I was just given some really great info that can help all of us parents understand how to approach the school systems. If you have a child in public school, take a moment to read the information below put out by the ADA. (Thanks Sheri!! You've been so helpful since you've been though this with your school aready!!)
(To read the full article)
When are children with diabetes covered by IDEA?
To receive services under IDEA, a child with diabetes must show that he or she needs special education and related services in order to benefit from an education. An evaluation of the child must show that, because of the child's diabetes (or other qualifying disability) the child has limited strength, vitality, or alertness that adversely affects the child's educational performance. Simply put, the diabetes must make it more difficult for the child to learn.
For example, it is often difficult to learn when blood sugar levels are either too high or too low. If a child with diabetes is having difficulty controlling his or her blood sugar level, this may hurt how well the child does in school. Classwork might also suffer if a child with diabetes misses a significant amount of classroom instruction each day in order to test his or her blood sugar level.
What is the process for deciding whether a child qualifies under IDEA?
In order to decide if a child qualifies for services under IDEA, a full initial evaluation of the child is conducted by qualified professionals. The child must be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, including areas such as social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities. To start this evaluation process, contact your principal or the school district's coordinator for special education and disability issues. In some school districts when you request that your child be evaluated under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the school may automatically seek to evaluate the child under IDEA. However, parents must consent to evaluation under IDEA.
Parents have the right to an independent educational evaluation at public expense if they disagree with an evaluation obtained by their school district.
What help does a child receive under IDEA?
To qualify under IDEA a child must be found to need "special education." Under IDEA, "special education" means a specially designed instruction program that meets the unique needs of a child with a disability. This means adapting what is taught and how it is taught in order to address the child's unique needs. The child must have access to the same general curriculum (or coursework) so that the child can meet the same educational standards (tests, and other measurements used to pass children from grade to grade) that apply to all children in that school district.
For example, a child with diabetes might need a tutor or a classroom aide to help the child catch up with missed schoolwork.
In addition to special education, a child who qualifies for special education under IDEA is also entitled to "related services" if needed to help the child benefit from special education. Related services include such things as school health services, transportation, psychological services, therapeutic recreation, rehabilitation counseling, medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes, occupational therapy and physical therapy, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training.
For example, a child with diabetes requires that there be trained staff available at all times who are knowledgeable about diabetes and the child's specific plan for diabetes care. Such staff must know how to recognize and treat high and low blood sugar levels. Younger children may require assistance in blood glucose testing and administering insulin. All of the child's health care needs should be put together into a document called a Health Care Plan which should be developed with input from the child's physician, parents and teachers and made a part of the child's IEP (see discussion below about IEPs).
Least Restrictive Environment
IDEA requires that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This means that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are do not have disabilities. A question involving LRE could arise if a school district wanted to bus a child with diabetes to a specific school because that school had a full-time nurse.
What is an Individualized Education Program?
An Individualized Education Program or "IEP" is the document that sets out what the school is going to do to meet the child's individual educational needs. There are a lot of specific rules about developing an IEP, reviewing it (which must be done at least once a year), and what an IEP must contain.
Developing an IEP
The IEP must be developed with input from the child's parents; at least one regular education teacher; at least one of the child's special education teachers or providers; a representative of the school district who is qualified, knowledgeable, and authorized to commit the district to the delivery of resources to the child; a qualified professional who can interpret the evaluation of child; others at the discretion of the parent or the school district; and, where appropriate, the child with a disability. This is the child's IEP Team.
Contents of an IEP
An IEP must contain:
A statement of the child's present levels of performance, including how the child's disability affects involvement and progress in the general curriculum (for preschoolers, this would be how disability affects participation in appropriate activities);
A statement of measurable annual goals, including benchmarks or short-term objectives, geared toward enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum and meeting each of the child's other educational needs that result from his or her disability;
A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided; and
A statement of program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided so that the child can:
Advance toward attaining his or her annual goals;
Be involved and progress in the general curriculum;
Participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities;
Be educated and participate with nondisabled children.
An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children;
A statement of any modifications needed for the child to participate in district-wide tests or other assessments;
A projected date for the beginning of services and the frequency, location and duration of services;
Beginning at age 14, a statement of the child's service needs for transition to adulthood; and
A statement of how the child's progress toward the annual goals will be measured and how parents will be regularly informed of progress toward goals.
See the American Diabetes Association's pamphlet "Your School and Your Rights" for examples of accommodations that might be needed by children with diabetes.
What are the parents' rights under IDEA?
One reason some parents like IDEA is that the law offers parents a lot of protections.
Parents must give informed consent before their child is evaluated or reevaluated and before special education and related services can be started. The school district cannot proceed if the parents won't grant consent. Rather, the school district must request a due process hearing from the state education agency.
Parents of a student with a disability must be given the opportunity to inspect and review all of their child's education records and to participate in meetings about their child.
Parents have the right to request an IEP meeting at any time. The school district should grant any reasonable request by parents for an IEP meeting.
The school district must schedule the IEP meeting at a mutually agreed upon time and place. If neither parent can attend, the school district must use other methods to ensure parent participation, including individual or conference calls.
School districts are required to provide written notice to parents in advance of IEP meetings, and that notice must give the purpose of IEP meeting, the time and location of the meeting, and who will be there.
School districts are required to notify the parents of decisions and plans before the district puts the proposed actions into effect.
Notice must be provided in the native language of the parents, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.
This document was prepared for the American Diabetes Association by Larisa Cummings, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc., and Shereen Arent, Managing Director of Legal Advocacy, American Diabetes Association (March 2000)