REPUBLIC OF PALAU by p94qjc

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									       SPECIAL EDUCATION RIGHTS OF
       CHILDREN, PARENTS & FAMILIES
                 IN PALAU
                    (Notice of Procedural Safeguards)




                        MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
                          REPUBLIC OF PALAU

                       FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
                         Special Education Coordinator
                              Ministry of Education
                                Republic of Palau
                              Post Office Box 189
                              Koror, Palau 96940
                             Phone: (680) 488-2568



Revised May, 2004                     1
TO PARENTS AND FAMILY MEMBERS…..

This notice describes the rights and protections available to you and your child
while he or she is receiving special education services in Palau. These rights
and protections are also called procedural safeguards, and are guaranteed
under Palau Public Law 3-9 (the Programs and Services for Handicapped
Children Act) and the US government’s “Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act” (IDEA).

This information is important to you and your child because it will help you make
the most of your child’s educational experience. You are encouraged to speak
with your child’s teachers, the school principal, or staff in the special education
office, if you have any questions or would like to learn more about these
protections.

If you have any concerns about your child’s special education services you
should contact your school personnel to discuss any problems or questions you
may have. Sharing your story with school staff and working together can
frequently solve the problem informally. However, if you feel you need additional
assistance from outside your child’s school, you should contact the special
education coordinator directly, and we will help you.

           All of us can work together to help your child learn and grow.




Revised May, 2004                        2
                                 INTRODUCTION

Children with disabilities from birth to 21, and their parents, are guaranteed
certain rights in special education, also called procedural safeguards. This
booklet will help parents and family members of children with special needs to
understand these rights and how they can help you to make appropriate
education decisions for your child.

To help you understand the language in each part of this booklet, at the end of
each section we will briefly summarize in the shaded box your rights:


In Other Words…



                     PARENT AND FAMILY PARTICIPATION

Your participation in your child’s educational program planning is very important!
You will be invited to participate in school meetings about the evaluation,
eligibility, program services and placement of your child. This includes your right
to be a part of the team that develops and revises your child’s Individualized
Educational Plan, or IEP, as it is called.


In Other Words…
To ensure that your child receives a free and appropriate public education, you
have the right to be fully involved in decisions regarding your child.


                          PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS

PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE

As an active participant in the decision-making process, you have the right to
prior written notice from the school when decisions are being made. The school
must inform you in writing of important decisions regarding your child’s special
education program, and you must be notified before those decisions are put into
place. These include decisions to:

           identify your child as a child with a disability,
           evaluate or reevaluate your child;
           develop an IEP for your child, or change your child’s IEP;
           place your child in special education services, or
           change your child’s special education placement .




Revised May, 2004                        3
   You also have the right to written notice from the school when the Ministry of
   Education (MOE) or the school refuses your request to take any of these
   actions.

   Prior written notice must include:

          a description of the action proposed or refused by the school;
          an explanation of why the action is proposed or refused;
          a description of any other options considered and the reasons why
           those options were rejected;
          a description of each assessment procedure, test, record or report
           used as a basis for the action proposed or refused;
          a description of any other factors relevant to the action proposed or
           refused;
          notice that you can invite individuals with knowledge or special
           expertise about your child to an IEP meeting;
          a statement that parents of a child with a disability are protected by the
           procedural safeguards described in this notice;
          a copy of this notice: Special Education Rights of Children, Parents &
           Families in Palau, or how you can get a copy, and
          sources for you to contact to get help in understanding these
           procedural safeguards.

The notice must be written in language understandable to you, and provided in
your native language, or other mode of communication, unless it is clearly not
feasible to do so.

If your native language or other mode of communication is not a written
language, the Ministry must take steps to ensure that:

      the notice is translated orally or by other means in your native language or
       other mode of communication;
       so that you understand the content of the notice,
      and that there is written evidence that these requirements have been met.


In Other Words...
The school will notify you by letter if it proposes to change or refuses to change
your child’s services. The notice must be simple and easy to understand, and
information about upcoming meetings must be sent to you sufficiently in advance
to allow you to be able to attend.



