Annual Public Notice of
Special Education services and Program and Rights for Students with Disabilities and Notification of Rights
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School
4256 Paul Street
Philadelphia, PA 19124
2010-2011 School Year
Annual Public Notice of Special Education Services and Programs and Rights for
Students with Disabilities
Notification of Rights Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
It is the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Department of Education to ensure that all children with disabilities residing in the Commonwealth, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated. This responsibility is required by a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, 20 U.S.C. 1200 et. seq. ("IDEA 2004"). IDEA 2004 requires the publication of a notice to parents, in newspapers or other media, before any major identification, location, or evaluation activity. IDEA 2004 requires this notice to contain certain information.
In addition, the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), which protects confidentiality, requires educational agencies to notify parents annually of their confidentiality rights.
Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School fulfills its duties with this annual notice. Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School also directs parents to the procedural safeguards notice available through the school.
The purpose of this notice is to describe: (1) the types of disabilities that might qualify the child for such programs and services, (2) the special education programs and related services that are available, (3) the process by which the public schools screen and evaluate such students to determine eligibility, (4) the special rights that pertain to such children and their parents or legal guardians and (5) the confidentiality rights that pertain to student information.
How a child might qualify for special education and related services
Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, or "IDEA 2004," children qualify for special education and related services if they have one or more of the following disabilities and, as a result, need such services:
(1) mental retardation;
(2) hearing impairments, including deafness;
(3) Speech or langauage impairments;
(4) Visual impairments, including blindness;
(5) Serious emotional disturbance;
(6) Orthopedic impairments, or physical disabilities;
(7) Autism, including pervasive developmental disorders;
(8) Traumatic brain injury, or neurological impairment;
(9) Other health impairment; and
(10) Specific learning disabilities.
Children with more than one of the foregoing disabilities could qualify for special education and related services as having multiple disabilities.
The legal definitions of the above-listed disabilities, which the public schools are required to apply under the IDEIA 2004, may differ from those used in medical or clinical practice. The legal definitions, moreover, could apply, to, children with disabilities that have very different medical or clinical disorders. A child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for example, might qualify for special education and related services as a child with "other health impairments," "serious emotional disturbance," or "specific learning disabilities" if the child meets the eligibility criteria under one or more of these disability categories and if the child needs special education and related services as a result.
Under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, some school age children with disabilities who do not meet the eligibility criteria outlined above might nevertheless be eligible for special protections and for adaptations and accommodations in instruction, facilities, and activities. Children are entitled to such protections, adaptations, and accommodations if they have a mental or physical disability that substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program.
If a Charter School admits children below school age, the Commonwealth provides early intervention services to eligible children with special needs who are at least 3 years of age but younger than the age of beginners through agencies which hold Mutually Agreed Upon Written Agreements (MAWAs).
Available Programs and Services for Children with Disabilities
Public schools must ensure that children with disabilities are educated to the maximum extent possible in the regular education environment and let the instruction they receive conforms as much as possible to the instruction that non-disabled students receive. Programs and services available to students with disabilities, in descending order of preference, may include: (1) regular class placement with supplementary aides and services provided as needed in that environment; (2) regular class placement for most of the school day with itinerant service by a special education teacher either in or out of the regular classroom; (3) regular class placement for most of the school day with instruction provided by a special education teacher in a resource classroom; (4) part time special education class placement in a regular public school or alternative setting; and (5) special education class placement or special education services provided outside the regular class for most or all of the school day, either in a regular public school or alternative setting.
Depending on the nature and severity of the disability, the public school can provide special education programs and services in areas such as (1) the public school the child would attend if not disabled, (2) an alternative regular public school either in or outside the school district of residence, (3) a special education center operated by a public school entity, (4) an approved private school or other private facility licensed to serve children with disabilities, (5) a residential school, (6) approved out-of-state program, or (7) the home.
Special education services are provided according to the primary educational needs of the child, not the category of disability. The types of service available include: (1) learning support, for students who primarily need assistance with the acquisition of academic skills; (2) life skills support, for students who primarily need assistance with development of skills for independent living; (3) emotional support, for students who primarily need assistance with social or emotional development; (4) deaf or hearing impaired support, for students who primarily need assistance with deafness; (5) blind or visually impaired support, for students who primarily need assistance with blindness; (6) physical support, for students who primarily require physical assistance in the learning environment; (7) autistic support, for students who primarily need assistance in the areas affected by autism spectrum disorders; and (8) multiple disabilities support, for students who primarily need assistance in multiple areas affected by their disabilities.
Related services are designed to enable the child to participate in or access his or her program of special education. Examples of related services include but are not limited to, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing services, audiologist services, counseling, and family training.
The public school, in conjunction with the parents, determines the type and intensity of special education and related services that a particular child needs based exclusively on the unique program of special education and related services that the school develops for that child. The child's program is described in writing in an individualized education program, or "IEP," which is developed by an IEP team consisting of educators, parents, and other persons with special expertise or familiarity with the child. The parents of the child have the right to be notified of and to participate in all meetings of their child's IEP, team. The IEP is revised as often as circumstances warrant but reviewed at least annually. The law requires that the program and placement of the child, as described in the IEP, be reasonably calculated to ensure meaningful educational progress to the student at all times. IEPs contain, at a minimum, a statement of present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, an enumeration of the annual goals established for the child, and a statement of the special education and related services that the child needs to make meaningful educational progress. For children aged sixteen and older, the IEP must also include an appropriate transition plan to assist in the attainment of post-secondary objectives. Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School must invite the child to the IEP team meeting at which the transition plan is developed.
For more information, please request information from our Special Education Policy and Procedure Manual.