Policy Details Page

Independent Educational Programs (IEP)

IEP Development
The IEP is the written plan stating the implementation of services for special education students based on the evaluation and student needs to ensure a free and appropriate public education.

An IEP must be in effect before initiation of special education services. The IEP must be developed within 30 calendar days after the student’s initial determination of eligibility for special services. IEPs must be updated annually, or revised more frequently if needed to adjust the program and services.

Guardian consent is required before the initial provision of special education services. If a guardian refuses to consent to the provision of special education services, the District may not use mediation or due process to override a guardian’s refusal. When a guardian refuses to provide consent a District special education representative will notify the guardian that the District does not have a FAPE obligation to the student. The notification will be documented in the student’s file.

The District will maintain a copy of the current IEP which is accessible to all staff members responsible for providing education, other services or implementation of the IEP. All staff members will be informed of their responsibilities for its implementation. This includes not only teachers and other service providers, but also bus drivers, playground and lunchroom supervisors, nursing staff and others who may be responsible for the proper implementation. The building principal is responsible for ensuring that staff members are knowledgeable about their responsibilities.

IEPs will be implemented without undue delay following IEP meetings, regardless of the payment source for special education and or related services.

Guardians are members of the IEP team and shall have the opportunity to fully participate. The District will make sure that the guardians understand the proceedings; including arranging for an interpreter for guardians who are deaf or whose native language is other than English. The District will also ensure that meeting locations are accessible. IEP team case managers are responsible for coordinating interpreters and making arrangements for the meeting location.

The District will provide guardians with a copy of the district’s Isolation and Restraint policy (Policy 2163) when the student’s IEP is created.

The IEP team includes:

  1. The guardians of the student;
  2. Not less than one general education teacher (or preschool teacher) of the student if the student is, or will be, participating in the general education environment.  The general education teacher will, to the extent appropriate, participate in development of the student’s IEP, including determines of: 1) appropriate positive behavioral interventions and supports for the student; and 2) supplementary aids and services, program modifications, and support for school personnel consistent with WAC 392-172A-01185 and WAC 392-172A-03110(2)(b);
  3. Not less than one special education teacher, or if appropriate, not less than one special education provider of the student;
  4. A representative of the district, who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of Special Education and related services, is knowledgeable about general education curriculum, and is knowledgeable about the availability of District resources;
  5. An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of the evaluation results;
  6. Any other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise about the student. These individuals may be invited by both the District and the guardians, at the discretion of the person making the invitation;
  7. The student, when appropriate, or when required;
  8. Students must be invited when the purpose of the meeting includes discussion of transition needs or services;
  9. If another agency is or may be responsible for payment or provision of transition services, an agency representative will be invited, with the guardian’s consent. If the agency representative cannot  attend the meeting, District personnel shall keep the representative informed of the meeting and obtain agency information that will assist in the service provision; and
  10. Guardians will be notified of the participation of the Part C service coordinator or other designated representatives of the Part C system as specified by the state lead educational agency for Part C at the initial IEP meeting for a child previously served under Part C of IDEA.

The guardian and District must agree in writing before any of the above team members are excused from all or part of a meeting. If a team member’s area of the IEP is being discussed or modified, then the guardian and District must consent to their excusal; and that specific team member must provide advance written input for their part of the IEP prior to the meeting.  The IEP case manager receives notification of the intended absence, a service provider notifies the guardian, and signed consent is obtained.

Existing team members may fill more than one of these roles if they meet the criteria for the role.

Sometimes guardians do not attend IEP meetings. There will also be times the guardians do not agree with the IEP as proposed, and despite attempts to reach agreement on IEP content, the team does not reach agreement. If a guardian attends the IEP meeting and agreement is not reached on the IEP, the team shall determine whether another IEP meeting should be scheduled as soon as mutually possible, or whether there is enough information to complete the IEP. When the decision is made that the IEP will be implemented the District must send prior written notice of the decisions reached to the guardian, including the date the IEP will be implemented.

When the guardians do not attend the IEP meeting, despite the district’s efforts to ensure participation, or if the team does not reach agreement, it is the district’s obligation to offer an appropriate educational program:

  1. Have IEP members present sign the IEP (or document participation if any member is unwilling to sign);
  2. Send a copy to the guardian, and provide the guardian prior written notice that the District intends to implement the IEP; and
  3. Documentation of actual or attempted contacts are included within the IEP.

When making changes to an IEP after the annual IEP meeting for a school year, the guardian and the District may agree not to convene an IEP meeting for the purpose of making changes. The guardian and the District must complete and sign a written document indicating the changes and inform IEP team members and appropriate individuals of the changes. The IEP case manager is responsible for IEP amendments. Requests to revise the IEP will be reviewed and considered by the IEP team.

