Friday, December 20, 2013

Update on contempt citation against charter school

A Federal District Court ruled that an Arizona charter school (Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy) could not avoid paying $176,722 for our a student's (our client's) unilateral private placement simply by alleging that it lacked the funds needed to comply with a stay-put order. Determining the school could have paid at least a portion of the student's tuition if it had managed its resources more efficiently, the District Court granted our motion for a contempt citation. The court rejected the school's unsupported claim that it did not have money to pay the student's tuition. Not only had the charter school hired four (4) attorneys to represent it in the ongoing FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) dispute arising under IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et. seq.), but the charter school had informed the court just 12 weeks earlier that it would be setting aside funds on a monthly basis to pay the student's tuition. U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland questioned the school's more recent assertion that it was "unable to pay" any funds toward the student's tuition. "Based upon what is presently before the court, [the school] has an allocation of resources problem, not an absence of resources," Judge Holland wrote. Because the charter school did not offer any evidence to support its claim, the court found the school in civil contempt. It gave the school 10 days to pay the $176,722 already owed for the student's private school tuition, and reminded the school of its obligation to continue funding the student's placement under the IDEA's "stay-put" provision.

Friday, December 13, 2013

ESY data

Your child's IEP team (which includes YOU, the parent / grandparent / legal guardian) will be making a decision in the coming months about whether your child qualifies for ESY (EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR).  The decision must be based on data.  Ask your child's teacher or case manager what data is being collected before the coming holiday break so that your child's level of regression and recoupment can be measured after school break.  Your child may also be entitled to ESY if he or she is at a critical stage or point of instruction.
The IEP team must look at retrospective data, such aspast regression and rate of recoupment (which is based on data taken before and after school holidays/breaks) and also on predictive data, based on the opinion of professionals in consultation with you, the child’s parents / grandparents / legal guardians, as well as circumstantial considerations of your child’s individual situation at home and in hisor her neighborhood and community.
Happy holidays to you and your families,Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

KGK's case featured on Wrightslaw

See KGK's case featured on
New Case - Charter School in Contempt, Must Pay $176,722! - Pursuant to the "stay-put / pendency" statute (20 USC 1415(f)), on November 4, 2013, the United States District Court of Arizona held the "tuition-free, public charter" Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy in contempt of Court and ordered them to pay $176,722.00 for the child's private placement by November 15, 2013 or face further sanctions. (Click here for ruling of Contempt and Order to pay.)

While the child was enrolled in the charter school, the parent contested the IEP, removed the child to a private placement and requested a due process hearing. The Administrative Law Judge ruled in their favor. The school appealed and the parent's attorney, Hope Kirsch filed a Counterclaim. (Click here for Counterclaim). The Charter School asserted that they could not afford to pay. The Court noted that their problem is "an allocation of resources problem, not an absence of resources." We will keep you posted.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hope Kirsch to speak at Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Training

Hope Kirsch has been invited to speak at the
Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Training
Friday, November 15, 2013
Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Conference, a Wrightslaw training program featuring Pete Wright, Esq., is being sponsored by the Autism Society of Greater Tucson. This workshop price reflects a grant received from The Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and has also been underwritten by the Autism Society Greater Tucson, Southern Arizona Network for Down Syndrome and The Arc of Tucson.
The program will be held at:
Casino del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center
5655 West Valencia Road
Tucson, AZ 85757

Program Description

One-day special education law and advocacy programs focus on four areas:

  • special education law, rights and responsibilities
  • tests and measurements to measure progress & regression
  • introduction to tactics & strategies for effective advocacy
A day-long hands-on special education workshop designed to meet the needs of parents and professionals serving children and teens with disabilities.

Topics: IDEA history and overview, special education and related services, child find, least restrictive environment, extended school year, mainstream, inclusion, understanding tests and assessments, procedural safeguards, Section 504, prior written notice, and IEPs.

8:00-9:00Registration and Continental Breakfast
  • IDEA History and Overview
  • Section 1400 Findings, Purpose
  • Section 1401 Definitions: Special Education, Related Services, LD, etc.
  • Section 1412 Extended School Year, Child Find, Least Restrictive Environment/Mainstreaming/Inclusion, Private Placements, Statewide Assessments
  • Understanding Tests and Measurements, and the Bell Curve, Standard Scores, Scale Scores, % ranks, Grade Equivalent, Age Equivalent
  • Section 1414 Evaluations and IEPs
  • Section 1415 Prior Written Notice, Procedural Safeguards Notice, Mediation, Due Process Hearing, Appeal, Discipline, Age of Majority
  • Section 504, ADA, FERPA
  • NCLB No Child Left Behind
  • Litigation: Special Ed Caselaw
  • S.M.A.R.T. IEPs
  • Special Ed Advocacy for the Parent, Advocate, and Parent’s Attorney
  • Legal, systemic and “school culture” obstacles to compliance with IDEA-04
The Parent as the Special Ed Manager and Expert
  • Developing the Master Plan
  • Knowing the Rules of the Game
  • Recognizing and Avoiding the Fatal Obstacles
  • How to Deal with Conflict, a Healthy and Normal event
  • Crisis, Emergency, Help
  • Organization of the Child’s File
  • Tactics and Strategies
  • Rule of Adverse Assumptions
  • Private Evaluations
  • Paper Trails
  • The Letter to the Stranger
  • 5 Ws + H + E
  • Preparation for Meetings
  • Meeting Strategies
4:00-4:30Questions and Answers

