Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Special Education Law: The Ultimate Guide

Upcoming presentation Special Education Law: The Ultimate Guide
by parent attorneys Lori-Kirsch Goodwin and Hope Kirsch of Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch
and school attorneys Cathleen Dooley and Erin Walz of Udall Shumway.

Special education legal issues can be confusing for school personnel and attorneys alike. This hands-on legal guide will walk you through legal best practices concerning IEPs, 504 plans, manifest determination reviews and more. It will provide you with the information you need to provide maximum legal protections to special needs students and minimize school exposure to lawsuits.  This training is for educators, attorneys, advocates and parents. 
  1. Essential Special Education Legal Updates You Need to Know
  2. Avoiding Disability Discrimination Complaints: Lessons From Recent Court Cases and Enforcement Actions
  3. Bullying and Harassment: Ensuring Special Needs Students Receive Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE)
  4. Developing Legally Compliant IEPs That Benefit Students: With Examples
  5. Manifestation Determination Reviews (MDRs): Did the Disability Cause the Behavior?
  6. 504 Plan Eligibility and Accommodation Best Practices
  7. English Language Learners (ELLs) and Special Education: Ensuring Legal Best Practices
Seminar

Date:

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Time:

9:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Location:

Wyndham Garden Phoenix Midtown3600 North 2nd AvenuePhoenix, AZ 85013 

Arizona IEP Worshop for Parents - Top 10 IEP Tips

Top10 IEP Tips for Parents, an IEP workshop presented by special education attorneys Hope Kirsch, a former special education teacher, and Lori Kirsch-Goodwin, the mother of a young adult on the spectrum  Hope taught special education and was a school administrator for nearly 20 years during which time she attended hundreds of IEP meetings and trained teachers to write IEPs.  Lori is the mother of a young adult on the autism spectrum. She knows first hand how to navigate the IEP process.  Hope and Lori train advocates, educators, related service providers and other lawyers in the IEP process.  This workshop is geared specifically for parents, grandparents and legal guardians. This is an opportunity to learn some valuable tips for your child's next IEP meeting.
http://youtu.be/eO2hDsRRlDY
www.azspecialeducationattorneys.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

HOT TOPICS IN SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW

NORTHWEST VALLEY HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM/ASPERGER'S
PARENT SUPPORT GROUP
presents

"HOT TOPICS IN SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW"
Featuring HOPE KIRSCH and LORI KIRSCH-GOODWIN

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
6:30 - 8:00 PM at
Christ's Church of the Valley (CCV)
7007 W. Happy Valley Road, Building 300, Peoria
(Note: No childcare is provided for this event.)

Lori Kirsch-Goodwin and Hope Kirsch are special education attorneys with Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch in Scottsdale.  They will provide an update on the latest in state and federal special education law, and answer your questions.
For over 15 years, Lori and Hope have represented students and their families throughout Arizona in all school related matters, from reviewing IEPs to attending IEP meetings, early dispute resolution of matters, due process hearings, appeals, 504s, bullying, restraint and seclusion and personal injury.  They are both admitted to practice law in the state and federal courts of NY, NJ and Arizona, and the 9th Circuit.   
Lori has been a litigation/trial attorney for nearly 30 years and has had over 30 jury trials.  She entered the special education arena 15 years ago when one of her twin boys was evaluated for special education and related services, and has been advocating for and representing other families since.  Lori brings her litigation skills to the table as well as her sensitivity for the families she represents.  Lori recently obtained a huge victory in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals involving the appropriateness of a charter school’s selection of a private school for a student with ASD.     
Hope was a special education teacher for 18 years before embarking on a career in law.  Hope has written hundreds of IEPs, represented the NYC Department of Education at due process hearings, and supervised and trained other teachers in curriculum, methodology, writing IEPs and behavior management techniques.  She has a bachelors and masters in special education, and 30+ credits in educational supervision and administration.  She was instrumental in the passage of the restraint and seclusion legislation, helping with the drafting and testifying before both the Senate and the House. 


