The Federal Government reminds Schools they must offer Communication Supports

11/13/14
Schools must ensure that students with disabilities have the tools they need to communicate effectively, federal officials say. Schools must ensure that students with disabilities have the tools they need to communicate effectively, federal officials say. The Obama administration is reminding schools of their wide-ranging responsibilities to students with disabilities who struggle with speech and other communication difficulties. In guidance issued Wednesday, federal officials said the nation’s public schools have obligations under three separate laws to “ensure that communication with students with hearing, vision and speech disabilities is as effective as communication with all other students.”
Click this link to read more about the story.
Click this link to download the pdf.

NYS Guidance: Questions and Answers regarding Impartial Hearing Officers

6/2/14
The P-12: Office of Special Education has posted questions and answers relating to impartial hearing procedures pursuant to sections 200.1, 200.5 and 200.16 of the Regulations of the Commissioner, as amended effective February 1, 2014. These regulations related to: certification and appointment of impartial hearing officers (IHOs);
    • consolidation of multiple due process complaint notices for the same student;
    • decisions of the IHO;
    • the timeline for an IHO to render a decision;
    • extensions of the timelines for an impartial hearing decision;
    • the impartial hearing record; and
    • withdrawal of due a process complaint notice.
Click this link to go to the website.
Click this link to download the pdf.

IDEA Dispute Resolution Parent Guides

5/31/14
The National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) has created four parent-friendly guides for special education disputes. The guides cover mediation, due process, state complaints and resolution meetings. CADRE also has a webinar that explains how to use each guide.
Click this link to go to the website.
Click this link to go the OSEP page on Dispute Settlement.
Click this link to read the OSEP Questions and Answers pdf.

IDEA Dispute Resolution Parent Guides

5/31/14
IDEA Special Education Written State Complaints
(Click here for Spanish)

IDEA Special Education Mediation
(Click here for Spanish)

IDEA Special Education Due Process Complaints/Hearing Requests
(Click here for Spanish)

IDEA Special Education Resolution Meetings
(Click here for Spanish)

Federal Government warns Charter Schools on Special Education

5/20/14
Charter schools must provide special education services and ensure that students with disabilities are not discriminated against just like traditional public schools, federal education officials say. In a “Dear Colleague” letter issued 5/14/14, the U.S. Department of Education said that charters have the same obligations as regular public schools to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in addition to other federal civil rights laws. Such responsibilities are the same whether or not charters receive federal funding, the Education Department guidance indicates.
A 2012 report from the Government Accountability Office found that children with disabilities accounted for 8 percent of those enrolled in charters compared to 11 percent of students in public schools.
Click this link to read the letter.

Guide to NY State Graduation Diploma and Credential Requirement

4/26/14
The link to the attached chart outlines the NY State diploma and credential requirements as of 7/13. The chart is intended to provide an overview of the requirements and identify the student populations that have access to each type of diploma and non-diploma high school exiting credential.
Click here to open a pdf of the chart.

Congress agrees to spend another $500 million on Special Education

1/18/14
After being pounded by budget cuts last year, special education is set to see some relief under a deal approved by Congress. Federal funding for programs benefiting students with disabilities will rise by roughly $500 million this year under a $1.012 trillion bipartisan spending bill passed this week in Congress that’s expected to be signed by President Barack Obama.
Click this link to read more.

US Department of Education Guidance on School Climate and Discipline

1/12/14
The U.S. Department of Education (ED), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), released on January 8th a school discipline guidance package that will assist states, districts and schools in developing solutions to enhance school climate, and improve school discipline policies and practices. While incidents of school violence have decreased overall, too many schools are still struggling to create positive, safe environments. The guidance package provides resources for creating such climates, which are essential for boosting student academic success and closing achievement gaps.
Click this link to go to the US Department of Education site.



US Department of Education: Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline

1/12/14
The Guidance letter prepared by the U.S Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice describing how schools can meet their obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
Click this download a pdf of the guidance.

Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations

1/12/14
An online tool that catalogues the laws and regulations related to school discipline in each of the 50 States, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico states and compares laws across states and jurisdictions.
Click this link to go to the online tool.

The Antioch School Board in California approved a settlement of Eight Million dollars in a Special Education Abuse Case.

1/7/14
Parents of the eight victims alleged that the special education teacher slapped, pinched, and verbally abused her students. The Antioch, CA school administrators failed to report abuse suspicions to the authorities. Some of the students were nonverbal children with autism in a Kindergarten class. The parents sued the district and five current and former employees. This appears to be the largest special ed settlement ever, having surpassed Steven Wyner's Manhattan Beach $6.7 Million case."
Click this link to read more about the story.

States and Schools move to revise discipline policies

12/11/13
NY Times report on an emerging national movement away from severe punishments, including arrests, for students. As the NY Times reports "Faced with mounting evidence that get-tough policies in schools are leading to arrest records, low academic achievement and high dropout rates that especially affect minority students, cities and school districts around the country are rethinking their approach to minor offenses."
Click this link to read a pdf of the NY Times Article.

NY State Webinars on the new Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential

12/10/13
The New York State Education Department, P-12: Office of Special Education has published a series of six webinar modules on the New York State (NYS) Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential. The modules are as follows:
    • Module 1: Overview;
    • Module 2:Career Plan and CareerZone;
    • Module 3: CDOS Learning Standards;
    • Module 4: Career and Technical Education Coursework and Work-based Learning
    • Module 5: Employability Profile; and
    • Module 6: National Work Readiness Credentials.
Each module provides information on a specific topic related to the credential. Questions and answers are also posted on the P-12: Office of Special Education website as noted. You are encouraged to check the site often for new information.
Click this link to go to the webinars.

NY State guidance on students who Wander and Elope from School

12/9/13
NY State has issued a memorandum that addresses policies and protocols that all public and private schools serving students with disabilities must have in place to address, prevent and respond to student behaviors of wandering and elopement, particularly for students with cognitive impairments. These policies should include performing, or including in the students Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) the wandering or elopement behaviors, and also including interventions to address these behaviors in the student's Positively Based Behavior Management Plan (BIP).
Click this link to go the NY State webpage with this information.
Click this link to read the pdf file for the guidance.

NY State has approved the new Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential

7/31/13
The New York State Board of Regents has approved regulations that establish an important new exiting credential for students with disabilities. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year and thereafter, students with disabilities will be able to earn a New York State Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential. This credential will recognize each individual student's preparation and skills for post-school employment.
More information is available at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/CDOScredential-memo-613.htm. There is a lot more to this credential then just deciding in 12th grade that a student will receive it. Planning for students who would be eligible for this credential should start as early as middle School. Students can graduate with Regents or Local Diplomas and still receive the credential. Other students who will not graduate with a Regents or Local Diploma can graduate with this credential alone. Students who graduate with this credential are still eligible to receive IEP services until the School year ends that they turn 21 years of age.

What is extended School year?