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Children who are flight risks-New York Times

The attached story is real.  If your child is - or may be – prone to running away, make sure a plan is written into the IEP on how to prevent your child from running away, who at the school should be contacted, and when and how to contact you.  Ask about training for staff for your child if he or she is flight risk.  Ask about measures the school can take to prevent your child from running away, and a plan of action in the event your child does run.  Inform the school about triggering events, if you know.  You may also want to ask for an FBA.  The most important thing to do is to notify the school, including the entire IEP team, if your child is a flight risk.

The Day My Son Went Missing

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

KGK wins another Due Process

KGK wins another Due Process Complaint. The issue in this case was the appropriateness of one special education school over another. The parents disputed a charter school's selection of a private school. The charter school claimed that the school where it wanted to place the child was the same as the school the parents requested.  The Administrative Law Judge did not agree with the charter school.  The judge found that the private special ed school the parents requested was appropriate for the student, and the one the charter school selected was not. So while schools can select location, the location/school must be appropriate for that child; it must be able to provide the student with a FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education). Not all private special ed schools are the same.  So while the private school the charter school selected is appropriate for other students, it is not appropriate for this particular student.
Read the full decision Pointe Educational Services. 
Congratulations Lori Kirsch-Goodwin!!!!!!!!

When Friends Become Bullies-CNN

Insightful story on when friends become the bullies.

Friends, now Bullies.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Reason I Jump

A teenager with autism, Naoki Higashida, invites you into the workings of his mind in the book he himself authored, The Reason I Jump.  Just 13 years old at the time he wrote the book, this amazing individual  offers an incredible peek into his world -- a world shared by so many on the Autism Spectrum.  What a treat for all of us who want to get a glimpse into the minds and worlds of someone special, someone with ASD, who we love.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Bullying: Hope Kirsch invited to speak at the AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION Conference on Bullying

The AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION's 2013 Fall Conference is focusing on BULLYING.
KGK's Hope Kirsch has been invited to speak at the CLE Program
From the Trenches: Stories and Practical Tips From Those on the Bullying Front Lines

Biltmore Hotel, Phoenix, AZ
Friday, October 11, 2013
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

This Program will give young lawyers insight into the issues and struggles faced by attorneys and other participants in representing juvenile clients in bullying cases. Speaking from first-hand experience, Program panelists will share their “war stories” in representing and/or interacting with children involved in bullying cases and discuss the particular challenges in working with juvenile clients in the bullying context. Panelists will also provide young lawyers tips and guidance when representing juvenile clients in bullying cases. In recognition of the fact that bullying cases present more than just legal challenges, Panelists will also focus on emotional, psychological, developmental, and school-related issues that may be present and how to deal with them. This Program will arm young lawyers with the tools and background needed to fully comprehend the complexity of bullying cases, and to enable them to better serve juvenile clients in bullying cases.

Presented by the: YLD Public Service Team
Moderator: Casey Kannenberg, Godfrey Johnson, P.C., Englewood, CO
Lee Bussart Bowles, Tennessee General Sessions Court Judge, Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, Lewisburg, TN
Hope N. Kirsch, Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, P.C., Scottsdale, AZ

Saturday, September 21, 2013

VIDEO: Essentials for Educators: High Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Terrific video for teachers, parents and anyone who wants a better understanding of High Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome. VIDEO: Essentials for Educators: High Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome
The video explains the underlying differences in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and suggests strategies teachers/educators (and parents) for increasing the success of these children in school.

We highly recommend this,
Hope Kirsch & Lori Kirsch-Goodwin

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What to do if you think your child may need special education?

What should you do if you think their child might have special education needs?
  • Is your child struggling to understand?
  • Is your child struggling with homework?
  • Is your child failing quizzes and tests?
  • Is your child fighting in school?
  • Is the school complaining about your child's behavior?
  • Is the teacher reporting your child is not paying attention?
  • Is the teacher telling you that your child is not turning in homework?

If you answer YES to any of the above questions, OR is you have any reason to believe your child is having any difficulty or any issues in school or if you have any concerns, the school should be offering to test your child (that's the obligation of all school districts and charter schools in Arizona under CHILD FIND).  But if the school has not told you it needs to evaluate your child, then do not wait.  Be proactive.  Ask the school to evaluate whether your child needs special education and related services.  How do you ask, and who do you ask?  Send an e-mail to the special education director (find the email address on the website for the school district) and the Principal and your child's teacher. 

The first step to determine if your child actually requires special education is an assessment - an evaluation.  An assessment /evaluation is the process of gathering information about your child to make decisions about a potential disability category, strengths, weaknesses and areas of need.  Testing may be in the areas of academic functioning, cognitive functioning, behavior, speech and language, fine motor, gross motor, auditory and/or visual processing, sensory processing, social-emotional, neuropsychological, executive functioning skills (attention, organization), memory, etc.

