A. Endorsement of Comprehensive Plan
The unit has developed and is implementing an approved comprehensive plan. 3.01(1)(d)
(Should major revisions in the comprehensive plan have been made, the unit filed copies of such revisions with the Department.)
This Comprehensive Plan and Procedures Manual for the identification of and provision of services to children and youth with disabilities in the public schools within Rio Blanco BOCES was revised in September of 2005 and reflects the regulations and procedures to be utilized in meeting the requirements of the Exceptional Children’s Education Act 2002 (ECEA), Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act 1997 (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the State and Federal regulations implementing those statutes.
BOCES Policy/ Focus
Rio Blanco BOCES and its member districts ensure the provision of special education to all children and youth with disabilities as delineated by the policies and procedures within this manual. Such services will fall within the guidelines of local, state, and federal rules and regulations.
Services for children and youth with disabilities in the public schools within Rio Blanco BOCES undergo continual refinement as greater understanding is achieved, as research provides better direction, and as legal mandates change. This comprehensive plan will be updated yearly as part of the IDEA local application process and/or amended any time there is a change in policies and/or procedures.
B. Full Educational Opportunity for a Free Appropriate Public Education
Each administrative unit shall provide a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to children (three to 21 years of age) with disabilities within its jurisdiction, including children with disabilities who have been suspended or expelled from school. Each administrative unit shall ensure that FAPE is available to any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even if the child is advancing from grade to grade. A "free appropriate public" education shall be defined as:
"Free" education shall be the provision of special education without cost to the child or to his/her parent(s) or guardian except for those fees that are imposed on non-disabled children or their parent(s). 5.01(1)
"Appropriate" education shall be the provision of educational services that meet the individual needs of children with disabilities as identified on the individualized educational programs (IEPs). 5.01(2)
"Public" education shall be the provision of educational services at public expense, under public supervision and direction and without charge to the family, that meets the standards of the Department of Education and are provided in conformity with an IEP. 5.01(3)
“Jurisdiction” shall mean responsibility. 5.01(4)
Responsibility for the provision of services shall lie with the administrative unit of attendance. 5.01(4)(a)
Responsibility for the payment of services shall lie with the administrative unit of residence. 5.01(4)(b)
Children and youth with disabilities, ages 3-21, within Rio Blanco BOCES jurisdiction shall have available to them a free appropriate public education provided in conformity with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This shall include regular and special instructional and related services to meet individual needs. These services shall be provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, without charge to the parent, child, or guardian, at an approved facility. Rio Blanco BOCES subscribes to the full Educational Opportunity Goal of the Colorado Department of Education as expressed in Colorado's Annual Program Plan Under Part B of The Disabilities Act As Amended by Public Law 94-142.
1. All children and youth referred to special education will receive a comprehensive
assessment, after which an IEP meeting will be held. The IEP committee will determine
current level of functioning, needs and whether or not the child has a disability. If so,
the committee will go on to determine annual goals, measurable objectives and a
description of necessary services to meet those goals/objectives. The IEP committee
will then recommend specific educational services (instructional, transition and related)
which are commensurate with all the services described, within the least restrictive
2. Should the recommended services not be available at the local building level, every
effort will be made to initiate such services.
3. Should building level services not be commensurate with the characteristics described,
every effort will be made to provide such services within the local school
4. If appropriate services cannot be provided within the district/unit, every effort will be
made to provide the services as close to the child's home as possible, by contracting
with other units or agencies and through the utilization of interagency agreements.
5. If the determination is made that the child has a disability an IEP shall be developed by
the administrative unit of residence.
6. Children and youth who are in need of an individualized education program due to a disability, and are also in need of residential care and/or treatment, will be provided those services commensurate with the described services under the supervision of the district of residence. Should residential services be necessary, the district/unit will work cooperatively with the Department of Human Services, Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, the Division for Developmental Disabilities and other appropriate agencies to assure that the services as outlined in the IEP are provided for the physical and/or emotional well being of the child.