7/9/13
Some children with IEP's qualify for extended School year services. This is different from any regular education summmer programming that may be offered through a local School District. So who qualifies and who doesn't?
Click this link to see a helpful blog post that answers these questions.

NY State to offer a New Graduation Credential for students with Disabilities

6/5/13
The NY State Regents are set to pass in June a new graduation credential for students with disabilities. The New York State Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential will be in part in place of the former IEP diploma.
NY State has made a number of changes over the last year to graduation requirments. These include the following:
    • Removed the option of using the Regents Competency Tests (RCT) option for a student with a disability to graduate with a local diploma beginning with the entering cohort of September 2011.
    • Added a compensatory option whereby a student with a disability could graduate with a local diploma. This option is in addition to the safety net option that allows a student with a disability to graduate with a local diploma if he/she earns a 55-64 score on one or more of the required Regents examinations.
    • Repealed the IEP diploma
    • Added, effective July 1, 2013, a Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential for students with severe disabilities who are eligible to take the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA). This credential is not a regular high school diploma but rather a certificate of a student’s achievement of the Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) learning standards.
    • Since December the Regents have been moving forward with the New York State Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential. This will likely be voted on at the June NS State Regents meeting after the public comment period has ended.
Click this link to download the 53 page pdf explaining the new credential.

NY proposes to gut many area of Special Educaton law

6/2/13
The following is a summary of proposed changes being sent to the Senate and Assemby by the NYS Education Department. Note that the bill (Assembly bill A-7060; Senate bill S-5557) was referred to the education committee on 5/20/13:
1. 3602-c:
    • Moving notice date from June 1 to April 1 for students who already have an IEP
    • No entitlement to special class or ICT
    • Mediation required before impartial hearing except in child find cases
    • ESY available
2. abolishes appointment by the commissioner to state supported schools and makes CSE responsible for such placements.
3. CSE membership
    • Eliminates school physician
    • Parent member only upon request of the parent
    • Elimination of subcommittees
4. Transportation
    • Students receiving transportation under the 50 mile rule are not eligible to receive special education services under 3602-c.
5. Statute of Limitations:
    • Reduce the current S/L from 2 years to 1 year, except in tuition reimbursement cases in which case it would be 6 months from "from the placement by the parent or person in parental relation in the private school, provided that the student shall be deemed placed for such purpose on the first day the student is enrolled in and is liable for tuition in the private school."
6. Preschool
    • Parent can no longer choose the evaluator.
    • All school districts are deemed to be approved evaluators.
Click this link to go the Jeff Markus law office for additional information.

NY State School District report cards on Special Education performance

5/23/13
Public reports for each school district's Special Education School District Data Profile for 2011-12 are now available.
The reports display 2011-12 data results for students with disabilities (with links to prior years) for the following areas: Enrollment & Classification Rate; Graduation Rate; Drop-Out Rate; State Assessments; Suspension Rate; Significant Discrepancy by Race/Ethnicity in Suspension Rate; School-Age Least Restrictive Environment (LRE); Preschool LRE; Preschool Outcomes; Parental Involvement; Disproportionality - Identification for Special Education; Disproportionality in Specific Disability Categories; Disproportionality in Special Education Placements; Timely Evaluations (Child Find); Early Childhood Transition; Secondary Transition; and Post-School Outcomes.
Click this link to go the NY State Department of Education site.

How to prepare for a manifestation review meeting

5/20/13
"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:
    • Was the conduct caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the child's disability; and
    • Was the conduct the direct result of the School's failure to implement the IEP.
The importance of this meeting is sometimes lost on the Parents and they show up unprepared and oblivious to the magnitude of this undertaking. If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then by law, the behavior was a manifestation of the disability and the expulsion process will stop immediately. If the answer is no to both questions, then the school personnel may then apply the same disciplinary procedures to children with disabilities in the same manner and for the same duration as the procedures would be applied to children without disabilities. This means the expulsion process would be allowed to continue. It's important to note that your child will not be expelled during a manifestation determination review but rather this will determine whether that process will be allowed to continue to an expulsion hearing. While there is no guarantee of outcome, preparation for a Manifestation Determination review is crucial to increase the likelihood of success. Especially since most Schools will be highly reluctant to admit that the behavior was caused by the child's disability or the School's FAILURES to implement the IEP correctly. Immediate First steps:
    • Send a letter to the School in writing requesting a complete copy of your child's education records and an incident report of the alleged behavior. This is the file you will be reviewing in the meeting to answer the manifestation determination questions;
    • Review your State's policy on tape recording IEP meetings and send a letter notifying the School that you will be recording the Manifestation Determination review (i.e. in California you need to give the School 24 hours notice to tape record);
    • If your child has private assessments that will be helpful during the review then provide copies to the School;
    • If your child has private physicians, therapists, psychiatrists or other providers contact them immediately and solicit their help in determining whether the behavior is symptomatic of your child's disability. If any of them think the behavior is symptomatic of your child's disability ask them to attend the review meeting;
    • If you do not have private providers to solicit for help begin researching symptoms of your child's disabilities (i.e. ADHD children are impulsive and don't think things through). Print out credible information to bring to the manifestation determination review regarding your child's disability. Start researching at the National Association website for your child's disability (i.e. Autism Society, Attention Deficit Disorder Association, etc.); and
    • Contact a Special Education Advocate or Special Education Attorney that specialize in discipline issues to discuss your child's upcoming meeting. It is my opinion you should hire an advocate or attorney to attend the meeting with you but at minimum you should consult with a professional on the process.
These initial first steps should help you organize and strategize but these steps are just the tip of the iceberg in preparing for the manifestation determination review. The next steps:
    • Review all of the documents highlighting all statements made in the IEP or assessments discussing your child's needs that can be directly related to the discipline issue. Statements that might include, acts impulsively, has difficulty processing spoken language, does not think through actions prior to acting, is highly stimulated by environmental factors. Statements like these can be used to make the case that your child's actions were a manifestation of their disability;
    • Create a list of all these statements and try to tie them back to your child's disability and the behaviors that caused the referral for expulsion;
    • Review all of the documents again this time highlighting all services that your child is supposed to be receiving, how the school is collecting data on IEP Goals and whether the IEP lists specific behavior goals and/or has a behavior support plan. Try to determine whether the School has been following the IEP and providing your child with all of the required services; and
    • Create a list of those services that the School has not been providing. These could include failure to provide adult supervision as provided in the IEP, failure to collect data on behavior goals as stated in the IEP or failure to follow the behavior support plan to name a few.
At this point you should be prepared to attend the Manifestation Determination review. When attending the meeting try to remain calm especially since you will be tape recording the meeting. Make sure the administrative designee for the meeting explains the process correctly to the entire IEP team and everyone reviews the complete file. The private therapists/doctors you have brought with you should be ready and willing to explain their qualifications, their experience with your child and how they have determined that the behavior was symptomatic of their disability. You should also provide copies of both of the lists you created above and ask for the information to be reviewed during the process. Try to ask specific, direct questions and make sure the answers you receive are adequate. Are the team members answering the questions you ask or skirting around the issues?
If at the conclusion of the meeting the School still feels the behavior WAS NOT a manifestation of the child's disability then if the parents disagree they may appeal the decision by requesting a due process hearing. Due process hearings regarding discipline issues are handled on an expedited basis which must occur within 20 school days of the date the complaint requesting the hearing is filed. The hearing officer must make a determination within 10 school days after the hearing. The tape recording you made at the manifestation determination review may also be used as evidence in the Due Process hearing."
Click this link to read the original article.