The School District or Charter School will perform the assessments, but parents may ask for an INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION (IEE), at the expense of the school district or charter school, if the parents do not agree with the results.  If you, as parents or guardians, pay for a private assessment and submit the results to the school district/charter school, the school district/charter school must consider the results.  The school district/charter school is not obligated or required to accept those results, but is must consider them.

If your child is found to have a disability, that is only the first step toward determining if he or she needs special education.  The next step is whether your child needs special education to access the general education curriculum.  For example, a child with ADHD may not necessarily require special education (an IEP) and may merely require accommodations via a 504 plan.

The important question is what your child needs to receive benefit from the curriculum being taught?  Make certain you understand your child's needs, as well as your legal rights to help your child.  Make sure you understand the difference between an IEP / special education and a 504 Plan.  Your child is entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) under both.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

KGK wins another Due Process

Lori Kirsch-Goodwin of KGK wins Due Process. The issue involved the appropriateness of a school placement. The Administrative Law Judge ruled in favor of the parent that the school selected by a charter school was not appropriate for a student with autism, and that the school that the family found to be appropriate is the appropriate placement. The Judge ordered that the charter school provide compensatory educational services AND tuition and transportation at the private special education day school. And when a parent prevails at due process, they are entitled to recover their attorneys' fees.
A.T., Student, by and through Parents A.T. and H.T. vs. POINTE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Comedian Bobby Collins: 'On the Inside- His Life as a Comedian and Father of a Very Special Child

Bobby Collins, one of today's most successful and funniest comedians, is also the father of a special needs child. Bobby, in his book, "On the Inside," talks about his career, his life on the road and most importantly, his love for his very special daughter.

You can learn more about the book at

In a 2013 interview on Hallmark Channel, Bobby shares his experiences and his tremendous journey and life.

Thank you Bobby for all you do!
Your friends Hope and Lori at Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Seminar: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and School Law

Autism Spectrum Disorders and School Law

Presented by Hope Kirsch and Lori-Kirsch-Goodwin

Video Webcast


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Product ID#:



Eastern: 10:00 am-5:00 pm Central: 9:00 am-4:00 pm Mountain: 8:00 am-3:00 pm Pacific: 7:00 am-2:00 pm
$329 / Each Additional
Includes Downloadable Course Book

Program Description

Practical Application of Legal Concepts Impacting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Supporting the achievement of special needs children is the ultimate goal of attorneys, parents and professionals involved in education. Yet the area of special education law can be clouded with emotion and conflict. How do high-functioning autistic (HFA) students fit into the special education law framework? Join our distinguished faculty for a dynamic discussion on the challenges parents' advocates, school attorneys and representatives face when striving to accommodate special needs students. Find the answers to your questions - register today!
  • Use a greater understanding of the nature of Autism disorders to better fulfill the needs of HFA students while protecting their rights.
  • Review the necessary steps to drafting legally compliant IEPs that will withstand the test of time.
  • Use our practical tips for preventing and resolving disputes between parents and school representatives to get the desired action without resorting to due process or litigation.
  • Gain a legal refresher on the rules governing removal or expulsion to ensure the school has enough documentation to support their decision.
  • How do you monitor the IEP progress? Learn some easy techniques for making sure the school is following through with the plan.
  • Discuss what schools and parents can do to prevent disability harassment or bullying claims.
  • Learn about actions that trigger IDEA complaints - and what you can do to avoid them.
  • Promote settlements by understanding the various mediation options available.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level program offers an in-depth look at the legal and practical implications of autism spectrum disorders for attorneys. It will also benefit special education teachers, school administrators, and counselors or psychologists.

Course Content

  • Defining and Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Legislative and Case Law Update as It Applies to Autism Disorders
  • Working Together to Build a Suitable Learning Environment for HFA Students
  • Tackling Complex Disciplinary Issues and Due Process
  • Preventing Bullying, Cyberbullying and Harassment
  • Legal Ethics

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education
Credit Hrs State
CLE 6.00 -  AK*
CLE 6.00 -  AL*
CLE 6.00 -  AR*
CLE 6.00 -  AZ*
CLE 6.00 -  CA*
CLE 7.00 -  CO*
CLE 6.00 -  CT*
CLE 6.00 -  DE*
CLE 7.00 -  FL*
CLE 6.00 -  GA*
CLE 6.00 -  HI*
CLE 6.00 -  IA*
CLE 6.00 -  ID*
CLE 6.00 -  IL*
CLE 6.00 -  IN*
CLE 5.00 -  KS*
CLE 6.00 -  KY*
CLE 6.00 -  LA*
CLE 6.00 -  ME*
CLE 6.00 -  MN*
CLE 7.20 -  MO*
CLE 6.00 -  MP*
CLE 6.00 -  MS*
CLE 6.00 -  MT*
CLE 6.00 -  NC*
CLE 6.00 -  ND*
CLE 6.00 -  NE*
CLE 6.00 -  NH*
CLE 7.20 -  NJ*
CLE 6.00 -  NM*
CLE 6.00 -  NV*
CLE 7.00 -  NY*
CLE 6.00 -  OH*
CLE 7.00 -  OK*
CLE 6.50 -  OR*
CLE 6.00 -  PA*
CLE 7.00 -  RI*
CLE 6.00 -  SC*
CLE 6.00 -  TN*
CLE 6.00 -  TX*
CLE 6.00 -  UT*
CLE 6.00 -  VA*
CLE 7.20 -  VI*
CLE 6.00 -  VT*
CLE 6.00 -  WA*
CLE 7.00 -  WI*
CLE 7.20 -  WV*
CLE 6.00 -  WY*
* denotes specialty credits

Can't Attend?
Purchase the Recording.

