Special Education Tip-of-the-Day: Procedural Safeguards Notice
by Amanda Glass, Equal Justice Works Fellow
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with disabilities and their parents have certain legal protections and rights. Those protections and rights must be communicated to families at least once a year in a document called a procedural safeguards notice.
The procedural safeguards notice must go over the following rights and processes (which we will describe in more detail in later blog posts):
- Independent Educational Evaluations
- Prior Written Notice
- Parental Consent
- Access to Student Education Records
- Due Process Complaint Procedure
- State Complaint Procedure
- Student Placement During a Due Process Complaint
- Student Placement in an Interim Alternative Educational Setting
- Unilateral Placement by Parents in Private Schools
- Civil actions
- Attorneys’ fees
Schools must provide a copy of the procedural safeguards notice to parents (or the student who is 18 years old and has not transferred their educational rights) at least once year, as well as (1) when a child is first referred for a special education evaluation; (2) the first time in a school year that a state complaint is filed; (3) the first time in a school year that a due process complaint is filed; (4) when a student with a disability faces discipline that constitutes a change in placement; (5) any time a parent asks for a copy of the notice.
The procedural safeguards notice must be written in a language understandable to the general public. It must also be provided in the native language of the parent or in another mode of communication that is used by the parent (if feasible). If the parent’s native language or other mode of communication is not a written language, schools must provide an oral or other means of translation. For example, if a parent who is deaf and uses sign language, the notice must be translated into sign language. The school must document that they took this step.
Some school districts post a copy of the procedural safeguards notice on their websites. Parents also have the option to receive a copy of their procedural safeguards via email, rather than in hard copy, although schools must always make hard copy versions of the notice available if parents prefer to receive the notice on paper.
Often, parents are handed a copy of their procedural safeguards at an IEP meeting, but don’t take the time to read through it. The notice lists out all the legal rights of students with disabilities and their parents in the special education system, and it is extremely important that families read and understand it. The notice contains information that will help families learn how the special education process works and what their options are if they disagree with a decision made by a school.
This fall, take the time to read through a copy of the procedural safeguards notice. If you are a parent who is deaf and use sign language, insist the school provide you with an ASL video translation. You’ll start off the new school year with knowledge of your rights, and you’ll be prepared to be a strong advocate for your child’s special education needs.
For more information about the IDEA’s requirements for the procedural safeguards notice, visit the Center for Parent Information and Resources.
You can also find more information in ACDL’s special education self-advocacy guide, as well as a sample letter requesting a copy of the procedural safeguards noticeon ACDL’s website.
Tomorrow’s Tip-of-the-Day: Parental Consent
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