IEP Preparation and Content
IEP teams will consider the recommendations in the most recent evaluation to develop the IEP. In developing the IEP, the team should consider:

  1. The strengths of the student including the academic, developmental and functional needs of the student and the concerns of the guardians for enhancing the education of their child;
  2. Whether positive behavioral interventions and supports, including a behavioral intervention plan, as defined by WAC 392-172A-01031,  are needed to address the student’s behavior;
  3. The language needs of the student as those needs relate to the student’s IEP, for a student with limited English proficiency;
  4. Whether Braille instruction is appropriate for a student who is blind or visually impaired;
  5. The communication needs of the student (and in the case of a student who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the student’s language and communication needs), opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the student’s language and communication mode; academic level; and full range of needs, including opportunity for direct instruction in the student’s language and communication mode; and
  6. Whether assistive technology devices or services are needed.

IEP content includes:

  1. The student’s present levels of academic and functional performance with a description of how the disability(ies) affect the student’s involvement and progress in the general curriculum or preschool activities;
  2. Measurable academic and functional annual goals for the student (including benchmarks or short term objectives if the student is participating in alternate assessments) that will meet the student’s needs resulting from the disability(ies) to enable involvement and progress in the general curriculum or in preschool activities, and will meet the student’s other educational needs;
  3. A statement of special education services, any necessary related services, and supplementary aids and services based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable to be provided to the student and program modifications or supports for personnel so that the student may advance towards annual goals, progress in the general curriculum and be educated and participate with other special education students and non-disabled students and participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities;
  4. A statement of the extent, if any, that the student will not participate with non-disabled students in general education classroom, extra-curricular and non-academic activities;
  5. A statement of any individual appropriate accommodations in the administration of state or district-wide assessments of student achievement that are needed to measure academic achievement and functional performance of the child on state assessments. If the team determines that the student will not participate in a particular assessment, the IEP will address why the student cannot participate in the regular assessment(s) and why the particular alternate assessment is appropriate for the child, and document (a) that the guardians were informed that their student’s academic achievement will be measured on alternate standards, and (b) how participation in an alternate assessment may impact or prohibit the student from completing the requirements for a regular high school diploma;
  6. The date for the beginning of services and the anticipated frequency, location and duration of services and modifications;
  7. A statement of how the student’s progress toward goals will be measured, how the student’s guardians will be regularly informed of their child’s progress towards the annual goals and whether the progress is sufficient to enable the student to achieve the goal by the end of the year. Measurement of the student’s progress will be based on data collected as designated on the IEP. The individual responsible for implementing the goal is responsible for maintaining the data used to measure progress. Information to the guardians can be provided at the same time the District issues progress reports or report cards or other agreed times as identified in the IEP.
  8. The beginning date of services;
  9. With an IEP that is in effect when the child turns 16, or sooner if the IEP team determines it is appropriate, a statement of needed transition services and any interagency responsibilities or needed linkages. The transition component must include appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based on age-appropriate transition and assessments related to training, education, employment and independent living skills where appropriate; the transition services (including course of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals; and a description of how the postsecondary goals and transition services align with the high school and beyond plan (HSBP);
  10. Emergency Response Protocols, if applicable. If the guardian and the school District determine that a student requires advanced educational planning, the guardian and the District may develop emergency response protocols to be used in the case of emergencies that pose an imminent likelihood of serious harm. Emergency response protocols, if developed, must be incorporated into a student’s IEP. Emergency response protocols shall not be used as a substitute for the systematic use of a behavioral intervention plan that is designed to change, replace, modify, or eliminate a targeted behavior. Emergency response protocols are subject to the conditions and limitations as follows:

a)       The student’s guardian provides consent, in advance, to the emergency response protocols to be adopted;

b)      The emergency response protocols specify:

i. The emergency conditions under which isolation or restraint may be used;

ii. The type of isolation or restraint that may be used;

iii. The staff members or contracted positions permitted to use isolation or restraint with the student, updated annually, and identify any required training associated with the use of isolation or restraint for each staff member or contracted position;

iv. Any other special precautions that must be taken.

c)       Any use of isolation or restraint must be discontinued as soon as the likelihood of serious harm has dissipated.

d)      Any staff member or other adults using isolation or restraint must be trained and certified by a qualified provider in the use of isolation or restraint, regardless of whether the use of isolation or restraint is included in the student’s emergency response protocol

   11. The procedures by which guardians/guardians will be notified in the use of isolation or restraint or a restraint device on their            student.

    12. A statement regarding transfer of rights at the age of majority. The special education case manager will provide prior written            notice to the student one year prior to student turning 18 years of age; and

   13. Extended school year (ESY) services. The consideration for ESY services is a team decision, based on information                         provided in the evaluation report and based on the individual needs of a student. ESY services are not limited by categories           of disability or limited by type amount or duration of the services. If the need for ESY services is not addressed in the IEP               and ESY services may be appropriate for the student, the IEP team will meet by April 15 to address the need for ESY.

Factors for the team to consider when determining the need for ESY may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Evidence of regression or recoupment time based on documented evidence; or
  2. A documented determination based on the professional judgment of the IEP team including consideration of the nature and severity of the student’s disability, the rate of progress and emerging skills.

