Parents: Collaboration, Communication & Procedural Safeguards

  • Guiding Principles
    Parents are their children's best advocates. Parents know their children better than anyone else, and have a longitudinal view on their child's success that is unique and important. Developing positive and collaborative working relationships with parents is one of the most important steps that educators can take to support each and every student's success.
    We strive to make all communication with parents clear and understandable. This includes using understandable language in all communication (i.e. avoiding jargon), providing an interpreter when necessary, and providing access to written information in the parent's native language when possible.
    Though we work hard to communicate and come to collaborative decisions, there are occasions where the parents and the district may disagree. An important component of the procedural safeguards for parents is that there are multiple ways to resolve disputes. These include additional meetings, facilitated IEPs, mediation through the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), complaint investigations through ODE and due process hearings. For detailed information about dispute resolution procedures, see the Procedural Guidance Notice (Parents' Rights booklet) or the ODE website (ODE Dispute Resolution Information).
    Procedural Guidance   
    Parental Consent 
    • Parental Consent is required for Evaluation for special education eligibility (initial or re-evaluation assessments)
      • If the parent does not consent to an evaluation, the district is not in violation of Child Find
      • For re-evaluations, consent is not required for file reviews
      • Consent is not required for assessments that all students participate in (i.e. OAKS, MAP, DRA), or for assessments that are used to monitor progress toward IEP goals
      • Parents can change their mind about consent for evaluation at any time. They can revoke after they have given consent or provide consent after they have declined to give consent.
    • Parental Consent is required for Initial provision of special education services
      • Once the initial IEP is developed, the district must obtain consent for initial provision of special education services from the parent before services begin
      • If the parent does not consent to the initial provision of SPED services, the district is not in violation of FAPE
        • Case manager writes a Prior Written Notice stating that the district stands ready to provide special education services should the parent choose to consent for services in the future
    • Revoking Consent for Special Education Services
      • Parents may revoke consent for special education services at any time in writing
      • Case manager will contact Student Services office right away
      • Case manager will write a Prior Written Notice that includes:
        • the date when the services will cease
        • a statement that the child will be treated in all ways as a general education student, including in disciplinary matters
        • a statement that the parent can re-initiate services if the student's eligibility is still current
        • a statement that the district will not be considered to be in violation of FAPE for not providing special education services
      • Because the IEP is a comprehensive plan to deliver FAPE, a parent cannot partially revoke services. Therefore, revoking consent for special education services is an "all or nothing" decision. 
    • Teams will work hard to obtain parental consent when they believe it is in the best interest of the child. Team members will document attempts to obtain consent.
    Definition of “Parent”
    • Oregon regulations allow the following persons to participate in special education meetings in the role of the child’s parent:
      • The child’s natural, adoptive, or foster parent
      • A person who lives with the child and acts as the child’s parent
      • The child’s legal guardian (state agency representatives from SCF, DD services, probation/parole officers, etc., are excluded)
      • The child’s educational surrogate
      • An adult student to whom rights have transferred 
    • Parents, Custody, & Access
      • Custody is different than educational involvement.
      • Regardless of which parent has custody, both parents continue to have the right to attend meetings and access educational records.
      • The only exception to this is if a court order specifically bars one parent from access to educational meetings or records.
    • Unavailability of a Parent (see above for definition of "parent")
      • If no parent can be found or if the student is an "Unaccompanied Homeless Youth" the district may assign an educational surrogate
        • Contact the Student Services Office for support in these rare situations
          • The district will appoint a surrogate within 30 days of determining the need
        • The surrogate:
          • is not an employee of the district or ODE
          • is not an employee of another agency involved in the education or care of the student
          • is free of professional or personal interest that would interfere with representing the student's best interest
          • has the necessary knowledge and skills to adequately represent the student in special education decisions
          • will be provided Procedural Safeguards
        • The duties of the surrogate are to:
          • protect the special education rights of the student
          • be acquainted with the student's disability and special education needs
          • represent the student in all special education matters, including FAPE
        • The district may change or terminate the appointment of a surrogate when:
          • a parent is found
          • the student is no longer eligible for special education services
          • the surrogate is no longer willing or eligible to serve or no longer serving appropriately
          • the student is no longer enrolled in the district
    Procedural Safeguards - Parents' Rights
    What are Procedural Safeguards?
