Public Toxins and the IDEA: In Quest of an Accountable Economy and a Fully Funded IDEA

In a recently published article for Newsline, a publication of the Federation for Children with Special Needs, Bob Crabtree reflects on the slow process between the time that a substance is recognized as toxic to children and the time that legislatures act (if they act at all) to regulate its use, and the resulting harm to children.

In the article, Public Toxins and the IDEA: In Quest of an Accountable Economy and a Fully Funded IDEA, Mr. Crabtree discusses the implications of this regulatory failure for disability advocacy, with emphasis on the need for a robust independent regulatory system to determine the possible neurodevelopmental effect of materials before those materials are allowed in the marketplace. In addition, Mr. Crabtree argues that Congress must fully fund IDEA to provide adequate support to all children with disabilities, including those children whose disabilities are caused or amplified by harmful products in the marketplace.

(Readers are encouraged to return to this site with comments if they are so moved, as the Federation’s site does not include that option.)

New First Circuit Opinion Elucidates Exhaustion Requirement for School-Related Claims Under Sections 504 and 1983

The First Circuit has recently clarified the exhaustion requirements for school-related Section 504 and Section 1983 claims in light of Fry v. Napoleon Cmty. Schs., 137 S. Ct. 743 (2017).  In Doucette v. Georgetown Public Schools, #18-1160 (1st Cir. Aug. 26, 2019), a divided panel reversed a District Court decision that dismissed parents’ Section 504 and Section 1983 claims for failure to exhaust IDEA’s administrative process. Continue reading

Selective Service Registration for Men with Disabilities

Recently, Attorneys from the Special Education and Disability Rights practice group and the Estate Planning and Estate and Trust Administration practice group at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP, attended the annual conference for the Federation for Children with Special Needs.  During the conference, one parent approached us and asked whether her son, who is eighteen years old and has significant disabilities, really needed to register for the Selective Service.  It was an intriguing question, one that we had not heard before, and so we looked into it. Continue reading

Endrew F. v. Douglas County and its Impact on Special Education Law

The Boston Bar Journal recently published an article by Dan Heffernan regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Endrew F. and its impact here in Massachusetts.  Please take a look!

Dan Heffernan is a partner in the Special Education & Disability Rights practice group at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP in Boston, Massachusetts.

Act Now or We May Lose Mass Health Funding for Special Needs Students

While we don’t usually pass along notices issued by others, we think that the alert below from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (“COPAA”) deserves your immediate attention and action.  We urge our readers to let their concerns be heard, as federal legislators appear to be acting behind closed doors to reduce Medicaid funding drastically in whatever provisions will be proposed to replace the Affordable Care Act.  Continue reading

A Bit of Advocacy History

Take a moment, if you can, to check out an April 1975 letter from Harvey Liebergott, then with the Bureau of Information for the Handicapped in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, notifying Martha Ziegler forty years ago this week of a grant of around $25, 000 to fund a pilot program under which the nascent Federation for Children with Special Needs was to play a key role in the development of systems to support regional information and referral centers throughout the country.  He estimated that a fully operational system of regional information and referral centers would cost on the order of ten million dollars – an amount that he could see “no chance of ever getting” – and he urged Martha to “think of the project realistically as a model that could be utilized nationwide to solve the most immediate problems of handicapped children with limited resources, and not as an ideal for solving all of the information and referral needs of parents in your particular state.”

Needless to say, the Federation took that $25,000, ran with it and became the gold standard of parent training and support agencies, then and now.

Rich Robison, the Director of the Federation, shared this wonderful bit of advocacy history this week.  He himself celebrated his 18th anniversary as the Federation’s Director yesterday, and we thank and congratulate him for all the tremendous work he has done through all those years – marked as they have been by enormous fiscal and political challenges – to sustain and expand the Federation’s role as a powerful voice and indispensible resource in the world of special education training and advocacy.

Taking Para-Sports to the Limit

Endless Abilities is an inspiring feature documentary film which illustrates the level of expertise of para-athletes across the country in a variety of sports. In 2012, after Zack Bastian was rendered paraplegic in a dirt bike accident, he and his three best friends drove across the country in search of individuals with physical disabilities who were doing amazing things in adaptive sports. This included rock climbing with athletes who were blind, riding waves with surfers with paralysis, and swimming with an athlete with muscular dystrophy. Continue reading

New DESE Advisory: Charting a Course for Charter School Students Who May Need an Out-of-District Program

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (“DESE”) recently released an advisory concerning the responsibilities of charter schools to special education students. Although charter schools have been a feature of the Massachusetts school landscape for over twenty years, there are still misunderstandings about charter schools’ obligations to their students who require special education.  The DESE advisory addresses some of these issues. It focuses on a Massachusetts special education regulation found at 603 CMR 28.10(6)(a), which covers the responsibilities of the charter school and the student’s public school district (“district of residence”) in the event that a student with special needs may need to leave the charter school in order to obtain an appropriate education.  (This regulation also covers special education students who attend vocational schools, Commonwealth of Massachusetts virtual schools, and schools attended through the METCO program.  However, the advisory targets charter schools specifically.) Continue reading