Special EDge

December 2019 FCPS Special EDge Hot Sheet

Special Education Bundle

Special Education has provided a Special Edition Bundle for December.

The bundle link is below entitled Meet Google Drive. It is organized in folders by month.

There are critically important documents in this bundle, including memos and technical assistance bulletins that are mandated for circulation. Please ensure you read this information carefully.

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Thank you for all you do for FCPS students, families, and staff.

Please take time to enjoy your break; take time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Can you believe we are moving into 2020?

See you next year!

Simplification Process Win

The Department of Special Education is reviewing Special Education forms and procedures with a lens of simplification. The goal is to align forms and procedures to the IDEA and COMAR expectations in order to simplify the IEP process for families and providers.

In an effort to expedite the simplification process, we will be sharing immediate wins from month to month.

December Simplification Immediate Win


Congratulations to Liz Metz and Emily Clowser, Adapted Physical Education Teacher Specialists, for presenting on the national stage, in California, about actively engaging the paraprofessional in physical education.


Congratulations to our very own Therese Pelicano, FCPS Transportation Manager, for being recognized nationally as “2019 Special Needs Transportation Award for Excellence in Transporting Students with Special Needs.”

Related Service Logs Update

Related service providers who complete related service logs for student records and Medical Assistance billing, please note that the U drive database that previously populated the demographic and service line of the log is obsolete. All service logs are available on FormFinder for completion.

Keep in mind the expectation is to complete monthly logs and file them in the student record monthly.

The Department of Special Education will inform staff when this process changes.

Thank you for all you do.

Please Review the Newly Released Maryland State Department Special Education Technical Assistance Bulletins

Maryland State Department Technical Assistance Bulletins 2019-2020

Child Outcomes Summary (COS) The U.S. Department of Education requires State Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education programs to report on child outcomes for positive social-emotional skills, acquisition and use of knowledge and skills, and the use of appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.

The Early Intervention Record: Transfer and Release The purpose of this Technical Assistance Bulletin is to set out procedures for the transfer and release of a child and families early intervention record (EIR). Appendix A: EIR/IFSP Transfer Job Aid

Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities: Consideration & Documentation of Assistive Technology Delivery The focus of this technical assistance bulletin is to provide guidance to local school systems for the use and documentation of assistive technology (AT) in the Individual Education Program (IEP).

Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment The focus of this technical assistance bulletin is the interdependency of curriculum, instruction, and assessment to deliver specially designed instruction to student with disabilities within an integrated tiered system of supports framework (ITSS).

Improving Outcomes for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities: Eligibility, Instruction, and Assessment The purpose of this technical assistance bulletin is to support Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams and school leaders in determining eligibility for, and in implementing, the Alternate Education Framework. The Alternate Education Framework includes curriculum, instruction, and assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

Improving Results for Children: The Sharing of Child/Student Early Intervention and Special Education Information for “Legitimate Educational Interests” Maryland has established the use of a unique student identifier for all children and youth determined to be eligible for early intervention services and special education and related services, birth through twenty-one years of age.

Secondary Transition Secondary Transition is the process of preparing students for adult life after they leave high school. Transition planning begins in Maryland at age 14 as students explore and discover what they want their post-school goals and outcomes to be through career awareness activities. The transition process continues through high school as academic instruction and community experiences support these outcomes.

ADA Equipment and Facilities Requests

Attention Administrators:

All ADA requests, facilities or equipment requests should be entered into School Dude. Please ensure that you indicate it is an ADA request by checking the ADA checkbox. An example of an equipment request may include a hi low changing table, special filters for lights, or special seats for specific students with disabilities.

These equipment requests will be routed to the Department of Special Education for consideration of purchase and you will be alerted of next steps in the ordering process, if approved.

Thank you for your attention to this change in process.

Articulation of Students with Disabilities

The Department of Special Education is sharpening our articulation process with a more streamlined Articulation Process Teacher Checklist and an updated Articulation Form that will be uploaded to form finder on December 20, 2019. In the meantime, please review the definitions and level of support for best practices when students are transitioning between levels or back to their home school from a specialized program. As always, if there are any questions related to the articulation process, please reach out to a coordinator or teacher specialist.

