Parent Information

 

PHILOSOPHYThe Mifflin County School District subscribes to the philosophy that all students, including those identified as exceptional and in need of special education, are unique individuals who have the potential to learn. MCSD further believes that each exceptional student should receive a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Where appropriate and to the maximum extent possible, the needs of exceptional students are met in regular classes and through the regular curriculum.

ANNUAL PUBLIC NOTICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES & PROGRAMS

It is the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Department of Education to ensure that all children with disabilities residing in the Commonwealth, including children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluates. This responsibility is required by a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Act Amendments of 1997 (IDEA '97).

The IDEA '97 requires each state educational agency to publish a notice to parents, in newspapers or other media, before any major identification, location, or evaluation activity. The IDEA '97 requires this notice to contain certain information. Another federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), which protects confidentiality, requires educational agencies to notify parents annually of the confidentiality rights (FERPA regulations were amended in 1996). Pennsylvania special education regulations require each school district to fulfill the IDEA '97 notice requirement by providing an annual public notice. TO comply with the above requirements, following is the annual public notice for the school district. Note: The federal and state special education regulations upon which this notice was based were those regulations in effect on June 9, 2001.

The school district is required by the IDEA '97 to provide a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities who need special education and related services. (Note: the duty to identify, locate, evaluate and provide special education services to school-age individuals incarcerated in local correction institutions rests with the school district within whose boundaries such an institution is located). Pennsylvania must adopt state laws, regulations, and/or policies conforming with the IDEA '97 which school districts must follow. School age children who need special education and related services are identified as children with disabilities. These students have been identified as being in need of specially designed instruction and have one or o more of the following physical or mental disabilities:

  • Autism
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Deafness
  • Hearing impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Mental retardation
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Other health impairment
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Speech & language impairment
  • Visual impairment including blindness
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Developmental delay

EARLY INTERVENTION

The IDEA '97 requires the provision of a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities between 3 years of age and the school district's age of beginners. In Pennsylvania, a child between 3 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 disabilities listed above may be identified as an "eligible young child".

Eligible young children are afforded the rights of school age children with disabilities, including screening, evaluations, individualized education program planning, and provision of appropriate programs and services. The Pennsylvania Department of Education is responsible for providing programs and services to eligible young children under Act 212 of 1990, the Early Intervention Services System Act. The Tuscarora Intermediate Unit (IU) 11 provides programs and services to eligible young children on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. For more information, contact IU 11 at 814-542-2501 or 717-899-7143.

SCREENING

The Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11 and the Mifflin County School District have established and implemented procedures to locate, identify, and evaluate students and young children suspected of having a disability. These procedures include screening activities which include but are not limited to: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, and report cards); hearing screening (at a minimum of kindergarten, special ungraded classes, first, second, third, seventh, and eleventh grades); vision screening (every grade level); motor screening; and speech and language screening. At the elementary and middle school level, the above screening activities may lead to consideration by the pre-referral team to move to the next level of screening activity. The screenings are conducted at specific times during the school year in designated school buildings. Parents, guardians or surrogate parents may contact their school's principal or Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11 contact person to obtain specific about the times and locations of screening activities.

Except as indicated above or otherwise announced publicly, screening activities take place in an ongoing fashion throughout the school year. Screening is conducted in the student's home school unless other arrangements are necessary.

EVALUATION

When screening indicates that a student may be a child with a disability, the school district will seek parental consent to conduct an evaluation. Evaluation means procedures used in the determination of whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services that the child needs. The term means procedures used selectively with an individual child and do not mean basic tests administered to or procedures used with all children.

This evaluation is conducted by a multidisciplinary team (MDT) that includes the parent and a group of qualified professionals. The process must be conducted in accordance with specific timelines and must include protection-in-evaluation procedures. For example, tests and procedures used as part of the evaluation may not be racially or culturally biased.

The evaluation process results in a written evaluation report. This report specifies a student's eligibility for special education based on the presence of a disability and the need for specially designed instruction. The evaluation report also makes recommendations for educational programming. Once parental consent for evaluation is obtained, the school district has timelines and procedures specified by law which it must follow.

Parents who their think child is exceptional may request, at any time, that the school district conduct an evaluation. This request should be made in writing to the contact person in the accompanying listing. If a parent makes an oral request for an evaluation, the school district shall provide the parent with a form for that purpose. Pre-referral team activities do not serve as a bar to the right of a parent to request, at any time, including prior to or during the conduct on instructional support activities, an evaluation.

Parents also have the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation. The school district must provide to parents, on request, information about where an independent educational evaluation may be obtained. Under certain circumstances, such an independent educational evaluation may be obtained at public request.

EDUCATIONAL PLACEMENT

The IEP team must include at least two members in addition to the parent(s). Other required members include at least one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment), at least one special education teacher, or where appropriate, at least on special education provider, and a representative of the school district. The IEP team develops a written education plan called an IEP. The IEP shall be based on the results of the evaluation.

