FAPE Focus: Equitable Services for Students in Virtual Schools

You know that LEAs have child find responsibilities for students enrolled in private schools that are located within the district’s boundaries, regardless of where the student resides. And that districts provide equitable services to students with disabilities enrolled in private schools that are located within the district’s boundaries, even if the student lives in another district. But what if the private school is a virtual school? What LEA is responsible for child find and equitable services when the students and educators may be scattered across the state – or even the country?

Lights! Cameras! Action! (To Take Following a Request to View Special Education Camera Footage) 

Texas Education Code 29.022 leaves little room for confusion regarding the requirements for placing video cameras in certain self-contained classrooms and other special education settings following a request by a parent, Board member, or District employee. The law is less clear, however, regarding the parameters for responding to requests to review recordings on these cameras. This uncertainty often leaves school districts, particularly school administrators, confused as to how to respond to these requests in accordance with the law. Fortunately, the special education team at Thompson & Horton LLP has broken down these requirements and provided step-by-step guidance for responding to these requests. 

Free Personal Assistants for Special Educators!

Imagine a world where special education teachers have an invaluable assistant—a tireless digital companion capable of drafting IEPs, offering tailored lesson plans, and even communicating with parents. This isn’t science fiction; it’s the reality we’re moving toward with the growing presence of artificial intelligence in special education. But the science, so far, is imperfect, and users must guard against potential pitfalls.  

FAPE Focus: Interpreters

TEA recently updated the Administrative Code to provide that “All members of the ARD committee must have the opportunity to participate in a collaborative manner in developing the IEP. The school district must take all reasonable actions necessary to ensure that the parent understands the proceedings of the ARD committee meeting, including arranging for an interpreter for parents who are deaf or hard of hearing or whose native language is a language other than English.” This language tracks the language in the IDEA and therefore does not change the responsibility of districts but is a good reminder about the importance of parental participation, especially for parents who speak languages other than English. Additionally, take care to document in the IEP paperwork who provided interpretation services and note in the deliberations the questions and input of the parent at the meeting. Ask yourself: If a hearing officer were reviewing this IEP, would it be clear that the parent understood the meeting and participated?

New Student? New Rules

When a student transfers to the district during the school year with an IEP, the IDEA provides rules for providing services to the student. If a student moves during the summer, the IDEA is silent, other than the general rule that an IEP must be in effect for all eligible students on the first day of school. The Texas regulations provide timelines to adopt or create a new IEP for transfer students, and revised regulations in effect starting this school year provide additional details and shorten some of those timelines. The requirements can seem a bit confusing because they vary depending on whether the student is transferring intrastate or interstate and during the school year or summer. We have summarized the requirements for you in the chart below.

Introducing Thompson & Horton’s FAPE Focus

Introducing Thompson & Horton’s FAPE Focus, a series of short posts on our SpEd Law Spotlight blog to provide timely updates, practical tips, and useful reminders. First up: TEA has released the form required by HB 3928 that districts must provide to parents when there is reason to suspect a student may have dyslexia and need specialized instruction. The TEA FAQ clarifies that TEA expects districts to provide the form to parents when the district proposes to conduct an IDEA evaluation for dyslexia, refuses to conduct such an evaluation, and when the district proposes or refuses to conduct an IDEA evaluation for any other suspected disability. Districts should incorporate provision of the form into their practices starting immediately.