Families with special education students find PCS help

| May 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

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Alexandra White
Exceptional Family Member Program
Army Community Service
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — There is no doubt that military families face many unique challenges during every permanent change of station move, or PCS.

Having a child enrolled in special education can add unwanted stress. However, having a foundational understanding of how the federal laws that govern special education apply to students in transition can make this process much easier.

It is crucial to ensure that your child’s educational records are up to date and accurate prior to making a PCS move.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), schools must allow parents the opportunity to review their child’s educational records no later than 45 days following receipt of a written request.

Additionally, if your child has an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, it is imperative to request your child’s IEP be updated and implemented prior to PCSing. Furthermore, students with an IEP are protected under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

According to IDEA, a child who is transitioning school districts with a current IEP shall be provided with a “free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously held IEP.” In other words, your child’s new school is required to follow your child’s IEP from the previous state to the greatest extent possible.

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Similarly, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children states that the new state “shall initially provide comparable services to a student with disabilities based on his or her current IEP, and shall make reasonable accommodations and modifications to address the needs of incoming students with disabilities, subject to an existing 504 plan to provide the student with equal access to education.”

However, it is important to note that a school has the right to re-evaluate and draft a new IEP for an incoming student shortly after their arrival.

Hand-carrying hard copies of your child’s educational records, to include IEPs and 504 plans, will contribute greatly to the successful transitioning of your child. It is strongly encouraged that you hand-deliver these documents to the receiving school as soon as possible.

Lastly, it is important to research school districts prior to arriving at your new duty station. If possible, plan to live in an area that corresponds with a school district that provides similar programs and services to your previous duty station. A great resource to aid you in this research is your gaining installation’s school liaison officer.

Thankfully, support within the military community is just a phone call away.

Point of Contact
If you have concerns about transitioning your child who has special needs, reach out to your local Army Community Service’s Exceptional Family Member Program at 655-4227.

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