Georgia Special Education Law Blog

03 Oct

All too frequently, an IEP meeting will end with the school officials telling the parent that they will send home the printed IEP “very soon.” Then time passes, and before the parents know it, a week or more has passed. Finally, the parents receive a printed copy of the IEP. Delay is always frustrating, but delays in receiving the IEP raised several red flags.  

First, your child’s teachers are supposed to implement the accommodations listed in the IEP. If you have not gotten a copy of the IEP, chances are that the teachers who were not at the meeting also will not get copies.

One of the legal requirements of goals in an IEP is that they be measurable. In other words, people who were not at the meeting should be able to determine how much progress a student has made towards the goals. That means the school district must collect data. Further, the meaning of that data should be clear. For example, a data sheet that says a student interacted appropriately with peers is not very informative, because “appropriate” could mean so many different things.

It is with great pleasure that the Law Office of Tim Schwarz announces the Social Thinking Scholarship 2013. This scholarship will provide free registration for the receipient to a seminar November 5, 6, & 7, 2013 that will help teachers, parents, or care providers teach social skills to children with social skill deficits. Application here.  

Understanding how other people think is one of the most underrated skills that children learn in school. Being able to identify, understand, and correctly respond to the feelings of others takes practice.

16 Jul

Restraint is schools is governed by Georgia Compiled Rules & Regulations rule 160-5-1-.35. Note that this rule applies to all students, not just those students with IEPs or 504 Plans.  

The Georgia rule on restraint divides interventions into several categories:  

(1) Chemical restraint – any medication to restrict movement that is not prescribed by the student’s doctor.  

(2) Mechanical restraint – essential the dictionary definition of restraint, covering a physical object that restricts movement and cannot be easily removed by the student.

There are many reasons to be wary of informal or unwritten accommodations of your child’s disability. The major concern is that informal changes made by individuals depend on those individuals remaining in their roles. But when a student changes grade or school, the teacher who informally gives extra time on math tests probably won’t follow that student.  

Without a written plan, you will not be able to show the school district that it already agreed to particular changes for your child.

07 Jun

It might seem obvious that assessments used in an evaluation should not be skewed by irrelevant factors or administered incorrectly.1 Using assessments incorrectly creates a misleading impression of a student’s current level of performance and needs, which can lead to an ineffective special education plan. Yet some school districts do use assessments in obviously incorrect ways. Fortunately, statutes and regulations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) prohibit many improper assessment procedures.  

An assessment can be misleading if the student does not understand

Often, school districts are confused by the difference between an evaluation, which is a legal term, and an assessment, which is a medical term. An evaluation is a task that a school district is obligated to perform under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). A student receives only one evaluation at a time under the IDEA, and that evaluation must cover “all areas of suspected disability.”1 I have previously discussed how often a student is entitled to an evaluation, but the brief answer is that a school district probably cannot be required to evaluate more frequently than

I recently ran across this excellent article from Autism Speaks about helping children with autistism deal with potential dating and relationship pitfalls. It is both a blessing and a curse that the issues our children face become more complex as our children get older. And the IDEA recognizes that the school district will not always be involved in a child’s life.  

That’s why one component of an IEP is a transition plan to address what will happen when the child is no longer in school.

29 Mar

One important advocacy skill is getting promises from the school district in writing.