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Special Education FAQ

Fiscal Services

What is the definition of a private school?

A private school is an institution for the teaching of children, consisting of a physical plant, whether owned or leased, including a home, instructional staff members and students, and which is in session each school year. This definition shall include, but not be limited to, private, church, parochial, and home instruction programs. (Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-91 (2) (I)).

What new policies are required to be attached to the Project Application?

School districts are required to attach to the Project Application any new policies that impact students with disabilities.

Do we calculate the proportionate share for Part B and Preschool separately?

Yes.  Calculate the proportionate share for Part B and then calculate the proportionate share for Preschool. NOTE:  Private preschool programs licensed as day care centers do not meet the state’s definition of an elementary or secondary school.

Are parochial schools that provide their own special education staff to be considered when conducting the consultation for private placements?

Yes.  All private schools (meeting the state’s definition of an elementary or secondary school) must be invited.

Can the services being offered to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities be provided after school, and if so, how are the persons to be paid?

Yes.  The provision of services pursuant to 34 CFR 300.138 and 300.139 through 300.143 must be provided by employees of a public agency or through contract by the public agency with an individual, association, agency, organization, or other entity.  

School districts may use funds available under sections 611 and 619 of the Act to make public school personnel available in other public facilities to the extent necessary to provide services under §§ 300.130 through 300.144 for parentally-placed private school children with disabilities and those services are not normally provided by the private school (§ 300.142, Use of Personnel).

School districts may also use funds available under sections 611 and 619 of the Act to pay for the services of an employee of a private school to provide services under §§ 300.130 through 300.144 if the employee performs the services outside of his/her regular hours of duty and performs the services under public supervision and control (§ 300.142, Use of Personnel).

Can you contract with private school personnel to provide services after school?

Yes; however, they must be qualified in the area in which they are providing services.

Does the consultation with private school personnel have to be done face-to-face?

Yes.  Private school personnel may send a designee.

What is the definition of home school?

Home schools meet the definition of "nonpublic schools," which means an institution for the teaching of children, consisting of a physical plant, whether owned or leased, including a home, instructional staff members and students, and which is in session each school year. This definition shall include, but not be limited to, private, church, parochial, and home instruction programs. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-91 (2) (I).

If there are no private schools located in the school district’s jurisdiction or a private school in the district’s jurisdiction declines services, what must the district do?

Districts must confirm on district letterhead that there are no private schools in the school district’s area or that the private school declined services. 

Clarify what is meant by the number of private school children evaluated in the previous school year.

It is the number of students that were referred and evaluated during the previous school year. 

Clarify what is meant by the number of private school children evaluated in the previous school year.

The number of private school children determined to be children with disabilities are those who were evaluated and were determined to be children with disabilities. 

Clarify the number of private school children served by the school district in the previous school year.

The number of private school children served is the number of children who actually received services during the previous school year.

If the district funds private placement during the school year, can Extended School Year (ESY) funds be used or must the district continue to fund?

ESY funds can be used if the IEP Committee has determined that the student meets the criteria for ESY. If the IEP Committee determines that the student does not meet the criteria for ESY, then the district must continue to fund the placement. 

Can the Director of Special Education be paid 99% IDEA and 1% District or is there a 5% minimum for the district?

There is not a 5% minimum from the District that has to be paid. The Director of Special Education can be paid the appropriate percentage based on the amount of time spent on performing district non-special education duties.

Do the names of teacher aides have to be listed in the Project Application?

No. As we begin to use Mississippi Comprehensive Automated Performance-based System (MCAPS), names of personnel will not be listed in the narrative.

Function code 1220 is used for Special Education Director. Is this the correct function code?

The correct function code to use for Special Education Director should be 2330.

Instructional Support, Compliance and Monitoring

What is a Summary of Performance and who must have one?

A Summary of Performance is a summary of a child’s academic achievement and functional performance, which shall include recommendations on how to assist the child in meeting the child’s post-secondary goals. The statements of performance should be designed to help the child identify his/her strengths, needs, and goals so the child can secure assistance after high school at the next level. A Summary of Performance is intended to assist future employers or educators by informing them of the child’s goals and needs along with insights into what has or has not worked for the child.


