Child Find

Notice of Special Education Services and Programs – Child Find

Columbia Borough 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 describe the parent’s rights with regard to confidentiality of information that will be obtained during this process.

According to state and federal special education regulations, annual public notice to parents of children who reside within a school district is required regarding child find responsibilities.  School districts, intermediate units, and charter schools are required to conduct child find activities for children who may be eligible for services via Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  For additional information related to Section 504/Chapter 15 services, the parent may refer to Section 504, Chapter 15 and the Basic Education Circular entitled Implementation of Chapter 15.  Also, school districts are required to conduct child find activities for children who may be eligible for gifted services via 22 PA Code Chapter 16.  For additional information regarding gifted services, the parent may refer to 22 PA Code Chapter 16.  If a student is both gifted and eligible for Special Education, the procedures in IDEA and Chapter 14 shall take precedence.

This notice shall inform parents throughout the school district, intermediate unit, and charter school of the child identification activities and of the procedures followed to ensure confidentiality of information pertaining to students with disabilities or eligible young children.  In addition to this public notice, each school district, intermediate unit and charter school shall publish written information in the handbook and on the website. Children ages three through twenty-one can be eligible for special education programs and services.  If parents believe the child may be eligible for special education, the parent should contact the appropriate staff member identified at the end of this public notice.

Children age three through the age of admission to first grade are also eligible if they have developmental delays and as a result need Special Education and related services.  Developmental delay is defined as a child who is less than the age of beginners and at least three years of age and is considered to have a developmental delay when one of the following exists:  (i) The child’s score, on a developmental assessment device, on an assessment instrument which yields a score in months, indicates that the child is delayed by 25% of the child’s chronological age in one or more developmental areas, or (ii) The child is delayed in one or more of the developmental areas, as documented by test performance of 1.5 standard deviations below the mean on standardized tests. Developmental areas include cognitive, communicative, physical, social/emotional and self-help.  For additional information you may contact Intermediate Unit #13 at 606-1600.

The school district, intermediate unit or charter school will not discriminate in employment, educational programs or activities based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, handicap, creed, marital status or because a person is a disabled veteran or a veteran of the Vietnam era.  No preschool, elementary or secondary school pupil enrolled in school district, intermediate unit or charter school shall be denied equal opportunity to participate in age and program appropriate instruction or activities due to race, color, national origin, handicap, creed, marital status or financial hardship.  The content of this notice has been written in English.  If a person does not understand any of this notice, he or she should contact the school district and request an explanation.

Identification Activity

Child find refers to activities undertaken by public education agencies to identify, locate, and evaluate children residing in the State, 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, development delay.

Columbia Borough 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 are 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 are directly related to your child and are 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 identify 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 with time limitation. 

As the parent of the child you have a number to rights regarding the confidentiality of your child’s records. The right to inspect and review any education records related to your child 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 will 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 you 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 of 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 take 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.

The Columbia Borough School District will provide ongoing screening services.  If you wish to learn more, have questions, or believe your child may need identified, please contact:  Jennifer Zolenas, Special Education Director, (717) 684-2283.

Early Intervention Identification

In Pennsylvania, a child between 3 years of age and the school district’s age to begin school who has a developmental delay or one or more of the physical or mental conditions listed above is identified as an “eligible young child”.   The parents of these children have the same rights described above.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education is responsible for providing programs and services to eligible young children under Act 212 of 1990, the Early Intervention Services System Act.  See contact information above. 

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