An IEP describes a student's current educational levels, goals, objectives, and the individualized programs and services that the student will receive. IEPs are reviewed on an annual basis. The IEP team will make decisions about the type of services, the level of intervention, and the location of intervention. Types of services include:

  1. Autistic support
  2. Blind and Visually Impaired Support
  3. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Support
  4. Emotional Support
  5. Learning Support
  6. Life Skills Support
  7. Multiple Disabilities Support
  8. Physical Support
  9. Speech and Language Support

Level of support options include:

  • Itinerant - Regular classroom instruction for most of the school day
  • Resource - Special education provided in a resource room for part of the day
  • Part-time - Outside the regular classroom but in a regular school for most of the day
  • Full-time special education class located in or outside of a regular school

Placement must be made in the least restrictive environment in which the student's needs can be met with special education and related services. All students with disabilities must be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with children who are not disabled.

SERVICES FOR PROTECTED HANDICAPPED STUDENTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 504 - THE REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973

Students who are not eligible to receive special education programs and services may qualify as protected handicapped students and therefore be protected by other deferral and state laws intended to prevent discrimination. The school district must ensure that protected handicapped students have equal opportunity to participate in the school program and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate for each individual student. In compliance with state and federal law, the school 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 equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the student's abilities. In order to qualify as a protected handicapped student the child must be of school age with a physical or mental disability that substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program.

These services and protections for "protected handicapped students" may be distinct from those applicable to exceptional or thought-to-be students. The school district or the parent may initiate an evaluation if they believe a student is a protected handicapped student. For further information on the evaluation procedures and provision of services to protected handicapped students, parents should contact Ms. Tracey M. Jones, Director of Special Education, at 717-248-0148 (extension 2).

CONFIDENTIALITY

Each school district protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and other applicable federal and state laws, policies, and regulations.

Education records means those records that are directly related to the student, including computer media and videotape, which are maintained by an educational agency or by a party acting for the agency. Educational agency, for purposes of this notice, means the local school district and/or the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11. For all students, the educational agency maintains education records that include but are not limited to:

  • Personally identifiable information - confidential information that includes, but is not limited to, the student's name, name of parents and other family members, the address of the student or student's family, and personal information or personal characteristics which would make the student's identity easily traceable.
     
  • Directory information - information contained in an educational record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. It includes, but is not limited to, the student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords parents and students over 18 years of age certain rights with respect to the student's education records. They are:

  1. Parents have the right to inspect and review a child's educational record. The school district will comply with a request to inspect and review education records without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an IEP or any due process hearing, but in no case more than 45 days after the request has been made. Requests should be submitted in writing, indicating the records that parents wish to inspect, to the school principal or other appropriate school official. Parents have the right to a response from the school district to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of the records. Parents have the right to request copies of the records. While the district cannot charge a fee to search for or to retrieve information, it may charge a copying fee as long as it does not effectively prevent the parents from exercising their right to inspect and review the records. Parents have the right to appoint a representative to inspect and review their child's records. If any education record contains information on more than one child, parents have the right only to inspect and review the information relating to their child.
     
  2. If parents think information in an education record is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the privacy or other rights of their child, they may request amendment of the record. Requests should be in writing and clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. The school district will decide whether or not to amend the record and will notify the parents in writing of its decision. If the school district refuses to amend a record, it will notify the parents of their right to a hearing to challenge the disputed information. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the parents or student when notified of the right to a hearing.

    The school district will inform parents when personally identifiable information is no longer needed to provide educational services to a child. Such information must be destroyed at the request of the parents. Parents have a right to receive a copy of the material to be destroyed. However, a permanent record of a student's name, address, and telephone numbers, his or her grades, attendance record, classes attended, grade level completed, and year completed may be maintained without time limitation. "Destruction" of records means physical destruction or removal of personal identifiers from information so that the information is no longer personally identifiable.
      
    The school district will provide, upon request, a listing of the types and locations of education records maintained, the school officials responsible for these records, and the school personnel authorized to see personally identifiable information. Such personnel receive training and instruction regarding confidentiality. The school district keeps a record of parties obtaining access to education records, including the name of the party, the date access was given, and the purpose for which the party is authorized to use the records.
     
  3. Parents have the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. "Consent" means: the parent(s) have been fully informed regarding the activity requiring consent, in their native language or other mode of communication; they understand and agree in writing to the activity; and they understand that consent is voluntary and may be revoked at any time. Information may be disclosed without consent to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the District as an administrator, supervisor, instructor, or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); person or company with whom the District has contracted to perform a special task (such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant, or therapist) or a parent or student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Directory information may be released without parent consent. Parents have the right to refuse to let an agency designate any or all of the above information as directory information.

    Upon request, the District discloses education records without consent to officials of another school district in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
     
  4. Parents have a right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the District to comply with the requirements of FERPA. Complaints may be filed with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.

MODE OF COMMUNICATION

The content of this notice has been written in straightforward, simple language. If a person does not understand any of this notice, he or she should contact the school district or Intermediate Unit 11 and request an explanation.

The school district will arrange for an interpreter for parents with limited English proficiency. If a parent is deaf or blind or has no written language, the school district will arrange for communication of this notice in the mode normally used by the parent (e.g., sign language, Braille, or oral communication).

The Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11 and the participating school districts will not discriminate in their educational programs, activities, or employment practices, based on race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, ancestry, union membership, or any other legally protected classification. Announcement of this policy is in accordance with state and federal laws, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. For information regarding civil rights, grievance procedures, services, activities, programs and facilities that are accessible to and usable by handicapped persons, contact the Intermediate Unit 11 Office or Tracey M. Jones, Director of Special Education for the Mifflin County School District, at 717-248-0148 (extension 2).

 

 

 

 Director of Student Services | Cindi L. Marsh