November 12, 2021 | Shasta Hensley, Exceptional Children Consultant, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) & Rhonda Logsdon, Executive Director, Kentucky-Special Parent Involvement Network (KY-SPIN)

[00:00:00] Rhonda: Welcome everyone. We’re going to talk about special education in Kentucky, foundational information for Kentucky schools and families.

I’m Rhonda Logsdon with Kentucky SPIN, Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network.

First and foremost, I’m a sister, three of my siblings have disabilities from the seen of the unseen in have unique experiences and great ta...

[00:00:00] Rhonda: Welcome everyone. We’re going to talk about special education in Kentucky, foundational information for Kentucky schools and families.

I’m Rhonda Logsdon with Kentucky SPIN, Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network.

First and foremost, I’m a sister, three of my siblings have disabilities from the seen of the unseen in have unique experiences and great talents. And all three had IEPs through school are smarter than I could wish to be. I’m also a proud foster adoptive mom to the greatest gift of my life.


[00:00:42] Shasta Hensley: Hi, I’m Shasta Hensley and I’m with the Kentucky Department of Education. I work in the office of special education and early learning. And one of my primary jobs is to support parent, family school partnerships.

[00:00:58] Rhonda: Today, we’re going to help you with several things, sort of growing your basic understanding of special education in Kentucky, growing your knowledge of school and family partnerships skills with special education, and then grow your knowledge of special education resources that are available for you.

You’re going to see on several of the different slides this icon, the bookshelf, and what that means is there’s a bonus resource with a lot of helpful resources, links that you could access at any time. So anytime you see that, that will be on the list, there’ll be provided for you.


[00:01:40] Shasta Hensley: To start, we’re going to talk about how you can grow your basic understanding of special education in Kentucky.

One of the important things to consider when thinking about special education are the impacts of policy and regulation. One way to think about this is that there are three layers to regulation and policy and guidance. Starting with the federal regulations and guidance, things like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act. Offices like that of the Office of Civil Rights or the Department of Justice. And of course the U.S. Department of Education.

These agencies, and these regulations impact both state and local policies.

The Kentucky Administrative Regulations for Special Education Programs are the regulations that govern special education in Kentucky. They support the IDEA.

The Kentucky academic standards are the content standards for Kentucky students. The minimum things in which students are required to learn.

KDE also offers several guidance documents around lots of things concerning special ed.

Local policy and procedure is also very important. This is the policies and procedures that occur at the district or school level. Oftentimes school-based decision-making councils are SBDM have large impacts on local policies and procedures, as well as the decisions made about curriculum and instruction. In addition, local school districts, offer local resources that directly support their students, families, and teachers.

And to begin this conversation, we have to start with the IDEA. So what is the IDEA or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?

Essentially the IDEA part B is the federal law that gives qualified children with disabilities the right to receive specially designed instruction and related services in public schools. The IDEA applies to children from ages three to 21. Through the IDEA children are assured a free, appropriate public education or FAPE.

The Kentucky administrative regulations for special education programs or the KARs govern special education programs in Kentucky. Each state has their own set of unique regulations, again, all support the implementation of the IDEA. Regulations in the KARs cover a variety of special education and related topics.

Thinking of local policy and procedure, Kentucky has 171 school districts, their policies and procedures also support the implementation of the IDEA and the KARs. If you ever have questions about your local policies or your local procedures, a great place to start would be to contact your director of special education, or your DoSE, who are very aware of local policies and procedures that impact your children, and their students.

So what is special education? What makes it unique, and different?

Special education is instruction, instruction being a key word, that is specially designed to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Public schools are charged with providing special education and related services to eligible students with disabilities at no cost to their parents.

The goal of special education is to make sure that each eligible student with a disability is provided equitable access to public education and provided with instruction, supports and services that help them achieve at high levels.

This leads us to thinking about FAPE or free, appropriate public education. FAPE is highly individualized and is determined by the student’s individualized education program, or IEP, team. Local school districts are responsible for providing fate to students with disabilities.

Instruction must be specially designed to meet the specific needs of a child that result from their disability. Each students’ admissions and release committee, or ARC, team must make specific decisions regarding the services to be provided.

Now, let’s think about that ARC team or the ARC. In Kentucky the IEP team is called the ARC. The ARC works together to develop an individualized and high quality IEP. The ARC includes several members, all with valuable expertise in how the student learns best.

Let’s look a little deeper at the IEP.

The IEP contains information about the child and the educational program designed to meet their unique needs. The IEP sets out a plan for growth and progress in the academic, functional, social and emotional areas that are impacted by their disability.

IEPs are documentation of the decisions made by the ARC.

[00:07:33] Rhonda: So as we go to the next step here, grow our knowledge of the family school partnership skills within special education let’s first start with the importance of it.

Relationships are the key to our children being successful. And looking at everyone’s role in it and how we build that relationship and have meaningful two way communication and respect for one another.

Looking at, you know, what are each of our strengths and what we bring to the table, just as we look at our child’s strength, our students’ strengths building that partnership it, and it goes way outside of just that the ARC meetings, and really working together. Because the more we build the partnership, the better our children are gonna do, and they’re going to succeed.

And always first and foremost, with our student, our child at the center of everything. And looking at the two way communication, when there are concerns. Even if you do not agree with one another the communication is going to be a critical part in building that relationship for our children to be successful.

Celebrate. Celebrate those accomplishments. You know, look at areas that we can all grow in. We all have areas just as you know, yes, it is going to be our child or student at the center of it, but we need to look at the areas, not just for them to grow, but each of us. So we learn from one another. And that’s the great thing about building a partnership and the relationship is because each of us bring unique talents to the table, regardless of your role as an ARC member, looking at the short and long-term goals.

Strengths, the strengths are going to help you with areas, you know, our children are no different than we are. Right. I use my strengths all the time to help me with the areas that I need to work on. So doing that and looking at the value that everyone brings to the table. And really looking at what’s working and what’s not. And how can we work together and solve this? Because a true partnership is all of us solving when things aren’t working together. Bring ideas, bring things to the table, updates and changes, things constantly change. And so this relationship will continue to flourish in our children will, I mean thrive, the more that we work to build this relationship.

Here’s some effective communication tips. Again, stay student/child focused. Ask questions. I’m the one that I ask all kinds of questions. [Chuckles] Not to be annoying, but so that I understand. Because if I don’t understand, I can’t help my child. If I don’t understand, I can’t help other children, other families.

And be an active listener. And this, I have to work on this very hard because, I am a little OCD about stuff where I’m trying to remember everything, the important things in my mind. I’m trying to, at the same time, you know, when someone’s talking, I have to purposely stop myself so that I actively listen. Because if I’m, in my mind, trying to think of what I’m going to say next or what I didn’t want to forget. I’m not really hearing them.

And I don’t know about you, but when I talk, I want people to hear me. And we do it, we don’t do it to be disrespectful. Right. We do it automatically, even when we don’t even realize. So I have to be very purposeful and I’m a work in progress [chuckles] in working on that.

And showing value in respect to other members of the team. This is critical. And, you know, even when you don’t agree, you must show value and respect for one another. Because that is the key to all partnerships and relationships. And if we’re staying child/student focused, because we need to, even if we don’t agree or, you know, we may not, you know, we all have bad days ourself, right, but we cannot let that, you know, everybody deserves the value and respect.

And be honest, you can be honest, but be respectful. Do so and it’s very critical, just like asking questions, it’s very critical to be honest with one another.

Sometimes I think that we tend to not want to bring up or be honest about the areas that we’re struggling in, whether, what role that you’re in or struggling to help our child or our students, but be honest. Well, you know, we tried this, but it didn’t work.

A true partnership is not about, well, you didn’t do that. A true partnership is how do we work together to support one another so that we can try it again and it worked the next time. Right. Or try different methods. Allow discussions and disagreements.

Disagreements can be a good thing. And I know you’re like, okay, really Rhonda. [Laughs] Okay. Because here’s the thing, everybody comes to this at a different perspective, different expertise, different knowledge, different strengths that they bring to the table. So allow to talk through it.

