The Everyday Guide and Preventing Litigation in Special Education Workbook Judged Finalists at Autism Conference

     I am proud to announce that my book The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law and the Preventing Litigation in Special Education Workbook, by Dr. Jacque Phillips and myself, were both judged as finalists in the book competition at the 2011  Reliability Gives Voice to Autism Conference in Rosemont, Illinois. Additionally, The Everyday Guide was declared a winner in the legal book category at the 2011 Greenbook Festival in San Francisco.

     The Legal Center publishes these books to provide legal information about special education law that is in clear everyday language for parents and educators.  Additionally, since the Legal Center is a private non-profit agency, the sales of our books help support our work, including my writing this blog. Our books are not written in legalese or academic educator speak and provide accurate information in a friendly easy-to-read format.

     We believe if parents, teachers, and students understand the special education process, legal disputes may be avoided or more quickly resolved. Less time in conflict means more time working together for kids. The Everyday Guide provides clear information about obtaining a free appropriate public education, the evaluation process, IEPs, extended school year, discipline, dispute resolution, least restrictive environment, private schools, early childhood services, and section 504. The Preventing Litigation in Special Education Workbook supplements The Everyday Guide by providing legal information about actual cases in a story telling format. Parents and teachers are asked to use the Workbook to predict the likely outcome of the dispute so that parents and school districts can avoid unnecessary legal entanglments in special education.

     The Everyday Guide sells for $24.95 and the Workbook is only $19.95. The two books can be purchased together for $35.00. The books are also available in e book format for only $9.95. For more information or to order these award-winning books and help support our work, please visit our website or call 800-288-1376.

New Preventing Litigation in Special Education WORKBOOK available

 Readers, many of you may be familiar with my book The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law.  I’m proud to announce that a new book is now available to assist parents and educators in understanding special education law.

Preventing Litigation in Special Education WORKBOOK is a supplement to the award-winning book, The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law. This WORKBOOK combines practical information on special education law with actual case examples that are presented in a concise story format.

The authors of the WORKBOOK are Dr. Jacque Phillips, an experienced special education teacher and recently licensed attorney and myself. I am the author of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law and I have more than thirty-three years experience in special education and disability law. Jacque and I have joined forces to develop a WORKBOOK to help parents and teachers predict the likely outcome of case examples so that parents and school districts can avoid unnecessary legal entanglements in special education. 

The WORKBOOK gives readers understandable tools to help overcome disagreements and keep the focus on the student’s success in school. 

The Preventing Litigation in Special Education WORKBOOK can be purchased for $19.95. The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law is available for $24.95, BUT both books can be purchased together for only $35.00. Preventing Litigation in Special Education Workbook is NOW available. To order please go to The Legal Center’s Publications Division or call at 1-800-288-1376.  

Band Director’s Unilateral Decision Denying Student with a Disability Full Participation in Marching Band Violates 504

     An Arizona high school student with Down syndrome had an IEP calling for “integration with regular peers as much as possible” and participation in Marching Band. Thus, the student played the drum in the Marching Band at football games in the fall semester. Later, the Marching Band, including the student with a disability, went on a field trip to Disneyland. The Band Director, however, on her own, decided that the student would not be allowed to participate in a recording session at Disneyland or march in the parade with the rest of the band at Disneyland. Moreover, the Band Director decided that the  student didn’t need to bring his drum and band uniform. As a result, the student was not able to participate in the band group picture taken at Disneyland.

     The band director explained that she decided the student shouldn’t participate in the recording session because she knew the student couldn’t sight-read music. Additionally, since he tired easily he should not march in the parade. And, finally, since he wasn’t marching in the parade or participating in the recording session, he didn’t need to bring his uniform or drum. Thus, he was prevented from being included in the group picture. The student’s parents filed a 504 complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

     In Marana (AZ) Unified School District, 53 IDELR 201 (OCR June 2, 2009) the Office for Civil Rights decided that: “The unilateral decision by the band director to deny the student participation in the activities associated with the Disneyland trip and to treat him differently from his non-disabled peers was…not based on the individual needs of the student.” Since these decisions were unilateral and not based on the individual needs of the student, the reasons behind the decisions were not legitimate and violated Section 504.

