Tag Archives: service

KPS4Parents Partners with ZN League Softball


ZN League Softball
KPS4Parents is proud to partner with ZN League Softball to bring athleticism, sportsmanship, and family fun to Ventura, CA and the surrounding area.

The league is new as Fall 2017 and starting conservatively with six teams, with plans to grow to include co-ed teams, kids teams, and full inclusion teams for players with different abilities.

All registration fees are processed through KPS4Parents as a charitable donation, which we then use to cover league expenses. A portion of all proceeds after costs go to KPS4Parents to help fund our programs that benefit learners of all ages and abilities according to their individual needs, and a tax donation receipt is provided for all contributions.

If you live in the Ventura area and are interested in participating in ZN League Softball, please call 805-290-7027 or email ZNLeague@kps4parents.org

To register online, click here.

When Are Teachers Supposed to Get Their Students’ IEP Copies?

Once in awhile, I’ll run across something familiar, the language of which just hadn’t resonated with me until that moment. I was doing some legal research recently and experienced one of those times.

EC 56347 provides the legal requirement that the public schools in California must give Individualized Education Program (IEP) copies to a special education student’s educators before the student arrives in their instructional settings. I can’t tell you how many kids I’ve served whose teachers still hadn’t seen their IEPs after school had been in session for 30, 45, or 60 days.

Sometimes it was that they didn’t know the kids were on IEPs because no one told them or gave them IEP copies. Other times, they knew some of their kids were in special education, but no one was ever given IEP copies, so they didn’t know they were supposed to expect them. Other times, they got the IEPs, but didn’t have time to deal with them, threw them in a drawer, and forgot about them. By the time the first report cards of the school year came out, these kids were train wrecks.

Moreover, this section of the regulations requires that staffs always have access to IEPs, know and understand their content, and know which parts of the IEP they are responsible for implementing, as well as how to implement those parts. Specifically, it reads:

A local educational agency, prior to the placement of the individual with exceptional needs, shall ensure that the regular teacher or teachers, the special education teacher or teachers, and other persons who provide special education, related services, or both to the individual with exceptional needs have access to the pupil’s individualized education program, shall be knowledgeable of the content of the individualized education program, and shall be informed of his or her specific responsibilities related to implementing a pupil’s individualized education program and the specific accommodations, modifications and supports that shall be provided for the pupil in accordance with the individualized education program, pursuant to Section 300.323(d) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. A copy of each individualized education program shall be maintained at each schoolsite where the pupil is enrolled. Service providers from other agencies who provide instruction or a related service to the individual off the schoolsite shall be provided a copy of the individualized education program. All individualized education programs shall be maintained in accordance with state and federal pupil record confidentiality laws.
(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 56, Sec. 51. Effective January 1, 2008.)

This State regulation provides procedural accountability for situations such as when an IEP sits in a special education department filing cabinet without a special education student’s general education teachers knowing anything about it or the accommodations they are supposed to be providing in their classrooms to that child. The federal regulations are not as exactly precise.

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KPS4Parents Produces Free 45-Minute Parent Training Video

We’ve been working hard over the summer to bring you new tools for this upcoming new school year. To kick things off, we’re giving parents a free 45-minute training video titled, “3 Critical Errors that Even the Smartest Parents of Children with Special Needs Can Make in the IEP Process.” Watch it now and you’ll also get links to additional resources, including a free IEP goal-writing template that you can use to prepare for your IEP meetings, as well as during the meetings when IEP goals are being formulated by the IEP team.

Best of luck in the new school year to all students and their families! We hope this tool is useful for many of you struggling to understand the IEP process and that the tools that we will continue to add to our parent education resources will help you as you continue to learn, as well.

Wrightslaw Loves our Video!

Podcast: How Special Education Services are Supposed to be Selected

On December 25, 2008, we originally published “How Special Education Services are Supposed to be Selected”. Throughout this school year, KPS4Parents is recording many of our past text-only articles as podcasts so that busy parents, educators, and interested taxpayers can download them and listen to them at their convenience.

As always, feel free to comment on our content. We appreciate the input of our readers and listeners to bring you the information you seek. You can either comment below or email us at info@kps4parents.org.

Click here to download the podcast “How Special Education Services are Supposed to be Selected.”

Services that Address IEP Behavior Goals

Once a special education student with behavioral issues receives an appropriate assessment of his/her behavior, and appropriate IEP goals are written to address the student’s behavioral needs, the IEP team has to determine what services and supports are necessary to see those goals achieved.  The types of services and supports a child requires in order to achieve his/her IEP goals can influence placement decisions, which is why placement is the last decision that should be made by the IEP team.

