Monday, July 30, 2018

This Blog Is No Longer Active

Effective July 29, 2018, this blog is no longer active.

Previous posts have not been deleted and may be searched with the search box on the left hand side.

Jim Gerl is no longer associated with this blog.Please see previous posts for further details. Thank you.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

This Is The End #SpecialEducationLawBlog #jimgerl

It was a good run! This blog will cease to exist at the close of business on Monday. 

This blog is coming to an end. Since May 9, 2007, we have done much to advance our goal of increasing knowledge of  special education law among people who are involved in special education.

Thank you to the adults and children with disabilities who have followed us. Thank you to the parents, teachers, administrators and staff who have enjoyed this space. Thank you to the lawyers and advocates who represent parents and districts who have complimented us. Thank you to the rating services that gave us awards {like best education blog on the internet!} and other positive reviews. Thank you to the scholars, academics and other experts who have cited us in law reviews, textbooks and other works. Thank you to those of you who came up to me at conferences and meetings and said that you enjoyed the blog. Thank you to all of our readers.

As a part of this effort, we also started Special Education Law Groups on Facebook and a LinkedIn . Some people misused the groups by posting inappropriate language or attacking individuals or trying to peddle your books or services. I tied to eliminate those things when brought to my attention. But for the most part the "archived" Facebook group members and the 28,000 plus members of the LinkedIn group were well behaved. Thank you for that.

Along the way, stuff happened. We twice got to interview various Assistant Secretarys of OSERS. We were quoted  in the influential SCOTUS blog. We once referred to Section 504 as the redheaded stepchild of special education, on the other hand, and had to apologize to both redheads and stepchildren. We had some perilous travel experiences. We had the awesome experience of witnessing live oral argument at the U. S. Supreme Court in a special education case. We ran a number of periodic series of posts on bullying, special ed law 101, and IDEA procedural safeguards, among others. We analyzed law review articles and high court decisions. A lot of stuff happened.

At the end, we tried to sell the blog and related enterprises. Lack of time and technical expertise  eventually caught up with us and prevented us from processing the offers of some interested persons. So instead of living on, this blog and the groups and related items will cease to exist at the close of business on Monday. Thanks for the interest; it just didn't work out.

So to all of our readers- thanks for everything! It has been a good run! I will miss you.

Who better to play us out than B. B. King and some very impressive friends? 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Hey -The Who- Tell Me Again The Remedy When You Feel Low in The Summer Season #Summertime Blues

CAVEAT: This post does not directly involve special education, or does it?

Correct Answer: There Ain't None! My powers are beyond your comprehension.

More info on this Eddie Cochran classic available here.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Blog For Sale! #SpecialEducationLawBlog #MailingLists.SpecialEducation

After more than eleven years, my time with the special education law blog will soon be drawing to a close. I'll explain all of this in detail later. For now, I'll just say that I'm gong to miss this place.

Rather than let it let it just fade away though, I wondered if anybody out there would be interested in purchasing the blog and continuing our tradition of providing valuable information to the  many stakeholders on all sides of special education, our cherished readers.

In addition to the blog with our approximately 1,300 regular subscribers, you would also acquire the LinkedIn special education Law group with its 28,000 plus members, and the Facebook special education law group with its 1,600 plus members. Not to mention the Tumblr mini-blog. You would be able to communicate directly with a lot of people involved in special education. You could of course also consider placing ads on the blog. The possibilities are many.

If you would like to make an offer to buy the blog and all of the related mailing lists, please contact me as soon as possible at Let me know what you think.

Pleased stay tuned for further details....

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Independence Day #independence day

Happy Independence Day!

