Special Education Update

PANEL DISCUSSION IN IRVINE

The Rand Group is presenting a free panel discussion with Mr. Jewell and other experts to help parents of special needs children gain a better understanding of their rights as well as programs and services which might be available to help their children.  The panel presentation will be on Tuesday, May 16, 2018 at 6 p.m. at Hotel Irvine. Registration for the event may be done through hightoweradvisors.com.

PUBLICATION ADDRESSING SPECIAL EDUCATION LAWS

Michael E. Jewell is the author of a chapter regarding special education laws in the Handbook of Long Term Care of The Childhood Cancer Survivor (Grace A. Mucci and  Lilibeth R. Torno editors) published by Springer (2015).

PARENT ADVOCACY RADIO INTERVIEW

Michael E. Jewell was interviewed by Dr. Bill Frea of Autism Spectrum Therapy on the subject of parent advocacy for Autism Spectrum Therapy’s Internet radio program.  The episode is available through this link http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/60808/planning-for-special-education-and-autism-care

Information for AUTISM SPEAKS walking events is available at www.walknowforautismspeaks.org.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that a school district was bound to provide the services it had outlined in the IEP (which had been accepted by the parent), even if the services contained an error.  The school district’s unilateral change to the IEP (to correct the error) was a procedural violation which interfered with the parent’s ability to meaningfully participate in and enforce the child’s IEP.  The court also found that when a school district fails to timely file an answer to a due process complaint, the administrative law judge must “order a response and shift the cost of the delay to the school district, regardless of who is ultimately the prevailing party.”  M.C. v. Antelope Valley Union Sch. Dist. (9th Cir. 2017) No. 14-56344.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the critical role of the parent in the IEP process. Doug C. v. State of Hawaii Dept. of Ed. (9th Cir. 2013) No. 12 – 15079.  In Doug C., a special needs student had been attending a private school funded by the state department of education.  Several IEP dates were set and then moved.  A date was finally set just prior to when the annual IEP was due.  On the date set for the IEP meeting, early in the morning, the child’s father notified the state department of education that he wanted, but was unable to attend the meeting due to illness.  The department and the father discussed rescheduling the meeting, however, a date which occurred in time for the annual IEP and which worked for department staff and the parent could not be found.  The department decided to hold IEP meeting without the father or a representative from the private school the student was attending – the IEP proposed to change the student’s placement to a different school.  The department later convened an IEP meeting with the father and a representative of the private school, however, it still offered the new school placement.  The court held that convening the IEP meeting without the parent who was willing but unable to attend the meeting, denied the child a free appropriate public education.

Parents may be entitled to recover damages from a school district under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  In order to prevail on their claims, parents of two autistic daughters in Hawaii would have to show that the school district: failed to provide their children “with the reasonable accommodations of autism-specific education services”; failed to design the children’s “IEPs to meet . . . [their] needs as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met”; and acted with deliberate indifference.  Mark H. v. Hamamoto (9th Cir. 2010).

Failing to conduct a full and complete assessment as required by law can render an IEP inappropriate.  A school district which failed to conduct a functional analysis assessment for a student with significant behaviors fell short of assessment requirements and failed to develop an appropriate IEP.  Compton Unified School Dist. v. A.F. (C.D. Cal. 2010).

The National Autism Center published an important report regarding various treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders.  In its report, the National Autism Center reviewed “the level of scientific evidence available that exists in support of the many educational and behavioral treatments currently available for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders”.  “National Standards Report”, National Autism Center (2009), p. 1.  The report can be found at the following link: www.nationalautismcenter.org/pdf/NAC%20Standards%20Report.pdf (** the report may no longer be available at this link)

This information is for general purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.  Any liability that might arise from your use or reliance on this information is expressly disclaimed.  The reader is cautioned to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney when making any decision which might have legal implications.