Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How Safe Is the Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies

The updated 2015 edition of How Safe Is the Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies, written by Jessica Butler, has been published by the Autism National Committee. The purpose of the report is to describe and examine state restraint and seclusion statutes, regulations, rules, and policies/guidelines in effect as of March 2015. The report is available at How Safe Is the Schoolhouse?

Seclusion and restraint are highly dangerous interventions that have led to death, injury, and trauma in children. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) documented at least 20 stories of children who died in restraint, and other children have died and been injured in seclusion. Congressional bills providing comprehensive, mandatory protections have been led by Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman George Miller in prior Congresses, with the House bill being reintroduced in February 2015 by Congressman Bobby Scott and Congressman Don Beyer. But they have not become law, which means that parents have to look to their own state's laws.  

Arizona passed a law in 2013 permitting seclusion (referred to as "confinement" in the statute, A.R.S. Section 15-843, Pupil disciplinary proceedings, for threats of physical harm or in other situations with parental consent. Arizona does not have any law regulating restraint.

It is critical that parents be notified quickly of the use of restraint or seclusion so that they can watch for injuries, including concussions, hidden injuries, trauma, and to seek medical or psychological care.  Parents, if you know or suspect your child is being restrained and/or secluded, you should request an IEP meeting or 504 meeting to discuss positive behavior techniques as alternatives to restraint and seclusion.  Also, your child may need an FBA and BIP, or they have had an FBA and have a BIP in place, you may need to revise the BIP or have another FBA.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Extended School Year ("ESY")

Federal law requires each public agency (public school district and charter school) to ensure that extended school year ("ESY") services are available as necessary to provide students with disabilities a free and appropriate public education (a "FAPE").  ESY must be provided if a child's IEP Team determines, on an individual basis, that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE to the child.  
ESY services are provided during the summer and at no cost to the parents of the child.
In Arizona, ESY determinations are determined no later than 45 calendar days before the end of the school year.   
ESY must be individualized for the student, and thus the IEP Team should consider input from a variety of sources and allow parents to meaningfully participate.  Discussion of ESY takes places during an IEP meeting.  
Factors to be considered in determining whether a student ought to be provided ESY include whether the student regresses during school breaks (for example, does the child regress during fall break, winter break, spring break) and if so, does the rate of recoupment (how fast the child re-learns the information he or she lost during the breaks) require the child be provided services during at least part of the summer so as not to fall so far behind if he or she is not provided services?  Another factor to be considered for ESY is whether the student is at a critical learning stage such that he or she needs to be provided services so that he or she does not lose out on the learning?
Tip for parents:  If the IEP Team last discussed and made a decision about ESY during the earlier part of the school year, the decision may need to be revisited.  You may request an IEP meeting to discuss ESY and revisit the ESY decision.  Do so in the spring, and before 45 days before the end of the school year. 
Parents should also ensure that the ESY program provided is the same as the ESY program that was discussed and described. 

Arizona's Special Education Lawyers

Monday, March 2, 2015

DDD and SSI Appeals

No does not always mean No
At least when it comes to a No from DDD or SSI.
Don’t take No for an answer.  If your child is denied eligibility for DDD or SSI, you still may be entitled to services and/or benefits.
Review the requirements for eligibility and appeal pursuant to their procedures.  Adhere to the timelines and provide the necessary documentation.
Even if told No a second time, appeal again if you believe your child fits the description for which they should be eligible for benefits and/or services.