IEP | Littman Krooks, LLP
(914) 684-2100
Home  |  Our Firm  |  Attorneys  |  Staff  |  Blog  |  Contact  |  Employment  |  Directions

Obtaining Services for Children with Special Needs During the Pandemic

August 16th, 2020

Studies show that approximately 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs before the age of five. For children with learning disabilities or other special needs, these early years are crucial. Early intervention, sometimes even before a child has a diagnosis, can be extremely effective. As one special education expert explained, “If you miss that critical window of opportunity, when delays or issues can be addressed, then it becomes more difficult and more expensive to intervene later on.”

Historically, daycare, preschool and kindergarten have been one of the primary ways that children who may have special learning needs are identified. Often a teacher notices that a child is struggling while learning in a group of other children. The teacher informs the child’s parents, who then can seek out the appropriate services and support. Parents can easily miss these cues in their own children, as they may not have the knowledge and experience necessary to identify possible issues and often lack the ability to see their child learn side-by-side with other children.

Given the new norm of social distancing and distance learning, schools and many daycare facilities are closed, or operating with limited hours. Consequently, a significant avenue of detection and referral has dried up. In recent months, many special education experts raised concerns that the number of children referred for special education services will decrease, leaving many children without crucial support. Compounding these concerns is the fact that many parents hesitate to take their children to the doctor’s – the second major source of special education referrals – given concerns surrounding COVID-19.

For those children who were receiving special education support before the pandemic struck, many services have been eliminated or reduced. While some support centers provide some level of online services, not all services can be appropriately delivered online. Thus, many support centers are seeing business dry up. According to a recent news report, many disability service providers are on the brink of collapse, given the recent reduction in children obtaining services.

The importance of early intervention is undisputed. Typically, a child’s school is the primary source of referral. However, with schools closed, this puts additional pressure on parents. However, federal law requires schools to provide students with an appropriate education, even in times like these. Thus, schools have an obligation to identify and refer students who have special needs.

Parents who are concerned that their children are not receiving the education they need to thrive should consider reaching out to a special education attorney for immediate assistance.

The dedicated team of special needs advocates at Littman Krooks, LLP has a comprehensive understanding of the educational requirements as they pertain to students with special needs, and use this knowledge to ensure that every student gets the education they need and deserve. Littman Krooks has been helping New York families for over 30 years. The knowledgeable attorneys at Littman Krooks can be reached 914-684-2100. You can also contact them at https://www.littmankrooks.com/.

 

Share

Parents of Students with IEPs Raise Concerns Over Regression in Light of COVID-Related School Closures 

July 27th, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every New Yorker. Parents of children who have an individualized education program (IEP) are facing unique challenges, as school closures have resulted in an unavailability of services for many families. Indeed, services disappeared overnight for thousands of New York students, leaving parents to figure out how best to get their children the services they need to thrive.

Approximately 7 million children – or 14 percent of all students in the United States – receive special education services. These services are federally mandated, meaning that schools must provide them to students. However, under guidance from the Department of Education, “If a school district closes its schools to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19, and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, then the school district would not be required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period of time.”

Understandably, parents with students who have special learning needs are afraid that, absent these crucial services, their children could regress. In general, regression is a stage in which a child displays a behavior that they have outgrown or that is inappropriate for their age and level of development. In this context, regression refers to the decline in knowledge and skills that is due to an interruption in education. Psychology and education experts agree that children are most comfortable with consistency, and that a sudden change in circumstance can trigger regressive behavior. Changed circumstances, coupled with a removal of services, can be a double trigger, increasing the chances of regression. The signs of regression vary between children; however, they often include:

  • More frequent or more intense temper tantrums
  • Wetting the bed or more frequent accidents
  • A sudden inability to sleep through the night
  • Starting to use a pacifier again or suck on a thumb
  • A sudden withdrawn attitude

While some schools are implementing remote learning curriculums, these are not always catered toward students with special needs and may not be effective. In fact, studies have shown that when a student receives educational content that is not specially tailored to their unique needs, the student can begin to feel further isolated.