     To resolve the issue, OCR entered into a Resolution Agreement with the school district that required the district to develop a district-wide “procedure to ensure that students with a disability are provided an opportunity to participate in school sponsored activities the same as non-disabled peers, or as appropriate for the individual needs of the student.” Moreover, the district agreed to provide training to all of the high school staff regarding the requirements of 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Finally, to help resolve the harm to the student and his family, the Resolution Agreement  required that the school district reimburse the student’s parents for their costs associated with the Disneyland trip or allow him to fully participate in a future trip to Disneyland. 

Parent Centers: A resource for training and assistance for families of children with disabilities

 

          It’s back-to-school time and this posting provides information on federally funded Parent Centers that provide training and assistance to families of children with disabilities. My thanks to my long time friend Barbara Buswell, the Director of Colorado’s PEAK Parent Center, for providing this information regarding services provided by Parent Centers in general and the PEAK Parent Center specifically. Among the many valuable services that the PEAK Parent Center provides is its Annual Conference for Inclusive Education.

     The U. S. Department of Education provides federally funded Parent Centers in each state to provide training and assistance to families of children with disabilities in their states.  Every state has at least one Parent Center, and states with large populations may have more. 

     Parent Centers serve families of children ages birth to age 26 with all disability labels – physical, learning, cognitive, behavioral, language, emotional etc.  Parent Centers provide a variety of services including workshops, one-on-one support and assistance, websites, and publications.  The majority of Parent Center staff and Boards are themselves parents of children with disabilities so in addition to their knowledge, they are able to bring personal experience when assisting families.  Parent Centers help families obtain appropriate education and services for their children with special needs and work to improve education results for all children.  They connect families with community resources,  train on a variety of topics (including special education, access to general education curriculum, communication with professionals, accommodations and modifactions, etc.), and help families work to resolve problems with schools and other agencies.  Parent Centers link families with resources and best practice information in special and general education. To find the Parent Center in your state go to the Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers’ website.

    PEAK Parent Center is Colorado’s Parent Training and Information Center (PTI). PEAK is a statewide organization for and by parents of children with disabilities reaching out to assist families and professionals. 

PEAK PTI Services

* Information about the special education process and parents’ rights

* Up-to-date disability information

* SPEAKout newsletter

* Parent Advisors who are available to provide information and resources in English and Spanish, assist families with problem-solving strategies, and direct callers to other community resources by telephone, email to parentadvisor@peakparent.org, or in person by appointment

* Inclusion resources that show how students can be successfully included in general education classrooms

* Referral to medical, educational, community services, and support groups

* Annual statewide conference on Inclusive Education to be held February 11-13, 2010

* Bookstore with current publications to assist families and schools like our “IEP Toolkit”

     In conclusion, Parent Training Centers are a valuable resource for families of children with disabilities. Again, to find the Parent Center in your state go to Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers’ website.

 

Section 504, School Field Trips, and Students with Disabilities

  In a previous post, Opening the School Door to Section 504, I discussed the Section 504 and ADA requirements to provide services to children with disabilities. If you are not familiar with how section 504 applies to public elementary and secondary schools, you might check out that article before continuing with this article.

 Sub part D of the Section 504 regulations prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities. This means that public schools must provide services to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the schools meet the needs of students without disabilities. Thus, Section 504 focuses on ensuring equal access for students with disabilities to the program offered by the public school. Under 34 CFR 104.34 of the 504 regulations, equal access includes serving students with disabilities in settings (academic and nonacademic) with students without disabilities. Equal access to the school program includes equal access to filed trips.

Unfortunately, sometimes schools overlook including students with disabilities in field trips or assume that because the student has a disability,  the student is automatically excluded from participating. That is not the case. In fact, Section 504 requires that the school district presume that a student with a disability will participate in a field trip. If  the school believes the student should be excluded from the field trip, it must make that determination on an individual basis. Moreover, the school district has the burden of demonstrating that the student should not participate. (Montebello (CA) Unified School District, 20 IDELR 388 (OCR 1993).

