Special Programs

English Language Learners (ELL) Coordinator

Marcia Mishler
mmishler@k12.com

As part of the enrollment process, all parents enrolling their student in an Indiana school for the first time will be asked to complete Indiana’s Home Language Survey. The answers from this survey will allow the school to determine if the student should be screened to determine if the student qualifies to receive English language services and support.

Section 504 Coordinator

Joel Sienicki
jsienicki@k12.com

Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met.

Homeless Coordinator

Teresa Haller
thaller@k12.com

Participation and Removal of Barriers

INDGA has an obligation to remove barriers to enrollment and retention of the student experiencing homelessness. (See sections 721(2), 722(g)(1)(I)). A school selected on the basis of the student’s best interest must enroll the student immediately even if the student is unable to produce the records normally required for enrollment (such as previous academic records, records of immunization and other health-related records, proof of residency, proof of guardianship, birth certificates of other documents), has missed application or enrollment deadlines during the period of homelessness, or has outstanding fees.

INDGA provides McKinney-Vento/Homeless assistance and support for eligible families as defined below:

(A) Means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence...; and

(B) Includes—

  1. children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;
  2. children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
  3. Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
  4. Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).

Children and youth are considered homeless if they fit both part A and any one of the subparts of part B of the definition above.

Provide a written explanation, including a statement regarding the right to appeal, to the homeless student's parent or guardian, if the homeless student is sent to a school other than the school of origin or a school requested by the parent or guardian; and

In the case of an unaccompanied youth, the liaison for homeless students shall assist in placement or enrollment decisions, considering the views of such unaccompanied youth, and providing notice to such student of the right to appeal.

Please contact Teresa Haller, thaller@k12.com for additional information.

Foster Care Coordinator

Teresa Haller
thaller@k12.com

Under the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) shall identify all students in foster care, have a foster care plan developed, and collaborate with the Child Welfare Agency and Tribal Child Welfare Agencies (CWA). Please reach out to the school to obtain further information.

American with Disabilities (ADA) Compliance Act Coordinator/Special Programs Manager

Joel Sienicki
jsienicki@k12.com

Professional interpreter services may be requested at any time for parents/guardians of students by contacting Joel Sienicki @ jsiecki@k12.com.

Additionally, if any parent/guardian has a disability or other limitation that would impact their ability to participate fully in their child’s educational planning process, INDGA would be happy to discuss accommodations that may be available in order to maximize the parent/guardian’s participation. Individuals seeking to discuss accommodations for this reason may contact Joel Sienicki at jsiecki@k12.com.

Procedural Safeguards

In accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirement that all educational agencies provide parents of students with disabilities notice containing a full explanation of the procedural safeguards available under the IDEA and U.S. Department of Education regulations, please click on one of the links below to review the Procedural Safeguards Notice.

English:https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/specialed/notice-procedural-safeguards-october-30-2019.pdf

Spanish: https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/specialed/notice-procedural-safeguards-spanish-october-30-2019.pdf

Annual Public Notice of Special Services & Programs

In accordance with federal and state regulations, INDGA will provide an annual public notice to families informing them of INDGA's child find responsibilities, procedures involved in the identification of educational disabilities and determination of students’ service and support needs.

Families are encouraged to review the following information that describes these regulations. Information regarding INDGA's internal practices to comply with these will be available in the INDGA's Special Programs Manuals and Handbooks.

INDGA will provide written notice annually to parents of students currently in attendance, or students of legal age currently in attendance, of their rights regarding confidentiality of personally identifiable information, including the right to:

  • Inspect and review the student’s educational record with respect to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the student and the provision of a free appropriate public education to the student
  • Seek amendment of the student’s educational record that the Legal Guardian or student of legal age believes to be inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights.
  • Consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s educational record, except to the extent that this rule authorizes disclosure without consent
  • File a complaint concerning INDGA’s alleged failure to comply with the requirements of this rule.

Child Find

Indiana Gateway Digital Academy seeks to ensure that all students who are school-age (5 through the school year in which they turn 20) within its school and who are in need of special education and supportive assistance - including homeless children, state wards, state agency clients,  highly mobile children (including migrant or homeless), and children who are suspected of being disabled and in need of special education and supportive assistance even though they are advancing from grade to grade are identified – are located and evaluated in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Indiana’s Article 7.

INDGA child find responsibility shall be accomplished through a school-wide process which, while not a definitive or final judgment of a student’s capabilities or disability, is a possible indicator of special education needs. Final identification of students with disabilities and programming for such students occurs only after an appropriate evaluation and a determination by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team.

The child find process shall include obtaining data on each child through multiple measures, direct assessment and parent information regarding the child’s academic and functional performance, gross and fine motor skills, receptive and expressive language skills, vision, hearing and cognitive skills.

Parent/Guardian permission and involvement is a vital piece in the process. Once a student has been identified as having a "suspected disability" or identified as having a disability, Indiana Gateway Digital Academy will ask the student or the student’s Parent/Guardian for information about the child such as:

  • How has the suspected disability or identified disability hindered the student’s learning?
  • What has been done, educationally, to intervene and correct the student’s emerging learning deficits?
  • What educational or medical information relative to the suspected disability or identified disability is available to be shared with the school?

If the child find process indicates that a student may require special education and supportive services in order to benefit from regular education, the student shall be referred to the IEP Team to determine the student’s eligibility for special education services. School staff, parents or agency representatives or other individuals with knowledge of the child may refer children to the IEP team if they believe that the student, because of a disability, may need special education and supportive services in order to benefit from regular education. Such a referral should follow the school’s pre-referral and referral policy.

If you suspect your child may have a disability contact your child’s current teacher or the INDGA Special Education Manager Joel Sienicki at jsienicki@k12.com.

