• Notice of Special Education Services and Programs

    Child Find

    Each school district, along with other public agencies in the Commonwealth, must establish and implement procedures to identify, locate and evaluate all children who need special education programs and services because of the child's disability. This notice is to help find these children, offer assistance to parents and describes the parent's rights with regard to confidentiality of information that will be obtained during this process.

    The content of this notice has been written in English and Spanish. If a person does not understand any of this notice, he or she should contact the school district (see contacts) and request an explanation.

    Identification Activity

    Child Find refers to activities undertaken by public education agencies to identify, locate, and evaluate children residing in Pennsylvania, including children attending private schools, who are suspected of having disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disability, and determine the child's need for special education and related services. The purpose is to locate these children so that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) can be made available. The types of disabilities that if found to cause a child to need services are: Autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment due to chronic or acute health problems, specific learning disabilities, speech or language, traumatic brain injury and visual impairment including blindness. In the case of a child that is of preschool age, developmental delay.

    Each school district is required to annually provide notice describing the identification activities and the procedures followed to ensure confidentiality of personally identifiable information. This notice is intended to meet this requirement.

    Identification activities are performed to find a child who is suspected as having a disability that would interfere with his or her learning unless special education programs and services are made available. These activities are sometimes called screening activities. The activities include: Review of group data, conducting hearing and vision screening, assessment of student's academic functioning, observation of the student displaying difficulty in behavior and determining the student's response to attempted remediation. Input from parents is also an information source for identification. After a child is identified as a suspected child with a disability, he or she is evaluated, but is not evaluated before parents give permission for their child to be evaluated.

    Confidentiality

    If after screening and a disability is identified, upon your permission your child will be evaluated. A written record of the results is called an education record, which is directly related to your child and is maintained by the school districts. These records are personally identifiable to your child. Personally identifiable information includes the child's name, the name of the child's parents or other family member, the address of the child or their family, a personal identifier such as social security number, a list of characteristics that would make the child's identity easily traceable or other information that would make the child's identity easily traceable.

    The school district will gather information regarding your child's physical, mental, emotional and health functioning through testing and assessment, observation of your child, as well as through review of any records made available to the school district through your physician and other providers of services such as day care agencies.

    The school district protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information by one school official being responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of the records; training being provided to all persons using the information and; maintaining for public inspection a current list of employees’ names and positions who may have access to the information. The school district will inform you when this information is no longer needed to provide educational services to your child and will destroy the information at the request of the parent, except general information such as your child's name, address, phone number, grades, attendance record and classes attended, grade level completed, may be maintained without time limitation.

    As the parent of the child you have a number of rights regarding the confidentiality of your child's records. You have the right to inspect and review any education records related to your child with respect to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child, the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child, which are collected, maintained, or used by the school district. The school district will comply with a request for you to review the records without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding planning for your child's special education program (called an IEP meeting), before a hearing should you and your school district disagree about how to educate your child who needs special education, and in no case, take more than 45 days to furnish you the opportunity to inspect and review your child's records.

    You have the right to an explanation and interpretations of the records; to be provided copies of the records if failure to provide the copies would effectively prevent you from exercising your right to inspect and review the records and; the right to have a representative inspect and review the records.

    Upon your request, the school district will provide you a list of the types and location of education records collected, maintained, or used by the agency. Additionally, the school district may charge a fee for copies of records made in response to your request for copies except it will not charge a fee if doing so will prevent you from inspecting and reviewing your child's records. The district will not charge a fee to search or retrieve information.

    You have the right to request the amendment of your child's education records that you believe are inaccurate or misleading, or violate the privacy or other rights of your child. The school district will decide whether to amend the records within a reasonable time of receipt of your request. If the school district refuses to amend the records you will be notified of the refusal and your right to a hearing. You will be given at that time, additional information regarding the hearing procedures and; upon request, the district will provide you a records hearing to challenge information in your child's education files.

    Parent consent is required before personally identifiable information contained in your child's education records is disclosed to anyone other than officials of the school district collecting or using the information for purposes of identification of your child, locating your child and evaluating your child or for any other purpose of making available a free appropriate public education to your child. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Additionally, the school district, upon request, discloses records without consent to officials of another school district in which your child seeks or intends to enroll.

    When a child reaches age 18, the rights of the parent with regard to confidentiality of personally identifiable information is transferred to the student.

    A parent may file a written complaint alleging that the rights described in this notice were not provided: Pennsylvania Department of Education Bureau of Special Education Division of Compliance 333 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333

    The Department of Education will investigate the matter, issue a report of findings and necessary corrective action within 60 days. The Department will take necessary action to ensure compliance is achieved. Complaints alleging failures of the school district with regard to confidentiality of personally identifiable information may also be filed with: Family Policy Compliance Office U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20202-4605 Gaskin Settlement The parties in the class action case of Gaskin et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Education, et al. No. 94-CV-4048 (E.D.Pa.) (Judge Robreno) have reached a proposed settlement. A complete copy of this proposed settlement agreement may be reviewed at the following web sites: 1. www.pilcop.org 2. www.pde.state.pa.us The School District will provide ongoing screening services. If you wish to learn more, have questions, or believe your child may need to be identified, please contact:

    Amber H. Dean, D.Ed

    Highlands School District

    1500 Pacific Avenue, PO BOX 288

    Natrona Heights, PA 15065

    724-226-2400 ext: 5650