HELPING ALL STUDENTS GET WHAT THEY NEED
Enloe’s Student Services Department works closely with the Special Education Department and other key personnel (such as administrators, our school psychologist and our school nurse) to assist families in understanding what is available to helpstudents with disabilities succeed in school. Ms. Tawanna Styles, department chair for special education, provided this overview.
What’s an IEP? An Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is developed to ensure that elementary- or secondary-school students with disabilities, as identified under the law, receive specialized instruction and related services. An IEP, which falls under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, focuses on how educational services are provided. Students eligible for IEP’s represent a small subset of students with disabilities. They generally require more than a “level playing field”; they require significant remediation and assistance and are more likely to work on their own level at their own pace even in an inclusive classroom. Only certain classifications of disability are eligible for an IEP.
What does a case manager do? Students with IEP’s have case managers. Their responsibility is to ensure that special education services and related services are provided as outlined in the student’s IEP, and they make a good-faith effort to assist the child to achieve the goals listed on the IEP. A case manager is a licensed teacher or related service provider who is a member of the IEP team and responsible to coordinate instruction and related services. The case manager is the primary contact for the parent. A case manager’s responsibilities include but aren’t limited to: assuring compliance with procedural requirements; communicating and coordinating among home, school, regular and special educational programs as well as outside agencies; facilitating placement; training classroom staff; and scheduling team meetings.
What is a 504 Plan? Students who do not meet qualifications for an IEP but still require assistance to be able to participate fully in school could be candidates for a 504 Plan. A 504 Plan ensures that elementary- or secondary-school students who have a disability, as identified under the law, receive accommodations to improve academic success and access to the learning environment. A 504 Plan, which falls under civil-rights law, is an attempt to remove barriers and allow students with disabilities to participate freely. Like the Americans With Disabilities Act, it seeks to level the playing field so that students with a 504 Plan can safely pursue the same opportunities as everyone else.
How do I learn more? Both documents (an IEP and a 504 Plan) are federally mandated and require the school system to implement them and adhere to their provisions. The decision as to which, if either, would best fit with your child’s needs is one that requires research. Parents and students need to take the time to learn about their rights and to fully understand the process of qualifying for an IEP or a 504 Plan. If you are still unsure if the school system is best meeting the needs of your child, seek the services of your child’s counselor, the intervention coordinator or the special education department chair.