Hints / Tips

The U.S. Supreme Court Establishes a Stronger Standard

The issue that has bedeviled parents, students, school districts, and courts since the passage of the IDEA in 1975—what constitutes a sufficient “educational benefit” under the IDEA, or how much educational benefit does the district have to provide to meet its legal mandate to provide a child with a disability an “appropriate” education.

The U.S. Supreme Court first addressed this issue in 1982 in the Rowley case.  Amy Rowley was in kindergarten, was doing well, but needed a sign language interpreter to access communication in the classroom.  Because she was doing well academically – not difficult at the kindergarten level, the Supreme Court ruled against her concluding that under the IDEA a school district need only  “open the door of public education to handicapped children”  rather than guarantee any particular level of education once inside.”

When the IDEA was re-authorized in 2007, Congress appeared to expand the Rowley standard of educational benefit, noting that implementation of the IDEA was “impeded by low expectations” and that children with disabilities are entitled to “high expectations” and, “to the maximum extent possible,” to meet the challenging expectations that are established for all children.  Other, lower courts have either agreed with Rowley or expanded – educational benefit is measured against the child’s abilities.

On March 22, 2017, in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the U.S. Supreme Court in an unanimous decision ruled that an autistic child who had moved from grade to grade but appeared to have made questionable, actual progress was entitled to an education that provided only de minimis progress.

The key findings by the Supreme Court:  1) a child’s IEP/program must be “appropriately ambitious” and “calculated to allow a child to make progress appropriate in light […]

Creating an IEP Blueprint

The best way to secure an effective, appropriate, and complete IEP (Individualized Education Program) for your child is to know ahead of time what you want and what s/he needs.  Perhaps a simple proposition but crucial.

 

Follow these steps:

  1. Create a blueprint of the best possible program for your child.
  2. You are the superintendent and have all the power and resources – you create the program.
  3. No matter where you start, you will almost always end up a little below that – so start as high as possible.
  4. Your blueprint should include:
    1. A detailed description of the classroom/program you want for your child, including kind of class (regular class, special class etc.), # of students, age and cognitive range of students, whether they need to be students with the same challenges as your child, classroom strategies, curricula, what school.
    2. Other classroom needs:  for example maybe a quiet environment, or a small class in a small school.
    3. What support services, whether an aide, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychological counseling, etc.   Details on how often, e.g., 2 times a week, 45 minutes each, 1:1 with a specialist trained in……
    4. Staff qualifications.
    5. Will your child be involved in general curriculum – full-time, some of the day, details about specific focus.
  5. Be sure to try to visit all possible options in your district before your IEP meeting so you can see how much of your blueprint can be met.
  6. Finally once you know what your child needs – the blueprint – you need to be able to prove s/he needs those items to ‘benefit from special education.”  In short you will need evidence of the need.
By |December 10th, 2015|Hints / Tips, IEP|0 Comments

Policy Changes from Washington DC

You may read about some policy change in special education law or a school person may say, did you know that the US issued a letter changing the meaning of this or that, altered the requirements of the IDEA?

These policy letters help explain what the law means and gives guidance to school districts and parents.  For example a recent policy letter focused on  “behavior-focused treatments” for children; another stated that students who are English-language learners and are suspected of having a disability should be evaluated for special education in “the appropriate language based on the student’s needs and language skills.”  A third stated that a school district that fails to stop bullying based on disability may be found to be denying disabled students their right to a free, appropriate public education.

These letters can be of help as you work on  your child’s IEP (Individualized Education Program).  The easiest way to access these is to search:  “OSEP Policy Letters“.

By |November 30th, 2015|Hints / Tips, IEP|0 Comments