Friday, September 27, 2013

Bullying of Children with Disabilities The Series - PostScript - Part I

Bugs Bunny as seen in The Looney Tunes Show.
Bugs Bunny as seen in The Looney Tunes Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At a conference at Seattle University academy, I was lucky enough to present a half-day session on Bullying and IDEA.  The participants were very engaged in the presentation.

We began with the definition of bullying, and we found that the definition of bullying is much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's infamous response when he was asked to define obscenity and he replied that he was not sure if he could define it, but he knows it when he sees it. 

We decided that one element is an intention to harm or harass.  There is no negligent bullying, and the bully must have some foul motive.

Another core element is repetition.  A single act of violence, no matter how bad, is not bullying.  It has to be repeated.

The final element is an imbalance of power, or at least a perceived imbalance of power. Two combatants even if engaged in repeated battle, are not involved in bullying.

We toyed with some other components of a definition of bullying, but none of them got the traction of consensus that the three elements listed above received.  So what do you think of this definition of bullying?

We then had some fun applying the definition to an array of hypotheticals.  My favorite was the famous legal case of Bugs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd.  We all agreed that Mr Fudd had a disability. At first, I had people convinced that Bugs was a bully, and I was afraid that my Saturday morning cartoon enjoyment would be forced to come to an end.  Upon reflection, however, Bugs was exonerated on the theory that Fudd's rifle eliminated any imbalance of power based upon Bugs' superior intellect.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

NAHO Conference Offers Great Sessions

Many excellent sessions this year.

The keynote today detailed the importance of process
being perceived to be fair as well as fair outcomes.

Participants must perceive fairness on the hearing procedures to buy in to the process. The buy in in turn is important to acceptance of the rule of law.

TV "law" programs mislead pro se parties concerning hearing procedures. The Judge Edification of America is a problem.

NAHO rules!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Live Blogging From NAHO In St Paul

I did two great presentations yesterday: due process and conducting hearings. Very good partcitation by the groups. Another excellent NAHO Conference.

NOTE when I first started doing hearings for DC, we were located at 5th Street SE, across the street from the Navy Yard. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims and their families.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Breaking: GAO Issues Preliminary Observations About IES

Logo of the United States Government Accountab...
Logo of the United States Government Accountability Office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Government Accountability Office today relesaed its preliminary observations concerning its study of the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.  The GAO found

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) supports high-quality research,
according to stakeholders, but lacks certain key procedures needed to
fulfill other aspects of its mission. Since its inception, IES has
substantially improved the quality of education research. However,
stakeholders expressed some concerns about IES’s ability to produce
timely and relevant research that meets their various needs. For example,
IES’s efforts to respond quickly to its stakeholders are slowed, in part,
because the time IES’s products have spent in peer review substantially
increased this past year, and IES does not monitor some aspects of these
timeframes. In addition, IES does not have a structured process for
incorporating stakeholder input into its research agenda, which previous
GAO work has shown to be key to sound federal research programs.
Lastly, IES’s performance measures do not fully reflect its current
programs, which is not consistent with GAO’s leading practices for
performance management. IES officials said, however, that they have
begun to develop new performance measures for all of their programs.
Although the Department of Education’s (Education) research and
technical assistance groups have taken steps to produce and disseminate
relevant research to the field, IES does not always assess these efforts.
Some stakeholders raised concerns about the relevance and
dissemination of research and products from the Regional Educational
Laboratories (REL) and Research and Development Centers (R & D
Center). For example, they told us that these groups do not always adapt
their products for use by both policymaker and practitioner audiences.
Further, IES has not fully assessed REL and R & D Center relevance and
dissemination efforts. As a result, IES does not know if these efforts are
effective in meeting their mandated goal of providing usable research and
information to policymakers and practitioners. GAO’s prior work on
information dissemination suggests that further assessment could help to
inform IES’s oversight of the RELs and R & D Centers to improve these
groups’ dissemination to key audiences.

