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IDEA Reauthorization of 2004 Changes

YOU are impacted by these changes:
Children, Parents, Teachers, Administrators.
The last IDEA took 2 years for the actual Federal Rules to be created by Dept of Education.  Then, after the Feds finished creating the rules, the states could determine how that impacted their laws and procedures.  Then, when the states finished changing their laws and policies, the local schools districts could finalize their policies.
NOW, while the Federal Policies are somewhat fluid is when parental pressure on the Department of Education is critical.  Those are the policies that flow downward to state and local education agencies and then affect childrens educational rights.
WE KNOW the Educational Establishment are attempting to influence this rule making process.  Parents need to write, call (202) 401-1576, and e-mail NOW.

The best EZ Comparison Chart that I've found is at:
The chart puts many (not all) of the affected changes side by side.

Highlights wth Comments:
This is intended to help in preparation - not as specific legal advice.
You need to read & understand the laws yourself.  It is often helpful to actually know where in the law these items are so you can identify mistakes during the meeting and change improper items during the meeting.  Use highlighters or Post-It Tabs on your printout to find items quickly.  Bring the highlighted copy of IDEA to your school meetings.  See for a link to copies of the IDEA 97 and 2004 IDEA changes comparisons.
Most changes to IDEA take effect 7/1/05.

60 day time limit from receipt of parental permission to determination of needs of child and eligibility.  (Was 30 days)
As a practical matter, "receipt of parental permission" to evaluate the child IS NOT when you talk to the school and ask for help.  IT IS when (assuming AD/HD - Otherwise Health Impared criteria) you present a WRITTEN note from your DOCTOR (MD or DO only) documenting your childs disability and that it "Adversely affects the child's educational performance" and the SAME NOTE from a parent.  TOGETHER - to either the Principal or Special Education Director of the school.
Important note:  Many School Districts in the past had viewed the 30 days requirement as 30 school days (did not count weekends or other days school did not meet).  Schools are likely to claim the 60 days will be 60 school days.  It is CLEAR that the 30 day intent IS 30 CALENDAR DAYS because in another section of the law (Discipline - Interim Alternative Educational Setting)  the law was specifically changed from 45 days to 45 school days.  Congress obviously understood the difference between calendar days and school days.

Evaluation  Limitation:
Unless BOTH the School District and Parents agree, there is a limit of ONE EVALUATION PER YEAR.  This requirement makes it CRITICAL for parents to involve themselves in the meeting to determine appropriate testing BEFORE the IEP.  If parents do not agree the testing is appropriate WRITE a note stating you disagree during that meeting and attatch it to the documentation.  If you want specific tests that the group feels are not appropriate, have the leader of the meeting write a description of why the requested testing is not appropriate, have them sign it, and attach it to the meeting documentation.  On the pre-printed forms used by the school district, note # of attachments and a short description of attachments.  Make sure you get a copy of the form with all attachments before you go.  Make sure you attach a sheet describing differences between you and the remainder of the team.  Appeal to the School Distict Special Education Director immediately.  Get and appointment that does not compromise your 60 day window.

"Specific Learning Disabilities" important changes:
1]  The requirement for a "severe discrepancy" between acheivement and ability HAS BEEN REMOVED.
2]  The changes specify that the evaluation can "not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a with a disability or determining an appropriate educational program for the child."
3]  "Scientific Research Based Evaluation Procedures" are to be used to determine eligibility.
The "Specific Learning Disabilities" student is a different category than the "Physically or Otherwise Health Impaired" category of eligibility.  In practice, however, some school districts in "crossed over" these categories and explained to persons seeking "Physically or Otherwise Health Impaired" based Special Education Services that they were ineligible based on criteria from "Specific Learning Disabilities".  That was never correct.  The criteria for "Specific Learning Disabilities" has changed.  Crossover of these inappropriate requirements that no longer exist can be dealt with using attachments.
List ways that AD/HD is "adversely affecting the child's educational performance".  Bring this list to the meeting and attach it.  The school has the right to disagree in writing and attach that, too.  If the school strays from using "Physically or Otherwise Health Impaired" criteria and attempts to use "Specific Learning Disabilities" OLD or NEW rules, WRITE that you believe the incorrect criteria are being applied, attach that note and at the end of the meeting sign for mediation or a due process hearing.  Especially if services are being denied, do not agree to implementation or disagree but allow implementation.

