Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Procedural Safeguards - The Series - Part I

USS Hendrick Hudson (formerly CSS Florida)Image via Wikipedia
This is the first installment in a multi-part series on procedural safeguards under the federal special education law, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.  I work a lot in this area, so it is near and dear to my heart.  Despite the importance of procedural safeguards. however, many issues in this area are misunderstood.  I hope that all of the different types of special education stakeholders who read this blog find the information in this series helpful.
Procedural safeguards are extremely important under our system of special education.  In the first United States Supreme Court decision interpreting the predecessor of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. Section 1400, et seq (hereafter sometimes referred to as the “IDEA”), the Court stressed the importance of procedural safeguards in the statutory system adopted by the Congress, noting that the procedural safeguards gave parents a “large measure of participation at every stage of the … process.”  Board of Educ., Hendrick Hudson Central Sch. Dist. v. Rowley, 455 U.S. 175, 102 S.Ct. 3034, 3038 and 3049, 553 IDELR 656 (1982).  The court went on to emphasize that compliance with the Act’s procedural safeguards is a critical component of a free appropriate public education. Rowley, supra 102 S.Ct. at 3051.
More recently, the Supreme Court rejected an argument that school districts should have the burden of persuasion due to an advantage in information.  The Court reasoned that Congress had leveled the playing field by requiring school districts to share information and protect the rights of parents by adopting the extensive system of procedural safeguards contained in the IDEA. “Schaffer v. Weast 546 U.S. _____,_____, 126 S.Ct. 528, 44 IDELR 150 (2005).
Section 615 of the IDEA is entitled “Procedural Safeguards,” and most procedural safeguards for parents are contained in that section.  However, some procedural safeguards are found in other sections of the Act or in the federal regulations.  In addition to the required Notice of Procedural Safeguards, Section 615(d), there are a number of specific procedural safeguards.  The specific procedural safeguards include the following: independent educational evaluation , Section 615 (b)(1) and 34 C.F.R. Section 300.502;  prior written notice, sections 615(b)(3)-(4) and (c)(1); informed parental consent, Section 614 (a)(1)(D); access to educational records, Section 615(b)(1); state complaints, 34 CFR Section 300.151, et seq; mediation, Section 615(e); child’s placement during a challenge or “stay put,” Section 615 (j); procedures for an interim alternative education, Section 615 (k); unilateral placement in private school when FAPE in issue, Section 612 (a)(10)(C); due process hearings, Section 615 (f); if a two tiered system, state appeals, Section 615 (q); civil actions appealing a due process decision, Section 615 (q); and attorneys’ fees, Section 615 (i)(C)(3).
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, January 27, 2012

Procdeural Safeguards - The Series Returns!

English: Cover for the Sustainable Business Bo...Image via Wikipedia

A lot of the work that I do in special education concerns procedural safeguards.  It is the heart of my work.  In the past we have run a series that explains in our usual excruciating detail, what procedural safeguards are all about.  Because of the importance of procedural safeguards to special education law, we will be running a revised and updated version of the series, beginning next week. If you would like to see something included, please let me know.

Also coming soon will be a mini-series on bullying of students with disabilities and IDEA. The issue of bullying is one of the current hot button issues in special education law.  There were a few really interesting court decisions and hearing officer decisions last year, and I expect this issue to continue to see lots of activity.  Let me know if you have any interest in the topic of bullying.  Also please let me know about any recent bullying cases in your area- they sometime slip through the cracks.

NOTE: some subscribers report that my blog platform erroneously sent a post from October again last week.  I'm sorry about that.  I didn't do it.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!  Please let me know if it happens again.  Thanks.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, January 23, 2012

McMechen: Speed Trap!

English: Marcellus Shale bank along Rt 174 jus...Image via Wikipedia

OK so here in West Virginia, we are having a natural gas rush created by the Legislature's recent approval of the removal of natural resources from the Marcellus Shale deposit. As a result of this new gas rush, I could not find a motel in Moundsville for a recent hearing. Accordingly, I had to stay in Wheeling, to the North.

Therein lies the problem, squarely in between lies McMechen.  I had to pass McMechen twice each day of the three day hearing.  You would think that the story would more likely involve the venue of the hearing, the former state prison in Moundsville, a place so bad that the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled was cruel and unusual punishment.

