What is the Child Finding Process in Arizona?
What is Arizona’s child-finding process?
The child-finding process is outlined in federal law, specifically the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA).
This federal statute requires states, such as Arizona, that any public education agency within it must locate, identify, and evaluate students who may have a disability, specifically with the child-finding process. It covers any child from birth up to the age of 21.
Early Intervention Services
Most of the time, the child-finding process helps students or children with early intervention services. Because, again, it starts at birth.
So, if a parent or maybe a healthcare provider has alerted the parent or guardian of a potential disability with a child, they can file for an evaluation.
Education Services are Required to Provide Services or Conduct Evaluation
And, as I said, public education agencies within our state would be required to evaluate or provide services to the child. And again, this may be an early intervention.
It usually is, in practice, what we see a lot. However, it can go all the way up to age 21. And when I’m talking about disabilities, a healthcare provider can diagnose them. Still, if there are any concerns with speaking, vision, hearing, motor control, or behavior, disability is broadly defined within the Individuals with Disability Education Act.
Child Finding Process
Again, the child-finding process means that all public education agencies must locate, identify, and evaluate students with potential disabilities. And the process then takes over with a 504 plan or an IEP, where the school provides services to that child.
Is a Medical Diagnosis Required for an Arizona 504 Plan?
Is a medical diagnosis required for a child to receive a 504 plan in Arizona?
The answer is no, not necessarily.
A 504 plan can be initiated mainly by a parent or guardian, or teacher if they feel like this student may have a disability that affects their ability to learn. The 504 plan will give them accommodations within the general education setting. You can check out my other blogs, where I discuss what exactly is a 504 plan, the parts of it, and all that information.
Is Medical Diagnosis Needed?
But again, we’re talking about: do you need a medical diagnosis for a student to receive a 504 plan? And the answer is no, not necessarily. However, an evaluation is a requirement.
Now, a teacher or a different type of therapist inside the school setting can do the evaluation. They can look at the student’s grades and teachers’ and parents’ observations—those can give a clear picture of the student’s ability and assess their eligibility. Sometimes a medical diagnosis is crucial to understanding the student’s needs clearly, but it’s not that necessary.
504 plans are easier and faster to receive for a student than an IEP. And again, because a 504 plan is just addressing accommodation for the student, a medical diagnosis is unnecessary.
Something that also comes up is who would pay for those evaluations. And the answer is the school district will provide that for you.
Independent Education Evaluation
If you disagree with those, you may ask for an independent education evaluation, where a party not employed by the school district may come in and do an assessment of their own. Again, all of this is an evaluation-based standard. Hence, medical diagnosis is not mandatory.
Also, with a 504 plan, you can have any medical condition or disability just if it impairs the student’s ability to learn, so they need accommodations. An IEP, however, is different. It does require an actual diagnosis within a particular category of disability for the students. Again, to reiterate, a medical diagnosis is not mandatory for students to receive a 504 plan.
How Do I Get an IEP For My Child in Arizona?
As a parent or guardian, you can request an IEP evaluation for your child if you think they might need special education services. You can make this request to the school district in which your child attends school. The school district must evaluate whether your child is eligible for special education services.
If the school district determines that your child is eligible for special education services, they will develop an IEP for your child. The IEP is a document that outlines the special education services that your child will receive.
When is a Parent Entitled to an Individual Educational Evaluation in Arizona?
As a parent, you have the right to request an Individual Educational Evaluation for your child if you disagree with the school’s evaluation of your child. However, you need to know that the public school is only obliged to pay for one IEE per disability per student.
You also have the right to choose the professional conducting the IEE. However, this professional must not be working in the public school that your child attends. Once the IEE is complete, the professional will share the results with the IEP team, who will use it to make decisions about your child’s education.
What is a 504 Plan in Arizona?
In general, a 504 plan refers to a document created for students with disabilities to ensure they have access to an equal education opportunities like their counterparts. A team of professionals who understand the student’s specific disability and how it affects their learning usually develops the plan.
The same case applies to Arizona. Here, the school develops a 504 Plan for a student with a disability that limits their ability to participate in or benefit from educational programs.