  • Articulation” refers to the process of ensuring a smooth transition for students as they move from pre-k to kindergarten, elementary to middle school, middle to high school, or specialized program to home school. This process includes a meeting held between the sending and receiving schools’ staff to discuss the anticipated needs of students as they move-up from one instructional level to the next.
  • “Articulation Planning Meeting” refers to an informal, internal meeting between the receiving and sending school. Participants can include Special Educators, Administrator(s), and other Related Service Providers. Use the FCPS Special Education Articulation Form during this meeting.
  • “Review/Revise IEP Meeting to discuss Articulation” refers to a formal duly constituted IEP meeting. This IEP meeting will discuss any amendments proposed to address the transition to the receiving school. This can be held at the receiving or sending school.

Levels of Support

  • Enhanced
    • Students who have significant needs related to safety, mobility, communication, medical, and/or behavioral.
    • Students who have significant academic and/or behavioral deficits.
    • Students who have increased levels of home-school communication and outside agency support.
    • Students who require collaboration with multiple service providers, outside agencies, etc.
    • Students that have extensive and complex Supplemental Aids and Services related to accessing the curriculum and/or behavior management.
    • ADA equipment or building modifications may be required.

  • Moderate
    • Students who participate in interventions in addition to their core classes.
    • Students who have moderate levels of home-school communication.
    • Students that have moderate Supplemental Aids and Services related to accessing the curriculum and/or behavior management.
    • Students who require collaboration with some service providers.

  • Minimal
    • Students who access their core academic classes with minimal support.
    • Students who have minimal levels of home-school communication.

Here is a video module for professional learning that provides information about articulation and resources for transitioning our students from level to level: Articulation & Resources

Extended School Year (ESY)

As ESY determination season begins, we want to review the Updated ESY Procedures. Please review the linked video and feel free to reach out to your coordinator or teacher specialist with any questions or requests for support.

Emailing Tips

Emailing is a necessary communication in our fast-paced world today, but can be negatively construed. Many families and attorneys are making public information requests that include emails, both external and internally sent in FCPS. It is critically important that your emails are brief and specific communication. All email communication can be subpoenaed in a due process hearing, whether the email is to a parent, outside agency provider, or a colleague.

  1. Never write anything in an email that you would not want to be read aloud on the evening news. You may need to defend an email communication on a witness stand; consider this when writing your emails. It is helpful to write the draft, save it, and return the next day to reread and revise it for tone, clarity, and purpose prior to sending it.
  2. Be especially careful about emailing with parents. Staff/parent emails are often used in special education due process hearings. There is no law that requires a teacher, administrator, or specialist to respond immediately to an email. State instead some version of, “I am in receipt of your email, but am unable to respond at this time due to my teaching duties. If this is an emergency, please contact the front office.” Often times quick responses to emails are erroneous.
  3. Rule of thumb, after an email communication and one response, if the emailing continues and it is contentious; pick up the phone and schedule a time to meet and discuss the issue in person.
  4. If an email chain has gotten exorbitantly long, and you need to respond, begin a new email, so that it is separate from the original chain.
  5. If you are a selected witness in a due process hearing, ensure that all subsequent emails about the case cc: the school system attorney, as these email communications are subject to attorney client privilege and cannot be subpoenaed in court.

Documenting Person Reviewing Blue Folder

Please remember anyone reviewing or inspecting the blue folder of a student must sign and date the actual blue folder to document the record review. This includes everyone who reviews a student's record; including but not limited to, the parent, outside agency professional, central office staff, and school-based staff. Moving forward, please put this expectation into practice.

This practice allows tracking of folder review. If the blue folder signing spaces on the front and back of the folder are full, please use the attached document (Persons Reviewing Folder) to include in the front left of the blue folder of each student.

This practice does not take the place of Acknowledging the Receipt of Confidential Blue Folder when a student's blue folder transitions to another school or is taken from a school by staff for a specific purpose. The Acknowledging Receipt of the Confidential Blue Folder half sheet, found on FormFinder, must be used in these instances.

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FCPS Spanish Transcriber

The Special Education Department is pleased to have a full time Spanish Transcriber working with us. Jacqueline Hurst started on November 25, 2019 and will be tasked with translating IEP documents into Spanish. For now, some translations will still go through our contracted service, but schools will soon start seeing translations coming from Jacqueline also. Eventually, Jacqueline will handle all the requests for translations, doing some herself, and sending others to the contract service in order to keep up with demand. For school case managers, there will be no change to your process for requesting translation, but we wanted you to be aware of emails from Jacqueline which contain the complete translation of the IEP.