7. If appropriate services cannot be provided within the State, the district/unit will contract for services (private or public, in-state or out-of-state).
8. Children and youth, who are in need of an individualized education program, residing within the district/unit, who have been declared wards of the state, or who are under the guardianship of an agency of the state, or whose parents reside out of state, or whose parents cannot be located, or who have had parental rights terminated will be provided those services outlined in the individual educational plan by the district of residence.
C. Least Restrictive Environment
The plan includes procedures to ensure that to the maximum extent practicable, and consistent with Federal least restrictive environment regulations, the local educational agency provides special services to enable children with disabilities to participate in regular educational programs. 300.227(a)
To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are nondisabled. 300.550(b)(1)
Special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only 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. 300.550(b)(2)
Decisions as to the type of placement that is appropriate is not to be based on any of the following factors used alone or in combination: (1) category of disability, (2) configuration of the service delivery system, (3) availability of educational or related services, (4) availability of space, (5) curriculum content or methods of curriculum delivery.
A continuum of alternative placements including instruction in regular classes, supplementary services in conjunction with regular class placement, and special instruction in hospitals and institutions is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services. 300.551(a)(1) and (b), 300.552(c), (Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1412(5)(B))
The educational placement of each child with a disability—
(1) Is determined at least annually;
(2) Is based on his or her IEP; and
(3) Is as close as possible to the child's home. 300.552(a)
Each child with a disability is educated in the school that he or she would attend if nondisabled unless the IEP requires some other arrangement. 300.552(c)
Consideration is given to any potential harmful effect on the child or on the quality of services that he or she needs, in selecting the least restrictive environment. 300.552(d)
Each child with a disability shall participate with nondisabled children in non-academic and extracurricular services and activities, including meals, recess periods, counseling, athletics, transportation, health services, recreational activities, special interest groups or clubs sponsored by the public agency, employment, etc...., to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the child. 300.306 and 300.553
Least Restrictive Environment 5.02
Least restrictive environment shall mean an environment in which a child with disabilities is educated with children who do not have disabilities, unless:
- 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, or
- when provided with supplementary aides and services, the nature or severity of the disability is so disruptive that the education of other children in such classes would be significantly impaired.
This also applies to any student with a disability placed by a public agency, including those placed in state operated programs or eligible facilities.
Placement of children with disabilities in a school or setting other than the home school by the administrative unit shall be as close as possible to the child’s home. 5.02(1)
The administrative unit shall ensure that opportunities are provided for children with disabilities to participate with children without disabilities in academic, nonacademic and extra curricular activities as determined by the needs of the child. 5.02(2)
The rationale for placement of a child with a disability in an alternative to the home school shall be documented on the IEP form. 5.02(3)
When choosing between two or more appropriate placements, the administrative unit shall consider the cost. 5.02(4)
The rationale for providing services outside of the regular classroom shall be based on student needs and shall be documented on the IEP. 5.02(5)
BOCES Policy/ Focus
Rio Blanco BOCES ensures that children and youth with disabilities within its jurisdiction are educated to the maximum extent appropriate in the least restrictive environment. Such environment refers to appropriate interaction with nondisabled students where education for the child with a disability can be achieved consistent with that specified in the IEP. The provision of special classes, programs, separate schooling or other removal of children and youth with disabilities from the regular educational environment shall occur only 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. Rio Blanco BOCES further ensures that:
1. Each placement for a child with a disability shall be determined at least annually.
2. Each educational placement for a child with a disability is based on his or her
individualized needs and IEP, not as a result of category of disability, configuration of
the service delivery system, or availability of services and/or related services.
3. IEP development, review and revision, annual review of placement, and re-evaluations
are conducted or supervised to insure free appropriate public education.