In order to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the school program, Section 504 requires that schools provide accommodations. So, if a student with a disability needed an accommodation or related aids and services to participate in the field trip, those services must be provided.

For example, in Quaker Valley (PA) Sch. Dist., 39 IDELR 235 (OCR 1986), a girl with a neurodegenerative disorder that affected her motor, sensory, perceptual, and language functioning was denied the opportunity to go on field trips and participate in a swimming program. Due to “safety concerns”, the school principal had unilaterally made the decision to exclude her from six field trips with her third grade class, including a trip to a television station. She was the only student excluded from the field trips. In school the girl was provided with accommodations, such as an escort to assist her when walking and holding her hand. But no consideration was given to providing similar accommodations on the field trips or in the swimming program. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) determined that the “safety” considerations were not justified and that the girl should have been provided with accommodations to ensure her participation in the field trips and the swimming program. Additionally, OCR determined the school district violated Section 504 because it did not notify the girl’s parents of the upcoming field trips, while the other children’s’ parents were notified.

On the other hand, OCR has found that there are times when schools, after individual consideration, may exclude a student from a field trip if the student’s participation presents an unacceptable risk to the student’s health or safety. But the school must be able to justify that determination. In North Hunterdon (MD) Pub. Sch. Sys., 25 IDELR 165 (OCR 1996), OCR determined that the school district was justified in excluding a student from a field trip when the student had several seizures on the same day as the field trip.

Finally, schools cannot require that parents of students with disabilities accompany their children on field trips, if parents of students without disabilities are not required to accompany their children. In Rim of the World (CA) Unified Sch. Dist., 38 IDELR 101 (OCR 2002), a student’s Braille assistant was told that the student could not participate in a field trip unless accompanied by a family member. This violated Section 504, because the parents of students without disabilities were not asked to accompany their children.

Field trips are a very important part of the school experience. Section 504 requires that schools presume students with disabilities will participate in field trips along side children without disabilities. If there are concerns that a student’s participation may be unsafe or a risk, the school should consider providing accommodations and related services to support the student’s participation. If the school still believes the student’s participation to be unsafe, the decision to exclude the student must be made on an individual basis and the school district has the burden of demonstrating that the student should not participate.

Second Edition of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law Now Available

  Readers, at the end of May I posted that the Second Edition of my book The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law was available for preorder. The book is here and can be ordered now.

 

  Like the previous book, the second edition contains information about obtaining a free appropriate public education, IEPs, discipline, dispute resolution, extended school year, early childhood services, and 504 plans. Additionally, the new second edition has been updated to include the most recent changes in federal law including:

 • the IDEA requirements for services plans for children placed in private schools
 • how to file complaints with State Education Agencies for violations of the IDEA including obtaining compensatory services
 • timelines for resolving disputes under the IDEA and how to use “mediation” and the new “resolution process”
 • the evaluation process and response-to-intervention (RTI)

  The second edition of The Everyday Guide is priced at $24.95. Discounted prices are available for bulk orders. If you are interested you may order it now.

 

The Second Edition of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law available for preorder

Readers as you may be aware, this blog features links for those interested in purchasing my book The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law. I have not, however, directly promoted the book in my posts. I’m going to break with that tradition because I want you to know that the first edition of the book has sold out, but that the second edition of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law will arrive by the end of June, but can be preordered now. Like the previous book, the second edition contains information about obtaining a free appropriate public education, IEPs, discipline, dispute resolution, extended school year, early childhood services, and 504 plans. Additionally, the new second edition has been updated to include the most recent changes in federal law including:

• the IDEA requirements for services plans for children placed in private schools
• how to file complaints with State Education Agencies for violations of the IDEA including obtaining compensatory services
• timelines for resolving disputes under the IDEA and how to use “mediation” and the new “resolution process”
• the evaluation process and response-to-intervention (RTI)

Again, if you are interested you can preorder the second edition of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law now.

That’s it for the commercial. My next post will again feature practical comments and information on special education, early intervention, and disability law.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 711 other followers

%d bloggers like this: