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Kinship Caregivers - Education

What documents do I need to enroll the child in school?

You must have certain documents in order to enroll the child in school. These documents include:

  • Birth Certificate, official record;
  • Immunization records unless contraindicated by a written physician's statement or a written dissent from the student or parent; and
  • Parent or guardian photo ID.

You will also have to check with the school or your local school board to determine what documentation you will need to prove that the child resides with you in the school district and you have the authority to make education decisions for the child.If a student is homeless or does not regularly stay at one location, you may be able to enroll the child without all the documents.

If you have any legal documents to show a transfer, change, or restrictions in child custody, give the school or district a copy.

If the child is in the custody of Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the child 's caseworker will be able to provide you with the written documentation you will need to enroll the child in school. Additionally, if the child is in DCFS custody, limited funding is available to assist with costs of school uniforms and school supplies.

When must I enroll a child in school?

Louisiana law requires that all students attend school from age 7 to 18 unless they have already graduated from high school. The child may enter first grade if they are 6 years old by September 30th. The law requires that a child cannot enter first grade without proof that they attended full day kindergarten or have passed a screening test. Many school systems offer pre-kindergarten for younger children.

What are the attendance requirements?

Louisiana requires students to attend school for a certain number of days to be promoted to the next grade and earn credit for a course. Students must attend at least 167 days to earn credit and be eligible for promotion to the next grade. Exempt and excused absences are not counted against the attendance requirement. Examples are extended illness document by a doctor or to celebrate religious holidays. All other absences are counted against the attendance requirement. Tardiness is not counted against the attendance requirement. However, school districts may have their own policy on tardiness.

When is a child considered truant?

A child is considered truant after the fifth unexcused absence or occurrence of being tardy within any school semester. Tardy includes leaving school early unexcused. The school must give you written notice and hold a conference with you on or before the child's third unexcused absence or tardy.

What will happen to me if a child in my care is truant?

A child who is habitually truant and his caregiver may be subject in the juvenile court to a Family in Need of Services case. The child and the caregiver may have to go through court ordered evaluations and follow specific court orders. Also, the caregiver may be fined and ordered to perform community service. Those punishments for the caregiver can increase with each offense.

When can a child drop out of school?

At age 16 a child can withdraw from school with the written consent of their caregiver if they have approval from the school to enroll in an alternative education program, a vocational technical education program, or an adult education program. Also, students may enroll in the National Guard Youth Challenge Program.

What is the school's discipline plan?

If you have not received the school's discipline plan, ask for a copy. Each school develops its discipline plan, in accordance with state law. For each discipline infraction, there is a punishment, ranging from mild punishments, such as reprimands, to more severe punishments, such as detention. The discipline plan also outlines the infractions that warrant suspension and expulsion. If your child complains that he/she has been disciplined unfairly, call the school and make an appointment to see the teacher and/or principal. At the meeting, be open to listening to the teacher's side of the incident. Student behavior improves when teachers and parents work together.

What to do if the child is suspended or expelled?

If the child is suspended from school, you should receive a telephone call from the school giving you the reasons for the suspension and how long it will last. They will also inform you that you must attend a conference at the school to discuss the problem before the child can return to school. If the school cannot reach you by telephone, they must send you a registered letter with the same in formation. If you fail to attend the conference, then the child will be considered truant. They have to inform you in writing the reasons for the suspension. If you disagree with the school regarding the suspension , you can appeal to the superintendent of schools.

If the child is expelled from school, the same procedure as with a suspension must be followed. However, the superintendent, rather than the school principal, makes the decision to expel rather than suspend. The caretaker must be notified by certified mail of the decision. If you disagree with the superintendent's decision, you can appeal to the school board and then to the district court. During an expulsion the superintendent shall place the pupil in an alternative school or in an alternative educational placement.

If the child has an IEP or 504 Plan for a disability, they have some extra protections against suspensions and expulsions.

What is an alternative school?

Alternative schools may mean programs designed to offer variations of traditional instructional programs and strategies for the purpose of increasing the likelihood those students who are unmotivated or unsuccessful in traditional programs or who are disruptive in the traditional school environment remain in school and obtain a high school diploma. Alternative schools generally are on a campus separate from the regular school. They hold students to strict standards of behavior in highly structured and controlled environments. Often, students who are expelled from traditional public schools are required to attend alternative schools.

Can I enroll the child in a non-public school?

Yes, in Louisiana tens of thousands of students are enrolled in nonpublic schools. These educational settings may include those approved and registered with the state and those only registered with the state. Nonpublic schools include faith based schools and other private schools. You may also choose to enroll the child in a home study program. This independent education is typically provided through a home study program or a registered nonpublic school approved by the state Department of Education.

If the child is in DCFS custody, special provisions apply regarding home schooling or alternative schools. Check with the child's caseworker before enrolling the child in any of these type educational settings.

For further information see https://www.louisianabelieves.com/schools/nonpublic-schools.