Transfer Students

Students who transfer from one District to another within the state continue to be eligible for special education and any necessary related services. When an eligible student transfers into the district, the building principal will notify the special education department. Building special education staff in consultation with guardians will review the student’s IEP to ensure the District provides services comparable to those in the previous IEP until the District adopts the previous IEP or develops, adopts and implements a new IEP.

When a student who was identified as eligible for special education transfers from out of state into the District the employee responsible for enrollment at the building will notify the special education department as soon as possible.  The building special education staff will review the evaluation, eligibility documentation and IEP to determine whether or not the student meets state eligibility criteria. If the student meets the state eligibility criteria, the District will follow the procedures described in the previous paragraph to provide comparable services until the District develops an IEP for the student. If the student needs to be evaluated to determine eligibility in this state, the Student Review Team leader/designee will notify the guardians, obtain consent and evaluate the student for eligibility within 35 school days of the receipt of the guardian’s consent. The district, in consultation with the guardians, will continue to provide special education services comparable to the services on the student’s IEP, pending the results of the evaluation.

The District must take reasonable steps to promptly obtain records, including IEP supporting documents and any other records related to special education or related services from the previous school.  The psychologist assigned to the building where the student is enrolling is responsible for obtaining records and ensuring follow-up if the records are not provided.

No student may receive special education and related services without being determined eligible for services, and thus the evaluation process and IEP development precedes the determination of the special education placement. When a student has been evaluated and the evaluation team and guardian have determined student eligibility and the need for special education and related services, programming decisions must occur. These decisions are made on the basis of information generated through the evaluation and IEP processes The actual program is considered within the context of least restrictive environment (LRE) and the continuum of placement alternatives (reviewed below). When determining initial eligibility for special education, including the determination of the appropriate placement, the guardian or adult student must provide written consent for services before the student receives special education services. If the guardians do not consent to the provision of special education and related services, the District will not provide special education services to the student. The District will notify the guardians that the student is eligible for services and that the District is willing to provide the services when the guardian provides written consent. The notification will also inform guardians that the District has no FAPE obligation to the student when guardians refuse to provide consent.

When program decisions are addressed by the IEP team, proper consideration must be given to the LRE. Within the educational setting, the student should be placed, whenever possible:

  1. In the school the disabled student would normally attend; and,
  2. with non-disabled students in the general educational setting to the maximum extent possible.

Special classes, separate schools or removal of students with disabilities from the general education environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in the general education classroom with use of supplementary aids and services cannot be satisfactorily achieved.

If the IEP team believes that the student will not be successful within the general education classroom, the team will consider:

1.       The educational benefits of full-time placement in a regular classroom;

2.       The non-academic benefits of such a placement;

3.       The effect the student will have on the teacher and other students in the regular classroom; and

4.       The costs of placing the student in the regular classroom.

The degree to which the student is to be integrated into the general classroom setting is dependent upon the identified needs of the student. This placement is to occur unless the nature of the needs are so severe that this cannot be satisfactorily achieved, even with supplementary aids and services. If the placement is in another building, the appropriate educational placement will be as close to the student's home as reasonably possible.

Within the nonacademic setting, students will be provided nonacademic and extracurricular activities with non-disabled students. These nonacademic settings include athletics, transportation, health services, recreational activities, and clubs. Limits on nonparticipation or conditions of participation must be designated in the IEP.

The District will also make opportunities available for students eligible for special education to participate with non-disabled students in the district’s art, music, industrial arts, computer, consumer classes, home economics classes, vocational education, and career technical education classes.

The District offers a continuum of service options. These options are intended to address the individual needs of students and they are considered according to the following process.

The placement of each student with a disability will be determined annually, or sooner if appropriate, by the IEP team.

The appropriateness of placement options will be based upon various decisions including:

1.       Data-based judgments in IEP development;

2.       Judgments (data-based) in determining LRE;

3.       The reasonable probability of the placement option(s) assisting the student to attain annual goals and objectives and the                 quality of services needed; and

4.       The consideration of potentially harmful effects upon the student or on the quality of services needed.

Placement options along the continuum must include alternative placement options identified in the definition of special education and make provisions for supplementary services such as resource room or itinerant instruction to be provided in concert with the general education placement.

Students Unilaterally Enrolled in Private Schools by Guardians
By November 1st, the District shall conduct an annual count of the number of private elementary and secondary school students eligible for special education who are unilaterally enrolled by their guardians in a private school located within District boundaries. The student services administration shall have timely and meaningful consultation with appropriate representatives of private schools and representatives of guardians of private school students and make determinations about who will receive services and what services will be provided. The purpose of the child count is to determine the proportionate amount that the District must spend on providing special education and related services, including transportation, to private elementary or secondary school students in the next fiscal year.