OSEP issues policy letter regarding work placements in IEPS

5/19/13
When a teen is at risk for having difficulties with meaningful employment after high school graduation and they present with specific deficits that would make college work difficult, I often push for work training for these students. While BOCES provides vocational training for students, other students need direct on site job training with a one-on-one job coach. For these patients this often means that they get academic credits for there work and also get a small paycheck for their work time.
OSEP recently issued a policy letter providing guidance on a number of issues related to transition work placements. In sum:
    • if the CSE determines that work placement is an appropriate transition service, it must be included on the IEP;
    • initiating or changing a student’s work placement triggers prior written notice requirements;
    • LRE requirements apply to work placements; and
    • 4. the CSE must consider supplementary aids and services necessary to enable the student to participate with other disabled and non-disabled students in the work place and the LEA must provide any supplementary aids and services as identified by the CSE on the IEP.
Click this link to read the PDF of the Policy Letter.

The Federal Government received a record number of complaints regarding special education

5/5/13
A new report from the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights says that, from 2009 to 2011, the agency received more complaints about disability issues than ever before in a three-year period.
Click this link to read more about the complaints.

Transition Goals in the IEP

4/9/13
Transition goals in the IEP, are often seen as the forgotten children and are rarely touched on or addressed at CSE meetings. They are however, incredibly important. Following I am reprinting a helpful blog post on this topic. "When the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was reauthorized in 2004 the U. S. Department of Education through the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) required states to develop State Performance Plans based on 20 indicators. The data would be submitted annually, by each State, in Annual Performance Reports. The 13th Indicator, or Indicator 13, relates to transition services for students.
The National Technical Assistance and Dissemination Center (NSTTAC) which is funded by OSEP helps States achieve compliance with indicator 13 and have put together a checklist and a checklist frequently asked questions to help in their efforts.
As a reminder, transition services outlined in IDEA state that the IEP must include:
" Appropriate measurable post secondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and, where appropriate, independent living skills;
" The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals; and
" Beginning not later than one year before the child reaches the age of majority under State law, a statement that the child has been informed of the child's rights under Part B, if any, that will transfer to the child on reaching the age of majority under §300.520 [see 20 U.S.C. 1415(m)].
As part of the FAQ Checklist, mentioned above, prepared by the NSTTAC in 2006 it states, "students need to have at least one post secondary goal that covers the areas of education or training, employment, and, if appropriate, independent living." Based on the information provided in the FAQ many Schools have decided they only need to write a minimum of one transition goal to be in compliance with Indicator 13. In June of 2010, H. Douglas Cox of the Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Education wrote to OSEP to "seek clarification of OSEP's position on requirements for appropriate measurable post secondary goals in individualized education programs (IEPs) under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)."
In a Letter to Cox, dated September 26, 2011 OSEP responded saying:
Therefore, OSEP will inform NSTTAC that the guidance documents referred to in your letter will need to be revised to specify that, to be consistent with the IDEA, IEPs that address transition services must include a separate post secondary goal in the area of employment, in addition to at least one post secondary goal in the areas of training and education. Likewise, because independent living skills are distinct from employment, we will also inform NSTTAC that it will need to revise its guidance to specify that, to be consistent with the IDEA, a student's IEP must include a separate post secondary goal in the area of independent living skills, where appropriate.
This is only one part of the letter and I highly recommend reading the letter in its entirety and printing out a copy to bring with you to your next IEP meeting if your child has a transition plan in place. While, OSEP has provided guidance to NSTTAC they are still in the process of updating these documents and have not posted the new FAQ on their website yet. This is why it's important for parents to have the Letter to Cox with them when attending their child's IEP if transition services and goals will be discussed."
Click this link to read the original blog post.
Click this link to read the OSEP letter to Cox.

How to prepare for a manifestation hearing

4/7/13
    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:
    1. Was the conduct caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the child's disability; and
    2. Was the conduct the direct result of the School's failure to implement the IEP.
    The importance of this meeting is sometimes lost on the Parents and they show up unprepared and oblivious to the magnitude of this undertaking. If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then by law, the behavior was a manifestation of the disability and the expulsion process will stop immediately. If the answer is no to both questions, then the school personnel may then apply the same disciplinary procedures to children with disabilities in the same manner and for the same duration as the procedures would be applied to children without disabilities. This means the expulsion process would be allowed to continue. It's important to note that your child will not be expelled during a manifestation determination review but rather this will determine whether that process will be allowed to continue to an expulsion hearing.
    While there is no guarantee of outcome, preparation for a Manifestation Determination review is crucial to increase the likelihood of success. Especially since most Schools will be highly reluctant to admit that the behavior was caused by the child's disability or the School's FAILURES to implement the IEP correctly.
    Immediate First steps:
    1. Send a letter to the School in writing requesting a complete copy of your child's education records and an incident report of the alleged behavior. This is the file you will be reviewing in the meeting to answer the manifestation determination questions;
    2. Review your State's policy on tape recording IEP meetings and send a letter notifying the School that you will be recording the Manifestation Determination review (i.e. in California you need to give the School 24 hours notice to tape record);
    3. If your child has private assessments that will be helpful during the review then provide copies to the School;
    4. If your child has private physicians, therapists, psychiatrists or other providers contact them immediately and solicit their help in determining whether the behavior is symptomatic of your child's disability. If any of them think the behavior is symptomatic of your child's disability ask them to attend the review meeting;
    5. If you do not have private providers to solicit for help begin researching symptoms of your child's disabilities (i.e. ADHD children are impulsive and don't think things through). Print out credible information to bring to the manifestation determination review regarding your child's disability. Start researching at the National Association website for your child's disability (i.e. Autism Society, Attention Deficit Disorder Association, etc.); and
    6. Contact a Special Education Advocate or Special Education Attorney that specialize in discipline issues to discuss your child's upcoming meeting. It is my opinion you should hire an advocate or attorney to attend the meeting with you but at minimum you should consult with a professional on the process.
    These initial first steps should help you organize and strategize but these steps are just the tip of the iceberg in preparing for the manifestation determination review.
    The next steps:
    1. Review all of the documents highlighting all statements made in the IEP or assessments discussing your child's needs that can be directly related to the discipline issue. Statements that might include, acts impulsively, has difficulty processing spoken language, does not think through actions prior to acting, is highly stimulated by environmental factors. Statements like these can be used to make the case that your child's actions were a manifestation of their disability;
    2. Create a list of all these statements and try to tie them back to your child's disability and the behaviors that caused the referral for expulsion;
    3. Review all of the documents again this time highlighting all services that your child is supposed to be receiving, how the school is collecting data on IEP Goals and whether the IEP lists specific behavior goals and/or has a behavior support plan. Try to determine whether the School has been following the IEP and providing your child with all of the required services; and
    4. Create a list of those services that the School has not been providing. These could include failure to provide adult supervision as provided in the IEP, failure to collect data on behavior goals as stated in the IEP or failure to follow the behavior support plan to name a few.
    At this point you should be prepared to attend the Manifestation Determination review. When attending the meeting try to remain calm especially since you will be tape recording the meeting. Make sure the administrative designee for the meeting explains the process correctly to the entire IEP team and everyone reviews the complete file. The private therapists/doctors you have brought with you should be ready and willing to explain their qualifications, their experience with your child and how they have determined that the behavior was symptomatic of their disability. You should also provide copies of both of the lists you created above and ask for the information to be reviewed during the process. Try to ask specific, direct questions and make sure the answers you receive are adequate. Are the team members answering the questions you ask or skirting around the issues?
    Tweet
    If at the conclusion of the meeting the School still feels the behavior WAS NOT a manifestation of the child's disability then if the parents disagree they may appeal the decision by requesting a due process hearing. Due process hearings regarding discipline issues are handled on an expedited basis which must occur within 20 school days of the date the complaint requesting the hearing is filed. The hearing officer must make a determination within 10 school days after the hearing. The tape recording you made at the manifestation determination review may also be used as evidence in the Due Process hearing.
Click this link to read more on this topic.