We have had many requests to restate a post from our archives that expresses our feelings on this holiday. Here goes:

 The Fourth of July is a big holiday for our country, and these days we really need a big holiday. I have always loved this day; what other country believes in an inalienable right to pursue happiness! Independence Day is also a time to reflect on the concept of independence. Independence Day is also a time to reflect on the concept of independence. 
For people with disabilities, independence is an important goal. Congresshas stated that encouraging independent living for people with disabilities is the policy of the United States government. IDEA, Section 601(c). Indeed, one of the purposes of special education is to prepare children with disabilities for independent living. IDEA, Section 601(d)(1)(A). 
Before passage of the EHA, the predecessor of the IDEA, in 1975, education of children with disabilities, who were then called "handicapped," was iffy at best. According to the legislative history of the EHA, which is quoted in the seminal Rowley decision by the Supreme Court, (which remains good law even after Endrew F) millions of children with disabilities were then either totally excluded from school or were warehoused until they were old enough to drop out. Bd. of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 191, 103 LRP 31848 (1982). At the time, it was estimated that of the eight million children who required special education, only about 3.9 million were receiving an appropriate education. Bd. of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 191, 103 LRP 31848 (1982). 
These numbers are shocking. 1975 was not long ago. Yet we have made real progress since then. Special education may have its detractors, but it is now pretty widely accepted. Very few children with disabilities are now excluded from school. Some still do not receive an appropriate education, but there are now remedies available when that happens. We have come a long way!
I realize that we are not finished. But as we look forward on this Independence Day to how we can do a better job of educating children with disabilities and preparing them to live independently, let us also look back for a moment and congratulate ourselves on the excellent progress we have made in what in public policy terms is truly a very short time. 
Happy Independence Day.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Monday, June 25, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Breaking: White House Plans To Merge Education and Labor Departments #Department of Education.

The Trump administration plans to merge the federal departments of Education and Labor.  The proposal is part of a 132-page document outlining a broad restructuring of the federal government. The consolidation would create, within the new department, four subagencies, including one called the American Workforce and Higher Education Administration. The proposal would also create subagencies devoted to K-12 education, research/evaluation/administration, and enforcement.  Here is an NPR story about the proposal.

Here is the plan. Here is statement by Education Secretary DeVoss about the plan.

So what do you think? Is this a solid policy decision to eliminate duplication, or a cynical attempt to lead to the elimination of one or both federal agencies, or something else?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Children With Disabilities and Absenteeism #school attendance

The National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) has released a report on Students with Disabilities and Absenteeism. The brief provides information about chronic absenteeism and possible implications for students with disabilities when a state selects it as a measure of school quality or student success under ESEA.

Here is an excerpt from the report:
The 2013-14 national data showed that elementary school students with disabilities served by IDEA were 1.5 times as likely to be chronically absent as elementary school students without disabilities. High school students with disabilities served by IDEA were 1.4 times as likely to be chronically absent as high school students without disabilities. Across subgroups, only Native students (American Indian or Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander) exceeded the rates of chronic absenteeism for students with disabilities. This disparity is echoed in more recent data collected by states. For example, Connecticut’s (2017) data for the 2015-2016 school year showed that students with disabilities served by IDEA continued to exhibit substantially higher chronic absenteeism rates than their general education peers despite statewide prevention and intervention efforts. Eighteen percent of Connecticut’s students with disabilities were chronically absent compared to 9.6 percent overall. 

The report analyzes the legal implications of the problem and makes a number of recommendations concerning the topic- including recommending an IEP Team Meeting when absences are connected to the student's disability.

You can read the eight page report here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Groups Sue OCR Over Changes to Processing Manual #discrimination

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) recently filed a suit against the U.S. Department of Education over changes to the Education Department's rules for civil right investigations.

In March 2018, the federal Department of Education amended the office for Civil Rights Case Processing Manual unilaterally. The changes include new provisions to require dismissal of certain complaints and the elimination of complainants’ right to appeal OCR decisions. OCR has a Case Processing Manual specifying how its offices respond to complaints. In changes made recently, ED mandates that complaints by anyone who has previously filed a pattern of complaints will be dismissed without investigation. The changes also eliminate the appeals rights of complainants. 

The actual complaint filed in the U S District Court fro the District of Maryland is available here.Here is a Washington Post article on the lawsuit. This is a post by our friends at the Council for Exceptional Children.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Key Findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 #does special education make a difference? #transition

The recent report of the National Longitudinal Transition Study indicates that, although the engagement and use of school supports have increased over the past decade (2003-2012), high school youth with an IEP are more socioeconomically disadvantaged and less likely to have experiences and expectations associated with success after high school than were other students in 2012. Among the disability groups in 2012, youth with intellectual disability, autism, deaf-blindness, multiple disabilities, and orthopedic impairments were found to be most at-risk for not transitioning successfully beyond high school.