PARENT CONSENT




Revised May, 2004                         4
Consent is your written permission. Your consent, as the child’s parent or
guardian, is required before the school can do any of the following:

The first evaluation. The school must have your written consent before it can
evaluate your child to determine the need for special education services. The
school must also inform you about the evaluation procedures to be used with
your child as part of this process. This is what is meant by ‘informed’ consent.

Reevaluations. The school must also have your informed consent before
reevaluating your child. This must happen at least once every 3 years but may
be sooner if your child appears to have unmet or additional needs. If the school
makes a reasonable effort to obtain your consent, but you do not respond, the
school may go ahead and reevaluate your child without your consent.

Initial placement. You must give your informed written consent before the school
can initially place your child in a special education program, or provide special
education services to your child. Your consent is voluntary and it may be
withdrawn at any time.

What if I refuse? You can refuse to give your consent for a first evaluation, a
reevaluation, or the initial placement of your child in special education. If you
refuse to give consent for a particular activity, the school cannot use your refusal
to withhold other services from your child.

However, if the school believes the evaluation or reevaluation requested is
necessary for your child, the Ministry of Education (MOE) could seek to override
your refusal by asking for a due process hearing. This means that an
independently appointed hearing officer would determine if the school could
proceed without your consent. The Ministry cannot, however, override your
refusal to give consent for initial special education services.


In Other Words…
Your written permission is required before your child is first evaluated,
reevaluated, or placed in special education services.


INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION

Your child’s school must complete a full, individual and appropriate evaluation of
your child before any special education services can begin, or before your child’s
special education services can be ended. You must be included in the team that
does the evaluation.

If you disagree with the special education evaluation results for your child, you
have the right to ask the school for an independent educational evaluation (IEE)
of your child, at the Ministry’s expense.



Revised May, 2004                         5
What is an IEE? An independent educational evaluation (IEE) is an evaluation
conducted by a qualified person who is chosen by you, and is not employed by
the school or the MOE. You might request such an evaluation if you disagree
with the results of the school’s evaluation and want another opinion.

      You may request that the Ministry pay for the IEE. It is helpful if your
       request is in writing. The Ministry must respond to any such request in a
       timely manner. However if the Ministry does not agree that an IEE is
       necessary, the Ministry may initiate a due process hearing to show that its
       evaluation of your child is appropriate. If the final decision of the impartial
       hearing officer is that the school’s evaluation is appropriate, you still have
       the right to an independent evaluation, but at your own expense.

      If you obtain an independent educational evaluation at your own expense,
       the results of the IEE must be considered by the school and the Ministry in
       any decisions made with respect to the provision of a free appropriate
       public education for your child, and may be presented as evidence at a
       due process hearing regarding your child, if you choose.

      If a hearing officer requests an independent educational evaluation as
       part of a due process hearing, the cost of the evaluation must be at the
       Ministry’s expense.

      The Ministry must provide you with, upon request, information about
       where an independent educational evaluation may be obtained. The IEE
       must meet the same guidelines the school uses for its own evaluations.
       This includes the qualifications of the examiner and the location of the
       evaluation.

In Other Words…
You are a part of the team that evaluates your child. At least once every three
years, the team must consider whether any additional evaluation is needed. If
you disagree with the school’s evaluation of your child, you can request an
independent evaluation, conducted by someone other than the school staff.



RESOLVING DISAGREEMENTS

If you have concerns about your child’s special education services, the first step
is to talk to your child’s teacher, the building principal, or one of the staff at the
special education office. It helps to deal with concerns when they first arise so
steps can be taken as soon as possible to address them.

If you cannot resolve your concerns informally with staff, there are further steps
available to you:


Revised May, 2004                          6
      you may file a written complaint with the special education office;
      you may request an impartial mediation; or
      you may request a due process hearing.

Filing a Complaint. If you believe the school has violated the special education
rights of you as a parent, or your child, you may file a written complaint with the
special education office. The written complaint should describe your concern,
include your name and contact information, and give specific facts about your
concern. Written complaints should be mailed or delivered to the special
education coordinator at the special education central office. If you file a
complaint, the special education office must investigate and send you a written
decision within 60 days. This timeline may be extended under exceptional
circumstances.

