School districts across the State of Ohio are participating in an effort to identify, locate, and evaluate all children from birth through 21 years of age who may have disabilities. Disability, in this instance, means such conditions as hearing impairments, visual impairments, speech or language impairments, specific learning disabilities, emotionally disturbed, multiple disabilities, mental retardation, other health impairments, physical impairments, autism, and traumatic brain injury. Public schools have responded vigorously to federal and state mandates requiring the provision of a free appropriate public education regardless of a child’s disability. But before school district can serve children, they must be found. Many children with disabilities are not visible because they do not function in the mainstream of the community, such as children who are homeless and children of migrant families. Also, many unidentified children with disabilities are preschoolers. Parents may not be aware their child has a disability or that there are programs and services available.
The school district will ask for information about the child, asking such questions as: What is the concern? What has already been done about the concern? What background information is available? This information may be collected in several ways including interviews, observations, screening, and testing. This information may be obtained from parents and the students, or from other agencies that have information about the student. This information will be used to decide whether the child has a disability and needs special services.
All information collected will be held in strict confidence and released to others only with parents permission or as allowed by law. For example, the school district will send records on request to a school district or other educational agency in which a student intends to enroll. The parents may have a copy of those records upon request.
The school district will keep a record of all persons who review confidential records with the exception of authorized school employees, or other educational agency personnel. The school will also maintain a list of those employees who may have access to records.
The school district or other educational agency will inform the parents when personally identifiable information collected, maintained, or used is no longer needed to provide educational services to the child. All personally identifiable data will be kept for at least five years or longer if required for audit purposes, or otherwise required by law.
Parents and students have rights in this process. Parents have the right to:
Review their child’s records;
Refuse permission to release information (except as required by, or permitted by, law to be released; and
Request that information they believe to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their child’s privacy or other rights be changed. The district has a process to resolve disagreements about information collected.
The school district has appointed one person to make sure that information about students is kept confidential.
The school district’s policies and procedures for special education are available.
The school district operates an Education Management Information System (EMIS) that assures a practical method of identifying which children are currently receiving special education services and which children are not. Certain data regarding children are maintained within this system.
School districts are interested in meeting the needs of children with disabilities. If you have or know of a child who may have a disability, contact the Director of Pupil Services of Norton City School District for more information and help at 330-706-2732.