Here are some very discouraging highlights from the executive summary of he first volume:

  • Youth with an IEP are more likely than their peers to be socioeconomically disadvantaged and to face problems with health, communication, and completing typical tasks independently. For example, they are 12 percentage points more likely to live in low-income households (58 versus 46 percent), and less likely to have parents who are employed or have a college education. Although, according to parents, 70 percent of youth with an IEP are in very good or excellent health, nearly 30 percent have chronic physical or mental health conditions or use prescription behavioral medication (about three times more common than among youth without an IEP). Parents also report that 44 percent of youth in special education have trouble understanding what others say to them (versus 8 percent of their peers) and that they are less likely to perform each of several activities of daily living without help, such as using an automated teller machine (ATM) (37 versus 55 percent) and getting to places outside the home (85 versus 95 percent). However, on average youth with an IEP are no more likely than their peers to face other challenges, such as limited English proficiency or attending an academically lower-performing school.
  • Males represent a larger share of youth with an IEP than of youth without an IEP. Policymakers and educators have long been concerned that some groups of students might be identified for special education services at different rates. Although the study cannot unravel the mix of factors that could be responsible for this pattern, two-thirds of youth with an IEP are male, compared with about half of their peers.
  • The vast majority of youth with and without an IEP feel positive about school, but those with an IEP experience bullying and are suspended at higher rates, and are less engaged in school and social activities. Like their peers, more than 80 percent of youth in special education report that they are happy with school and with school staff. However, not only do youth with an IEP more commonly experience some types of bullying (for example, 37 versus 28 percent for being teased or called names), but their parents also indicate they are more than twice as likely to be suspended (29 versus 14 percent) or expelled (8 versus 3 percent) from school. In addition, they report having lower participation rates in school extracurricular sports and clubs than their peers (64 versus 81 percent), and are less likely to get together with friends on a weekly basis (52 versus 66 percent). 
  • Youth with an IEP are more likely than youth without an IEP to struggle academically, yet less likely to receive some forms of school-based support. Half of all youth with an IEP report they have trouble with their classes, about 15 percentage points more than reported by their peers. However, they are 6 percentage points less likely to report receiving school-based academic help before or after school (72 versus 78 percent). On the other hand, parents of youth with an IEP report being more likely than other parents to help their children with homework weekly (62 versus 54 percent) and to attend a parent-teacher conference (84 versus 65 percent).  
  • Youth with an IEP lag their peers in planning and taking steps to obtain postsecondary education and jobs. Nearly 20 percentage points fewer youth with an IEP expect to enroll in some type of postsecondary education or training, compared with youth without an IEP (76 versus 94 percent). The gap is nearly 30 percentage points for those expecting to obtain a four-year college degree (51 versus 80 percent). Reflecting these gaps, youth in special education are almost half as likely as their peers to report taking college entrance and placement tests (42 versus 70 percent). Forty percent report having recent paid work experience, compared with 50 percent of youth without an IEP. In addition, parents of youth with an IEP are less likely than other parents to anticipate that their children will live independently as adults (78 versus 96 percent).
  • Youth with a 504 plan face fewer functional, social, and educational challenges than do youth with an IEP, but more than other youth without an IEP. On several indicators examined, youth with a 504 plan fare better than youth with an IEP but worse than other youth without an IEP. These indicators include communication and performance on some activities of daily living, involvement in school activities, being suspended from school, and expectations about obtaining a four-year college degree. For example, the proportion who participate in a school sport or club (76 percent) is between that of youth with an IEP (64 percent) and other youth without an IEP (81 percent). However, youth with a 504 plan have more advantaged backgrounds than these other groups and are less likely to attend lower-performing schools. 

