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Strong Advocacy & Positive School Relationships are not Mutually Exclusive

July 5, 2014 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

I don’t understand why every time we post an article on Special Education Advisor regarding advocacy or relationships with your child’s school we always get the same type of comments. If the article is discussing how to collaborate with your school or create a positive relationship I receive comments about how utilizing this philosophy would put you in a weak position. On the other hand, every time we post an article about being a strong advocate for your child we get comments about how this is counterproductive to the collaborative nature of the IEP Meeting. Since when did we start living in a universe where you can’t have a positive relationship with your child’s school and be a strong advocate for their needs? You absolutely can do both, but it requires finesse. Before we talk about how to do this I want you to see two of these comments we have received. On the article Top Ten Methods to Foster IEP Team Collaboration we received this comment: Read the rest of this entry →

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How to Prepare for a Manifestation Determination Review

April 11, 2014 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

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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Putting an Appropriate IEP Team Together

March 22, 2014 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

Pete Wright, the Godfather of Special Education law, has often been quoted saying, “Unless you are prepared to remove your child from public school forever, you need to view your relationship with the school as a marriage without the possibility of divorce.” While this may be true regarding the School relationship, this isn’t the case for individual members of the IEP Team. IEP Team members change frequently and it’s amazing how adding or removing one person from the IEP Team can make a huge difference in the quality and implementation of an IEP. While the Parents are not normally in control of the IEP team members from the School, there are methods the Parents can use to add or remove members. Read the rest of this entry →

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How to Prepare for an IEP (Updated)

March 7, 2014 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

We live in an unprecedented era where schools are dealing with shrinking budgets and fewer resources but still must figure out how to educate an increasingly large number of student age children.  This is compounded by the fact that class sizes are increasing and the number of credentialed Teachers are decreasing due to layoffs.  Just like every other area of education, school districts are trying to figure out ways to cut special education costs as well.  Even though cost cannot be a factor when determining services in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) the children receiving the appropriate services are the ones whose parents are educated and prepared when attending their child’s IEP.  This makes it even more important to be prepared for your next meeting.  This article will help you truly prepare for the next IEP meeting. Read the rest of this entry →

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It’s All the Parents Fault!

January 26, 2014 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

How often have you heard the School District blame the Parents for the failure of an IEP?  I’ve heard it more often than I would like and it’s more common than some would like to believe.  This very topic was at the heart of a recent appeals proceeding conducted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Anchorage School District v. M.P..  The 9th Circuit was reviewing a ruling from a District Court that was “declining to consider whether M.P. received a FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) because his parents were equally or more at fault for the absence of an updated IEP.”  This ruling from the District Court, if upheld by the 9th Circuit, would have undermined the entire process established by Congress in IDEA and the rights afforded to parent’s to protect their child’s right to receive FAPE.  The 9th Circuit understood the enormity of what the District Court had ruled and agreed to a judicial review of the lower court’s decision.  During that review, “The school district argued that the parents were at fault because “they left the IEP meeting, did not file a dissenting report,” and did not adequately communicate their concerns to the school district.”  The 9th Circuit Court of appeals disagreed and wrote the following: Read the rest of this entry →

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by Jess

10 Basic Steps in Special Education

November 3, 2013 in The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities by Jess

Children can have all sorts of difficulties growing up. Sometimes problems are obvious right from the start; and sometimes they don’t appear until a child is in school. Some children have trouble learning to read or write. Others have a hard time remembering new information. Still others may have trouble with their behavior. For some children, growing up can be very hard to do!

When a child is having trouble in school, it’s important to find out why. The child may have a disability. By law, schools must provide special help to eligible children with disabilities. This help is calledspecial education and related services.

There’s a lot to know about the process by which children are identified as having a disability and in need of special education and related services.

This brief overview is an excellent place to start. Here, we’ve distilled the process into 10 basic steps. Once you have the big picture of the process, it’s easier to understand the many details under each step.  Read the rest of this entry →

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A Letter to the School Superintendents Association (AASA)

May 5, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

Dear AASA,

Recently you have published a report entitled; “Rethinking Special Education Due Process” which you claim is intended to spark a thoughtful, new dialogue about the need for critical changes to the special education dispute resolution system.  In reality what we have gotten is an attempt by your organization to use its influence to strip our children of their civil rights and their right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).  A report so blatantly disrespectful and bigoted that S. James Rosenfeld the Director of the National Academy for IDEA Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers has issued a response distancing himself from it:

I was asked to review and comment upon a January 2013 draft of the Report, probably because it cited quotes from my article “It’s Time for an Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedure,” 32-2 NAALJ 544-567 (Fall 2012) that were critical of many aspects of special education due process hearings. Those references were included in the final Report, which also listed me in acknowledging “the many people who have been involved in the development of this report.”  Read the rest of this entry →

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11th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision: IEE reimbursement

November 25, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

A School District in Alabama decided it was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to try to invalidate a Parent’s right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense that has been part and parcel with the Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for decades.  Parent’s are at a marked disadvantage when dealing with a School District regarding their child’s Individualized Education Program and Congress was well aware of this when they crafted IDEA.  This is why IDEA includes various Procedural Safeguards for the sole purpose of leveling the playing field for Parents who are trying their best to raise a child with a disability and negotiate for an appropriate education for that child.  This is why it enrages me when a School District spends money that should have been used to educate students on lawyers when the intention of Congress regarding reimbursement of IEE’s is very clear.   Read the rest of this entry →

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Call to Action: We can’t expect fairness when we do nothing about it when it’s taken away

August 20, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

Dear Members of Congress;

Today all over the United States children with a disability are not being provided an appropriate education via their Individualized Education Program (IEP).  While there are many wonderful School Districts there are some that are skirting their responsibility because they know they can get away with it.  In these troubled economic times some School Districts are cutting necessary services as a cost saving method knowing that many parents don’t have the means to disagree and file a complaint.  The law that governs special education in the United States, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was not meant to shift the balance of power to the school districts but that is what has happened.  The fairness was taken from IDEA in 2006 and it’s time to give it back and level the playing field for parents. Read the rest of this entry →

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Judge to School District, “No Legal Fees for You!”

June 12, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

Almost six years ago the parents of a child with autism sat in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting and disagreed with the Schools offer of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education). The parents’ felt their child, Chuka Chibougwu, was not being provided an appropriate education and exercised their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to disagree with the School District’s offer and request a due process hearing. This caused the School District to put a bulls-eye on the backs of Mr. & Mrs. Chibougu and try their best to bankrupt this family. The School District that was trying to financially ruin this family was the Alief Independent School District in Texas and the story that played out was nothing short of amazing. Read the rest of this entry →

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