Georgia Special Education Law Blog

Various ABC shows have been covering the use of seclusion rooms in Connecticut.  These rooms are used to isolate and discipline children with special needs. Depending on their available time, Nightline may include coverage this evening. ABC News has some video here. Seclusion rooms are a complicated issue under the law. Georgia has some relatively recent rules on seclusion and restraint, but there is no blanket prohibition. Still, I think that there are many strong legal arguments against use of seclusion and restraint in all but the most extreme cases.  

First, there's fairly little

05 Nov

At about this time of year, schools send home report cards and other progress reports to parents.  Unfortunately, those reports might not show as much progress as you would hope for your child.  How can we fix this problem?  

First, it is important to note that lack of progress - standing alone - does not prove that the school district has failed its legal obligations. Schools cannot guarantee progress for typically developed children. Adding the difficulties created by a child's special needs only makes the problem harder.

Still, school districts cannot ignore lack of progress.

24 Oct

Hi folks. Just passing along a message from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:


COPAA is working together with a large coalition of disability organizations to show the U.S. Senate that our community supports U.S. ratification of the disability rights treaty during the upcoming lame duck session of Congress. 

Every day over the next six weeks, different national disability organizations will be contacting their state members and affiliates to show their support for the CRPD.   We need to generate strong support

27 Sep

The Gwinnett County Masters Special Olympics is hosting a concert by Ernie Haase on October 20, 2012 at the First Baptist Church in Lilburn, GA. Tickets start at $20 ($10 for Special Olympics Athletes). Also, Ernie will be hosting a basketball clinic before the event that includes a pizza party and tickets to the concert. Check it out.

A parent recently told me that the school district preferred a 504 plan over an IEP for her child with special needs. The parent asked me whether an IEP is better than a 504 plan. I said that, all else being equal, an IEP is better.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which mandates creation of IEPs, is filled with procedural rights for parents. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which includes section 504, has far fewer procedural rights. For example, the school district must hold an IEP meeting every year and write a new IEP document - in practice, drawing on the previous IEP.

18 Sep

Last week, I met the leaders of Let Georgia Hear and learned that many medical insurance providers classify hearing aids as cosmetic rather than medically necessary. As such, the insurance companies do not cover hearing aids. Let Georgia Hear wants hearing aids treated like any other device that treats a medical problem. Therefore, Georgia law needs to be changed to require hearing aids be treated as medical devices, not cosmetic devices.

Let Georgia Hear has a petition for us to tell our elected officials that the law should be changed. I've signed - have you?

11 Sep

My colleague TJ Thurston wrote an interesting article titled Special Education is not about Revenge

My take: The post is essentially right. Not matter what it looks like on the surface, all IEP disputes are about the plan to educate your child. Trying to fight about other issues is very difficult to accomodate in the IEP process. When there are problems, changing the plan might include the school district providing, paying for, or reimbursing you for additional services. Or it might involve a new teacher or placement.

Yeaterday NPR's Tell Me More had an interview with several parents of children with special needs. Most of the conversation was about finding the right placement for the child, one of the core issues in creating a good IEP. Here is a transcript of the conversation.

I agree with basically everything the parents said. It is really hard to be sure that the district's chosen placement is right for your child. I suggest visiting the placement to see what it is like. If your child is high-functioning, but the other children are severely developmentally delayed, the placement probably is not right.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a heartwarming story today about iPads as assistive technology for children with severe developmental delays. The child's father, who works for AT&T doing product development, brought technology ideas home to help his daughter communicate more effectively. The story reports that the child is doing much better in school since the introduction of the assistive technology. Particularly interesting is the mentioned of using social media to keep parents, teachers, therapists, and other care providers on the same page about the little girl's progress.


In theory, every child with special needs must be evaluated by an expert so that the school district will know the precise extent of the child’s needs and receive some guidance from the expert in effective strategies to educate the child. Like any medical intervention on your child, you generally must authorize the evaluation or it does not happen. In practice, the evaluation process can be very aggravating for parents. Here is some basic background on the legal issues in trying to get out of the evaluation process under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act:

The school district is