1]  Benchmarks and Short Term Goals are no longer required for most students.
2]  REQUIRES a description of how ANNUAL GOALS will be measured and how often progress reports will be provided.
3]  Eliminates Transition Requirements between ages 14 - 16.
4]  Requires Transition Services at age 16.
5]  Requires Post -Secondary Goals.
6]  Members of the IEP Team may not be required to attend all or part of the IEP meeting if the school district and parent agree IN WRITING that the person's attendance is unnecessary.
7]  AMENDING IEP's is made EASIER.  Written amendment can be made to an IEP upon agreement of BOTH the parent and school.  A full IEP meeting to create changes is no longer required.  Parents are to be given a copy of the amended IEP.
You need to understand how PROGRESS to ANNUAL goals will be reported.  The child can fall behind significantly and meet IEP requirements if they are written to permit large time gaps or insufficient detail is required.  Parents need to understand Transition Services if their child is approaching or over age 16.  The IEP for older students needs to be synchronized to the Post Secondary Goals.  If any of these are not done, you would have an inappropriate IEP that should not be agreed to by the parent.
Be careful who you give written permission to not attend the IEP.  The person you give permission to not attend may be the person who either must do the implementation of the plan OR has the authority to agree to your requests.  If you do not have the person with authority in the meeting, the meeting's goals cannot be accomplished.  Be very careful in the future written notices from the school that just do not list critical attendees as attendee's.  Not listing someone as an attendee will likely be considered notice that they will not attend.  If someone critical to the IEP is not listed on the IEP Notice, write to the school that that person's attendance is critical.  see US Dept of Education link on participation of General Education Teachers:

Manifestation Determination.  
This is a provision in the law in which the Individual Educational Plan (IEP)team determines if behavior resulting
                                       in a disciplinary action is related to the child's disability.  It is important
                                       because of the freedom schools are given to remove students with disabilities from their classrooms. This provision is often
                                       used to exclude children from inclusive settings, and is also used to remove children from non-inclusive settings due to disciplinary
Individuals with Disabilities
                                       Education Improvement Act of 2004
Section 615 (k)(1)(E) (
(i) IN GENERAL  -- Except as provided in subparagraph (B)removal for not more than ten days, within
                                       10 school days of any decision to change the placement of a child with a disability because of a violation of a code of student
                                       conduct, the local educational agency, the parent, and relevant members of the IEP Team (as determined by the parent and local
                                       educational agency) shall review all relevant information in the                                student’s
                                       file, including the child’s IEP, any teacher observations, and any relevant information provided by the parents to determine:
(I) if the conduct in question was caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to, the child’s disability;
(II) if the conduct in question was the direct result of the local educational agency’s
                                       failure to implement the IEP.
Burden Shifts Off Schools; Onto Parents.  Before IDEA
                                       2004, the burden was on the school district to show that the behavior resulting in a disciplinary action was not a manifestation
                                       of the child’s disability before being able to apply the same disciplinary procedures the school uses for non-disabled
The IEP team was required
                                       to conduct a comprehensive review of evaluation results, teacher and parent observations, appropriateness and implementation
                                       of the IEP and whether the child’s disability impaired his or her ability to control the behavior or to understand                                        the
                                       impact and consequences of the behavior.  This comprehensive review is no longer
                                       part of the law.
The impact of this change is to
                                       shift the burden of proving that the behavior was related to the disability to the parents who have to prove that the behavior
                                       was caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to the disability. This will make it much easier to remove students
                                       to an alternative setting where they will have to remain while a parent appeals the manifestation decision.
In the case of a child whose behavior impedes his or her learning or that of others,
                                       IDEA requires the IEP team to consider the use of positive behavioral intervention and strategies to address the behavior.
Parents need to carefully consider their child’s behavioral issues when developing
                                       an IEP and whether appropriate services and supports are being provided.
                                       excellent information on positive behavioral supports, go to: and enter positive behavior supports in the search terms.

Highly Qualified Special Education Teachers:
1]  All Special Education teachers must be fully certified OR:
2]  Pass a Comprehensive State Exam AND be state certified in another area.
All New Teachers:  (General or Special Ed)
1]  Must meet No Child Left Behind standards in one core subject.
2]  Within two years of employment, must meet NCLB High Object Uniform State Standards of Evaluation in other areas taught.