Video DVD + Course Book
$339.00Order Now

Questions Questions

Shopping Cart How To Order

Web: Order Now
Call: 800.930.6182
Fax: 715.835.1405
Mail: NBI
P.O. Box 3067
Eau Claire, WI 54702

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Data for ESY

KGK reminds you that as your children return to school, ask the special ed teacher what data is going to be collected before and after school breaks to determine if your child qualifies for ESY.  If you have an IEP at the beginning of the school year, ask the IEP team how ESY decisions will be made; ask what data will be collected.  And ask for that the discussion of data be written in the notes of the IEP meeting, although preferably in the IEP itself. 

If the IEP team discusses any decision ESY before the spring, and says your child does not qualify for ESY, ask what data  was collected, and ask to see the data.  It is virtually impossible to make an informed decision during the first half of the school year that a child will not need ESY the following summer. 

The date should be be related to all goals in your child's IEP -- not just academic, but functional, social, and behavioral as well, and the goals for related services. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Acronyms to know for every IEP

KGK suggests you print this out and use as a guide when reading through the special ed records (the REDs, METs and IEPs) and to take with you to RED, MET and IEP meetings:

ADAAA     Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act

ADE          Arizona Department of Education

ALJ           Administrative Law Judge

BIP           Behavior Intervention Plan

DD           Developmental Disability

DP            Due Process

DSM-5     Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th revision

ED             Emotional Disability

ESY            Extended School Year

FAPE          Free and Appropriate Public Education

FBA            Functional Behavioral Assessment

FERPA         Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

IAEP or IAES   Interim Alternative Educational Placement/Setting

ID                Intellectual Disability

IDEA           Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IEE              Independent Educational Evaluation

IEP              Individualized Education Program

IFSP            Individualized Family Service Plan

ISS              In-School Suspension

LEA             Local Educational Agency

LOS            Level of Service

LRE             Least Restrictive Environment

MDR          Manifestation Determination Review

MET           Multidisciplinary Education Team

OAH          Office of Administrative Hearings

OCR           Office of Civil Rights

ODD          Oppositional Defiant Disorder

OHI             Other Health Impaired

RED             Review of Existing Data

SEA              State Educational Agency

SLD              Specific Learning Disability

SLI               Speech and Language Impaired

SPED           Special Education

VI                Visually Impaired 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

KGK wins Due Process - Residential Treatment Center

Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch's recent Arizona due process decision:  A charter school that failed to offer a student FAPE in her IEPs is responsible for the student's placement at an out-of-state Residential Treatment Center (RTC).
Note, the law requires a student to be in the "least restrictive environment" (LRE), and for some students, the LRE may be an RTC.     

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Arizona's new FERPA legislation may have some teeth

Ever wonder what to do about a FERPA FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY violation?  You would look at your school district or charter school policy to find out how it addressed FERPA violations, or file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO).  Arizona enacted legislation this year that provides that: Any person who suspects that a school district or charter school has knowingly violated the family educational rights and privacy act may notify the principal of the charter school or the superintendent of the school district. If the matter is not satisfactorily resolved by the principal of the charter school or the superintendent of the school district within sixty days after the notice, the person may file a complaint with the superintendent of public instruction.  If the superintendent of public instruction determines that a school district or charter school is knowingly in violation of the family educational rights and privacy act, the superintendent of public instruction shall notify the school district or charter school that it is in violation of the family educational rights and privacy act.  If the superintendent of public instruction determines that the school district or charter school has failed to correct the violation within sixty days after a notice has been issued pursuant to this subsection, the superintendent of public instruction may inform the family policy compliance office of the United States department of education of a possible violation of the family educational rights and privacy act.

Monday, July 1, 2013

How Cultures Deal with Autism-New York Times

Dealing with autism diagnoses is difficult but imagine you live in a community, where cultural values either prevent the conversation from happening or worse, is subject to bias and stigmas. Today's New York Times looks at one such community in Queens, New York.

New York Times-Autism Stigma in the Korean Community

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lunch & Learn Seminar July 30, 2013 - Know Your Educational Rights Under the Law

Sponsored by Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC)
Bring a Brown Bag Lunch & Please Join Us!

Guest Presenters: Hope N. Kirsch, Esq. & Lori Kirsch-Goodwin, Esq.

The presentation will begin with an overview of the federal special education law, “Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act” (IDEIA), state law and notable case law decisions interpreting the legislation.

