S E S  Law  Forum  Emerging  Issues  Session  I
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S E S Law Forum Emerging Issues Session I Presentation Transcript

  • 1. EMERGING ISSUES IN SPECIAL EDUCATION
    • STOPPING THE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE
    • RON LOSPENNATO, ESQ.
    • COURTNEY BOWIE, ESQ.
    • SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER
  • 2. Our goal is to have a national impact in dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • 3. Examining the Data
  • 4.
    • National average from The National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice. www.edjj.org.
    • As many as 70% of the youth involved in the juvenile justice system have disabilities.*
  • 5.
    • Learning disabled youth are 200% more likely to be arrested than non-disabled youth for comparable activity, are more likely to be adjudicated, and spend longer periods of time locked up or on probation.
  • 6.
    • Only 35% of students identified as Emotionally Disturbed, graduate with a regular high school diploma.
    35%
  • 7.
    • Between 1972 and 2000, the percentage of White students suspended annually for more than one-day rose from 3.1% to 5.09%. During the same period, the percentage for African-American students rose from 6% to 13.2%.
  • 8.
    • The overrepresentation of students with disabilities and Minorities in the juvenile justice system is exacerbated by the fact that since the early 1990’s, many school districts have adopted a “zero tolerance” approach to wrongdoing.
  • 9.
    • Although juvenile crime dropped during the last half of the 1990’s, the number of cases involving juveniles—mostly non-violent—increased, along with the number of youths held in secure facilities for non-violent offenses.
  • 10. The approach is a multifaceted one using litigation, legislation, the media and public education. A core strategy is using special education law as the lever to get school-wide Positive Behavioral Supports (PBIS) adopted around the country. School-to-Prison Reform Project
  • 11. Positive Behavioral Supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based, systems-wide method of improving student behavior.
  • 12. PBIS’s premise is that continual, school-wide and individualized teaching, modeling, recognizing and rewarding positive student behavior will reduce unnecessary discipline and promote a climate of greater productivity, safety, and learning.
  • 13.
    • It is a viable alternative to zero tolerance
    PBIS is critical because
    • It will create a hospitable environment for kids
    Allowing them to remain in school Giving kids—diverted from the juvenile justice system or released for juvenile detention—the opportunity to succeed in school
  • 14. IDEA mandates that students with disabilities: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 ( IDEA )
  • 15. IDEA mandates that students with disabilities: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 ( IDEA )
    • Be educated in the least restrictive environment
  • 16. IDEA mandates that students with disabilities: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 ( IDEA )
    • Be provided with individualized education programs (IEPs) that provide educational benefit
  • 17. IDEA mandates that students with disabilities: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 ( IDEA )
    • Be provided related services such as social work and counseling
  • 18. IDEA mandates that students with disabilities: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 ( IDEA )
    • Be provided transition services so that they can work and live independently after they leave school
  • 19. IDEA mandates that students with disabilities: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 ( IDEA )
    • Be provided public education through the age of 21 (unless they graduate or leave sooner)
  • 20. In the three states we already have a physical presence. 1
  • 21. 1
  • 22.  
  • 23.
    • Montgomery, AL — Alabama Educational Reform
    • Jackson, MS — Mississippi Youth Justice Project
    • New Orleans, LA — School to Prison Reform Project in Partnership with the Southern Disability Law Center
    3 offices directly operated by SPLC
  • 24. 2
  • 25.  
  • 26. Grantees
      • CALIFORNIA — Protection and Advocacy, Inc. in LA
      • FLORIDA — the Florida P&A, Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities in Tampa (Hillsborough County)
        • Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County (Palm Beach County)
        • KENTUCKY — Children Law Center (Bullitt County)
  • 27.
    • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Issues
    • Discipline Issues
    • Related Service Issues
    • Educated Benefit Issues
    • Transition Service Issues
    Typical Legal Issues
  • 28.
    • Federal Legislation — Federal PBIS (Obama bill)
    • State Legislation — Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana
    • Administrative Complaints — Louisiana, Mississippi
    • Coalition Building Locally — Florida (Legal Aid, P&A, Public Defenders)
    • Cooperative Agreements — Louisiana (Juvenile Courts, Police School districts, School Districts)
    • Coalition Building Nationally — NJDC, ACLU, Harvard Civil Rights, NAACP etc.
    • Litigation — Beth V. v. Carrol , 87 F.3d 80 (3rd Cir. 1996); Corey H. v. Chicago Board of Educ. , 995 F. Supp. 900 (N.D. Ill. 1998)
    Strategies
  • 29.  
