The Bureau of Special Education Appeals’ (“BSEA”) statistics for Fiscal Year 2018 and the overview given of the year by BSEA Director Reece Erlichman provide interesting insights not only into the invaluable work of the BSEA, but also into some trends regarding special education disputes in the Commonwealth.
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
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.
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
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