The presentation will also address:
• The rights of students with special needs in public and charter schools
• Whether a student is entitled to IDEIA protections at private schools
• Requirements of FAPE (free and appropriate public education)
• LRE (least restrictive environments)
• Evaluations and reevaluations
• Placement
• The IEP itself
• Timeline and discipline procedures
• Other laws (No Child Left Behind, FERPA)

Helpful hints will also be provided that most parents do not know about and schools might not clearly inform the parents about.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Campus for Exceptional Children
300 N. 18th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85006

$20 per person
$15/per person when registering as a group of 2 or more

Arizona Autism Coalition Parent Members: You are eligible for a 20% discount using a discount code provided by the Coalition. For more information about the Coalition and this discount program, please visit their website at or contact them via email at

For purchase order payments, please send P.O. to

Contact & Registration:

For additional details, please contact Sheri Dollin at (480) 603-3284
or email

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Professional surfer inspires children with autistim to smile

Pro Surfer Israel Paskowitz Uses His Unique Expertise to Help Autistic Children
It was a summer day in 1969 on Tourmaline Canyon Beach in San Diego, when Israel “Izzy” Paskowitz fell in love with surfing. He was 6 when his father, legendary surfer Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, took him out to ride together on his board. “I will never forget that wave,” says Izzy, “it was my kick off into the tribe.” Considered the first family of surfing, Izzy is the fourth of nine children of Doc and Juliette. They lived a nomadic life in a 24-foot camper and traveled the country for roughly 23 years.
By the time of Izzy’s first surfing experience, Doc, a Stanford graduate and a doctor, had left his career to fulfill his love of travel, family and surfing. Doc believed true wisdom did not come from formal education but from life experience and surfing. The family’s journey is the subject of the acclaimed documentary film, "Surfwise."
Izzy naturally became a pro surfer. In 1983 he beat legends of the sport and soon became a world champion long-boarder. He won national and international events, including Australia’s Coke Classic Championship and the Hang Ten Classic. At the height of his career he landed a Nike cover ad standing next to Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan and Andre Agassi.
“With my beautiful wife, Danielle, by my side, I felt invincible, like I was king of the world, “ Izzy recalls. But then their second child, Isaiah, was diagnosed with autism at age 3. “It took me a long time to accept his condition, to even say the word 'autism.' I had the dreams of any professional athlete: that my son would be just like dad, and it wasn’t looking like that.” Izzy ran from reality and continued to travel, drink heavily and surf professionally until Danielle gave him an ultimatum: Come home to take care of his son or leave the family for good.
A contest in Hawaii in 1996 inspired the greatest and most rewarding endeavor of Izzy’s life. Isaiah, then 5, was having an uncontrollable tantrum on the beach due to sensory overload, a symptom of autism. He took Isaiah in the ocean and they paddled out together on his board through the waves, just as his father had done with him. “A calm came over him. He was loose and relaxed, and genuinely happy,” says Izzy. “He was a regular boy out there doing what I always dreamed of doing with him.”
IMG_3134From this magical moment, Izzy and Danielle founded Surfers Healing, a free, one-day surf camp in which professional surfers take out children with autism. Today, Surfers Healing gives 3,000 kids a year in 22 camps across the country the opportunity to feel the same calm and joy Isaiah felt.
“I am not going to find a cure,” says Izzy. “But I do know now that I can ride waves with autistic kids and we are not going to charge a penny for it. These are the best days in my life.”

Monday, June 17, 2013

Arizona Special Education Law, seminar June 25, 2013

Hope Kirsch and Lori Kirsch-Goodwin will be featured speakers at the National Business Institute's seminar ARIZONA SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW:
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Phoenix Airport Marriott
1101 North 44th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85008

With the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, professionals working with special needs children know that an understanding of special education law is crucial. You need to know the law in order to deal with complex questions that arise on a regular basis. Who pays when a special needs child is placed in private schooling at the parents' election? How can a school create the least restrictive environment and promote inclusion to the best interests of all students? It can be costly if you don't know. Register today!

•Strengthen your knowledge of how recent special education legislation affects school policies and operation.
•Evaluate the legal protection offered by the Individualized Education Program (IEP).
•Successfully handle disciplinary actions for students with disabilities.
•Explore the role of manifestation determination reviewing the legality of disciplinary actions.
•Understand the rights of special needs students so you can avoid inadvertent illegal actions that may lead to a lawsuit.
Who Should Attend
This basic-to-intermediate level seminar is designed specifically for professionals who work with children with special needs in the school setting. Those who should attend include:

•School Administrators
•Board Members
Course Content
I.Establishing the Framework of Special Education Law
II.Unraveling the Requirements of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
III.Successfully Handling Disciplinary Actions for Special Needs Students
IV.Ensuring Successful Due Process Procedures
V.Protecting the Rights of Children With Special Needs
Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 6.00

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.60

Teacher Education Credit – Teacher Education Credit: 6.00

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Upcoming meeting for parents: Understanding IEPs

IEP Sharing Meeting
This one is one of the most fun meetings and casual.