Consult with an experienced special education advocacy attorney

The challenges facing parents who have a student with special needs are greater than ever given the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions in place to curb the spread of the disease. At Littman Krooks, LLP, we have a deep understanding of the rights that special needs students have under the law, and are passionate about ensuring our clients’ children receive the education and benefits they are entitled. We will work with you, your child’s teachers and the school district representatives to ensure that your child is provided with the education services they need and deserve. To learn more, call 914-684-2100 to schedule a meeting with an attorney today. During these unprecedented times we are working remotely to fully meet our clients’ needs. We are offering our clients the opportunity to meet with us via telephone or video conference call.

 

Share

Ten Tips for New York Families in the Wake of the Coronavirus

March 13th, 2020

By Marion M. Walsh, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP

We at Littman Krooks know how challenging this time is for families. New York, along with Washington State, leads the U.S. in cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The pandemic will strain public resources and services for all. We do not have all the answers, as current events are unfolding, but provide information and assurance for families.

We know that school closures are occurring everywhere, due to public health concerns. The New York State Department of Education (NYSED), together with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) on March 9, 2020, issued School Guidance to public school districts for planning. In addition, the CDC, on March 12 2020, issued interim CDC School Guidance to  school districts on closures. Some private schools or school districts will have to close for a certain period and many will consider providing distance learning.

Impact on Students with Disabilities

COVID-19 and the disruptions and school closure  will affect all families and cause stress and interruptions. Yet the pandemic and closures will inevitably have a disproportionate impact on students with fragile health conditions and students with disabilities. The US Department of Education has issued USDOE Guidance for help with IEP services.  Federal and state law  do require that students with disabilities continue to receive a free appropriate public education. You will need to work with your child’s providers and with your school district to ensure your child receives appropriate services and support. However, keep in mind that the USDOE Guidance states that if a school district  closes its schools to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19, and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, then the district would not be required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period of time, although in some circumstances, compensatory services may be needed.  As most New York School Districts will endeavor to provide some kind of student distance learning however, the school districts that do this must ensure appropriate and accessible services for students with disabilities.

We have compiled an action/information plan for all families with  special attention to families of children or teens with disabilities or students with fragile physical or mental health conditions:

Basic Tips

  • Ensure that you keep your child calm and reassured. You can review basic Health-Crisis Guidance  from the National Association of School Psychologists for how to speak to children and reassure them. Remember that your children will react to and follow both your verbal and nonverbal reactions.  Your statements about  COVID-19, current prevention efforts, and related events can either increase or decrease your children’s anxiety.  Remind your children that you and the adults at their school are there to keep them safe and healthy. This NPR comic video  may be helpful to explain the virus to students.
  • Review and Follow Basic Hygiene. Review and re-enforce the importance of hand washing and important hygiene protocol with your child.  Students with intellectual disabilities may need help and reinforcement. The CDC has provided information on how hand washing can be a family activity.
  • Keep as much structure at home if possible.  To the extent possible, maintain a sense of normalcy in your home while keeping expectations reasonable. Parents can ask teachers for additional homework that parents can use to ensure that the student is being academically challenged or receiving consistent academic material.  However, do not push children or teens if they seem overwhelmed.  While stressful and difficult, this can be a chance for family time and togetherness.   The closings and limited activities disrupt our routine but may give us a chance to enjoy some of the basics at home such as family game nights, conversation, good books.  Each family has its unique structure and idiosyncrasies and to the extent you can, try to figure out for your family a path to come out of this stronger and more united.

Parent Support

  • Seek Flexibility with Employer if Needed.  If you work outside the home and are the primary caregiver for your child, you should seek flexibility with your employer and ask about the ability to work remotely or to take a leave of absence.  The Family Medical Leave Act, in general, protects employees in workplaces with 50 employees or more and allows unpaid leave of absence to care for family members, for up to 12 weeks, without penalty.
  • Rely on Virtual Support Groups.  Parents can derive help and support from other parents in similar situations.  Reach out via social media to find support groups with similar issues to ones you are facing.  A virtual community of other parents, while not a substitute for person-to-person interaction, can help you locate resources and share experience on certain issues.

