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EFMP PCS Made Easy-er

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Are you ready to PCS? Watch this episode of Trust Your Gut!

It’s always time to go! I remember one time we had just bought a house in a hot real estate market. We hadn’t even been there for eight months and we were promoted and it was time to PCS. Such is the life of anyone connected to the military. The best-laid plans in military life are always changed. The most efficient way to deal with burned plans is to be prepared to change and adapt. This is even more important when dealing with medical problems, diagnoses, and special education. Here are some tips on how you can be ready to hit the ground running after a PCS!

Education PCS Checklist

School Paperwork

Always have electronic and paper copies of your documents. I’d suggest an IEP binder or Google drive. At a minimum these should include:

  • Your child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) or 504 Plan
  • School Records

When you PCS to a new state the schools may tell you your child’s IEP is expired or is expiring. While the IEP is not necessarily out of date, they consider it expired because it is from Arizona and you are now in California. Federal law says that the new district in a new state must continue to offer a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) with “comparable services” from the old state until they conduct an evaluation for special education and develop, adopt and implement a new IEP in the new state. 

Here is what the law says:

IEPs for children who transfer from another state. If a child with a disability (who had an IEP that was in effect in a previous public agency in another State) transfers to a public agency in a new state and enrolls in a new school within the same school year, the new public agency (in consultation with the parents) must provide the child with FAPE (including services comparable to those described in the child’s IEP from the previous public agency), until the new public agency—

  1. Conducts an evaluation (if determined to be necessary by the new public agency); and
  2. Develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP, if appropriate, that meets the applicable requirements.

 An IEP is not expired just because it “expired” they remain in force until they are rewritten or you agree in writing that you no longer need special education services. 

What Is Prior Written Notice (PWN)?

PCS moves have a negative impact on families in special education.
PCS moves have a negative impact on families in special education.

Changes to an IEP require prior written notice (PWN). PWN is required to remove a child from special education. PWN is defined under 34 CFR §300.503(a) as a ”safeguard that requires a school district to answer 7 questions under federal law when they:

  1. Propose to begin or change the identification, evaluation or educational placement of your child or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to your child; or
  2. Refuse to begin or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child or the provision of FAPE to your child.”

Have Up-to-Date IEP Goals and Data

Most parents don’t realize when you have IEP goals there is also progress monitoring and data that goes with it. Schools may give you a couple of pages with a graph or bar chart, but it should always be coupled with descriptive data. Ask for all of your child’s work at the end of any grading period (you can build this requirement into your IEP). You can also ask for “data, work, sample, tests to prove the scores noted on IEP goal” every time you get copies of their grades.  It is best to send this request to the IEP Caseworker or LEA person.

Medical PCS Checklist

Medical Records

Be sure the following is good to go:

  1. Current copies of all your child’s medical records
  2. Education and physical testing are current
  3. Make any medical appointments with your current doctors at least 90 days out.
  4. Ask for refills and referrals. (You don’t know how long you will be until you get a new doctor.)

Because most educational and medical testing needs to be redone every two to three years it is important to make sure you are not due as you start a PCS move. It is important to note that although a district does not have to accept your outside testing*, they need to consider it. Your new school district is also allowed to do their own testing within 60 days of entering the state (some states this timeframe is faster, CHECK YOUR STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Parent Rights).  

You might hear that some parents get testing that’s sometimes referred to as “educational testing” for disabilities like auditory processing, autism, dyslexia, speech language or developmental delays. Parents can use BOTH medical coverage from Tricare for some testing and education testing provided under your parent rights under the IDEA Act.  It is extremely common to find parents in the learning disabilities circles to have chosen to complete regular school AND medical testing. While the school testing is provided at no cost to parents, so are many other kinds of testing from medical doctors, child psychologists, neuropsychologists, speech language pathologists from Tricare authorizations. 

The reason you see parents choosing to not rely solely on school testing is testing is only as good as the tester. And educational testing can not result in a diagnosis. If you are having trouble with your Tricare authorizations you can contract Tricare customer service or Partners in PROMISE to see if we can help your particular issue.  

Did You Know Tricare Covers Telemedicine?

Check with your provider and Tricare, but sometimes you can keep the same provider for things like speech-language Pathology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy doing it remotely whether temporarily or permanently? This is a great solution for a new place until you find someone else.

Educational or Psychological Testing Tips and Reminders

Make sure you have current copies of all your educational testing. Again, this testing needs to be done every two to three years. Be aware of how long the wait is in certain areas.  In Georgia, it takes nine months to a year to get seen as a new patient for specialty care, like a new neuropsychologist evaluation.

PCSing aka Moving – The Basics

Finding a New Tribe

Where to live when you move? This becomes a major issue when dealing with medical and educational issues. Do not sign a contract without doing some research on finding support, services, and the right schools for your children.

Join local online groups:

  • Military parent groups 
  • Special education groups 
  • Disability-specific groups
  • Local moms or dads groups
  • Connect with Partners in PROMISE!

You never know what you will find out from these parents.

Once you found your warriors, ask for referrals, doctors, advocates, attorneys, etc. 

The average military family moves every two to three years, so if you spent 13 years in public school your child might attend five to six schools or more. Being prepared and organized will help you make the best transition. Sometimes you might need to get an advocate or an attorney, if you need one, please go check out the Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys for help in any state www.Copaa.org. You can also check out Parent to Parent or your local EFMP or Special Needs program on your new installation. 

Here are some sample letters to help you prepare for your new location:

Request an Evaluation for Special Education: Download a sample letter below to use to request an evaluation for special education services from your local public school district. It should be emailed and mailed to your principal and head of special education services at the District Office. We strongly recommend you do so in writing to create a paper trail, this is not required by law. 

Request an Evaluation for Special Education Services:

Records Request: Schools have 45 days to get your records, Do NOT wait.

Medical Records Request

The key is don’t wait, reach out today!

Author Hilary Laxson and her daughter.

About the Author

Hilary Laxson was a Coast Guard spouse for 12 years and has been in the military community since 2000. She graduated from the University of Denver in 1999 with a BSBA in Finance and obtained a graduate level paralegal degree in 2000 from University of San Diego. 

Hilary has spent time in California, Georgia and Hawaii as a Coast Guard Family member. She has a child with severe dyslexia and other learning disabilities in high school. She’s the parent volunteer for Decoding Dyslexia Military for Georgia and actively involved in advocacy for active duty families in the State of Georgia. Last February, she attended “Say Dyslexia” Day in order to help bring more attention to dyslexia in the State of Georgia. Georgia passed SB48 “the Dyslexia Law” in 2019. She runs a parent support group on Facebook called Warrior Parents of Dyslexics for parents all over the USA who need help navigating the world of dyslexia. When she’s not helping parents with dyslexic children she works full time as an online business consultant and business manager. 



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