Thursday, August 18, 2016

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and School Law

Lori Kirsch-Goodwin and Hope Kirsch will be presenting a national webinar September 15, 2016, AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS (ASD) AND SCHOOL LAW
For more info or to register, go to:
http://www.nbi-sems.com/Details.aspx/R-73757ER%7C?ctname=SPKEM

Monday, August 15, 2016

Do on-line schools have to provide a FAPE? YES!!!!!!!

The United States Department of Education recently provided guidance (advice) to states and school districts, including charter schools, regarding their responsibilities to students with disabilities attending on-line (virtual) schools: those responsibilities are not diminished and remain the same! "The educational rights and protections afforded to children with disabilities and their parents
under IDEA must not be diminished or compromised when children with disabilities attend virtual schools that are constituted as LEAs or are public schools of an LEA."
See the OSEP letter here:

Friday, August 5, 2016

Does your child have behavior problems in school? There's help.

On August 1, 2016, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the United States Department of Education published a Letter to public schools and charter schools clarifying that under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools must provide appropriate behavioral interventions and supports to students whose behaviors interfere with learning so that they can have a meaningful access to their education, that is, a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and placement in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Behavioral interventions and supports must be provided in order to help avoid disciplinary removals (suspension and expulsions). 
You can read the entire Letter (called a "Dear Colleague Letter"), at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/files/dcl-on-pbis-in-ieps--08-01-2016.pdf

For more information about discipline of students with special needs in Arizona, visit KGK.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

KGK celebrates 10 years helping students!!!

The Arizona special education law firm of Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC, celebrates ten (10) years this summer helping students with special education needs and their families navigate special education in school and obtain the services and supports to which they are entitled.  The firm's attorneys, Lori Kirsch-Goodwin & Hope Kirsch, are seasoned litigators and have been helping families long before they opened up Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch ("KGK").  Hope has been involved in special education for 40 years, beginning as a special education teacher and school administrator.  She has attended hundreds of IEPs, as a teacher, as a special education superviser, as an attorney.  Lori is the mother of a young adult on the spectrum, and through Lori's advocacy on behalf of her son, he is living independently and attending college.  Lori has walked in your shoes.  Hope knows how schools operate.  Together, they have forged a special education practice throughout Arizona, and every day they are thankful for the opportunity to work together and to help children of all ages and their parents.  They do what they love and love what they do.
azcentral.comSee the news article about the beginning of KGK here:
http://archive.azcentral.com/abgnews/articles/0824abg-sr-smallibz0824.html  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is your child entitled to who has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

The United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") issued guidance to public schools, including charter schools, clarifying their obligations to provide students who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD") with equal education opportunities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  This new guidance explains Section 504 and schools' obligations to provide education services to students with disabilities, including students with ADHD.  See Dear Colleague Letter and Resource Guide on Students with ADHD.
To be clear:  
  • Schools must evaluate a student when a student needs or is suspected to need special education or related services.
  • Services that schools provide must be based on a student's unique / specific / individualized needs and not on generalizations about disabilities.  As discussed, a school must not deny services to a student who is doing well academically and ignore that the child is substantially limited in major life activities, such as reading, learning, writing and thinking since that child is likely a person with a disability.
  • Students who have behavior issues, or do not focus or are distractible, could have ADHD and should be evaluated to determine their educational needs.
  •  to the guidance, the Department also released a Know Your Rights document that provides a brief overview of schools’ obligations to students with ADHD.

The US Department of Education also release a KNOW YOUR RIGHTS document that provides a brief overview of schools' obligations to students with ADHD.  

For more information, or to help access services for your child, visit the website of Arizona special education attorneys Lori Kirsch-Goodwin and Hope Kirsch, Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Don't let RTI delay special education evaluation

School districts and charter schools that fail to evaluate or delay evaluating a student because the student is receiving RTI interventions may be violating their Child Find duties.  Recently one court granted parents reimbursement for private placement when the judge determined that the school failed to evaluate a student for Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) because it was providing RTI.  In that case, the school district refused to evaluate a 2md grade student who was reading significantly below grade level.  The school argued that the student could make some progress with classroom interventions. An independent evaluation showed that the child may have had a specific learning disability in reading and so the judge fules that the district should have evaluated the  student for special education.  Although RTI interventions may help students who need additional academic support, schools may not use the RTI process to delay providing comprehensive evaluations for students with suspected disabilities. The court found that the school district had enough information to suspect that the child needed special education, and so becasue the shcool did not evalute the student, the court held that the district denied the child FAPE, and awarded parents reimbursement .

Remember, school districts and charter schools have an on-going affirmative duty under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to locate, identify, and evaluate all students who MAY need special education due to a disability.  Schools can find themselves in hot water if they tell parents that they have no reason to believe that the student ha an IDEA-eligible disability.  Schools that can show progress using RTI may be better able to show that RTI is working, but if the student is not making progress, then the school may be denying the student a FAPE if it does not evaluate the student for special education.

For more information:  KGK Law 


Sunday, July 10, 2016

About Arizona special education attorney Lori Kirsch-Goodwin

Lori Kirsch-Goodwin, Esq.

Lori was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 14, 1962. She attended Syracuse University, graduating with a B.A. in 1984, and then went to law school at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut (now known as Quinnipiac University). There she was a member of Phi Alpha Delta. Lori obtained her Juris Doctorate in 1987. She was admitted to the New Jersey bar that same year and then the New York bar in 1988. She began honing her skills as a plaintiff personal injury litigator at Guerevitch & Goldberg in Pearl River, New York.

Her next position was in Manhattan at the law firm of Royce & Miller where she continued as a plaintiff personal injury litigator. After practicing for several years on the plaintiff side, she accepted a position at a defense firm, across the river from the Big Apple in Clifton, New Jersey. There she spent five years an associate for Klein Chapman Firm as an insurance defense litigator. When presented with an opportunity with a prominent law firm in Newark, New Jersey, Mandel Berezin & Booker, she accepted same and moved back to representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases.

In 1995, after being married to Jeff Goodwin for five years, the couple decided to move to nicer weather and start a family. After much deliberation they chose and moved to Arizona.

Lori was admitted to the Arizona bar in 1995 and has been practicing here ever since. Her first position in Arizona was at Meehan and Associates in Tucson, AZ. There she learned the laws that were specific to the state.

In July of that same year Lori and her husband were blessed with beautiful twin boys. The children were born prematurely and out of that experience Lori co-authored the book, “You Are Not Alone.”

In 1998 Lori was offered an associate position at a well-respected insurance defense firm; Broening, Oberg, Woods & Wilson in Phoenix. She represented various insurance companies and their insureds. After five years, she made partner at the firm.

As her boys grew she learned that one of them had special needs. When they began their public education and special services were needed; this caused Lori to learn about and fight to get the special education her son needed. In 2006, Lori decided to use her new knowledge about special education law to help others. As she expanded her work into that field she discussed her interests with her sister, Hope Kirsch. The two decided to open up their own firm where they could dedicate more time to this area.  Lori practices special education law, higher education law, student discipline, and DDD Appeals.

In her more than 26 years of practice she gained vast experience in civil litigation. She has tried over 30 cases to verdict. Martindale-Hubbell has rated Lori AV®. She continues to represent insurance companies and their clients, and also advocating and litigating for special needs students.