  • 30. 3
  • 31. Typical Special Education Issues Impacting STPP
    • DISCIPLINE
    • INAPPROPRIATE RELATED SERVICES
    • FAILURE TO EDUCATE IN LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT
    • FAILURE TO PROPERLY EVALUATE STUDENTS
    • FAILURE TO PROVIDE APPROPRIATE TRANSITION PLANS
    • EDUCATIONAL BENEFIT ISSUES
    • POOR QUALITY TEACHING AT EVERY LEVEL
    • FAILURE TO DEVELOP APPROPRIATE IEPS
    • FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT IEPS THAT HAVE BEEN DEVELOPED
  • 32. DISCIPLINE OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
    • IDEA REQUIRES A MANIFESTATION DETERMINATION REVIEW TO BE CONDUCTED PRIOR TO A “CHANGE IN PLACEMENT” OR A REMOVAL FOR MORE THAN 10 DAYS FOR A STUDENT WITH A DISABILITY.
    • STPP IS IMPACTED BY MANY DISTRICTS FAILING TO CONDUCT MDRS AT ALL PRIOR TO SUSPENDING OR EXPELLING STUDENTS.
    • EVEN WORSE…
  • 33. DISCIPLINE OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES (CONT.)
    • SCHOOLS ARE HAVING STUDENTS (AS YOUNG AS 9 AND 10) ARRESTED FROM SCHOOL FOR:
    • CONDUCT THAT DOES NOT NECESSARILY INVOLVE WEAPONS OR DRUGS;
    • CONDUCT SUCH AS CURSING AT THEIR TEACHERS
  • 34. INAPPROPRIATE RELATED SERVICES
    • IDEA defines related services as: transportation and other services as are required to assist a disabled child to benefit from special education, including:
      • Psychological services
      • Physical and occupational therapy
      • Speech-language pathology
      • Counseling services
      • Social work services
      • Parent counseling and training.
  • 35. INAPPROPRIATE RELATED SERVICES (CONT.)
    • DESPITE IDEA’S PROVISIONS, WE HAVE SEEN:
    • THE FAILURE TO DEVELOP BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION PLANS;
    • WOEFULLY INADEQUATE LEVELS OF SOCIAL WORK AND COUNSELING SERVICES (IF ANY);
    • A LACK OF MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS;
    • NO OR INSUFFICIENT PBIS PROGRAMS.
  • 36. FAILURE TO EDUCATE IN LRE
    • Children with disabilities have the right to be educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate.
    • Despite this requirement in IDEA…
  • 37. FAILURE TO EDUCATE IN LRE
    • STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES ARE OFTEN:
    • IN SELF-CONTAINED SETTINGS;
    • IN ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS;
    • HAVE TO “EARN THE RIGHT” TO BE IN LESS RESTRICTIVE SETTINGS.
  • 38. FAILURE TO PROPERLY EVALUATE
    • IDEA’S CHILD FIND MANDATE:
    • The State must have in effect policies and procedures to ensure that –
      • All children with disabilities in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated. However…
  • 39. FAILURE TO PROPERLY EVALUATE (CONT.)
    • MANY CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES ARE GOING UNIDENTIFIED BECAUSE:
    • LEAs REALIZE THAT THE DISCIPLINE REGULATIONS WILL APPLY;
    • CONFUSION RE: RTI;
    • CONFUSION;
    • UNKNOWN CAUSES.
  • 40. INAPPROPRIATE TRANSITION
    • Transition Services under IDEA are defined as:
    • A coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that (i) is designed to be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation, (ii) based on the child’s individual needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and includes –
        • Instruction
        • Related services
        • Community experiences
        • The development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and
        • If appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational evaluation.
  • 41. INAPPROPRIATE TRANSITION
    • Despite IDEA’s Transition mandate, students with disabilities are routinely denied access to district vocational schools.
  • 42. Educational Benefit Issues
    • Students with disabilities have a right to IEPs that are reasonably calculated to enable them to receive educational benefit from them.
      • The courts look at whether or not positive academic and non-academic benefit is demonstrated (i.e. grades, standardized test scores, etc.).*
    • *Cypress-Fairbanks Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Michael F. , 118 F.3d 245 (5th Cir. 1997).
  • 43. EDUCATIONAL BENEFIT ISSUES
    • Despite the right of students with disabilities to make progress, many do not. We find many students who are 3-4 years behind in core subject areas such as math and reading by the time they reach junior high school .
  • 44. Educational Benefit Issues
    • Why the lack of progress?
    • Poor quality teaching in some cases;
    • Failure to develop appropriate IEPs;
    • Failure to implement IEPs.
  • 45. HOW TO HELP?
    • ATTEND IEP OR ASK FOR A NEW ONE
    • REQUEST AN INDIVIDUAL DUE PROCESS HEARING
    • FILE AN INDIVIDUAL COMPLAINT WITH STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
    • REPRESENT OR ADVOCATE FOR THE CHILD AT AN EXPULSION HEARING
    • REPRESENT THE CHILD IN YOUTH COURT, IF NECESSARY