First semester is almost over and many of you have children who will be moving on to elementary, middle school, high school or college next school year. I’m sure you are already asking yourselves “what is the right school for my child?” We went through this last year knowing my son was going to middle school this year, so I know how stressful this subject can be. You might already be researching schools in your district, specifically looking at what is considered a good school in your neighborhood. I’m sure you have friends that have given you advice on what they feel is a good school as well. The question is; “is it the right school for a child with an IEP?” Read the rest of this entry →
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About once every couple of months I receive an email, tweet or facebook post accusing Special Education Advisor of being Anti-School. These comments almost exclusively come from Teachers. I don’t mind receiving these comments because normally the ones making these statements turn out to be some of the most passionate, inspiring teachers in the profession. I almost always respond in the same way; Special Education Advisor loves Teachers and we would love for you to submit a guest post about what you are doing in your room, School or District and we will post it. Over the weekend I had another one of these types of exchanges on twitter with a Special Education Teacher. It started like this: Read the rest of this entry →
It has come to be my belief that IEPs are used far too infrequently. We have limited ourselves by only applying IEP’s to children. There are so many other places in life where they might be appropriate. I would like to suggest that some schools might benefit from having an IEP that sets in place goals that assist them in helping special needs children. I’m not suggesting that all schools need such a document, solely the ones who present some significant disorder or impairment that inhibits their ability to correctly and adequately teach the special education children that are a part of their community.
While the more angry and embittered in advocacy circles might argue that such schools could be qualified under the emotional disturbance category; I believe the correct qualifying condition would be to place such schools under the visually impaired category. The federal definition of “Visual impairment including blindness means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.” 34 CFR 300.7 (c)(13). If a student is found to have an impairment, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team must also determine whether the student has a need for special education. Read the rest of this entry →
Probably the most frustrating part of being the parent of a child with a different ability  is the response from the very organization you hoped you could trust the most to do right by your child – your school district. After all, teachers and administrators are trained to adapt the teaching environment to help my child, right? (No.) I pay my property taxes, so I should be able to control how the schools work, right? (You should, yes, but in reality you don’t.)
So what should I do when the school district won’t do what they are supposed to do for my child? Read the rest of this entry →
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when reauthorized in 2004 introduced the concept of Research Based Instruction. This was done in order to align the regulations with the No Child Left Behind Act and to hold Schools more accountable for the lack of progress children with disabilities were making in their classrooms.
Congress, in their findings, determined, “the implementation of this title (IDEA) has been impeded by low expectations, and an insufficient focus on applying replicable research on proven methods of teaching and learning for children with disabilities.” Read the rest of this entry →
Have you noticed that your child with Autism, ADHD, or learning disabilities is getting less attention from their special ed teacher this year? That their special ed teacher is particularly worn-out, fatigued – maybe even at wit’s end this early in the year? Well, there’s a reason for that. The most recent data gathered by the Washington, DC-based IDEA MoneyWatch shows how severely the states and the 100 largest school districts have cut special ed funding. Just this year in my work as a sped attorney in South Florida, I’ve seen some kids with Autism or severe ADHD being placed in classrooms with intellectually disabled kids primarily because it’s cheaper than giving them the support they’re entitled to in a general ed class! Read the rest of this entry →
We live in a world of shrinking budgets, reduced staff and limited resources for Public Schools. Schools are fighting to survive let alone trying to educate our children. Add in the fact that 13% of the entire student age population has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and it’s no wonder that Special Education has once again become the scapegoat of the week. While eligibility, services and placement under an IEP are supposed to be based on need, and not money, that is not always the case. So the ability to motivate a School is one of the most important skills a parent can possess. Let’s start by defining what motivating a school in special education means. It means the ability to get the School on your side so that the IEP Team can tailor an IEP that meets your child’s unique needs and provides a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Read the rest of this entry →
I recently had some wonderful clients who had signed what I considered to be a terribly one-sided settlement agreement with a local Southern California school district. Seeking to obtain rights for their child after the fact, we found that the agreement handcuffed them in every direction and precluded them from being able to negotiate any changes for their child. At the time, my client told me that based on her research, school districts were engaging in some unfair practices with parents, all designed to deprive them of the rights provided them by IDEA, federal, and state law. Since that time I have been looking more carefully at how districts use settlement agreements and other waiver of rights, and I have come to see how correct her observation is. Read the rest of this entry →
With an alarming increase in Autism and other disabilities in the United States, as well as evolving curricula that increasingly focuses on individualized learning, parents are looking at private specialized schools as viable options to help students with learning challenges and behavioral issues.
In an environment in which students benefit from catered instruction in much smaller classes, it is the hope of public school officials that these children can be put on a path to high school graduation and college so they can learn a valuable profession. Read the rest of this entry →
In the early 1970’s I had the wonderful opportunity of working with two students with special needs whose mother’s were relentless in insisting on a law in Wisconsin that would mandate a quality education for their children as well as others. Elaine Keller and Lila Kelly inspired me to look closely at the needs of their children as well as all students whether they were defined as gifted, with learning problems or were simply involved in the general education program. I always had a curiosity as to why we labeled children rather than simply focusing on their needs. Why do we brand children for failure when we know they are all different in one way or another?
Fast forward to 1985 and I was still learning, not only from parents, but from the children that need us the most. After 15 years of teaching I became the administrator of an alternative school serving the most emotionally problematic kids in the city. From them I learned several hard lessons. One was that every child wanted to learn. They didn’t necessarily want to go to school, but they wanted to be able to read and write and had a tremendous curiosity. I had previously worked with a wide range of disabilities including cognitively disabled children, autistic, physically disabled and others and from them learned that children in general learn in different ways, sometimes at different rates but they always wanted to learn. What was important was that the information learned be valuable to them and their future. I learned that it was necessary to put a strong focus on what was important including the skills necessary to continue lifelong learning on their own. Read the rest of this entry →