If your disabled child has a written school plan giving him or her accommodations (called a "504 Plan"), that plan can translate into a dollar amount, and you can use that money to pay for private school tuition. Governor Scott signed a new law expanding the McKay Scholarship program to cover students with 504 Plans, and that law goes into effect on July 1, 2011. Prior to this expansion, only children with Individual Education Plans ("IEPs") were eligible for the McKay Scholarship. 504 Plans are named after the law which authorizes them - Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. [...]
On June 4, Gov Charlie Christ signed into law the state’s first regulations for the use of restraint and seclusion on public school students with disabilities. The law requires that a school prepare an incident report within a specified period after each occasion of student restraint or seclusion and that the school notify the student's parent or guardian if manual physical restraint or seclusion is used. It also prohibits school employees from using certain types of restrictions and restraints. These include forbidding a mechanical or manual restraint that restricts breathing, and prohibiting school employees from locking a disabled student in a [...]
Yesterday Governor Crist signed into law what appears to be an extraordinary program for disabled prekindergarten children beginning with the 2012-13 school year. The details are not clear yet, but here's the deal in brief. If your disabled child will be 4 years old by September 1, 2012 and he or she gets an Individualized Education Plan ("IEP"), which includes "specialized instructional services" (For example, ABA therapy, speech-language therapy, occupational therapy), Florida will reimburse the private therapy provider for a set number of therapy hours. In other words, beginning in 2012 the State of Florida will reimburse certain therapists for a [...]
Most parents are advocates of school choice -whether we identify ourselves that way or not. We would choose to send our children to the best school in our neighborhood over the one which was just simply around the corner, that is, if we could. Upper middle class parents routinely choose to buy homes in neighborhoods where the schools are superior - that was the earliest, and is still the most common, form of school choice. Parents of children with special needs have been called "extreme choosers" when it comes to finding the right school for their child. That's because their children's [...]
The IEP meetings are crucial for not only diploma planning, but also for transition planning and career preparation. Good transition goals in the IEP (which are critical years prior to high school graduation) can include workplace experiences that help students learn about employment settings and vocational opportunities and specific plans for developing self-determination skills. IDEA requires that in addition to parents, the student, and school personnel, the other agency representatives that are likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services must participate in the meetings. Outside agency representatives may include: vocational rehabilitation counselors, county social workers, secondary education [...]
Starting now it will be much harder (in fact, I think nearly impossible in Florida)to get your learning disabled ("LD") child special education services. That said, special ed services historically haven't helped LD kids very much. So, let's hope these changes are all for the good. Children with behavior problems may not receive special ed services as easily as before either.
RtI is a 3-tiered process of increasingly intensive research- based instruction which is part of federal law (IDEA 2004). At the end of the process (Tier 3), students who are still struggling in reading, math and/or behavior will be eligible for special education services (an "IEP"). The theory of RtI, which is to catch struggling students early and provide high quality research-based instruction, is great.
Response to Intervention (RtI) is a 3-tiered process of research-based instruction, which is part of federal law (IDEA 2004). Before RtI, in order to get considered for special education services (an "IEP") the main thing your struggling learner needed was a psycho-educational evaluation (conducted by a private or public school psychologist). The evaluation needed to show that he or she had unexpectedly low achievement in reading or math (known as the "discrepancy formula"). RtI is a multi-step process of increasingly intensive and individualized instruction above and beyond what usually happens in the classroom. It will hopefully be more effective for struggling learners than [...]
In the past, as many of you know, it has been extremely difficult for a learning disabled student who has performed well in school by compensating for his or her disabilities to obtain a 504 Plan. That was because the law (Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as interpreted by most school districts) stated that students who achieved well in school could not, by definition, have a disability which "substantially limited" the "major life activity" of learning - even if they suffered from a learning disability, ADHD or other disability. Getting a 504 Plan for that [...]
Once the psycho-educational evaluation of your son or daughter is complete (See this post for more details on getting an evaluation), if a disability is found the next step will be to have a school meeting to determine if that disability significantly impacts his or her educational performance. That sounds simple enough, but can actually be a great sticking point, particularly for gifted and disabled students. I covered that topic in detail in an article reprinted on the ISER web site. One thing is for sure that a student does not have to be failing in order to qualify for [...]