Mediation. You may also ask the Ministry if you would like to try mediation in any
matter relating to the identification, evaluation, educational placement or services
provided your child. Mediation is voluntary and confidential, and both parents
and staff must agree before a mediator is appointed. Mediators are not
employees of the Ministry of Education. They are impartial and are trained in
strategies to help people reach agreement on difficult issues. There is no cost
for the mediation process.

The Ministry must maintain a list of qualified mediators, knowledgeable in special
education laws and regulations, and trained in mediation techniques. Both you
and staff must agree on the person selected to be the mediator. Mediations will
be held at a time and place convenient to all. Any agreement reached by you
and staff shall be put in writing. All people involved agree to keep what is
discussed confidential.

 Impartial due process hearing. A due process hearing is a formal legal
proceeding that can be requested by parents, or by the Ministry of Education.

If you disagree with the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of
your child or some part of your child’s educational services, you can request a
due process hearing by contacting the special education coordinator.

Your hearing request must include:

      your child’s name and address, and the name of your child’s school;
      a description of the disagreement, including specific facts; and
      any suggestions you have for resolving the disagreement.

The MOE can provide a form for requesting a due process hearing and you may
request a copy of this form from the special education office.




Revised May, 2004                         7
If you request a hearing, the special education coordinator will provide you with a
copy of this notice, Special Education Rights of Children, Parents & Families in
Palau, inform you that mediation is also available at no cost, and advise you of
any free or no cost legal services available.

An impartial hearing officer will be appointed to conduct the hearing. A hearing
may not be conducted by a person who is an employee of any public agency that
is involved in the education or care of your child, or by any person having
personal or professional interest that would conflict with his or her objectivity in
the hearing.

   The Ministry shall keep a list of the persons who serve as hearing officers.
    The list must include a statement of the qualifications of each of those
    persons.
   The Ministry shall ensure that a final hearing decision is reached and mailed
    to the parties within 45 days after the receipt of a request for a hearing unless
    the hearing officer grants a specific extension at the request of either party.
   The decision made in a due process hearing is final, unless a party files a
    civil action under the procedures described below.



DUE PROCESS HEARING RIGHTS

Any party to a hearing has certain rights, including the right to:

   bring an attorney who can give you advice;
   bring one or more individuals who have knowledge or training about children
    with disabilities;
   prohibit the introduction of any evidence at the hearing that has not been
    disclosed to you at least five (5) days before the hearing;
   present evidence and confront, cross-examine, and compel the attendance of
    witnesses
   obtain a written or electronic verbatim record of the hearing;
    obtain written findings of fact and decision.

    Note: After deleting any personally identifiable information, the Ministry shall
       transmit those findings and decisions to the special education advisory
       panel and make them available to the public.

You must also be given the right to have your child present, and to open the
hearing to the public, if you choose. The hearing must be conducted at a time
and place that is reasonably convenient to you and your child.


CIVIL ACTION



Revised May, 2004                         8
Either you or the MOE have a final right to appeal the findings and decision of
the due process hearing officer in Republic of Palau court.


CHILD'S STATUS DURING PROCEEDINGS

During the course of any due process hearing or civil court appeal your child will
remain in his or her current educational placement. This is known as the ‘stay
put’ rule and applies unless:

      you and the Ministry agree to another placement;
      your child is applying for initial admission to a public school and you
       consent to your child’s placement in the public school program; or
      your child is removed to an interim alternative educational setting for
       discipline reasons by school personnel or a hearing officer.


AWARD OF ATTORNEY FEES

A court may award reasonable attorneys' fees to the parents or guardians of a
child or youth with disabilities if the hearing officer rules in the parent’s favor in
any action or proceeding related to the requirements of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under certain circumstances, attorney fees
may be reduced or denied.


