Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences

It's that time of year!  Depending on the age of your child, you could be sitting with your child's teacher in very small chairs and wondering what it is you are supposed to ask in the very short amount of time you have.  Here are some general, guiding questions to ask if your child's teacher does not provide this information during your parent teacher conference.

  1. What level do you consider my child to be reading?
  2. What is my child's fluency (rate/how fast and accuracy) like when reading?
  3. What is my child's reading rate (words correct per minute) and at what level text? 
  4. How is my child's comprehension?  If the school is using the Fountas and Pinnell benchmarking system, how much prompting was required for the comprehension score?
  5. How does my child's writing compare to grade level standards?  Ask for copies of writing samples that include first and final drafts.
  6. If the school is using the Words Their Way spelling inventories, ask to see the spelling list your child generated and ask for a copy.
  7. How is my child performing in math compared to the curriculum/grade level expectations?
  8. Does my child know their math facts or are they still using strategies such as counting on their fingers or using tally marks? 
  9. What do you see as my child's greatest strength in school?
  10. What is their greatest challenge?
  11. Is there anything that is not on my child's IEP that you think they need?
Getting organized is another way to help you prepare. The graphic below provides a system as well as tips for what to keep. 

I hope that your children have a very, successful school year!  If you have questions, please contact me at the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. at 301-657-3777 or ashley.vancleef@bkgpc.com.

Disclaimer:  This blog is made available by the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

New Guidance from Maryland State Department of Education

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) issued a new Technical Assistance Bulletin outlining expectations and processes for improving outcomes for students with disabilities.

This bulletin provides explanations of what specially designed instruction is and is not, development of IEP goals and objectives in connection with the general education curriculum, and expectations for implementation.   The bulletin also includes the expectations for a free appropriate public education  (FAPE) based on the Endrew F. case.

Many questions arise in Individual Education Program (IEP) meetings about what goals should be developed when there is a significant gap between the student's grade level and their skill level.  For example, a student is in 7th grade but is reading on a 2nd grade level.  The MSDE clarified that, "If a student is performing significantly below grade-level, the IEP team should determine annual goals that are ambitious but achievable for that student. While annual goals need not necessarily result in the student attaining grade-level within the year covered by the IEP, the goals should be sufficiently ambitious to help close the gap."  Two of the key words being ambitious and achievable.  As IEP team members, we need to write IEPs that reflects what is reasonably expected for the child to achieve in a year's time in a challenging and ambitious program.

If you have an upcoming IEP meeting, the bulletin includes helpful questions and guidance for the decision making process especially the following that can be used for determining the amount of services the student should receive:

The following guiding questions may assist IEP teams when calculating the appropriate frequency and intensity of services:
• Do the services support the implementation of all the outcomes or goals and objectives?
• Do the services take into account the student’s history and progress with previous general education, special education, and related services?
• Do the services address the nature of the student’s needs, including the gap between the student’s grade level and performance level?
• Do the services support the student’s cultural and linguistic background?
• Do the services support an accelerated rate of learning?

One notable quote is, "The IEP team must ultimately consider how special education and related services, implemented through an effective IEP, can change the trajectory of a student’s growth to narrow the gap."  Special education through a well developed IEP can change the trajectory of a student's growth academically as well as their life options.

If you have questions about your child's IEP and whether it offers an appropriately ambitious program for your child, contact our office to schedule a consultation.

If you have questions, please contact us the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. at 301-657-3777 or ashley.vancleef@bkgpc.com.

Disclaimer:  This blog is made available by the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Parent Consent Part 2: Alternative Assessments and Alternative Education Programs

Parent Consent in the IEP Process
Part 2: Alternative Assessments and Alternative Education Programs



The Maryland Parent Consent Bill passed in April of 2017 provides parents the right to consent or refuse consent for their child to be assessed using an alternative assessment and to being placed in an alternative education program.

Alternative Assessments:

The Maryland alternative assessment, previously called ALT-MSA, is now referred to as the MSAA, Multi-State Alternative Assessment.  Alternative assessments are only for students who have significant cognitive disabilities.  A single score on an IQ assessment is not to be the determining factor as to whether a student has a significant cognitive disability.  Students demonstrating academic deficits or difficulties solely due to specific learning disabilities (SLD), speech-language impairments, other health impairments (OHI), and emotional-behavioral disabilities (ED) do not qualify for the Maryland alternate assessments.  Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams must consider multiple factors in determining whether a student qualifies as a student with a significant cognitive disability such as psychological assessments, adaptive skills, assessment data, and performance in the curriculum.  Students who take the MSAA are taught using alternative academic standards and will not receive the instruction needed to earn a diploma. IEP teams must review the student's determination as to whether they qualify for alternative assessment annually. 

Parents who do not believe their child has a significant cognitive disability and does not qualify for alternative assessments should request an IEP meeting to discuss and document their disagreement by refusing consent. 

Refusing consent:  When a parent refuses consent for an alternative assessment, the IEP team/school district must either accept the parents' refusal and continue the child on a diploma track and continue to provide the student with a free appropriate public education (FAPE) or pursue mediation or due process.  If a school district seeks mediation or due process, they would be asking an administrative law judge to override the parents refusal and allow the school district to teach the student using alternative curriculum, test the child using the alternative assessment, and to ultimately be removing the child from pursuing a diploma.  


Neither consent nor refuse:  When a parent does not want to make a decision as to their child qualifying for alternative assessments, they can choose to neither consent nor refuse to consent.  In other words, they would not indicate consent either way.  In abstaining from consent or refusal, the school-based members of the IEP team's recommendation will go into effect once prior written notice has been provided.