Consent

INDGA cannot proceed with an evaluation, or with the initial provision of special education and related services, without the written consent of a student’s parents/legal guardians. For additional information related to consent, please refer to the Procedural Safeguards Notice which can be found at the Indiana DOE website, www.doe.in.gov or by accessing the link via the Child Find section of the INDGA website.

Once written parental/guardian consent is obtained, INDGA will proceed with the evaluation process. If the parent disagrees with the evaluation results, the parent can request an independent education evaluation at public expense.

Written parental consent must be obtained in order to conduct an initial evaluation or reevaluation.

The initial evaluation notification form and the reevaluation form created on Indiana IEP will be used as the Parental Consent for Evaluation form. This form must be signed, dated, and returned to the school before any piece of an evaluation can be conducted.

If signed consent for evaluation is not immediately obtained, the Public Agency will document attempts to obtain consent using at least three (3) different methods of communication (i.e. email, phone call, certified mail, home visit, etc.).

Special Education (IEP) or Service Agreements (504 Plans)

Once the evaluation process is completed, a team of qualified school personnel, parents/guardians, and other relevant service providers hold an evaluation determination meeting to come to agreement on whether the student meets eligibility for one of the disability categories under IDEA http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/specialed/art-7-english-january-2015-final-rule-update.pdf (for information related to eligibility criteria associated with the disability categories defined under IDEA).  If the student is eligible and requires specially designed instruction, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be coordinated; during which the IEP team will review and finalize the proposed details of an appropriate educational program to meet the student’s documented needs.

For students confirmed to present with special education needs, once the IEP team agrees on the IEP and the student’s educational placement, a Prior Written Notice (PWN) will sent to the parent/guardian for signature. This must be signed and returned to INDGA. INDGA can only proceed with implementing the student’s IEP (or 504 Plan) upon receipt of the signed PWN. Some students are found to present with one or more disability, but do not meet the eligibility criteria outlined under IDEA (special education); however their disability may still require INDGA to develop a 504 Service Agreement (504 Plan) to outline the special provisions a student may require for adaptations and/or accommodations in school-based instruction, facilities, and/or activities.

Students may be eligible to certain accommodations or services if they have a mental or physical disability that substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program and otherwise qualify under the applicable laws. INDGA will ensure that qualified students with disabilities have equal opportunity to participate in the school program and activities to the maximum extent appropriate for each individual student. In compliance with applicable state and federal laws, INDGA will provide students with disabilities the necessary educational services and supports they require to access and benefit from their educational program. This is to be done without discrimination or out of pocket cost to the student or family for the essential supplementary aids, services or accommodations determined to provide equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the student's abilities and to the extent required by the laws. Click HERE (https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/specialed/art-7-english-may-2019-update-index.pdf) for more information related to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Active of 1973.

Parents/Guardians have the right to revoke consent for services after initial placement. Please note, a revocation of consent removes the student from ALL special services and supports outlined on the IEP or 504 Plan. (https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/specialed/art-7-english-may-2019-update-index.pdf)

A student may receive a related service under special education as directed by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or as part of a Section 504 Plan, if an educational need is identified. Within the school environment, all related services are provided as a support to enhance the student’s ability to access his/her educational program.

It is important to realize that if a student has an identifiable therapy need which does not prevent the student from accessing or progressing in his/her educational program, then school-based therapy is not needed. The priorities of educationally based and clinically based therapies are different. The therapists are equally trained and licensed, but the approach and goals for each setting is different. There are some students who have a medical need for therapy but do not have an educational need. Related services are provided only as needed to support the student in meeting his/her educational goals; therefore, the level of support is dependent upon the student’s educational goals. It is important to understand these differences and why the goals are specific for outcomes related to the setting for which the student/patient is present.

Special Education Grievances or Disputes

INDGA recognizes that despite best intentions of all parties, disagreements or miscommunications may arise between the school-based team and INDGA families or students. Should this situation occur, the INDGA special education case manager will initiate an IEP team discussion where the specific details contributing to any educational concern are fully discussed and addressed as the entire team determines would consider most appropriate for the student. Collaboration is a primary focus for this type of meeting, and the INDGA Special Education Team seeks to establish and maintain the confidence of its families to always serve its students in order to maximize their educational success.

Dispute Resolution Options
IEP Facilitation – IEP facilitation is a voluntary process that can be utilized when all parties to an IEP meeting agree that the presence of a neutral third party would help facilitate communication and the successful drafting of the student’s IEP. This process is not necessary for most IEP meetings. Rather, it is most often utilized when there is a sense from any of the participants that the issues at the IEP meeting are creating an impasse or acrimonious climate.

Mediation – A voluntary process in which both parties seek to resolve the issues involved in the concern with an unbiased, third party mediator from the Indiana Department of Education. The mediator who will write up the details of the agreement that the parties come to through the mediation conference, the agreement is signed by both parties, and thus what the document states is mandated to be implemented; This process is overall less time-consuming, less stressful, and less expensive to complete than a due process hearing (see below)

Formal Due Process

Families are NOT obligated to pursue the above alternatives to due process should they feel their concerns can only be resolved through a formal due process hearing, if a formal complaint against INDGA is submitted to the Indiana Department of Education at https://www.doe.in.gov/

Privacy & Confidentiality

To maintain privacy of students’ special education records, both within its central office and across school systems and databases, INDGA follows protocols consistent with the federal regulations associated with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). INDGA may disclose personally identifiable information from a student's education record as instructed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Visit the U.S. Department of Education website for an inclusive list of FERPA rights

Accommodations

Notice of these rights is available, upon request, on audiotape, in Braille, and in languages other than English. Should you need further assistance or information regarding any of these accommodations, please contact Joel Sienicki at jsienicki@k12.com or any member of your child’s INDGA’s team for guidance.