4. An array of instructional and related services is available to meet the needs.
5. Unless an IEP for a child with a disability requires some other arrangement, the child is
educated in the school, which he or she would attend if not disabled. If she/he cannot
attend the home/neighborhood school, the educational placement is as close as
possible to the child's home. Documentation of the rationale for removal from
home/neighborhood school must be supplied.
6. In selecting the least restrictive environment, consideration is given to the potential
harmful effect on the child or the quality of services being provided.
7. If a child with a disability is removed from the regular classroom, placement in a chronologically age appropriate setting is provided.
8. Nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities that are normally provided to
children and youth without disabilities shall be accessible to children and youth with
disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate, with children and youth who are not
disabled. Nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities shall include but not
be limited to:
a. counseling services
d. health services
e. special interest groups or clubs sponsored by the district
g. recess periods
h. referrals to agencies which provide assistance to disabled persons
i. employment of students within the schools/agency and assistance in making outside
9. In instances where academic instruction is provided in special classes, or other
restrictive settings, nonacademic and extracurricular activities shall be provided to
children and youth with disabilities in the regular or least restrictive environment to the
maximum extent appropriate.
10. Each child with a disability shall be afforded the opportunity to participate in the regular
physical education program available to children and youth without disabilities, unless
the child needs specially designed physical education, as stated in the child's IEP.
11. Physical education services, specially designed if necessary, shall be made available to
every child with a disability either providing them directly or providing for them.
12. Children and youth with disabilities shall have available to them any program or activity,
specifically designed if necessary, in which students without disabilities participate
including art, music, industrial arts, consumer education, homemaking education, and
In order to ensure the least restrictive environment placement, the following procedures will be followed:
1. A multidisciplinary/multifaceted assessment will be conducted for all children and youth
suspected of having a disability.
2. A meeting will be held to determine current level of functioning, needs, disability,
goals/objectives, description of services needed to achieve the goals, and
recommended placement in the least restrictive environment with consideration of alternatives. The recommendation will be that which most accurately reflects the
description of services needed, which reflect the recommendation of the IEP team, of
which the parents are a part.
3. The Director of Special Education, or designee, will facilitate placement of the child into
the least restrictive environment consistent with the recommendations of the staffing
4. The age span will not exceed four (4) years within a special education instructional
5. Transportation and support services will be provided to support participation of children with disabilities in non-academic and extra curricular activities based on identified IEP
needs. Every effort will be made, however, to encourage independent participation.
6. The BOCES will provide the necessary consultative and support services and inservice
training as identified in the student’s IEP to facilitate the participation of students with
disabilities in both curricular and extra-curricular activities.
Placement of a child for special education services as stated on the IEP and assignment of special staff responsibilities shall be made by the director of special education or designee, who shall place the child with disabilities in the least restrictive environment consistent with the placement decision of the individualized education planning team, including the parents and other persons who are knowledgeable about the child, results of the evaluations and the placement options.
Change in placement. 5.04(1)
Change in Location/Facility. 5.04(1)(a)
A change in class location, a change in program location, a change of location of a related service and a transfer from one school to another within the same district are administrative decisions and may or may not constitute a change in placement. Such decisions should be made on a case by case basis with consideration for the impact on programs and services and with consideration for the impact on the child’s total education. Such changes do not require written notice in accordance with section 6.02 of these Rules nor an IEP meeting.
Change in program/services. 5.04(1)(b)
When a child’s educational program is materially altered, such as a change in the amount of a given service, and not an instance which involves only a change in the physical location of the program, the change in program/services is considered a change in placement and must be determined by an IEP team.
Written notice of such changes must be provided to the parent. 5.04(1)(b)(i)
Consent is not required. 5.04(1)(b)(ii)
A non-significant change in placement may be made by an IEP team without reassessment. 5.04(1)(b)(iii)
Change in building level. 5.04(1)(c)
When a child changes level (i.e. from elementary school to middle school) this may be considered either a change in location or a change in program/services, depending on the circumstances.
