Freqently Asked Questions

What is the CAC Community Advisory Committee?

Would you like to become proactive in working with your Special Education Department within your District instead of feeling isolated and helpless regarding your child’s IEP?  Are you having difficulty having a successful IEP meeting or have concerns about your child’s educational program?  A great way to approach this is to become involved with your CAC or Community Advisory Committee. 

The California Code of Regulations – Title 5 mandates each SELPA to establish a Community Advisory Committee in every Local School District (LEA).  The CAC serves as an avenue of communication between parents or guardians of exceptional needs students and school district personnel.  The CAC also supports, sponsors and develops programs that increase district wide understanding of the needs and rights of exceptional individuals within the school district and SELPA.  The CAC also encourages community involvement in the development and review of the local plan. 

The CAC is composed of primarily parents of individuals with exceptional needs enrolled in public or private schools, but also pupils and adults with disabilities, regular education teachers, special education teachers and other school personnel, representatives of other agencies, and persons concerned with the needs of individuals with exceptional needs.  In other words, as a parent of a child on an IEP, the CAC is your meeting that the state has provided you to be involved and work with your Local School District (LEA). 

The committee also strives to maintain communications between District and State legislative and administrative personnel for the purpose of keeping informed of new developments in special education, and to advise local, county, and state legislators of the special needs of exceptional students within each SELPA. 

Another key objective of the CAC is to make available a forum to individuals with exceptional needs and or their parents or guardians where they may express their needs and concerns regarding the educational progress of special education students and to obtain support for improved educational opportunities for all individuals with exceptional needs.  The committee also functions as a support group for students and/or parents or guardians of students with exceptional needs by providing informal orientation and informational programs. 

I encourage every parent who has a child with an IEP or any person who is concerned for individuals with exceptional needs, become involved with their local CAC.  I served on my CAC board for many years when my daughter, Chanel, was still going to school.  Being involved in your local CAC will allow you to develop relationships with your district administrators and school site educators.  When you work alongside district staff, you will see a change in your IEP meetings and your student’s education because of your reputation as an involved parent.  Become a parent who takes action and helps to proactively further the cause of meeting the individual needs of students IEP’s.

What is the IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services) Program?

The In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Program pays for the care of your disabled child or adult so they can remain safely in your own home. Disabled children of any age may also receive IHSS.  IHSS is considered an alternative to out-of-home care such as nursing homes or board and care facilities.  IHSS also helps mothers be able to stay home to take care of their disabled child instead of having to seek out child care or nursing care while they are working.

Disabled children under the age of 18 and are Regional Center clients who qualify for “Institutional Deeming” under the HCBS waiver are eligible to the IHSS Personal Care Services Program (PCSP) when residing in their parents’ home.  You can contact your Regional Center case worker to file this form.  You must than apply for Medi-cal.  Once you are on Medi-cal you are than eligible for IHSS services.

What services are offered?

In order to receive funding, the following services are authorized through IHSS:

Household chores, such as house-cleaning, changing bed linen, laundry, meal preparation, meal clean-up, food shopping, and errands

Personal care services, such as non-medical assistance with respiration, bowel and bladder care, feeding, bathing, grooming, dressing, assistance with ambulation, help on and out of bed, assistance with medications and prosthesis care.

Accompaniment to medical appointments

Protective supervision

Paramedical services

How does the program work?

Parent(s) income and resources are exempt.  Eligibility depends upon the child or adults level of need.

The child or adult can receive up to the 283 hour PCSP maximum.

Ancillary services (meal preparation, laundry, shopping, and domestic services) cannot be provided separately from personal care services.

As of January 1, 2006 the Provider can be the parent or another individual.   Therefore, a mom or dad can be the IHSS provider as long as they are not working while the child or adult is not at school or work program.

The Provider may provide IHSS services while the parent(s) are in the home.

Applications for IHSS are made by telephone.  A County Social Worker will then interview you at your home to determine your child’s eligibility and need for IHSS. Based on your child’s ability to safely perform the tasks mentioned above, the Social Worker will assess the types of IHSS services your child needs and authorize an amount of time for each one. This assessment of need includes information given by you and, if appropriate, by your child or adult son or daughter, friends, physician or other health care practitioner.

