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Show  Systemic  Change  Cleveland  I D E A  Forum Show Systemic Change Cleveland I D E A Forum Presentation Transcript

  • Systemic Change in Urban School Districts Ron Lospennato, Esq. Courtney Bowie, Esq. SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER
  • Why Systemic Change?
    • Affect a large number of students with disabilities
    • Potentially bring about positive changes for all students
    • Efficient
  • How To Approach Systemic Change
    • Topics
      • Litigation
        • Litigation Examples
        • Litigation Remedies
      • Legislation
      • Organizing
  • Why Systemic Change?
    • National statistics suggest 30-70% of youth involved in delinquency system have a disability.
  • Why Systemic Change (cont.)
    • Graduation rate for students with disabilities in Cleveland is 57.5%*
    • The dropout rate is 42.5%*
    • * Ohio Department of Education, 2005-2006 school year
  • WHY?
    • Students identified as ED have the worst Graduation Rate of All Students with Disabilities (Nationally)
    • Only 35% of Students Identified as Emotionally Disturbed Graduate with a Regular High School Diploma (Nationally)
    • In Louisiana, only 8% of ED students
    • graduate with a Diploma
  • How to Develop a Systemic Response
    • Litigation
      • Administrative Complaints
      • Administrative Due Process Hearings
      • Federal or State Court Litigation
  • Administrative Complaints
    • Filed with State Department of Education
      • The complaint can be filed by any parent, organization or group with evidence of an LEA’s failure to comply with IDEA;
      • School district is typically the defendant;
      • The state has 60 days to investigate and respond to the allegation(s);
      • It can be mediated and result in settlement agreements.
  • ADVANTAGES OF ADMIN. COMPLAINTS
      • They are cost-efficient
      • They are substantially faster than due process and federal litigation
      • As an advocate for students in a district, you get access to information (discovery)
  • Disadvantages
    • No Attorney Fees unless negotiated
    • Less Control Over Process
    • May have to litigate contract claim (i.e. Holmes County)
    • *Big variable is quality of State Monitors and/or state department of education
  • TYPICAL LEGAL CLAIMS IN LITIGATION
    • Individual Failure to provide appropriate levels of related services
    • Failure to educate students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment
    • Failure to adhere to IDEA’s disciplinary provisions
  • Typical Legal Claims (cont.)
    • Failure to develop IEPs that produced educational benefit
    • Failure to provide students with disabilities appropriate related services
    • Failure to provide appropriate transition services
    • Failure to ensure that the School District did all of above
  • Typical Legal Claims (cont.)
    • Due Process or Court Actions Involving State has failed to appropriately monitor or compel the school district to correct and eliminate above IDEA violations
    • Many of the systemic IDEA violations in Louisiana persisted over several LDE monitoring cycles and thus LDE was legally responsible [ Corey H. v. Ill. SBE , 642 F. Supp. 900 (N.D. Ill 1998) .
    • Failure To Ensure FAPE
  • EXAMPLES OF ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINTS
    • East Baton Rouge, LA
    • Calcasieu Parish, LA (threatened only),
    • Caddo (see example)
    • Holmes County, Mississippi
  • Caddo Parish Administrative Complaint
    • Systemic Class Complaint filed under state complaint management system against CPPSS - approx. 200 ED students and other students with disabilities with school removals totaling more than 10 days– approx. 200 additional students )
    • Six students served as class representatives
  • Caddo Parish Admin. Complaint
    • Class/Systemic IDEA Violations Involving:
      • Related Services
      • LRE
      • Discipline
      • Educational Benefit
  • Caddo Admin. Complaint (cont.)
    • Key Statistics in Caddo :
      • Self-contained placement rate -32 % (2 times statewide average)
      • Drop-out rate -students with disabilities is 47.1% (more than 2 times statewide average
      • Suspension rates ( in-school and out-of-school suspensions) for students with disabilities -41.7%. Statewide average 30.6%
  • Caddo Admin. Complaint (cont.)
    • LDE - Monitoring team sent to CPPSS in March 2007
    • Team failed to fully investigate all claims
    • Second, smaller monitoring team returned in October 2007
    • Allegations of complaint were largely substantiated
    • The district is ordered to hire a consultant to help resolve its IDEA violations
  • Administrative Due Process Hearing (Jefferson Parish)
    • Class Due Process
    • -This process was used in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
  • Administrative Due Process (cont.)
    • School District,
    • State, or
    • both can be defendant(s)
  • Jefferson Parish Class Due Process
    • Followed Numerous Individual Complaints
    • Class Complaint ( on behalf of all ED students in Jefferson Parish ) versus the state dept. of education
      • To address the following issues:
      • Failure to provide appropriate amounts of social work and counseling services
      • Failure to develop IEPs that were reasonably calculated to produce educational benefit
      • Failure to provide appropriate transition planning and programming*
  • Jefferson Parish Class Due Process Complaint (cont.)