It is necessary to first know what services and supports will be required in order to determine what the Least Restrictive Environment (“LRE”) is for each particular special education student and, as we’ve stated before, the LRE is relative to the unique needs of each individual child.  What is the LRE for one student is not necessarily the LRE for another.  Placement must be in the least restrictive environment necessary in order for the services and supports to be provided such that the goals can be achieved, which varies from student to student.  That means that the selection of services, including the frequency, duration, and times of day they are provided, is a very critical step in the IEP process and it comes into play fairly late in the game.

To recap the process (as described in our prior postings in the “Techically Speaking” category), the IEP process begins with assessment.  The data yielded by the assessment is supposed to inform the IEP team of the student’s Present Levels of Performance (sometimes referred to as “PLOPs”).  Based on what is understood about the student’s Present Levels, the IEP team then must write measurable annual goals that describe in objective, empirical terms what outcomes the IEP is attempting to achieve – what specifically it is trying to teach the student to do.  Once that is known, the next step is the selection of services and supports.

There are a number of tools to address behavioral goals that can be used.  One of the most powerful tools is a Behavior Support Plan (“BSP”) or Positive Behavior Support Plan (“PBSP”).  Once a functional analysis of a student’s behavior has been conducted, the next step is supposed to be the creation of a BSP/PBSP unless?the analysis reveals that the behaviors do not significantly impact the child’s participation in his/her education.

A properly written BSP/PBSP is a thing of gold, but it’s no good to anyone if not everyone implements it the way it is written.  Behavior is a touchy thing.  When you have a child who realizes that the same behavior is met with different outcomes depending on who that child is with, what you often produce is a manipulative child who learns how to push peoples’ buttons.  When behavior is met with the same outcome regardless of who the child is with, the child gets a consistent message about certain behaviors.  For that reason, it is imperative that anyone working with a special education student who exhibits problematic behaviors follow the BSP/PBSP to the letter as best as he/she possibly can.

A BSP/PBSP starts out by describing the problem behavior so people know what they’re looking for. Identifying the function that the behavior serves (i.e. to avoid math problems, to avoid writing, to gain access to more preferred items or activities, etc.) allows people know what need the child is trying to meet and, therefore, the types of responses they should have to the behaviors.  The BSP/PBSP should then describe what responses to give to each type of problematic situation if the behavior manifests, but, more importantly, it should describe what replacement behavior will be taught to the child so that he/she has a more appropriate way of seeing his/her needs met without engaging in the problematic behavior.

It’s not enough to tell a kid to stop doing something.  You have to tell them what is appropriate for them to do instead.  If you’re trying to drive a nail with a banana peel, you’re just going to make a mess.  But, if all somebody does is tell you to stop slinging that useless banana peel at the nail and fails to give you a hammer and show you how to use it, you’re still going to be stuck with a nail that hasn’t been driven.  What you were attempting to accomplish remains unachieved.

Children need to be taught things.  They can’t be expected to somehow magically know things or figure things out as well as more experienced adults.  Children with certain types of disabilities have a harder time picking up what seems obvious to most people, requiring explicit instruction on more basic concepts.  A BSP/PBSP describes what fundamental concepts are being taught, or refers to the behavioral goals which describe what concepts are being targeted, so that the child acquires the reasoning skills necessary to handle situations more successfully.

I’m a fan of Diana Browning Wright’s work. She’s done trainings in California and I have students whom I represent whose PBSPs are written up on Diana’s forms.  They’re very well organized and make total sense.

Another tool that some schools try to use is a “Behavior Contract.”  I’m not a huge fan of these at all.  A “Behavior Contract” is something usually used in general education in which a student makes a written commitment to follow school rules.  It utterly fails to identify what need the student was attempting to meet by engaging in the inappropriate behavior and only speaks to what the child will do; there is nothing that describes what the adult school site personnel will do to assist the student in dealing with whatever is provoking his/her inappropriate behaviors so that they don’t present problems for the student anymore.

Instead, the child is stripped of whatever coping strategies he/she had, even if they were poor ones, and left with nothing he/she can do at all.  This creates a great sense of powerlessness, which can turn on its heel in an instant and lead to more escalated behaviors meant to regain whatever power the child feels he/she has lost.

I’ve seen it happen too many times.  What was meant to stop a problem behavior only served to reinforce it and is particularly horrible to deal with among children with issues involving anxiety, paranoia, and/or Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  Their handicapping conditions magnify, sometimes exponentially, their reactions to having their actual needs ignored and left with no way to see them met, while everyone else is focusing on what they inappropriately did in an effort to see those needs met.

