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NYS-TEACHS
at Advocates for Children

151 West 30th Street
5th Floor
New York, NY 10001

TEL 800.388.2014
FAX 212.807.6872

info@nysteachs.org

Frequently Asked Questions: Special Education

Special education is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, at no cost to parents. Students in temporary housing are entitled to the same special education services available to permanently housed students in the school district. The McKinney-Vento Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) work together to make sure that students in temporary housing with disabilities have their needs met. Local Education Agencies (LEAs, including school districts, charter schools, and BOCES) must coordinate McKinney-Vento and special education services.

What is Special Education?

Special education is specifically designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, at no cost to parents. 20 U.S.C.§ 1401(29)

Are students in temporary housing able to get special education services?

Students in temporary housing have the same right to special education services as permanently housed students in the school district. The McKinney-Vento Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) work together to make sure that students in temporary housing with disabilities have their needs met. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(5)(D); 20 U.S.C. § 1401(29).

What is the process for getting an evaluation for special education services?

  • The person who would like to have a student evaluated must ask the school district's Committee on Special Education (CSE), explaining that they'd like an evaluation for the student. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(a)(6).
  • Initial evaluations must be completed within 60 calendar days of the date a parent gives consent for the evaluation. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(b)(7).
  • Students must be provided with appropriate special education services within 60 school days of when parental consent to evaluate was given. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(d).

What happens when a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) changes school districts?

If a temporarily housed student changes school districts, the new school district must immediately provide comparable services to the services described in the student's IEP. The new district can then hold an IEP meeting to decide whether to adopt the original IEP or make a new one. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(2)(c)(i).

What happens if the child changes school districts before evaluations are completed?

Sometimes, if a child changes schools, the 60-day time frame no longer applies. This is only if the new school district is making enough progress to make sure the evaluation is finished quickly AND the parent and the school district agree to a specific time when the evaluation will be finished. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(a)(1)(c)(2).

What happens if a student is an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and a parent is unavailable?

The school district must appoint a person to serve as a "surrogate parent" for students who do not have someone to act as a parent on matters related to special education. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(2)(A)(ii). Surrogate parents cannot be employees of the school district or any agency caring for the student (like department of social service caseworkers). Surrogate parents cannot have a conflict of interest with the student, and they must have the knowledge and skills to represent the student. Please note that the the definition of parent in the IDEA is very broad and includes a foster parent or other individual with whom the student lives and who is acting in the place of a natural parent. 20 U.S.C. § 1401(23). School districts must keep a list of available surrogate parents in the school district. N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.5(n)(1).

When must a surrogate parent be appointed?

Surrogate parents should be appointed within 30 calendar days if a parent is unavailable. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(2)(B). If needed, a temporary surrogate parent can also be appointaed to help unaccompanied homeless youth and prevent any delay in services when a student is still waiting for a surrogate parent to be appointed. Staff members of emergency shelters, transitional shelters, independent living programs, street outreach programs, and staff from the school district can serve as temporary surrogate parents for unaccompanied youth, when needed. 34 C.F.R. § 300.519(f).

What are the responsibilities of a surrogate parent?

The person selected as a surrogate parent:

  • can represent (speak for) the child in all matters about the identification, evaluation, educational placement and the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child.
  • must have the knowledge/skills to represent (speak for) the child
  • cannot have any interests which conflict with the interests of the child he or she represents, i.e. cannot be employed by the LEA.

34 C.F.R. § 300.519(d)&(g).

What is the process for having a student evaluated for preschool special education services?

The person who would like to initiate an evaluation must ask the district school district's Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) Chair, explaining that they'd like an evaluation for the student. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(a)(6). The Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) must make an eligibility determination as well as service and/or placement recommendations within 60 calendar days of when parental consent was given. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.16(d)(1). The district must implement the CPSE recommendations on the nearest July, September or January start date, or within 30 school days from a CPSE recommendation made within 30 days of the July, September or January program start date. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.16(f).

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