Webinar Recap: A Focus on Special Education
David Bateman offers a list of the top 10 topics elementary school principals need to know about special education.
December 2018, Volume 42, Issue 4
David Bateman offers a list of the top 10 things elementary school principals need to know about special education. Bateman, a professor at Shippensburg University in the Department of Educational Leadership and Special education, uses his background in special education law to assist school districts in providing appropriate supports for students with disabilities. Most recently, he’s researched the role of principals in special education.
Here is Bateman’s top-10 list.
1. Significance of Your Role: The primary responsibility of the principal is to commit district resources and ensure that the services written in the IEP will be provided. The district has ultimate responsibility for Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
2. Importance of Parents: Make sure parents are informed because they’re equal partners and they play an active role in providing critical information about their child’s abilities, interests, performance, and history. Remember to build early relationships, meeting face-to-face, when possible.
3. Significance of Everyone Else’s Role on the IEP Team:
a. Student: May be invited to attend at any age, if appropriate, but must be invited to attend beginning at age 14.
b. Parents: See No. 2.
c. Special Education Teacher: The school determines who fills this role.
d. General Education Teacher: This must be a teacher who is working with the child to ensure success in the general curriculum and implements portions of the IEP.
e. LEA Representative: The school determines who fills this role.
f. Someone who can interpret instructional implications of new evaluations or assessment results. This can be a school psychologist, special education teacher, general education teacher, or speech/language pathologist.
4. Vote vs. Consensus: The IEP team should work toward a consensus, but it’s not appropriate for an IEP team to make IEP decisions based on a majority vote. If the team cannot reach an agreement, the local educational agency (LEA) representative has the ultimate authority.
5. Placement vs. Location: Placement refers to the type of educational environment where the services will be provided, not the physical location. If there are multiple locations where the type of educational environment could take place, the LEA representative may decide the location the student will attend.
6. When to Review an IEP: This should take place at least annually, but IEP teams may review more often if the student is having problems. Schools cannot ignore a clearly failing IEP.
7. Empower those Implementing the IEP: Make sure everyone responsible for implementing the IEP has a full description of their responsibilities. Let your staff know they can ask for help and check in with them to find out if they’re having problem with implementation.
8. Respect Everyone’s Time: Allow time at the IEP team meeting, for another IEP team meeting, and for one-on-one meetings, but limit the length and the need for additional meetings, when necessary.
9. Prior Written Notice Is an Excellent (and a Required) Tool: Prior written notice must be provided to parents within a reasonable amount of time before the date the school proposes to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, educational placement of a child, or provision of FAPE to a child.
10. Words to Use and Words to Avoid: Use “tell us your concerns,” “individual” and “individualized,” “fully considered,” “appropriate,” “meaningful,” and “progress.” Avoid generalizations and the notion that anything was decided prior to a meeting.
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