The Team consists of the following members:
- the student’s parent(s);
- at least one regular education teacher familiar with the student;
- at least one special education teacher familiar with the student;
- a representative of the district who has the authority to commit resources;
- an individual who can interpret evaluation results;
- other individual(s) who have knowledge or expertise regarding the student;
- if appropriate, the student. (Students over the age of 14 should be encouraged to attend.)
LMACS must invite parents to all Team meetings where decisions are made on the educational placement of their student. In some cases where the student who is over the age of 18 and has chosen sole decision-making authority on the Age of Majority forms, the student may elect not to have a parent present.
The Director of Special Education must notify parent(s) in writing of any Team meeting early enough to ensure that they have an opportunity to attend. Parents are sent the Invitation and Attendee’s list at least 10 days prior to the meeting. Parents may waive the 10-day notice, and this waiver is to be noted on the invitation.
LMACS makes every attempt to schedule the meeting so that parents can attend. If a parent cancels the meeting or if they do not attend the scheduled meeting, LMACS will reschedule at least two additional times. Telephone calls or email are used as a means of communicating a mutually agreed upon time and date whenever possible.
Team meeting will be held remotely, unless the parents request to conduct the meeting in person. Additional means of participation such as telephone conference may be offered to accommodate the parents.
In cases where LMACS is unable to obtain the parents’ participation in Team meetings (after at least three scheduled meeting attempts), LMACS will conduct the Team meeting and document its attempts to facilitate the parent’s participation. Following the meeting, LMACS will sent the IEP, alongside the N1 to the parents.
Regardless of parent participation, an N1 is mailed to parents following any Team meeting.
IDEIA 2004 permits members being excused if parent and Chairperson agree (written agreement from parent –If excused member has input it must be provided in writing. If parent and Chairperson agree, amendments and revisions can be made via written documentation without a Team meeting. Alternative to in-person meetings are explicitly allowed including video conferencing, telephone conferencing, or virtual meetings.
Please note: when IEPs are forwarded to the Director for signature, required elements are reviewed. The Team is charged with managing three important activities:
- Eligibility Determination/Initial and Reevaluation
- Development of the IEP
- Placement Decision
The Special Education Eligibility Flowchart is designed to assist Teams in making eligibility determinations. The flowchart is a worksheet and not a notice/form. This worksheet should become part of the student record but does not need to be mailed to parents and, if the student is determined eligible for services, it should not be attached to the IEP.
To be eligible for Special Education Services a student must first be found to have a disability that is causal to an inability to make effective progress in school.
The Special Education Eligibility/Initial and Reevaluation Determination (ED1) should be used to assist the Team in making an eligibility determination according to State and Federal SPED regulations.
To be eligible for Special Education services, the Team will consider the following 3 questions:
- Does the student have one or more of the following types of disability?
Autism Communication Developmental Delay
Emotional Health Intellectual
Neurological Physical Sensory: deaf-blind
Specific learning Multiple disabilities Sensory: vision or hearing
If the answer is No, the student is NOT ELIGIBLE for Special Education but may be eligible for other accommodations within general education.
If the answer is Yes, the Team will continue to Question 2.
2. Is the student making effective progress in school? If the answer is No, the Team will ask if the lack of progress is a result of the student’s disability.
To judge whether the student is making effective progress, the Team will determine if the student has made documented growth in knowledgAll Userse and skills, including social/emotional development, according to curriculum standards and chronological/developmental expectations.
If the answer is No (meaning that the lack of progress is not a result of the student’s disability) the student is NOT ELIGIBLE for Special Education but may be eligible for accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or other school based services.
If the answer is Yes, the Team will continue to Question 3.
3. Does the student require specially designed instruction in order to make effective progress in school or does the student require related services in order to access the general curriculum?
If the answer is No, the student is NOT ELIGIBLE for Special Education. However, if a disability is identified which may be impairing access to the general curriculum, the parents shall be provided with information regarding the 504 evaluation process.
If the answer is Yes, the student is eligible for Special Education. Special Education is specially designed instruction that meets the unique needs of the student, or related services that are necessary to access the general curriculum. It is provided by a certified Special Education teacher or related service provider and may consist of adapted curriculum, methodology, instructional strategy and/or performance criteria. Related services are developmental, corrective or supportive in nature, i.e., occupational therapy.
The Eligibility Flow Chart reviews the process the Team must follow in making a determination of eligibility. If a student is found eligible for Special Education, an Individual Education Program or IEP is developed. Within 45 school days of a parent’s permission to evaluate their child, the district will provide an evaluation, convene a Team meeting, determine whether a student requires Special Education and develop an IEP.
End of the Year Evaluations: If consent is received at least 30 school days before the end of the school year, the Team meeting should be scheduled no later than 14 school days after the end of the school year to allow for the provision of a proposed IEP or finding of special needs prior to the beginning of the next school year.
Team members should identify the type of disability from the list below before taking the next step in the eligibility process:
Disability Definitions (According to Massachusetts Regulations)
Autism: A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction. The term shall have the meaning given it in federal law at 34 CFR 300.7. Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.
