In this issue of The Special Ed Advocate, we look at behavior and discipline problems; functional behavior assessments & behavior intervention plans; a new damages case from California; "the frustration that is special education;" how to handle a parent-school crisis; From Emotions to Advocacy - The Special Ed Survival Guide; annual conference of Council of Parents, Attorneys & Advocates; help from the Yellow Pages.
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1. Can The School Expel Child Who Has LD / ADHD?
Question: Our son Jack has ADHD and severe learning disabilities. He is almost 16 and is still in the 8th grade. The school is aware of his diagnosis but has never offered any help.
Jack has been suspended several times this year, recently for another 10 days. We just received a letter from the school, saying they plan to expel him. I know you're asking, "What did he do wrong?" He didn't fight or sell drugs. He went home after school with a friend in a car without getting permission first.
We have always supported the school, but this isn't right. Jack is so far behind that if he misses a year, hell never catch up. I am afraid he will drop out because he already feels hopeless about school.
Is the school justified in expelling Jack for this offense? Or are they just trying to get rid of him?
What do you think? For answers to this parent's questions, go to:
Visit the Discipline & Behavior Page for articles about behavior and discipline issues, cases, legal resources:
2. Functional Behavior Assessments & Positive Interventions
Confused about discipline and behavior assessments and interventions? You aren't alone! These articles will jump-start your learning:
Functional Behavioral Assessments: What? Why? When? Where? Who? by Dr. Stephen Starin
Dr. Starin describes problem behaviors, functional behavior assessments, environmental manipulation, and qualifications and training of evaluators.
Is the child a problem? Does the child have a problem? Is suspension from school "good medicine for bad behavior?"
This article describes strategies parents and teachers can use to assess problem behavior and teach appropriate behavior skills to children.
3. Free Pub: IEP Team's Introduction To Functional Behavior Assessment & Behavior Intervention Plans
This free online publication from the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice describes the IEP team's responsibility to do a functional behavioral assessment to identify the cause of the child's behavior and develop positive behavioral interventions and supports to address problem behavior.
Download free publications about IEPs, special education, transition planning, reading, children's mental health, harassment, high-stakes testing, retention and social promotion, zero tolerance, discipline, behavior, and more from the Wrightslaw site.
4. Damages: Judge Finds School Official Personally Liable For Denial Of Special Ed
Parents of special education children who claim a school district is failing to meet their children's needs may have a new weapon against school officials.
On Dec. 5, a federal judge ruled that a Santa Barbara High School District administrator was personally liable for damages under the Civil Rights Act for violating a mother's right to get a "free appropriate public education" for her special-needs son, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Ordway-deNeveu's attorney, Steven Wyner, a sole practitioner in Manhattan Beach, says this is the first case nationwide in which a school official has been held personally liable for monetary damages.
"I feel this is a landmark decision because it is going to hold school officials personally accountable for complying with the law," Wyner says. "That's the only way there will be compliance."
Full text of article about case: http://www.wrightslaw.com/news/2003/ca.goleta.ordway.damages.htm
More articles and cases about damages: http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/damag.index.htm
The case is Goleta Union Elementary School District v. Andrew Ordway, CV99-07745 (C.D. Cal., verdict Dec. 5, 2002). To download the decision in Goleta Union v. Ordway, go to:
NOTE: This is a large pdf file. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat on your computer, you can download the free program from: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html
Download special ed decisions from our Caselaw Library
5. The Frustration That Is Special Education By Jay Matthews
On January 21, Jay Matthews, Washington Post staff writer, wrote, "The Frustration That is Special Education" about one parent's battle to get appropriate services for her child. We strongly recommend that parents, educators, administrators - and especially school board members - read this article. Mr. Matthews writes:
"Her list [of grievance] is so long and so full of anger and frustration that I thought I would present some of her story as an example of why special education has become, without any doubt, the most emotional and contentious subject in public schools today."
"I have asked the Montgomery County school officials for a response to Roth's story. They have declined."
Read "The Frustration That is Special Education" by Jay Matthews at:
6. Crisis! Emergency! Help!
If you are in a crisis with your child's school, this article is a "must read" for you. If you want to avoid a school crisis, you may want to skim this article too.
Learn how parents can damage their child and their child's case by assuming they must DO SOMETHING, and positive strategies you can use to get through the next few days and weeks in Crisis! Emergency! HELP!
7. From Emotions To Advocacy - The Special Education Survival Guide
As a parent, you represent your child's interests. When you negotiate with the school on your child's behalf, you increase the odds that your child will get an appropriate education. You cannot leave this job to others!
Most parents describe the process of negotiating with the school as a frustrating, exhausting ordeal. Some parents throw in the towel. Others persevere and prevail. What do effective parent advocates know? What are the secrets of their success?
Effective advocacy comes from research, planning and preparation. Successful advocates know what is important and what is not worth fighting about.
You need to acquire knowledge and skills in several areas: organizing the child's file, using information from tests to understand your child's disability, using test scores to monitor and measure progress, learning about your legal rights and responsibilities, writing SMART IEP goals and objectives, and learning how to use tactics and strategies to increase the odds of a successful outcome.
Wrightslaw: From Emotions To Advocacy (ISBN 1-892320-08-8, 400 pages) by Pete and Pam Wright teaches these skills.
What People Are Saying
"If I were asked to choose just one book to help me learn advocacy skills, this is it!" - Support for Families of Children with Disabilities Newsletter
"This book provides a clear roadmap to effective advocacy" - DD Quarterly
"To comprehend the importance of testing, and what the results tell us, read Chapters 10 and 11 about Tests and Measurements, and Chapter 12 about SMART IEPs - this information is essential for parents and professionals." - Hands and Voices Communicator
"Pete and Pam Wright have pulled together one of the most important how-to manuals ever written for navigating your way through the morass of special education, and for using the law to demand/get a good education for your child. I highly recommend you get and read this book: it's a goldmine of information! - Thom Hartmann, author, ADD: A Different Perception
Download Free Chapters
8. Annual COPAA Conference, Orlando, March 13-16, 2003
The Fifth Annual Conference of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), a national organization of parents of special education students and their advocates and lawyers, will be held at the Hyatt Orlando in Kissimmee, Florida on March 13-16, 2003.
This conference provides unique opportunities for training and networking with the most experienced and knowledgeable attorneys and advocates for students and parents on special education issues.
includes an intensive three-and-a-half day Attorney Skills Training
Learn about recent cases, legislative changes, and tricks and tactics from experienced attorneys, advocates and parents.
Get more information about the COPAA conference:
9. Need Help? Visit The Yellow Pages!
We built the Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities so you can find information and support. The Yellow Pages include hundreds of resources - grassroots organizations, parent support groups, evaluators, educational consultants, academic tutors, advocates, attorneys, and other who provide services to parents and children.
Please visit your state Yellow Pages at http://www.fetaweb.com/help/states.htm
Do you know an evaluator, educational consultant, tutor, advocate, attorney, health care provider who helps parents get services? Let us know! To learn more about free listings on the Yellow Pages, visit fetaweb.com
10. Subscription & Contact Info.
The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, and tactics and strategies. Subscribers receive "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books.