An article I wrote recently about New Jersey shifting the burden of proof in individualized education program hearings is generating a lot of thoughtful reader comments. The issue: When a school creates an IEP for a student and the provisions of the plan are disputed, who has to prove their case? Does the school have to prove that it is doing the right thing, or do the parents have to prove that the school's plan is wrong? In 2005, the Supreme Court decided in the case Schaffer v. Weast that, in the absence of any other state law, the "party ...


The No Child Left Behind Act has to offer a way for general education teachers to receive professional development so they can teach students with special needs effectively, said three researchers that I interviewed as part of a story on a study by the National Council on Disability, "The No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: A Progress Report." Considering all the information that the presidential advisory council compiled for its report, I found it interesting that this issue came up repeatedly. "When it comes down to the school level, that's the challenge. They're the ...


Just in case its position wasn't clear yet, the American Academy of Pediatrics is promoting a mercury-in-vaccines study in its journal because of the controversy over the ABC drama "Eli Stone." The show, which premieres tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern time, features a lawyer who successfully argues that a mercury preservative in a vaccine caused a child's autism. The AAP demanded that the "reckless" episode be yanked, but ABC has agreed only to run a disclaimer. The University of Rochester (N.Y.) study says that babies excrete thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines, much faster than originally thought. ...


The American Academy of Pediatrics sent out a huffy press release this week, demanding that ABC cancel the premiere episode of a new television show, "Eli Stone," because the main character, a lawyer, successfully argues that a child's autism was caused by mercury in a vaccine. The show might scare parents away from vaccines, the release said. ABC's response? No way. But the network has agreed to add a disclaimer to the premiere. (See The New York Times article here.) Some disability advocates have argued that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, has played a role in the explosive growth of autism ...


The reauthorization of No Child Left Behind may have stalled, but that's not stopping education groups from trying to mold the law in their favor. One of the latest suggestions for an amendment, backed by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, would start a pilot program to allow "out-of-level testing" for students with disabilities. The chief sponsor of H.R. 4100 is Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a Democrat from California. The bill is sitting in committee. Under the pilot program, a 6th grade student reading at a 3rd grade level could take a 3rd grade reading test. This ...


It's safe to say that school organizations are still stung by a federal decision made in December to stop reimbursing schools for some of the services schools provide to students with disabilities. (See my last story on this topic here.) When schools offer programs like speech or occupational therapy to low-income students, Medicaid pays them back. However, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, the government agency responsible for administering Medicaid, decided to cut out reimbursements for getting those kids to school. School is primarily an educational setting, the agency said. The government also won't pay school personnel for the ...


The great thing about a blog is that it allows writers a chance to share information that can’t make it into the print edition of the newspaper. So, this is a perfect way to start On Special Education: with an interview on response to intervention with Department of Education official Louis Danielson. Tight scheduling kept me from speaking to Danielson, the director of the research to practice division in the office of special education, before my articles (here and here) went to press, but I was able to spend a half hour talking with him about RTI, an educational ...


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