Georgia Special Education Law Blog

28 Jul

If a student is bullied in school, parents can feel powerless to help. Georgia law has a broad definition of bullying, but nothing in Georgia law requires school districts take particular steps at the request of a parent or guardian. This can be very frustrating if school officials are not doing enough to protect a student.  

Federal law does require school districts to act in certain circumstances when the bullying is interferes with a student's ability to learn.

07 Jul

In education policy news, Georgia has just completed a draft plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA, the successor statute to No Child Left Behind, is the federal law controlling funding and requirements for public education. ESSA requires States solicit public comments on the draft plan. Information on Georgia's plan is available here, and the deadline for submitting comments is July 14, 2017.  

Major changes in the ESSA include more flexibility for states dealing with low-performing schools and increased data collection, especially progress monitoring of

21 Apr

Since I last wrote about the legal measure of an IEP, there have been significant legal developments. In March 2017, the Supreme Court decided Endrew F v. Douglas County Sch. Dist. In a unanimous decision, the Court ruled that school districts must do substantially more than the minimum. School districts are still not required to maximize a student's potential, with all the difficulties that result from that stance. But an IEP "must be appropriate in light of the child's circumstances."  

For a student who can be mainstreamed, the student should be "progressing smoothly through the regular

02 Nov
As many of you may know, there is currently a lawsuit pending, filed by the US Department of Justice against the State of Georgia, alleging that the GNET program is discriminatory.  Although not precisely legally relevant, the Georgia Department of Education is in the preliminary stages of drafting a new state rule governing the GNET program and services. (For those interested, the proposed draft rule can be found here.)     Whatever their motivation, the Georgia DOE has asked for public input on the proposed draft rule. Below are the comments I just submitted:   Good afternoon.
10 Mar
At a recent IEP meeting I attended, a door near the meeting room had a poster stating that the school’s mission was “to educate its students to their fullest potential so they will become responsible, productive citizens in a global society.”1 A worthy mission, but quite different from the standard being applied in the meeting, where the school district was not required to maximize potential, only provide meaningful benefit. As the Eleventh Circuit explained, meaningful means nothing more than “’some’ or ‘adequate’ educational benefit.”     This is one of the basic frustrations of many
The Georgia Senate recently held hearings on House Bill 614, which passed the Georgia House of Representatives last week. The bill authorizes the Georgia Department of Education to require video cameras in self-contained special education classrooms. Ideally, this proposal would remove the “teacher-said / student-said” dynamic from disputes over classroom incidents be making a recording available for review by all sides.   However, I have grave concerns that the videos will not be a resource for a parents, but will only help school districts defend themselves.

When a student’s behavior interferes with the student or peers ability to learn, the school district is required to include strategies that address the behavior.1 All too often, school districts respond by suspending or otherwise disciplining students, when the law requires the district figure out positive behavior supports to replace the inappropriate behavior with more appropriate behavior.  

By acting proactively, the folks at the school can positively change a student’s behavior so that the focus can go back to learning.

For children with special needs, adding a computer tablet can be extremely beneficial to the student’s educational progress. The technology can do new things that were previously impossible, present established concepts in new and exciting ways, and can hold the interest of a student who might otherwise have difficulty focusing. Unfortunately, fragile technology does not always combine well with active children. When the technology breaks, replacement can be expensive – so school districts might seek assistance from the family to reduce the expense.  

The overarching principle is that

The requirements to be eligible an IEP are actually very simple. A student who:

(a) has one of the listed medical problems 

(b) that causes them to need  

(c) specialized education  

is eligible for an IEP and all the procedural and substantive rights that go with that eligibility.1 The list of eligibility categories includes all the other categories one might expect, including blindness, deafness, severe brain injury, and autism. Further, “other health impairment” is specifically listed as a potential category.  

Today’s focus is on one specific condition that school districts are sometimes

I sponsored the Social Thinking Conference 2013 to help build expertise in intervening to improve the lives and educational outcomes of children with special needs. It gives me great to announce that the winner of the scholarship was:  

Jennifer Kovanis of Atlanta, GA  

At the conference November 5, 6 & 7, Michelle Garcia Winner and her associates will provide training on the best evidence-based interventions for helping children develop social skills. Along with all the other attendees of the conference, Ms.