2011-12 School District Special Education Data

11/4/12
The New York State Education Departments P-12: Office of Special Education has posted, effective June 1, 2012, each school district’s Special Education School District Data Profile for the 2010-11 school year as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This report provides individual school district data relating to compliance and performance results for students with disabilities.

Jobs of Thousands of Special Education Teachers At Risk

10/16/12
By Nirvi Shah on October 16, 2012 3:16 PM in Education week.
"A new report from Democratic members of the House Appropriations Committee says that those looming automatic cuts to federal spending will take an especially big bite out of special education.
The report issued last week says 12,000 special education teachers and aides could lose their jobs if automatic cuts in federal special education grants to states go through.
These automatic cuts, the wonky term for which is sequestration, are set to take effect Jan. 2. They stem from Congress' disagreement over raising the federal debt ceiling last summer. Lawmakers decided they needed to cut $1.2 trillion out of the federal budget over the next 10 years. The plan was to work on a bipartisan agreement to figure out what those cuts should be, but since they didn't figure out a compromise, across-the-board budget cuts go into effect automatically. (For schools, the single silver lining is that the cuts wouldn't really be felt until the 2013-14 school year.
The White House had already warned that cuts to special education and other education spending would be steep: an 8.2 percent cut to almost every U.S. Department of Education program. That would mean special education programs, funded at about $12.6 billion, would be cut by about $1 billion.
The result, the new report from the House says—aside from fewer special education teachers—will be 100,000 fewer children enrolled in Head Start, 20,000 fewer Head Start employees, 16,000 fewer teachers and aides working in schools where many students come from low-income families because of cuts to Title I grants, and 4,300 fewer at-risk youth in the Job Corps education and skills training program.
Those 12,000 teachers and aides affect more than 500,000 students with special needs, the Democrats said. The cuts raise a bunch of questions about requirements meant to keep spending stable from year to year—an issue that's especially delicate in the special education world. The provision was put into place to buffer students and their services from budget fluctuations. But will states be expected to make up what is cut by the feds?
As my colleagues over at Politics K-12 have written, if sequestration is to be circumvented, that won't happen until after the November election, when Congress comes back to work. Still, the Council for Exceptional Children is urging people to weigh in now."

Areas that may be assessed and who does the assessment to determine eligibility for an IEP

10/2/12
The following are components that may be included in an individual evaluation to determine whether a child has a disability. Some are evaluation components that may be used to identify the factors that may contribute to an individual student's disability (Table 2). This is offered as an FYI to parents and Schools as a reminder of what can be offered or considered through the CSE process.
Click this link to see the link.

What is Parent Training Counseling and Training in an IEP

9/2/12
As part of an IEP, the School District is supposed to provide Parent Training and Counseling if needed, so that the student with a disability can receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education. Many of my patients have been able to access this support but many parents and Schools are often confused about what this mean. This helpful article provides some background information on what can be covered through Parent Training and Counseling.
Click this link to see the article.

A Guide to the 13 Federal Special Education Classifications

8/27/12
This provide a useful guide to the 13 Federal Special Education Classification. Each State then passes regulations to implement these classifications. So each State varies on how these classifications are enacted. This link also provides data on how many children nationally were in each classification for the 2010 School year.
Click this link to see the article.

NY State - Governor vetoes proposed law

8/10/12
NY State Governor, Andrew Coumo, vetoed a proposed NY State law (see below) that would have made it easier for parents to place children with special education needs in private schools at public expense.

NY State eliminating the RCT exam but keeping the local diploma option for students' with disabilities

6/19/12
Children with IEP's have been able to take the Regent's Competency Test (RCT) if the fail a Regent's exam. Passing the RCT allowed the individual to graduate with a local diploma. This option is still available for individuals who entered 9th grade prior to the 2011-12 School year. The RCT exam will not be available to students who entered 9th grade on or after the 2011-12 School year. All students with IEP's continue to have the 55-65 special education safety net. Students with IEPs who pass an Regents exam with a grade of 55-65 can graduate with a local diploma.
To read the NY State Education memorandum on this issue, click this link to download the pdf file.

US Department of Education appears to back down on letting District's pay less for Special Education

4/7/12
Under federal law, schools are required to maintain or increase their funding for special education from one year to the next. If they do not meet the standard known as “maintenance of effort” without obtaining an exemption from the Department of Education, districts can lose out on future federal funding. Last year (see below) the federal government granted waivers to States to let them pay less for Special Education services. In response there was an outcry from concerned groups about this decrease in funding. In response the Federal Government has now reversed its previous rule requiring School Districts to pay at least what they should have paid (not actually paid) the previous year.
To read a pdf of the Federal Government's letter, click this link.
To read a summary of the article, click this link.

What should a child’s Behavioral Health Treatment Plan look like?

1/4/12
A useful article and link explaining the process of developing a behavioral intervention plan.
Click on this link to read more on this topic.

Special Factors in an IEP

The IDEA requires that Schools consider 5 special factors in writing an IEP. These include:
Consideration of the need for positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address challenging behavior
Consideration of the language needs of the child of a child with limited language proficiency
Consideration of the provision of instruction in Braille and the use of Braille for a child with limited or no vision
Consideration of the communication needs of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing
Consideration whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services.
Click on this link to read more on this topic.

