What can DOE ask for in solving a complaint and what can they NOT ask for?
DOE may only investigate issues related to compliance of state statutes and issues related to utilizing the McKay Scholarship properly (were fee schedules posted correctly, were checks endorsed properly, was a code of conduct published for the parent). They may ask for: 1) All of the documents requested for a random audit (see list above); 2) Attendance records for the student in question; 3) Substantiating documentation concerning the complaint. DOE does not have the right to ask for any non-McKay students’ names, attendance, or other information. DOE does not have the authority to ask for a McKay student’s test records or class records. DOE does not have the authority to determine if a child should remain in a school. DOE does not have the authority to ask for any information not covered on the compliance form or by the statute.
It is sometimes difficult to get answers from DOE. What would expedite this?
Worst Case Scenario
Should a question exist that must be researched, give the DOE representative two working days to get back to you. Should the person not contact you, put your question in an e-mail to The Choice Office with that person’s name referenced and send to the director of The Choice Office. Ask that an acknowledgment of your email be made and an indication as to the length of time it should take to resolve the issue. We do not want to assume an adversarial role, but it is very easy for questions to become “lost” in the bureaucratic process. Should your question not garner a response in a timely manner, send a registered letter with the details and questions to the director of The Choice Office. Should you not elicit a response after this, enlist the aid of the Commissioner office or your legislator to assist you.
Best Case Scenario
Many of our questions are answered quickly and competently by representatives of The Choice Office. We need to make them aware that we appreciate their hard work and dedication to making the system work for our kids. It does wonders for everyone’s morale to hear that “Thank-you” after a question has been answered or a problem solved. On particularly difficult questions, that are answered efficiently, send an e-mail of a letter to the director of The Choice Office recognizing the hard work of the employee by name.
During the spring the district sends out letters to my parents concerning re-evaluating their child. What stance should we take, if any on this?
While the law states that a re-evaluation must occur every 3 years unless the parent and public agency agree that it is necessary.
That means that if the public agency “determines that the educational or related services needs, including improved academic achievement and functional performance, of the child warrant a reevaluation,” but the parent disagrees, the parent must undergo a re- evaluation.
However, in practice how would the public agency be able to “determine” that a re-evaluation is “warranted” if the child is in private school? It’s circular and our legal counsel argues that the public school could only make that determination if they had already re-evaluated the child, and they don’t have the right to make that determination unless they know that the child’s achievement and performance. We would argue that the child’s private school records are not enough to make that determination about achievement and performance.
The bottom line is that if the parent has no intention of placing the child back in public school, and does not want a public re-evaluation, and that given under the McKay law the parent has a right to keep their child in a private McKay school using the current funding level, the public agency has no reason to waste public resources to force a re-evaluation.
If the public agency presses the family, advise parents to tell them, in writing, that they do not agree to a re-evaluation and if the public agency has made the “determination” under the law that one is warranted, the public agency has a right to file due process against them. That should make them go away.
We have been told that several over-zealous districts have demanded re-evaluation and that the private school send all sorts of records and testing as well as attend any IEP meetings with the parents.
The districts have no authority to demand any such testing, records or attendance at meetings. Parents may request records and the school should have a policy to determine which are the general records released without cost and when does an additional fee need to be added if record requests move beyond the standard procedures covered in the tuition. In the same way, policies for any fees for attendance away from the school should also be reviewed and parents made aware of what these are.
Ramifications for Schools Receiving IDEA Part B Funds (Federal Entitlement Grant)
Be aware that for private schools that receive funds through IDEA Part B: Federal Entitlement Grant, this funding can be removed if children are not re-evaluated. Each district decides how this funding is spent for children with disabilities in private schools. Some districts have been student centered and have spent the money on additional services and/or materials for the students. Re-evaluation allows the district to keep the IEP current and to continue to receive the monies. Since this is a district by district decision, your school may want to contact the district and determine what the ramifications are for parents not opting for the re-evaluation.