According to the US Department of Education, one must design a 504 plan in consideration of the following factors:
1. Student’s Needs
They should consider the student’s needs for the 504 Plan. The plan should, therefore, be comprehensive enough to address all the areas where the student is struggling. The plan should not include anything that does not address the student’s needs.
2. Evaluation Data
When developing a 504 Plan, the team should use all the available data to ensure that it captures all the areas where the student is struggling. It might include information from previous teachers, parents, and other students. The ultimate objective is to ensure that the plan is as comprehensive as possible.
3. Least Restrictive Environment
When developing a 504 Plan, the team should always remember that the objective is to ensure that the student remains in the least restrictive environment. It means the plan should not be too restrictive to prevent students from accessing educational opportunities. The ultimate objective is to enable the student to learn alongside their counterparts.
4. Parent and Student Involvement
When developing a 504 Plan, it’s crucial to ensure that both the parent and student are involved in the process. It is because they’re the ones who understand the student’s needs better. Besides involving them in the development process, it’s also vital to ensure they know the plan and how it’s supposed to help the student.
How Do I Get a 504 Plan in Arizona?
Arizona’s process of getting a 504 Plan usually starts when the student’s parent or guardian contacts the school district to request an evaluation. The school district then has 45 days to conduct the evaluation and develop a report.
Once the school district completes the evaluation, they must convene a meeting within 30 days to discuss the report’s findings.
The meeting should involve the student’s parent or guardian, a school representative, and others who understand the student’s needs. The purpose of the assembly is to develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the student. The IEP should address the student’s specific needs and identify the services they’ll be receiving.
If the team decides that the student needs a 504 Plan, they must develop one within 60 days. The plan should be reviewed annually to ensure it’s relevant and address the student’s needs. However, the student can also request a review at any time if they feel that their needs have changed. It enables the student to get the necessary support throughout their education.
What Should Be Included in a 504 Plan?
People should design the 504 Plan to address the student’s specific needs. It should, therefore, be as comprehensive as possible.
Some of the things that they might include in the plan are:
- A description of the student’s disability
- A description of the student’s current educational status
- The student’s academic goals
- The accommodations that the school will put in place to help the student achieve their goals
- The resources that the school will use to support the student
- The people who will be responsible for implementing the plan
- The timeline for implementing the plan
- The evaluation process that the school will use to determine whether the program is working
What Services Are Available Under a 504 Plan in Arizona?
The services available under a 504 Plan in Arizona vary from student to student. The plan is supposed to be designed specifically for the student’s needs.
However, schools must include some essential services in every 504 Plan. These include:
- Counseling Services
- Assistive Technology
- Educational Testing
- Modifications to the Curriculum
- Community-based services
Is A Medical Diagnosis Required for An Arizona 504 Plan?
Over the years, people have debated the issue of whether schools require a medical diagnosis from the student for an Arizona 504 plan. However, the law is clear on this matter. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a student is only eligible for a 504 plan if they have a disability that limits their ability to participate in school activities. So, while a medical diagnosis isn’t required, it can help determine whether a student is eligible for a 504 plan.
What is the Role of an Arizona Educational Attorney in the 504 Plan?
If you’re interested in enrolling your child in a 504 Plan in Arizona, it’s advisable to seek the help of an experienced educational attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the process and ensure your child gets the support they need.
An attorney can also help you if your child isn’t getting the necessary support under their current 504 Plan. In such a case, the attorney can help you request a review of the plan to determine whether it’s still relevant and address the student’s needs.
At Chelle Law, we have a team of experienced educational attorneys who can help you with all aspects of the 504 Plan process. We’ve assisted many families in Arizona with enrolling their children in 504 Plans, and we can help you too.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
What is Proper Restraint and Seclusion of Arizona Students?
The proper restraint and seclusion of students with disabilities is a hot-button issue in Arizona.
The state legislature has passed a law requiring all public schools to have a policy regarding the proper use of restraints and seclusions. This policy must be reviewed and updated every year.
