Special Education » Annual Notice

Annual Notice

Annual Notice of Special Education Services and
Programs for School Age Children with Disabilities
It is the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Department of Education to insure that all children with disabilities residing in the Commonwealth (including children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disabilities), who are in need of special education or related services, are identified, located, and evaluated. This responsibility is required by federal law. The reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law on Dec. 3, 2004, by President George W. Bush and is known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA). The provisions of the act became effective on July 1, 2005, with the exception of some of the elements pertaining to the definition of a “highly qualified teacher” that took effect upon the signing of the act. The final regulations were published on Aug. 14, 2006 and IDEIA 2004 includes changes and updates to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (IDEA ’97).

Homer-Center School District provides a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to children with disabilities who need special education and related services. Pennsylvania has adopted state laws, which conform to IDEA and which school districts must follow. FAPE is provided to students who need specially designed instruction and have one or more of the following physical or mental disabilities:
  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Deafness
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disability
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment, including blindness
Early Intervention
IDEIA 2004 also requires the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education to children with disabilities between three years of age and the school district’s age of beginners. In Pennsylvania, a child between three years of age and the school district’s age of beginners who has a developmental delay or one or more of the physical or mental disabilities listed above may be identified as an “eligible young child.”
Eligible young children are afforded the rights of school-age children with disabilities, including screening, evaluation, individualized education program planning, and provision of appropriate programs and services. The Pennsylvania Department of Education is responsible for providing programs and services to eligible young children under Act 212 of 1990, The Early Intervention Services System Act. The ARIN Intermediate Unit provides programs and services to eligible young children on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. For more information, contact Patty Kinter at 724-463-5300, ext. 1216.
Homer-Center School District has established and implemented procedures to locate, identify, and evaluate children suspected of having disabilities. These procedures involve screening activities which include but are not limited to: yearly review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, and report cards); hearing screening (In kindergarten, first, second, third, seventh, and eleventh grades and in ungraded sections e.g., life skills support); vision screening (every grade level); motor screening; and, speech and language screening in kindergarten, second grade, and individually as referred.
Except as indicated above or otherwise announced publicly, screening activities take place in an on-going fashion throughout the school year. Screening is conducted in the child’s home school unless other arrangements are necessary.
When screening indicates that a child may be a child with disabilities, Homer-Center School District will seek parental consent to conduct an evaluation. “Evaluation” means procedures used in the determination of whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services that the child needs. The term means procedures used selectively with an individual child and does not mean basic tests administered to or procedures used with all children.
In Pennsylvania, this evaluation is conducted by a group of qualified professionals and the parent. The group of qualified professionals shall include a certified school psychologist when evaluating a child for autism, emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, other health impairments, specific learning disability, or traumatic brain injury. The evaluation process must be completed no later than 60 school days after the district receives written parental consent and must include protection-in-evaluation procedures. For example, tests and procedures used as part of the multidisciplinary evaluation process may not be racially or culturally biased. Upon completion of the administration of tests and other evaluation materials, a group of qualified professionals, the multidisciplinary team, and the parent of the child will determine whether the child is a child with a disability and what the educational needs are of the child. Information obtained from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent input, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior will be documented and considered carefully. If a determination is made that a child has a disability and needs special education and related services, an individualized education program (IEP) must be developed for the child.
Identification Activities
Parents who think their child has a disability may request, at any time, that the school district conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. This request should be made in writing to Mrs. Bethany Genchur, Director of Special Education. If a parent makes an oral request for a multidisciplinary evaluation, the school district shall provide the parent with a permission to evaluate (PTE) form for that purpose.

