"Where Children Are First!"
Student Services
Palos Heights School District 128
12809 S. McVickers Avenue, Palos Heights, IL  60463 • Tel. 708-597-9040 • FAX 708-597-9089
Cathy Leslie
Director of Special Education
cleslie@palos128.org
(708) 597-1285




Cindy Drabeck
Special Education Secretary
cdrabeck@palos128.org
(708) 597-1285


Lynn Adamonis
Special Education Coordinator
ladamonis@palos128.org

(708) 385-3269


Services Team

Full Education Opportunity Goal

Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information

Child Identification

Evaluation and Determination of Eligibility

Individual Education Program (IEP)

Least Restrictive Environment

Manifestation Determination Review

Consent for Initial Placement

Review and Revision of the IEP

Early Childhood Services: Transition from Early Intervention

Procedural Safeguards


Full Educational Opportunity Goal

Per Board of Education Policies, District 128 affords all students with disabilities full opportunity to participate in all school sponsored educational services, programs, or activities.  District 128 is committed to ensuring that it meets the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 and its associated regulations, as well as, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Placement in the Least Restrictive Environment will be implemented to the maximum extent possible for District students with special needs.  Special classes, separate schooling, or other placements by which students with disabilities are removed from the regular education environment will only occur if the students IEP team determines that the nature and severity of the disability is such that education in a general education setting, even with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be satisfactorily achieved.  District 128 provides a continuum of placements to address the needs of students with disabilities to ensure that those students receive special education and related services appropriate to their needs.  District 128 ensures full educational opportunity to children with disabilities ages birth through two in collaboration with our local Child and Family Connections agency.  If CFC12 is unable to meet the needs of a child with disabilities for screening, assessment, or services, District 128 works with the family to obtain such necessary services or assessments.  School District 128 annually collects and reports required data regarding children with disabilities residing within District boundaries.

Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information

District 128 protects the confidentiality of student’s educational records.  District 128’s Superintendent acts as the Records Custodian to ensure compliance with the confidentiality requirements of the Illinois School Code, Illinois School Student Records Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  The Records Custodian assumes responsibility for insuring the confidentiality of any personally identifiable information, oversees the right of authorized persons to inspect and review educational records, responds to request for amendment of educational records, releases personally identifiable information with parental consent, sends notification regarding destruction of records and ensures that procedures are followed, and facilitates the transfer of records as appropriate and permissible.  The Records Custodian performs all of these obligations within the rules and regulations set forth in Illinois School Code, Illinois School Student Records Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Child Identification


Child Find

District 128 has specific procedures for actively identifying, locating and evaluating children who may be eligible for special education and related services. 
District 128 continuously collaborates with early intervention programs to identify children from birth through two years of age who have or as suspected of having disabilities, in order to provide services upon three years of age.  Collaborative relationships exist between local private care providers, day care centers, Child & Family Connections #12, StarNet, and Head Start.  Additionally, District 128 provides Preschool Screenings several times per year, and additionally as needed, to identify those who may need early intervention or special education and related services.  Each District wide preschool screening is conducted by early childhood staff under the direction of the Director of Special Education with written parental consent.  The screenings are advertised locally in newspapers, church bulletins, daycare/preschools programs, non-public schools within district boundaries, K-8 grade buildings within District 128, and on Cable TV.  District 128 strives to make the community aware of the availability of special education services and children’s rights to a free appropriate public education.  School personnel and parents are made aware of referral procedures.

Hearing and vision screenings are conducted annually for all students in District 128, except in Kindergarten where students submit a vision examination upon registration and only hearing is screened at school.

District 128 is committed to supporting student success within the general education environment.  Flexible services and interventions are provided to students who need support through a Multi-Tiered System of Supports.  Students are identified for differentiated support by benchmark data, teacher referral, or parent referral.  Each grade level team then conducts initial problem solving meetings to develop smart goals and determine appropriate interventions.  The grade level (horizontal) teams conduct follow up meetings to adjust interventions, goals, and decisions as appropriate.  Building Problem Solving Support Teams are established and classroom teachers can present student data and concerns at this next level when adequate progress is not achieved. The Problem Solving - Support Team can revise goals and implement additional interventions or refer the student for additional evaluations.  At any time, a staff member or parent may refer a student for a formal evaluation.  Implementation of RTI/MTSS is not intended to delay a formal evaluation when it is deemed appropriate or has been requested in writing by a parent/guardian or a staff person.
Download Request for Case Study Evaluation document.

Evaluation and Determination of Eligibility


Identification of Needed Assessments

The district responds to all referrals within 10 days, conducts a domain meeting to determine what, if any, formal evaluations shall be conducted.  If the district determines that a referral for a full case study evaluation is not warranted, the parent will be notified in writing.  Parents are notified of their right to challenge the district’s decision not to conduct a full and individual evaluation by requesting a due process hearing.  Written parental consent is obtained to complete a formal evaluation.  The date of consent triggers the 60-school-day timeline for completion of the evaluation and determination of eligibility.