Hope Kirsch, Ricki Light & Kim Yamamoto will help your family prepare for IEP meetings, understand the different sections of the IEP, and the IEP meeting process

Thursday, May 30, 2013
6:30-8 pm; 7601 E Shea Blvd, Rm E102


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Upcoming Seminar: Arizona Special Education Law

KGK attorneys Lori Kirsch-Goodwin and Hope Kirsch will be featured speakers at the upcoming seminar,  Arizona Special Education Law.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Phoenix Airport Marriott1101 North 44th StreetPhoenix, AZ 85008

This basic-to-intermediate level seminar is designed specifically for professionals who work with students with special needs.

Course Content:
  1. Establishing the Framework of Special Education Law
  2. Unraveling the Requirements of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  3. Successfully Handling Disciplinary Actions for Special Needs Students
  4. Ensuring Successful Due Process Procedures
  5. Protecting the Rights of Children With Special Needs

Friday, May 3, 2013

Evaluations and CHILD FIND

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Arizona's Education Code, students who are suspected of having disabilties requiring specialized education must be evaluated.  School districts and charter schools have an affirmative duty to identify and evaluate students suspected - merely SUSPECTED - of having a disability.  That is the CHILD FIND obligation. 

Who can ask for an evalution? 
  • A teacher or school administrator
  • A parent
  • A medical or health care provider of the child (a doctor, a therapist)
Do not wait for the school to propose the evaluation if you see the following signs ("red flags"), although if these signs are present, the school should have proposed the evaluation already:

· Failing or noticeably declining grades.

Poor or noticeably declining progress on standardized assessments (AIMS tests, for example)

Behaviors that cause the student to stand out, negatively, from his peers.

Minimal progress in RTI process.

Only slight benefits from accommodations in a Section 504 plan.

Numerous or increasing disciplinary referrals.

Signs of depression, withdrawal, inattention.

Increasing unexcused absences.

A history of being hospitalized.

A diagnosis under DSM-IV (or the upcoming DSM-V).


· Being seen by
an outside service provider, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A father's love for his very special daughter.

Scroll down to the second story on this link:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Arizona's new parental notification law regarding use of seclusion rooms in schools

This is the newly added language to HB2476 requiring WRITTEN notification to parents BEFORE their child may be placed in an enclosed space for disciplinary reasons.  Note that there is an EXCEPTION to the notification when a school prinicipal or teacher determines the child poses "imminent self harm to himself/herself or others," but in those situation, the parent is to be notified IN WRITING by the end of the same day that the child is placed in seclusion. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


It is that time of year; flowers blooming, allergies acting up, and time to check in with the IEP team to determine if the student is eligible for Extended School Year (ESY). Did the student regress during Spring or Winter break and need time to catch back up to where they were before break? Would the student's gains be significantly jeopardized if he/she does nor have educational services over the summer?  If the answer to either question is yes; talk to the team about ESY.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

SARRC Bullying and Autism Conference

Conference-Bullying & Autism: What We Know & What We Can Do About It

This two day conference is designed to engage school faculty, families, professionals, administrators, policymakers, and others with an interest in this topic:
Current research, issues & prevalence
How to support a change in behavior as the bully,victim or bystander
How to include kids with ASDs in bullying programming

Bullying & Autism Spectrum Disorders:
What is known from the research, prevalance, and relationship between ASDs, bullying & victimization; what this means; why kids with ASDs are targets of bullies or the bully

Bully Prevention in Positive Behavior Support: From Research to Practice:Building effective and efficient bully prevention programs that are sustainable

Legal Issues & Current Policies in Arizona: Jennifer MacLennan, a lawyer representing schools, & Hope Kirsch, a lawyer representing families, together will address legal and ethical issues on bullying as it relates to the bully, victim, & school.

How to Adapt Anti-Bullying Programs & Supports for Individuals with ASDs: How to adapt interventions to teach kids with learning differences to understand bullying & how to respond to bullying as a victim, bystander, or the bully

The Impact of Bystanders & Bullying: This presentation will address the role of the bystander; how to teach safe & effective responses to bullying for those at all levels of support

A Case Study: How A Middle School Implemented A Bully Prevention Program: Using evidence-based strategies, a principal & her team will share how their school addressed bullying

Dates: April 26 & 27, 2013

Cost:Registration (before April 15)              $35/day     $50/two days
Late Registration (April 15 or later)      $50/day     $70/two days

Scottsdale Public Library Civic Center Auditorium
3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

ASHA CE's:  Day 1    .6 CEU's            Day 2: .5 CEU's
BACB CE's:  Day 1    6.5 CEU's          Day 2: 5 CEU's

For complete details on this conference, go to

Temple Grandin on Autism, Death, Celibacy and Cows

Temple Grandin was interviewed by the NY Times:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Recommended book: Asperger Love

Asperger Love

By Amy Harmon

Jack didn’t really like kissing. To him it was just mashing your face against someone else’s. Kirsten didn’t like being caressed. Such is love between two people with Asperger syndrome. Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times correspondent Amy Harmon chronicles with humor and pathos the ups and downs of two teenagers as they work to figure out how to live together.

