond the date on which the child attains the age of twenty-four and to maintain health records for at least two years beyond the date on which the student ceases to be enrolled. The purposes of collecting and maintaining records are:

  1. to ensure that the child receives programs and services consistent with his or her IEP
  2. to monitor the ongoing effectiveness of programming for the child
  3. to document for the public school and the parents that the student is making meaningful progress
  4. to satisfy the requirements of state and federal agencies who have an interest in inspecting or reviewing documents concerning particular students or groups of students for purposes of compliance monitoring, complaint investigation, and fiscal and program audits
  5. to inform future programming for the evaluations of the child

When educational records, other than those, which must be maintained, are no longer educationally relevant, the public school must so notify the parents in writing and may destroy the records or, at the request of the parents, must destroy them. Prior to destruction of any record, the school must notify the parents in writing of the right to obtain a copy of the records and must afford the parents an opportunity to do so. The district is not required to destroy records that are no longer educationally relevant unless the parents so request in writing. Upon submitting a request to do so in writing, parents have the right to access the educational records of their child within forty-five days or before any due process hearing, whichever is sooner. Access affords the parents to the following:

  1. An explanation and interpretation of these records by school personnel
  2. Copies of the records if providing copies is the only means by which the parents can effectively exercise their right of inspection and review
  3. Inspection and review of the records by a representative of their choosing upon presentation to the records custodian of a written authorization from the parent.

The school can charge a fee not to exceed its actual costs for copying records. After reviewing records, parents may ask the public school to change any information that they believe is inaccurate or misleading or violates the child’s privacy rights. The school will make the requested changes or reject the request within forty-five days of the receipt of the request in writing. If the school rejects the request, the parent may request an informal hearing. The hearing can be held before any public school official who does not have a direct interest in its outcome. If the parents are dissatisfied with the outcome of the informal hearing, they may submit to the district a statement outlining their disagreement with the record. The school thereafter must attach a copy of that statement to all copies of the record disclosed to third parties. Parent consent is required in writing prior to the release of any personally identifiable information concerning a child with disabilities. Parent consent is not required, however, prior to the release of information:

  • to a hearing officer in a special education due process hearing
  • to public school staff and contractors with a legitimate educational interest in the information, including teachers of the child, building administrators, guidance counselors to whom the child is assigned, members of instructional support and multidisciplinary teams in the course of screening and evaluation activities, records custodians and clerks, public school administrators with responsibility for program in which the student is enrolled or intends to be enrolled, school board members sitting in executive session in consideration of matters concerning the child upon which only the school board can act, program specialists and instructional aides working with the child, therapeutic staff working with the child, and substitutes for any of the forgoing persons.
  • To officials or staff of other schools and school systems at which the student is enrolled or intends to enroll
  • To federal or state education officials and agencies and to the Comptroller of the United States
  • To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions
  • To comply with a lawful subpoena or judicial order in conjunction with a health or safety emergency to the extent necessary to protect the health and safety of the child or others; or that the public schools have designated as directory information. Disclosure without consent of the parent is subject to certain conditions more fully described in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C E 1332g, and its implementing regulation, 34 C.F.R. Part 99

The KCSD has designated the following as "directory information":

  1. The name, address, and telephone number of the child
  2. The date and place of birth of the child
  3. Participation in school clubs and extracurricular activities
  4. Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  5. Dates of attendance
  6. Diplomas and awards received
  7. The most recent previous institution or school attended by the child
  8. Names of parents, siblings, and other family members

The parent of an actively enrolled public school student may, within thirty days of the publication of this notice, request in writing that information here designated as directory not be disclosed without parental consent. If the district does not receive such request within this time, it will assume that it may release such information without consent. Written notice must be received either at the local public school in which the child is enrolled or at the administrative offices of the Kennett Consolidated School District at the address listed at the beginning of this Notice.