As a parent navigating the special education system, what is your most important resource? Other parents! Massachusetts law requires that each school district have a Parent Advisory Counsel or PAC for short. Many PACs have monthly meetings, websites, Facebook pages, and email listservs. In Massachusetts, the Concord SEPAC has an extremely active email discussion list that includes parents, advocates, and other professionals from all over the state. If you haven't already, I would encourage you to join this or any other PAC listserv and begin to benefit from the advice and support that only other parents can offer.
This review was originally posted on www.amazon.com.
Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide
By Pam and Pete Wright
I frequently recommend that my clients read this book and often refer to it myself. The summaries of special education law are understandable, but not overly simplistic. The section about understanding tests scores is the most valuable part of the entire book. The sample letters provide a good starting point for parents, although as the book points out, it is important to also consider the effect of state special education law. Parents should remember that this book is not state-specific and that state laws may provide additional protections for their children.
This question was originally posted on www.avvo.com.
My child's transfer into a school district has been denied due to excessive absences although they are medically necessary. Can I do anything to force the district to allow my child to remain in this school?
You should contact a special education lawyer. You can find on at www.copaa.org. If your child medical condition is affecting his or her ability to go to school your child might require an Individualized Education Plan. Either way, the school should not discriminate against your child because of their medical condition. That said, you will need to speak with an attorney in your area and state that understands the nuances of local and state law. In the meantime, make sure the medical absences are well documented so the school doesn't pursue truancy charges against you and your child.
I have created a list on Amazon.com of recommended books for parents and advocates of children with special needs. As I come across more books, I will update the list. Feel free to send me your suggestions.
Check out the list here.
On August 3, 2010 Governor Patrick signed the bill , "An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism" (HB 4935), into law. The law mandates broader insurance coverage of diagnostic tests, medical treatment, and services for children and adults with autism. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2011.
Does the law say anything about IEPs and Special Education Services?
Yes. The statute explicitly states that this new law "shall not affect any obligation to provide services to an individual under an individualized family service plan, an individualized education program or an individualized service plan."
This means that for the purposes of special education, nothing has changed. Schools cannot forgo their legal obligations to autistic students because of this new law.
How will this new law affect special education in Massachusetts?
Especially in these difficult economic times, I expect to see more disagreements between school districts and insurance companies over which party is responsible for providing autism related services.
As I interpret the current state of the law, schools must provide assessments and services if there is an educational need and insurance companies must cover any remaining medical needs associated with autism.
Of course, how the courts will interpret this intersection of law has yet to be seen. Until these issues are clarified by the legal system, both insurance companies and schools may refuse to provide services by claiming that the other party is legally responsible. If this happens, the new law will have an unexpected consequence - hurting the very population it aims to protect.