My idea is to explore how other countries around the world are dealing with education and special education issues. I’d like to see different successful schools, wherever they may be, up close. I’d like to sit down with directors and administrators. I’d like to speak with government officials who keep a pulse on the education affairs of their communities. I want to learn more about education around the globe through speaking with locals, seeing the schools, and shaking hands with the people responsible for implementing the systems. If you know of any outstanding (public or private) special needs schools in other parts of the world, I’d love to hear about them. If you know any education experts from around the world, I’d love to be introduced to them. Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas. Read more about my mission.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
The parents in this case had asked the school district to conduct testing to determine if their child had a disability. The district did not test within 45 school days as mandated by Alaska law. The parents pursued their own independent testing for which they expected reimbursement from the district and implemented private tutoring services for which they also sought reimbursement.
An impartial hearing officer determined based on the evidence presented that the child was performing adequately in a general education classroom and did not need tutoring to access the curriculum, but granted some reimbursement anyway because of the district's delays. An appellate court reversed the award of reimbursement for tutoring, and the Supreme Court agreed, on the grounds that in order to be eligible for reimbursement for services, you have to first be eligible for services. The IDEA requires not only that a person have a disability but also that the disability impairs his/her ability to derive educational benefit.
The Supreme Court's ruling on reimbursment for the private evaluation, however, was in favor of the parent. A parents' right to have his/her child evaluated has nothing to do with whether the child is actually found to have a disability. The whole point of the evaluation, based on the school district's "child find" responsibility, is to determine whether a disability exists. Therefore, the court awarded reimbursement and, citing to Forest Grove, explained that this merely requires the district to pay an expense that they were required to pay all along.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Check out the press release here:
Read more at: http://www.educationnation.com/index.cfm?objectid=4541B4CE-DD49-11E0-AF1F000C296BA163&utm_source=912newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=912newsletter
How strictly does a court construe procedural requirements against a parent pursuing an IDEA claim against a school district? Well, in D.H., the court construed some procedural requirements loosely and in favor of the parent. One issue related to the timing of filing a complaint. If a student has moved out of one school district and into a new one, could the parents still bring the claim if the student is no longer attending school in the district the parents are suing? Surprisingly, some courts have held that parents would be barred in this type of situation. This makes little sense since from a "notice" standpoint because the IDEA has a 10-day notice requirement which contemplates that parents will file for an impartial hearing after the child has already enrolled in a private school. The Georgia court ruled on the issue in favor of the parents and explained as follows:
"IDEA is remedial in nature. Disabled students are guaranteed an appropriate public school education, and if a school fails to provide this education, IDEA enables these students to be compensated for the lack of educational opportunities. The opportunity to recover for a school district's violations should not be limited to the time when the student is enrolled in the school district."The court also considered whether failing to file a complaint before the child leaves the district constitutes a "failure to exhaust administrative remedies." The court stated:
"In this case, Plaintiffs allegedly attempted contact the District numerous times to schedule an IEP meeting pursuant to IDEA procedures. The frustration of repeated failed attempts to contact the District eventually intensified to such a degree that Plaintiffs felt compelled take immediate action and move D.H. to a new school. While the exact reason behind Plaintiffs' failure to file a due process complaint before transferring D.H. is unclear, what is clear is that if Plaintiffs allegations against the District are true, the District should not be rewarded for its avoidance techniques and its failure to respond to Plaintiffs' concerns."The main point, the court said, is that the exhaustion requirement is not meant to be applied absolutely where doing so would lead to an unjust result and it is important to remember that the purpose of the IDEA is to compensate students who have received an inadequate education.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Hawaii was slow to revise its state laws to match the changes in federal law. In this case, the Hawaii DOE relied solely on the severe discrepancy model and the Hawaii district court did not fault them for it. The 9th circuit, however, reversed the decision and remanded back to the district court. Upon remand, the district court will have to apply the appropriate standard, which encourages school district to consider a student's ability to meet grade-level and age-level expectations.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The court reasoned that if a district court has ruled on the case, there is no longer a threat of a "unilateral decision by school authorities" and, therefore, the protection of pendency is not necessary. The court adopted strict construction of the term "district court" in one provision of the IDEA to the exclusion of circuit courts. In the process, the court may have lost sight of the spirit of the law - to protect children in exactly this kind of circumstance. Children were meant to be protected from being placed in an inappropriate setting until a final decision on the case could be reached to show that the school district's actions were justified.
Here is a short excerpt from the decision:
"However, to require that the stay-put provision applies during a federal appeal could yield absurd results. Parents could continue to appeal to the Third Circuit and then the Supreme Court forcing a school district to reimburse private school tuition where multiple levels of review have found that the IEP offered to the child provides a FAPE. Further, this will discourage school officials from agreeing to provide support for private placement for fear that this leaves them required to pay until the child graduates regardless of changed circumstances because all the parents would have to do is continue to appeal."
Friday, September 2, 2011
According to Disability Scoop, school districts who fail to fulfill their "maintenance of effort" obligation may have found a loophole. In some instances defaulting districts are not being held to the $$ amount they were supposed to pay in the previous year, but rather they are expected to pay the number they actually paid in that previous year. Shouldn't there be stricter consequences for districts who fail to live up to their obligations?
I guess it's a balancing test. Each school district must do an analysis that looks something like this - "On the one hand we may lose federal funding for the year that we default on our obligation. On the other hand, if we default this year, then next year we will have to pay less than what would otherwise have been required."