The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) has issued a Dear Colleague letter that provides guidance for school districts on bullying. Under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) school districts are obligated to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environmnet. IDEA states that bullying is a denial of FAPE if it results in a student not getting meaningful educational benefit. OSERS letter provides schools with the information they need to prevent bullying. Click here to read OSERS guidance.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs rates the quality of programs for students with disabilities in each state. Ratings for state performance plans include "meets requitements", "needs assistance", "needs intervention", and "needs substantial intervention". Illinois fell into the "needs assistance" category in the most recent rating. This is the last year, though, that annual state reports will need to focus on "compliance". Rather than evaluate compliance with special education law (timelines, etc.) OSEP will now focus on student outcomes.
OSEP included information on this "Results-Driven Accountability" recently when presenting at a leadership conference. Watch a video of this presentation to discover how OSEP expects to see improvements in reading, math, graduation rates, and post-school outcomes for students with disabilities.
Results Driven Accountability for States
Children's Mental Health News
On May 16, 2013, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report was released that describes federal activities that track children's mental disorders. This monitoring will help inform research on factors that increase risk and promote prevention of mental disorders.
Read about the report at: Children's Mental Health - New Report
The full report can be found at: Mental Health Surveillance Among Children
The Illinois Employment First Act was signed into law on July 16, 2013. This law states that competitive and integrated employment shall be considered the first option when serving persons with disabilities of working age.
PUBLIC ACT 098-0091 The Illinois Empoyment First Act
Due Process in Special Education
The American Association of School Administrators is suggesting an alternative to the Special Education Due Process system. The group suggests that, before a due process hearing is filed, an outside consultant would create an education plan that parents and the school would have to agree to follow for a mutually agreed upon period. After that period of time, due process could proceed if requested.
Read more here:
Article from Education Week
Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa plans to introduce a bill that would require vocational rehabilitation agencies to use at least 10% of their funding to offer skills training, internships, summer jobs, and apprenticeships to high school students receiving special education services.
Read about this at Disability Scoop
Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities
The Center on Victimization and Safety at the Vera Institute of Justice has issued a report that contains the latest research on the incident of the sexual abuse of childre with disabilities, factors that contribute to the prevalence, and the status of prevention and intervention services.
Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities: A National Snapshot
Restraint and Seclusion of Students
The restraint and seclusion of students is a difficult, but critically important topic. Download and view this 28 minute film from Dan Habib.
Restraint and Seclusion: Hear our Stories
United Nations Treaty on Legal Protections of Persons with Disabilities
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty calls on nations to recognize that "all persons are equal before the law, (in order) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability and guarantee equal legal protections". Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Mark Kirk have committed to support this treaty.
Employment of Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities
IPADDUnite (Illinois Parents of Adults with Developmental Disabilities) has developed a matrix showing the job supports available to students while in high school, those available from DHS-DRS (Department of Human Services Division of Rehab Services/Vocational Rehabilitation), and those available through DHS-DDD (Department of Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities).
IPADDUnite Vocational Support Matrix
Students with Visual Impairments
The number of students with visual impairments who are receiving instruction in Braille is decreasing significantly. Braille is the key tool for literacy for students who are blind or visually impaired. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services issued a "Dear Colleague" letter on June 19, 2013 that addressed a school district's responsibility to provide Braille insrtuction.
Dear Colleague Letter
Upon reaching the age of 21, children who had been receiving the Medically Fragile and Technology Dependent Children's Waiver, faced reduced Medicaid funding which reduced their medical level of care. Now a person-centered approach will be utilized so that the consumer's need, level of amount of medical services will be passed upon medical necessity, not chronological age. Read more about the consent decree Here.
The federal Office of Special Education plans to revise the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act which affects 6.5 million students. The federal government is required to evaluate states on special education performance. States have been required to report on 20 performance indicators related to information such as graduation rates and suspensions/expulsions. States are then determined to either "meet requirements", "need assistance", or "need substantial intervention" on each of the indicators. Nancy Reder, the deputy executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, said this reporting system doesn't allow state to demonstrate easily the work that they are doing to improve student outcomes. The federal government is proposing that states instead create a multi-year State Systemic Improvement Plan to address performance on tests, high school graduation rates, and post-school outcomes.