The District is required to spend a proportionate amount of federal special education Part B and Section 619 funds to provide special education and related services to private elementary and secondary school students. In order to determine which students will receive services, what services will be provided, how and where the services will be provided, and how services provided will be evaluated, the District shall consult with appropriate representatives and guardians of private school students. The District shall make the final decision with respect to services to be provided to eligible private school students. The Student Services Assistant Director, or designee will notify each approved private school or preschool operating in the District seeking recommendations of persons to serve as representatives of special education private school students in consultations with the district. An initial meeting will be called by the District to establish a work plan and schedule with the private school representatives to discuss how to identify students, which students will receive services, what services will be provided, how and where services will be provided and how services will be evaluated.

The IEP team at the child’s neighborhood school or a mutually agreed upon alternate school location, in conjunction with student services administration, shall develop the service plan for the child. A  private school student has no individual entitlement to any service or amount of service (s) he would have received if enrolled in a public school to receive FAPE. However, for each private school student receiving special education or related services, the District shall initiate and conduct meetings to develop, review and revise a services plan describing the special education and related services that the District will provide. The services plan must: (1) meet IEP content requirements as appropriate; and (2) be developed, reviewed, implemented and revised annually consistent with the requirements for IEP review. The District shall make every effort to include a representative from the private school at each meeting. If the private school representative is not able to attend, the District shall use other methods, including individual or conference telephone calls, to assure the representative’s participation.

Private school students may receive a different amount of services than students in public schools who receive special education. However, the services provided to special education private school students will be provided by personnel meeting the same standards as personnel providing the services in the district.

Services to students in private schools including private sectarian schools may be provided on-site. District personnel may be made available to private schools only to the extent necessary to provide the services required if those services are not normally provided by the private school. Services shall not include payment of nonsectarian private school teachers’ or other employees’ salaries, except for services performed outside regular private school hours and under public supervision and control.

Equipment and/or supplies may be placed on private school premises for the period of time necessary for the services plan program, but the District shall retain and exercise title and administrative control of the equipment/supplies. The District shall keep records and make an accounting assuring that said equipment/supplies are used solely for the services plan program. Said equipment/supplies shall be removed if necessary to avoid its/their use for other purposes or if no longer needed for the services plan program. No District funds shall be used for repairs, minor remodeling or construction of private school facilities.

The District shall provide services to students in private schools in a manner that: (1) maintains physical and administrative separation between the private and public school programs; and (2) does not benefit the private school at public expense.

Procedural Safeguards
The procedural safeguard notice used by the District includes a full explanation of all the procedural safeguards relating to independent educational evaluation, prior written notice, guardian consent, access to educational records, discipline procedures for students who are subject to placement in an interim alternative educational setting, requirements for unilateral placement by guardians of children in private schools at public expense, state complaint procedures, mediation, the child’s placement during pendency of due process proceedings including requirements for disclosure of evidence, due process hearings, civil actions and attorney’s fees. Copies of the district’s special education procedural safeguards are available at each building, online, and in the central office.

The District will obtain informed, written guardian consent before:

  1. Conducting an initial evaluation;
  2. Providing initial special education and related services to a student; and
  3. Conducting a reevaluation if the reevaluation includes administration of additional assessments. 

Guardian consent is not required to review existing data as part of an evaluation or revaluation, or to administer a test or other evaluation that is administered to all students, unless consent is required of all students’ guardians.

Informed consent means that the guardian or adult student:

  1. Has been fully informed of all information that is relevant to the activity for which the District is asking consent, and that the information is provided in his or her native language or other mode of communication;
  2. Understands and agrees in writing to the activity for which consent is sought and the consent describes the activity and lists any records which will be released and to whom; and
  3. Understands that the granting of consent is voluntary and may be revoked at any time. If consent is revoked, the revocation does not negate an action that has occurred after the consent was given and before the consent was revoked.
  4. The District may not use a guardian’s refusal to consent to one service or activity to deny the guardian or child any other service, benefit or activity of the district.
  5. If the District is unable to obtain a guardian’s consent, the District may use mediation procedures to obtain a guardian’s consent or request a due process hearing asking the administrative law judge to override the guardian’s refusal to consent to an evaluation or reevaluation. The District may not request a due process hearing to override a guardian’s refusal to consent to initial special education services. The District may not use mediation or due process procedures to override a guardian’s refusal to consent to an evaluation or reevaluation if the student is homeschooled or enrolled in a private school.

Revocation of Consent
Guardians may revoke consent for the continued receipt of special education and related services. If guardians revoke consent, the staff member receiving the revocation will forward the revocation to the Student Services Administration.

Upon receipt of the guardian’s written notice of revocation, the school psychologist will provide prior written notice for a reasonable time before the District stops providing services. The notice will include information about the effect of revocation and will inform the guardian of the date the District will stop providing special education and related services.

Discontinuation of special education and related services in response to the guardian’s written revocation will not be in violation of FAPE and eliminates the district’s requirement to convene an IEP meeting or develop an IEP. However, the District does have a continuing Child Find duty, and staff will follow referral procedures if they believe the student should be referred for special education. In addition, guardians may request that the District conduct an initial evaluation for eligibility for special education services after they have revoked consent for continued services.

