New Mission

New Mission

My mission is to explore how other countries around the world are dealing with education and special education issues.

I would like to visit and observe different types of schools that have proven records of success, wherever those schools may be. I would like to meet with school directors and administrators, government officials, leaders in the business world, and others who are responsible for implementing education systems or otherwise connected to education to learn more about how education is being addressed in their communities.

If you know of any remarkable schools in other parts of the world (especially special needs schools), please let me know about them. If you know of any education experts who are engaged in remarkable work in this field, please introduce me to them.

Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas regarding the above. Read more about my mission here.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Online Bachelor's Degree For Students With Disabilities

Disability Scoop writes about a new program aimed to offer online bachelor's degrees to students with autism and other special needs.  In addition to offering individualized supports academically, the program promises to provide each student a behavior analyst and an opportunity to hone important life skills.  The article refers to the program as a "unique approach" but it's really the same approach that has been advocated for for years - tailoring the curriculum to meet the specific, unique needs of each and every student.  This continues to be the mantra today but it seems we still have a way to go to meet this goal.   

Read the article at:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Solving The School Budget Crisis

Interesting New York Times article regarding private entities supplying much needed funds to public schools.  This story and the school conduct described therein raises questions about the presence of discrimination based on socioeconomic status and what it means for a child to be entitled to a free and appropriate public education:

Fixing The Way We Teach

Thought-provoking article about our tendency to teach what we've always taught just because we've always taught it.  Shouldn't school be an exercise in relevant and practical skills and knowledge with real-world, real-life application?  When was the last time you used Calculus in your day-to-day activities. 

Read the New York Times article here:

For more on this point and an interesting (and quick) read, check out The Saber-Tooth Curriculum by J. Abner Peddiwell.  It's an old but still very relevant to today's debate. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Special Education Workshop at Ohel Simcha in New Jersey

I will be presenting a special education workshop about navigating the legal process and how to get the services that your child needs on August 24, 2011 in New Jersey (see below).  Topics to be discussed include a parent's rights under the IDEA and other applicable laws; how to go about dealing with your school system to obtain tutoring, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech services as well as tuition funding; and what legal action to pursue when interactions with the school district have reached an impasse.   

Ohel Simcha (Park Avenue Shul)
295 Park Avenue,
Long Branch, NJ 07740
When: Wednesday, August 24th at 1:00 pm
To RSVP or for more information contact Danielle Siegal at or call (646) 845-7462

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Announces Plans To Contribute $30 Million Of His Own Money To Help Disadvantaged Youth In New York City

The New York Times reports that Mayor Bloomberg will be contributing $30 million of his own money to help disadvantaged and underserved children in New York City who are struggling economically and not benefiting as much as they should from education.  The program calls for a total of $130 million and will aim to change the way the government conducts itself with respect to these children.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Misappropriation Of Funds At YAI Provides Insight Into Some Of New York's Medicaid Woes

A previous entry on this blog dated July 7, 2011 focused on the 2011 Medicaid rankings and pointed out that NY seems to be spending lots of money on its state-run programs but not getting the type of bang-for-your-buck one might expect.  Well, the following article sheds some light on at least one example of why that is the case.  The New York Times story exposes the misappropriations of funds by two prominent individuals who ran the well-known organization called YAI.  The story details how the chief executives of the organization were using state-provided funds for purely personal purposes such as fancy cars and their children's education. 

Read the full article at:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eastern District of New York Affirms Award Of Tuition Reimbursement For Rebecca School In Absence of SRO Decision

In New York City Department of Education v. V.S., a July 29, 2011 decision from the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), Judge John Gleeson affirmed an impartial hearing officer's award of tuition reimbursement for the Rebecca School in the absence of an SRO decision.  Typically, when the DOE appeals from an IHO's decision, the case goes to the State Review Officer who then rules on the merits of the case and, if that decision again favors the parents and the DOE wishes to appeal further, the case proceeds to federal or state court.  Here, however, the SRO had decided not to rule on the merits of the case at all because he believed doing so would be pointless, leaving the district court in an interesting position.

The case involved a claim for tuition reimbursement for the 2009-2010 school year for a young boy with autism whose parents enrolled him in the Rebecca School, a school in Manhattan for children with autism.  The IHO had determined that the IEP and public school recommendation were not appropriate, and that the Rebecca School was appropriate.  The parents had previously succeeded in their claim for the 2008-2009 school year and, under pendency, the DOE was ordered to pay the Rebecca School tuition for the 2009-2010 school year until a final decision on the merits for that year was reached.  By the time the SRO finally addressed the appeal, it was July 7, 2010 which meant that the 2009-2010 school year had ended and the DOE had been on the hook for the full amount of the tuition...regardless of the final outcome of the actual case.  In light of that, the SRO concluded that the case was moot and, therefore, chose not to rule on the merits of the case.  However, he neglected the fact that his decision would have pendency implications for the future.

Although the EDNY could have sent the case back to the SRO for a determination, Judge Gleeson concluded that he had authority to rule on the merits even in the absence of an SRO decision and decided to render his own decision in the interest of an "efficient administration of justice."  Judge Gleeson explained that the case was not moot because of the pendency implications going forward.  He deferred to the IHO's decision and concluded that the DOE failed to offer an appropriate program and placement, and the Rebecca School was appropriate to meet the child's needs.  Judge Gleeson noted that the parents had signed a tuition contract prior to the child's annual review and that the parents had made a deposit which was only partially refundable.  However, he did not feel that these points damaged the parents' reimbursement claim because the parents had otherwise cooperated in the process.  The DOE argued, as it routinely does for cases involving the Rebeeca School and other for-profit institutions, that for-profit schools were not meant to be covered by the tuition reimbursement provisions of the IDEA.  Judge Gleeson rejected this argument and explained that Section 1415 of the IDEA confers "broad authority on federal courts to craft remedies necessary to ensure that a child's right to a free appropriate public education is complete."  He cited to several Supreme Court decisions - Burlington, Carter, Forest Grove - which support the point of the courts having broad authority. 

In sum, Judge Gleeson agreed with the IHO's determination in favor of the parents on the merits.  As a result, the Rebecca School will continue to be the child's last-agreed-upon placement, unless the case is further appealed and a different conclusion on the merits is reached.