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This document is part of Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students: Policy Guidance from OSERS (2000)

Part B also requires that public agencies afford parents of children with disabilities an array of procedural safeguards. These include giving parents written notice, in language understandable to the general public and in the native language of the parent or other mode of communication used by the parent unless it is clearly not feasible to do so. This written notice must be given a reasonable time before a public agency proposes or refuses to initiate, or change, the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child. Included in this notice, among other components, are a description of the action proposed or refused by the agency, an explanation of why the agency proposes or refuses to take the action, a description of any options the agency considered and the reasons why those options were rejected, a description of any evaluation procedure, test, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the proposed or refused action, and sources for parents to contact, such as parent training and information centers or Protection and Advocacy entities or other advocacy organizations, to gain assistance in understanding the provisions of the Act. 48 The requirement to provide a description of any option considered includes a description of the types of placements that were actually considered for the child, for example, regular class placement with needed supplementary aids and services, regular classroom with pull-out services, special school, and the reasons why these placement options were rejected. Providing this kind of information to parents will enable them to play a more knowledgeable and informed role in the education of their children.

Informed parental consent must be obtained before conducting an initial evaluation or reevaluation, with certain limited exceptions, and before the initial provision of special education and related services to a child with a disability. 49 Section 300.500(b)(1) of the Part B regulations defines "consent" to mean that the parent has been fully informed of the activity for his or her consent has been sought in his or her native language or other mode of communication.

The IDEA Amendments of 1997 also require public agencies to give parents a copy of a notice of procedural safeguards available to parents under Part B, written in language understandable to the general public and provided in the native language of the parent or other mode of communication used by the parent, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so. Such a notice must be provided prior to an initial referral of a child for evaluation, before an IEP meeting, before a reevaluation, and upon receipt of a request for a due process hearing. This notice, among other matters, must inform parents of their right to file a complaint under the State complaint procedures at 34 CFR Secs. 300.660-300.662, as well as their right to seek mediation or request a due process hearing. 50 Part B affords parents and public educational agencies the right to initiate an impartial due process hearing on any matter regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child. 51

The IDEA Amendments of 1997 provide that, when a parent requests a due process hearing on matters involving the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of FAPE to the child, the public agency must inform the parents of the availability of mediation as a means to resolve the dispute. Mediation, at a minimum, must be available whenever an impartial due process hearing is requested. The mediation process must be voluntary on the part of the parties, not be used to deny or delay a parent's right to a due process hearing or any other rights afforded under Part B of the Act, and be conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques. 52

Disagreements between parents and public agencies over issues such as the extent that braille instruction should be included in a child's IEP, or the educational setting in which the child's IEP should be implemented, are examples of some of the matters that can be the subject of mediation or an impartial due process hearing. The use of mediation is strongly encouraged, since its use could eliminate the need to utilize the Act's due process procedures to resolve the dispute. Public agencies need to inform parents of all children with disabilities, including parents of blind and visually impaired students, about their right to initiate a due process hearing if agreement cannot be reached on important educational decisions, as well as their right to file a complaint under the State complaint procedures at 34 CFR Secs. 300.660-300.662 of the Part B regulations, including a description of how to file a complaint and the timelines under those procedures.

Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1411-1420; 29 U.S.C. 794.
Dated: June 5, 2000.

Richard W. Riley,
Secretary of Education

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Appendix

48 34 CFR 300.503(a)(1) and (b)(2)-(4), and (7).

49 34 CFR 300.505(a)(1).

50 34 CFR 300.504.

51 34 CFR 300.507(a).

52 34 CFR 300.507(a)(2), 300.506(a)(2) and (b).