A Summary of Performance is required for any child with a disability who graduates from high school with a regular diploma or for any child with a disability whose eligibility to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) ends due to the child exceeding the age eligibility for FAPE under State law
.

Where can I find examples of age appropriate assessments?

A list of possible assessments can be found in the Volume IV Policy and Procedures manual located on the Special Education webpage at http://www.mdek12.org/OSE/PP.

What students must have transition planning?

Transition planning is required to be in place for all students with disabilities beginning no later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 14, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Committee, and updated annually thereafter.

What is the procedure for dismissing a child from Language/Speech?

The reevaluation process must be completed when dismissing a child from Language/Speech or any other Special Education service. See Volume I Policy and Procedures manual, page 38 for complete reevaluation procedures (www.mdek12.org/ose/PP).

May a child with Language/Speech – Language Impaired as their primary eligibility receive services from the Special Education teacher?

The student’s deficits, not his or her eligibility drive the services the student receives as determined by the IEP Committee. The student may receive instruction as needed, regardless of his or her eligibility category.

Who do I contact regarding the BDI Data Manager?

Call Candice Taylor at 601-359-2586 or email her at cataylor@mdek12.org.

Which students are required to take the MKAS?

See the MKAS2 section of the Student Assessment page of the MDE website at http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/OSA/MKAS2.

To whom do I submit my Part C to B No Match Report?

All Part C to B removals need to be emailed to scoon@mdek12.org.

Where can I find the most recent webinars provided by the Office of Special Education?

All webinars and recorded trainings provided by the Office of Special Education can be found by clicking on the following link: http://www.mdek12.org/OSE/training/webinars. 

Where can I find out about trainings that are being offered?

All trainings provided by MDE can be found on TRUMBA, the agency’s professional development calendar. You can access TRUMBA by clicking on this link: http://www.trumba.com/calendars/MDE.

Who do I contact if I have questions regarding behavior and change of placement due to code of conduct violations?

Please contact Dr. Julie Lowery at 601-359-3498 or jlowery@mdek12.org.

How do I determine if a student meets the criteria for having a Significant Cognitive Disability (SCD)?

The Office of Special Education has created an SCD Determination Guidance Document. This document can be accessed by clicking on the following link: www.mdek12.org/ose/IP.

When is it necessary to conduct a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA)?

Policy requires that an FBA must be conducted, if not previously conducted, when it is determined that a student’s behavior was a manifestation of his/her disability. If there is already an FBA and BIP in place, the IEP Committee must review and revise the BIP to better address the behavior.


Policy requires an FBA, as appropriate, after a manifestation determination review that finds the behavior is NOT a manifestation of the student’s disability. The term “as appropriate” means that the IEP Committee should consider the unique circumstances of the student’s behavior and determine whether or not an FBA is needed to appropriately support the student’s behavioral intervention needs.


An FBA should be conducted when it is unclear what the function of the behavior is or when interventions have been ineffective. The purpose of an FBA is to help determine why the student is doing what he/she is doing (What benefit is the behavior providing the student or what is the student communicating to us with this behavior?). Best practice would suggest conducting an FBA and implementing a BIP prior to reaching the 10 days of removal that constitute a change of placement.
 

When is it necessary to conduct a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR)?

It is only necessary to conduct an MDR when the LEA has determined that a change of placement due to a code of conduct violation has occurred. A change of placement occurs when a student has been removed from his/her current placement for more than 10 consecutive days or when a student accumulated more than 10 days of removal within the school year and those removals constitute a pattern (similar behavior, within close proximity).

How do post-secondary goals and measurable annual goals differ?

Post-secondary goals are based on age-appropriate transition assessment and describe the student’s goals AFTER they graduate from high school.  Post-secondary goals must address the three following areas: education/training, employment, and independent living (if appropriate). Unlike measurable annual goals, post-secondary goals do not list any activities that take place during high school.

Parent Engagement and Support

What dispute resolution options are available?