All special needs families are welcome!
Questions? Email: nwvalleyhfa@gmail.com

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bullying laws - Know your rights and what public schools (including charter schools) must do

The governing board of every public school district and charter school must have policies and procedures to prohibit pupils from harassing, intimidating and bullying other pupils on school grounds, on school property, on school buses, at school bus stops, at school-sponsored events and activities and through the use of electronic technology or electronic communication on school computers, networks, forums and mailing lists that include the following components:
(a) A procedure for pupils, parents and school district employees to confidentially report to school officials incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying. The school shall make available written forms designed to provide a full and detailed description of the incident and any other relevant information about the incident.

(b) A requirement that school district employees report in writing suspected incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying to the appropriate school official and a description of appropriate disciplinary procedures for employees who fail to report suspected incidents that are known to the employee.

(c) A requirement that, at the beginning of each school year, school officials provide all pupils with a written copy of the rights, protections and support services available to a pupil who is an alleged victim of an incident reported pursuant to this paragraph.

(d) If an incident is reported pursuant to this paragraph, a requirement that school officials provide a pupil who is an alleged victim of the incident with a written copy of the rights, protections and support services available to that pupil.

(e) A formal process for the documentation of reported incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying and for the confidentiality, maintenance and disposition of this documentation. School districts shall maintain documentation of all incidents reported pursuant to this paragraph for at least six years. The school shall not use that documentation to impose disciplinary action unless the appropriate school official has investigated and determined that the reported incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying occurred. If a school provides documentation of reported incidents to persons other than school officials or law enforcement, all individually identifiable information shall be redacted.

(f) A formal process for the investigation by the appropriate school officials of suspected incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying, including procedures for notifying the alleged victim on completion and disposition of the investigation.

(g) Disciplinary procedures for pupils who have admitted or been found to have committed incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying.
(h) A procedure that sets forth consequences for submitting false reports of incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying.
(i) Procedures designed to protect the health and safety of pupils who are physically harmed as the result of incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying, including, if appropriate, procedures to contact emergency medical services or law enforcement agencies, or both.
(j) Definitions of harassment, intimidation and bullying.
Source:  ARS 15-341
www.azspecialeducationlawyers.com 




Parent support group: HOT TOPICS IN SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW

NORTHWEST VALLEY HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM/ASPERGER'S
PARENT SUPPORT GROUP
presents

"HOT TOPICS IN SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW"
Featuring HOPE KIRSCH and LORI KIRSCH-GOODWIN
 Wednesday, February 3, 2016
6:30 - 8:00 PM at
Christ's Church of the Valley (CCV)
7007 W. Happy Valley Road, Building 300, Peoria
Lori Kirsch-Goodwin and Hope Kirsch are special education attorneys with Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch in Scottsdale.  They will provide an update on the latest in state and federal special education law, and answer your questions.

For over 15 years, Lori and Hope have represented students and their families throughout Arizona in all school related matters, from reviewing IEPs to attending IEP meetings, early dispute resolution of matters, due process hearings, appeals, 504s, bullying, restraint and seclusion and personal injury.  They are both admitted to practice law in the state and federal courts of NY, NJ and Arizona, and the 9th Circuit. 

Lori has been a litigation/trial attorney for nearly 30 years and has had over 30 jury trials.  She entered the special education arena 15 years ago when one of her twin boys was evaluated for special education and related services, and has been advocating for and representing other families since.  Lori brings her litigation skills to the table as well as her sensitivity for the families she represents.  Lori recently obtained a huge victory in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals involving the appropriateness of a charter school’s selection of a private school for a student with ASD.     

Hope was a special education teacher for 18 years before embarking on a career in law.  Hope has written hundreds of IEPs, represented the NYC Department of Education at due process hearings, and supervised and trained other teachers in curriculum, methodology, writing IEPs and behavior management techniques.  She has a bachelors and masters in special education, and 30+ credits in educational supervision and administration.  She was instrumental in the passage of the restraint and seclusion legislation, helping with the drafting and testifying before both the Senate and the House. 