Significant change in placement. 5.04(2)
A significant change in placement for educational purposes includes placement or referral to a private school or facility by the administrative unit, addition or termination of an instructional or related service or any change which would result in the following: 5.04(2)(a)
· the child being educated with non-disabled children for an additional or lesser period of time, 5.04(2)(a)(i)
· the child having different opportunities to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular services, and 5.04(2)(a)(ii)
· the new placement option being a different option on the continuum of alternative placements in accordance with Section 5.03 (3) of these Rules. 5.04(2)(a)(iii)
A significant change in placement shall be made upon consideration of reassessment. Such change shall be made only by an IEP team with the addition of those persons conducting such assessment. However, reassessment is not required before termination of a student’s eligibility due to graduation with a regular high school diploma or exceeding the age of eligibility. 5.04(2)(b)
BOCES Policy/ Focus
Rio Blanco BOCES shall hire administrators who are responsible for the development, implementation, administration, maintenance, monitoring and evaluation of special educational policies, procedures and services, and shall employ sufficient instruction and support personnel for the implementation of those procedures and services outlined in federal and state statutes and regulations including those specific services identified in the Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) of children and youth with disabilities. Rio Blanco BOCES ensures that all educational administrative, instructional and support personnel shall be endorsed, certificated, licensed or otherwise approved in the State of Colorado.
1. A qualified director of special education will be employed full-time in that capacity.
2. Building based instructional and support personnel will be screened by the Director of Special education and selected in conjunction with the building principal. An identified committee will assist in making recommendations to the Director of the BOCES who will recommend employment to the BOCES Board of Directors.
3. District based instructional and support personnel will be selected by the Director of Special Education.
4. The administrative unit will establish a process in determining the appropriate numbers of staff to meet the needs identified for children with disabilities and for assignment of personnel.
5. All assignment of itinerant staff shall be made by the Director of Special Education in accordance with BOCES procedures.
6. BOCES procedures for supervising and evaluating personnel will be utilized for all special education staff.
E. Staff Development
Staff development in accordance with Section 3.05 of these Rules.
Administrative units and eligible facilities shall provide for staff development to assure
opportunities for appropriate educational services to children with disabilities.
Staff Development 3.05
Administrative units and eligible facilities shall provide for staff development to assure
opportunities for appropriate educational services to children with disabilities.
Opportunities for staff development shall be provided to foster the continuing development of the awareness, skills and knowledge of each staff member. 3.05(1)
Opportunities for staff development shall be furnished to all staff providing direct or indirect services to children with disabilities. 3.05(1)(a)
Opportunities for staff development activities shall be designed to bring about changes in knowledge, attitudes, actual performance skills and interpersonal relations of staff members. 3.05(1)(b)
Staff development shall include an evaluation component to determine its effectiveness. 3.05(2)
All administrative, instructional and support personnel in Rio Blanco BOCES shall be qualified to carry out the responsibilities of special education and provide for all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations, and shall be provided inservice training. Rio Blanco BOCES shall cooperate with the Department in its implementation of the comprehensive system of personnel development as outlined in Colorado's Annual Program Plan Under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as Amended by Public Law 94-142.
1. Input for staff development is obtained in the form of regular needs assessment, from
discussions at the building levels, discussions with the special education director and from the onsite monitoring reports of the Department. Needs are then communicated to the Director of Special Education who is responsible for the development and implementation of activities.
2. Staff development activities are designed to change knowledge, attitudes, performance
and interpersonal skills of staff.
3. Staff is encouraged to be aware of significant information and promising practices
proven effective through research and demonstration or disseminated by the
4. Other staff development activities may include local, regional and statewide workshops;
release time for visitation to other sites and/or individual consultation with local or CDE
5. For the next three years, Rio Blanco BOCES shall have as its major priorities the improvement of the following services:
a. development of delivery systems which coordinate general and special education
services to support students in the attainment of district standards.
b. development and expansion of the array of services for children and youth with
disabilities in the least restrictive environment appropriate
c. development of assistive, alternative, and augmentative communication strategies
and technology to support student learning needs as well as facilitation and
management of the staffing process.
d. vocational/transitional services
e. educational and related services for all preschoolers and infants.
f. parent/professional partnership.
g. Reviewing, evaluating and implementing alternate methods of qualifying students for special education.