You will be notified if IHSS has been approves or denied. If denied, you will be notified of the reason for denial. If approved, you will be notified of the services and how many hours per month have been authorized for you.

What is Inclusion?

What does the Law say about “Inclusion”? 

“FAPE” Free and Appropriate Public Education

The LEA shall ensure:

  • To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions, are educated with children who are non-disabled and
  • That special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aides and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily

Code of Regulations: 300.550

“LRE” Least Restrictive Environment  

The Third Circuit discussed the LRE requirement:

  • “The least restrictive environment is the one that, to the greatest extent possible, satisfactorily educates disabled children together with children who are not disabled, in the same school the disabled child would attend if the child were not disabled”
  • “We have interpreted this mandate to require that a disabled child be placed in the least restrictive environment (hereinafter “LRE”) that will provide him with a meaningful educational benefit 

“Significant Learning” & “Meaningful Educational Benefit”

  • Many special education disputes involve questions about FAPE and educational benefit. In N.R. v. Kingwood Township (NJ), the court clarified “educational benefit”
  • “Specifically, a satisfactory IEP must provide “significant learning” and confer “meaningful benefit
  • In N.R. v. Kingwood Township (NJ), U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit clarified “meaningful benefit”, the requirement to offer a “continuum of placements,” and the requirement to provide a “free appropriate education (FAPE) in the “least restrictive environment”

Mainstreaming provision case law

“. . . the IDEA’s mainstreaming provision establishes a presumption, not an inflexible federal mandate. Under its terms, disabled children are to be educated with children who are not handicapped only “to the maximum extent appropriate.” 20 U.S.C. § 1412(5)(B). Section 1412(5)(B) explicitly states that mainstreaming is not appropriate “when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” 20 U.S.C. § 1412(5)(B); see also Rowley, 458 U.S. at 181 n.4.” 

Mainstreaming/Inclusion Model

  • Services are brought to the student, rather than pulling the student out to receive services (DIS)
  • Students are provided accommodations and modifications for the grade level material
  • Students are viewed as members of the classroom, not visitors
  • Students are viewed as general education students first, special education students second 

Improved Student Outcomes

  • Standards and accountability demand that ALL students achieve
  • Collaboration/Inclusive education increases access to the core curriculum
  • Students are not pulled out or isolated
  • Research shows standardized test scores improve
Important IEP Tips to Remember
  1. Written request for IEP and appropriate assessments/provide district with your independent assessment 
  1. Include request that you receive a copy of all assessments 1 week before your IEP meeting 
  1. Call Program Specialist or Director (Confirm receipt of request for IEP and assessment reports or send Certified Mail) 
  • Confirm that a district staff member will be facilitating your meeting
  • Discuss time restraints (confirm at least a 2 hour timeframe)
  • Date of IEP (must receive IEP notification with attendees listed)
  • Inform district in writing that you will be taping the meeting 24 hours in advance
  • Discuss other concerns that you would like addressed (fax a copy of your parent agenda to Program Specialist)
  • Request that you be provided a copy of the IEP draft 1 week prior to IEP and prepare your goals and objectives along with disclosure of all assessment reports or other information that will be presented at the meeting
  1. Dress for a business meeting 
  1. Bring a picture of your child or your child when appropriate 
  1. During introductions at the beginning of the meeting, write down seating arrangement with names and titles of all attendees 
  1. Ask questions when you do not understand their “jargon” 
  1. Request all pertinent information be documented in the IEP (make a note on your agenda of everything that has been agreed upon) 
  1. When the IEP is reviewed, ask that appropriate changes be made immediately 
  1. Only sign in attendance at the meeting, take your IEP home to review and return with signature when everything is documented properly and you are in agreement 
  1. If you are not in agreement, you can sign that you are partially in agreement, send a letter of dissent outlining what portions you are not in agreement and indicating the items you are in agreement, or don’t sign at all.
Special Education Acronyms

AC – Augmentative Communication
ASD – Autistic Spectrum Disorder
AU – Autism
AT- Assistive Technology
ASL – American Sign Language
ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder
ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder
ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act
ABC – Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence
ABA – Applied Behavior Analysis

BIP – Behavior Intervention Plan
BSP – Behavior Support Plan

CAC – Community Advisory Committee
CEC – Council for Exceptional Children
CMH – County Mental Health

DIS – Designated Instructional Services
DSM – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual

ED – Emotionally Disturbed
FAPE – Free Appropriate Public Education
FAS – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

G&T – Gifted and Talented Definition

HOH – Hard Of Hearing 

ID – Intellectual Disability
IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEP – Individual Education Program
IPP – Individual Program Plan
IQ – Intelligence Quotient
ISP – Individualized Family Service Plan 

LD – Learning Disability
LEA – Local Education Agency
LID – Low Incidence Disability
LRE – Least Restrictive Environment

OHI – Other Health Impaired
ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder
OI – Orthopedic Impairment

MID – Mild Intellectual Disability

NCLB – No Child Left Behind

RS – Related Services

SIB – Self-Injurious Behavior
SLD – Specific Learning Disability
SLP – Speech Language Pathologist 

TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury

What is Designated Instructional Services (DIS) or Related Services
Designated Instructional Services (DIS) or Related Services are services offered to special education eligible students to help maximize their educational benefit. Services are implemented through your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and may be provided in a variety of settings such as the classroom, a therapy room or the home. They are provided by teachers and specially trained staff as a collaborative (group) or direct (individual) service. Parents/guardians also may be trained to provide the services in the home.
DIS Services include:
  • Speech and language
  • Counseling & Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • Behavioral Intervention
  • Audiological (hearing and balance)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Vision Therapy
  • Adapted physical education
  • Vocational Education and Career Development
  • Orientation and Home instruction
  • Hospital instruction
  • Social Skills Training
  • Organizational Skills Training
  • Specialized Driver Training
  • Transportation Services
  • Paraprofessional aide
  • Extended School Year (ESY)
  • Home and Hospital
What are Compliance Complaints

Often, parents find themselves experiencing IEP meetings in which IEP team members conduct themselves in an adversarial manner.  IDEA requires school districts to collaborate with parents and adhere to special education law.  A Compliance complaint is an advocacy tool in which parents can hold districts accountable to meeting the needs of children on IEP’s and respecting parent rights.

The California Department of Education must resolve the complaint within 60 days. It will review all relevant information and make an independent determination about the alleged education code violations. An on-site investigation may be conducted if necessary and a written decision will be provided to the complainant addressing each allegation.

Thirty days after the timeline for corrective action, the CDE’s Focused Monitoring Technical Assistance Unit contacts the complainant to confirm that the complaint has been resolved. Additional information regarding the filing of a state complaint may be accessed by calling the Procedural Safeguards Referral Service at (800) 926-0648.

The complaint should contain the name and address of the child, the name of the current school and school district, a description of the problem, (e.g. The District is failing to implement the last agreed upon IEP – The district agreed to provide speech and language services three times a week. The District is only providing services once a week), and proposed resolution (e.g. That the District be ordered to provide speech and language services three times a week and any compensatory speech and language services to make up for missed sessions).

What are Continuum of Placement Options

Each Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) must have a continuum of program options available to meet the needs of a child with a disability. This goes hand in hand with the requirement that a child with a disability must be placed in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

IDEA requires each SELPA to have the following placement options available within your local school district:

  • The general education program
  • The resource specialist program (RSP)
  • Designated instruction and services (DIS)–otherwise known as “related services.” These are developmental, corrective, and supportive services that are required to assist a child to benefit from his or her education. These include behavioral modification intervention,  health services, and school based counseling
  • Special classes, often referred to as special day classes (SDC), are generally smaller classes and are made up only of children with disabilities
  • Nonpublic, nonsectarian school services
  • State special schools
  • Instruction in settings other than classrooms where specially designed instruction may occur
  • Traveling instruction in classrooms, resource rooms, and settings other than classrooms where specially designed instruction may occur
  • Instruction using telecommunication, instruction in the home, in hospitals, and in other institutions–this includes home/hospital placements and even residential treatment centers and are considered the most restrictive education placement possible.

The most important thing to consider is your child as an individual and their unique needs which are a result of their deficits and disability. The legal mandate to have a continuum of program options available is to ensure that a program will be available to meet the needs of your child.

What is an Expulsion Hearing

If your child has been recommended for expulsion, an expulsion hearing must be held within 30 school days after the date the principal or the superintendent of schools determines that your child has committed any of the acts that violate the California Education Code. You and your child are entitled to request one postponement of the expulsion hearing, but that postponement cannot last more than 30 days. Within 10 days of the conclusion of that hearing, the school board must decide whether to expel your child, unless you request in writing that the decision be postponed.

