Here's something fun: five high school engineering teams that have invented assistive technology will compete against each other this week. The program is a part of the fourth annual National Engineering Design Challenge (NEDC) Finals Competition. The competition, sponsored by the AbilityOne Program and the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS), attracts teams of students from across the country who design and build an assistive device for a person with a disability to use in his or her workplace. Last year's winning team created a device that allowed a user to change a tie trash bag with only one hand. (This, ...


A few months after I started this blog, I came across the news of a due-process hearing in a small district in Michigan. What caught my attention was that the father of the student at the center of the case was also a school board member of the district he was suing. Also, the 150-student district, with just one K-12 school, had budgeted an eye-popping $250,000 for the hearing, which dragged on for months. (See here and here.) Earlier this month, the issue was finally resolved, in favor of the parents. The 142-page decision said that the Northport School ...


From the Seattle Times via Patricia E. Bauer's Disability News blog: University of Washington law professor Paul Steven Miller, who has expertise in both disability and employment discrimination law, has been appointed as a special adviser to President Obama. Miller ... will help the administration make certain political appointments, including those in the Department of Justice, the Department of Education and a host of regulatory agencies.(emphasis mine) Miller has achondroplasia, a genetic disorder that results in dwarfism. This article mentions how Miller was rejected from employment at 45 law firms, including one that said they would be accused of running ...


You may already know that President Obama's close adviser, David Axelrod, has a daughter with epilepsy. This weekend's Parade Magazine interviewed his wife Susan about their experiences with their now 27-year-old daughter, Lauren, and their work on behalf of epilepsy prevention and treatment. Susan began to meet other parents living through similar hells. They agreed that no federal agency or private foundation was acting with the sense of urgency they felt, leaving 3 million American families to suffer in near-silence. In 1998, Susan and a few other mothers founded a nonprofit organization to increase public awareness of the realities of ...


The House Committee On Rules has the full text of the stimulus package on its Web site, and the education spending is included in "Division A" (pdf) of the bill. Be warned: the previous link leads to a 496-page download. Of the $12.2 billion to be directed to special education over this fiscal year and the next, $11.3 billion will be for direct aid to states, $400 million will be for preschool programs (Section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and $500 million will be for Part C of the IDEA, which covers early intervention programs ...


House education aides say that the $12.2 billion for special education funding in the stimulus package will follow existing funding provisions, as opposed to the broader waivers that were a part of the Senate's version of the stimulus bill. My earlier post on maintenance of effort and "supplement-not-supplant" issues explains why this is an important issue. The Senate version of the stimulus bill would have allowed states to apply for waivers that would let them temporarily use all of their stimulus money to replace state dollars for special education. Disability advocacy groups are likely to be happy about the ...


A special court that was hearing cases by parents who said vaccines caused their children's autism ruled against the families today. The New York Times has a story here, as does the Associated Press (courtesy of USA Today) and The Washington Post. The ruling comes as a blow to thousands of parents who were seeking compensation from the federal government's vaccine injury fund. The parents were arguing that the mercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal, or the combination measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, prompted the onset of autism in their children. The federal government has set up a special "vaccine fund" that allows people who ...


Interesting story out of the Keystone State: Most school districts in Pennsylvania are not spending enough to meet the basic needs of special education students, according to a new study. The study found that 391 of the state's 501 school districts are spending less than a basic adequacy level on special education. Combined, that amounts to a shortfall of $380 million annually or $1,947 per special education student. The story can be found here. The 48-page study can be found here. (pdf) The firm that produced this report noted that Pennsylvania's funding formula for schools is the source of ...


Politics K-12 is reporting that the stimulus bill agreed to by House and Senate leaders includes $12.2 billion for special education over fiscal years 2009 and 2010, down from the $13.5 billion that was in the individual House and Senate stimulus bills. I'm reaching out to sources to find out more about the issues related to maintenance of effort and supplement-not-supplant. I'll post more when I have it....


When I'm not blogging, I work as a reporter for the fine newspaper that hosts On Special Education. Now I'm reporting a story for Education Week and could use help from some of you. The article is about the transition from high school to postsecondary school for students with disabilities--specifically, a provision in the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Act that requires districts to give graduating students a "summary of performance." This is the entire provision as outlined in the law: Summary of performance.--For a child whose eligibility under this part terminates under circumstances described in clause (i), a local ...


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