    • Procedural Safeguards includes all of the content provided in the Procedural Safeguards Notice published by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) 
    • The Procedural Safeguards Notice is often referred to as the "Parents' Rights Booklet"
    • Copies of the Procedural Safeguards Notice are available in a variety of languages on the ODE website. Case managers may also contact the student services office for copies.
    Who do we provide Procedural Safeguards to?
    • Parents (as defined above)
    • Educational Surrogate (as defined above)
    • Adult Students (age 18+ or considered emancipated under Oregon law) 
    How often are Procedural Safeguards given?
    • Upon initial referral or parent request for evaluation
    • At the annual IEP meeting
    • At a manifestation determination meeting
    • Any time a parent asks for one
    • To the parent and student one year before the student's 18th birthday
    What form are Procedural Safeguards given? 
    • Procedural Safeguards are provided written in the native language or other mode of communication of the parents (or adult student) unless it is clearly not feasible to do so and in language that is understandable to the public.
      • The ODE website provides Procedural Safeguards in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese.
    • Procedural Safeguards booklet may be provided electronically or in hard copy.
      • If providing electronically, case manager needs to confirm that parent received procedural safeguards. This can be noted in the meeting minutes.
      • For a hard copy booklet, print from the ODE website or ask the Student Services office
    Meeting Participation
    • Parents are an important part of the team at all meetings involving special education. Case managers will work with parents to attempt to schedule meetings at mutually agreed upon times.
    • Case manager will provide written notice sufficiently in advance to ensure that the parent has an opportunity to attend
    • If neither parent can attend in person, case manager will work with parents to provide alternate methods of participation (by phone, videoconference, etc.)
    • The written meeting notice (in ePEP) includes: 
      • Purpose of the meeting (if transition, must include student -- and agency representatives with consent)
      • Time and place of the meeting
      • Who is invited to attend
      • Statement requesting parent to inform the case manager if they are planning to invite other individuals who may have knowledge about their student
      • Statement advising parents that the team may proceed with the meeting even if they are not in attendance
        • If the team is holding a meeting without the parent in attendance, the case manager should have detailed documentation of multiple attempts to contact the parent regarding the meeting 
      • Information about who to contact if the parent has questions about the time/place of the meeting in advance and how to provide information for the team to consider at the meeting
    • It is important that the parent is able to fully understand and participate in the content of the meeting. Therefore, the district may provide an interpreter for a parent who is deaf or whose native language is not English.
    Prior Written Notice 
    A Prior Written Notice is an important way that the district communicates with parents about requests or changes to a student's special education plan. The district provides this notice any time it proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the student or the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The Consent for Evaluation and Consent for Initial Provision forms provide Prior Written Notice.
    For all other circumstances, we use the Prior Written Notice of Special Education Action: 
    • In response to specific parent requests outside of an IEP meeting
    • To document changes to the student's eligibility, placement, or evaluation plan.
    • When the student is leaving services for circumstances other than moving (including student has dropped out, student has graduated, student has aged out)
    • If the parent and district IEP team members disagree about the outcome of an IEP meeting, it is always wise to document the rationale for this outcome in a separate prior written notice
    • If all members of the IEP team are in agreement about the annual IEP that was developed, the case manager doesn't need to write a separate prior written notice, as ePEP will automatically generate one when the IEP is moved from draft to current.
    The Content of a Prior Written Notice will include:
    • A description of the action proposed or refused by the district
    • An explanation of why the district proposed or refused to take the action
    • A description the evidence the district used as a basis for the decision
    • A description of other options considered and why those options were rejected 
    • Any other factors relevant to the decision
    • A statement that the parents have Procedural Safeguards (parents' rights) and how to get a copy of those 
    When is written parental consent required?
    1. For initial evaluation, and any reevaluation that includes any new assessments (Use Consent for Evaluation form)
    2. When first initiating special education services (Use Consent for Initial Provision of Special Education Services form)

    How do we provide Procedural Safeguards if the parent's native language or mode of communication is not a written language?
    In these rare occasions, we will do our best to ensure that the parent understands their rights. The district will translate the procedural safeguards orally or by other means to the parent in his/her native language or mode of communication. Be sure to document these unusual situations in your meeting notes.
    Board Policy IGBAG