Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve (Photo credit: volantwish)

Happy New Year to all of our readers.

As you work on your list of resolutions and prepare to celebrate responsibly, here is a fun fact from our friends at the US Census Bureau:

 New Year's Eve and Day

More than 315 million
The nation’s projected population as we ring in the New Year.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Tech Update & Why We Write The Special Education Law Blog

The Landing - Sydney Cove 26 January 1788 crea...
The Landing - Sydney Cove 26 January 1788 created by Special Education Students Throughout the ACT (Photo credit: ArchivesACT)

One of our goals in creating this blog was to provide both discussion of special education law topics from an impartial perspective and to provide resources where interested persons can find more information.

The impartial perspective is very important.  I have never represented or advised parents or school personnel on a special ed matter.  I am a hearing officer and mediator for a number of states.  I also advise states and train their personnel.  That is why when parents or school personnel contact me, I cannot help them.  They generally understand.  The disclaimer on the blog explains this point in more detail.

We also offer a lot of resources for parents, teachers (both regular ed and special ed), principals, school psychologists, hearing officers, mediators, complaint investigators, monitors, special ed directors, academics, advocates, SEA personnel, LEA personnel, paraprofessionals, lawyers (both parent and school district) as well as other special ed law junkies of all types.

Om the left-hand side of the blog, you can sign up for a free subscription to our blog.  You can choose between receiving posts by email or in a reader by RSS feed.  You can also get a widget to insert this blog directly into your own website or blog.Subscriptions are important because numbers have meaning in the blogosphere.  Please sign up for a subscription.  Thanks.

Also on the left hand side are a series of you tube videos of interviews of me on dispute resolution topics by Marshall Peter, Director of CADRE.(Many other videos and resources pertaining to special ed dispute resolution are available on the CADRE website - there is a link under resources.)

Of the spin-off groups that we have created, the LinkedIn group is the most successful with over 5,500 members and lots of active discussions.  Check it out here.  The Facebook group was archived because our thousands of members did not obsessive provide status updates regarding sitting on the porch or what they had for lunch.  The group still exists, but members have to reapply because of the corporatization of evil Facebook overlords.

Many readers follow our headlines on twitter.  Check out our twitter activity here. Other readers follow our headlines on our Tumblr mini-blog here.

There are many links to websites and other important blogs on the lefthand side of the blog.  Also the search bar is just for this blog. So if you are interested in one topic, say bullying, just type it into the search bar and you can find all of our posts on that topic.

There are many more valuable resources on the blog.  Please explore it and take advantage of these other sites. Also, we are always looking to improve. If you know of other impartial resources, please suggest them.  

In the meantime, we appreciate your support.
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Winter Wonderland Warning Issued - Merry Christmas

christmas paint
christmas paint (Photo credit: cassie_bedfordgolf)

Merry Christmas to our readers. I give you a wish, a thought and a song, as well as some fun facts:

WISH:  I wish you a great Christmas.

THOUGHT: This is a great time to think of those who are less fortunate.

SONG: sugar rum cherry - Duke Ellington's jazzed up version of a part of the Nutcracker. Very cool.

FUN FACTS:(courtesy of our friends at the United States Census Bureau):
Christmas Trees and Decorations
$1.03 billion
The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2012. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($139.9 million worth) during the same period.  Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics <
Where the Toys are ... Made  
Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2010. California led the nation with 10 locations.  Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns, NAICS code 339931, <

The number of locations that primarily produced games, toys and children’s vehicles in 2010; they employed 7,374 workers. California led the nation with 85 establishments.  Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns, NAICS code 339932, <

$9.6 billion
The value of U.S. toy imports, including stuffed toys (such as dolls), puzzles and electric trains from China, between January and September 2012. China was the leading country of origin for stuffed toys coming into this country, as well as for a number of other popular holiday gifts. These include sports footwear ($227.7 million), basketballs ($41.0 million) and roller skates ($31.8 million). China led Thailand as the leading supplier of ice skates ($10.7 million versus $9.5 million), with Canada ranked third ($3.6 million).  Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics
         Holiday Names  
 Place names associated with the holiday season consist of a dozen places named Holly including Mount Holly, N.C. (population 13,719) and Holly Springs, Miss. (7,638). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,587), Santa Claus, Ind. (2,484), North Pole, Alaska (2,154), Noel, Mo. (1,822) and — if you know about reindeer —Dasher, Ga. (934) and the village of Rudolph, Wis. (440). There is also Santa Claus, Ga. (166).  Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates

Hanukkah and Kwanzaa

Proportion of the nation’s spuds produced in Idaho and Washington during the fall of 2011. Potato latkes are always a crowd pleaser during Hanukkah.    Source: National Agriculture Statistics Service, Crop Production, Page 14  <

$1.38 billion
The value of product shipments of candles in 2011 by the nation’s manufacturers. Many of these candles are lit during Hanukkah (Dec. 8 to 16) and Kwanzaa (Dec. 26 to Jan. 1) celebrations.  

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bullying of Children With Disabilities: More From OCR Report - Part II

Seal of the United States Department of Education
Seal of the United States Department of Education (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The biggest hot button issue in special education law is bullying of kids with disabilities. In a recent post, we informed you of the report issued by the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights on its enforcement activities over the period of the last four years.  You can read that post here.
There is a lot of information in the report that should be helpful to parents and school staff as well as others interested in special education law. In a subsequent post we repeated OCR's text from the report concerning what it significantly described as a cross-cutting issue: school bullying. You can read that post here. In today's post, we will review what OCR said about some of its disability based harassment cases.  We encourage you to read this important report.

You can view the OCR press release here. You can read the entire 76 page report here.
The following is language from the OCR report:
Enforcement—Disability Harassment
OCR’s work with schools and colleges on disability harassment has involved issues such as the following:
►► A complainant alleged that a high school student with Fragile X Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, Tourette’s Syndrome and ADHD was verbally ridiculed by her fellow students about her disability-related body odor, sprayed with an air freshener by staff in front of her classmates, detained by staff in school who made her take showers before allowing her to attend classes, and pulled out of class to be sent home before the end of the school day because of her body odor. She wanted to drop out because of the harassment.
►► Parents alleged that their child with cerebral palsy, scoliosis and ADD, who weighed only 65 pounds, was bullied and harassed by classmates at middle school and on the school bus. They said he was kicked in the legs in the cafeteria, intentionally hit in the head while playing dodge ball, and hit with bottles at a pep rally. As a result, the parents removed the child from school to homeschool him.
►► A parent complained that a student with a severe nut allergy was the subject of a protest instigated by district employees because of aids and services provided to the student to address her food allergy. The complainant alleged that several teachers, including a teacher who had been reprimanded for failing to implement the aids and services, leaked confidential information about the student’s medical condition and spread misinformation about the accommodations to other parents,
and that an online response to a news story concerning the protest included a suggestion that parents send their children to school with backpacks smeared in peanut oil, which could have proved fatal for her child. 
These complaints led to resolution agreements in which the school districts agreed to take steps to prevent, eliminate and respond appropriately to disability-based harassment. For example, the school districts agreed to provide training to the staff regarding students with disabilities, and Section 504 and Title II; educate students, faculty, staff and the community about the severity of nut allergies and the need for appropriate aids and services in schools; to provide education or other services to the students who were harassed; revise and fully implement policies and procedures on bullying and harassment; discipline students who engaged in bullying and harassing conduct and report those incidents to parents in a timely manner; and set up a hotline for the parent of the bullied student to use to report future concerns.
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Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook Public School Teachers Are Heroes

A true #hero. News worth sharing... #VictoriaSoto
A true #hero. News worth sharing... #VictoriaSoto (Photo credit: ArtJonak)

Like everybody else. I'm having difficulty understanding the massacre of babies in a Connecticut classroom. How could this have happened?

I saw on the news coverage that more than 40 classroom shootings have happened since Columbine!  Is this acceptable?  Can't we make our schoolhouses safe? Something must be done; enough is enough!

One aspect of the story bears repeating.  The teachers and administrators in that school were clearly heroes.  Some died protecting the students.  Others rushed the children into bathrooms, closets or safe spaces in library stacks to protect them.  These Sandy Hook Elementary School public school teachers and staff must be honored.

The next time that an education "reformer" starts railing against public school teachers as the source of all of our problems, they should take a minute and think about these Sandy Hook Elementary School heroes. We know that nobody goes into teaching for the money.  Many, like these heroes, go into it because they love these kids. It isn't fair to blame public school teachers for all of the problems of our educational system. They are entitled to our respect and admiration.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Special Education Law 101 - Part XII Stay Put

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for...
Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is another post in our ongoing series on the basics of special education law.  Please let us know how you are enjoying this series.  We feel that this is a good introduction for newbies and a good refresher for seasoned pros.  

Today we talk about the stay put provision. One of the basic concepts in this area of the law, yet also one of the most misunderstood.

Stay Put

              IDEA § 615 (j) provides that (except in certain discipline cases), during the pendency of any due process or court proceedings pursuant to this section, unless the parties agree otherwise, the student ‘…shall remain in the then-current educational placement of the child…”  This is commonly referred to as the stay put provision.  The stay put placement is the last agreed upon IEP, unless the parties agree otherwise. See 34 C.F.R. § 300.518.

              The Supreme Court interpreted and endorsed the stay put decision in the case of Honig v. Doe 484 U.S. 305, 108 S.Ct. 594, 559 IDELR 231 (1988).  In that decision, the Supreme Court, noting the Congressional intent in preventing the exclusion of disabled students and reiterating the importance of the procedural safeguards under the IDEA, refused to read a dangerousness exception into the stay put provision.  Honig v. Doe, supra.  (NOTE; please note that IDEA’04 now has provisions pertaining to danger/injury.)

              John M. by Christine M & Michael M v. Bd of Educ of the Evanston Township HS Dist No. 202 502 F.3d 708, 48 IDELR 177 (7th Cir. 9/17/7) The Seventh Circuit noted that determining “then current educational placement’ is an inexact science requiring a fact driven approach.  Respect for the purpose of the stay put provision requires focus upon the child’s educational needs so the educational status quo for a “growing, learning, young person” often makes rigid adherence to a particular educational methodology an impossibility.  Stay put, therefore, requires flexibility in interpreting the educational placement per the last agreed upon IEP and flexibility concerning the child’s needs.
                 In other recent Circuit Court decisions: KD by CL v. Dept of Educ, State of Hawaii 58 IDELR 2 (9th Cir 12/27/11) Ninth Circuit held that the language of a settlement agreement prevented a private school from being the “as agreed” stay put placement.  The agreement provided that the LEA would pay for a private school program for a specific period of time rather than merely agreeing to place the child in a private school. Therefore, LEA had no obligation to pay for the private school after the period of time designated in the agreement lapsed; and in Anchorage Sch Dist v. MP by MP 689 F.3d 1047, 59 IDELR 91 (9th Cir 7/19/12) Ninth Circuit ruled that the school district denied FAPE by failing to conduct IEPT meetings at least once per year despite a number of dphs and complaints pending by the parents.  Stay put did apply, but stay put only affects the educational program in general, and the IEPT could have discussed other items.
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