What’s critical here is don’t be closed off, like, no, that’s just that’s no, we’re not going to do that. Because if you don’t allow discussion and seeing it from other areas too, because we see things based on what we know. So, you need to allow discussion, but also through disagreements, you just can’t shut down. Because that is not going to in the end, help our child or our student best.

So, talk through those things. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to alter what’s important. And what you feel is important and critical for your child or for your student, but allow those things to take place.

Again, respect cultural differences. That’s the wonderful thing about all of us, is we all have unique cultural experiences, things that we bring to the table that makes us wonderful. So, we need to be respectful too, just because it may not be what we’re used to. We need to respect one another.

And focus on the strengths. Just like we do for our child and for student also focus on strengths for one another, as a member of the team, because that is going to build a strong family partnership and relationship that is going to last.

Be complimentary. That is going to be key because we, everybody, regardless of its about our child or our student or what it is, we always hear the bad things first. Right.

So, what we want to do is take those opportunities because they’re always good things going on. Even when we have struggles or our child is having struggles, our students are having struggles, look for those positive.

Compliment because that’s going to make a world of difference. Because nobody, I don’t know about y’all, but no matter what area of my life, it’s never the good things you hear first. It’s no different. If you’re a parent it’s no different if you’re a teacher. So, you know, take those opportunities.

And don’t just approach one another, talk to one another, when somethings wrong. Right. Because that’s not a true partnership and a relationship that is going to help our children.

And be aware of your verbal and nonverbal cues. I always use this example because I’m like, okay, it doesn’t matter if what you’re saying is sweet as pie, but if you’re rolling your eyes at the same time, okay. Your nonverbal cues many times send a larger message then your verbal.

So we have to keep those things in mind, and you know, when you’re upset too, we have to be very conscious of, you know, our expressions. We want to be honest with one another, like we said there, but we’ve got to do it in a respectful manner and we’ve got to be aware of, you know, the message that we’re giving that’s not in words, as well.

So we’re going to grow our knowledge next up special education resources.

I’m with Kentucky SPIN, which I had stated earlier, we are all family members, immediate family members and or persons with disabilities helping one another through a true peer to peer support.

We help families. We are the parent training and information center for Kentucky. We are here to help step through the process. We want the best for all of our children and really working together to build those partnerships and providing information, training, support, one-on-one support. So please let us know. We have a vast video library and resources on our website that are available at any time.

Also the Kentucky Collaborative for Families and Schools, which we partner this with them, is our Kentucky statewide family engagement center. And this is such a wonderful center that has brought together so many people you know, parents, teachers, schools. Everybody’s together and this collaborative works to build partnerships and support one another for the end of all of our children being successful. And they are a wealth of knowledge and, you know, check those out, those resources out because it is a lot of wonderful statewide partners that are a part of this and great knowledge and resources for all of us. Shasta.

[00:18:57] Shasta Hensley: Another great place to find some resources to grow your knowledge is within the office of special education and early learning. On our webpage you’re going to find resources for both parents and families and school-based professional.

Parents and families will find information and frequently asked questions around parent and family rights, parent and family resources, and even a parent and family toolbox that links to many of the organizations that both the Kentucky SPIN and the Collaborative work with as well as information on supporting behavior at home or non traditional instruction.

For school-based professionals, we offer a web page full of great instructional resources, specifically for students with disabilities. You can also find many of the required or recommended forms and documents related to special education on the school-based professionals area.

You can also find great resources for preschool and primary students on the Office of Special Education, Early Learning webpage.

And just as a reminder, throughout this presentation, your eyes, hopefully were able to see, or you were able to be indicated that there was a little bookshelf that told you that there are some resources that go with what we mentioned.

So if we said something like the ARC or the IEP, and you really want to learn more, go to that resource link, check out those resources that we’ve included as part of this presentation. Don’t forget about them and use them to grow your knowledge even more.

If you would like to contact either Rhonda or myself, you can use this information. You can reach me at the Kentucky Department of Education [phone 502-564-4970, email] And you can find Rhonda at Kentucky SPIN [phone 800-825-1764 or 502-937-6894, email or, website].

And again, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for learning more about special education and reach out to us if you have any questions.