Whether the District has a process for providing special education services and related services, in conformity with IEPs as required by 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.320 and 300.324.
As a learner with a disability eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a student is entitled to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) according to an individualized education program (IEP), which includes special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services designed to meet s student’s unique educational needs. 34 CFR § 300.17.
One hundred fifteen (115) student files were selected for the review. All files from Uinta Meadows Elementary were included in the sample and seven (7) files, randomly selected, from the remaining schools were reviewed. The other schools include Aspen Elementary, Clark Elementary, North Evanston Elementary, Davis Middle School, Evanston Middle School, Evanston High School and Horizon Middle/High School.
The District provided a list of the special education and related services as documented in each student IEP. This list was used to conduct staff interviews and verify related services and review provider logs. A total of fourteen (14) interviews were conducted. All staff interviewed were special education staff and included eight (8) elementary, four (4) middle school, and two (2) high school staff.
The related services as outlined in student IEPs were reviewed and compared to the service logs maintained by the service providers. The review assessed the services as written in the IEP to the actual service minutes recorded by individual providers. Differences between the two and reasons were documented.
A short questionnaire was circulated to all staff via google docs. The questionnaire included three (3) questions and was an instrument to quickly solicit input and feedback from a broad range of staff that are part of the special education process. Staff had approximately one day to complete the survey and one hundred forty (140) staff members responded.
Staff were asked to respond to the following questions:
School staff described the various ways students receive services within the continuum of service options. Students throughout all grades receive services in the general education classroom with the support of general education teachers, special education teachers and paraprofessionals. Some students also receive services in a special education classroom with supports. Generally, students receive related services outside of the regular classroom. There was some variation in the actual implementation of the model at each school but overall the staff used a similar explanation when describing the delivery of services.
Staff indicated that there were instances when special education and related services might be missed. Reasons for missed services were primarily student absences. Some staff indicated that staff providing services at more than one location sometimes missed providing services due to the scheduling conflicts, i.e. attending IEP meetings at another location. Additionally, students sometimes missed services for staff absences, field trips, special classroom activities and critical teaching times where general education teachers kept students in the general education classroom.
When students missed services, staff expressed that missed services are made up if possible. This might include scheduling a few extra minutes at the next session, pulling a student during another part of their day or planning extra time before or after school.
Related Service logs were reviewed for all 115 student files. A summary by school is provided.
|School||Related Services on IEP||Service Log Matched|
Reasons the services listed on the IEP and service logs did not match:
The number of respondents from each school by percentage and actual number of respondents.
Describe what it looks like when a student with a disability receives special education instruction in a general education classroom.
Respondents indicated that special education instruction in the general education classroom looked like a student receiving instruction supported by other personnel (paraprofessionals, teachers) and receiving accommodations. The instruction occurred in a variety of ways and included large and small groups and one-to-one assistance. The respondents’ description indicated that the instruction looks slightly different for each child depending on student need. The general education classroom needs to be adaptable.
Explain if there have been times a student with a disability in your classroom has missed special education or related services and reasons why the student missed services.
Generally, the respondents acknowledged there are instances where students may miss a service. Reasons that students missed services included student absences, staff absences, meeting schedules, field trips and other school activities. Sometimes students refused services; this occurred mostly with older students. There were a few, less than ten of respondents, which indicated that staff shortages, training and staff distribution made it difficult to consistently provide academic support and accommodations in the general education classroom. There were also many respondents that indicated students did not miss services or at least the staff had no experience with students missing services.
Explain the typical practice for making up special education or related services when needed, i.e. staff absence, student absence, field trips, etc.
A majority of staff indicated that it was typically the practice of their school to attempt to make up time when the missed service time was as a result of something besides student absences. This often included spending a little extra time with a related service provider at the next scheduled session or a special education teacher or paraprofessional pulling the student for a little extra time over a few days to assist the student in catching up. General education teachers are also providing some additional assistance when necessary. Over 20% of the respondents indicated that they were unsure whether there was a process for making up services and another 10% of respondents specified services are never made up.
Admittedly, there were occurrences of students not receiving services for a myriad of reasons. However, throughout interviews, file reviews and in other data there was no indication of an intentional denial of services. All staff interviewed described their efforts as working for the good of the student.
In general, there was some understanding of a process to make up services if a student missed a service session. Though, this was far less understood by the non-special education staff. There is confusion regarding whether there is a requirement for making up a service session. Undoubtedly, there will be instances throughout a school year where students with disabilities may miss a service session. However, the District lacks a systematic way for evaluating when this happens, and how the service session should be made up. The District needs to have a more defined procedure for when and how missed services will be identified and made up. All staff should be trained once the process has been developed and documented.
Related services were not always provided in conformity with the description in student IEPs. The review of the related service provider logs identified discrepancies. Sometimes students received more services than listed on the IEP, sometimes there was a lack of a single service session and occasionally there were instances where a student missed several consecutive sessions. Students receiving more services than listed on the IEP, depending on where the service is provided, can cause the student to be out of the general education environment for longer than indicated on the IEP. Constantly monitoring a student’s least restrictive environment (LRE) is critical. If a student has missed a service or there is an accumulation of missed service time this can prohibit a student from making progress.
In any instance, the District needs to have a process for monitoring these discrepancies. The District should develop a plan for reviewing service logs to identify when there is a difference between services listed on the IEP and the service logs. The plan should include if any services need to be made up, and how those services should be provided. Once this process has been developed the District should train all special education staff.