In my role as a special education advocate working primarily in Miami-Dade – the fourth largest public school district in the country – I’ve participated in hundreds of school meetings. Naturally as an advocate, I meet lots of dissatisfied parents, but I also see very unhappy teachers and administrators who are equally frustrated with a special education system laden with laws and red tape that often doesn’t result in even adequate educational achievement. One bright light in Miami is an emphasis on high quality online education options for struggling learners which they can access at home and in school. Virtual [...]
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So far Allison Hertog has created 30 blog entries.
Every so often the government takes a powerful stance on the side of the less powerful. January 21, 2011 was one of those moments. On that date the United States Department of Education released a memo to the State Directors of Special Education stating that schools cannot deny or delay a parent's request for a psycho-educational evaluation of their child if the parent and the school believe that the child may be eligible for special education services. It is pretty unusual for the US Dept. of Ed to issue a memo like that, and it must be that my experience [...]
This issue is really getting to me lately. It seems I have several clients right now who have bright kids who are perfectly capable of doing well in a general education classroom but for their behavior problems. The schools I'm dealing with often want to transfer the kids to special education classrooms which are exclusively for kids with "emotional or behavior disorders" or to another type of classroom purely for kids in special education, such as a class for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). "EBD" or Other Self-Contained Classrooms EBD classrooms are generally "self-contained" that means that they have only special education [...]
Bullying is a hot topic in the news lately as well it should. And as a special education attorney I hear about students with disabilities being bullied frequently. See this article from StopBullingNow.com and this site EyesonBullying for good advice about what to do if your child is being bullied. The Obama administration is pressuring schools to help curb bullying, particularly when the victim it targeted because he or she has a disability, is gay or is part of another protected group (such as a racial or ethnic minority). Last week, the U.S. Department of Ed. released some formal [...]
I hear it less now than I used to, but parents still routinely ask whether I can help their child get a 1:1 aide (meaning a paraprofessional who is ostensibly hired only to support a single child). My first response is that it's always been very difficult, but due to budget cuts, it's more difficult now than ever. My next response is that aides are not usually the answer to helping kids stay in a mainstream or gifted class. I recently heard a prominent Miami-Dade school official say at an IEP meeting for a disabled who qualified to be in [...]
More and more often I am advocating for children on the autism spectrum who are achieving at or above grade level, but whose IQ scores show them to have below average or even mentally deficient intelligence levels. The IQ score is supposed to represent a person's ability to learn so, how could it be that a child could be learning so well but be mentally retarded? The answer is that it can't be; it makes no sense. New research shows that the IQ scores of children on the autism spectrum may not be accurate reflections of their innate intellectual potential. [...]
One of the most challenging and infuriating areas in which I practice is advocating for the gifted and disabled (called "twice exceptional") these days. I feel particularly passionately about these cases because I fall into the category of twice exceptional (I suffer from multiple learning disabilities) and when I was a student in public school, I was left back in second grade and misdiagnosed as cognitively "slow." I am continually arguing to the school districts in South Florida that a gifted student should not be denied special education and related services soley because they are capable of performing at or above grade level. I understand that the [...]
As many of you may have heard, last spring the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a study concluding that charter schools enroll a lower percentage of special education students than traditional public schools. The latest is that the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has deployed “several broad compliance reviews” to address enrollment as well as legal compliance in charter schools, and that some state legislatures have placed enrollment “targets” resembling quotas in charter schools to “fix” the enrollment problem. This GAO report has gotten a tremendous amount of attention over the last several months. Some of that [...]
In Robyn Rennick’s post on Florida’s McKay Scholarships for Students With Disabilities last week, she argued that standardized testing measures are “inappropriate,” even “cruel,” for disabled children due to their diverse levels of achievement and in some cases immeasurable levels of progress. But this assumes that standardized testing is a “one size fits all” accountability measure. In reality, there are dozens, even hundreds, of standardized assessments that are designed for every segment of the student population – whether children are learning self-care or calculus. The choice of test can be left to the private school, not the state. More importantly, standardized testing is perhaps the only way [...]
If you're reading this blog, you've probably heard of the ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act – that’s the landmark piece of civil rights 1990 legislation which requires wheelchair accessible bathrooms, for instance. But what you may not know is whether the ADA applies to your disabled child in school. You'd think it would, right? But then, why does everyone talk about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) all the time? Well, Title II of the ADA does apply to your disabled child in school. Not just with respect to students with physical disabilities in wheelchairs, but also to [...]