Prior Written Notice
Prior written notices are provided to guardians when a District makes a decision relating to a student’s identification, evaluation, placement or provision of FAPE. Prior written notices document the decisions made by the IEP teams and evaluation group.

The District will provide prior written notice to the guardian whenever the District proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, educational placement or provision of FAPE to the student.

The prior written notice will include:

  1. A statement that the guardians of a special education student have procedural safeguard protections and if a copy of the procedural safeguards do not accompany the notice, a statement that describes how a copy of the statement of procedural safeguards may be obtained;
  2. A description of the action proposed or refused by the district;
  3. An explanation of why the District proposes or refuses to take the action and a description of other options that the District considered and the reasons why the options were rejected;
  4. A description of any other factors which are relevant to the district’s proposal or refusal;
  5. A description of each evaluation procedure, test, record or report the District used as a basis for the proposal or refusal; and 
  6. A description of any evaluation procedures the District proposes to conduct and sources for guardians to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the procedural safeguards provision of this chapter.

Prior written notice and the notice of procedural safeguards must be provided in the native language of the guardian or other mode of communication used by the guardian unless it is clearly not feasible to do so. If the native language or other mode of communication of the guardian is not a written language, the District will take steps to ensure that the notice is translated orally or by other means to the guardian.

This may involve:

  1. Arranging for an interpreter if English is not the native language of the guardian or if the guardian has a hearing impairment; or
  2. Providing notice orally if the written language is not a native language.

The District will document in writing how this information was provided and that the guardian understands the content of the notice.  The evaluation case manager is responsible for sending prior written notices after evaluation and eligibility.  The IEP case manager is responsible for sending prior written notices after IEP team and placement decisions.

Transfer of Educational Rights to an Adult Student

When a student eligible for special education reaches the age of 18, all educational rights under Part B of the IDEA, previously exercised by the guardian, transfer to the student, unless the student is determined incapacitated in a guardianship proceeding, or the District has appointed an educational representative for the student. When the student turns 18, the special education case manager will notify the guardian and student that the educational rights have transferred to the student and will send any required notices to both the guardian and the adult student. The IEP Case Manager will send a prior written notice.

At an IEP meeting occurring one year before the student turns 18, the District will inform the guardians and the student that educational rights will transfer to the student and the District will inform the student about those educational rights. This information will be documented on the IEP.

Appointment of an Educational Representative

A student over the age of eighteen is presumed to be capable of making educational decisions and able to provide informed consent unless he or she is determined to be “incapacitated” through a legal guardianship proceeding. If a guardian, another interested party, or the District believes that a student over the age of eighteen is unable to provide informed consent or to make educational decisions and the student does not have a legal guardian, the guardian or other interested parties may ask the District to appoint an educational representative. This determination will only be made if two separate professionals, as defined by WAC 392-172A-05135(5)(a),  state that they conducted an examination and interviewed the student, and concluded the student is incapable of providing informed consent. The District will inform the student of the decision and appoint either, the spouse, the student’s guardians, another adult or a surrogate educational representative to represent the student. The appointment of the educational representative will continue for one year. 

The student or other adult may challenge the certification at any time. If a challenge occurs, the District will not rely on the education representative, until the representative is recertified.

Confidentiality and Records Management

The Special Services Office is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of personally identifiable information pertaining to special education and all other students. The District student services department will maintain, for public inspection, a current list of the names and positions of District employees who have access to personally identifiable information of special education students. The District will provide guardian and adult students, upon request, a list of the types and locations of educational records collected, maintained or used by the district.

The District will provide instruction annually to employees collecting or using personally identifiable information on the procedures to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information. The training will address the protections outlined in WAC-392-172A, state law and federal regulations implementing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA, (34 CFR Part 99).

Upon request, the guardian(s) of a special education student or adult student will be afforded an opportunity to inspect, review and challenge all educational records which shall include, but not be limited to, the identification, evaluation, delivery of educational services and provision of FAPE to the student. The District shall comply with the request promptly and before any meeting regarding an IEP or hearing relating to the identification, evaluation, educational placement of the student or provision of FAPE to the student, including disciplinary proceedings. In any case, the District shall respond no more than 45- calendar days after the date the District received the request. If an educational record includes information on more than one student, the guardians (and/or adult student) may only inspect and review information relating to their child. School personnel receiving requests for educational records will immediately forward the request to District special education department.

If guardians believe that information in an education record is inaccurate or misleading or violates the privacy or rights of the student, they may request that the District amend the information. Policy and Regulation 3231, Student Records, describes the process and timelines for challenges to and hearings regarding student records.

The District follows the guidelines for records retention outlined in the Secretary of State’s, General Records Retention Schedule and Records Management Manual. The District shall inform guardians or adult students when personally identifiable information collected, maintained, or used is no longer needed to provide educational services to the student. The information will be destroyed at the request of the guardian(s) or adult student, or will be provided to the guardian or adult student upon their request. However, a permanent record of the student’s name, address and phone number, his or her grades, attendance, record, classes attended, grade level completed and year completed will be maintained without time limitation.