The law defines restraints as any manual or physical technique that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move their body or head freely. It includes, but is not limited to, holding a student in a seated position or against a wall. Seclusion, on the other hand, is the involuntary isolation of a student in a room or space from which they cannot exist.
There are a few circumstances where the school can use restraints and seclusions on students with disabilities:
First, the school can use it if the student poses an imminent threat of severe bodily injury to themselves or others.
Second, the school can use it if the student’s behavior is significantly disruptive and other de-escalation techniques have failed. Also, they can use restraint and seclusion if the student is engaging in self-injurious behavior and if restraint is necessary to prevent them from harming themselves.
Arizona Child Legal Services from our Attorneys
The most important federal laws for special education are the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
These federal laws require schools to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities. I have assisted parents through IEP meetings, IEP goal development, and IED due process.
I encourage all parents to become involved in their child’s education by attending IEP meetings or a Section 504 meeting if your school provides one.
I provide special education representation and legal advice for children with disabilities from preschool through high school.
I have worked with families who have children with the following:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
- Intellectual disabilities,
- Learning disabilities such as dyslexia or math disabilities,
- Speech and language disorders,
- Emotional disturbance or mental illness,
- Hearing loss, blindness/visual impairments, deafness/hard of hearing,
- Other health impairments, including epilepsy and traumatic brain injury (TBI),
- Gifted students, and
- The full range of developmental disabilities.
Identifying students who may need extra services is a critical duty of any school.
This process, called “child find” in schools, has been designed to keep teachers and staff on the lookout for children that could benefit from additional support.
If they suspect one such student exists, then an IEP team should meet – consisting of only limited members (including parents) because privacy concerns arise when discussing individual progress within class discussions or performance reviews.
It highlights how important it can be to identify struggling learners early enough not to impact their ability later in life. Several people from different offices at a school make up IEP Teams.
A team could include the following:
- Special education or general education teachers,
- A parent or guardian,
- Sometimes a representative from another agency (such as related services personnel working directly with students outside the regular classroom environment. For example, physical or occupational therapists), or
- Someone from student support services who provide assistive technology for students or a member of the school administration
Child Attorney Advocates
IEP teams are responsible for making educational recommendations about the appropriate program that best suits each student. To do this, they need input from administrators such as principals or teachers who know what works well in their classroom so it can be used appropriately across other schools too!
I’m not sure how much advice you want me to give. Still, these people deserve more than just being “consulted” when deciding something important—they need full participation, including voting rights (unless there’s some compelling reason why those aren’t available). And since nearly every state now allows remote participation via video conference callings.
Schools must evaluate students who they believe may need support. The evaluation process should decide whether or not the child meets legal requirements for “a person with disabilities” under IDEA and Section 504.
Still, these definitions differ slightly in their interpretation of what makes up this category. So there is an initial determination that needs to be made based on evidence provided during assessment hearings, which can later lead to recommendations about how best to serve each individual’s needs best accordingly!
The right to request an evaluation of their child exists in every parent. It’s because the team gets to develop IEPs by collaborating with students and parents.
The team can start a session by discussing special education needs or disabilities which may exist with any student’s intellectual functioning skills—including those who have not been diagnosed yet but could do so at some point down the future road(s).
A good way for families looking into these options is to start talking things over informally among themselves before bringing anything formalized back home from school, etc. since there might already be.
Each IEP must contain the following:
- A statement that the school will provide all students with disabilities with appropriate special education
- A statement that parents who were denied and disagreed with the IEP offer will receive prior written notice.
- Description of present levels of educational performance
- Annual goals, including short-term objectives related to achieving those goals (and how the school will measure progress toward them)
Schools must serve students by providing a Free Appropriate Public Education or FAPE. It means that the school must have a plan in place designed for each student.
The plan for students who qualify under IDEA is called an Individualized Education Plan or IEP. For students who qualify under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the plan is called a 504 plan.
Schools cannot place students in special education or 504 programs only because parents complain or request one.
Contact Special Education Lawyers
The attorneys with Chelle Law can assist with all Special Education needs in Arizona.
Arizona Student Questions?
IEPs, School Discipline, Hearings and more!