Director of Student Support Services
Administrative Assistant to Director
Administrative Assistant/MA Billing Specialist
Administrative Assistant Special Education
Student Support Services
The department of Student Support Services encompasses Special Education, Section 504, and McKinney-Vento (homeless). We believe that students should be afforded the right to a free and appropriate public education where every student learns every day.
What is Section 504?
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides protection against discrimination on the basis of one’s disability in any program or activity provided by school districts and other educational providers that receive federal funding. The purpose of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is to ensure that students who are Section 504 eligible have educational opportunities equivalent to their non-disabled peers.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that:
No otherwise qualified individual with disabilities in the United States...shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service (29 USC 794).
To comply with the duty to eliminate discrimination, school districts must examine their policies, programs, and practices to ensure students are not excluded from programs and services solely on the basis of their disability. Secondly, school districts must take steps to locate, evaluate, and place eligible students with disabilities under Section 504. Section 504 of the Act requires an analysis of student needs in comparative terms to the average student. Section 504 is not an aspect of special education. Rather it is a civil rights law. Therefore, the process of identifying students and determining necessary accommodations is a regular education function.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law governing special education (34 CRF 300). It requires a school district to provide a free and appropriate education (FAPE). Both IDEA and Section 504 mandate the provision of FAPE. Under Section 504, FAPE may consist of either regular or special education and related aids and services, as implemented by an appropriate means, including, but not limited to, an IEP but is generally in the form of a Section 504 Plan (34 CFR 104.33). If, however, a student does not qualify for an IEP, he or she may qualify for a Section 504 Plan. IDEA requires that a child’s disability must adversely affect his or her education, requiring special education, whereas, in order to qualify under Section 504, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity or is regarded as having such impairment.
Exclusions from 504
Section 504 specifically excludes the following conditions from qualifying a student as disabled: substance abuse disorders resulting from illegal use of drugs, kleptomania, pyromania, exhibitionism, pregnancy, missing teeth, lactose intolerance, sick building syndrome, voyeurism, gender identity issues not resulting from physical impairment, or other sexual disorders/differences. A student with an educational deficit caused by economic, cultural or environmental disadvantages should not be considered to have an impairment under Section 504, nor should a student with educational deficits due to limited English proficiency.
What happens if a student qualifies under Section 504?
If a student qualifies under Section 504, it has been determined through a variety of sources that the student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, determined on a case-by-case basis. Documented sources may include aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural background and adaptive behavior. Once eligibility has been determined, a Section 504 Plan is prepared, implemented, and periodically re-evaluated (34 CFR 103.35).
What happens if a student qualifies under IDEA?
If a student qualifies under IDEA, an IEP is prepared and implemented in accordance with applicable regulations. To qualify for special education and related services under Part B of the IDEA, a student must be between the ages of 3 and 21 and must satisfy eligibility criteria.
Can a student qualify under both Section 504 and IDEA?
If a student qualifies under IDEA, the student also qualifies under Section 504 and, therefore, is covered under its nondiscrimination protections. A student who has been determined to be qualified under Section 504, however, is not necessarily considered disabled under IDEA if the student does not meet eligibility criteria. If a student does not qualify under IDEA, he or she should be evaluated under Section 504.
What is McKinney-Vento?
Cambridge-Isanti Schools is guided by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These are federal laws that provide students experiencing homelessness access to opportunities that will help them participate in school.
What is the definition of homelessness?
Under the McKinney-Vento Act, homelessness is defined as the lack of a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence; this includes individuals who:
- temporarily live in a hotel, motel, trailer park or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
- live in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station; live in other public or private spaces not designed to accommodate regular sleeping for humans;
- live in an emergency shelter or transitional housing;
- have been abandoned in hospitals;
- temporarily share housing with another household due to loss of housing or economic hardship;
- are migratory and live in any of the circumstances described above;
- are considered unaccompanied youth, i.e. not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian and live in any of the circumstances described above.
How is the McKinney-Vento Act beneficial for students?
- McKinney-Vento provisions provide stability for children and youth experiencing homelessness by ensuring that they are able to attend school, no matter where they live or how long they have lived there. According to each student’s best interest, eligible children and youth are able to remain in their school of origin or enroll in the school in the attendance area where the child or youth is temporarily living.
- Children and youth experiencing homelessness have the right to immediate enrollment in school, even if lacking documents normally required for enrollment, including proof of residence, birth certificate, guardianship documentation, previous school records or immunization records. Students have the right to participate fully in school while the required documents are gathered.
- Children and youth experiencing homelessness have the right to a free, appropriate public education, including early intervention services.
- Students experiencing homelessness automatically qualify for free school meals. Once qualified, this benefit is valid for the entire school year.
- To ensure school stability, students experiencing homelessness have access to the same transportation services to and from school as students who are permanently housed, even if living outside of the attendance area of the school of origin.
Who can I contact about McKinney-Vento?
Building Liaisons: Contact your child’s guidance counselor/social worker at their school.
District McKinney-Vento (Homeless) Liaison:
What is Special Education?
Special education is specially designed instruction tailored to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. Students with disabilities receive special education support services in conjunction with the general education curriculum. Our school district provides a continuum of services for qualified students and offers a variety of service delivery models within the school district. Students receive special education services in the most appropriate setting, ranging from at home for young students to school sites, and when needed, specialized placements. For K-12 students, the focus is to service students in their general education classroom as much as is appropriate.
