IDEA Resources

Special Education

Parent Support
Parents have the right to invite individuals to IEP meetings who can assist, support or benefit the parent, student or IEP Team in IEP development. For parents, this individual may be a relative, friend, case manager, counselor, provider or advocate. 


OPI Student Support Services Division
Staff are available to help answer parent questions regarding special education, 406-444-5661.


Centers for Independent Living
(CIL) in Montana may have education advocates that can support and assist families and children/youth with IEP /504 issues. Contact the CIL serving your area to learn about supports available, often without cost. See list of CILs below…


Guidance & Support

Dare to Dialogue – SD Parent Connection. A resource guide for families with children receiving special education.

First Steps: A Parent Information Handbook on Infant and Toddler Programs and Preschool Special  Education. PLUK Legacy Resource (2007)

  • Forms and Guides – Office of Public Instruction
  • Gifted, Talented & Advanced Placement Services – Office of Public Instruction
  • Montana Parent’s Handbook to Special Education – PLUK Legacy Resource, 2005
  • Montana Special Education Guidance – Office of Public Instruction
  • Sample Forms – Disability Rights Montana
  • Student Rights Handbook – Disability Rights Montana


Resolving Disagreements

Student Rights Handbook – Disability Rights Montana (See pages 62-72.)

Sample Forms – Disability Rights Montana


OPI Dispute Resolution Options

Early Assistance Program –  The OPI Early Assistance Program is without cost and can help parents and schools resolve disagreements related to special education. 406-444-5664.

IEP Facilitation – IEP facilitation is a  free and optional dispute resolution process where an impartial facilitator assists the IEP team with communication and problem solving. An IEP Facilitator Request form may be obtained by contacting the OPI Legal Division at 406-444-3172.

  • Mediation –
  • State Complaint –
  • Due Process Complaint –

Centers for Independent Living (CIL) in Montana may have education advocates that can support and assist families and children/youth with IEP /504 issues. Contact the CIL serving your area to learn about supports available, often without cost.


Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT)
800-669-6319 toll free, 406-245-1225 TTY
Offices: Billings, Glendive
Serves Treasure, Garfield, McCone, Rosebud, Big Horn, Prairie, Custer, Powder River, Richland, Dawson, Wibaux, Fallon, Golden Valley, Stillwater, Carbon, Musselshell, Yellowstone, and Carter counties.


Montana Independent Living Project (MILP)
800-735-6457 toll free, 406-442-5755 TTY
Offices: Helena, Bozeman, Butte
Serves Lewis and Clark, Powell, Granite, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Beaverhead, Madison, Gallatin, Park, Sweet Grass, Wheatland, Meagher, Broadwater and Jefferson counties.


North Central Independent Living Services (NCILS)
800-823-6245 toll-free, 406-452-9834 TTY
Offices:  Black Eagle, Glasgow
Serves Glacier, Toole, Liberty, Hill, Blaine, Phillips, Petroleum, Fergus, Judith Basin, Cascade, Chouteau, Teton, Pondera, Valley, Daniels, Sheridan and Roosevelt counties and Blackfeet, Fort Peck, Rocky Boy and Fort Belknap reservations.


Summit Independent Living Center (Summit)
800-398-9002 toll-free, 406-728-1630 TTY
Offices: Missoula, Hamilton, Kalispell, Ronan
Serves Missoula, Ravalli, Mineral, Lake, Sanders, Flathead and Lincoln counties.


Please contact us with recommended additions or deletions.

Attendance, Un-enrollment, Truancy

OPI Special Education Guidance

2019 One Guide (OPI Guidance pages 92 and 93)


If a student does not attend school for 10 consecutive days, is the school district required to un-enroll the student? No. A school district is not required to un-enroll a student because they have missed 10 consecutive days of school. The so called 10-day rule is only for when school districts are submitting the enrollment count for the annual number belonging (ANB). School districts must follow their own district policy to end enrollment for students.