      • Failure to adhere to IDEA’s disciplinary provisions
      • Failure to educate ED students in the least restrictive environment
  • Jefferson Parish Mediated Settlement Agreement
    • Reached a Settlement Agreement August, 2005
    • Appointment of a Special Master (Dr. Joe Olmi, University of Southern Mississippi) to oversee delivery of special education services for ED students in Jefferson Parish
    • Development of a Corrective Action Plan (CAP)
    • Implementation of CAP
  • Settlement Agreement Highlights
    • The CAP developed by Dr. Olmi has specific strategies to ensure that Jefferson Parish significantly increases the frequency and duration of social work/counseling/psychological services provided to Emotionally Disturbed students and that these related services are provided based upon individual need and not staff availability
  • Settlement Agreement Highlights (cont.)
    • The CAP addresses DISCIPLINE violations in Jefferson Parish.
      • district-wide training for all professionals working at school with ED students
      • Creation of a central administrative tracking system for recording the number of removals from school for special education students (including ED students)
      • Elimination of policy/practice of “Cool-off” suspensions
  • Settlement Agreement Highlights (cont.)
    • CAP includes the closure of all “John Martyn” or “MRE” classrooms within 12-18 months of Dr. Olmi’s appointment
    • CAP includes strategies and objectives for significantly increasing ED students’ access to less restrictive environments including the general education curriculum
  • Settlement Agreement Highlights (cont.)
    • CAP includes the development and implementation of intervention strategies that include intensive reading and math remediation for ED students in elementary school who are determined to be more than two years behind their chronological grade level in reading and/or math (3 years behind for junior high and high school ED students)
  • Settlement Agreement Highlights (cont.)
    • The CAP includes:
      • specific strategies to increase coordination between district operated career and technical/vocation/Pre-GED/Skills Option Programs and Jefferson Parish schools
      • specific strategies to increase ED students’ participation in the vocational/Pre-GED programs
    • The CAP also includes development and implementation of a written district policy requiring the vocational schools to provide IEP services (including behavior plans) for special education students
  • Federal/State Court 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).
      • James O. v. State Dept. of Ed.
  • Federal/State Litigation (cont.)
    • Parties
      • School District
      • State,
      • or both
      • Juvenile justice agency may be an appropriate party in some cases
  • Federal/State Litigation (cont.)
      • Exhaustion Issues
        • Futility Exception
      • Private Right Action Enforcing or Challenging complaint decisions
      • Contract claims enforcing resolution agreements and/or mediated settlement agreements
  • Mediated Settlement Agreement v. Hearing Officer or Court Orders
    • Settlement agreements have to include an enforcement and monitoring mechanism in the settlement agreement in order not to relitigate;
    • Agreements are enforceable as contract actions in state court.
  • REMEDIES
    • Appointment of Special Master or Educational Consultant;
      • Consultants are responsible for development and implementation of corrective action plan;
      • In East Baton Rouge, we got nationally recognized PBIS experts Don Kincaid & Josh Harrower
    • Implementation of PBIS;
  • REMEDIES (CONT.)
    • RELATED SERVICES:
      • CAP should provide for significant increase in the frequency and duration of related services (social work, counseling, and/or psychological services) provided to students
  • REMEDIES (CONT.)
    • DISCIPLINE
      • In East Baton Rouge, district-wide training for all staff on PBIS;
      • Central tracking system for discipline referrals and removals, now including arrests;
      • Elimination of disciplinary practices (cool-off suspensions)
      • New discipline handbook
  • REMEDIES (CONT.)
    • TRANSITION SERVICES
      • Increased coordination between school district’s vocational training programs and all high schools in the district;
      • Increased participation of ED students in vocational training programs;
      • Implementation of IEPs, including BIPs, at vocational training programs.
  • REMEDIES (CONT.)
    • LRE PROVISIONS:
      • STRATEGIES DESIGNED/IMPLEMENTED AS PART OF CAP FOR INCREASING ED STUDENTS’ ACCESS TO REGULAR EDUCATION CLASSROOMS
  • REMEDIES (CONT.)
    • EDUCATIONAL BENEFIT PROVISIONS:
      • “Intensive” reading and math remediation for ED students who are more than 2 years behind their chronological grade level in the subject;
      • Elimination of the shortened school day
  • LEGISLATION
    • Federal Legislation–
      • Federal PBIS (Obama bill);
      • amendments to NCLB and IDEA;
    • State legislation-
      • Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana
  • ORGANIZING
    • Parent Training;
    • Youth Training
    • Working with Local and State Interested Parties:
      • School Boards
      • Department of Education
      • State Legislature
      • Federal Legislature
  • COALITION BUILDING LOCALLY
    • LEGAL AID
    • P&A/PTI
    • COMMUNITY GROUPS
    • PUBLIC DEFENDERS
    • JUVENILE COURTS
    • SCHOOL DISTRICTS
  • Information Available about Complaints
    • www.splcenter.org ;
    • http:// www.splcenter.org/legal/schoolhouse.jsp
  • QUESTIONS