Who Can Receive Special Education Services?
To qualify for special education services a child must have a disability. A student may be referred for a special education evaluation by a teacher or by a parent. Prior to the referral, accommodations must be made and interventions attempted in the general education classroom. If the documentation from the interventions shows the student is still not progressing academically, then a referral for a special education evaluation may be recommended.
Parents are invited to attend an evaluation planning meeting with the school staff to determine areas of need that should be evaluated. After the meeting, a parent must approve the initial evaluation by signing the "Notice of an Education Evaluation/Re-Evaluation Plan." The evaluation must be completed within 30 school days from the date the written consent is received by the school district.
The child must meet state eligibility criteria in one or more of the following areas:
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Deaf/Hard of Hearing
- Developmental Cognitive Disability: Mild/Moderate
- Developmental Cognitive Disability: Severe-Profound
- Developmental Delay (birth to age 7)
- Emotional or Behavioral Disorder
- Other Health Disability
- Physical Impairment
- Severe Multiple Impairments
- Specific Learning Disability
- Speech or Language Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visual Impairment
How Does a Student Receive Special Education Services?
If a student has met Minnesota eligibility through a comprehensive evaluation, then a multi-disciplinary team of parents and professionals will meet to write goals to improve the areas of educational need identified for the student. Depending on the age of the student, goals will be written on a document called an Individual Educational Program (IEP), an Individual Service Plan (ISP), an Interagency Individual Intervention Plan (IIIP) or an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) for students ages 2 and under.
Special education programs require parents to participate in making decisions for their child. If a parent is not available, a surrogate parent will be appointed.
What Should I Expect When My Child Receives Special Education Services?
Special education teachers will work with general education teachers to provide the appropriate adaptations within the general education setting. Adaptations can include highlighted textbooks, shortened assignments, class notes, as well as other aids to assist students to succeed in school.
Parents should expect to participate as a team member in decisions regarding their child’s special education program. A student should receive instruction that has been individualized to meet their specific needs.
Parent Resources for Understanding the Special Education Process
- Procedural Safeguards
- Understanding the Special Education Process
- Evaluation: What does it mean for your child?
- Special Education Acronyms
- Resource List of Disability Organizations
IEP (Individual Education Program)
- Procedural Safeguards
- Attending Meetings to Plan your Child’s Education Program
- Who is on my Child’s Team
- Special Education Acronyms
Special Education during COVID
Special education students will follow the general education model for learning as they are part of the general education system. Health and safety protocols are important for the special education department. There are additional cleaning procedures that the district will follow to ensure the equipment and materials used by students will be cleaned following the stated protocols for cleaning. Teams will also consider equipment and materials that are not able to be used as cleaning of these materials may be difficult. Teams will discuss alternatives in individualized meetings to address specific student needs.
During August and early fall, Individualized planning with IEP teams will occur to amend IEPs to update distance learning plans. This may need to be readdressed as the year goes on in order to address needs of students in the different scenarios.
Parents are able to opt for an alternate plan for their students. If so, this will follow the distance learning model or online school. The IEP will reflect services for distance learning and staff will not come to the home to provide services to the student.
SCENARIO 1- In Person
Special education teams will collect baseline data while in scenario 1 to determine students needs related to regression and meeting goals/objectives. This data will be used and discussed by IEP teams to determine whether students would benefit from additional time in a hybrid model based on criteria. This criteria is typically used to determine whether students qualify for ESY. Going forward, the ESY criteria will additionally be used to determine needs in a hybrid or distance learning environment.
SCENARIO 2 - Hybrid
Requirements from Scenario 1 apply, and in addition:
- Based on team decisions, special education students may come onsite more often depending on student needs.
SCENARIO 3 - Distance Learning
In scenario 3, the district will be implementing a distance learning model. With this, students will not receive face-face onsite instruction. We are not able to send staff to student homes.
Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC)
What is SEAC?
SEAC is an acronym for Special Education Advisory Council, which is a group that provides input on special education issues to its local school district. Its purpose is to advise and advocate, not to decide policy. Minnesota law requires each school district in the state to have a SEAC although it does not specify how the groups should be organized or what duties they should perform. As a result, each SEAC may have a unique mission and structure.
Local SEACs advise school districts on the development of programs and services to meet the special education needs of children and families. By sharing their unique perspective of what it is like to use these services, parents can help the district be more effective. As a result, outcomes for children with disabilities should improve.
Minnesota law requires each school district in the state to have a special education advisory council (SEAC). Here is what the statute says:
In order to increase the involvement of parents of children with disabilities in district policy making and decision making, school districts must have a special education advisory council that is incorporated into the district's special education system plan.
- This advisory council may be established either for individual districts or in cooperation with other districts who are members of the same special education cooperative.
- A district may set up this council as a subgroup of an existing board, council, or committee.
- At least half of the designated council members bust be parents of students with a disability. When a nonpublic school is located in the district, the council must include at least one member who is a parent of a nonpublic school student with a disability, or an employee of a nonpublic school if no parent of a nonpublic school student with a disability is available to serve.
- Each local council must meet no less than once each year. The number of members, frequency of meetings, and operational procedures are to be locally determined.
SEAC bylaws: Cambridge-Isanti SEAC bylaws
11/18/19 - Minutes
1/13/20 - Minutes
4/27/20 - Minutes
SEAC Parent Workshops
There are no parent workshops currently scheduled.