In Other Words….
If you cannot resolve a disagreement with your child’s school though informal
means, you may choose the complaint process, mediation, or if necessary a due
process hearing conducted by an impartial person.




EDUCATIONAL SURROGATE PARENTS:

When the natural parent or guardian of a child is unknown or unavailable, or if
the child is a ward of the state, the Ministry must assign an individual to act as
the child’s parental substitute, or educational surrogate parent. The surrogate
parent has all the procedural rights of a parent, and is responsible for
representing the child’s interests in all manners related to the child’s educational
program.

In Other Words….
Sometimes the natural parent or other family of a child is unknown or
unavailable. When that happens, an educational surrogate parent is appointed
to represent the child at school meetings.


Revised May, 2004                           9
ACCESS TO EDUCATION RECORDS:

You, or someone who has your permission have the right to review any
educational records relating to your child that are collected, maintained, or used
by your child’s school, or elsewhere by the Ministry.

If you ask to see your child’s school records, the Ministry must comply:

      without unnecessary delay,
      before any meeting about your child’s IEP,
      before any due process hearing relating to your child, and, in any case,
      within 45 days of your request.

Your right to inspect and review educational records includes:

      the right to a response from the Ministry to reasonable requests for
       explanations and interpretations of the records;
      the right to have your representative inspect and review the records; and
      the right to request the Ministry provide copies of the records containing
       information, if failure to provide those copies would effectively prevent you
       from exercising your right to inspect and review the records.

The Ministry will presume that you have authority to inspect and review records
relating to your child unless the Ministry has been advised that you do not have
the authority under Republic of Palau law governing such matters as
guardianship, separation, and divorce. If any education record includes
information on more than one child, you have the right to inspect and review only
the information relating to your child or to be informed of the specific information.

The Ministry must provide you on request, a list of the types and location of all
educational records regarding your child.

Fees. The Ministry may not charge a fee to search for or to retrieve information
on your child, but may charge a fee for copies of records which are made for
parents, if the fee does not prevent parents from exercising their right to inspect
and review those records.


Record Of Access. The Ministry must keep a record of anyone obtaining access
to your child’s educational files (except access by parents and authorized
employees of the Ministry). The list must include the name of the party, the date
access was given, and the purpose for which the party is authorized to use the
records.




Revised May, 2004                        10
Amendment Of Records At Parent Request. If you believe that information in
your child’s educational records is inaccurate or misleading or violates the
privacy or other rights of your child, you may ask the Ministry to amend the
information.

Within a reasonable period of time after receiving your request, the school, or the
MOE, must decide whether to amend the information. If the MOE decides to
refuse to amend the information as you requested, it must inform you of the
refusal and of your right to a hearing to challenge the information in your child's
educational record.

If, as a result of the hearing, it is decided that the information is inaccurate,
misleading, or otherwise violates the privacy or other rights of your child, the
Ministry must amend the information and inform you in writing that it has done
so.

If, as a result of the hearing, the MOE decides that the information is not
inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise violates the privacy or other rights of your
child, it must inform you of your right to place a statement in the records or files it
maintains on your child. Your statement may comment on the information or
give your reasons for disagreeing with the Ministry’s decision.

The Ministry must keep your explanation as part of the records of your child as
long as the record or contested portion is maintained in the record. If the
Ministry discloses records of your child, or the contested portion to anyone, your
explanation must also be given to that party.

Consent to Share Your Child’s Records. Your written consent is usually required
before the Ministry, or your child’s school can release your child’s records. Some
exceptions include:
    sharing of your child’s records with Ministry personnel working with your
       child,
    sharing records with officials of other schools in or outside Palau where
       you child plans to enroll, and
    when ordered by a court.


CHILDREN ENROLLED IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS BY THEIR PARENTS

Some parents choose to enroll their children in private schools, even if they are
eligible for special education services in a public school. The Ministry is not
required to pay for the cost of education, including special education and related
services, at a private school if the Ministry offered your child a free appropriate
public education in a public school and you still chose to place your child in a
private school instead.