2019 Deaf and Hard of Hearing Fair

The first annual Deaf and Hard of Hearing Fair was a success. Nineteen vendors and 62 participants enjoyed an evening learning about resources available to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing in FCPS.
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**Maryland Learning Links is NEW**

Check out the new and improved MSDE Maryland Learning Links for great resources related to:

  • Early Childhood
  • Access, Equity, and Progress
  • Secondary Transition


Adapted Physical Education Motor Room at Twin Ridge Elementary School.

Last month the FCPS Adapted PE Department went into Twin Ridge Elementary School to build and create a purposeful Motor Room. The purpose of the motor room is to give a motor break to all students in the building who require a 5-10 minute break from class.

Gross motor rooms should create a safe environment for all students in the school to go and receive extra “therapy” time by participating in purposeful play & moving. It should provide a place to enhance gross motor skills such as balance, jumping and walking. It also incorporates fine motor stations for strengthening small muscles that are used daily in the classrooms to write, cut, and button clothing, etc.

The FCPS Adapted PE Department used this as an opportunity to create tools for other schools to replicate in their own buildings. Review the links to see the room and the documents that can be used to build your very own Motor Room!

Rochelle's Special Education Legal Tips

(Rochelle Eisenberg is a Maryland Special Education School System Attorney. These are her legal advice based upon her experiences in cases around the state.)

If you have been working in the special education field for any period of time, you have encountered Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs). A quick background: If a parent asks for a publicly funded IEE, you have to either agree to fund it or file for a due process hearing. You have one month to take action according to a new Maryland law. But the IEE is clearly not really “Independent” as the evaluator is chosen by the parents, who often tell the evaluator what they want included in the IEE. Two recent cases on point:

  1. A school system agreed to fund an IEE Psychological which was conducted by a neuropsychologist with a reputation for recommending nonpublic placements for the children of parents who want nonpublic placements. In this case, the parents advised that they wanted their child placed in a Residential Treatment Center (RTC). But the child had just been discharged from one, and the IEP team was considering either a public full-day special education setting or a nonpublic day placement. The neuropsychologist’s IEE report, not surprisingly, recommended an RTC. There was absolutely no reason to put the child in an RTC. When the IEP team met to review the IEE, the neuropsychologist participated by telephone. He said the child must be placed in an RTC. In the meantime, the child was attending a nonpublic day school, was thriving, and the parents were happy. When school system counsel advised the neuropsychologist of the placement of the student in the nonpublic day school and noted the parents agreed with the placement, suddenly the neuropsychologist had a change of mind. He said he thought the nonpublic day placement was appropriate. Really!!!
  2. A school system agreed to fund an IEE Psychological, which was conducted by a private psychologist who had worked as a school psychologist in Maryland. The report was full of errors in reporting the scores, which errors were discussed at the IEP team meeting. The private psychologist agreed to correct the errors. That should have been the end of the story. But when the report came back, it still had errors and also had new comments critical of the school psychologist who had found the errors. The new report also deleted helpful information about the student’s educational program in the public school setting. Then the school psychologist presented her bill, including travel expenses to attend the IEP team meeting and her time spent at the IEP team meeting. The school system has asked to see her protocols and told her that it will not fund her travel expenses or pay for her time at an IEP team meeting. To date, she has not agreed to have her protocols reviewed. Why?!?

So what is the point of telling these sad tales? Keep reviewing your IEE guidelines. They should include a requirement that the funding school system must be provided access to test protocols. They should make clear that you are only paying for the assessment, not attendance at IEP team meetings and not travel. You may also want to include a requirement that the examiner utilize input from the student’s public school teachers (if the student attends or recently attended public school), that the report (draft and final) must be furnished to the school system at the same time it is furnished to the parent/attorney/advocate, and that the examiner be available by telephone to discuss the report with school system staff. You may wish to include a requirement that the IEE examiner identify the source of all information stated in the report. For instance, was the information provided orally by the parent or was it from a prior assessment?

IEEs are paid for with public dollars and there is an expectation that public dollars will be appropriately used. There has to be accountability from anyone who is paid using public funds.

Rochelle’s Special Education Tips (“Tips”) are designed to be helpful and thought provoking, but should not be considered legal advice as they may not be accurate for use in all situations. Tips are based on my opinions and positions in accordance with federal and Maryland law and my over 35 years of experience in the special education legal field. – Rochelle S. Eisenberg, Esquire

Copyright © 2019 Pessin Katz Law, P.A. All rights reserved.

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