Final Early Intervention Regulations Released

The U.S. Department of Education has released the final regulations for the early intervention program under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These final regulations will help improve services and outcomes for infants and toddlers with disabilities. The department also released a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend Part B of the IDEA. Changes are being proposed relating to state or local agency use of a child's or parents public benefits or insurance (e.g., Medicaid) to pay for Part B services.
Click on this link to read the article.

States will be asking the Federal Government again for waivers around paying for Special Education

More States are again expected to ask for waivers from the Federal Government to again decrease their funding to pay for Special Education Services, which then shifts more of the cost back to Local Education Agencies (LEA)s.
read the full article here

US Department of Education guidance on providing Special Education for Students in Private Schools

The US Department of Education has released a document to answer questions about what services children with disabilities are entitled to under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act when they are placed in private schools by their parents. Topics include services, transportation, equipment, supplies, and home schooling for children with disabilities.
private School Q&A April 2011
PDF of the Q&A

Understanding FERPA

Before there was HIPPA there was FERPA. FERPA stands for Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. It is HIPPA for Schools. It is important to know what your rights are under Federal Law in regards to your child's educational records.
view some information about fERPA here

Special education in San Francisco

A federal appeals court in San Francisco is set to hear a special education case on December 15 involving the use of seclusion in school. It's a case with powerful entities supporting each side.
click here to read the full article

How to file a US Department of Health and Human Services Civil Rights Complaint

If you feel a health care provider, or state or local government agency, has discriminated against you (or someone else) based on race, national origin, disability, or age, you may file a civil rights complaint. OCR can also investigate disability-based discrimination complaints against programs operated by HHS. Under certain statutes and regulations, OCR also has limited authority to investigate complaints of discrimination based on sex and religion. If you believe your health care provider conscience protection rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with OCR.
To go to the OCR website, click this link.

US Department of Education warns Schools not to delay evaluations

In a policy memorandum sent from the Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs to State School Chiefs, OSEP has stated that School District's can not use Response To Intervention (RTI) to delay the initial evaluations of students suspected of having an educationally handicapping condition.
To read an article about the memorandum click this link.
To download a pdf file of the memorandum click this link.

New York State is mandating School Districts use a new IEP form starting during the 2011-12 School year

The new format for all IEPs must be used beginning with the 2011-12 school year. This State form will be required for use by all local and State educational agencies for all IEPs developed for use in the 2011-12 school year and thereafter.
To read the January 2010 memorandum explaining the changes to the IEP form click on this link. To download a pdf file of the memorandum click on this link. New York State has suggested that School District's use an IEP Summary form. Click this link to download a pdf file of the Summary form. To review the new IEP form, click on this link to download a pdf file of the document. New York State has pulled together a document containing general guidelines for the use of the new IEP form. Click on this link to download a pdf file of this form. Lastly New York State has developed a Guide to Quality Individualized Education Program (IEP) Development and Implementation. Click this link to download the pdf version of this guide.
New York State's stated purpose in developing the new IEP form is to guide School Districts through the process of developing appropriate IEP's. As noted in the development guidelines "The IEP form has been developed to present Committee recommendations in the same sequence that the development of IEP recommendations should occur, beginning with present levels of performance and, for adolescent students, post-secondary goals and transition needs, followed by identification of the goals the student is expected to achieve in the school year the IEP is to be in effect. These sections are followed by recommendations to provide the student with the needed special education services, accommodations, modifications, etc. to assist him/her to reach those annual goals and to document the decisions of the Committee to provide such services to the maximum extent appropriate in regular classes and settings with the student’s nondisabled peers. The final decision of the Committee is the identification of the least restrictive placement where the student’s IEP can be implemented."

Understanding CSE meetings

This is a nicely written blog post about who actually happens at CSE meetings, and how to have a successful CSE meeting.
Click this link to read the post.

Questions and Answers about Special Education and Homeless Students

This guide from the U.S. Department of Education helps special educators, early intervention services providers and homeless assistance coordinators understand the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act when serving homeless children with disabilities. The guide answers questions such as "What rights are afforded to homeless children with disabilities under Part B?" This link opens a PDF document.
To download the pdf file click on this link.

Summary of Diploma Requirements for Students Who First Enter Grade 9 in 2009 or 2010 Regents Diploma

NY State Graduation requirements for High Schoolers. The NYS Regents have recently changed some aspects of the graduation requirements for students with and without disabilities. This page provides an overview of the course and tests requirements for a student to graduate. This includes information on a students ability to appeal a Regent's examination grade

Summary of State Laws, Regulations, Policies, and Guideline on restraint and seclusion

The U.S. Department of Education has released a summary of state laws, regulations, policies and guidelines regarding the use of restraint and seclusion techniques in schools. This state-by-state summary is a result of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's letter issued to Chief State School Officers on July 31, 2009, urging a review of current state policies and guidelines regarding the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.
The complete report can be downloaded in PDF or Word format. The complete report provide much more information on NYS.

Continuum of Special Education Services

The State Education Department released guidance to school districts on the Continuum of Special Education Services for School-Age Students with Disabilities on 4/08. The documents clarifies the continuum of educational services and defines Integrated Co-Teach services. It also clarifies Consultant Teacher Services, Resource Room programs, Special Class, Related Services, and Teaching Assistants and Teacher Aides.

Committee on Special Education Meetings

The Committee on Special Education (CSE) Meeting is the place where the decision is first made whether a child qualifies for special education and/or related services and what services they need to address their handicapping condition. After a child is first classified the annual CSE meeting is where their progress is reviewed and changes are made to the students Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). CSE meetings are also where the law plays its heaviest role, because how CSE meetings are run, who is at the table, how services are provided, and even how an IEP is written are all regulated by federal and state special education laws. Special Education is provided not only because school's want to help students learn but because its the law.
It is important for parents to be prepared for CSE meetings. The following is a link to an article on preparing for a CSE meeting.
It is also important that teenagers are involved in the process. The following is a link to an article on Tips for Teens on attending your own Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) Meeting.

NYS Regulations

New York State Special Education Regulations

Parents, teachers, and physicians have the right to refer children for an evaluation to determine whether they are eligible for special education services.  Federal and State regulations exist that define the special education process, and that all public school districts are required by law to follow.  In NY State these laws fall under Part 200 of the commissioner's regulations. The complete regulations can be found by following this link.




Quick Links

NY State Quick Links

Guide to NY State Graduation Diploma and Credential Requirement NY State Part 200 Regulations.
NY State Procedural Safeguards Notice - Revised 7/13
NY State Procedural Safeguards Notice (Spanish Version) - Revised 7/13
The NY State Procedural Safeguard Notice is also available in Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Haitian Creole. Click this link for those notices.

