By Susan Frey
A federal class action lawsuit filed by juvenile justice advocates alleges that Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall officials have kept teenagers with disabilities in solitary confinement for up to 100 days and have denied them special education services that the county is legally required to provide. About a third of all students in the county’s Juvenile Hall are estimated to have disabilities.
“Despite knowing that many students have a learning disability, mental illness or other disabilities, Contra Costa County puts students in solitary confinement for behavior that is related to their disabilities, denies them general and special education services and holds them in conditions that can make their disabilities worse,” according to a news release issued by Disability Rights Advocates, Public Counsel and Paul Hastings LLP, the groups that filed the lawsuit.
via Lawsuit: Disabled teens kept in solitary confinement, denied educational services | EdSource Today.
By Christina Samuels
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, along with federal leaders who oversee special education, told a conference of special education leaders and parents of students with disabilities that their experiences can help guide a number of national initiatives, including expanded preschool and preparing students for college and work.
The audience was gathered here for the yearly IDEA Leadership Conference. Duncan, repeating the administration’s focus on creating a $75 billion federal investment in state-run preschool, said that preschool can help reduce the number of students enrolled in special education.
via Ed. Dept. Leaders Say Special Education Offers Lessons for All – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Christina Samuels
The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, an advocacy coalition based in Washington, is calling for the U.S. Department of Education to rescind a regulation that allows some students with disabilities to be tested on “modified academic achievement standards.” Such tests are sometimes called known as “2 percent tests” because regulations allow 2 percent of all students, or about 20 percent of students with disabilities, to take such assessments and be counted as proficient under the No Child Left Behind Act.
via Advocates Call for End to Testing Under Modified Academic Standards – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Christina Samuels
Groups representing special education administrators and teachers as well as people with disabilities have given a big thumbs down to a House bill that would reauthorize the long-delayed Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind.
My colleague Alyson Klein has done a thorough job explaining the political machinations behind the bill, known as HR 5 or the Student Success Act, which passed yesterday on a 221-207 vote. No House Democrats voted in favor. The Senate education committee passed its own version of the ESEA in June, but it has yet to be taken up by the full Senate.
via Special Education Groups Criticize House NCLB Rewrite – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Christina Samuels
A comparison of two well-known interventions for young children with autism, LEAP and TEACCH, has found that both of them produce gains among students during the school year—and so does high-quality classroom instruction that is not tied to any particular model.
The findings suggest that common elements of good classroom instruction, including an orderly classroom environment, well-trained teachers and positive interactions between children and adults, may be more important for children with autism than instruction using any particular treatment model. The study was published in the June edition of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and the researchers have written a layman-friendly version of their findings.
via Study: High Quality Matters More Than Specific Model for Preschoolers with Autism – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Christina Samuels
The National Center for Learning Disabilities recently launched a website intended to help doctors and other pediatric health-care professionals talk to parents about specific learning disabilities.
The LD Navigator was created in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and funded through a grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The resource offers informational handouts that can be printed for parents; talking points for doctors to guide conversations about referrals and evaluation; screening questions for new patients; and information on federal and local laws that govern educational services for students with learning disabilities.
via Online Tool Helps Doctors Engage Parents on Learning Disabilities – On Special Education – Education Week.
Happy Retirement to Marsha Ludwig, SCOE’s Special Education Director, seated left, and Lois Keenan, SCOE’s Program Manager, seated right.
The Special Education Management Team celebrated Marsha and Lois’s retirement with a special dinner in Suisun at Pane Y Vino restaurant. With the addition of new programs, the team had grown from the original “Magnificent Seven.” Former and current special education administrators attended the celebration and sent them their fond goodbyes and well wishes for the future!
Happy Retirement! | Facebook.
SCOE’s Elm School Adult Transition Program held its exit ceremony on June 5 at the Hampton Inn in Vacaville. Family, friends, and SCOE staff were on hand to wish the new graduates success. Way to go!
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By Miriam Kurtzig Freedman / commentary
In the long saga of education reform, with all its talk, writing and action, Special Education has been largely on the back burner. Reformers seemed afraid to touch it—until now.
The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) recently issued a ground-breaking and controversial report, Rethinking Special Education Due Process. In doing so, this national organization of public school administrators placed reforming special education due process squarely on the reform agenda—a huge step forward. I applaud them for it.
via It’s about time! Reforming due process in Special Education – by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman.
