State and federal special education regulations require each school district to provide notice to the community by publishing an annual public notice to parents, in newspapers or by other media, regarding the school district’s identification and screening activities, the location and time of the activities, and also any evaluation activity which takes place in the School District of Lancaster.
The district is required to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities who are determined, through the evaluation process, to need special education and related services under IDEA and 22 Pa. School Code §14. A school age child with a disability, who is determined to be in need of special education and related services, is identified as a child with a disability eligible for special education in need of specially designed instruction. The following are disability categories under IDEA:
Parents who suspect that their child is in need of specially designed instruction beyond that required in 22 Pa. School Code §4 (relating to academic standards and assessments) may request in writing that their child be evaluated under the criteria of 22 Pa.School Code §16.22.
In Pennsylvania, any child between three years of age and the school district’s age of beginners who has a developmental delay or one or more of the physical or mental conditions listed above is identified as an “eligible young child.” Children who are less than the age of beginners and at least three years of age are considered to have a developmental delay when one of the following exists: (i) the child’s score, on a developmental assessment device, on an assessment instrument which yields a score in months, indicates that the child is delayed by 25% of the child’s chronological age in one or more developmental areas, as documented by test performance of 1.5 standard deviations below the mean on standardized tests. Developmental areas include cognitive, communicative, physical, social/emotional and self-help.
Eligible young children are afforded the same rights under IDEA and 22 Pa. School Code §14 as school-age children, in order to determine if they are eligible to receive special education services through the screening and evaluation process. Once a child is determined to be eligible to receive special education, an individualized education program will be developed for the child.
Screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis throughout the school year. Screening is conducted in the student’s home school unless other arrangements are necessary. Parents can request screening in writing for their children by contacting the school that their child attends. When screening indicates that a student may be a child with a disability eligible for special education, the school district will seek parental consent to conduct an evaluation.
“Evaluation” is the procedure used to determine whether a child has a disability and if the child’s disability is of the nature and extent that the child would be eligible for special education and related
services. Evaluation procedures used are determined on an individual basis by a Multi-disciplinary Evaluation team, which includes the parents. Parents are asked to provide permission to conduct the evaluation via a Prior Written Notice for Initial Evaluation and Request for Consent form. The evaluation team takes into consideration cultural issues as they determine the assessment tools that will be administered for the student. A single test or procedure cannot be the sole factor in determining that a child is eligible for special education services. The initial evaluation shall be completed and a copy of the evaluation report shall be presented to the parents no later than 60 days after the agency receives written parental consent. Evaluation for the purpose of determining if a child is a child with a disability eligible for special education does not include the procedures or basic tests that are administered to all children.
Parent Initiated Evaluations
If the parent obtains an independent educational evaluation at private expense, the results of the evaluation must be considered by the district, if it meets the district’s criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision of FAPE to the child. In addition the independent educational evaluation may be presented as evidence at a Due Process hearing.
If the evaluation team has determined that the student is eligible for special education, an IEP team develops an educational program, based on the evaluation, which identifies the type of services, the level of intervention, and the location of intervention. The IEP team must include:
A student’s special education placement must be made in the least restrictive environment in which the student’s educational needs can be addressed. All students with disabilities must be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with their non-disabled peers. A student’s IEP is reviewed on at least an annual basis.
Services for Protected Handicapped Students
In compliance with state and federal law, and 22 Pa. School Code Chapter 15, the district will provide to each protected handicapped student, without discrimination or cost to the student or family, those related aids, services, or accommodations which are needed to provide an equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school programs and participate in extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the student’s abilities.
The district protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information regarding its students in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 and other applicable federal and state laws.
For more information regarding any of the above services, please contact: