Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bully Guidance

As part of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance to schools reminding them that bullying is wrong and must not be tolerated – including against America’s 6.5 million students with disabilities. The guidance is in the form of a "Dear Colleague" letter to educators. The letter details the responsibilities of public schools - including charter schools - under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the bullying of students with disabilities. If a student with a disability is being bullied, federal law requires that schools take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the issue and, as necessary, take steps to stop the bullying and prevent it from recurring. What does this mean for parents? If you know, or think or even suspect that your child is being bullied, then notify the school, providing the basis for your knowledge or suspicion. Make sure your notice is in writing, so even if you verbally tell the school in-person or by phone, follow up with an email, and make sure you are giving notice to more than just one person, and make sure that one of these people is an administrator for the school or district, such as the Special Education (SPED) Director, the school Principal, the District Superintendent, or if a charter school, the Headmaster, the Dean of Students, and/or the Head of School. And copy (cc) yourself on the email(s). Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fees Recoverable in Due Process

Parents who prevail in Due Process hearings may recover their reasonable attorneys' fees.
The “Attorney Fee Recovery” provision of the IDEA allows parents to recover their reasonable attorney fees from the school district or charter school if the parents prevail at due process. The purpose of this provision is to provide parents with access to skilled legal representation.  The provision only applies to attorneys. (If parents use an advocate (non-attorney), the advocate’s fees are not recoverable under the law, even if parents win.)

There is now a bill pending in Congress,the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Fairness Restoration Act, S. 613 and H.R. 1208, that aims to add recovery of fees for experts.  "Experts" are the witnesses that parents use at hearing to testify about the issues, whether identification, evaluation, placement, appropriateness of services and supports, appropriateness of placement, etc.  These include the psychologists, BCBAs, speech and language pathologists, OTs, PTs, transition experts, etc. 

You can read the proposed legislation on-line at:

Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch supports the proposed legislation, and we ask all parents, clients and friends to support it too. 
Thank you.

Homework Help for Children with ADHD

Homework help for children with ADHD:  

Take Ten

When you first sit down to do homework, take two minutes to put loose papers into the proper folders. Use the next eight minutes to reread notes and/or handouts from school. These 10 minutes will save you hours of searching and studying. You will quickly get into the habit of putting assignments where they belong. Reviewing your notes transfers information to long-term memory, saving hours of study time when test time comes around.

Work in 30-Minute Blocks

Set a timer and limit each study or work session to 30 minutes. Challenge yourself to finish a certain amount of work within that time. The adrenaline rush of the challenge will improve your focus.

Take Five-Minute Breaks

Both your body and brain need frequent refreshers. Set another timer for five minutes, then do jumping jacks, run in place, or stretch. Start another 30-minute block of homework. This sounds too simple to work, but these breaks keep you sharp to get your work done faster. After two weeks, you will find that these five-minute blocks will significantly reduce procrastination.

Create a User-Friendly Planner

A lot of ADHD students who keep a planner forget to use it throughout the day. Always keep it in your main folder or binder, along with a pen in the binding. Use a binder clip to mark your current page. It should take only a few steps to access your planner and to write down assignments and reminders—and you won’t waste time later, calling friends to ask about homework.

Sip Something Sweet

When kids do homework, they should sip (not gulp) a drink with sugar in it, says Dr. Russell Barkley, Ph.D., author of Taking Charge of ADHD. Lemonade or sports drinks are good choices. These beverages deliver glucose to your brain, which is its only source of fuel. The more fuel you have, the more you will be able to work effectively and efficiently. 

Review Your Notes Out Loud

Your brain will process the information in three ways: through your eyes as you read it, your mouth as you say it, and your ears as you hear your own voice. This improves your focus and memory.

Create Test Questions from Your Notes

Writing down questions helps you learn better than reciting or memorizing information. The process forces you to think about the information at a higher level. Higher-level thinking helps you learn more things, thus shortening your study time.

Read Your Textbook: Just Not Every Word

Read through related sections of your textbook, but don’t read every word. Read headings, diagrams, and captions to photos and illustrations to get started. Set your timer and spend one 30-minute block reviewing a textbook chapter. Your enhanced comprehension will help you sail through your homework.

Do a Quick Review Before Class

Review textbook chapters before teachers lecture about them in class. This process gives your brain enough knowledge to help you pay better attention in class. You can reduce study and homework time if you have a deeper understanding of the material.

Get Ready for School at Night

Most ADDers are groggy in the morning, so it’s easy to forget things if you are trying to get organized. Instead, gather all of your folders, books, notebooks, and supplies, and put them in your bag before you go to sleep. When you don’t deal with chaos in the morning, you have more resources to stay focused through the day. The calmer your day, the more energy you’ll have to blast through homework in the evening.

These tips were courtesy of ADDitude magazine.

For More Homework Help:

For more must-have resources on helping your ADHD child address homework issues and develop better study skills, visit the Homework Help Resource Center.
Remember, if you child has ADHD, he or she may be entitled to a 504 or an IEP and the school must then provide, at the minimum, accommodations.  To find out if your child is receiving the accommodations to which he or she is entitled, you may want to visit with an special education attorney who works only with children and their families.

Monday, September 8, 2014

What to do if your child has been restrained at school?

Restraints are methods that restrict a person’s ability to move freely or use one’s body. Restraints are:
  • mechanical (for example, straps)
  • physical (for example, being held by others), 
  • chemical (for example, medications that are used to sedate an individual). 
Restraints (as well as seclusion) have been used by schools to stop behavior.  Restraints, if used at all, must only be used by trained personnel and then only to prevent a student from harming himself//herself or harming others. Unfortunately, schools improperly use restraints (and also seclusion) excessively as a management intervention and by untrained staff, and when behavior is not dangerous.

Arizona has no statute or rules regarding the use of restraints in schools.  However, restraining a child - and secluding a child - may lead to psychological trauma, physical injury, or even death.  Do not let that happen to your child.  If you believe your child is being restrained, notify the Principal of the school and the Superintendent, at least.  (If a charter school, notify the headmaster / head of school.)  If you communicate via phone or in person, follow-up with an email.  Make sure that you have a record of your notifications, complaints and concerns, and email helps you make that record.  Request a meeting.  If you child has a 504, request a meeting immediately with the 504 coordinator, and the school Principal, and anyone else you deem necessary.  If your child has an IEP, request an emergency IEP meeting to discuss.  It may be a denial of FAPE if your child has been restrained on several occasions; at the very least, the school has a legal obligation to find out why your child is engaging in behaviors that are interfering with his or her education.  There are many steps the school should have taken before restraining your child, and the school has an obligation to find out why your child has behaviors that the school is restraining.  Know your rights, what you can do, what the school is legally obligated to do, and what can be done. 

Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What are the IDEA eligibility categories?

The first prong of IDEA eligibility requires the existence of a specific condition of disability. In Arizona, the MET (Multidisciplinary Education Team) must identify at least one of the following conditions before considering is a student qualifies for special education and related services:
Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) Section 15-761(2)(a):
(i)        Autism (A, which is now Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD)
(ii)       Developmental delay (DD)
(iii)      Emotional disability (ED)
(iv)      Hearing impairment (HI)
(v)       Other health impairments (OHI)
(vi)      Specific learning disability (SLD)
(vii)     Mild, moderate or severe intellectual disability (what used to be called mental retardation) (MID, MOID)
(viii)    Multiple disabilities (MD)
(ix)      Multiple disabilities w/ severe sensory impairments (MDSSI)
(x)       Orthopedic impairment (OI)
(xi)      Preschool severe delay (PSD)
(xii)     Speech/language impairment (SLI)
(xiii)    Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
(xiv)    Visual impairment (VI)

Diagnosing certain mental or neurological disabilities in very young children is often difficult, and thus Arizona may choose to designate children as experiencing "developmental delays." Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states may recognize children ages 3 years through 9 years who need special education and related services as a result of developmental delays in physical development; cognitive, communication, social, or emotional development; or adaptive development, as children with disabilities. 34 CFR 300.8 (b).

In order to be eligible for an IEP, a child must fit the definition of one of those disabilities expressly listed above.   However, the list of specific impairments included within the definition of each of the categories of disabilities is not meant to be exhaustive.  Thus, for example, children with dyslexia fit within the category of Specific Learning Disability (SLD) and children with anxiety disorder may fit within the category of Other Health Impaired (OHI) or sometimes Emotional Disability (ED).  

For more information, visit

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What are the EDUCATIONAL PLACEMENTS available for the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment)?

The LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) means "to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” 20 U.S.C § 1412(a)(5)(A).  Educational placements along the continuum, from least restrictive to most restrictive, include the following:
1.  General Education (Only accommodations no additional services)
Students with disabilities are educated with students without disabilities, to the maximum extent possible.  (In Arizona, this is Level of Service [LOS] A.)

2.  General Education (push in services)
Is a collaborative teaching model; the Resource Specialist or other therapists provides assistance to students who require help accessing the curriculum in the general education classroom. 
3.  Resource Specialist (pull out services)
Students are pulled out of the general education classroom by the Resource Specialist to receive academic instruction in a small group.
4.  Special Day Class
An intensive educational program designed for students who have special needswhen they cannot be appropriately educated in a general education environment.  The types of classes available usually include mild, moderate or severe. (In Arizona, this is Level of Service [LOS] C.)

5.  Non-Public School
An elementary or secondary school within the state, other than a public school, offering education for grades kindergarten through 12, or any combination of thereof, wherein any child may legally fulfill compulsory school attendance requirements.  Placement in Non-Public Schools occurs via an IEP when the public school is not able to fulfill its requirements to provide a free appropriate public education.  Many Nonpublic schools specialize in Autism, Learning Disabilities and other special needs. 
6.  Day Treatment Center
A program designed to address a student’s Mental Health and Educational needs during the school day only.  It usually refers to a licensed or certified facility which is licensed to provide a behavioral health treatment program, outpatient care, and treatment of mental or nervous disorders under the supervision of physicians. 
7.  Residential Treatment Center
A program designed for a student who suffers from Severe or Chronic Emotional Disabilities in a residential setting.  Residential treatment centers generally are clinically focused and primarily provide behavior management and treatment for adolescents with serious issues. 
8.  Home and Hospital Instruction Program

Home and Hospital Instruction Programs serve students who have a disability, which makes attendance in the regular day classes or alternative education program impossible or inadvisable. The district in which the home or residential health facility is located is responsible for instructing and educating pupils who must be hospitalized or remain at home due to disability issues.

Due Process in Arizona

For information on the due process procedures under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") in Arizona, including decisions from Due Process Hearings in Arizona, visit