Evaluation and Reevaluation Requirements

District 128 follows all the policies and procedures in place for ensuring compliance with evaluation requirements in the Illinois Administrative Code.  The district appoints members of the IEP team for the student for the purposes of insuring that the student’s presenting problems and the suspected disability are addressed adequately.  Students who have been determined to be eligible for special education are re-evaluated every 3 years as required by law or sooner when warranted.  The district determines specifically what assessments are needed and involves and notifies the parents in writing of the decision not to conduct new and/or additional testing when appropriate.  The district ensure that the student’s language use pattern and cultural background have been determined, the mode of communication has been determined, and when the child has a non-English speaking background, a determination of English proficiency will be made.  When the IEP team deems that it is necessary, the district will provide bilingual evaluations and/or translation services for parents. 
The IEP team must be convened within 60 school days from the date of written parental consent and no more than 3 years from the date of the prior IEP meeting where the student’s eligibility was established or reaffirmed.  The IEP team conducts a full and individual evaluation ensuring that proper evaluation procedures and valid and reliable testing materials are utilized to protect all students.  Evaluation results will be submitted by written reports within the timelines established.  Observation of a student in the general education classroom setting is completed as part of a comprehensive evaluation.  The district makes reasonable efforts to ensure that one or both parents may participate in the IEP meetings.  These efforts include a minimum of 10 days prior notice of the meeting, affording parents the opportunity to attend through the use of conference calls, and attempting to arrange a mutually agreed upon time and place for the meeting. 

Determination of Eligibility

Eligibility for special education and related services is determined on the basis of the assessment data, supporting information collected by the IEP team, and information presented during the meeting.  The IEP team, including the parent, will determine whether a student has a disability as defined in Illinois Administrative Code, has a disability with a an adverse effect on educational performance, and is in need of special education and related services to minimize the adverse affects.  The IEP team must rule out lack of instruction in reading or math or limited English Proficiency as causal factors in students’ eligibility.  Eligibility and determination of a disability is not determined by a single procedure or criterion.

Individual Education Program (IEP)


If the IEP team determines that a student meets the eligibility criteria and is entitled to FAPE, an IEP must be developed.  If the IEP team determine that the student does not meet eligibility requirements, the team will notify the parent using the mandated notice form that the student is not eligible for special education and related services.  If a parent disagrees with a determination made by the team the parent is advised of his or her right to request an independent educational evaluation at public expense and/or a due process hearing to resolve the dispute. 

The IEP Team report includes all of the legally required components.  The copy of the IEP report must be maintained in the students education record and is subject to the school district’s confidentiality policy.  Parents receive a copy of the IEP at the conclusion of the meeting and any evaluation reports upon request.  The IEP team convenes and develops an IEP within 30 days of determining that a student is eligible for special education and within 60 days from the date of referral.  The team is consistent with state and federal regulations and consists of the parents, a general education teacher, a special education teacher, a representative of the local education agency (district), related service providers as appropriate, and other service providers who may explain evaluation reports when necessary.  The components of the IEP include:  present levels of educational performance, measurable annual goals including benchmarks or short-term objectives, a statement of specified special education and related services, program modifications or supports and supplementary aids and services, a statement to which the child will not participate in regular education programs and activities with non disabled children, individual modifications in state or district wide assessments, projected date for initiation of special education and services including frequency, duration, and location, statement of how progress toward goals will be monitored, transition services beginning at age 14, statement of special factors to be included in program to meet student’s needs, and signatures and positions of IEP members including parents in attendance.

Least Restrictive Environment

District 128 is committed to providing all students with access to the least restrictive environment possible to ensure adequate progress toward individuals goals.  The goal of District 128 is provide special education and related services within the general education environment with non disabled peers with appropriate supplementary aids and services.  It is the responsibility of the district to provide in the IEP appropriate supports to ensure successful progress in the general curriculum, in state and district wide assessments, achievement of the measurable goals in the IEP, and to be educated together with non disabled peers.  The IEP team reflects consideration of the least restrictive environment options considered and when appropriate, the reasons they were rejected in the IEP document.  When the IEP team determines that the student’s educational goals and objectives as specified in the IEP, cannot be achieved satisfactorily in the regular education environment , even with the use of supplementary aids and services, then the IEP team will recommend a special education placement in the least restrictive environment wherein the goals and objectives can be satisfactorily achieved.  District 128 provides a full continuum of placement options including the general education setting with special education instruction and supplementary aids and supports, resource services, instructional services delivered in a special education classroom for part or all of the school day, and in rare cases, the district relies on private program placements to meet intense instructional needs with high levels of support that cannot be provided in the regular education setting. The placement decision is consistent with the evaluation and eligibility, and the district ensures that all services are provided in accordance with the IEP.  Provision of Related Services, including transportation, is determined at the IEP meeting when they are deemed necessary for a student to achieve his or her annual goals.  The implementation of the IEP occurs within 10 days after the parents have been provided notice of the placement.  All special education and related services identified in the IEP are provided to the child and the amounts of services provided are sufficient to allow the child to meet his or her objectives.  All staff members responsible for implementing the IEP shall be provided a copy of the child’s IEP.  All staff will be fully informed of their responsibility to implement the IEP as written.

