One of the most devastating calls you can receive as a parent is the School calling to tell you they have initiated an expulsion proceeding against your child due to poor behavior. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) before the expulsion process can start they must hold a Manifestation Determination review. This review must be held within 10 days of the conduct. At which time the IEP team must review the complete file and consider all relevant information, including the IEP, any teacher observations, and any information supplied by the parents. The IEP team must then answer two questions: Read the rest of this entry →
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Recently, the Office of Civil Rights submitted a report to the President on Helping to Ensure Equal Access to Education. This 76 page report is nothing short of shocking and shows we have a very long way to go on the issue of student’s with disabilities. Since I could not do it justice below are some points taken directly from the report.
- Over the last four years (FY 2009–12), OCR has received 28,971 complaints—more than in any previous four-year period in its history, and representing a 24 percent increase over the previous four-year period. Over half of them addressed disability issues, about a quarter pertained to Title VI concerns, and the remaining addressed sex and age discrimination, 14 percent and 6 percent respectively. Read the rest of this entry →
Dear Principal, Assistant Principal or Dean of Students that has lost perspective;
Over the past school year I have seen an increasingly troubling trend among a FEW of you entrusted to protect and educate our children. You have adopted a military philosophy known as, “Kill one, save a thousand.” At this point I’m sure many of you are screaming foul and yelling at the computer screen that nothing you do actually kills a child. I would argue that your actions in many ways can have this affect on a child. At best you are killing their dreams and at worst you are emotionally scaring them for a lifetime in ways you may not even be aware of. I know you think your actions are justified because you have an entire school full of other children to think about but you are going about it all wrong. If you want to embrace a philosophy how about the Doctor’s Hippocratic Oath to, “Do no harm.” Work with the child’s parents and find a solution that helps the situation for all involved and doesn’t harm even one child. Read the rest of this entry →
Today, somewhere at a school near you, a child sits alone in a small, unvented room. Maybe all day. Sometimes in the dark. Another has four adults sitting on their back; physically restrained for throwing noodles in the cafeteria. Yet another is finally finished the school year, home for the summer, and afraid to go into his bedroom closet. His parents have no idea why. And even more unthinkable and tragic, another child’s life may have just ended due to inappropriate and unnecessary restraint and seclusion used in school.
“That’s abuse,” you say. We think so too. “It can’t possibly happen in our schools.” But it does, every day. And according to the Office of Civil Rights, hundreds of thousands of times a year, disproportionately on students with disabilities. For example, recently reported OCR data indicates that of 131,990 instances of physical restraint tallied by the data collection in the 2009-2010 school year, 78.6% involved students with disabilities, compared with 21% for other students. Yet just 12% of the students in the data set have disabilities. Although seclusion and restraint are primarily associated with students eligible for special education, the data show those technique are used on all students. Unfortunately, despite some progress at the state level, no federal law exists to protect all students from such abuse. Read the rest of this entry →
Winning isn’t everything!!!! Let me say that again, winning isn’t everything. Your child IS everything, they are your world, and they are your “everything.” Sometimes we get so caught up in the chess game between Schools and Parents we all forget that there is a beautiful child who needs our help, is asking for our help and is screaming for our help. Negative behaviors mean something, not that the child is bad but that the child is trying to make us listen to them. Maybe that negative behavior is the only way the child knows how to communicate their needs and wants. It’s up to us as the adults to listen and not spend our time trying to outmaneuver each other in the IEP meeting.
As you can tell I’m a little emotional right now. This IEP season has been a difficult one because many of our clients have children with varying degrees of mental health issues. The mind is a complicated place that has very little predictability when mental health issues are involved. Whether you are talking about a 7 year old boy with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an 8 year old boy with an anxiety disorder or a teenager who spent her toddler years in foster care and was born addicted to drugs; writing an IEP for these children is a difficult, ongoing process. Difficult might actually be an understatement, I’m not even sure an appropriate word exists in the English language for this monumental task. So why do we spend our precious time trying to outmaneuver each other rather than spend the necessary time writing an IEP that will shape a better future for that child. Read the rest of this entry →
The regulations that implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are complex, detailed and broad. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about them, and it is not uncommon for school staff, who generally have good intentions, to misstate a regulation or to rely on an assumption about a particular regulation. When school staff rely on special education mythology, two things occur: the school risks being in noncompliance; and more importantly, the all-important relationship with parents is undermined, eroding the trust that is necessary to achieve genuine consensus. Read the rest of this entry →
The list outlines the top ten Special Education Supreme Court Cases and a short description of each ruling. To read the entire opinion click on the name of each case below:
First Supreme Court case regarding special education set the standard for what is a “Free Appropriate Public Education”. The ruling provided children with disabilities access to public schools that also provided a basic floor of opportunity. Not the best education but one where the child has passing grades in classes and is advancing to higher grades. Read the rest of this entry →
JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
As a condition of federal financial assistance, the Education of the Handicapped Act requires States to ensure a “free appropriate public education” for all disabled children within their jurisdictions. In aid of this goal, the Act establishes a comprehensive system of procedural safeguards designed to ensure parental participation in decisions concerning the education of their disabled children and to provide administrative and judicial review of any decisions with which those parents disagree. Among these safeguards is the so-called “stay-put” provision, which directs that a disabled child “shall remain in [his or her] then current educational placement” pending completion of any review proceedings, unless the parents and state or local educational agencies otherwise agree. 20 U.S.C. 1415(e)(3). Today we must decide whether, in the face of this statutory proscription, state or local school authorities may nevertheless unilaterally exclude disabled children from the classroom for dangerous or disruptive conduct growing out of their disabilities. In addition, we are called upon to decide whether a district court may, in the exercise of its equitable powers, order a State to provide educational services directly to a disabled child when the local agency fails to do so. [484 U.S. 305, 309] Read the rest of this entry →
Nothing upsets me greater than when a child is continually disciplined at School when the behavior is obviously a manifestation of their disability. The Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) has set up specific discipline rules to follow when this occurs. My problem is when these ruled aren’t followed and the child is thus denied their right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Before I expand on how I have seen schools skirt their legal responsibility with regard to discipline in the United States, I’m going take a moment to address what is happening elsewhere in the world regarding this issue.
I came across this article yesterday from the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, “Parents of disabled children rebel against suspensions”. The first thing that jumped out at me from the article was: Read the rest of this entry →
A month into my son’s kindergarten year a new little boy was moved into his classroom. This little boy had been causing problems in his original classroom and the teacher couldn’t handle him so he was moved into my son’s class. During his time in kindergarten this little boy got suspended over and over again for various violent misdeeds. Read the rest of this entry →