You can read the summary here.  You can review the report here.
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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bullying of Children With Disabilities - Part X

In My Room from the Bully Series
In My Room from the Bully Series (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bullying remains the hottest of hot button issues in special education law. 
In the first installment of this series, I explained the early cases laying the conceptual groundwork for the proposition that failure to react to bullying can constitute a denial of FAPE under IDEA.  In later installments, I have discussed the seminal decision of TK & SK ex rel LK v. New York City Dept of Educ 779 F.Supp.2d 289, 56 IDELR 228 (E.D.N.Y. 4/25/2011).  This case is important not just because it analyzes special education law principles involving bullying, but also because it provides a thorough review of the social science literature on bullying. You should read this case and you can do so here.
Here is more from the court...these are not my words:

F. Effects on Children

2. Bully

Not surprisingly, a bully is likely to have an aggressive attitude. Olweus, supra, at 34. He will probably have a positive attitude toward violence and a strong self-image. Id.Typically, he will be of average popularity and often will be surrounded by a small group of friends who support him. Id. at 35.
"The bullies don't do well later on." Macklem, supra, at 42. Despite his center position in the school social hierarchy, the impact of being the bully will leave a lasting adverse mark. Perpetrators of bullying report being sad most days, and have somewhat the same depressive symptoms as victims. Glew, supra, at 1030 ("Students who felt unsafe and sad most days had 2.5 and 1.5 times the odds of being a bully ..."). Bullies themselves typically have more health problems and a poorer emotional adjustment than students not involved in bullying. Nansel, supra, at 733-34; Macklem, supra, at 43; Glew, supra, at 1031.
Females who bully are more likely to have hostile inter-personal interactions in their adulthood. Macklem, supra, at 43. They also may have more trouble adjusting to the role of parent than students who were not bullies. Id.
Bullying behavior may simply be the beginning of an antisocial behavioral pattern that will endure during the tormentor's entire life. Id. at 42. Those students who start bullying early on in their academic lives are more likely to assault or sexually harass their classmates in high school. Id. As young people continue to grow up, bullying may be a precursor to violence in dating. Id. at 43.
"Bullies and bully-victims [but not victims] consistently reported significantly more frequent alcohol use." Nansel, supra, at 734; Olweus, supra, at 35-36
[ 779 F.Supp.2d 306 ]

("Bullying can also be viewed as a component of a more generally antisocial and rule-breaking (conduct disordered') behavior pattern. From this perspective, it is natural to predict that youngsters who are aggressive and bully others, run a clearly increased risk of later engaging in other problem behaviors such as criminality and alcohol abuse. A number of recent studies confirm their general prediction.") Additionally, bullies are more likely than non-bullies to commit a felony in the future. Olweus, supra, at 36; Macklem, supra, at 44 (finding in one longitudinal study that "[b]ullying was clearly a precursor to later violent behavior for this group, although, of course, not all bullies would persist along this pathway toward violence"). In one study, 60 percent of boys identified as bullies in grades six to nine had at least one conviction by age 24, and 35 to 40 percent of them had three or more convictions. Olweus, supra, at 36. This is a four-fold increase in the level of criminality over that of non-bullies. Victims had an average or below-average chance of engaging in future criminality. Id.
"Chronic bullying has a cost for society as well as for the individual and, of course, the victim." Macklem,supra, at 43. The children who they harass are left to try to move on after years of uncontroverted harassment. The bullies themselves, through their own actions, are then more likely to require social services, educational services, and criminal justice services. Id.
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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Breaking: Census Bureau Releases New School Data; More Fun With Numbers

Logo of the American Community Survey, a proje...
Logo of the American Community Survey, a project of the United States Census Bureau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The United States Census Bureau released two new studies of school statistics today.

One is School enrollment 2012.  Highlights of the document include: --In 2012, 78 million people, or 26.4 percent of the population 3 or older, were enrolled in school. 
--In 2012, there were 19.9 million college students, including 5.8 million enrolled in two-year colleges, 10.3 million in four-year colleges and 3.8 million in graduate school.
--In 2012, there were 4.2 million students enrolled in private elementary and high schools (first through 12th grade), down from 4.8 million in 2005. 
--Non-Hispanic white children in 2012 comprised 53 percent of elementary school students, down from 58 percent in 2005. Hispanic children made up 24 percent of elementary students in 2012, up from 20 percent in 2005. Black children comprised 15 percent of elementary students in 2012, down from 16 percent in 2005. 
--Students who were born in another country or whose parents were foreign-born comprised 32 percent of all those enrolled in school at all levels in 2012. 
--While most students are under 25, there were 804,000 students age 50 and older enrolled in schools at all levels in 2012. You can review the tables here.

The other is School Enrollment in the United States - 2011.  Highlights include:
6% of students aged 6 to 21 in public schools have a disability.  NOTE: the American Community Survey uses a very different definition of "disability" than does IDEA.  The condition of Education study done by the department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics found that 13% of public school students  in 2012 have a disability as defined by IDEA.
You can read the Census Bureau's report here.

Aeen't numbers fun?
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