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Posts Tagged ‘RTI’

Parent consent may be necessary for later stages of RTI

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Letter to Gallo, 61 IDELR 173 (OSEP 2013): The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) advised a state education official that a school district need not seek parental consent to conduct an evaluation if the evaluation (including certain primary levels of an RTI framework) consists of the collection of data from all students in a general education setting.  Moreover, consent would not be necessary to review any data so collected within the context of determining the possible existence of a disability.  However, consent is required if, during a later stages of an RTI framework.  The critical determination is if the evaluation relates to an individual student and to determine whether the student has a disability potentially requiring special education and related services.  Accordingly, even if within the context of RTI (and not a formal referral to the IEP team) consent would still be required.

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School districts must complete evaluations and provide comparable services to newly transferred students

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Letter to State Directors of Special Education, 61 IDELR 202 (OSERS 2013): The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) prepared a letter to state-level directors of special education providing additional insight into the evaluation of highly mobile students, as well as the provision of comparable services to such students.  Highly mobile students include those students who transfer school districts frequently (such as children in military or migrant families, and homeless children).

OSERS noted that if a student transfers while its previous school was completing a special education evaluation, the student’s new school should complete the evaluation without delay.  Specifically, the new school cannot defer completion of the evaluation so it may employ its RTI model.

Also, OSERS specifically identified extended school year services (ESY) as a “comparable service” which should be provided when a student transfers school districts.  Comparable services are not limited to those services provided during the traditional school year.

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State regulation identifying RTI as a pre-referral strategy consistent with IDEA.

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Letter to Ferrara, 60 IDELR 46 (OSEP 2012):  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) informed a director of a special education association that a state’s regulation identifying RTI as a pre-referral strategy for general education students is consistent with the IDEA.  Provided a regulation regarding the use of RTI does not prohibit parents or school personnel from making a referral when warranted, or permit implementation of RTI to delay a response to a parent’s request for a full evaluation, a state can identify RTI as an appropriate pre-referral strategy.

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District cannot refer a student to RTI process in lieu of commencing a requested evaluation.

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Broward County (FL) School District, 59 IDELR 143 (OCR 2012):  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) found that a school district violated Section 504 by failing to conduct an evaluation regarding a student with academic and behavioral difficulties stemming from his ADHD.

The student’s parent requested that the student be evaluated due to the manifestation of certain academic and behavioral difficulties for the student.  However, the district failed to proceed with the evaluation, instead referring the student to the response to intervention (RTI) process.  By implementing the RTI process, instead of proceeding with the requested evaluation, the district improperly delayed the student’s evaluation (which eventually commenced three months later).

Also, OCR found that the team that met to discuss the student’s 504 accommodations was not properly constituted.  The alleged 504 Team only consisted of the district’s 504 liaison, and the student’s parents, rather than a “group of persons knowledgeable about the student, the evaluation data, and the placement options.”  Accordingly, OCR concluded the district failed to comply with Section 504.

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Districts must evaluate when requested, despite parent’s alleged acceptance of RTI process.

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Cherokee (TX) Independent School District, 59 IDELR 18 (OCR 2012):  The federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) informed a school district that it should have evaluated a student for services and accommodations under Section 504 upon a parent’s request.  The parent requested an evaluation in November, but the district did not complete its evaluation until the following April.  The district alleged that, in that timeframe, it implemented its RTI process, and the parent acquiesced.  However, OCR faulted the district for failing to notify the parent of her procedural safeguards, including the right to appeal the district’s decision not to evaluate the student and its determination that the student did not yet require special education or related services.  Accordingly, the district agreed to convene a team to discuss what, if any, harm the student suffered as a result of the delayed evaluation as well as any compensatory services that may be necessary.

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School district violated Section 504 when it failed to timely evaluate a student with ADHD.