Yet McMechen stole the headlines.I thought the speed limit was 65 mph along the highway known as Route 2.  This seemed especially so in view of the many cars whizzing past me as I traveled along at a safe 55 mph.So it was to my great surprise when I was stopped by a very, very young police officer and issued a citation for traveling at 55 mph in a 50 mph zone.

So a warning to the traveler, if you must drive through the Northern panhandle of West Virginia, go slowly trough the speed trap also known as McMechen!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, January 16, 2012

King Day

Today we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was a great American, and his message still resonates today.  In his later speeches, including his speech to the Memphis garbage workers just prior to his assassination, he focused increasingly on poverty and income inequality. 

But he was known primarily as a strong advocate against all forms of discrimination.  Disability discrimination is one of the topics that we frequently address on the pages of this blog.  On this day of reflection, here are some links to previous posts on the topic of disability discrimination:







Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DOE Sends Annual IDEA Report to Congress

Seal of the United States Department of EducationImage via Wikipedia

Last month the United States Department of Education sent its annual report on the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act to Congress.  Because of the slow movement in all things government, the report is for 2008 and most of the data is for the 2005-2006 school year. Nothin' like staying current.

The report contains a wealth of information.  Here are some examples:

Among the key findings were:
  • In 2006, a total of 6,081,890 students ages 6 through 21 were served under IDEA, Part B. Of
    these students, 5,986,644 were served in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Bureau of
    Indian Education schools. This number represented 9.1 percent of the general population ages
    6 through 21
  • In 2006, the largest disability category among students ages 6 through 21 served under IDEA,
    Part B, was specific learning disabilities (44.6 percent). The next most common disability
    category was speech or language impairments (19.1 percent), followed by other health
    impairments (9.9 percent), intellectual disabilities (8.6 percent) and emotional disturbance
    (7.5 percent)
  • In 2005, 88.4 percent of full-time equivalent personnel (other than special education
    teachers) who provided special education and related services for children and students ages
    3 through 21 served under IDEA, Part B, were fully certified
  • Children and students ages 3 through 21 who were served under IDEA, Part B, under the
    category of emotional disturbance had the highest rates of removal to an interim alternative
    educational setting by school personnel for drug or weapon offenses (0.49 percent) and by a
    hearing officer for likely injury to themselves or others (0.08 percent) in school year 2005–06, compared to children and students in all other disability categories 

Other items that caught my imagination were the following: In 2006, North Dakota served 68.9% of students classified as emotional disturbance inside the regular ed class more than 80% of the time whereas Hawaii served 19.8% of students classified as emotional disturbance inside the regular ed class more than 80% of the time. (Table 33).  In the same year Alabama served 7.6% of  students classified as emotional disturbance in a residential facility whereas Arizona served 0.3% of students classified as emotional disturbance in a residential facility.  (Table 33)  In school year 2005-2006, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin 57.7% of special ed students aged 3-21 graduated with a regular diploma whereas in the same school year in Louisiana 14.0%. (Table 36) For the 2005-2006 school year the percentage of special ed kids aged 3-21 expelled or suspended for more ten or more days in the school year was 2.81% in North Carolina and 0.04% in California, (Table 39)   I could go on! 

You can look up these and similar statistics for your state in the report.  Also the report contains a summary of research and evaluation conducted under IDEA provisions.

You can read the entire report here.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Accommodations on Standardized Tests: GAO Study Finds No Strategic Enforcement by DOJ

Standardized TestImage by biologycorner via Flickr
I'll admit that I may have a bias against standardized tests, I don't like them much.I prefer essay tests where one can expound a bit.

In any event, standardized tests are used and are generally required for admission to college and to professional schools.  Most of us have taken them.

When students with disabilities take these standardized tests, they may be entitled to accommodations while taking the test.  This includes both IEP requirements as well as ADA requirements. 

A recent study by the federal watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, found that The Department of Justice lacks a strategic method of enforcement for its regulations concerning testing accommodations.  Merely investigating individual complaints is not sufficient the study concludes.

If you deal with standardized testing, you should review this study.  You can read the entire GAO study here.  You can review a fact sheet here. A general statement by GAO about this study can be found here.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

FireworksImage via WikipediaAs the year turns, it's time for reflection and resolutions.So think back upon last year and get ready for the new one,  and most importantly chew the black-eyed peas carefully.

If anybody has a good special education resolution, we'd love to hear it. Please share.

To all of our loyal and fantastic readers, Happy New Year!
Enhanced by Zemanta