Friday, June 24, 2016

Procedural Safeguards Under IDEA #ProceduralSafeguards

What mechanisms does the special education law have for parents who disagree with decisions by a school district about the education of a child with a disability? Are there procedural safeguards that protect a school district?

Procedural safeguards are at the heart of the system established by the special education law. The philosophy underlying the Act is that parents and school districts will work together collaboratively to ensure an appropriate education for children with disabilities. Schaffer v. Weast 546 U.S. 49, 126 S.Ct. 528, 44 IDELR 150 (11/14/2005). But the law also recognizes that there must be procedural safeguards to ensure that the important public policies established by the Act will be achieved when the parents and school officials cannot agree.

So we will once again run a series on the various procedural safeguards that are established by IDEA. Procedural Safeguards - The Series will begin next week. As always we appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Also your comments concerning how the procedural safeguards are working in practice may be useful to our readers. Let us know.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Breaking: Departments of Education and HHS Release New Guidance on Foster Children #FosterCare

The U. S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today released guidance to states, school districts and child welfare agencies on the new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for supporting children in foster care. The guidance aims to assist state and local partners in understanding and implementing the new law, and to inform state and local collaboration between educational and child welfare agencies across the nation for the well-being of children in foster care. The guidance is the first the Department of Education is releasing regarding provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act, in the coming weeks and months to help states, districts and schools as the implement the new law. In addition, the Education Department is also releasing a letter to states and districts stressing the importance and utility of stakeholder engagement as they begin to transition to ESSA.

Of the approximately 400,000 children and youth in foster care, nearly 270,000 children in foster care are school-aged. Data show that foster youth are more likely than their peers to experience a host of barriers that lead to troubling outcomes, including low academic achievement, grade retention and lower high school graduation rates. Children in foster care often face steep challenges to school success, including high rates of mobility. The new protections for children in foster care under ESSA will apply to all children in foster care enrolled in public schools.
The guidance released today builds upon a new focus in ESSA on the unique needs of foster youth and will equip local partners with an essential tool for implementing the new foster care provisions in ESSA successfully by December 10, 2016.

The guidance, which is not binding and doesn’t impose any new requirements beyond those in the law and regulations, provides clarity in the form of detailed frequently asked questions and answers, touching upon the following key features:
  • The importance of the new educational stability requirements;
  • The statutory requirement that a child in foster care remains in his or her original school, if it’s in his or her best interest;
  • Procedures for jointly determining with the child welfare agency which school is in a child’s best interest to attend;
  • Procedures for resolving disputes that may arise over the best interest determination and school placement;
  • Transportation procedures developed jointly to maintain children in foster care in their original schools;
  • The transfer of relevant records;
  • Foster care points of contact for states, districts and child welfare agencies
  • Protecting student data and privacy; and
  • Best practices and suggestions for interagency collaboration on these issues
You can read the guidance document here.  The press release is available here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Weekly Question!

What questions about special education should we ask the major party candidates for President? #Education Politics

Friday, June 17, 2016

CADRE Hiring Policy Analyst #CADRE

Our friends at CADRE are hiring a policy analyst. They asked if we could help spread the word, and because we love CADRE, we are happy to do so.

CADRE is the federal special education dispute resolution center. Their website is a great resource and is linked on the lefthand side of this blog. If you are involved in special ed dispute resolution, you should investigate their many resources.

If you might be interested in working for CADRE as a Policy Analyst, the job announcement is available here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

New Weekly Question!

What questions about special education should we ask the major party candidates for President? #Education Politics

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Other Supreme Court Case: Service Dogs, Exhaustion and IDEA #ServiceDog #exhaustion

Last week we discussed the pending supreme court case involving the standard for FAPE and the question of meaningful vs some educational benefit. You can read the post here.

There is one other special ed case pending before the Supremes. Fry v Napoleon Community Schs No. 15-497.  It is a service dog case, an issue mentioned many times in this blog. (the dog is named "Wonder.") Unfortunately, however, the issue before the court has very little to do with service dogs and the rights of kids with disabilities to have service dogs in school. Instead the issue is the more legalistic one of exhaustion of administrative remedies. 

The parent brought the case under §504 and ADA. The District Court dismissed the complaint because the parents had not exhausted administrative remedies by first having an IDEA hearing. The Sixth Circuit affirmed by a 2-1 vote. The Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to file a brief giving the opinion of the United States. The Solicitor General filed a brief agreeing with the parents. You can read the Solicitor General's brief here. Here is the case page for this case on the SCOTUS blog.

Readers of this blog know that the Supreme Court reviews only a small number of the cases filed with it, so it is possible that neither of the two pending cases will result in a decision. Also complicating the matter is the fact that Justice Scalia still has not been replaced because of the failure of the  Congress to act, so even if they accept the case, another 4-4 non-decision may result. ( A 4-4 tie affirms the lower court decision without a precedential decision by the high court.)

But there are only ten U S Supreme Court decisions in special ed law so the possibility of another one, or two, is something to watch.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Weekly Question!

Can a child be too bad for FAPE? See our ongoing series of posts on this blog. #IncarceratedStudents