Can a student on an IEP be found truant?  Yes. A student on an IEP could be found truant. Truant means “the persistent nonattendance without excuse, as defined by district policy, for all or any part of a school day equivalent to the length of one class period of a child required to attend school…” If a school district’s attendance officer finds a child is truant, they may make a reasonable effort to notify the parent or guardian. If the child is discovered truant after the attendance officer has made a reasonable effort to notify the parent or guardian, then the attendance officer may require the parent or guardian and child to meet with an individual designated by the school district to formulate a truancy plan. If the parent or guardian fails to meet with the designated individual or fails to uphold the responsibilities of the plan, the attendance officer may refer the matter to the prosecuting attorney in a court of competent jurisdiction for a determination regarding whether to prosecute the parent or guardian.


When does an IEP team need to consider a student’s excessive absences or truancy?  The IEP team should consider a student’s excessive absences when the student’s absences are adversely affecting the student’s learning. If a student’s behavior impedes their learning or the learning of others, then the IEP team must consider the use of positive behavior interventions and supports, as well as other strategies to address the behavior. An IEP team may need to consider additional evaluations of the student to determine the cause of the behavior. Such evaluations may include, for example, functional behavioral assessments or psychological evaluations.


OPI Special Education Guidance

  • Disciplinary Removals – Pages 132-136
  • Change of IEP Placement for Disciplinary Purposes – Pages 132-134
  • Manifestation Determination – Pages 134-136


Handbook on Rights of Students with Disabilities in Montana, Disability Rights Montana

  • Procedural Requirements, Student Discipline – Pages 53-58
  • Manifestation Determination – Page 54
  • FBA/BIP – Page 55
  • Protections for Children with Disabilities Not Yet Eligible for Special Education – Pages 57-58


School Discipline:  The Rights of Students with IEPs and 504 Plans


Dear Colleague Letter (Guidance) on Positive Behavioral Supports & Interventions
U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education


Dear Colleague Letter (Guidance) on Seclusion & Restraint of Students with Disabilities
U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Civil Rights


Fact Sheet on Seclusion and Restraint
U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Civil Rights


Parent Brief:  About Behaviors at School – SD Parent Connection

Brain Injury/Concussion


CADRE – Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education

Family Member Webinars


Working Together Series


La serie Trabajar juntos


Five interactive self-directed courses provide families and educators with a number of strategies for working together and through conflict. Anyone supporting children or youth with disabilities may benefit from this series, however, the setting in which collaborative problem solving and conflict resolution takes place within this series is typically the school or IEP meeting.


  1. Introduction to the Working Together Series
  2. IEP Meetings and Beyond
  3. Listening and Responding Skills
  4. Managing and Responding to Emotions
  5. Focusing on Interests to Reach Agreement



Center for Parent Information & Resources


Hub Central Event Calendar – Webinars on Special Education, IEPs, Early Intervention, Inclusion and more
(Hub Event Calendar appears on left bottom of page.)



ECAC – Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center, NC’s Parent Training and Information Center

The IEP Team Process: A Framework for Success


  1. Chapter 1: IDEA and IEPs
  2. Chapter 2: The IEP Team
  3. Chapter 3: The IEP Team Process
  4. Chapter 4: Getting Ready for the IEP Meeting
  5. Chapter 5: The IEP Meeting


Please follow Montana PTI Facebook page to receive updates on available trainings.


ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Other Co-Occurring Conditions
Webinars from


Autism Spectrum Disorders
AFIRM – Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Modules 



Brain Injury

Many videos available on a wide variety of topics related to brain injury.




University of Montana Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development

Positive Discipline Part 1

This 25 minute video is appropriate for parents who want to learn an alternative to the reward and punishment system.  The program is also appropriate for parents interested in different techniques that includes children with disorders of attachment, children on the autism spectrum, and children exposed to trauma.

Positive Discipline Part 2

This program promotes a strong parent to child connection, as well as sets clear boundaries and limits.