Federal Quick Links

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Federal Regulations to Implement IDEA
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
US Department of Education guidance on providing Special Education for Students in Private Schools -8/15/11

Advocacy Quick Links

Guide to State Complaints - 5/31/14
Guide to Special Education Mediation - 5/31/14
Guide to Special Education Due Process - 5/31/14
Guide to Resolution Sessions - 5/31/14

Latest Changes in the Law/Court Cases/Special Education Policy Memorandum

NY State Field Memorandum on Qualifications for School Psychologists performing Preschool Evaluations

10/13/14
Updated guidance on Qualifications of Psychologists Employed by Preschool Special Education Multidisciplinary Evaluation Programs Approved Pursuant to Section 4410 of the Education Law.
Click this link to read the Field Memorandum.

US Education Department announces Major Change in how State Special Ed Programs are evaluated

7/9/14
The U.S. Department of Education has announced a major change in the way it evaluates the effectiveness of state special education programs. Under the new plan, called Results-Driven Accountability, the Department will be asking for information not just about whether students with disabilities are accessing services and being evaluated, but also if they are actually making academic progress. According to a report, nearly two-thirds of these students are not able to read at their grade level.
Click this link to read about the new Policy.

Changes in NY State Regulations regarding to the "Protection of People with Special Needs Act"

7/9/14
Chapter 501 of the Laws of 2012 established the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs and created uniform safeguards for vulnerable persons in facilities or provider agencies that are operated, certified, or licensed by State agencies, in State-operated and licensed facilities, including residential schools under the State Education Department’s (SED) oversight (i.e., State-operated schools, State-supported schools which have a residential component, special act school districts, and approved private in-State residential schools). The purpose of the Act is to protect vulnerable persons against abuse, neglect and other conduct that may jeopardize their health, safety and welfare. The law also established requirements for the notification and investigation of allegations of abuse and neglect of individuals placed in residential schools or facilities located outside of New York State.
This act is important because it provides legal definitions for terms related to abuse, neglect, and significant incidents.
Click this link to read about the NY State Policy Memorandum.
Click this link to read a pdf of the NY State Policy Memorandum.

Public commment needed for proposed NY State Regulations regarding parental consent for initial provision of special education services and programs during the months of July and August

6/3/14
The New York State Education Department's P-12: Office of Special Education is seeking public comment on the proposed amendment of section 200.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education relating to parental consent for initial provision of special education services and programs during the months of July and August. The proposed amendment conforms the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education to Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2014, which became effective March 31, 2014.
Click this link to read about the proposed ammendment.

New NY State Regulations on Preschool Evaluations

4/27/14
At their March 2014 meeting, the Board of Regents approved, through emergency action, an amendment to sections 200.16(c) and 200.20(b) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education to conform to section 4410 of Education Law, as amended by Chapter 545 of the Laws of 2013. The regulations appear to be a reflection of what seems like "self referrals" that most likely are overly happening in NYC. While there are some good points in the change in regulations, they are also deeply disturbing in that the change disempower parents by denying them key information they need to have to get their children essential services.
Click this link for more information.

New Regulations from NY State on Impartial Hearings

2/7/14
A memorandum is now available on new regulatory requirements related to Special Education Impartial Due Process Hearings which became effective February 1, 2014. This memorandum is to inform you that the Board of Regents has approved for permanent adoption the amendment of sections 200.1, 200.5 and 200.16 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. The amendment addresses seven issues relating to special education impartial hearings:
Click this link for more information.

New Guidance from NY State on Alternative Assessments and the Common Core

2/6/14
Starting with the 2013-14 administration, the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) measures the Common Core Learning Standards in English language arts (ELA) and Mathematics, and NYS Learning Standards in Science and Social Studies. These standards are measured through a datafolio style assessment with less depth, breadth, and complexity than the regular assessment administered to all students. The Office of State Assessment has provided sample tasks in ELA and mathematics that demonstrate how student work can be designed to assess an Extension.
Click this link for more information.

Appeals Court Backs Parents in Special Education Placement

1/8/14
A federal appeals court has ruled that a Colorado public school district must pay for a student with learning disabilities and mental health issues to attend an out-of-state treatment facility. In the case Jefferson County School District v. Elizabeth E., the student, Elizabeth, attended public school and later private school at public expense in Colorado. She received special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. After Elizabeth’s mental health became a serious issue, her parents sent her for treatment and education at Innercept, a residential facility in Idaho. In response, the school district told Elizabeth’s family it would not reimburse them for tuition at Innercept.
Elizabeth’s parents asked for a due process hearing and won. The school district filed a lawsuit. The case reached the federal appeals court and Elizabeth’s parents won again. The court said that the school had to reimburse the family for the cost of Elizabeth’s placement. Importantly, the court said that Elizabeth needed mental health services so she could benefit from instruction. The appeals court also said that private school placements can be out-of-state.
Click this link to read more about the case.
Click this link to read a pdf of the Appeals decision

US Office of Civil Rights Policy Memorandum on Retaliation

6/30/13
The US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) on 4/24/13 published a Dear Colleague letter providing guidance on the issue of retaliation. OCR reports that they receive a significant number of claims every year about individuals who have raised the issue of a violation of an individuals civil rights who are then retaliated against by the public entity. The letter states that such retaliation is illegal and that OCR will follow-up on such issues to ensure that any public agency found to have retaliated with redress the issue and then ensure it does not happen again. Redress can also include monetary redress.
Click this link to read the Dear Colleague letter.


US Supreme Court refuses to take NY City Special Education Placement case

6/18/13
The U.S. Supreme Court declined this week to weigh in on a student placement case in NYC. The parents had disagreed with the School's placement of their child, in part because the District had not given them any other options to consider. They then made a unilateral placement of their child to another program. By not taking the case, the Supreme Court let stand a federal appeals court ruling last year that fount that the school district “may select the specific school without the advice of the parents so long as it conforms to the program offered in the IEP." This does not mean that parents do not have the right to make unilateral placements of thier children. It does reinforce the case that to have a District pay for the program, the program that the District has offered must not be an appropriate program to begin with.
Click this link to read more about the case.
For more information, click this link.


