Thursday, January 28, 2016

Exclusive Interview of Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary of Education - Part V #Yudin, #interview

This is the fifth and final post of our exclusive interview with Michael Yudin, the Assistant Secretary of Education for special education and rehabilitative services. His biography is available here.

We are grateful to the Secretary and his staff for this interview. This was an honor. Thanks to our readers for all the great comments and attaboys.

The format of the interview will be questions by me signified by (JG), and answers by the Assistant Secretary, signified by (MY).  Here is the fifth segment:

JG:  This interview will be read by lawyers, advocates, parents, teachers, administrators and many other special education stakeholders. Is there anything that you would ask of us- maybe a call to action?
MY:  Yes. A couple things.  One is back to the discipline issue and it involves certain law firms. If you google the term “ten free days,” you’ll find links to law firms and state education agencies and school districts that say you can remove a kid with disabilities for ten free days  without any services or supports. There is nothing free about removing a kid with a disability, or any kid, from the classroom. So yes I would urge those folks to seriously rethink discipline and understand what the consequences of removal are. So that would be number one.
And the second goes back to what I said earlier about making sure that kids with disabilities have the opportunity to be successful. We know that from forty years of research that kids with disabilities do better when they are held to high standards and have access to the general curriculum with the right kinds of supports and services and intensive interventions, research shows that kids, even struggling learners with disabilities can absolutely succeed at grade level work if they are provided with the right kinds of  supports and services and intensive interventions and instruction through the IEP. And the IEP is the vehicle, the opportunity for kids with disabilities to ultimately access and learn grade level content. Research shows that they can do it. We need to make sure that kids with disabilities can do it. Our guidance that we just put out clarified that IEPs must be aligned with the state’s content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled and in order to make FAPE available, the child’s IEP must be designed to enable the child to advance appropriately in making progress toward his annual goals and to make progress in the general education curriculum based on the state’s content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled. {ED NOTE: see our previous blog post on the guidance here:} That would be takeaway number two.

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