University of Georgia, Extension
Ins and Outs of Adolescent Brain Development

Why do teenagers act the way they do? The prefrontal cortex, which controls higher-order thinking abilities, is not fully developed until very late in adolescence.  In this introduction to adolescent brain development, we will focus on the development (and under-development) of various parts of the brain, the ways this brain development affects behavior, and ways to support adolescents as they finish the crucial period of brain development


Florida State University
Successful Co-Parenting After a Divorce

Free online, interactive, multimedia platform with videos demonstrating skills and strategies, extensive resource site, and certificate of training. Applicable to parents, family members and professionals. Modules: Introduction to Divorce and Co-Parenting; Strategies and Skills for Co-Parenting; Self-Care, Transitions, and Safety.



Mental Health

NAMI Basics OnDemand is a free, six-session online education program for parents, caregivers and other family who provide care for youth aged 22 or younger who are experiencing mental health symptoms.



Seattle Children’s Hospital
Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism and Developmental Disabilities


Please contact us with recommended additions or deletions.


Top 10 Facts that Parents, Educators and Students Should Know About Bullying and Harassment of Students with Disabilities


What Parents Can Do About Childhood Bullying


Parent Fact Sheet: What Are Public Schools Required to Do When Students with Disabilities Are Bullied?
U.S. Dept of Education, Office for Civil Rights


Dear Colleague Letter (Guidance) on Bullying
U.S. Dept of Education, Office for Civil Rights


Montana Deaf-Blind Project

Montana School for the Deaf and Blind

Montana School for the Deaf and Blind Outreach

Hearing Organizations

Montana Hands and Voices

Montana Association of the Deaf

Big Sky Recreation Association of the Deaf (BSRAD)

Great Fall Club of the Deaf (GFCD)

Beartooth Club of the Deaf (BCD)

Missoula Club of the Deaf (MCD)

Gallatin Association of the Deaf (GAD)



Montana School for the Deaf and Blind Outreach

National Federation of the Blind Montana

Treasure State At-large Chapter (Conference Call)
Electric City Chapter, Great Falls
Yellowstone County Chapter, Billings

Section 504

Guidance /Forms

Disability Rights Montana

Student Rights Handbook
(Section 504 addressed on pages 62-72)
Sample Forms

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights

Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools


Dear Colleague Letter & Students with ADHD and Section 504: A Resource Guide


Protecting Students with Disabilities: Frequently Asked Questions About Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities

Office of Public Instruction

Content specific to twice exceptional students on pages 23 and 55-57.

Resolving Disagreements – Dispute Resolution Options 

Elementary and secondary educational programs are required to establish and implement a system of procedural safeguards with respect to the identification, evaluation, or provision of services under Section 504 (34 CFR §104.36).

This system includes

  • notice,
  • an opportunity for the parents or guardian to examine relevant records,
  • an impartial hearing with the opportunity for participation by the parent or guardian and representation by counsel, and
  • a review procedure.

Individuals disagreeing with the identification, evaluation, and/or provision of services have several options available under Section 504, including:

  • Filing a complaint or grievance through the school district’s discrimination complaint procedure as required under Section 504
  • Requesting a hearing before an impartial hearing officer*
  • An opportunity for a review of the decision made at the hearing*
  • Filing a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights
  • In Montana, filing a complaint with the Montana Human Rights Bureau may be an additional disagreement option if following the school district complaint procedure or hearing does not lead to agreement.

Montana Human Rights Bureau

Office for Civil Rights Complaint Form/Directions

Regional Office: Seattle, Washington
Telephone: 206-607-1600

FAX: 206-607-1601
TDD: 800-877-8339
*OCR has determined that school board members, district employees, and people who contract with the district to provide services to students with disabilities are not appropriate impartial hearing officers for due process hearings under Section 504. Similarly, in at least one case, OCR found that procedures for appealing an impartial hearing officer’s decision violated Section 504 where they allowed for the decision to be overturned by the school board, which was not an impartial entity.