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Office of Special Education (OSE) provides three different methods for resolving disputes between the Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) and persons under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Formal State Complaint process is one tool used for dispute resolution. In addition, the parties can resolve disputes through mediation. Also, the MDE OSE assists parents or LEAs involved in a dispute an opportunity for an impartial due process hearing. In addition to the dispute resolution options, the MDE OSE also offers Individualized Education Program (IEP) Facilitation as a voluntary process that can be used when parents and districts agree that the presence of a neutral third party would help facilitate communication and successful drafting of a student’s IEP.

What dispute resolution options are available?

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Office of Special Education (OSE) provides three different methods for resolving disputes between the Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) and persons under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Formal State Complaint process is one tool used for dispute resolution. In addition, the parties can resolve disputes through mediation. Also, the MDE OSE assists parents or LEAs involved in a dispute an opportunity for an impartial due process hearing. In addition to the dispute resolution options, the MDE OSE also offers Individualized Education Program (IEP) Facilitation as a voluntary process that can be used when parents and districts agree that the presence of a neutral third party would help facilitate communication and successful drafting of a student’s IEP.

What is a Formal State Complaint?

A Formal State Complaint is a signed, written statement alleging that a school district or other Local Educational Agency (LEA) has violated a requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or state law that implements IDEA.

Who handles and investigates Formal State Complaints?

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Office of Special Education (OSE) investigates Formal State Complaints filed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A team of investigators from the Bureau of Parent Engagement and Support will investigate the complaint and a letter of Finding(s) and Decision will be mailed to all parties within sixty calendar days.

Who may file a Formal State Complaint?

An organization or individual may file a signed, written complaint under the procedures described in 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.151 – 300.152; Miss. Admin. Code 7-3:74.19, State Board Policy Chapter 74, Rule 74.19, §§ 300.151 – 300.152. The person filing the complaint is called the “Complainant.”

What does a Formal State Complaint investigation include?

An investigator or team of investigators from the Bureau of Parent Engagement and Support will investigate allegations included in a Formal State Complaint. The investigation will be conducted as a desk audit or an onsite visit depending on the nature of the allegations.  The investigator(s) shall review relevant information and make an independent determination whether the Local Educational Agency (LEA) is violating a requirement of Federal or State special education statutes, regulations, or rules. The investigator(s) will gather information through informal fact finding, telephone, or personal interviews, and a review of files, documents, correspondences, and other information. The investigator(s) may also want to observe the student’s program.

How do parents find out about the Formal State Complaint Process?

The Procedural Safeguards has information about complaint investigation and other dispute resolution procedures. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) must give parents a copy of the Procedural Safeguards when their child is first referred for special education, once a year while the child is receiving special education services, during the initial Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, any time there is a change of placement due to discipline infractions, when there is a request for a due process hearing, and as requested by parents. The Mississippi Department of Education’s website also includes information about dispute resolution and the model form is located there.

What is the timeline for filing a Formal State Complaint?

The complaint must allege a violation that occurred not more than one (1) year prior to the date that the complaint is received.

What is a due process hearing?

A due process hearing is a formal administrative hearing with an independent hearing officer, regarding the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of a free appropriate public education for a student with a disability or a student suspected of having a disability. The parties have an opportunity to bring and cross-examine witnesses, to have a record of the proceedings, and to enter and object to evidence. Parties can subpoena witnesses and testimony is under oath. Parties have an opportunity to provide testimony by experts.

How does a public agency or parent file a request for a due process hearing?

The public agency must have procedures that require either party, or the attorney representing a party, to provide to the other party a Due Process Complaint.  A model form is located on the Mississippi Department of Education’s website. The party filing the request must forward a copy of the due process request to:


The Mississippi Department of Education

Attn: Bureau of Parent Engagement and Support

P.O. Box 771

Jackson, MS 39205-0771
 

What is the purpose of a resolution meeting?

The purpose of the resolution meeting is for the parent of the child to discuss the Due Process Complaint, and the facts that form the basis of the Due Process Complaint, to allow the Local Educational Agency (LEA) an opportunity to resolve the dispute.

What is the timeline for requesting a hearing?

A parent or public agency must request an impartial due process hearing on their complaint within two (2) years of the date the parent or agency knew or should have known about the alleged action that forms the basis of the due process complaint.

Is the hearing officer’s decision final?