Revised May, 2004                         11
When Reimbursement May Be Required. A court or hearing officer may require
the Ministry to reimburse parents for the cost of private school placement made
without the consent of or referral by the Ministry only if:

      the child received special education and related services in a public
       school before enrolling in the private school; and
      a court or hearing officer finds that at that time the Ministry did not make a
       FAPE available to the child in a timely manner; and
      the parent provided notice removing the child from public school; and
      the private school placement is appropriate to the child’s needs.

When Reimbursement May Be Reduced or Denied. The court or hearing officer
may reduce or deny reimbursement if you did not make your child available for
an evaluation upon notice from the school before removing your child from public
school.

You may also be denied reimbursement if you did not inform the Ministry that
you were rejecting the special education placement proposed by the school and
gave notice of your concerns and intent to enroll your child in a private school at
the Ministry’s expense.

Your notice to the school district must be given either:
    at the most recent IEP meeting you attended before removing your child
      from the public school, or
    in writing to the school district at least 10 business days (including
      holidays) before removing your child from the public school.


Limited Services. Some limited special education services are provided by the
Ministry to children enrolled in private schools. Your child may be eligible for
these services. If so, special education staff will meet with you and the private
school staff to develop what is called a services plan.

      This services plan describes the services that will be provided to your
       child. Services may be provided on-site at the private school or at a public
       school. If the services are offered at a public school, the Ministry must
       offer transportation for your child to access these services.

      No child placed in a private school by a parent has an individual right to
       receive some or all of the special education and related services that he
       or she would receive if enrolled in a public school.

In Other Words…

Children placed in private schools by their parents do not have the same rights to
special education services that public school children do.



Revised May, 2004                        12
The Ministry does make some limited services available to eligible children in
private schools.

The Ministry is generally not responsible for the educational costs of children
placed in private schools by their families. Under certain specific circumstances,
a parent could be awarded reimbursement for moving their child from a public
school to a private school placement.



DISCIPLINE OF YOUR CHILD

There may be instances when your child’s behavior requires the school to use
special methods of discipline. If this occurs, there are certain procedures, in
addition to those for all students, which the school must follow if your child is
receiving special education services. These procedures can be difficult to
understand at times. In many of these situations, you have the right as a parent
to be a part of team decisions about the disciplinary action to be taken with your
child.

Short Term Removals. If your child violates school rules, the school may
suspend your child from his or her current placement for up to 10 consecutive
school days, just as it does when disciplining any other student. Additional
suspensions of up to 10 school days are allowed for separate incidents of
misconduct. The school is not required to provide educational services during
these short-term removal periods. However, if a series of short term removals
become a pattern that excludes your child from services, they are considered a
change of placement and the requirements for longer removals must be
followed.

Longer Removals. Longer removals include expulsion, and any suspensions of
more than 10 consecutive school days, or a ‘pattern of exclusion’ of shorter
removals that add up to more than 10 school days

Factors that are considered in determining a ‘pattern of exclusion’ include the
length of each suspension, the total amount of time you child is removed, and
the closeness of the suspensions to each other.

When the suspensions exceed or become a pattern, it is called a ‘change of
placement’ and your child has certain additional rights to services. When a
longer removal for violation of conduct is being considered, the MOE must have
an IEP meeting, with you and other qualified personnel included, to make what is
called a ‘manifestation determination’.

Manifestation Determination. Whenever a ‘longer removal’ for violations of
conduct that apply to all students is being considered, then the school must:




Revised May, 2004                       13
      notify you of this situation and provide you with a copy of these procedural
       safeguards immediately after the decision is made; and
      hold an IEP meeting within 10 school days, and invite you to participate as
       part of the IEP team to review the relationship between your child’s
       disability and the behavior in question.

The IEP Team must determine the relationship between your child’s disability
and the misconduct by:

      reviewing test results,
      information provided by you or other family members,
      observations of your child,
      your child’s IEP (including any behavioral intervention plan in place), and
      your child’s current placement.

The IEP team must then reach one of two following decisions.