7. Rio Blanco BOCES estimates that 185 children and youth with disabilities will be affected by the improved services annually.
8. The unit maintains a video tape file of training and classes provided by the universities,
the Department, and others; and actively seeks videos of all such training.
9. Staff development includes an evaluation component to determine its effectiveness.
F. Evaluation and Reporting
Program evaluation in accordance with Section 3.06 of these Rules.
Program Evaluation 3.06
Each administrative unit or eligible facility shall maintain records of results of all qualitative and quantitative evaluations of special education services rendered. Evaluations of special education services shall occur annually and within a period of five years systematically cover aspects of services to children with disabilities. Such evaluations shall review:
· Extent to which quality special education policies and practices are in place and where improvements can occur. 3.06(1)
· Degree to which children with disabilities are achieving their individual goals as well as school, district, and state standards and student outcomes. 3.06(2)
Each administrative unit shall submit to the Department of Education annual student, staff, revenue and expenditure data according to the instructions on forms or computer programs provided by the Department of Education. If accurate data are not submitted according to deadlines established by the Department, the disbursement of state and federal funds to that particular unit shall be delayed.
Rio Blanco BOCES shall provide for regular, periodic evaluation of programs, services and student progress and shall maintain a record of the results of all qualitative evaluations of special education services rendered.
1. Rio Blanco BOCES regularly meets with special educators, general educators, and administrators throughout the school year to review policies, regulations and procedures. Utilizing information, along with ideas from district staff, regulations and procedures are updated as outlined in the procedure manual.
2. The Director of Special Education oversees the development, implementation and dissemination of qualitative and quantitative evaluation for improvement of services to students with disabilities. Data will focus on meeting the individual needs of students as outlined in their IEPs and the attainment of district standards.
G. Parent/Professional Partnership
The plan includes procedures to ensure that, in meeting the full educational opportunity goal, the local educational agency makes provisions for participation of and consultation with parents or guardians of children with disabilities. 300.226, 3.01(5)
Rio Blanco BOCES ensures that opportunities are provided for parents of children and youth with disabilities to become involved in a partnership with the system, not only relating to their specific child, but also as it relates to system decisions regarding special education.
1. The BOCES believes that parents must be provided with meaningful opportunities for involvement in planning for their child's educational career. The ability to establish a working relationship between educators and families of child with disabilities is critical to the delivery of quality services. Such a partnership is characterized by open communication, trust and cooperation. It is only through this partnership that resources can be maximized to meet the individual unique needs of all children with disabilities.
a. Opportunities for training and development of skills are provided to families and educators together to develop partnerships.
b. Parents as partners in the assessment/IEP process.
c. Provision of skill training relating to assessment/IEP process, carrying out individual behavior/motor/speech/language programming at home, and utilization of community services and agencies.
d. Provision of emotional support by encouraging staff to communicate effectively and respectfully, listening to feelings as well as content, providing opportunities and facilities for parents to meet with each other, recruiting and training parents to be supportive to other parents, facilitating support groups, providing information on coping with loss as it relates to being a parent of a child with disabilities, and by informing parents about available respite care and encouraging its use.
e. Information sharing by involving the parents in the assessment and staffing process, encouraging the participation of both parents, distributing a parent handbook, maintaining frequent home-school communication, involving parents in appropriate inservice training.
f. Encouraging parents to visit the classroom/learning environment.
2. Whenever the parent or guardian of a student with disabilities is unknown or unavailable, the BOCES selects and CDE assigns an educational surrogate parent to represent the student in all educational decision making processes pertaining to the identification, evaluation, and placement processes.