A group of parents who have children in a Christian school are suing the state of Washington because it won't provide special education services to their children at the school; instead, the children have to leave campus. In the article, a lawyer representing the families says that the policy represents religious discrimination. The state attorney general's office responded that services are provided off-campus to parochial school students because state law bars the use of public funds for religious institutions. Some may not know that local school districts are responsible for devoting a portion of their special education funding to students ...


My colleagues at Edweek.org have posted a first look at an article I wrote this week on special education compliance and the states. The print version of the story will be in the Nov. 19 issue of Education Week. The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Act in 2004 came with some new compliance mandates for states from the U.S. Department of Education. States must collect information from their districts on a variety of topics related to students with disabilities, including graduation and dropout rates, parent involvement, transition planning, settlements in due process cases, and others. These topics ...


My colleagues at TeacherMagazine.org are hosting an online chat Thursday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. eastern time on response to intervention. Both of the guests are great: Judy Elliott, now the chief academic officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District and a longtime practitioner of response to intervention, and Douglas Fuchs, a longtime researcher on the topic. I had a chance to interview both Elliott and Fuchs for a story I wrote about response to intervention that ran in January. No special equipment is needed to follow the chat, just a computer with internet access. ...


The GothamSchools blog recently posted about a move in New York City to standardize the forms used to create individualized education programs, the blueprint for educating students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. One example of a problem for some advocates: A drop-down menu gives only two choices for a child’s Behavior Intervention Plan: Time Out Room and Other. “What does ‘other’ mean?” speakers wanted to know, questioning why more positive behavioral interventions hadn’t been specified as options. Since “Other” is vague, the drop-down menu will lead to people defaulting to Time Out Room rather ...


Mark Miller, who blogs at Special Needs Truth '08, has a list of actions that disability advocates can continue post-election. As I've said several times on this blog, I am not a one-issue voter, even though I care deeply about issues related to disabilities. The best thing for families dealing with special needs will be what's best for all families -- including a strong economy, dependable health coverage, and fairness in all government programs. His excellent suggestions include writing letters to Barack Obama, John McCain and Sarah Palin, encouraging them to continue promoting the needs of people with disabilities. He ...


I think it's safe to say that financial pressures will prevent President-elect Obama from immediately addressing an issue like increased funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which he supports. In the short term, however, it is poosible that school districts could see a reversal of some Bush administration cuts to Medicaid spending that they said would affect the services that they provide to students with disabilities. Congress already gave schools a little bit of breathing room on these cuts, as I wrote back in January: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to halt the reimbursements for ...


I'm really excited about this: my colleagues at the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center (part of the same nonprofit that publishes Education Week) will be releasing a report on Monday that explores critical issues in special education, with a particular focus on high school students and transition issues. As a part of the release, we're hosting four online chats exploring different topics related to older students in special education. Here's a link to a page describing both the report and the chat series, which will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. EST every Monday in November. I'll ...


During last week's speech outlining the future McCain administration's goals for special education, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said that the administration would refocus the special education law so that federally-funded parent centers would work with infants and toddlers: Once a condition is known, parents need the best and latest information on what to expect and how to respond. This service is also provided for under the IDEA. And we will make sure that every family has a place to go for support and medical guidance. The existing programs and community centers focus on school-age children -- overlooking the need ...


Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, delivered a speech this morning in Pittsburgh outlining policy goals for special education and disability advocacy in a McCain administration. Palin outlined a handful of goals, among the most sweeping of which would be portability of federal funds designated to states to educate children with disabilities and full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Palin cited Florida's McKay Scholarships for students with disabilities, which allow parents to take the money that a school district would use for educating their child and use it for private school tuition. Palin said in a ...


Sarah Palin's sister Heather Bruce, who has a 13-year-old son with autism, gave an hourlong interview on Autism One Radio yesterday where she talked about her own experiences with her child and how her family situation has affected her sister's views. Autism One Radio is an interesting entity: Autism One is a nonprofit advocacy organization founded by parents of children with autism, and the "radio station" is entirely Web-based, which allows programs to be downloaded and consumed at any time, by any one who has a computer. Bruce, who lives with her husband and three children in Anchorage, spent most ...


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