Behavior Not a Manifestation. The IEP team may determine that the misconduct
is NOT a manifestation of (related to) your child’s disability only if:

   1. your child’s IEP and placement are appropriate and all services and
      behavioral interventions provided were consistent with the IEP and
      placement,

   2. your child’s disability did not impair his or her ability to understand the
      results of the behavior; and

   3. your child’s disability did not impair his or her ability to control the
      misconduct.

If the IEP team determines that the behavior is NOT a manifestation of your
child’s disability, then the school may apply the disciplinary procedure that would
be applicable to any student in this situation.

However, beginning on the 11th day of any such removal, the school or the MOE
must provide your child with services to the extent necessary to allow your child
to appropriately progress in the general curriculum and advance toward
achieving your child’s IEP goals. This applies even when your child is expelled,
suspended, or placed in a disciplinary alternative education setting. As a special
educations student, your child still has a right to educational services, although
they may be provided in a different setting.

Behavior is a Manifestation. If the IEP team decides that any of the 3 conditions
listed above were not met, then your child’s conduct must be determined to be
related to your child’s disability. This generally means your child cannot be
removed from his or her current placement and additional measures will be
developed to help correct your child’s behavior.


Revised May, 2004                         14
Behavioral Intervention Plan. If during this process the IEP team finds
deficiencies in your child’s IEP or placement, or in their implementation, The IEP
team must take immediate steps to remedy the situation. This must include
development of a behavioral intervention plan for your child, or adjustments to an
existing behavioral intervention plan if your child already has one.

Drug and Weapon-Related Misconduct. School personnel may move your child
to an interim alternative educational setting for not more 45 days if:

      your child carries a weapon to school or a school function; or
      your child knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs or sells or solicits the
       sale of drugs while at school or a school function

The interim alternative educational setting must be determined by your child’s
IEP team and must meet the requirements that follow.

Interim Alternative Educational Setting. An interim alternative educational setting
must:

      enable your child to continue to progress in the general curriculum,
       although in a different setting;
      allow your child to continue to receive these services and modifications,
       including those described in your child’s IEP to enable your child to meet
       these goals and
      include services and modifications designed to address your child’s
       behavior.

You have the right to be part of the IEP team that determines the interim
alternative educational setting for your child.

Removal by a Hearing Officer. A hearing officer may move a child to an interim
alternative education setting if:

      a child would be substantially likely to cause injury to himself or herself, or
       others in the current placement; and

      the school and the MOE have made reasonable efforts to minimize the
       risk of harm in the current placement.

Parent Appeal. If you disagree with the decision that your child’s misconduct
was not related to his or her disability, or with any decision about the subsequent
discipline or placement of your child, you may request an expedited hearing.
This means the Ministry must arrange this hearing upon receiving your request.




Revised May, 2004                         15
In this case an impartial hearing officer will review all actions that have been
taken, determine if they are consistent with the law and your child’s rights, and
make a determination

In Other Words…
Discipline is an important factor in the learning process at any school. School
personnel and the IEP team, which includes you, will need to determine the
appropriate disciplinary procedures if your child’s behavior results in misconduct.

In the event your child is removed from school for longer than ten days, the
Ministry still has to provide services to your child, if your child is receiving special
education services.

Your have a right to appeal any disciplinary decisions made by the school
through an expedited due process hearing if you feel the process has not been
properly followed.



TRANSFER OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

When a student with a disability reaches legal adult age at his or her 18 th
birthday, parental rights will transfer to the child in accordance with Palauan law,
unless the child has been determined to be incompetent. This is called the age
of majority. Under the IDEA law, this would include any students with disabilities
that might also be incarcerated in the jail.

The Ministry will provide you with notice of this transfer of rights at least one year
prior to the actual transfer of rights. If upon reaching the age of majority a child
is determined not capable of giving informed consent with respect to his or her
educational program, then the Ministry will appoint you the parent, or some other
appropriate person, to represent the educational needs of your child.
                            ---------------------------------------

If you have any additional questions regarding the rights described in this notice,
you should contact the special education office for assistance. We look forward
to working with you and your child to provide the best education possible.




Revised May, 2004                          16

								
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