There is a lot of data in this report. Here is a summary by our friends at the Council for Exceptional Children. All volumes of the report of the National Longitudinal Transition Study  are available here.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Friday, May 25, 2018

Former ED Secretary: Pull Kids Out of School Until Gun Safety Laws Are Passed #safe schools

Gun violence in schools affects both general education and special education. We have written here before about keeping children with disabilities safe during school crises, for example.

Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan retweeted recently that his family will follow a suggestion that parents should keep kids out of school until gun safety laws are passed. The theory is that lack of attendance  from a school boycott would force legislatures to act on gun violence.

This is brilliant, and tragically necessary.
What if no children went to school until gun laws changed to keep them safe?
My family is all in if we can do this at scale.
Parents, will you please join us? 

Here is an article about the idea. Here is the original tweet and the reaction tweets. {Ten years ago, I would never use the phrase "reaction tweets!"}

Your thoughts?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Friday, May 18, 2018

Breaking: Illinois Imposes Independent Monitor for Special Education For Chicago Public Schools #CPS #SpEd

On Wednesday, the Illinois State Board of Education took the extraordinary step of imposing a special monitor to oversee special education for my alma matter, the Chicago Public Schools. The corrective action comes after an investigation that found new policies delayed and denied students services that they were entitled to under IDEA. 

Here is a quote from the Sun Times article:
"The Illinois State Board of Education on Wednesday voted to appoint an independent state monitor to oversee Chicago Public Schools’ under-fire special education program.
“The corrective action and recommendations we offered today are the right first step to helping CPS fully serve all children and families,” State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said in a statement. “The common good requires uncommonly good public schools. With the State Board’s action today, the Public Inquiry process concludes, and the road to transformation begins.”
The unanimous vote comes just days after state board officials said CPS has violated federal law protecting special education students.
Last month, ISBE officials found that some of CPS’ special education reforms made during ousted CEO Forrest Claypool’s tenure with help from consultants he’d known for years, “delayed and denied services to individual students” under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act."
Here is the Sun Times newspaper article. Here is an NPR story on the appointment of the monitor.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Children With Disabilities Continue To Suffer Disproportionate Seclusion & Restraint and Discipline #seclusion and restraint

Recently released  data on nearly every public school in the nation shows that students with disabilities continue to be disciplined and experience restraint and seclusion at far higher rates than others. Here is a quote from an article in disability scoop
The figures come from the latest data collection from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. It reflects the experiences of more than 50 million students at over 96,000 public schools across the country during the 2015-2016 school year.
The Education Department found that 12 percent of students were served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and another 2 percent under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
However, students with disabilities were affected by various disciplinary procedures disproportionately. These children accounted for 28 percent of referrals to law enforcement or school-related arrests, 26 percent of out-of-school suspensions and 24 percent of expulsions, the report found.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of the estimated 122,000 students restrained or secluded at school had disabilities, the Education Department said. Children served under IDEA represented 71 percent of those restrained and 66 percent of kids subject to seclusion.
Even with the high number of reports of restraint and seclusion of students with disabilities, concerns have come to light in recent months that schools may be underreporting the practice.
“I am aware of this issue, this claim,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told lawmakers during a March hearing on Capitol Hill. “We’ll certainly look into ways that we can continue to insist and ensure that states are appropriately addressing and reporting these situations.”
Separately, the latest civil rights data also indicated that just over 1 in 10 allegations of harassment or bullying that schools received were based on disability, while students with disabilities accounted for a quarter of those disciplined for harassment or bullying.
Denise Marshall, executive director of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, said the findings from the civil rights data are concerning.
“(It) seems clear that our kids continue to be harmed by the failure of the Department (of Education) to take action to address the gross inequities and disparity in treatment,” she said. “How many more generations will it take?”

You can review the OCR Civil Rights Data Collection here. Here is the OCR press release

Monday, May 7, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Endrew F Supreme Court Decision A Year Later #FAPE #FAPE Standard

An article in Education Week takes a look at the impact of the Endrew F decision a year after it was decided. The article notes that the results of cases hasn't changed much- school districts still generally win. The article notes that the high rate of settlements in special education cases muddies the analysis. {I have been making this point for some time...}

You can read the Education Week article here.

