Georgia Special Education Law Blog
Many families seek home-based education services from the school district. Seeking services at home from the school district is likely to be a slog, and the benefit for that effort is questionable.
Clinicians who work with disabled children are often very willing to sit down with a family to discuss specific recommendations, not just for private therapies, but interventions that could be done during the school day. However, many of those recommendations are rejected or ignored at the IEP meeting. Often, the school district is not committing any legal wrong in doing so. This is a combination of two distinct legal factors.
As part of advocacy to reduce the frequency of shootings in schools, students and others in the Metro Atlanta area and nationwide are organizing a school walkout on March 14, 2018. In the face of such plans, a school district in Texas announced a three day suspension for any students who walk out. Walkout organizers say students have a right to freedom of speech.
Free speech rights in schools are complicated. An advocacy march by members of the public is generally protected by the First Amendment. Whether school-related speech is protected depends on the disruptiveness of the speech.
In addition to typical-student discipline rights, students with disabilities are protected from being disciplined for expressions of their disability. With typical student discipline, extra discipline steps are not required unless the district seeks 11 or more consecutive days of discipline. For students eligible for IEPs, extra protections arise once the school district has imposed a total of 10 days of out-of-school suspension, regardless of whether the days were consecutive.*
Once the right to protection from discipline is triggered, the IEP team must convene for a special type of meeting
It can be terrifying to receive written notice that the school wants to suspend your student for a semester or more. Making things even more stressful, school employees are pressuring you to schedule the tribunal hearing or sign a waiver as quickly as possible. In fairness, school employees act this way because the school district has only 10 days from the beginning of the suspension to hold the tribunal hearing unless the student's parents agree differently.1
The rights that protect students depend on the length of punishment that the school district wants to impose.
The steps of an IEP meeting can be very complicated and confusing. The school officials have a form that they are trying to complete and you may not know what things belong on what sections of the IEP form.
One thing school staff are required to ask about are concerns of the student's parents. These concerns can range from implementation of the IEP to communication between parents and school to goals or service levels or needs or basically anything. But just because you mention something does not mean the school district has agreed with you or agreed to implement your preferred solution.
Occasionally, I see a client whose progress towards particular goals is not sufficient to meet those goals before the year term of the IEP. Frustrated parents want to know if this failure is enough to go to litigation, and are always disappointed when I explain it probably is not. Here’s why:
When evaluating the legality of an IEP, courts look at a snapshot at the moment the IEP is created. The judge essentially asks “What decision did the IEP team make incorrectly?” An IEP need only be “reasonably calculated” to provide educational benefit, and maximizing potential is never required.
From time to time, I see an IEP with goals repeated from a previous IEP. This always makes me very suspicious. Presumably, goals are repeated because they were not achieved in the previous school year. I've explained that the school district is not required to achieve the maximum amount of progress, but that doesn't mean the school district can sit on its hands. Repeating goals is the practical equivalent of repeating a class because the student did not learn the material the first time. This is a significant event, and should be treated that way.
Simply by putting a goal in the IEP, the
Many school districts in Georgia took the position that student behavior must be beyond question, no matter how trying the circumstances. For example, when one student punches another student, most school discipline codes expect the injured student to retreat or find a teacher to address the problem, not strike back. Typically, discipline rules do not allow a student to defend themselves, no matter how much danger they face. Defending oneself violates rules against fighting in school. There is zero tolerance.
In S.G. v Henry County School District, the Supreme Court of Georgia rejected
Teachers, parents, and other providers often struggle to help students with reading difficulties - sometime because they don't have the intervention skill or knowledge to help those students.
To help close this deficit, I am pleased to announce the Dyslexia Education Scholarship 2017, allowing one person to attend the International Dyslexia Association's national conference at no cost to register.