How do I request special education services?

Obtaining special education services for a child is a specific process with established timelines. The first step is to make a request at the child 's school for an evaluation that explains why you want special education or believe it would be helpful. You should make this request in writing with the date you give it to the school, keep a copy for your records and ask the school sign with the date they received it. You may also send a copy of the request to the school district's special education director/ supervisor. If the child is in school, the school should refer your request to the school building level committee . Be sure to give the school any additional information, like evaluations , diagnoses, professional recommendations, that will help them make an informed decision. They will determine if the child needs a full evaluation. The school district is not required to evaluate every student after receiving a request, but if they refuse, the school district should give you written reasons. If referred for a full evaluation, you will be asked to sign a consent form. The full evaluation must be done within 60 business days after they received your written consent. The school district will also ask your consent to conduct a reevaluation every 3 years after the first evaluation. A new evaluation can be done sooner if it is needed.

Who is considered a parent for special education purposes?

All of the following are considered parents for special education purposes: a biological or adoptive parent of a child ; a foster parent a guardian generally authorized to act as the student's parent, or authorized to make educational decisions for the student, but not the state if the student is a ward of the state; an individual acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent with whom the student lives, or an individual who is legally responsible for the student's welfare; or a surrogate parent who has been appointed in accordance with law.

What are Surrogate Parents within Educational System?

Surrogate parent means a person appointed by a school district to represent a child with a disability who has or may need special education services. This person may not be receiving public funds to educate or care for the child.

When is a Surrogate parent appointed?

A surrogate parent is appointed for a child when:

  • No parent can be identified;
  • The public agency, after reasonable efforts, cannot locate a parent;
  • The child is a ward of the State under the laws of that State; or
  • The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth.

What is an IEP?

An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. It is developed by the IEP Team to meet the child needs after considering the special education evaluation, the child 's disability, and related service needs. The IEP can include provisions for the type of classroom placement and related service such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, etc. The IEP is developed at a scheduled meeting with school officials which must include you, possibly the child and anyone else who can assist in developing an appropriate plan. IEPs must be reviewed every year. You or the school can request a new IEP meeting at any time if changes are needed.

If the child is already eligible for Special Education when they come to live with you, be sure to inform the school immediately when you enroll them. If you have a copy of the IEP or the evaluation, provide a copy to the school but keep a copy for your records.

For Further Information on special education: https://www.louisianabelieves.com/docs/default-source/academics/louisiana's-educational-rights-of-children-with-disabilities.pdf?sfvrsn=8e7ffce2_21

What is a 504 accommodation?

A child may be eligible for 504 accommodations, if the student has a recognizable physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life activities or major bodily functions, and the impairment is substantially limiting compared to the general student population. The major life activity can include: self-care, manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking, sitting, thinking, learning, breathing, interacting with others, working, reading, standing, lifting, bending, concentrating.

Examples of accommodations in 504 plans include:

  • Preferential seating;
  • Extended time on tests and assignments;
  • Reduced homework or classwork;
  • Verbal, visual, or technology aids;
  • Modified textbooks or audio-video materials;
  • Behavior management support;
  • Adjusted class schedules or grading;
  • Verbal testing;
  • Excused lateness, absence, or missed classwork;
  • Pre-approved nurse's office visits and accompaniment to visits; and,
  • Occupational or physical therapy.

What is the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan?

A 504 accommodations plan is slightly different from an IEP. A student with an IEP required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) receives special education and related services in a regular or more restrictive educational setting, depending on the student's needs. The main difference is that a 504 plan outlines the necessary modifications to a student's regular education program in a regular classroom setting. Both are implemented, monitored, and delivered by classroom teachers and, if necessary, additional school support staff.

Also, informed parental consent for services and involvement is required for an IEP, but not for a 504 plan. Full parental participation in the 504 plan process, however, is important for the student's academic success.

It's important to note that students with IEPs are also entitled to the additional protections and services covered by 504 accommodations. Students with IEPs might benefit from 504 accommodations, for example, if they 're moving from a special education setting to a regular classroom.

Can a child get additional services if they fail the LEAP test?

When a child has not achieved basic or approaching basic on the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) testing in at least two core subjects, they may be eligible for an Individual Academic Improvement Plan. This plan will provide for interventions that will assist the child in achieving basic in the core subjects. These no cost interventions may include enrollment in summer school, additional in-school support, guaranteed access to a tier 1/high quality curriculum, or strategic classroom placement. The plan should be developed with your and the child's participation.

Will the child be considered homeless for educational purposes?

They may be considered homeless if they are only residing with you on a temporary basis and have no permanent address. They may also be considered homeless if they are residing with you while in the custody of DCFS. In both instances, the school system is obligated to try to keep the child in their original school. All school systems have a coordinator for homeless students.

How are the child's school records transferred?

The principal of the child 's original school is obligated to transfer all records to the new school within 10 school days of a written request from the new school.