Also note this very cool cartoon of the Endrew F oral argument from the article:

Jeffrey L. Fisher argues at the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of a higher standard for what̢۪s required on behalf of students with disabilities in the case of <i>Endrew F.</i> v. <i>Douglas County School District.</i> The high court ruled unanimously last year in favor of that position.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Friday, April 27, 2018

Breaking: CDC Report Finds Prevalence of Autism Increases. #autism

One in 59 US children has autism, according to a report issued today by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new estimate is a prevalence rate of 1.7%, up from one in every 68 children (1.5%) in the 2016 report, which was based on data from 2012. 
Some excerpts from CDC Report:

Results: For 2014, the overall prevalence of ASD among the 11 ADDM sites was 16.8 per 1,000 (one in 59) children aged 8 years. Overall ASD prevalence estimates varied among sites, from 13.1–29.3 per 1,000 children aged 8 years. ASD prevalence estimates also varied by sex and race/ethnicity. Males were four times more likely than females to be identified with ASD. Prevalence estimates were higher for non-Hispanic white (henceforth, white) children compared with non-Hispanic black (henceforth, black) children, and both groups were more likely to be identified with ASD compared with Hispanic children. Among the nine sites with sufficient data on intellectual ability, 31% of children with ASD were classified in the range of intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] <70 25="" 44="" 71="" above="" and="" average="" borderline="" had="" i.e.="" in="" iq="" range="" scores="" the="" to="" were="">85). The distribution of intellectual ability varied by sex and race/ethnicity. Although mention of developmental concerns by age 36 months was documented for 85% of children with ASD, only 42% had a comprehensive evaluation on record by age 36 months. The median age of earliest known ASD diagnosis was 52 months and did not differ significantly by sex or race/ethnicity. For the targeted comparison of DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 results, the number and characteristics of children meeting the newly operationalized DSM-5 case definition for ASD were similar to those meeting the DSM-IV-TR case definition, with DSM-IV-TR case counts exceeding DSM-5 counts by less than 5% and approximately 86% overlap between the two case definitions (kappa = 0.85).
Interpretation: Findings from the ADDM Network, on the basis of 2014 data reported from 11 sites, provide updated population-based estimates of the prevalence of ASD among children aged 8 years in multiple communities in the United States. The overall ASD prevalence estimate of 16.8 per 1,000 children aged 8 years in 2014 is higher than previously reported estimates from the ADDM Network. Because the ADDM sites do not provide a representative sample of the entire United States, the combined prevalence estimates presented in this report cannot be generalized to all children aged 8 years in the United States. Consistent with reports from previous ADDM surveillance years, findings from 2014 were marked by variation in ASD prevalence when stratified by geographic area, sex, and level of intellectual ability. Differences in prevalence estimates between black and white children have diminished in most sites, but remained notable for Hispanic children. For 2014, results from application of the DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 case definitions were similar, overall and when stratified by sex, race/ethnicity, DSM-IV-TR diagnostic subtype, or level of intellectual ability....

Special Education Eligibility: Sites with access to education records collected information on the most recent eligibility categories under which children received special education services (Table 6). Among children with ASD who were receiving special education services in public schools during 2014, the proportion of children with a primary eligibility category of autism ranged from approximately 37% in Wisconsin to 80% in Tennessee. Most other sites noted approximately 60% to 75% of children with ASD having autism listed as their most recent primary special education eligibility category, the exceptions being Colorado (44%) and New Jersey (48%). Other common special education eligibilities included health or physical disability, speech and language impairment, specific learning disability, and a general developmental delay category that is used until age 9 years in many U.S. states. All ADDM sites reported <10 a="" asd="" category="" children="" education="" eligibility="" id.="" of="" primary="" receiving="" services="" span="" special="" under="" with="">

You can review the entire  CDC report here. A CNN article concerning this report may be found here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Nation's Report Card Shows Children With Disabilities Lagging #NAEP scores

The Center for Education Statistics released the national NAEP scores recently, and the results show children with disabilities performance behind their typically developing peers.