If a parent consents to their child taking an alternative assessment, the child will be taught using alternative curriculum. 

The decision as to whether a student qualifies for an alternative assessment is extremely important. Taking the alternative assessment means the student receives significantly modified curriculum.  The longer the student is taught using the modified curriculum, the less likely the child will be prepared to attain a diploma.  The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) provided guidance that, "IEP teams should be especially cautious about students with significant cognitive disabilities participating in an alternate assessment in their early school years."  Maryland Guidance for IEP Teams on Participation Decisions for the Alternate Assessments Until an IEP team is absolutely certain a student meets all of the eligibility criteria, the team should err on the side of caution and continue instructing the student in the general curriculum.  


Alternative Education Program:

An alternative education program is one that does not issue or provide credits towards a Maryland High School Diploma.  Students who qualify to take an alternative assessment are instructed using modified curriculum and therefore are not working towards earning credits and a diploma.  Some school districts call these programs life skills programs, community based instruction, or alternative academic curriculum programs.  The required consent as to whether a student participates in an alternative assessment is a separate consent from the alternative education program.  MSDE has clarified that, "While instruction and assessment generally align, the law separates the two in the event that the IEP team determines that only one is appropriate and necessary to meet the student’s needs at a given time." 

For example, if an IEP team were to determine that a student should take the regular assessments (i.e., PARCC, HSA) but was to also determine the student required an alternative education program, the instruction and assessment decisions would not be aligned.  The parents would then have the opportunity to consent to the alternative education program, refuse to consent, or neither.


If you have questions as to whether your child qualifies for a alternative assessment or whether they need an alternative education program, contact our office for an initial consultation.  Our experienced attorneys hold certification in special education, school psychology, and collectively have over 100 years of experience in the field.  We will analyze your case and provide you guidance as to your options.


Disclaimer:  This blog is made available by the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.





Thursday, December 7, 2017

Just Released: USDE Q&A on U. S. Supreme Court Case Decision Endrew F.

The U.S. Department of Education provided guidance on Endrew F. and the impact of the Court's decision on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Check it out using the link below.  There are 16 references to "challenging" including challenging objectives, challenging level of progress, and challenging academic content and achievement standards.

https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/qa-endrewcase-12-07-2017.pdf




If you have questions, please contact us the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. at 301-657-3777 or ashley.vancleef@bkgpc.com.

Disclaimer:  This blog is made available by the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Parental Consent in the IEP Process. Part 1: The Basics

Parent Consent in the IEP Process
Part 1: The Basics

What The Law Says:
Parents in Maryland now have the right to consent or refuse to consent if the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team proposes to:

1) enroll their child in an alternative education program that does not issue or provide credits towards a Maryland High School Diploma;

2) identify their child for the alternative education assessment aligned with Maryland’s alternative curriculum;

3) include restraint or seclusion in their child’s IEP if the behavior and circumstances are described. *Restraint and seclusion may be used in an emergency without parental consent in accordance with Maryland law.

What Are the Options:
Consent, refuse to consent, neither.

Consent:  If a parent consents to one of the actions described above, the IEP team will implement the action.  For example, if a parent consents to an alternative assessment, the school staff will instruct the student on alternative learning outcomes and will assess them using the alternative education assessment.  The student would be on a certificate track.

Refuse to Consent:  If a parent, refuses to consent to one of the actions described above, the school district cannot implement the proposed action. For example, if a parent refuses to consent to an alternative assessment, the school staff must instruct the student on the Maryland Content Standards and will assess the student using the grade level state assessments.  The student will be on a diploma track.  The school district has the option to pursue mediation or a due process hearing to seek consent for the proposed action.

Neither Consent nor Refuse to Consent:  If a parent does not want to risk the possibility of a due process hearing, they can choose to do neither (consent or refuse). The IEP team must then provide the parent written notice of their right to consent or refuse to consent.  The notice must explain that if the parents do not respond/provide written consent or refusal within 15 business days, the IEP team’s proposed action will be implemented.

IEP teams must review these determinations annually.

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Parent Consent Technical Assistance Document provides additional guidance related to these new requirements.


Watch For Our Next 2 Parts in this Blog Series:
Part 2:  Alternative Education Assessment and Alternative Learning or Certificate Programs
Part 3:  Restraint and Seclusion


If you have questions about how these new requirements relate to your child's IEP, please contact the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. to schedule a consultation.  

Disclaimer:  This blog is made available by the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

IDEA Regulations Updated Again - Finally MR is replaced with ID

Rosa's Law finally reaches the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations.  On July 11, 2017, the IDEA regulations were revised to change the term mental retardation (MR) to intellectual disabilities (ID).  This significant change started with a family in Edgewater, Maryland who would not allow the "R" word to be used in the home.  When the family learned the school wanted to label Rosa with MR, they took action.  Rosa's brother, Nick, could not of said it better when he testified at a hearing stating, "What you call people is how you treat them.  What you call my sister is how you will treat her. If you believe she's 'retarded,' it invites taunting, stigma. It invites bullying and it also invites the slammed doors of being treated with respect and dignity."

On October 5, 2010, President Obama signed Rosa’s Law creating legislation requiring the federal government to replace the “r” word with intellectual disability.

You can find a copy of the revised IDEA regulations here.  The regulations become effective on August 10, 2017. 



Disclaimer:  This blog is made available by the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Updates to IDEA Regulations

On June 30, 2017, technical amendments were made to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in order to align to the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.  These amendments include updating terms such as limited English proficient, regular high school diploma, scientifically based research, and defining charter schools.  The updated regulations can be found by clicking here.  For a summary of the amendments, click here.


If you have questions, please contact the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C.






Disclaimer:  This blog is made available by the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.