Parents also have the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation if they disagree with the school district’s evaluation. Homer-Center School District will provide to parents on request, information about where an independent educational evaluation may be obtained.
Educational Placement
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) describes the child’s present levels of educational performance, including how the child’s disability affects involvement and progress in the general curriculum; a statement of measurable annual goals including benchmarks or short-term objectives, to enable the child to be involved and progress in the general curriculum; a statement of special education related services and supplementary services to be provided to the child; an explanation of the extent to which the child will not participate with non-disabled children in the regular class; any modifications in the administration of assessments; the projected date for beginning services and modification; and how progress toward annual goals will be measured. For each child with a disability beginning at age fourteen, a statement of transition service needs will be included. For each child beginning at age sixteen, a statement of need for transition services for the student, including as appropriate, a statement of inter-agency responsibilities or needed linkages.
In determining student placement, consideration will be given to ensure that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with their non-disabled peers.
Each school district protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information regarding children with disabilities, children thought to be disabled, protected handicapped students (if not protected by IDEA ’97 or Pennsylvania’s Special Education Regulations) and children who are gifted in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and other applicable federal and state laws, policies, and regulations.
“Education records” means those records that are directly related to the student, including on computer, through media, and on videotape, which are maintained by an educational agency or a party acting for the agency. “Educational Agency,” for purposes of this notice means the local school district, and/or the ARIN Intermediate Unit. For all students, the educational agency maintains education records which include but are not limited to:

. Personally Identifiable Information – Confidential information that includes, but is not limited to the student’s name, name of parents and other family members, the address of the student or student’s family, and personal information or personal characteristics which would make the student’s identity easily traceable.

. Directory Information – Information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy, if disclosed. It includes, but is not limited to, the student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially- recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most previous educational agency or institution attended.

. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords parents and students over 18 years of age, certain rights with respect to the students education records. They are:

. Parents have the right to inspect and review a child’s education record. The school district will comply with the request to inspect and review education records without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an IEP or due process hearing, but in no case more than 45 days after the request has been made. Requests should be submitted in writing (indicating the records the parents wish to inspect) to the school principal or other appropriate school official. Parents have the right to a response from the school district to a reasonable request for explanations and interpretations of the records. Parents have the right to request copies of the records. While the district cannot charge a fee to search for or to retrieve information, it may charge a copying fee as long as it does not effectively prevent the parents from exercising their right to inspect and review the records. Parents have the right to appoint a representative to inspect and review their child’s records. If any education record contains information on more than one child, parents have the right only to inspect and review the information relating to their child.

If parents think information in an education record is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the privacy or other rights of their child, they may request amendment of the record. Requests should be made in writing and clearly identify the part of the record they want to have changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. The school district will decide whether or not to amend the record and will notify the parents in writing of its decision. If the school district refuses to amend a record, it will notify the parents of their right to a hearing to challenge the disputed information. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the parents or student (if 18 or older) when notified of the right to a hearing.

The school district will inform parents when personally identifiable information is no longer needed to provide educational services to a child. Such information must be destroyed at the request of the parents. Parents have a right to receive a copy of the material to be destroyed. However, a permanent record of the student’s name, address, and telephone number, his or her grades, attendance record, classes attended, grade level completed, and year completed may be maintained without time limitation. “Destruction” of records means physical destruction or removal of personal identifiers from information, so that the information is no longer personally identifiable. The school district will provide, upon request, a listing of the types and locations of education records maintained, the school officials responsible for these records, and the school personnel authorized to see personally identifiable information. Such personnel receive training and instruction regarding confidentiality. The school district keeps a record of parties obtaining access to education records, including the name of the party, the date access was given, and the purpose for which the party is authorized to use the records.

Parents have the right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. “Consent” means: the parent(s) have been fully informed regarding the activity requiring consent, in their native language or other mode of communication; they understand and agree in writing to the activities; and, they understand that the consent is voluntary and may be revoked at any time. Information may be disclosed without consent to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the district as an administrator, supervisor, instructor, or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); person or company with whom the district has contracted to perform a special task (such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant, or therapist); or, a parent or student serving on an official committee; such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Directory information may be released without parental consent. Parents have the right to refuse to let an agency designate any or all of the above information as directory information.
Upon request, the district discloses educational records to officials of another school district, in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

Parent(s) have a right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the district to comply with the requirements of FERPA. Complaints may be filed with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202-4605.