Here is part of a report at Disability Scoop:
"A routine look at how fourth and eighth graders across the country are performing in reading and math finds children with disabilities struggling to make progress.
For fourth graders with disabilities math scores were down in 2017 compared to 2015 while reading was unchanged. Meanwhile, eighth graders with disabilities saw a slight increase in performance on reading but remained stagnant in math.
The findings released this week from the government’s National Center for Education Statistics come from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Known as the Nation’s Report Card, nearly 585,000 students at over 28,000 schools across the country took the test on tablet computers in early 2017. 

The assessment found limited improvement for the nation’s students on the whole with a small uptick in reading scores among eighth graders, but scores holding steady in all other categories...

Among those with disabilities, the average math score for fourth graders dipped to 214 from 218 in 2015, while eighth graders averaged 247, the same as in 2015.
In reading, students with disabilities in the fourth grade were steady at 187 while the average score for eighth graders climbed to 232 from 230 in 2015. All scores are out of a possible 500 points."
Here is the response of the Secretary of Education.  Here are the highlights of the report. You can use the data tools provided to see the group scores and gaps {including students with disabilities} for math here. You can search all sorts data with the data tool.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Seven Policy Proposals For Educational Equity #education policy

The Center for American Progress, the progressive education think tank, has proposed enacting these seven progressive policy ideas for educational equity.
  1. Provide a tutor for every child performing below grade level.
  2. Offer free breakfast and lunch for all students, regardless of income.
  3. Ensure opportunities to combine college preparatory academics with technical training and workplace experience.
  4. Transition to a 9-to-5 school day to better fit parents' needs.
  5. Support, train, and pay teachers like professionals.
  6. Create a safe and healthy environment in every school.
  7. Eliminate crumbling school buildings.
These proposals would be expensive, but would they fix the problems in American education? i really like #1- the tutor when below grade level...

Here is a summary of the plan by the Council for Exceptional Children. Here is the full article by the Center for American Progress explaining the proposal.

What policy proposals would you suggest to improve education? What do you think?

Monday, April 9, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Breaking: New GAO Report Shows Disparities in School Discipline for Children With Disabilities #school discipline

A new report issued by the Government Accountability Office released today found that Black students, boys, and students with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined (e.g., suspensions and expulsions) in K-12 public schools, according to GAO's analysis of Department of Education (Education) national civil rights data for school year 2013-14, the most recent available. These disparities were widespread and persisted regardless of the type of disciplinary action, level of school poverty, or type of public school attended. For example, Black students accounted for 15.5 percent of all public school students, but represented about 39 percent of students suspended from school—an overrepresentation of about 23 percentage points (see figure).

The report found that children with disabilities were overrepresented in disciplinary actions by 13.2 percent.

Here is a quote from the report "For students with disabilities, the same pattern of disproportionately higher rates of discipline compared to their peers without disabilities was evident, according to Education’s school year 2013-14 data (see fig. 5).33 Students with disabilities represented approximately 12 percent of all public school students, and accounted for nearly 25 percent or more of students referred to law enforcement, arrested for a school-related incident, or suspended from school (an overrepresentation of roughly 15.5 percentage points for referrals to law enforcement and schoolrelated arrests, and 13 percentage points for out-of-school suspensions). Further, our analysis of discipline for students with disabilities by both race and sex showed that Black students with disabilities and boys with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined across all six actions. For example, Black students with disabilities represented about 19 percent of all K-12 students with disabilities, and accounted for nearly 36 percent of students with disabilities suspended from school (about 17 percentage points above their representation among students with disabilities). See appendix IV, table 13 for additional data on discipline by student disability status, including data organized by sex and race or ethnicity."

You can review a summary here. An NPR story on the report is available here. You can review the entire 98 page report here.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Bad Example! #hearing officer

Part of what I do involves being a special education mediator, hearing officer and complaint investigator. Another part of what I do involves teaching/training others who do these jobs. When I am training- it sometimes helps to discuss best practices. Another way to learn these jobs is to look at cases that were not handled well, the bad examples.