Records management is also governed by Policy and Regulation 4040, Public Access to District Records.

Surrogate Guardians
A surrogate guardian is a person appointed by the school District to act on behalf of a student to help ensure the rights of the student to a FAPE when a guardian cannot be identified, the whereabouts of the guardian are unknown, or the student is a ward of the state and does not have a foster guardian.

The District student services department is responsible for determining the need for appointment of a surrogate guardian.

Natural or adoptive guardians, foster guardians, persons acting in the place of a guardian such as stepparents or relatives and persons with legal custody or guardianship are considered guardians. Students who are homeless and not living with a guardian may need a surrogate guardian.

The following is a guidance for the District to follow to assist in determining the status of the guardian’s rights to make educational decisions:

  1. In cases where the student is in out of home care the District must determine the legal custodial status of the child.
  2. Guardians who have voluntarily placed their child in state placement still retain legal custody of the child and retain the right to make educational decisions. In this situation the student is not a ward of the state;
  3. Guardians whose children are placed in group care, pending a determination of “dependency” may still retain rights to make educational decisions unless otherwise ordered by the court;
  4. When a disposition order and order of dependency is issued, the state becomes the legal as well as physical custodian of the child. Guardians may no longer have the right to make educational decisions during this stage of dependency; and
  5. Guardians whose guardian rights are terminated no longer have the right to make educational decisions on behalf their child.

When a student is placed in foster care the foster guardian may act as the guardian. When a student is placed in group care, the District will work with the guardians, case-worker(s), foster parents and others who have knowledge of the student’s legal status in order to determine the need for appointment of a surrogate.

When selecting a surrogate guardian, the District will select a person willing to participate in making decisions regarding the student’s educational program, including participation in the identification, evaluation, placement of and provisions of FAPE to the student.

If a student is referred for special education or a special education student transfers into the District who may require a surrogate guardian, the District student services department will be notified of the potential need. The student services department will then select a trained individual who can adequately represent the student to ensure that all student rights are observed.

The person selected as a surrogate:

1.       Must have no interest that conflicts with the interests of the student he or she represents;

2.       Must have knowledge and skills that assure adequate representation of the student; and

3.       May not be an employee of a school District and/or other agency which is involved in the education or care of the student.              This includes OSPI, DSHS, District employees and group care providers.

The District will at a minimum, review with the surrogate guardian procedural safeguards, guardian involvement in the special education process, guardian education publications and special education regulations. The District will also cooperate with other districts, the ESD or OSPI in training surrogate guardians and in establishing a list of persons willing and able to serve as surrogate guardians.

The purpose of mediation is to offer both the guardian and the school District an alternative to a formal due process hearing. Mediation is voluntary and requires the consent and agreement of both parties. Mediation cannot be used to deny or delay access by a guardian to a due process hearing. Mediation is used to resolve disagreements concerning the identification, evaluation and delivery of educational services or provision of a FAPE to a special education student. Mediation may be terminated by either party at any time during the process.

The primary participants are the guardians, school District representatives and mediator. The process is voluntary, confidential and informal. It is a collaborative process, conducted in a non-adversarial manner. Mediation services will be provided by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) at no cost to either party.

The district’s student services department is responsible for coordinating requests for mediation. If a guardian requests mediation, notify a student services administrator who will respond to the guardian and coordinate with OSPI’s contracted agent. Staff members are reminded that discussions that occur during the mediation process are confidential.

One person designated by the District to attend the mediation must have authority to bind the District in any agreement reached through mediation.

Due Process Hearing

Both guardians and districts may file due process hearings involving the identification, evaluation, placement or provision of FAPE to a student. IDEA requires that specific information be provided as part of a due process hearing request. The requirements are identified in the notice of procedural safeguards. If guardians request information about how to file a due process hearing, the District will provide the guardian with a due process hearing request that contains the required information. Due process hearing request forms are available at the District student services department and on the OSPI

Special Education Web site.

If any staff receives a request for a due process hearing, a copy of the request should be immediately forwarded to the District student services department. If the guardian has not filed the request for hearing with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) , the District will forward the guardian's request to OAH.  The District may not delay or deny a guardian’s due process hearing request. Guardians are entitled to a copy of the notice of procedural safeguards if this is the first due process hearing in a school year. District student services administrators are responsible for providing guardians a copy of the procedural safeguards in this situation, and documenting that the safeguards were provided to the guardian.

When a guardian files a due process hearing, the student remains in the placement at the time of the request for hearing, unless the guardians and District agree to a different placement. See the discipline section below for placements when a disciplinary action is challenged.