Read this blog from Education Week:
Read on at Education Week.
For more information on the proposed changes, follow this link:
View the explanation of proposed changes to Part B
Funding for Brain Mapping
President Obama is seeking answers to epilepsy, autism and Alzheimer's disease. The "BRAIN Initiative" will look into ways people think, learn and remember. Read more about the plans in this USA Today article. Click Here
Opportunities for Participation in Extracurricular Activities
On January 25, 2013, the U.S. Department's Office for Civil Rights issued guidance for schools on thier obligation to provide equal access to extracurricular activities to students with disabilities. Read the press release here:
Rethink how you preceive career prospects for youth with disabilities and recognize that we all benefit when young people with disabilities are able to develop thier skills and talents into successful careers.
At this website, youth with disabilities are featured in a brief video. They are realizing their goals as the result of support and encouragement. Learn what families can do to promote career exploration and development.
The Campaign for Disability Employment
Supplemental Securtiy Income for Children with Disabilites
SSI helps parents provide for the needs of thier children with disabilities.
Learn about the benefits to families in Social Securtiy Brief #40:
TASH, a leading research and advocacy organization for individuals with significant disabilities, discusses a recent study on inclusive education. TASH's view of inclusion is based on an understanding that separate connat be equal in education.
The Arc of Illinois has launched a new website that informs the public about the facts and latest news about the Governor's plan to rebalance the disabilty system and transition people into the community. Visitors will be able to follow people with disibilities on their journey from institutional life to community life at www.goinghomeillinois.org.
The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD) and PACER Center invites you to view and share this video to strengthen awareness of AT devices that help individuals with disabilities participate fully in school, at home, and in the community. To view the video Click Here.
There have been instances where school districts used Response to Intervention (RtI) strategies to delay or deny a timely evaluation for children suspected of having a disability.
Read this information from the National Center for Learning Disabilities to learn about the "child find" obligations of school districts.
Parent Rights in the Era of RtI
To better understand "Response to Intervention", read this article.
A Parent's Guide to Response - to - Intervention
Many states already have resovled to implement policies that promote integrated employment as the first option of service for individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities through the establishment of Employment First initiatives. The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Agency and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities have now signed a memorandum of agreement to work to expand and promote integrated employment opportunities.
New Release: www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/odep/ODEP20121425.htm
Learn more abot the concept of "Employment First": www.dol.gov/odep/topics/EmploymentFirst.htm
The US Department of Education has issued a new "resource document" on restraint and seclusion. The document says "restraint and seclusion should not be used...as a planned behavioral intervention in response to behavior that does not pose imminent danger of serious physical harm to self and others." Access the full document at www.ed.gov/policy/seclusion/restraint-and-seclusion-resource-document.html
Katie Beckett passed away last week. Because of advocacy efforts made on her behalf, children with medical care needs can receive services at home rather than hospitals and institutions. Read about Katie and the power of parent advocacy in this acticle.
ACCESSIBLE MOVIE EXPERIENCES
AMC Theaters will be making all of its theaters in Illinois accessible to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and blind. Personal captioning services and audio-description technology will be available for movie-goers by 2014.
TECHNOLOGY IN SCHOOLS
Quote from Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
"Despite the plethora of accessible technology, there are too many instances when classrooms are not equipped to meet the needs of all students, even though modifications might cost only hundreds of dollars. The level of access to information in America's classrooms continues to be uneven for students with disabilities..... Technology and curricula designed to make maximum use of technology are transforming the American classroom. We have both a moral and practical obligation to ensure these advances are accessible to everyone. And this accessible technology and curricula should not be an afterthought. They should be built into the design of the classroom from the beginning, and the curricula should be presented in multiple ways whenever possible, including words, graphics, sound and movement."