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Harrison (CO) School District Two, 57 IDELR 295 (OCR 2011):  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) determined that a school district violated Section 504 by using its Response to Intervention (RTI) process for a student with ADHD, and not conducting an evaluation to determine the student’s need for services or accommodations.

The school district was notified of the student’s ADHD in July of 2008 when his parent enrolled him and indicated he was being medicated for ADHD.  The district received an official diagnosis of ADHD in January of 2010, and subsequently conducted an evaluation resulting in a 504 Plan and, ultimately, an IEP for the student by June.  However, in the interim, the student exhibited behaviors consistent with ADHD, including several behavioral incidents resulting in both in-school and out-of-school suspensions.  Although the school district maintained that it was continually monitoring the student throughout that time period, and had made adjustments within the general education curriculum, OCR determined that the district should have inquired about the student’s diagnosis and un-medicated symptoms earlier.  OCR noted that RTI “does not justify delaying or denying the evaluation of child” who is believed to need special education or related services.

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School district may not delay evaluation of student it has reason to suspect has a disability to conduct RTI process.

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Polk County (FL) Public Schools, 56 IDELR 179 (OCR 2010):  The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), informed a school district that it violated Section 504 by not providing a student with a timely evaluation upon a parent’s referral.  Specifically, the parent requested a psycho-educational evaluation of her son in September of 2009, and renewed her request in January of 2010 when the school district had failed to conduct such an evaluation.

The school district explained that its procedures provided for documenting and monitoring the results of a system of interventions fashioned after a response to intervention (RTI) model.  Thus, the school district delayed the student’s evaluation as it conducted its RTI process to see what impact, if any, it could have for the student.  However, OCR concluded that the school district had a sufficient basis to believe the student may require special education or related services because of a disability upon his parent’s referral for evaluation in September.  Thus, notwithstanding the school district’s RTI model and attempt at non-special education interventions, it was obligated to conduct an evaluation as of September 2009.  Since no evaluation was conducted until March of 2010, its failure to conduct a timely evaluation violated Section 504.

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School district may not refuse to act on a referral for evaluation from an early childhood education program on the ground that such program has not first implemented RTI.

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Letter to Brekken, 56 IDELR 80 (OSEP 2010):  The federal Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), in a letter to a head start program director, stated that a school district cannot delay responding to a referral for initial evaluation by the IEP team on the ground the an early childhood program did not first implement a response to intervention (RTI) program.

OSEP said the IDEA “does not encourage” or require a school district to use an RTI approach to determine if a 3-5 year-old is eligible for special education and related services.  If a referral is made for an initial evaluation of such a child, the school district must conduct the evaluation irrespective of any RTI model.  If the school district does not suspect that the child has a disability, and denies the request for an initial evaluation on those grounds, then it must notify the parent in writing of that determination, as well as the information used to make that decision.

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Student’s escalating behavioral issues triggered need for manifestation determination, despite fact that she was not classified with a disability and received various interventions.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Jackson v. Northwest Local School District, 55 IDELR 71, adopted at 55 IDELR 104 (S.D. Ohio 2010):  A school district has a duty to perform a manifestation determination for a student with escalating behavioral issues, who was not yet classified as a student with a disability under IDEA or 504, but who should have been suspected of having a disability.

In this case, the student received various behavior interventions as part of a response to intervention (RTI) process.  Despite these interventions, the student’s behavioral issues continued to escalate, resulting in the Intervention Assessment Team meeting and recommending that she seek help from an outside mental health agency.  Nevertheless, the student was not evaluated by an IEP team and no recommendation was made regarding her eligibility for an IEP.  The student was subsequently expelled for threatening behavior, and no manifestation determination was conducted.

The Court determined that the school district was deemed to have knowledge of the student’s disability at the time she was expelled and referred to the outside mental health agency.  As a result, the school district should have conducted a manifestation determination review to see if the student’s behavior was a manifestation of her disability.  Therefore, the Court awarded the student compensatory education services for the period of her expulsion, and that such disciplinary action be expunged from her student records.

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