Parents: Be proactive regarding punisment of your child at school

PHOENIX -- The lawsuit that put national attention on the Deer Valley School District for putting a 7-year-old boy in a padded room last year is nearly settled.
The Noyes family sued the district after discovering their child was put in a "seclusion room" for hours without their knowledge.
The case sparked new legislation, forcing schools to get written approval from parents before they used the rooms.
That's not the only way schools can punish students if they're acting out.
According to the Center for Effective Discipline, Arizona is one of 19 states still allows corporal punishment.
"Right now, according to the Arizona legislature, corporal punishment is allowed," said Hope Kirsch, a lawyer representing the Noyes.
While the family's lawsuit shed light on seclusion rooms, it did not fully protect students from corporal punishment.
That's because Arizona leaves it up to each district's governing board.
"Every governing board can have a policy on corporal punishment. In other words, you can have corporal punishment. There's no prohibition against it," said Kirsch.
Kirsch said, effectively, it's up to the parents to call their district and ask exactly how their child's school disciplines students.

State Seclusion and Restraint Laws

The updated version of my report, How Safe Is The Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies, has been published by the Autism National Committee.  The report is dated 3/30/2013 and is available at HowSafeSchoolhouse.pdf
The purpose of the report is to describe and analyze state restraint and seclusion statutes, regulations, and nonbinding guidelines, and includes maps and charts on the various issues.  Please feel free to forward or share this information.

The report finds that:
  • Only 12 states by law limit restraint of all children to emergencies threatening physical danger for all children; 17, limit restraint of children with disabilities in this way.  Only 9 states protect all children from non-emergency seclusion (one by banning it entirely); only 15 protect children with disabilities from non-emergency seclusion. Instead, children have been restraine4d or secluded for such actions as failing to do class work, being unable to pay attention due to disability issues, pushing items off desks, tantrums or other educational disruptions, as a substitute for positive behavioral supports and for convenience, punishment, and the like.
  • Some children have remained in seclusion/restraint until they can sit perfectly still, show a happy face, or do other tasks unrelated to an emergency.  Children with significant disabilities may be unable to respond to such commands and yet pose no threat of danger.  Only 14 states by law require that less intrusive methods either fail or be deemed ineffective before seclusion/restraint are used on all children; 20, children with disabilities.  Only 14 states by law require restraint and/or seclusion to stop the emergency ends for all children; 22, for children with disabilities. 
  • 33 states lack laws requiring that parents of all children be informed of restraint/seclusion; 22, lack them for children with disabilities.  But of the states with laws or even nonbinding guidelines about this issue, the vast majority seek one-day notification. One day notification is important so that parents can seek medical care for concussions, hidden injuries, other injuries, and trauma.
  • Restraints that impede breathing and threaten life are forbidden by law in only 18 states for all children; 25 states, for children with disabilities.
  • Children locked in closets and rooms unobserved have been killed and injured, when staff are not watching them.  But 29 states allow schools to seclude children with disabilities without requiring staff to continuously watch them; the number rises to 39 for all children.
  • Mechanical restraints include chairs and other devices that children are locked into; duct tape and bungee cords, ties, rope, and other things used to restrain children; and other devices.  Only 14 states ban mechanical restraint for all children; 18, for all children.  Only 13 states ban dangerous chemical restraints for all children.
  • Few states ensure that seclusion rooms are safe. Only 16 states require them to be lit; only 14 to have adequate ventilation, heating, and cooling; and only 8 require that children have access to the bathroom.
  • Overall, 17 states have laws providing meaningful protections in statute or regulation against restraint and seclusion for all children, 30 for children with disabilities.  These have the force of law and must be obeyed.  Even these states offer varying protections, with key safeguards present in some states and missing in others.  In addition, 2 states have laws protecting against one procedure but not the other.  8 have very weak laws (e.g., Nebraska’s regulation instructs school districts to adopt any policy they choose and imposes no requirements whatsoever); and 12 have nonbinding, suggested guidelines that have no legal force and that are more easily changed by the State Department of Education.
  • In December 2009, Congressman George Miller introduced the first national  restraint/seclusion bill, and in 2011, Senator Harkin introduced a similar bill.  Together, the Miller and Harkin bills have had a substantial impact, causing states to adopt and strengthen restraint/seclusion laws to incorporate several of their features.  14 states have either adopted new laws (statutes/regulations) or substantially overhauled existing laws to incorporate their requirements.  For example, 11 incorporate the requirement that physical restraint may not be used unless there is an imminent danger of physical injury for children with disabilities, and 9 for all children.  Since the Harkin bill was introduced, 3 states have added requirements that restraints not prevent a child from communicating that he/she is in medical distress (e.g. cannot breathe).   Of the 20 students who died in the GAO report, at least 4 verbal children told staff that they could not breathe.  
Seclusion and restraint are highly dangerous interventions that have led to death, injury, and trauma in children.  The GAO collected at least 20 stories of children who died in restraint.  Neither practice should be allowed when there is no emergency posing a danger to physical safety.  With no single federal seclusion or restraint law, America's 55 million school children are covered by a patchwork of state laws, regulations, nonbinding guidelines, and even utter silence.