When guardians file a request for a due process hearing, student services administration will immediately schedule a resolution meeting. The meeting must occur within 15 days after a guardian files a due process request with the District and provides a copy of the request to OAH, or, within seven days if the hearing request involves an expedited hearing regarding discipline. Student services administration will determine the appropriate District staff that will attend the resolution meeting. The District will ensure that one of the District representatives attending the resolution meeting has authority to bind the District in any resolution agreement. The District will not bring District counsel to a resolution meeting unless the guardian is bringing an attorney to the meeting.

Any resolution agreement reached will be documented in writing and is binding on the parties. The document will inform the guardian of their right to void the agreement within three business days of signing the agreement.


Students eligible for special education may be disciplined consistent with the disciplinary rules that apply to all students. The District shall determine on a case by case basis whether discipline that is permitted under WAC 392-400 should occur. However, students eligible for special education must not be improperly excluded from school for disciplinary reasons that are related to their disability or related to the district’s failure to implement a student’s IEP. The District shall take steps to ensure that each employee, contractor and other agents of the District responsible for education or care of a student is knowledgeable of special education disciplinary rules.

Removal Up to Ten Days
Authorized school personnel may order the removal of a special education student from a current placement. The District need not provide services to a student who is removed from the current placement for ten school days or less in any school year if services are not provided to a student without disabilities.

Removal for More than Ten Days
Once a student has been removed from placement for a total of ten school days in the same school year, and if the District determines that the removal is not a change of placement, the District must, during subsequent days of removal, provide appropriate services to the extent necessary to enable the student to participate in the general curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting the goals set out in the student’s IEP. The IEP team in consultation with one or more of the student’s teachers shall make the determination of such necessary services.

Change in Placement 
A change of placement occurs when a special education student is:

  1. Removed from his or her current placement for more than ten consecutive school days in a school year; or
  2. Subjected to a series of removals in a school year and which constitute a pattern of removal because:

a)       the series of removals total more than ten school days in a year;

b)      the student behavior is substantially similar to the student’s behavior in previous incidents that resulted in the series of removals; and

c)       of factors such as the length of each removal, the total amount of time a student is removed, and the proximity of the removals to one another.

Whether a pattern of removal constitutes a change in placement is determined on a case-by-case basis by the building principal and student services administrator and is subject to review through due process and judicial proceedings. Building administrators will notify the Student Services Department when a special education student is suspended for greater than ten days.

Manifestation Determination
Within ten school days after the date on which the District makes a decision to change the student’s placement, the District shall schedule a manifestation determination meeting to determine the relationship between the student’s disability and the behavior subject to the disciplinary action.

The review of the relationship between a student’s disability and the behavior subject to the disciplinary action shall occur at a meeting that includes the guardian and relevant members of the IEP team who are selected by the guardian and the district. The IEP case manager is responsible for contacting the guardian in order to determine relevant IEP team members and providing notice of the meeting. The team shall review all relevant information in the student’s file, including the IEP, teacher observations and information provided by the guardian to determine:

1.       If the conduct was caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to the child’s disability; or

2.       If the conduct in question was the direct result of the district’s failure to implement the student’s IEP.

If the team determines that the behavior resulted from any of the above, the behavior must be considered a manifestation of the student’s disability.

The District will take immediate action to remedy the deficiencies, and will:

1.       Conduct a functional behavioral assessment (unless already completed) and implement a behavioral intervention plan; or

2.       Review the existing behavioral intervention plan and modify it to address the behavior; and

3.       Return the child to the placement from which he or she was removed from unless the guardians and the District agree a                change is necessary as part of the behavioral intervention plan, or unless the infraction involves drugs, weapons or bodily              injury.

Special Circumstances

School personnel may order a change in placement to an appropriate interim alternative educational setting for the same amount of time that a student without disabilities would be subject to discipline, but for not more than 45 school days, if a special education student:

  1. Possesses a “dangerous weapon” or carries such a weapon to school or to a school function;
  2. Knowingly possesses or uses “illegal drugs” while at school or a school function; or
  3. Sells or solicits the sale of a “controlled substance” while at school or a school function; or
  4. Inflicts serious bodily injury upon another person while at school or a school function. Serious bodily injury means a substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.

Any interim alternative educational setting in which the student is placed is determined by the student’s
IEP team and will:

1.       Be selected so as to enable the student to participate in the general curriculum, although in another setting and to progress toward meeting the goals set out in the student’s IEP; and

2.       Include services and modifications designed to address the behavior or to prevent the behavior from recurring.

The District may ask an administrative law judge, or seek injunctive relief through a court having jurisdiction of the parties, to order a change in placement to an appropriate interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days or seek injunctive relief through a court having jurisdiction of the parties when the District believes that maintaining the student’s current placement is substantially likely to result in injury to the student or others. If the student’s IEP team believes that the student may not be maintained in his or her current placement, the IEP team should work with the Assistant Director.

Unless the guardian and the District agree otherwise, if a guardian requests a hearing to challenge either the manifestation determination or the interim alternative educational setting, the student must remain in the interim alternative educational setting pending the decision of the hearing officer or until the expiration of the 45 school day period, whichever occurs first.