Student Services Options

  • Obtain Medical Documentation for Student’s Unique Needs. If schools remain open, do not assume that your school district will automatically grant requests home bound instruction or other services as you may  need current documentation.  If your child is medically fragile or immuno-suppressed, obtain a letter from your child’s doctor and submit it to your school district to ask that home instruction, provided by the school district, begin as soon as possible. For students who cannot attend school and have medical documentation, New York Education Law  requires that home bound instruction must be available for students who reside in the district if they require it. For children with disabilities who are absent for an extended period of time because of a COVID-19 infection when the school remains open, according to USDOE Guidance, then for each child, the IEP Team must determine whether the child is available for instruction and could benefit from home bound services such as online or virtual instruction, instructional telephone calls, and other curriculum-based instructional activities, to the extent available.
  • Review Options for Online or Virtual Services for Your Child. Public safety protocols may limit the ability of providers or health care workers to work directly with students. For services, such as physical therapy or occupational therapy, it is not possible to obtain these services virtually. However, other services, such as home instruction or, in some circumstances, counseling, may be appropriate remotely or virtually.
  • Document Missed Services. If needed and possible, you should see if providers will come to your home to provide services. If a child does not receive services during a closure, a child’s IEP team (or appropriate personnel under Section 504) must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed, consistent with applicable requirements, including to make up for any skills that may have been lost. For any school closures or interruptions in services, document any  services your child has missed and keep records and documentation of any regression. Ask the school district to provide related make up services.
  • Understand Option of Home Schooling. Home schooling is different than home bound instruction and if you are worried about your child’s health, you may consider home-schooling. New York State Home Schooling Guidance  explains that parents must file for an Individualized Home Instruction Plan New York. Home-schooled students, like students parentally placed in private school, are eligible for certain District of Location services, including related services, through an IESP. Here are other resources: Families Unschooling In New York; New York Home Educators’ Network

If Quarantined.

  • Review Guidance if under Voluntary or Mandated Quarantine or Containment. Families must review Containment Guidance. Keep in mind that persons under mandatory isolation or mandatory quarantine can walk outside their house on their own property, but they must not come within six feet of neighbors or other members of the public. The Containment Guidance notes that families may need assistance with many basic necessities as well as mental health or social needs and supplies, but does not give tips on how to get this assistance.

The COVID-19 situation is evolving and new protocol may be available and required. The above tips do not constitute legal advice or any type of medical advice. Consult with your child’s doctors or providers for information on health protections for your child. If you believe that your school district is not appropriately serving your child, it is wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in education law. We at Littman Krooks are here to answer any questions, as well. Our office will be functioning through the outbreak—whether virtually or in-person– and please reach out to any of us.

Please remember that, In the past two decades, we have gone through 9/11, the tragedies and echoing repercussions of Sandy Hook and Parkland, hurricanes and other disasters as well as other defining moments. We will  persevere through this as well. We have learned that a positive, calm, rational and proactive  response to disasters and fears  can create resilience for all of us, including our children and help build a stronger society. For your children, try not to  succumb to  fear, anger, and confusion, but work to be a light to others to lead them through.

Learn more about elder lawestate planning and special needs planning at http://www.elderlawnewyork.com  & www.littmankrooks.com. Have questions about this article? Contact us.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here.

 

Share

Potential Disclosure of Records Impacts Students with Special Needs

June 22nd, 2016

New York City special education students and their parents should be aware of a potential disclosure of student records for the purpose of a class action lawsuit.

Littman Kroooks Special Needs PlanningThe potential disclosure may affect students who had an Individualized Education Program (IEP) prepared between 2003 and 2016 by the New York City Department of Education (DOE), and either attended a state-approved non-public school or were diagnosed or classified as autistic.

The student records are covered by a confidentiality agreement and would only be disclosed to the parties to the lawsuit, their attorneys, experts and the court.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, M.G. v. NYC DOE, are children with disabilities (and their parents) who attended State-approved non-public schools or were diagnosed or classified as autistic and claim that certain DOE policies violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by preventing them from receiving special education services.

Parents who object to the disclosure of their children’s records may file an objection form by August 7, 2016 requesting that protected personal information be removed from those students’ records before they are released. Objecting to disclosure will not affect any rights that students and parents may have under the lawsuit or in relation to the DOE.

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Share

New York Parent Advocates for Ability to Appeal Regents Score

November 19th, 2015

By Sandi Rosenbaum, Educational Advocate, Littman Krooks LLP

Although special education students in New York can pass their Regents exams with lower scores than students without disabilities, they do not have the same ability to appeal if they fall short. One New York parent, whose son was one point away from passing a Regents test, is advocating for change.