All families with special needs are welcome to attend!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Restraint & Seclusion law in Arizona

Do you know the law on restraint and seclusion, and what a school can and cannot do?  
Here is the law that was enacted this year.  
Print it out so that you have it for future reference.    

A.R.S. § 15-105:  
Use of restraint and seclusion techniques; requirements; definitions
A. A school may permit the use of restraint or seclusion techniques on any pupil if both of the following apply:
 1. The pupil’s behavior presents an imminent danger of bodily harm to the pupil or others.
 2. Less restrictive interventions appear insufficient to mitigate the imminent danger of bodily harm.
 B. If a restraint or seclusion technique is used on a pupil:
 1. School personnel shall maintain continuous visual observation and monitoring of the pupil while the restraint or seclusion technique is in use.
 2. The restraint or seclusion technique shall end when the pupil’s behavior no longer presents an imminent danger to the pupil or others.
  3. The restraint or seclusion technique shall be used only by school personnel who are trained in the safe and effective use of restraint and seclusion techniques unless an emergency situation does not allow sufficient time to summon trained personnel.
 4. The restraint technique employed may not impede the pupil’s ability to breathe.
  5. The restraint technique may not be out of proportion to the pupil’s age or physical condition.
 C. Schools may establish policies and procedures for the use of restraint or seclusion techniques in a school safety or crisis intervention plan if the plan is not specific to any individual pupil.
 D. Schools shall establish reporting and documentation procedures to be followed when a restraint or seclusion technique has been used on a pupil. The procedures shall include the following requirements:
  1. School personnel shall provide the pupil’s parent or guardian with written or oral notice on the same day that the incident occurred, unless circumstances prevent same-day notification. If the notice is not provided on the same day of the incident, notice shall be given within twenty-four hours after the incident.
  2. Within a reasonable time following the incident, school personnel shall provide the pupil’s parent or guardian with written documentation that includes information about any persons, locations or activities that may have triggered the behavior, if known, and specific information about the behavior and its precursors, the type of restraint or seclusion technique used and the duration of its use.
  3. Schools shall review strategies used to address a pupil’s dangerous behavior if there has been repeated use of restraint or seclusion techniques for the pupil during a school year. The review shall include a review of the incidents in which restraint or seclusion technique were used and an analysis of how future incidents may be avoided, including whether the pupil requires a functional behavioral assessment.
 E. If a school district or charter school summons law enforcement instead of using a restraint or seclusion technique on a pupil, the school shall comply with the reporting, documentation and review procedures established under subsection D of this section. Notwithstanding this section, school resource officers are authorized to respond to situations that present the imminent danger of bodily harm according to protocols established by their law enforcement agency.
  F. This section does not prohibit schools from adopting policies pursuant to § 15-843, subsection B, paragraph 3.
  G. For the purposes of this section:
  1. “Restraint” means any method or device that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a pupil to move the pupil’s torso, arms, legs or head freely, including physical force or mechanical devices. Restraint does not include any of the following:
  (a) Methods or devices implemented by trained school personnel or used by a pupil for the specific and approved therapeutic or safety purposes for which the method or device is designed and, if applicable, prescribed.
  (b) The temporary touching or holding of the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder or back for the purpose of inducing a pupil to comply with a reasonable request or to go to a safe location.
  (c) The brief holding of a pupil by one adult for the purpose of calming or comforting the pupil.
  (d) Physical force used to take a weapon away from a pupil or to separate and remove a pupil from another person when the pupil is engaged in a physical assault on another person.
  2. “School” means a school district, a charter school, a public or private special education school that provides services to pupils placed by a public school, the Arizona state schools for the deaf and the blind and a private school.
  3. “Seclusion” means the involuntary confinement of a pupil alone in a room from which egress is prevented. Seclusion does not include the use of a voluntary behavior management technique, including a timeout location, as part of a pupil’s education plan, individual safety plan, behavioral plan or individualized education program that involves the pupil’s separation from a larger group for purposes of calming.
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Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC
www.azspecialeducationlawyers.com 

Friday, August 14, 2015

What Parents Need to Know When First Learning that their Child Has Special Needs.