Manifestation Determination Review

If disciplinary action is contemplated or involves a change of placement, an IEP team meeting will be convened to determine the relationship between the student’s disability and behavior.  The manifestation determination review will take place as soon as possible but no more than ten school days after the date on which the district determines that disciplinary action will be take.  The IEP team will determine if the student’s IEP and placement were appropriate and the special education services, supplementary aids and services and behavior intervention strategies were provided in a manner consistent with the student’s IEP and placement.  And, if the students disability impaired his or her ability to control and to understand the impact and consequences of the behavior that resulted in disciplinary action.  If the IEP team determines that the students behavior was not a manifestation of the students disability, the district’s standard disciplinary procedures will be followed.  Students with disabilities will continue to receive services as determined by the IEP team and sufficient enough to make progress in the curriculum and toward goals.  If the team determines that the student’s disability was related to the misconduct which resulted in the disciplinary action, the student cannot be suspended beyond the 10 days during the school year or expelled, unless the incident involved a weapons or drug violation or an impartial due process hearing officer found the student to be dangerous to himself/herself or others in which case the student would be moved to an interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 days.  Parent and student notification and required state reports will be filed.

Consent for Initial Placement

At the completion of the IEP meeting, the team will determine the student’s special education placement and obtain written parental consent at least 10 days prior to the initiation of the recommended placement. 

Review and Revision of the IEP

The IEP of each student with a disability currently receiving special education and related services will be reviewed and revised, as appropriate, at least annually. 

Early Childhood Services: Transition from Early Intervention

District 128 collaborates with our local Child and Family Connections Agency (CFC 12), Private Schools in the community, Daycare Centers, Physicians, Palos Heights Park District, and parents to identify, locate, and evaluate all children birth through 15 years of age who are suspected of having a disability which adversely affects educational performance.  The District has in place an IEP for all eligible children upon their third birthday. 

District 128 provides a smooth and effective transition for children moving from Part C to Part B programming.  The Director of Special Education participates in transition planning conferences arranged by the early intervention program.  Referral for a case study evaluation is initiated to determine eligibility for special education and related services with an IEP being developed prior to the child’s third birthday.  Parents are informed of the difference between and IFSP and an IEP and the continuum of services provided by the District under the provisions of IDEA and Illinois School Code. 

Early Childhood special education services are provided upon a child’s third birthday within the District’s blended preschool program to the maximum extent possible,.  When students need intensive special education instruction and/or related services to make adequate progress those services may be provided in a special education environment as directed by their individual education plan.  The philosophy of the Neighborhood Preschool Program in District 128 is that all children learn through active exploration and interaction within their home, school, and community environment.  We believe that parents are a child’s first and most important teacher.  We believe that all young children should have access to a developmentally appropriate learning environment where each individual’s development is actively supported and facilitated.  Finally, we believe that play is a child’s work.  Based on these beliefs, District 128 has built a preschool program to serve the needs of all the young children in our community.  Typically developing students are enrolled as tuition students with a sliding scale available to assist those who may be low income.  Preschool children with special needs are enrolled without fees.  Classroom teachers are certified in early childhood education with special education and english language learner credentials.  Related services are provided within the classroom environment as often as possible.  

For more information on Preschool services provided at Indian Hill please refer to the Indian Hill website page.

Procedural Safeguards

All Special Education Policies and Procedures defined by Illinois School Code, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Illinois State Board of Education are fully implemented by District 128 in the comprehensive programming for students with disabilities and suspected disabilities.  District 128 provides written notice to parents of students with disabilities and suspected disabilities of procedural safeguards and rights for parents/guardians of students with disabilities as defined by state and federal law.  The written notice includes all of the following procedural safeguards:  independent educational evaluations, prior written notice, parental consent, inspection/review of all educational records, opportunity to file a written complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education, procedures for students who are subject to placement in an interim alternative setting, requirements for unilateral placements by parents of children in private schools at public expense, mediation, due process hearings, child’s placement during the pendency of a due process proceeding, civil action, attorney fees, and transfer of parental rights. 

Download a copy of:
Notice of Procedural Safeguards for Parents/Guardians of Students With Disabilities
Tara Fitzgibbons
School Psychologist
tfitzgibbons@palos128.org

(708) 385-3269


Joe Dinolfo
School Counselor
jdinolfo@palos128.org

(708) 448-0737


Amanda Pearson
School Social Work
apearson@palos128.org

(708) 597-1285