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.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
In the recent federal court case, National Association of the Deaf v. Netflix, 3:11-cv-30168-MAP (June 19, 2012), Judge Ponsor of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts denied Netflix's motion to dismiss the case which is brought under the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12182(a), for failing to provide equal access to the video streaming website. An important issue in the case is whether the Internet can be considered a "place of public accommodation" under the ADA. Judge Ponsor believed that it could be.
For a brief and interesting analysis of this decision see:
Another interesting question this case raises, which is applicable not just here but in any instance of statutory or constitutional construction, is - To what extent was the law meant to encompass new technologies that come into existence after the law was written. Judge Ponsor cited to the legislative history of the ADA where Congress explicitly addressed this issue: "[T]he committee intends that the types of accommodations and services provided to individuals with disabilities, under all of the titles of this bill, should keep pace with the rapidly technology of the times." The case will go forward, with broader implications than just Netflix.
This morning I also received a link to a video emanating from the Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning ("CCAC") on the importance of captioning. Worth a look:
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Proposed Amendment of Sections 200.1 and 200.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to Special Education Impartial Hearings
In addition, there has been a buzz about the bills recently passed by the NY Senate and Assembly (S7722A and A10722A) which amend provisions of N.Y. Educ. Law §§ 4402 and 4404. Our office received a number of inquiries from the press to discuss the issue. To learn more visit:
Monday, June 25, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
The story brought out a couple of issues that I would want to investigate more thoroughly if I were a journalist with an interest in education policy, or an education lawyer with some more free time.
- To what extent have states actually followed through with the promises they made to Washington in order to procure substantial Race To The Top (RTTT) funds? The article suggests that promises made by states in the grant writing process in order to obtain the funds were empty, and that states have not made good on those promises.
- How "beholden" is the presidency to the teachers' unions? If this were Fight Club, and we pitted teacher quality and merit-based pay against the teachers' unions and their campaign contributions, who would win? Is the president's discourse regarding implementing new mechanisms for judging and compensating teachers lip service and rhetoric, or does it reflect serious intentions to change the system?
- What would a completely privatized education system look like and what would that mean for the most unfortunate of students who are not accepted to any private institution?
Friday, June 8, 2012
Feds Approve ABA Therapy As Medical Benefit
By Michelle Diament June 4, 2012
In a major shift, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management said that it has determined there is enough evidence behind the use of ABA therapy to deem it a medical rather than an educational service.
The office is responsible for managing benefits for federal government employees, so the announcement paves the way for health plans offered to government workers to include coverage for the popular autism therapy for the first time.
What’s more, autism advocates say it sets an important precedent since the U.S. government is the nation’s largest employer.
“The OPM decision directly contradicts a long-standing insurance industry claim that ABA therapy is not ‘medical,’ but rather ‘educational’ — provided by the schools at taxpayer expense,” said Peter Bell, executive vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks. “Now, tens of thousands of families will have better access to more affordable, critical ABA treatment.”
Currently, 30 states require that health insurance plans include ABA therapy, according to Autism Speaks, which has lobbied heavily for such legislation.
Under the new rules, coverage for ABA therapy may be included in health plans provided to federal workers starting in 2013.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Subject: Action Alert: Protect the Rights of Parents of Students with Disabilities
- Drastically reduce the time in which a parent whose child with a disability has not been given an appropriate education can sue (this time period is a called the “statute of limitations”) from two years to one year from the date on which a parent first knew or should have known of the violation;
- Shorten the timeline even further for those parents seeking private school tuition from two years to 180 days from the date when the parent was first liable for private school tuition;
- Impact the neediest families the most, as they may not have access to attorneys or be aware of what to do to enforce their rights; and
- Discourage families from trying to work out their disputes with a school because waiting to formally complain could mean a parent would lose the right to complain at all, no matter how badly a student’s rights had been violated.
Monday, June 4, 2012
Well, in an interesting case, a federal court judge decided that an individual with Asperger's Syndrome who had struggled to hold down a job was entitled to having her student loans discharged as a result of "undue hardship." In re Todd, 2012 WL 1862341 (Bankr. D. Md. May 17, 2012)
I haven't read the whole case. Before even trying to pull it up, a number of questions came to mind. What does the language in the loan agreement say about undue hardship and does that language support a finding of undue hardship in this case? What, if any, firm criteria did the judge articulate for someone's disability to be deemed an undue hardship? How severe/mild does a person's disability have to be? How many times do you have to have been rejected by employers or fired from a job? How, if at all, does the analysis change if the individual is receiving or not receiving counseling/support services to improve in areas of weakness? Are there any factors that would reduce the % of debt that can be forgiven?
I was able to pull up the case and glance at it briefly. It turns out that the term "undue hardship" is not defined by the Bankruptcy Code but has been defined by the courts. Student loan debt is generally not discharged unless holding the individual to the debt would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor's dependents, and there is a three-part test to make that determination:
Case available at:
In re Todd, 2012 WL 1862341 (Bankr. D. Md. May 17, 2012)
Access the full report here: