News You Can Use: The Official Blog of Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC, Arizona's Education Law Firm.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
What Are Public Schools Required to Do When Students with Disabilities Are Bullied?
What does a public school - including a charter school - have to do when a child with a disability is being bullied? The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rigths requires that schools if a student with a disability is being bullied, schools must take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the issue and, as necessary, take steps to stop the bullying and prevent it from recurring. Regardless of whether the student is being bullied based on his or her disability, schools must remedy the effects of bullying on the services that the student with a disability receives (special education or other disability-related services) to ensure the student continues to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Any remedy should not burden the student who has been bullied. Does it matter if a child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan? • No. Some students with disabilities receive FAPE through an IEP developed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and others receive a plan developed under Section 504. If changes in a student’s behavior or academic performance indicate that a student may not be receiving FAPE, the IEP or Section 504 team should meet to determine whether the student’s educational needs have changed and the school must provide any needed additional services promptly to ensure the student’s ongoing receipt of FAPE. Where can I go for help? In order to make sure the school knows about bullying, parents should make their concerns know to the school, preferably in writing / email. Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC
Thursday, October 23, 2014
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
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