A good BSP/PBSP should also include a description of what consequences and reinforcers should be used to encourage the use of the appropriate replacement behavior and discourage the use of the inappropriate behavior.  By consequences, I do not mean punishment. A consequence is anything that results from an occurrence or event.

In the realm of positive behavioral intervention, a consequence is any outcome that discourages a behavior from reoccurring.  This is often the intent of punishment, but punishment is an artificial consequence that the child may associate with something other than his/her own inappropriate behavior, such as the person who is punishing him/her.

Consequences should fit the behavior and they work best if they are natural, inadvertent outcomes of doing the wrong thing.? In my example above, the natural consequence of trying to drive a nail with a banana skin is a gooey mess and a nail that still hasn’t been driven.  That by itself is enough to discourage me from ever trying to drive a nail with a banana skin again.  It clearly didn’t work.

But, associating consequences with one’s own behavior is actually more subtle and difficult than it sounds.  For children with relatively inexperienced, growing (and, thus, continually changing) minds, it’s even harder.  For children with certain types of special needs, it can often be agonizingly difficult.  The connections have to be taught.  So, the consequences to inappropriate behaviors and reinforcers of appropriate behaviors should be delivered as soon after the behaviors have manifested as possible, particularly when first starting out with a new behavior program.  Over time, the reinforcers can be faded.  The idea is that the use of the appropriate behavior will become intrinsically rewarding because it yields success without drama and the need to artificially reinforce will disappear.

The use of appropriate data collection tools is critical. Data collection should be naturally built into the behavior goals and BSP/PBSP. It’s the only way to track progress and measure the degree to which the replacement behavior is taking over for the problematic behavior. Therefore, data sheets have to be created right away at the beginning so that data collection can begin as soon as the school site personnel start implementing the goals.

Parent training is also a really valuable piece to a successful behavioral intervention program.  Just as it is imperative that the child be met with the same response to his/her behavior by all of the staff working with the child, it is equally important that he/she is met with the same response at home.

I’ve seen some of the best school-based behavior strategies in the world completely unravel because no one thought to explain to the parents how the behaviors were being responded to at school.  The child would go home to a completely different set of expectations and responses to problematic behaviors and an entire school day’s worth of intervention might as well have never happened.  The next day, the school site staff would be starting all over again.

By training the parents on the behavioral strategies being used at school, particularly if they can collect at least some data on what they are doing, makes them more involved, gives them greater understanding of what the school site team is trying to do, makes them partners in the process rather than outside observers, makes them more comfortable about how their child’s behavior is being handled by the school site staff, and creates much needed consistency that will help make the intervention successful.

Do you have any other suggestions regarding behavioral supports and services that can be made part of a student’s IEP? Post your comment with your suggestions below.

How Special Education Services are Supposed to be Selected

Several of our prior postings have emphasized that services are selected based on what will see a child’s annual IEP goals accomplished. Placement is determined based on how the services necessary to achieve the goals can be delivered in the least restrictive environment possible, so a discussion of services has to include some discussion of placement, though we’ll be talking specifically about placement in our next posting.

 

Today’s posting concentrates specifically on the process that an IEP team goes through (when things are done properly) to identify the services necessary to achieve a child’s annual IEP goals and how they can be described in the child’s IEP.

 

As we discussed in our posting, “Why Placement Isn’t Where You Start: Understanding the IEP Process,before parents can legitimately advocate for more service hours of any particular kind, they have to examine the goals and ask themselves, “Is the amount of services being offered consistent with what needs to be done to achieve the existing body of goals?” If the amount of service hours matches what is necessary to achieve the goals the child already has, the next questions are “Are more goals needed? Have we failed to address a need?”

 

This is often where the real problem lies when parents are insisting on more service hours in any particular area of need. For example, I’ve heard more than once, “My child can’t write! He needs more OT!” but there are not sufficient writing goals in the child’s IEP. So, we have to back up and address the goal deficiencies so we can then increase the OT hours to see the new additional goals met.

 

Parents really need to understand this because there are instances in which less-than-ethical education professionals will play games. Here’s what it looks like:

 

Parent: My child needs more speech-language services!”

Ed Pro: “But the speech-language services we’ve offered to your child are appropriate to meet his goals.? What would more speech-language services accomplish?”

 

This is a loaded question! If you know the rules, you interpret this question to mean, “Do you think your child needs more speech-language goals “If you’re a lay person, however, you’re likely to miss the subtleties, become incensed, and cry out, “My child is non-verbal! He needs more speech-language services!” If game-playing is going on, the conversation will stalemate as a vicious circle of “He needs more!” and “What would that accomplish ” without any explanation forthcoming from the educational professionals about how goals drive services, so more services require more goals. 