The above circumstances are in the case of a general education student only. When a child is receiving special education services, an additional step is added into the process described above: That step is called a Manifestation Determination.

Manifestation Determination Meeting

If your child is a special education student and is found to have violated the California Education Code, a school district is required to set up an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting which is to serve as a Manifestation Determination. A school district is also required to provide a special education student with a manifestation determination when that student has been suspended for ten or more school days within a single school year, as that is considered a change of placement.

A school district must conduct a manifestation determination within 10 school days of a decision to change the placement of a pupil with a disability due to a violation of the code of student conduct. The manifestation determination team must consist of a school district representative, the parents, and relevant members of the IEP team as determined by the parent and the school district.

Once this team has been assembled, the team must review all relevant information in the file of your child, including the IEP, any observations of teachers, and any relevant information from the parents, to determine if the child’s conduct was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, the child’s disability, or if the child’s conduct was the direct result of the district’s failure to implement the IEP.

If the IEP team decides that either of those two factors applies, then the conduct must be determined to be a manifestation of the child’s disability. If it is determined to be a manifestation, your child cannot be expelled, and the school district is required to conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment of that child in order to provide further behavior interventions in the area related to the underlying incident. If the team determines that the child’s conduct was not a manifestation of his or her disability, the district may apply to the disabled child the same disciplinary procedures, in the same manner and for the same duration, as would be applied to a general education student.

It is very important that you understand the manifestation determination process.  For most children who are students on an IEP, the decision is made that the conduct was a manifestation of the child’s disability.  If you are not aware of your legal rights, the school district may go forward and expel your child.

How to Make Referrals for Special Education Assessments

The first step in the IEP process is to have your child assessed for eligibility and services.  To require that the school district does this in a timely manner under IDEA regulations you must send a written request for assessments. Make sure you send the request by certified mail, via fax, or take it to the school district’s special education office and obtain a written receipt. Keep a copy for your records.

Advocacy Note: Every communication to the school district should be in writing and make a copy for your home records.

Legal Time Lines

1. The school district has 15 days from receiving your request to send you an assessment plan. The assessment plan should be in the primary language of the parent, it should be easily understood, explain what types of assessments that will be done on your child and contain a copy of the notice of parental rights and procedural safeguards.

2. Parents have at least 15 days to approve and sign the plan. We suggest that you sign the plan immediately so the evaluation moves quickly. You should sign the plan and write on it that you are requesting copies of the assessment reports be sent to you 1 week prior to the IEP meeting.

3. The school district has 60 days (including weekends) to complete the assessments and hold an IEP meeting. This does not include holidays or vacation in excess of five days.

a. An exception exits if the parent (or holder of educational rights “repeatedly” fails or refuses to make the child available for the assessment.)

4. If your child already has an IEP, you can request an IEP meeting at any time. Your request needs to be in writing. The School district has 30 days from the date it receives your written request to hold an IEP.

5. Assessments should be conducted in all areas of the child’s known and/or suspected disability including:

1) health & development;

2) vision & hearing;

3) motor abilities & general ability & self-help skills;

4) language function & academic performance;

5) orientation & mobility skills;

6) career & vocational abilities;

7) social & emotional development and behavior.

The evaluation must be conducted in the language and form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically and functionally, unless it is not feasible to provide or administer.

Advocacy note: The term “functionally” is very important. Arguably, this refers to a child’s social-emotional behavior. This is especially important with children who demonstrate behavioral and emotional difficulties. Make sure that the school district conducts a comprehensive evaluation which includes social-emotional behavior.

6. Reassessments

a. Reassessments shall not occur more frequently than once of year unless both the school district and parent agree otherwise.

b. Reassessments are to occur at least every three years, unless the parent and the district agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary.

Advocacy Note: Be careful when a child’s three year evaluation is coming up. The school district may ask you to sign a document waiving the evaluation because “it is clear that the child still qualifies for special education and an evaluation is therefore unnecessary.” REMEMBER, an evaluation is conducted also for the purposes of determining present levels of educational performance. This is very important because the present levels of performance determine the areas of need which drives the goals and objectives and support services.

Still have questions? Contact Valerie.