At Digital Academy of Florida, our faculty and staff work hard to ensure that every student has the accommodations they need to succeed! 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, we would be happy to discuss accommodations that may be available in order to maximize the parent/guardian’s participation and the student’s success. Individuals seeking to discuss accommodations for this reason may contact our Special Programs Department.
Identification of American with Disabilities (ADA) Compliance Act Coordinator/Special Programs Manager
Annual Public Notice of Special Services & Programs
In accordance with federal and state regulations, Digital Academy of Florida (DAOF) will provide an annual public notice to families informing them of DAOF’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 DAOF’s internal practices to comply with these will be available in the DAOF’s Special Programs Manuals and Handbooks.
Digital Academy of Florida (DAOF) strives to identify, locate, and evaluate all enrolled children who may have disabilities. Disability, as stated in IDEA, includes such conditions as hearing, visual, speech, or language impairment, specific learning disability, emotional disturbance, cognitive disability, other health or physical impairment, autism, and traumatic brain injury. The process of identifying, locating, and evaluating these children is referred to as Child Find. In accordance with federal and state regulations, DAOF will provide an annual public notice to families informing them of DAOF’s child find responsibilities, procedures involved in the identification of educational disabilities and determination of students’ service and support needs.
As a public school, we will respond vigorously to federal and state mandates requiring the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education regardless of a child’s disability or the severity of the disability. In order to comply with the Child Find requirements, DAOF will help ensure that all DAOF students with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disability, who are in need of special education and related services—are identified, located, and evaluated —including students with disabilities who are homeless or students who are wards of the state.
Parent/Guardian permission and involvement is a vital piece in the process. All information collected will be held in strict confidence and released to others only with parental permission or as allowed by law. In keeping with this confidence, DAOF will keep a record of all persons who review confidential information. In accordance with state regulations, parents have the right to review their child’s records.
As part of the Child Find process, some services may include a complete evaluation, an individualized education program designed specifically for the child, and a referral to other agencies providing special services.
Exceptional Student Education or Section 504 Plans
Digital Academy of Florida (DAOF) 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. Once written parental/guardian consent is obtained, DAOF 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.
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/EP or 504 Plan.
Evaluation and Eligibility
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. If the student is eligible and requires specially designed instruction, a team will be gathered to construct an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Gifted Educational Plan (EP), or 504 Plan; during which the team will review and finalize the proposed details of an appropriate educational program to meet the student’s documented needs.
Exceptional Student Education
For students confirmed to present with special education needs, the team agrees on the IEP/EP 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 DAOF. DAOF can only proceed with implementing the student’s IEP/EP (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 DAOF 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.
Section 504 Plans
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. DAOF 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, DAOF 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.
Privacy and Confidentiality
Confidentiality is one of the rights afforded to parents in the Parent Rights /Procedural Safeguards document. Confidentiality of educational records is a basic right shared by all children in public schools and their parents. These fundamental rights are described in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, which applies to all students, not just those with disabilities. All district personnel (including contracted employees) are governed by confidentiality requirements.
Special Education Grievances or Disputes
Digital Academy of Florida recognizes that despite best intentions of all parties, disagreements or miscommunications may arise between the school-based team and families or students. Should this situation occur, the student’s special education case manager will initiate an IEP meeting, where the IEP team will discuss specific details contributing to any educational concern to ensure they 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. The Digital Academy of Florida’s Special Education Team seeks to establish and maintain the confidence of its families to always serve its students to maximize their educational success.
Dispute Resolution Options
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.
A voluntary process in which both parties seek to resolve the issues involved in the concern with an unbiased, third party mediator from the Florida 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, and they submit a formal complaint against DAOF to the Florida Department of Education.
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.