Littman KrooksGenerally, students in New York who do not have disabilities must achieve a score of 65 or higher on five Regents exams in order to receive a diploma. However, such students can appeal up to two Regents exam scores as low as 62, provided they earn a passing course grade and demonstrate strong attendance. While a successful appeal does not change the Regents exam grade on the transcript, it does allow the school district to grant a diploma to students who have fallen short on the exam, but otherwise demonstrated mastery of the high school curriculum.

Students with disabilities benefit from the so-called “safety net” and must generally score 55 or higher to pass the Regents exams. On some exams, even a score as low as 45 may suffice if it is offset by another exam score of 65 or better, but this compensatory option does not apply to the Regents exams in English and Math. While the safety net provides meaningful relief to students with disabilities, those who approach, but do not achieve, a score of 55 on the English or Math Regents exams have no ability to appeal for a diploma as do students without disabilities who come within a similar margin of passing.

A Brooklyn resident and mother of an 18-year-old son with a learning disability, took action when her son was poised to come within one point of earning his diploma. He passed four Regents exams, earning scores as high as 79, but was unable to score higher than a 54 in algebra, even after taking the exam three times. She said that, as a high school diploma was essential for her son to be considered for many jobs that he would be capable of performing, she was determined that he would not be denied a diploma over one point on one exam at his anticipated graduation in June 2016.

New York officials responded to her concerns and said that the Board of Regents would vote on a rule in December to allow special education students to appeal for the right to a diploma if they achieve a score of at least 52. Officials said the change would not be a lowering of standards, but an inclusion of special needs students without diminishing their ability to achieve.

Practical Pointer: Students with disabilities may remain in school and continue to receive services until age 21 or until they earn a Regents or local diploma, whichever comes first. Parents must keep in mind that students may earn a Regents or local diploma and a Career Development and Occupational Services Credential, which attests to important work readiness skills and requires work experience. For many students with disabilities, graduating with a Regents or local diploma at 18 does not represent the best option and may deprive the student of the opportunity to develop needed work-readiness skills, as a school district’s mandate to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) ends when the diploma is earned. Thus, the decision to appeal must be considered carefully against the benefits the student may receive from potential additional year(s) of schooling while he or she pursues the score of 55.

It remains to be seen whether the opportunity for appeal will apply to both of the English and Math Regents exams simultaneously, or only for one or the other.

 

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here.

Share

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) includes siblings for job-protected Leave

September 21st, 2015

Siblings are included in the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in some circumstances.

Littman Kroooks Special Needs PlanningThe FMLA, enacted in 1993, provides for eligible workers to take unpaid leave for up to 12 workweeks per year because of their own serious health condition or to care for their spouse, parent or child with a serious health condition. Siblings have never been explicitly included in these protections. However, the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, which implements the FMLA, has clarified that siblings are protected in certain cases.

The Department has clarified the definition of “son or daughter” in two ways that benefit families who work together to care for a family member with a disability:

First, the Department has clarified that “son or daughter” includes both children under the age of 18, and adult children who are incapable of self care because of a physical or mental disability.

Second, “son or daughter” has been clarified by the Department as including individuals for whom the worker seeking leave is acting “in loco parentis,” which means “in the place of a parent.” This may include siblings who have day-to-day responsibility for caring for the child or adult with a disability.

With these detailed updates from the Department of Labor, it is clear that otherwise-eligible employees who are siblings with the day-to-day responsibility of caring for a brother or sister, including an adult brother or sister incapable of self-care due to a disability, are protected under the FMLA when they must take leave from work to care for their sibling.

 

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here.

 

Share

Summer Extended School Year Programs for Children with Disabilities

June 30th, 2015

By Marion M. Walsh, Esq.

The end of the school year can bring relief for many students and parents, but also uncertainty and trepidation about the summer months. The new school year technically beings on July 1, 2015, although most students will not begin school until September. Many students do regress academically, behaviorally or emotionally during the summer months and require Extended School Year (“ESY”) services over the summer. Littman Krooks

Only certain students with disabilities qualify for ESY or summer services, which generally run for six weeks from July 6th through approximately August 14th this year, although some districts may have different dates and shorter programs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and New York State Regulations technically allow Extended School Year services for students likely to experience substantial regression, as measured by whether the student has regressed academically during breaks during the school year. The CSE may allow ESY services for students who regress emotionally or behaviorally, if appropriate. Specifically, the law provides that the CSE must consider ESY services to prevent substantial regression for students:

• In special classes with management needs that are highly intensive and require a high degree of individualized attention;
• in special classes with severe multiple disabilities, whose programs consist primarily of habilitation and treatment
• who are recommended for home and/or hospital instruction whose special education needs are determined to be highly intensive and require a high degree of individualized attention or who have severe multiple disabilities;
• whose needs are so severe that they can be met only in a seven-day residential program; or
• receiving other special education services who, because of their disabilities, exhibit the need for twelve-month special service and/or program in order to prevent substantial regression.

