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Georgia Special Education Law Blog

Progress Reports - November 5, 2012

on Mon, 11/05/2012 - 21:49

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.  Although the Supreme Court held in Rowley that an IEP need only be "reasonably calculated" to provide educational benefit, the progress report provides valuable information.  Lack of sufficient progress shows that the IEP plan from the beginning of the year that looked like it could provide educational benefit is not be doing enough.  In short, what once appeared to be "reasonably calculated" to help your child learn is not actually good enough to sufficiently educate your child - given what we know now but did not know before.

Thus, it is time for an IEP meeting to revise the plan.  There is nothing in the IDEA that limits meetings to once per year. If the district's plan is not doing enough, ask them for improvements based on the new information learned from actually implementing the plan.

CRPD - October 24, 2012

on Wed, 10/24/2012 - 19:36

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 by using the contact methods mentioned below.  

Thursday, October 25th, November 27th, and December 10th are specifically assigned to the COPAA network, so please share the following on these dates with your friends and colleagues.  Even if you receive similar requests from other state or national level organizations, please show support on COPAA led days as it is important to maintain a sustained level of contacts to Senate offices throughout this campaign.  

The opposition has stated that the disability community is uninformed and does not really support the disability rights treaty. We are being significantly outnumbered by the opposition on calls and contacts via social media. We need every U.S. Senate member to be contacted and to know that the disability community is leading the movement for U.S. ratification of this international disability treaty and our voice matters! Get your friends, family, and work colleagues to make calls, Tweet and Twitpic, email and Facebook today to show support!  

CONTACTS: You can find phone and email contact information for your senator here and Twitter IDs for your senators here (Tweet using #CRPD #UNCRPD)

Tell your Senators:

·         I support the CRPD treaty and I want to see he/she vote in support of the treaty this year! 

·         The CRPD will not cost the Federal Government any additional funds.

·         The CRPD has been reviewed by both Republican and Democratic Attorneys General and by past Counsel to Presidents. They confirm that it does not threaten the sovereignty of the U.S. nor does it require any new legislation to comply with the treaty. 

·        By ratifying CRPD the United States is not undertaking any international obligations inconsistent with current domestic U.S. law.

·         This treaty is good for American business and for the world. It will allow us to bring our knowledge of making a society accessible to the whole world. 

·         MOST IMPORTANTLY - This treaty is very important to the U.S. disability community! Following U.S. ratification of the treaty, U.S. leadership will help raise accessibility around the world, directly helping Americans with disabilities who live, work, or travel abroad.  

Sample Tweet : @(SenatorID) Support the #CRPD #UNCRPD in 2012This is a #disability issue and we say vote YES!

Sample Twitpic:

Upcoming Events - 9/27/12

on Thu, 09/27/2012 - 13:21

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.

The School District is Suggesting a 504 Plan - 9/20/12

on Thu, 09/20/2012 - 00:00

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. By contrast, a school district is not even obligated to create a 504 plan, so long as the student is able to participate as if the student was not disabled. When a 504 plan is created, the district has no obligation to periodically review the document. This means that the district could go a long time before stopping to ask the parents about their views on the accommodations at the school. And even if your child has an IEP, the requirements of Section 504 still apply.

In practice, some districts are willing to offer more in a 504 plan than in an IEP, which can be a good reason to accept one rather than push for an IEP. But if your child has a medical problem that interferes with learning, including learning social skills or life skills, then the district basically has no legal way to deny your child an IEP.

Let Georgia Hear - 9/18/12

on Tue, 09/18/2012 - 17:46

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?