NOTE: Since the report was completed on 3/30/13, two states acted last week. Oregon banned free-standing seclusion cells or boxes.  Arizona passed a law permitting seclusion for any reason as long as parents consent or for emergencies threatening physical harm without consent.  Such unlimited consent laws exist in a handful of states.  AZ does not limit restraint. 

KGK is appreciative of the efforts of Rep. Kelly Townsend, the Arizona House of Represenatives, the Arizona Senate, and Governor Jan Brewer in getting the new law on seclusion; it is the beginning of reforming antiquated and unsuccessful punishments.     

Monday, April 8, 2013

AZ Law Restricts Schools' Use of Seclusion Rooms to Discipline Unruly Children

New Law Targets Padded Rooms for Autistic Kids

By ANGELA M. HILL, MATTHEW MOSK (@mattmosk) and BRIAN ROSS (@brianross)
April 8, 2013

Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer has signed a law providing strong new restrictions on the use of so-called "seclusion rooms" in schools – closet-sized rooms where children with behavioral disabilities such as autism were being locked up as punishment.
"It is chilling to imagine an Arizona school child being shut away in a padded room, no larger than a closet, for hours on end," Brewer said after signing the law Friday. "There has to be a better way."
With the new law, Arizona will join more than 30 other states that impose rules on the restraint of students in public schools.
The use of tiny, windowless seclusion or isolation rooms in American classrooms was one focus of an ABC News investigation that aired on "Nightline" and "World News With Diane Sawyer" in November. The report found that seclusion was one of a range of harsh techniques being used in some American schools to restrain unruly students suffering from autism or other disabilities.

In addition to the controversial use of seclusion rooms, school officials around the country have been employing a wide array of methods to restrain behaviorally disabled children that range from sitting on them, to handcuffing them, even jolting them with an electric shock at one specialized school. Thousands of autistic and disabled schoolchildren have been injured and dozens more have died after being physically restrained by poorly trained teachers and school aides, ABC News found.

The new Arizona law prohibits schools from using confinement on children unless their parents specifically consent to that form of discipline. Brewer called the measure "a starting point" in helping insure children are not harmed in school.
"Our goal must be to insure Arizona children – especially those with special needs – are treated in a way that provides for both their safety and dignity," she said.
The sponsor of the legislation, Ariz. state Rep. Kelly Townsend, said she considers the measure effectively a ban on the use of the isolation rooms.
"The parent now can decide if this kind of discipline is okay for their child and it gives them the option to opt out," Townsend said. "I trust the parents are not going to permit this."
A vocal advocate for the new law was Leslie Noyes, the mother of a seven-year-old boy in Phoenix, Arizona who secretly videotaped the padded room in her son's school after he had been left there for the better part of a school day. She says she later learned he had been held in the room 17 times – though the school disputes that number, saying he was there three times.

"I was disgusted," Noyes told ABC News. "There was one time that I know he was placed in the room a little after 10 a.m. He was there until the school day ended at 3:30 p.m. They brought him lunch in there. He ate it on the floor. He had urinated on the floor. They wouldn't let him out to use the bathroom."
Officials from the Deer Valley Unified School District where Noyes' son went to school said that, because of the pending lawsuit, they could not respond to questions about the case. But in general, spokeswoman Heidi Vega said, seclusion is "the last method of behavior management schools use with a student."
"Our staff is fully trained on non-violent crisis intervention and puts student safety first at all times. The safety of all students is important and remains a top priority," she said.
Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat, proposed national legislation that would create a uniform standard on restraint for the nation's schools – legislation that has failed to even receive a committee vote over the past three years.
Until recently, Miller said, no organization even knew the number of deaths that were occurring on school grounds. He said several advocacy groups spent years tried to assess the toll.
The Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse, an advocacy group, used public records to tally 75 child deaths between 1988 and 2006 that stemmed from the improper use of restraints. A California disability rights organization, Protection and Advocacy, Inc., counted 39 deaths in just that state between 1999 and 2007, all resulting from the use of seclusion or behavioral restraints. A 2009 study by federal auditors reported hundreds of instances between 1990 and 2009 where improper restraint led to injuries, and another study that same year, by the National Disability Rights Network, chronicled dozens of specific cases of young children, many of them autistic, being suffocated or badly injured while being improperly restrained.
There is also little known about how many schools, in how many states, utilize isolation rooms, Miller said. As part of its investigation, ABC News interviewed school children who described the experience of being locked in a seclusion booth as the stuff of nightmares.
"It was dark, there's no windows, you're just stuck in there the whole day," Jordan, an 11-year-old Pennsylvania student, told ABC News. "You felt scared and upset and you were already angry… Even for the bravest kids in the world, it's still really scary."
Hope Kirsch, an Arizona attorney who is representing the Noyes family in their case against the local school district, said she believes the new law will serve as an important first step in ending the use of seclusion rooms in her state.
"This is a victory for parents whose children are victims of this barbaric procedure," Kirsch said. "We would like to see seclusion rooms closed down. The efforts of the Noyes family and Rep. Kelly Townsend, along with Governor Brewer signing the bill, have paved the way toward the ultimate goal of eradicating this inhumane treatment of the most vulnerable population."