Hope Kirsch, a special education attorney with the law firm of Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC, represents students with disabilities and their families throughout Arizona in school-related matters, including individualized education programs (IEP), due process, 504 plans, disciplinary matters and bullying. She was a special education teacher and school administrator for nearly 20 years and has a B.S. in special education from Boston University, an M.A./M.Ed. in special education from New York University and a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. Jewish News asked Kirsch about what parents need to know when first learning that their child has special needs.
What are the first steps a parent should take when they find out that their child is having difficulty in school?
Parents should submit a request via e-mail to the school district or charter school that the child attends. I advise parents to email the child’s teacher, the special education director for the school district or charter school and the school principal  or headmaster, stating they are requesting a complete assessment to determine the full nature and extent of their child’s disabilities and the impact of the disabilities on their child’s education. They should state their concerns and note that the email should be deemed as giving their “consent” to evaluate. (Giving consent triggers deadlines.) Parents who home-school their children, or who place their children in a for-profit private school – or whose children are in preschool or are ages 3-5 – should submit the evaluation request to the school district in which they reside (email the special education director and at least one other person, such as the superintendent). The schools have their own obligation, called “Child Find,” to evaluate, with parental consent, any child they suspect of having a disability that may require special education.   
What are the parents’ rights when it comes to the evaluation?
The school (home-school district or charter school) has 60 calendar days to complete the evaluation from the date parents give consent, which is why I suggest parents state in the email requesting the evaluation that they are giving consent. Parents can submit their request any time during the year, not just during the school year. 
The school is required under the law to assess/evaluate students “in all areas related to the suspected disability” including, if appropriate, social-emotional skills, behaviors, etc. If, after the evaluations, the parents do not agree with the findings, they have the right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) with an evaluator of their own choosing at the expense of the public education agency (PEA). If the school refuses, the school must file a due process complaint.       

What is the difference between a 504 and an IEP and how do they affect the student?
A 504 Plan provides accommodations, services and/or aids to students with a disability (as that term is defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act) to afford the student equal opportunities to participate in school activities and receive the same instruction as nondisabled peers, but they do not require special education. Accommodations may include extra time for the same assignments as their peers, a separate quiet room to take the same test as their peers, large type for reading the same instructional material, or ramps to physically access the same classroom. An IEP is for a child who requires special education – instruction that is specialized, or modified, for that child. A ninth-grader reading at third grade can be given "Romeo and Juliet" modified from Shakespearean language to their reading level. Also, an IEP has goals written into it; a 504 does not. A student does not have an IEP after graduating high school, whereas a 504 plan continues into post-secondary school, and a student who had an IEP in high school can have a 504 in college.
To what degree can a parent expect schools to provide services and supports for the special needs of their child?
In order to answer these questions, it is important to understand that the federal law governing IEPs, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), does not require that schools maximize a child’s potential; the maxim is that students are only entitled to a Chevy, not a Cadillac. That said, the IEP must confer an “educational benefit” standard for a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) within the meaning of the IDEA by providing personalized instruction with sufficient support services to permit the child to benefit educationally from that instruction.  
If parents believe their child is not receiving a sufficient amount or the right kind of services and supports (such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, behavior intervention, one-on-one), or they believe goals are too high, too low or there is insufficient progress, or if they have any other concerns, they should notify the school and request an emergency IEP meeting. The school has 15 school days after the date of the request to conduct the meeting. Parents should prepare a list of their concerns and explain why it is they believe the IEP is not appropriate, what they think their child needs, and go through each item with the IEP team. After exhausting their efforts, parents’ options include mediation, state administrative complaints and, in limited circumstances, due process.       
Visit azspecialeducationlawyers.com, call 480-585-0600 or email info@kgklaw.com