 

Once the goals have been hammered out, then it’s time to determine services. This includes not just how much time will be devoted to services necessary to meet the goals, but also the location and method of delivery. A comprehensive speech-language service model may include a small amount of time in individual speech-language services, some group speech-language services, and speech-language programming embedded in the classroom setting, for example. 34 CFR   300.320(a)(7) requires that the frequency, duration, and location of each type of service offered be described in the IEP.

In this example, this means that the frequency, duration, and location of the individual speech-language services would have to be described separately from the frequency, duration, and location of the group service and the frequency, duration, and location of the embedded speech-language services. Even though they all address speech-language needs, each type of intervention is distinctly different from each other and, therefore, must be regarded as an individual service offering.

 

Parents should be leery of an offer in a situation like this where the IEP states something like:  “90 minutes per week speech-language services, individual/group/embedded programming.” This language fails to delineate the frequency, duration, and location of each aspect of the speech-language intervention, meaning that the delivery of the services is left entirely up to the discretion of school site staff.

 

The problem with this lack of specificity is that it is the nature of a government bureaucracy, which the public education system is, to default to whatever requires the least amount of effort on the part of the government workers. What is provided to a child becomes driven by how existing resources within the education agency have been allocated rather than the unique needs of the student. This is why federal law mandates that frequency, duration, and location be specified in the IEP in the first place; Congress had to have been aware of this aspect of bureaucracy when it crafted the Individuals with Disabilties Education Act (“IDEA”).

 

Yet another consideration is where the services will be rendered. Another point made in our posting, “Why Placement Isn’t Where You Start: Understanding the IEP Process, was that placement comes at the end of the line for a very logical reason. You have to know what you’re trying to accomplish before you can determine where you can accomplish it. That means you need to know what services need to be delivered.  Once you know what the services are, you can figure out what placement is the least restrictive environment in which the services can be rendered relative to the unique needs of the individual child.

 

In our example above, we described some individual speech-language, some group speech-language, and some embedded speech-language programming in the classroom setting. But, what classroom setting is appropriate and how much of the services are to be pushed into the classroom rather than provided in individual and group services? What is the relative value of being surrounded by typical peers and their age-appropriate language skills versus a special day class with speech-language programming built into the curriculum by default? Can embedded speech-language services be successfully pushed into a regular education setting with 1:1 aide supports or can the services be more successfully delivered in a special education class?Do the embedded speech-language services need to happen all day long or just part of the day?

 

You can see that making determinations regarding services require a lot of thought. An awful lot of variables have to be taken into consideration, not the least of which are the goals that the services are meant to accomplish. The tolerance levels of the child for various stress levels and sensory input have to be considered along with the LRE requirements. Special education students cannot be pulled out of the regular education setting unless there is absolutely no way to feasibly push the services they need into the regular education setting. 

 

Even in special education settings there is a continuum of placement that has to be made available with the least restrictive setting chosen relative to each child. This means that a blend of various settings may be necessary to offer the services in the LRE. For example, a child could receive some services pushed into the regular education setting for part of the day, other services in one special education setting for another part of the day, and yet another special education setting for the rest of the day.

 

Until the services are identified, placement decisions cannot be made, though it is perfectly fine to discuss services and placement at the same time so long as the team maintains proper perspective. Because they are so intertwined, it’s actually pretty hard to discuss services without also discussing placement.

 

The caution that has to be taken when discussing services and placement together is making sure the IEP team doesn’t limit services based on how resources have already been allocated within the education agency. When the team starts talking about the need for counseling services three times a week for a student and the school psychologist says, “But I’m only on this campus once per week,” you’ve got a problem to overcome. 

 

What goes into the IEP and what must be provided must be based on the needs of the child. If the way staff and resources have been allocated do not support what the student needs in order to meet his goals, the staffing and resource allocations have to change; the services offered to the child should never be short-changed on the basis of resource allocation issues.

 

This is not to discount the enormity of the responsibility of education agencies to deliver on these requirements. Education agencies that actually pull it off are accomplishing miracles on a daily basis and their teams of professionals are mostly unsung heroes that deserve at least as many accolades as the entertainment industry heaps upon itself through its various awards ceremonies.

 

Coordinating the services required by all of an education agencys special education students to be delivered in what represents the LRE for each individual child can seem to be the logistical equivalent to Santa delivering presents to every child on the planet in one night. This is why States’ education agencies are still on the hook for the provision of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”) to their constituent students and local education agencies should be hitting up their State education agencies for as much help as possible.

 

Our next posting will focus more specifically on placement. Please comment on today’s posting and let us know your thoughts.