Littman Krooks special needs
An ESY program is very different from summer school which high schools may offer for typical students. Summer school credit recovery programs focus on the needs of students who have failed classes or need support during the summer months.

For students who are in summer ESY programs, it is important for parents to monitor closely and take immediate steps to rectify any concerns, as the six weeks passes quickly . Too often, school districts throw ESY programs together too quickly and do not ensure appropriate groupings or activities. Be sure to monitor your child’s progress and put all complaints in writing.

Here are some questions our parents have asked about summer programs:

Q: My child’s program only has very disabled peers and looks very different from her school year program. Is this appropriate?
A: Your child’s summer program should allow her to progress in the Least Restrictive Environment. Consider what type of public program your child needs to have interaction with non-disabled peers. The CSE should offer a continuum of placements and the program should have essentially the same level of inclusion as his or her school year program. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 found that an ESY program was substantively inadequate, as the CSE failed to consider an appropriate continuum of alternative ESY placements and place the student in his LRE on that continuum. The District claimed the program was appropriate and noted that it only offered certain limited programs in the summer months. But the Court held that: “a child’s LRE is primarily defined by the nature of the child’s disabilities rather than by the placements that the school district chooses to offer.” T.M. v. Cornwall Central School District

Q: How can I monitor my child’s progress?

A: Work closely with your child’s teacher to monitor the work and how he is doing. Pay close attention to the level of supervision and monitoring. Make sure any concerns about bullying are addressed promptly. Here are some questions to start with, in a dialogue with your child’s teacher:

• Is my child working on his or her goals?
• Does this class provide an appropriate group of students?
• Is the program addressing the specific areas of weakness?
• Are staff appropriately trained on her area of disability?
• Is there adequate supervision?
• What about field trips?

Q: My child needs a break from school and we have long family vacations. Can I pull her out of the summer program?

Speak with the CSE and the District and notify staff that you are considering removing your child from the summer program because of needed family time or simply down time. You may also decide that your child needs a recreational program to develop social skills. Ask if you think removing her will have an impact or affect her progress. If your child is in a school district program, it is unlikely that this will cause difficulties. However, do keep in mind if you do not access the summer program for your child and complain about lack of progress or regression in the fall, the CSE may consider the fact that she did not attend the summer program. Also, if your child is in a specialized school, this will probably not be appropriate and the school may state attendance is mandatory. If your child is in a twelve month residential program, this will not be an option.

Q: My child’s CSE in May stated my child did not regress during breaks, but I see significant regression. They had no data. What can I do?

Whenever you disagree with any decision of a CSE, you have the right to file for due progress. While it is late in the year to file for summer, you may file for compensatory services. It’s best to talk to an attorney about the options. Also, in the next school year, be sure to ask the teachers before each break to measure regression. Keep your own records as well, as to basic skills your child has before each break and after.
Q: I do not believe that my child’s ESY program is appropriate and am sending him to a private camp. Can I seek reimbursement from the school district?

Yes. You do have the right to file for due process and may seek reimbursement for private services. If the private summer program you chose offered individually tailored special education services, you may prevail in a claim. Keep in mind that it is the law does not allow recovery for camping and recreation programs, however. A hearing officer could order reimbursement if: 1) there has been a denial of a free appropriate public education; 2) the private services are appropriate and 3) equitable considerations support the claim.
In short, ESY services represent an important aspect of your child’s special education program. If you have questions or do not believe the program is appropriate, it is best to speak to an experienced special education attorney about your child’s case.

 

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here.

Share

The Rights and Responsibilities of an Adult with a Learning Disability

May 19th, 2014

Adults 21 and over with learning disabilities may face discrimination or lack of access to services in college or the workplace. These individuals must understand their legal rights and responsibilities.

In College:

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act protect adults with learning disabilities who attend college. The laws apply to public institutions and private colleges that receive federal funding and mandate that students with disabilities receive reasonable accommodations. Examples of accommodations include the use of a tape recorder or note taker, or additional time to complete examinations.