Amendment to Section 200.2 through 200.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to Membership of the Committee on Special Education (CSE)

As of 1/2/13 the NY State Regents changed the membership of the CSE. NY State law previously required Districts to have a parent member present at CSE meetings. The Reason was so that parents could have another parent of a child with a disability present at the CSE meeting. As of 1/2/13 Districts in NY State are no longer to make a parent representative available. Parents can still have a parent represenative present, if they request that they be present 72 hours in advance.
This change does not impact Committees on Preschool Special Education.
Specifically Section 200.3(a)(1)(viii) as amended:
200.3(a)(1)(viii) an additional parent member of a student with a disability residing in the school district or a neighboring school district, provided that the additional parent member may be the parent of a student who has been declassified within a period not to exceed five years or the parent of a student who has graduated within a period not to exceed five years[. Such parent is not a required member if the parents of the student request that the additional parent member not participate in the meeting], if specifically requested in writing by the parent of the student, the student or by a member of the committee at least 72 hours prior to the meeting…
Sections 200.5(c)(2)(iv) and (v) as amended:
200.5(c)(2)(iv) for meetings of the committee on special education, inform the parent(s) of his or her right to request, in writing at least 72 hours before the meeting, the presence of the school physician member and an additional parent member of the committee on special education at any meeting of such committee pursuant to section 4402(1)(b) of the Education Law and include a statement, prepared by the State Education Department, explaining the role of having the additional parent member attend the meeting…
200.5(c)(2)(v) for meetings of the committee on preschool special education, inform the parent(s) of his or her right to decline, in writing, the participation of the additional parent member at any meeting of such committee pursuant to section [4402(1)(b)] 4410(3)(a)(1)(v) of the Education Law…
Notes:
Click this link to read more from the NY State Department of Education on this change to the Regulations.

Click this link to download a pdf of the Amendment to the Regulations of the Commissioner.


Amendment to Section 100.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to the Safety Net for Students with Disabilities to Graduate with a Local High School Diploma

The NY State Regents in an emergency meeting amended NY State Education Law and lowered the standards for students with IEP's and/or with Section 504 Plans (and who are recommended for the safety net as part of their 504 Plan) to graduate with Local Diplomas.
Regular education students and students with 504 Plans who are not eligible for the Safety Net must pass Regent exams with grades of 65 or above. Students with IEP's or students with 504 Plans eligible for the Safety Net have been able to pass with grades of 55 or above. With this emergency act NY State law now allows students with disabilities or 504 plans who are eligible to graduate with the Compensatory Education Safety Net (CESN)can now graduate with Regents grades of 45 or above, if the following criteria are met:
Regents examinations required to earn a regular high school diploma include Comprehensive English; Mathematics; Global History and Geography; Science; and U.S. History and Government.

Click this link to read more from the NY State Department of Education on this change to the Regulations.

Click this link to download a pdf of the Amendment to the Regulations of the Commissioner.

Click this link to read the Checklist for eligibility for the Compensatory Education Safety Net.

Click this link to read Compensatory Education Safety Net Examples.

Click this link to read a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Graduation options for Students with Disabilities.

9th Circuit rules Parents not to blame for failure of District to Provide FAPE

In a case from Alaska, the 9th Circuit Appeals Court ruled that parents were not the cause of the Anchorage School Districts's (ASD) failure to provide their child with FAPE. The ASD had appealed an Impartial Hearing Officer's ruling that they had failed to provide FAPE. The District Court ruled for the ASD and reversed the IH Officer's ruling. The parents appealed to the 9th Circuit who rule that the IH Officer was correct and ordered the District to reimburse the parent for tutoring costs.
In this case the parents had zealously fought for their child's education. Their child had been "diagnosed with high-functioning autism, pervasive development delay, and sensory integration dysfunction." At the final meeting the parents had submitted numerous changes to the proposed Draft IEP. When the District failed to adopt those changes, the parents left the CSE meeting. The District then argued that they did not finalize the IEP due to these actions, and that therefore the parents were at fault for the District failing to write the IEP. The Court found that the ASD had two options:
(1) continue working with M.P.’s parents in order to develop a mutually acceptable IEP, or
(2) unilaterally revise the IEP and then file an administrative complaint to obtain approval of the proposed IEP.

Click this link to download a pdf of the Court's Decision.
Click this link to read more about the case.

NY State Autism Insurance Mandate Goes into Effect 11/1/12

The New York State Autism mandate goes into effect November 1, 2012. As a result, self-funded employer groups that choose to participate will need to make changes to their benefit plans during renewal and then communicate those changes to their members.
Click this link to download a pdf of the Excellus Insurance information for Employers.
Click this link to read more about the law.

NY State Policy Memorandum on Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential for Students with Severe Disabilities

The NY State Policy Memorandum outlines the changes to Sections 100.5, 100.6, 100.9 and 200.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education to replace, beginning with the 2013-14 school year and thereafter, the New York State (NYS) individualized education program (IEP) diploma with a Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential for students with severe disabilities who are eligible to take the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA).
Click this link to download a pdf of the memorandum from April 2012

Federal Court Says Out-of-State Move Doesn't Absolve District of Special Education Obligations to provide Compensatory Education Services

10/3/12
A federal court of appeals has ruled that when a student with disabilities moves out of state, that doesn't absolve a school district from providing compensatory education services. In a ruling this month in D.F. vs. Collingswood Borough Board of Education, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a previous ruling that excused the New Jersey school district from making up for special education services a student missed when enrolled in that district.
Click this link to read more about the case.

ADA, 504 Plans, and the IDEA: Feds offer guidance on the 2008 ADA amendments

10/3/12
When working with preschool, elementary, middle and high schools with students with disabilities, we most often talk about the IDEA, CSEs, and IEPs or possibly Section 504. It is not often we talk about the biggie the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). However that has changed somewhat because in 2008 Congress amended the ADA and changed the law. The new law directly effects students with disabilities particularly students who would, could, or should receive reasonable accommodations through a Section 504 Plan. As with all laws it takes awhile for the federal government to write the regulations for how that law will be enacted. The regulations came out in January of 2012. The amendments are important and when followed will make it easier for children with disabilities to receive Section 504 supports.
Click this link to read the Federal guidance.
Click this link to read the questions and answer section of the guidance.

NY State Policy Memorandum on Placements of Students with Disabilities in Approved Out-of-State Residential Schools and Emergency Interim Placements

This memorandum provides updated procedures, forms and policy, relating to a school district’s responsibility to submit timely and complete applications for approval of State reimbursement of tuition costs for placements of students with disabilities in out-of-State approved residential programs and emergency interim placements.
Click this link to download a pdf of the memorandum from March 2012

Wendy's Restaurant Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against CTW L.L.C., a Wendy's franchisee, for denying employment to a job applicant because he has a disability. The applicant had worked at another fast food restaurant before, but wasn't hired at Wendy's because of his hearing impairment. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to an employee with a disability, unless it causes significant difficulty or expense for the employer. The ADA also requires companies to treat people with disabilities the same as all other applicants for a job.
Click this link to read more about the suit


Supreme Court asks White House for opinion on a Special Education Case

In the case Compton Unified School District v. Addison the core feature is whether a parent of a disabled child have the right to a hearing to challenge the school officials' failure to arrange an educational program for the child, if officials are only negligent and did not act intentionally. In this case two Appeal's Courts have sided with the parent and found that the District failed to provide child find. The courts have ordered compensatory education to the family. The District is arguing that they do not have to provide these services as they were only negligent in providing FAPE.
Click this link to read more about the settlement.