Six students from SCOE’s Adult Transition Program were recognized and honored by school staff, family, and friends at a Transition Exit Ceremony on June 3 at the Fairfield-Suisun Adult School. Students produced videos which showed them in class, at work, and in the community.
SCOE’s Adult Transition Program aids in the development of young adults with special needs into positive, productive, and contributing members of society.
via Six students from SCOE’s Adult Transition Program were recognized and honored by….
New Hampshire-based filmmaker Dan Habib, whose first documentary, “Including Samuel,” chronicled the life of his family, which includes a son with cerebral palsy, is back with another film that talks about restraint and seclusion from the perspective of students.
Tonight’s premiere of “Restraint and Seclusion: Hear our Stories” marks the kickoff of the Stop Hurting Kids campaign, an effort by a coalition of 26 disability advocacy groups to stop the use of restraint and seclusion as a means to curb disruptive behavior.
via Campaign Against Restraint and Seclusion Launches With New Film.
The rates of autism for students of all races is on the increase, but students who are black, Hispanic, or American Indian are less likely to be identified with the disability compared to white and Asian students, according to a study published this month in The Journal of Special Education.
The study, “A Multiyear National Profile of Racial Disparity in Autism Identification,” compiled information collected by the federal government from 1998 to 2006 on the race and disability category of students in special education. Using that information, the researchers were able to calculate a “risk index,” or the percentage of all enrolled students from a racial group with a specific disability.
via Study: Minority Students Less Like to Be Identified With Autism.
The long-awaited fifth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM-5, was released last weekend by the American Psychiatric Assocation with several revisions that affect conditions such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that are common in school contexts.
The manual was last published in 1994 and updated in 2000. Many of these changes reflected in the DSM-5 have been the subject of widespread debate for several months. The diagnostic criteria also have potential to affect schools, though the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has its own definitions of disabilities covered under special education law.
via Revised Psychiatric Disorders ‘Bible’ Changes Disability Definitions.
Unresolved questions about liability and costs of special education postponed the approval of a petition by a Rio Linda-based nonprofit operator of charter schools to have its downtown Vacaville campus, Heritage Peak, fall under the oversight of Vacaville Unified.
District trustees, who met Thursday in the Education Services Center, are expected to vote on the petition from Pacific Charter Institute at their June 27 meeting — if not sooner, governing board president David McCallum said after nearly 90 minutes of document review, advice by attorneys, comments from trustees and remarks by Superintendent John Niederkorn.
via Vacaville Unified School District delays charter school oversight vote.
A state-by-state analysis of the most recent data on graduation rates for students with learning disabilities shows that while more of those students have been leaving high school with a standard diploma, many states are struggling to reach the national graduation rate average of 68 percent for students in that disability category.
via Diplomas Elusive for Many Students With Learning Disabilities.
Student performance, not just procedural compliance, is the goal of a revised reporting system proposed by the federal office of special education programs.
The proposed revisions affect both Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which applies to about 6.5 million youth ages 3 to 21, as well as Part C of the act, which affects about 454,000 children from birth to age 3.
via Special Education Office Aims to Revise Monitoring Focus.
There’s something about kids that just makes your heart smile.
On Friday, many experienced that joy as special-needs students from throughout Solano County skipped, danced and rolled their way through an early-morning taste of the Dixon May Fair.
“They start looking forward to this in January,” advised Miranda Williams, a teacher at Will C. Wood High School. “They love it. They love the May Fair. It’s all, ‘May Fair, May Fair!’ ” she said, quoting the kids’ chant during classes.
via Dixon May Fair welcomes special-needs children for day of fun.
In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidelines on how doctors should treat preschoolers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The first step should be parent and/or teacher-administered behavioral therapy. If symptoms continue, the next step is medication with methylphenidate, better known under the brand names Ritalin or Concerta.
But only about 10 percent of medical specialists responding to a survey on their treatment methods said that they followed those guidelines exactly. Many chose medication as a first-line treatment; others chose to prescribe different types of medication, or refused to prescribe drugs even when behavioral therapy was not showing success.
via Doctors Deviate From Guidelines When Treating ADHD in Preschoolers.
Presented to Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance
via Overview of Special Education
The Vallejo City Unified School District will offer a new language class next year — one that that could give voice to students who struggle to speak.
“Some of our students, particularly our special education-designated students, have difficulties with expressing themselves verbally, so we want to make sure they can meet the world language requirement with this American Sign Language class,” Superintendent Ramona Bishop said Friday.
via Vallejo high schools to add American Sign Language.