The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), signed into law on March 27, 2020, contains a provision allowing the U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to recommend that Congress waive certain requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, including requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). Many attorneys and advocates for students with disabilities feared that the Secretary would seek congressional approval to excuse school districts from complying with all of IDEA’s provisions during the current crisis. Such approval, if granted, could have relaxed IDEA’s substantive obligations, such as the requirement that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) to students with disabilities, during periods of school closure and/or could have tolled or extended IDEA’s procedural obligations, such as the requirements that district perform evaluations and re-evaluations within specific timeframes. Continue reading
We are posting a link here to an article written by Bob Crabtree, of counsel with KC&S, regarding some of the critical issues surrounding special education and disability rights that candidates running for legislative and executive offices should address. Though IDEA is a federal law, states can establish increased requirements for special education and these are therefore issues to discuss with candidates for state office as well. The issues discussed in the article include: inadequate special education funding; the weakening of required standards governing IEPs; judicial decisions about recovery of attorneys’ fees and related costs; and the burden of proof in special education proceedings.
Readers may recall a number of posts we have entered over the past few years regarding Recovery High Schools. Massachusetts currently has five such high schools – in Boston, Brockton, Beverly, Worcester and Springfield – and they have each proven to be an excellent support for high school age students who are struggling to disengage from drug and/or alcohol dependence/abuse. A Recovery High School’s ability to provide a solid high school education along with appropriate services and supports to such students, in the company of peers who are struggling with the same issues, is critical to the success of this resource. The alternative – returning to the student’s home high school – is all too often disastrous, as a student’s fragile beginning toward recovery can so easily be crushed by a school district’s lack of supports while a user subculture of peers eagerly draws the student back into its mix. Continue reading
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
We have represented numerous children and adults with disabilities who have been abused by caregivers in their residential schools and group homes. On occasion, the perpetrators of that abuse have been found to have previous allegations of abuse substantiated by the Disabled Person Protection Commission (DPPC). While there has been an accessible registry of individuals with criminal charges maintained by the Commonwealth’s Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, known as CORI, there has been no corresponding registry for DPPC findings. Continue reading
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
On April 24, 2014, Governor Deval Patrick signed An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools, which amends the 2010 anti-bullying law. The Massachusetts House and Senate overwhelmingly supported the legislation, which was authored by the Attorney General’s office and sponsored by Representative Alice Hanlon Peisch (14th Norfolk) and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (2nd Suffolk). The amendment changes the bullying law in four principal ways. (An earlier amendment, effective July 1, 2014, had previously changed the law’s scope by broadening it to include bullying and harassment not only by peers, but also by school staff.) Continue reading