In the Workplace:

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with disabilities, including learning disabilities, from discrimination in regard to applications, hiring, firing, compensation, advancement and other employment terms. The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more workers. Employers must make reasonable accommodations to the known disability of a qualified employee or applicant, if it would not cause the business an “undue hardship.” Workplace accommodations may include additional training or supervisor feedback, or a quiet workspace.

If individuals with learning disabilities want accommodations, then they have the responsibility of disclosing their disability and providing documentation, in addition to requesting the accommodations that they want. Adults will probably need to provide documentation of their disability from a doctor. This can be done in a confidential meeting with a college disability services coordinator or with an employer. Documentation may consist of a letter from a doctor or other treating professional.

One must also remember that these protections apply to people who are “otherwise qualified” for the college program or employment position in question. One may have to prove that one is qualified. Also, the legal protections against discrimination do not act as an absolute entitlement to a job or a college education.

Most schools and large employers know of the law and are willing to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified people with disabilities, so it may only be necessary to identify oneself as a person with a learning disability and request the necessary accommodations. If a school or employer accommodations are denied, then these rights are enforceable through the legal process, but it is important to evaluate one’s individual circumstances with the help of a qualified attorney.

Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here.
Share

Does the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Work for your Child?

May 9th, 2014

By: Giulia Frasca, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (IDEA), statute expressly provides that students with disabilities are to be educated and included with their non-disabled peers to the “maximum extent appropriate.”  This requirement is sometimes referred to as the “least restrictive environment” (LRE) mandate of the Act, and it is one of only two “maximizing” provisions in the entire statute.   With this language, Congress intended to protect students with special needs from being ostracized or isolated from the general population and requires that students with special needs be included in the general education population to the greatest extent possible.

Specifically, the IDEA  provides that States must have in place procedures assuring that, “to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”  See 20 U. S. C. §1412 (5) (B) as implemented by the Department’s regulations at 34 CFR §§300.550-300.556.
Recent Decision Mandates Inclusive Setting for Summer Program

Recently, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in T.M. v. Cornwall, 12-4301, held that the Congressional LRE standard applies to extended school year (ESY) services for students who are approved for twelve-month programs and who benefit from the LRE.    T.M., a student with autism was succeeding with support in a general education preschool setting during the school year.    However, for the summer, the district only offered placement in a self-contained special education classroom and offered T.M. related services only as part of the self-contained classroom experience.  T.M.’s parents rejected the summer placement because it was too restrictive and filed an Impartial Hearing.  The Impartial Hearing Officer (IHO) ruled in the parents’ favor and the district appealed.  The State Review Officer (SRO), who tends to rule in favor of school districts, reversed the IHO’s decision and the parents appealed to the federal district court.  The federal district court affirmed the SRO decision.  T.M.’s parents then further appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and received the relief requested.

Like the drafters of the IDEA, the Second Circuit judges who ruled in T.M.’s favor intended to draft a decision that would help the many children diagnosed with Autism and other disabilities who have been approved for a 12-month program and who obtain a meaningful educational benefit from an inclusive environment.
LRE Mandate Can Have Unintended Effect

However, school districts often use the LRE provision against parents.  For example, recently, a parent filed an impartial hearing against a school district for failure to provide a free and appropriate education to a student with severe social, emotional and psychiatric conditions whose conditions were exacerbated due to the inappropriate program.  His psychiatrist, the district representative and his parent recommended a residential therapeutic placement for him, but the school district would not approve a residential placement arguing that it is not the LRE.  The school district then issued a placement at a non-public state approved therapeutic day program although his doctors and other professionals maintained that he would further regress there and that it was not appropriate.  Such a position by school districts causes unnecessary delay in providing the student with FAPE, burdensome litigation and extensive costs to both parties that could have been avoided.
In my legal practice, I have encountered several similar situations with regard to students who require specific accommodations, a 1:1 paraprofessional, have severe disabilities, or are diagnosed with Autism, but are high functioning.  In these cases, an inclusive environment may not be appropriate because the student will obtain a meaningful educational benefit only if a restriction is provided.  A mainstream or integrated setting does not work for all students with disabilities.  Each student’s needs are unique and must be treated as such.  It is important for school districts, IHOs and legislators to consider that the IDEA limits LRE only to situations when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services can be achieved satisfactorily.  A cookie cutter approach can be more harmful than beneficial when applying the LRE provision of the IDEA to a student’s individualized educational program.
The special education team at Littman Krooks LLP has extensive experience advocating for parents of children with various special needs and helping them to navigate the labyrinth of special education law including cases where school districts may use the LRE against the student.

Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here.

Share

Guest Blog: A New Way for Parents to Create a Letter of Intent

May 2nd, 2014

By Michael Pearce, Special Needs Attorney, Founder, Vestidd.com

A new Application solves one of the biggest problems facing every parent of a child with special needs.

How can I continue to provide for the protection well-being of my children after I am gone?  How can I make sure that my child with special needs will be safe and continue receiving the best of care?  Every parent who has a child with special needs seeks answers to these questions.  In response, parents are advised to prepare a “Letter of Intent” that will provide guidance for caregivers into the future. However, through no fault of their own, parents are rarely able to complete this vital task.

Here are the Top 5 reasons preventing parents from creating their Letter of Intent:

#1.   Getting organized.
There are hundreds of constantly changing details to organize.  Many parents simply don’t have the time or energy to organize the myriad of details of their child’s life, let alone putting them down on paper.

#2.   Formatting.

Your Letter of Intent is a “road map” to guide others, so it must be comprehensive, yet easy to follow.   Finding no practical tools to help format a Letter of Intent, many parents simply abandon the task.

#3.   Updating.
Your child’s life is constantly changing, so the document must be constantly changed. Word-processed documents are cumbersome and not easy to update (even if you can remember where you saved it!).

#4.   Saving and sharing.
Your updated Letter of Intent must be shared with others after you are gone. You will select different people to fill key roles over time. Mailing out updated copies yearly to different people during your lifetime is a nearly impossible task to manage.

#5.   Getting Started.

Facing this daunting task, many parents are simply frozen by “writer’s block.”  How much information should I include? How much info is too much? How can I not lose it?  How can I easily update the document? How can I share my Letter of Intent with the right people after I am gone?  With so much to think about, there is no clear place to start.

Parents will be relieved to know that an Application is now available that solves all of these problems: Vestidd.

What is Vestidd?

Vestidd is an application that lets parent create a Vest for a child with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (Vest i d d).  Your Vest is where you store, remember, find and connect everything and everyone that matters in your child’s life.  Just like a life-vest, Vestidd will help keep your child safe and protected into the future.

How does Vestidd work?
To create a Vest and get started on your Letter of Intent, go to www.vestidd.com to sign up.    Vestidd is organized by Sections and Pockets.   Sections cover each major area of your child’s life.  Pockets are where you fill in specific and unique information about your child.  Vestidd has pre-organized everything, so you don’t have to.  You can jump right in and go.

Everything in One Place.
Say goodbye to post-its, binders, and email chaos.  All of the information that used to be spread out across your house and your brain will now have a single home.  Vestidd lets you remember, find and connect everything and everyone that matters in the life of your child with special needs.

Easy Updates.
Vestidd is a Cloud application that works from any device –   iPhone, iPad, tablet, android, mac, pc – they all work with Vestidd.  This means you can get to your Vest from any device and easily update information as the need arises.  Your Vest is always there, keeping key information available at your fingertips.

Sharing.
Vestidd lets you connect family members and your child’s support team with just the information they need. When you update your Vest, team members are kept current with automatic update notifications.  You can revoke sharing privileges at any time.  You can also share Vest information by printing out a hard copy.  Vestidd’s sharing tools allow you to pass on current and comprehensive information about your child to future caregivers, so that they can continue to update your Vest, for your child’s lifetime.

Superpowers.

Vestidd has many other features that help families with special needs. You can take a tour and learn more at www.vestidd.com.
My wife, Sue, and I created Vestidd to help parents complete the special needs planning puzzle.

Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here.

Share
New York City Office
655 Third Avenue, 20th Floor
New York, New York 10017
(212) 490-2020 Phone
(212) 490-2990 Fax
Westchester Office
399 Knollwood Road
White Plains, New York 10603
(914) 684-2100 Phone
(914) 684-9865 Fax
Attorney Advertising | New York Estate Planning | New York Elder Law | Website by SEO | Law Firm™, an Adviatech Company
This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. If you need legal advice concerning this or any other topic please contact our offices to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at 914-684-2100 or 212-490-2020.