Advocating over the Long Haul: Handling Stress and Staying in the Game

Note: The following is a transcript of Bob Crabtree’s remarks, delivered on Saturday, March 4, to attendees of COPAA’s annual special education advocacy conference upon his receipt of the Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Advocacy.  His presentation was delivered over the internet as he was unable to attend in person.

Thank you so much, Dana (Johnson), and good afternoon to my friends and fellow warriors –

I am so pleased to have this award from COPAA.  I have loved watching this very special organization grow into a robust resource for families whose children struggle in school, and their advocates and attorneys.  COPAA stands tall, manifesting the great power that can be exercised through organizing people with widely varying interests around a common mission at a national level. COPAA educates and trains in special education law, fights to sustain and advance those rights, and speaks truth to power both directly at all levels of government, and indirectly through COPAA’s many trainees, as they assist parents in the clinches of Team meetings, negotiations with school districts and due process hearings.  Every state should have a comparable local organization – as Massachusetts does in its Federation for Children with Special Needs, the Mass. Advocates for Children, the Disability Law Center and others – but having COPAA so powerfully active at the national level provides an indispensable resource that greatly enhances the effectiveness of state organizations. Continue reading

Robert Crabtree to Receive the 2017 Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Advocacy

It is with great pride that we share the news that our colleague, Bob Crabtree, will receive the 2017 Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Advocacy from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), a prominent national organization that protects the legal and civil rights of students with disabilities and their families. Each year, as part of their Annual Conference, COPAA honors the memory of Diane Lipton, a tireless advocate for children with disabilities for over two decades, with this award.  Bob’s decades of leadership in legislative work, representation of myriad families in special education matters, training of innumerable special education attorneys and advocates, and his invaluable contribution to the library of special education advocacy make him a well deserving choice for this award. Congratulations Bob!

 

Providing an IEP May Not Suffice if a District Fails in Its Child Find Obligation

Suppose a child exhibits troubling behaviors and/or difficulties learning basic skills in kindergarten or another early grade. Suppose further that, despite the child’s problematic performance, no teacher or other public school employee recommends that the child be evaluated. Perhaps that child passes through first and part of second grade with similar problems until finally a referral is made, an evaluation completed, and an IEP developed. Problem solved? Not entirely. The question remains whether the district should have taken these steps much earlier and whether any remedy is available to make up for the lost time and services.

The District of Columbia Circuit recently held that, although a school district’s provision of an IEP may satisfy the district’s obligations now and for the immediate future, parents may still be entitled to compensatory education for the months or years when their child was not yet on an IEP or identified as eligible for special education. Boose v. District of Columbia, 786 F.3d 1054 (D.C. Cir. 2015). Continue reading

Federal Guidance Regarding Speech-Language Services for Students with Autism

The Office of Special Education Programs of the United States Department of Education (“OSEP”) issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” letter on July 6, 2015 regarding speech-language services and evaluations for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Continue reading

Recovery High Schools: Bill to provide transportation is now up for Hearing

As we have mentioned in prior posts on this subject (here and here), Representatives Tom Sannicandro (Ashland), Liz Malia (Jamaica Plain), Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (Second Suffolk District), and many other interested legislators have filed a bill – H-1815 – to provide transportation to and from one of the Recovery High Schools in Massachusetts for students who are recovering from alcohol or drug dependence or addiction. Continue reading

Discovery of Information about Proposed Peers at the BSEA: A Practice Note

Why proposed peer group information is essential in BSEA proceedings

The capacity of a school district’s program to meet the needs of a student with a disability often depends heavily on the learning, behavioral, and social communication needs of the peers with whom the district proposes to group the student.   An inappropriate classroom cohort can significantly undermine a student’s ability to make effective progress.  For example, suppose that a child of average intelligence who has severe dyslexia requires placement in small classes where all core subjects are taught with a specialized language-based methodology.  Placing that student in a classroom with students who have different disabilities (such as emotional or intellectual impairments) that require different methodologies would not be appropriate.  Continue reading

Recovery High Schools – Legislation to Add Transportation Now in the Works

Readers may recall our posting in June 2014 regarding the need to fix a serious omission in legislation that supports the establishment of “recovery high schools” for students recovering from alcohol or other kinds of substance dependence or addiction. The four high schools that have so far been developed with the help of that legislation – in Boston, Beverly, Brockton, and Springfield – provide a powerful resource for students who, after achieving some hard-won success in recovery programs, would otherwise return to the very environments where they fell into trouble in the first place. Because the legislation has not included transportation, however, students who cannot find a way to get to and from those schools cannot access the great services they offer. Continue reading