Yes, a decision made in a hearing conducted pursuant to C.F.R. §§ 300.507 – 300.513 or 300.530 – 300.534; Miss. Admin. Code 7-3:74.19, State Board Policy Chapter 74, Rule 74.19, §§ 300.507 – 300.513 or 300.530 – 300.534, is final. The hearing officer will send a final report with the results of the hearing, indicating whether the case was withdrawn, adjudicated, or dismissed. However, any party aggrieved by the findings and decision has the right to bring civil action in any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States within ninety (90) days of the decision of the hearing officer.

What is an expedited due process hearing?

An expedited due process hearing is an administrative hearing to resolve disputes concerning discipline of a student with disabilities. An expedited due process hearing is a request to have an independent hearing officer review a disciplinary decision within twenty (20) school days, with a decision rendered within ten (10) days of the hearing.

Do parents need to have to have an attorney represent them in a due process hearing?

No. Because of the legal nature of the proceedings, parents often are represented by counsel. However, parents may go to a hearing and represent themselves. Districts will usually have an attorney represent them in a due process hearing.

What is mediation?

Mediation is an impartial and voluntary process that brings together parties that have a dispute concerning any matter arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to have confidential discussions with a qualified and impartial individual. The goal of mediation is for the parties to resolve the dispute and execute a legally binding written agreement reflecting that resolution. Mediation may not be used to deny or delay a parent’s right to a hearing or to an investigation through a Formal State Complaint. 

How can I request mediation?

Mediation may be requested by submitting a written request for mediation to the Office of Special Education. A model form is located on the Mississippi Department of Education’s website or from the Bureau of Parent Engagement and Support (BPES). A request must include both parties’ signature indicating that the decision to mediate is agreed upon by both parties in order for the BPES to assign a mediator to the case.

Who pays for mediation?

The mediator’s expense is paid by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Office of Special Education (OSE).

Who is the mediator?

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Office of Special Education (OSE) selects mediators on a rotational basis. Mediators are trained in effective mediation techniques and knowledgeable in laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and related services.

Is the Mediation Agreement legally binding?

Yes. The Mediation Agreement is a resolution agreement signed by both the parent and a representative of the agency who has the authority to bind such an agency. It is enforceable in any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States. 

Who can I bring to mediation?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not address who may accompany a party to mediation. However, it is a best practice to discuss and disclose who, if anyone, will be attending prior to the mediation. Mediation is voluntary on the part of the parties, therefore, either party has the right not to participate for any reason, including if the party objects to the person the other party wishes to bring to the mediation. This could include a party’s objection to the attendance of an attorney representing either the parent or the Local Educational Agency.

What is IEP Facilitation?

The purpose of Individualized Education Program (IEP) Facilitation is to develop and sustain collaborative, productive relationships between the IEP Committee members, keep meetings student focused, and reduce adversarial disputes during the IEP development process.

Is a facilitated IEP meeting the same as any other IEP meeting?

Yes. The facilitated Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting is the same as any other IEP meeting except that a neutral, trained facilitator joins the meeting.  IEP Facilitators are trained in IEP development, special education law, regulations, and conflict resolution techniques.  The facilitator is not a decision-maker or a member of the Committee, they are impartial and do not represent the parent, school district, or the State.

When can an IEP Facilitator be used?

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) Facilitator may be used for any IEP Committee meeting including for initial development of an IEP and annual review meetings. This process is not necessary for most IEP meetings. Rather, it is most often utilized when there is a sense from any of the participants that the issues at the IEP meeting are creating an impasse or acrimonious climate.

Who can request IEP Facilitation?

Individualized Education Program (IEP) Facilitation may be requested by a parent or Local Education Agency (LEA) by submitting a written request. The request form must include both parties’ signature indicating that the decision to have a facilitator present is agreed upon by both parties and submitted to the Bureau of Parent Engagement and Support. IEP Facilitation is voluntary on the part of the parent(s) and the school district and either party may withdraw at any time.

Who pays for IEP Facilitation?

The facilitator’s expense is paid by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Office of Special Education (OSE).

When do I need to request IEP Facilitation?

The request must be made to the Bureau of Parent Engagement and Support (BPES) at least ten (10) days before the scheduled IEP meeting.