Georgia Special Education Law Blog

When a school district will not provide services to a student with special needs, the district saves money in its budget. But this is a false saving. The more prepared for independent living a person is at graduation, the fewer support services must be provided in adulthood. Living independently serves two purposes – it allows a people to choose their own goals and it saves society unnecessary expense in providing the social safety net. That’s why I’m a special education attorney for parents.

It’s time for an open thread. What are you thinking about?

The basic rule: Be polite.

As the parent, you are a member of the IEP Team.* You have incredible knowledge about the practical issues created by your child’s special needs. Remember that you have more experience about your child’s difficulties than any school employee. Feel free to talk about how problems you have at home might be similar to problems at school. Try to suggest ways that the school could implement solutions like those you use at home. If there is a difference between the types of problems at home and at school, it is worth the effort to figure out the reasons for the differences.

15 Jun

When you attend an IEP meeting, there are often a lot of school employees at the meeting. Who are these folks and why are they there? The legal answer is fairly simple(1) – certain school employees be attend the IEP meeting, including at least one regular education teacher, at least one special education teacher, and someone who can interpret the evaluations used in making the IEP. Additionally, a district employee who knows the potential special education placements within the district and knows the general education curriculum must be there.

The school district is required to consider and explain rejection of your requests for particular services. When you are at the IEP meeting, the school district will not always agree to provide services that you request. That can be very frustrating, but it is very important that you focus on your purpose at the IEP meeting – designing the best IEP for your child - instead of letting school officials distract you from that purpose.

Even so, you have a legal right to a written explanation of the school district’s refusal to include a request in the IEP.

The IEP meeting is a design session with a specific purpose: creating a plan for your child’s education for the next year. Your child deserves the best effort from all the IEP team members in designing the plan. The school district has expertise in education techniques and you have expertise in your child’s behaviors and ways of thinking.  By combining those types of expertise, a plan can be created that will effectively help your child learn despite your child’s special needs.

  Although the school district is legally required to individualize the plan for each eligible student, the

Your child’s IEP is very important because it is the plan the school will follow in educating your child for the next school year. Go to the IEP meeting with a purpose – to see that good goals are included in the IEP and services are provided that help make it likely that the goals will be achieved. But the school district is not required to do everything any parent asks be done.

Autism Speaks and the Marcus Autism Center sponsored a really interesting event this past Saturday that I had the pleasure to attend.  Autism researchers from the CDC, and the Marcus Center presented their very imformative results.

Dr. Warren Jones from the Marcus Center discussed his research using eye-tracking of young children to differentiate autistic from non-autistic children.  He showed the babies a video and used sophisticated technology to determine where in the video the baby was looking at.

As I have mentioned, the Georgia Asperger's Organization has invited me to present "Special Needs, the Education System, and the Law," an overview of the IEP process and special education law with tips for getting the best IEP for your child.  The presentation will be at 7 pm at the Barrow Regional Medical Center on 316 N. Broad St., Winder, GA 30680.  Go to the third floor and look for the signs.  All are welcome.

I had the pleasure of meeting Lois Curtis last night.  Lois was one of two plaintiffs in Olmstead v. L.C., the 1999 Supreme Court decision holding that people with disabilities were entitled to community placements rather than instutitional placements if they medically qualified.  Georgia argued that the Americans with Disabilities Act was not violated if community placements were denied due to lack of funding, rather than animus to the disabled.

Last night, I attended a wonderful presentation by John Elder Robison at the CDC.  He discussed his life experiences as a person with Asperger's syndrome.  He talked briefly about education, focusing on social skills.  Mr. Robison suggested that the most important social skill to develop was choosability.  In other words, developing sufficient social skills to not push people away - moving from offputting to excentric.