By Stacey Hoaglund
The Procedural Safeguards related to special education is a document that outlines parent’s rights and comes in a book format in most states. This book contains information that the states are required to give to parents of children with disabilities. Each state is permitted to set up this document based upon their state regulations, but ALL must fall in line with IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) law for the protection of children with special needs.
Parents must sign that they obtained a copy of the Procedural Safeguards and indicate whether they understand their rights or require an explanation of such rights.
IDEA 2004 states that school districts must give a copy of the Procedural Safeguards to parents once per year to eligible students with disabilities. In addition to the annual distribution (usually at the annual IEP meeting), school districts must give the Safeguards to parents when an initial evaluation of a student is requested by the parent or another person; upon the parent’s request of a copy; and when a student with a disability is removed from his or her placement to an interim alternative educational setting as a result of disciplinary action.
The Procedural Safeguards include the following::
Prior Written Notice – Parents must be given written notice when the school district proposes changes to the identification, evaluation, placement or provision of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
Consent – Consent is an approval that a parent gives in writing for the initial evaluation, services, and re-evaluation of their child.
Independent Educational Evaluation – If a parent does not agree with the results of a school district evaluation, they can request an independent evaluation by a party not chosen by the district. When the parents request this independent evaluation, the district must provide them with the school district’s criteria for evaluation and the name/s of potential independent evaluators.
Confidentiality – A child’s confidentiality is guaranteed by federal law, and the procedural guidelines spell out state law and the precautions required.
State Complaints and Mediation – Each state has established intermediary step(s) before going directly to due process. That could include Mediation or Local Conflict Resolution. Districts are required to offer mediation, but the family of the child with a disability is not required to accept it.
Due Process – Due Process is a procedure by which a family can contest the decisions made by a school district related to such things as the evaluation, identification, placement or provision of FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education). An explanation of this process is outlined in your Procedural Safeguards.
Disciplinary Procedures – A Manifestation Determination is the process by which a child’s behavior is reviewed to determine if it is due to his or her disability, or if it can be disciplined with a suspension or an expulsion.
Placement in Private Schools by a Parent – This section outlines parental right to tuition reimbursement, as well as evaluation and services provided to students attending nonprofit private schools.