MN State Statutes
In Minnesota, all students not reading at grade level should receive interventions / alternate instruction. The alternate instruction should be scientific, research-based instruction (SBRI) and "multisensory, systematic, sequential, cumulative, and explicit." See statutes 120B.12 and 125A.56 below for specifics. The SRBI instruction is also referenced in MN Rule 3525.1341 which is explained below in the IEP section.
120B.12 outlines Read Well by Third Grade. This includes the Local Literacy Plan that every school district must develop and post on its website.
125A.56, subdivision 1 describes alternate instruction to be provided to a child not reading at grade level. If a child does not respond well to intervention, see MN Rule 3525.1341 listed in the section below for IEP qualification guidelines.
125A.01 defines dyslexia.
122A.06 subdivision 4 defines terms for phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension.
What is an IEP?
IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan. It is a written document of the educational services that a child will receive when eligible for special education services. The purpose of an IEP is to set reasonable learning goals for the child, list accommodations, and specifically state the services that the school district will provide. IEP's should be personalized to meet the child's unique needs. IEP's are governed by the Federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), and the IEP document is legally binding - meaning the school district must provide the services written by the IEP team.
In IDEA, dyslexia falls under the category of Specific Learning Disability (SLD). Minnesota Administrative Rule 3525.1341 follows the Federal IDEA law and outlines the qualifying criteria for eligibility. Note that a child can qualify in two ways -- either from a 1.75 standard deviation below the mean (see Subp. 2. C) or from an inadequate rate of progress (see Subp. 2. D). A child must meet criteria in Subp. 2. A, B, and C or A, B, and D. A team override decision could also be made per Minnesota Administrative Rule 3525.1354 "Team Override on Eligibility Decisions".
The IEP is developed by a team of school personnel and the child's parents. The IEP team meets, reviews assessment information about the child, and develops an educational program for the individual needs of the child. The initial IEP meeting must be held within 30 calendar days of determining the child is eligible for special education. A child's IEP must also be reviewed at least annually to determine if the child's goals were met and if any changes are needed. A parent can ask for an IEP meeting at any time.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit released an opinion that an IEP can specify a specific methodology: "When a particular methodology plays a critical role in the student’s educational plan, it must be specified in the IEP rather than left up to individual teachers’ discretion."
What is a 504 PLAN?
The number "504" refers to Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act, which states that no one with a disability can be excluded from federally funded programs or activities, including education. Under this law, disability is defined as "a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities." Specific Learning Disabilities are listed as an example of such an impairment, and learning is listed as an example of a major life activity. Since dyslexia affects learning, it should be eligible based on the definition. A 504 Plan contains the specific accommodations that a student receives. Accommodations are changes and adjustments made to give students with disabilities equal access to the curriculum.
Parents who want a 504 Plan for their child should do the following:
- Locate and read their districts 504 plan procedures,
- Send their school a request for a 504 Plan in writing,
- Go to the meeting with documentation of your child's diagnosis and a list of requested accommodations.
Here is a sample letter requesting a 504 Plan and list of possible accommodations for an IEP or a 504 Plan. Bright Solutions for Dyslexia also has an excellent video and handout about accommodations for a student with dyslexia.
Parents frequently report their child could not get a 504 Plan because he is she was not academically behind, or not discrepant enough from their peers. Being academically behind is NOT required to get a 504 Plan! The U.S. Office of Civil Rights which governs Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act has issued several documents which explain this. These documents say that parents do no have to go to extensive means to prove their child has a disability that is substantially limiting. The relevant sections of the below documents are highlighted in yellow:
Accessible Instructional Material
Having your child, who has an IEP or 504, have access to Accessible Instruction Material (AIM) can make all the difference in their education. AIM is for all students who qualify as having a "print disability" and provides them access to textbooks and other materials in accessible forms such as braille, audio, and digital text.
For more information about IEP's and 504 Plans, visit the following websites:
- Wrightslaw IEP Page - legal information
- Identifying and Evaluating Students for Special Education Services - from the MN Disability Law Center
- Special Education Advisor - many fact sheets about special education
- Comparison chart between IDEA and Section 504 - from Understood
We would like to give Katie Greving, President, DDIA credit for most of the content of this page.