Basis of Knowledge

A student who has not been determined eligible for special education services may assert the protections if the District had knowledge that the student was eligible for special education before the behavior that precipitated the disciplinary action occurred.

The District is deemed to have knowledge if:

  1. The guardian expressed concern in writing (or orally if the guardian does not know how to write or has a disability the prevents a written statement) to District supervisory or administrative personnel or a teacher that the student is in need of special education and related services;
  2. The guardian requested that the student be evaluated for special education services; or
  3. The teacher or other school personnel has expressed specific concern about a pattern of behavior demonstrated by the student to the director of the special education department or to other supervisory staff.

If instituting disciplinary action that would exceed ten days and the principal believes that one or more of these events applies to the student, he or she will notify the special education department to determine the appropriate disciplinary procedures.

The District is not deemed to have knowledge if, as a result of receiving the information described above, the District either:

  1. Conducted a special education evaluation of the student and determined that the student was not eligible for services; or
  2. The guardian of the student has not allowed an evaluation of the child or has refused services.

If the District is not deemed to have knowledge that a student is a special education student, the student may be disciplined as a student without disabilities who engages in comparable behaviors. The District shall conduct an evaluation, which is requested during the time period such a student is subjected to disciplinary measures, in an expedited manner. Until the evaluation is completed, such a student shall remain in the educational placement determined by the district, which can include suspension or expulsion without educational services.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the District may report a crime committed by a special education student to appropriate authorities. In the event of such a report, the District shall ensure that copies of the student’s special education and disciplinary records are transmitted for consideration by the appropriate authorities to whom the crime is reported; to the extent transmission of the records is permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Staff Qualifications

All employees of the District funded in whole or part with state or federal excess special education funds will meet the standards established by the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) and defined in WAC 392-172-A-02090.

All employees will hold such credentials, certificates or permits as are now or hereafter required by the SBE for the particular position of employment and shall meet such supplemental standards established by the district.

Special education and related services must be provided by appropriately qualified staff. Other staff including general education teachers and paraeducators may assist in the provision of special education and related services, provided that the instruction is designed and supervised by special education certificated staff (or early childhood special education certificated staff, deaf education certificated staff, deaf education with American Sign Language proficiency certificated staff, teacher of the visually impaired certificated staff), or for related services by a certificated educational staff associate. Student progress must be monitored and evaluated by special education certificated staff or for related services, a certificated educational staff associate.

In the event a special education teacher does not have a certificate endorsed in special education, a District may apply for a pre-endorsement waiver through the special education section of the OSPI. To qualify for the special education pre-endorsement waiver, the teacher must meet PESB criteria outlined in WAC 181-82-110.

If the District must temporarily assign a classroom teacher without a special education endorsement to a special education position, the district’s Human Resources personnel will document in writing that:

  1. The District is unable to recruit a teacher with the proper endorsement who is qualified for the position;
  2. The need for a teacher with such an endorsement could not have been reasonably anticipated and the recruitment of such a classroom teacher at the time of assignment was not reasonably practical; and/or
  3. The reassignment of another teacher within the District would be unreasonably disruptive to the current assignments of other classroom teachers or would have an adverse effect on the educational program of the students assigned to the other teacher.

If one or more of these criteria can be documented, the District determines that a teacher has the competencies to be an effective special education teacher, and the teacher completed two hundred forty clock hours (or the equivalent of 24 quarter or 16 semester credits) applicable to one or more Washington state special education teaching certificates (early childhood special education endorsement, deaf education endorsement, deaf education with American Sign Language proficiency endorsement, teacher of the visually impaired endorsement),” the District can assign the teacher to special education in compliance with the process for making out-of-endorsement assignments and reporting them to the state.

Classified staff will present evidence of skills and knowledge necessary to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The District will provide training to classified staff to meet the state recommended core competencies.

Personnel Development

In order to provide a staff development program to improve the quality of instructional programs the following procedures will be employed:

  1. Special education concerns will be identified through a staff needs assessment completed by administrators, teachers, educational staff associates, program assistants, guardians, and volunteers;:
  2. Training will be provided annually to all personnel who may be providing isolation or restraint ; 
  3. In-service training schedules will be developed based upon the results of the District assessment and in support of needs identified;
  4. Training activities will be conducted for regular general and special education staff, staff of other agencies and organizations and private school staff providing services for special education students; and
  5. Training for classified staff in the state recommended core competencies will occur through the Professional Development department either in-person or online.

Public Participation

Any application and any required policies, procedures, evaluations, plans and reports are readily available to guardians and other members of the public through the district’s special education department and the office of the superintendent. A notice regarding the availability of such documents will be placed on the district’s Web site and in the district’s newsletter.

Washington State Schools Directors’ Association (WSSDA) model Procedure 2161P approved with modifications.


Approval Date: 5/28/2002


Revised Date: 10/24/2007, 8/16/2010, 1/27/2015, 4/14/2015, 5/10/2016, 7/25/2023


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