Justice Department settles ADA claim against U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

The Justice Department used a high-profile case to strongly signal its intention to protect the rights of disabled test takers. The settlement against the National Board of Medical Examiners found that they twice denied an otherwise qualified applicant additional time and a separate testing location that he needed to complete the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination. The case is important in that even though the new regulations under the ADAA (Americans with Disabilities Act Ammendements) will go into effect within the next few weeks the Justice Department still pursued the case.
Click this link to read more about the settlement. Click on this link to download the settlement agreement.
Click on this link to read about the ADAA.

Pennsylvania Federal Judge rules that a fear of Bullying is not a factor in School Placement under IDEA

In a decision that was to be expected, a Federal Judge in Pennsylvania ruled against the parents of a child with special needs when they asked the School District to pay for his placement in a private educational program. The parents unilaterally placed the child in a private program as they feared the child would be bullied if he was in the public school. The judge ruled that the fear of bullying was not enough of a factor that the District would have to pay for the program. There are several key factors in this decision. The first is that no actual bullying had occurred in the District's proposed program. If actual bullying had occurred the case would have been different. A second factors is that the parents did a unilateral placement (placed the student first and then asked the District to pay for it.) While this is allowed, and parents can win such a case, it changes the legal burden of proof from the District to the parents.
Click this link to read more about the case.

US Department of Justice has fined Delta Airlines $2 million for ADA violations

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined Delta Airlines $2 million for violating rules protecting air travelers with disabilities. This is the largest civil penalty ever assessed against an airline in a non-safety-related case by the DOT. Numerous violations of the requirements to provide assistance getting on and off airplanes and to respond to, and keep a record of, disability-related complaints were found as part of the investigation.
To read the DOJ press release, click this link.

ADAA Expanding work opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was passed in 1990 and has opened the doors for millions of people with disabilities to participate meaningfully in society in such areas as employment, education, health care, housing, voting and many other activities. Beginning in 1999, however, a series of Supreme Court decisions limited the ADA's effectiveness by interpreting its protections to have a very narrow reach. Lower courts followed suit, concluding that the ADA's protections were unavailable to people with a wide variety of impairments, including many people with diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, heart disease and mental illnesses. In response to these decisions, Congress amended the ADA in 2008 to make it clear that they had always intended individuals with disabilities to have equal access. This blog post by Chai Feldblum, Commissioner, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explores the role of the ADAA in ensuring opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities including, intellectual disabilities, pervasive developmental disorders.
Click this link to read the blog article.

Justice Department Reaches Americans with Disabilities Act Settlement with H&R Block

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced an agreement under the ADA with HRB Tax Group Inc., H&R Block Tax Services LLC and HRB Advance LLC (H&R Block) to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing when providing income tax preparation services and courses. The settlement agreement requires, among other things, that H&R Block provide auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreter services.
To read the Justice Department press release click on this link.

Large Network of Private Schools Pays $215,000 to Settle Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination against Children with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Justice Department (DOJ) has announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against Nobel Learning Communities, Inc. (NLC). NLC runs a nationwide network of more than 180 preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools. DOJ alleged that NLC violated Title III of the ADA by excluding from its programs children with disabilities, including some children with autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, ADHD,and global developmental delays.
To read more click this link.
To read an additional story click this link.

U.S. Department of Justice Settles Remainder of Voter Registration Case with State of New York for Violating Rights of Students with Disabilities

7/20/10
The Justice Department today announced a court-approved consent decree which resolves a lawsuit against the state of New York and its public university systems for their failure to provide voter registration services at offices serving students with disabilities at each public university and college campus in New York State.

U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education warn colleges and universities about requiring the use of non accessible reading devices such as the Kindle

7/4/10
The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education have sent a letter to colleges and universities about the use of electronic book readers that are not accessible to students who are blind or have low vision. The letter points out a serious problem with some of these devices that do not have an accessible text-to-speech function. Requiring use of an emerging technology in a classroom environment when that technology is inaccessible to an entire population of individuals with disabilities--individuals with visual disabilities--may constitute discrimination prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504).

The letter specifically cites a case settled by these departments with colleges that had required the use of the Kindle. A device that does not have text-to-speech capabilities.

While not directly addressing elementary and secondary education, because both laws also apply to public schools it is highly probable that the same standard would be held for these institutions.

To read the letter click on this link.

Court Ruling Holds School Liable for Compensatory Education

4/21/10
A Court Ruling in California ruled that Parents can sue a School District for not performing Child Find and classifying a high school student as a child with an educational handicapping condition. The case involves a 10th student who failed all of her classes in 10th grade. The school counselor is reported to have suggested an evaluation be completed but the school refused. The child was finally classified in 11th grade. Parents sued the school district for compensatory education in the form of private tutoring and the Court of Appeals ordered that tutoring be provided to make up for the services the student should have received.

11/20/09
Settlement Agreement Between the United States of American and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Under Title III of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The U.S. Department of Justice determined that under title III of the ADA Wal-Mart discriminated against people with disabilities by failing to make reasonable modifications to rules, policies and procedures at Wal-Mart stores nationwide. In particular, Wal-Mart denied equal access to its stores for people with disabilities who use service animals, failed to provide disability-related assistance, denied equal access by failing to make reasonable modifications in order to accept payment by people with disabilities at different stores and denied equal access to its services because an individual was deaf and did not have a cellular telephone.

10/29/09
Although this does not effect parents in NY State, it is important to understand how changes in the law are brought about. Parents in Ohio have had a long standing legal case against the State of Ohio, and more specifically the Ohio Department of Education in regards to how the State was administering parts of the federal special education law (IDEA). As part of a consent decree the judge hearing the case has ordered changes in how the Ohio Education Department ensures that local school districts are following the proponents of the IDEA. For more information follow this link.

In June, the Supreme Court issued a Pro-Family decision in Forest Grove School District v. T.A. In this 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court found that the IDEA allows reimbursement for private special education services, even when the child did not previously receive special education services from the public school. For more information follow this link to Wrightslaw.


The Law and Disabilities

There are two primary laws that provide for both accommodations and modifications, and specific services for children presenting with disabilities.  The first is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This is a civil rights law that states that children with disabilities can not be discriminated against.  The second is the Individuals with Disability Act (IDEA) which was originally passed as PL 94-142 in 1975. This is an entitlement law that states that children with handicapping conditions are entitled to and must receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).  This is provided through special education and/or related services. 

Without these laws children with disabilities have no right to special services. It is therefore helpful for everyone raising, teaching, or working with these children to know what these laws do and do not provide.

Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADA) & Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

This document for parents from the National Center for Learning Disabilities explains the changes brought about by the ADA and how they apply to Section 504. These changes may impact children with disabilities, including learning disabilities and other conditions such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Aspergers Syndrome, diabetes, asthma and life-threatening food allergies.
This link opens a PDF document.
Click this link to go to the U.S. Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act Home Page.
© Copyright, all rights reserved Daniel J. DeMarle, Ph.D. 2014