Communication Impairment: The capacity to use expressive and/or receptive language is significantly limited, impaired, or delayed and is exhibited by difficulties in one or more of the following areas: speech, such as articulation and/or voice; conveying, understanding, or using spoken, written, or symbolic language. The term may include a student with impaired articulation, stuttering, language impairment, or voice impairment if such impairment adversely affects the student’s educational performance.
Developmental Delay: The learning capacity of a young child (3-9 years old) is significantly limited, impaired, or delayed and is exhibited by difficulties in one or more of the following areas: receptive and/or expressive language; cognitive abilities; physical functioning; social, emotional, or adaptive functioning; and/or self-help skills.
Emotional Impairment: A student with an emotional impairment exhibits one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance: an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. The determination of disability shall not be made solely because the student’s behavior violates the school’s discipline code, because the student is involved with a state court or social service agency, or because the student is socially maladjusted, unless the Team determines that the student has a serious emotional disturbance.
Health Impairment: A chronic or acute health problem such that the physiological capacity to function is significantly limited or impaired and results in one or more of the following: limited strength, vitality or alertness including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli resulting in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment. The term shall include health impairments due to asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit with hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, and sickle cell anemia, if such health impairment adversely affects a student’s educational performance.
Intellectual Impairment: The permanent capacity for performing cognitive tasks, functions, or problem solving is significantly limited or impaired and is exhibited by more than one of the following: a slower rate of learning; disorganized patterns of learning; difficulty with adaptive behavior; and/or difficulty understanding abstract concepts. This term includes students with mental retardation.
Neurological Impairment: The capacity of the nervous system is limited or impaired with difficulties exhibited in one or more of the following areas: the use of memory, the control and use of cognitive functioning, sensory and motor skills, speech, language, organizational skills, information processing, affect, social skills, or basic life functions. The term includes students who have received a traumatic brain injury.
Physical Impairment: The physical capacity to move, coordinate actions, or perform physical activities is significantly limited, impaired, or delayed and is exhibited by difficulties in one or more of the following areas: physical and motor tasks; independent movement; performing basic life functions. The term shall include severe orthopedic impairments or impairments caused by congenital anomaly, cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures if such impairment adversely affects a student’s educational performance.
Sensory Impairment: The term includes the following:
- Hearing – The capacity to hear, with amplification, is limited, impaired, or absent and results in one or more of the following: reduced performance in hearing acuity tasks; difficulty with oral communication; and/or difficulty in understanding auditorally-presented information in the education environment. The term includes students who are deaf and students who are hard-of -hearing.
- Vision – The capacity to see, after correction, is limited, impaired, or absent and results in one or more of the following: reduced performance in visual acuity tasks; difficulty with written communication; and/or difficulty with understanding information presented visually in the education environment. The term includes students who are blind and students with limited vision.
- Deaf-Blind – Concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes severe communication and other developmental and educational needs.
Specific Learning Disability
(i) General. The term means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
(ii) Disorders not included. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Legal Reference: 603 CMR 28.02(7) – The term shall include the following: Specific learning disability is defined as follows:
Sec.300.541 Criteria for determining the existence of a specific learning disability: A Team may determine that a child has a specific learning disability if the child does not achieve commensurate with his or her age and ability levels in one or more key areas if provided with learning experiences appropriate for the child’s age and ability levels. If the Team finds that a child has a severe discrepancy between their intellectual ability and achievement in one or more of the following areas, the Team may determine that the child has a specific learning disability.
- Oral expression.
- Listening comprehension.
- Written expression.
- Basic reading skill.
- Reading comprehension.
- Mathematics calculation.
- Mathematics reasoning.
The District has authority to use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation procedures (See NCLB for definition of “scientific, research-based intervention”), Response to Intervention Model (RTI).
Extra steps are required when a specific learning disability is suspected, even if the disability is NOT suspected to be the primary disability (secondary or tertiary).
Federal regulation requires additional steps in the evaluation process if the Team suspects a student of having a specific learning disability. All SLD forms (SLD1-4) must be completed with the date and signatures of attendees at the Team meeting. SLD forms at multicolored and are located in the file cabinet in the special education office.
The District must take the following steps in such cases:
- At least one Team member other than the student’s teacher must complete a classroom observation of the student’s academic achievement and complete the SLD 4 forms.
- Team members must certify in writing whether the written report reflects their conclusion of a finding of a specific learning disability. Any individual who disagrees with the written report must submit a separate statement to express their differing conclusions.
- The Team may not identify a child as having a specific learning disability if the severe discrepancy between ability and achievement is primarily the result of a visual, hearing, or motor impairment:
- Mental Retardation;
- Emotional disturbance; or
- Environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Teams judge whether a student is making effective progress in school.
The Team must make a judgment as to whether the student is making effective progress in the general education program. To do so, the Team must determine whether the student has:
- made documented growth, with or without accommodations, in knowledge and skills acquisition including social/emotional development, the learning standards set forth in the Massachusetts Curriculum, and the curriculum of the District.
- made growth according to the chronological age, the developmental expectations, and the individual educational potential of the child.
When considering if the student has made effective progress, the Team must specifically look at whether the disability is causal to an inability to make progress.