Here is a bad example: an IDEA case goes to a due process hearing. The hearing officer limits each party to three witnesses. Let's stop there, this limit has an arbitrary ring to it, something that reviewing courts do not like. I understand time limits to ensure that a hearing is not unreasonably long, but three witnesses seems like a tough limit. But that was not the issue here...

The school district presented its evidence first. After the district's case, the parents move for judgment. This is the functional equivalent of of a motion for directed verdict in a civil trial. I really do not like these motions in an administrative hearing. There is no jury in an administrative hearing, and policy and constitutional considerations favor a full hearing and opportunity to be heard at the administrative level.  

In any event, the hearing officer considered the motion and requested briefs from counsel for the parties. Let's stop there, if a hearing officer is going to entertain one of these motions, briefs are a bad idea. There are timelines on the decisions in these hearings which are intended to achieve a prompt resolution of the dispute. Briefs on a mid-hearing motion delay the process unnecessarily. 

Once the briefs were received, the hearing officer denied the motion for judgment and ruled that the school district provided FAPE. What is wrong with this picture? 

The parents never had an opportunity to present their evidence. The hearing officer violated the statute and likely the procedural due process protections of the Constitution. The court reversed and remanded.

OK now that was a bad example. Any questions?   You can read the court decision at SW & JW ex rel WW v Florham Park Bd of Education 70 IDELR 46 (D.N.J. 5/24/2017).

Monday, March 26, 2018

Weekly Question!

Now that the Endrew F decision by the Supreme Court has been around for a while, has it made any difference in the education of children with disabilities? #FAPE

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Compilation of School Bullying Data #bully

The National Center for Education Statistics of the Institute of Education Sciences has released new data compilations about school bullying. The report includes data from the 2015 School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The Web Tables show the extent to which students with different personal characteristics report being bullied. Estimates include responses by student characteristics: student sex, race/ethnicity, grade, and household income. The U.S. Census Bureau (Census) appended additional data from the 2013–14 Common Core of Data (CCD) and the 2013–14 Private School Universe Survey (PSS) to the SCS to show the extent to which bullying victimization is reported by students in schools with different characteristics.2 School characteristics appended to the file are region; sector (public or private); locale; level; enrollment size; student-to-full-time-equivalent (FTE) teacher ratio; percentage of combined American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/ Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and students of Two or more races; and percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch. Not all respondents in the SCS data file could be matched to a school in the CCD or the PSS.

The tables are grouped into three sections. Section 1 is an overview table, showing the number and percentage of students ages 12 through 18 who reported being bullied at school by type of bullying experienced (table 1.1). Section 2 displays estimates for the reported locations in school at which bullying victimization occurred, and the percentage distribution of the frequency, type, and impacts of bullying victimization reported by students ages 12 through 18, by selected student and school characteristics (tables 2.1–2.10). Section 3 displays the percentages of students who reported being bullied at school by student reports of other unfavorable school conditions; selected school security measures; criminal victimization at school; and personal fear, avoidance behaviors, fighting, and weapon carrying at school (tables 3.1–3.4).

You can read the entire 51 page report here.
Also available are data point reports on: student's feelings about safety; repetition and power imbalance in bullying at school;  and changes in bullying and hate words since 2007.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Weekly Question!

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

Friday, March 16, 2018

Happy St Patricks Day #irish eyes are smiling

Always one of my favorite holidays- happy St. Patrick's Day.

To help us celebrate, here are some fun facts from our friends at the Census Bureau
Originally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration of all things Irish. The world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. This parade became an annual event, with President Truman attending in 1948.
The following facts are made possible by the invaluable responses to the U.S. Census Bureau’s surveys
. We appreciate the public’s cooperation as we continuously measure America’s people, places and economy. 

Did You Know?

The number and percentage of U.S. residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2016. Source: 2016 American Community Survey

The number of foreign-born U.S. residents who reported Ireland as their birthplace in 2016. Source: 2016 American Community Survey

The percentage of the population of Ocean Bluff-Brant Rock, Mass., who claimed Irish ancestry in 2016. Source: 2012-2016 American Community Survey

The estimated number of U.S. residents who spoke Irish Gaelic. Source: 2009-2013 American Community Survey

Irish-American Graphic