Wednesday, February 21, 2018

We Win Another Award #best blog

We were recently honored again. This blog has been named the third best education blog by Feedspot. We appreciate the honor.

You can study the entire list of the thirty best education blogs here. The list has links to other blogs that you may be interested in.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Weekly Question!

As we begin 2018, what will be the biggest issue in special education law? #hot button

Friday, February 16, 2018

OCR Publishes Searchable Directory of Schools With Pending Complaints #discrimination

The Office For Civil Rights of the federal Department of education has published a searchable database of schools that have had a complaint pending against them under §504, one of the federal anti-discrimination laws. The directory lists claims based upon disability discrimination and based upon all other unlawful types of discrimination. It should be emphasized that the listed items involve complaints filed and not findings of discrimination. Nonetheless, it is a valuable resource. Here is an article about the directory in Disability Scoop. 

OCR issued the following "disclaimer" in its press release:

OCR publishes as a public service, this list of elementary-secondary and post-secondary institutions under investigation. The list is a snapshot of data on aspects of law that OCR enforces as it existed at a particular point in time (i.e., the last Friday of each month). It is not real-time data. OCR will replace the list with a new data snapshot on the first Wednesday of each month.
The inclusion of an institution on this list does not mean that the institution violated a federal anti-discrimination statute; rather, it means that a complaint was filed with OCR and the agency determined the complaint should be opened for investigation, or the agency has opened a compliance review. OCR is still investigating the cases included on this list, or is otherwise working to resolve the cases (e.g., OCR may be in the process of negotiating a resolution agreement). Some cases are resolved with a finding that there is insufficient evidence an institution violated a statute enforced by OCR.
The search results are organized by the types of discrimination issues under investigation and not the number of open investigations at an institution. For example, an institution may appear in the search results multiple times if OCR is investigating the institution for more than one type of alleged discrimination, even if the allegations stem from a single case. Similarly, an institution may appear only once in the search results if OCR is investigating it for only one type of alleged discrimination, even if there are multiple open cases.

You can look up any school with a pending complaint in the database here. Disability discrimination complaints based upon alleged denial of FAPE are searchable here.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Weekly Question!

As we begin 2018, what will be the biggest issue in special education law? #hot button

Thursday, February 8, 2018

New Report on State Laws On Seclusion and Restraint #seclusion and restraint

We have written extensively on the abuse of seclusion and restraint and the effects of such abuses on children with disabilities. Here is an article on the expose by the National Disability Rights Network on the issue titled "School Is Not Supposed To Hurt." Here is an article on the report on seclusion and restraint abuse by the Government Accountability Office.   Here is an article on guidance by the feds. Here is a post on the bill on this topic considered but not passed by Congress. Here is a post from 2010 concerning this topic as a hot button at conferences. Students with disabilities are subjected to seclusion and restraint at a very high rate.

Last week, the Education Commission of the States issued a report on legislative activity by the states on this issue in the last couple of years. The Policy Snapshot On Restraint and Seclusion looks at the issue in terms of state level activity. 

Here is an excerpt from the report:
The practice of seclusion generally refers to procedures that isolate a student from others, while restraint refers to the physical holding or mechanical restriction of a student’s movement. While these practices are typically utilized as tools for addressing imminent safety concerns, the use of restraint or seclusion on students who are exhibiting problematic behaviors has been prone to misapplication and abuse — possibly placing students in even more unsafe situations. Additionally, students with disabilities are restrained or secluded at much higher rates than students without disabilities. According to the Office for Civil Rights, more than 100,000 students, including almost 69,000 students with disabilities, were placed in seclusion or physically restrained at school in 2013-14.
 The disproportionate use of these practices on students with disabilities has garnered much attention from the federal government in recent years. A 2009 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found no federal laws restricting the use of restraint and seclusion in public and private schools, and widely divergent laws at the state level. Since then, the U.S. Department of Education has released several guidance documents outlining the potential legal issues with these practices and providing states with alternative frameworks for approaching discipline and school safety. (emphasis added)
At the state level, legislation to regulate restraint and seclusion practices generally seeks to: 
   -  Limit the use of these procedures, except in cases of immediate danger. 
   -  Mandate reporting when restraint and seclusion are used. 
  -  Ensure school personnel are properly trained. 
  -  Establish commissions to study the use of these practices.

You can read the entire report here.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Restorative Practices As An Alternative To School Discipline #restorative practices

We have written here a number of times about the  movement to replace traditional school discipline, which adversely affects students with disabilities, with restorative justice or restorative practices. Here is an article about a CADRE presentation on restorative justice. Here is a reference to the Department of Education blog concerning restorative justice as an alternative to discipline. Here is a post on restorative remedies.

A report issued last week by the Education Commission of the States, A Policy Snapshot on Alternative School Discipline Strategies, examines the states use of alternatives to traditional discipline. The report shows that a number of states including Maryland, California, Michigan, Utah and Texas have specifically developed restorative practices alternatives. 

Here is an excerpt from the report:
Exclusionary and punitive school discipline policies, such as suspensions and expulsions, allow educators to remove students from the classroom for poor behavior or misconduct. However, emerging research suggests that these practices also increase the likelihood that students repeat grades, are excessively absent from school, drop out entirely and/or get involved with the juvenile justice system.
National data show that historically underserved student groups — such as black students, Native students and students with disabilities — disproportionately experience punitive disciplinary measures in school. For example, while black students comprised 16 percent of public school enrollment, they represented 31 percent of students arrested in school and 27 percent of students referred to law enforcement in the 2011-12 school year.
In an attempt to mitigate these negative impacts, keep students in school and improve overall school climate, many states have opted to explore alternatives to punitive discipline — such as restorative practices and positive behavioral supports and interventions. In general, these practices aim to address the root causes of student misbehavior by building strong and healthy relationships with students and improving their engagement in the learning environment.
Recent state legislation related to the use of alternatives to punitive and exclusionary discipline in schools has primarily addressed three areas of policy: 
   - Implementing professional development and training programs for teachers, administrators, school resource officers and other school personnel. 
    -   Establishing committees to study alternatives to punitive and exclusionary discipline. 
   -   Reducing the use of punitive disciplinary measures by requiring the use of restorative practices, positive behavioral interventions, trauma-informed schools and other strategies in certain circumstances. (emphasis added.)

You can read the entire six page report here.
A separate report by the Education Commission of the States addresses state efforts to reform school expulsion and suspensions in general. You can read that report here.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Weekly Question!

As we begin 2018, what will be the biggest issue in special education law? #hot button