Attorney Wong is pleased to announce that she will be speaking a NBI Continuing Legal Education Seminar called Disciplining Students with Behavior Issues on June 3, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. The all-day, live event will provide a comprehensive legal overview of the complex legal issues involved with school discipline of students with disabilities and behavior challenges.
This basic-to-intermediate level seminar is designed for school administrators, teachers, principals and vice principals, counselors, psychologists, social workers, school nurses, special education program specialists, attorneys, and paralegals. For more information about the seminar, agenda, and speakers click here.
If you are parent of a student with a disability in Massachusetts and are concerned about discipline within your public school system, contact the Boston area law office of Lillian E. Wong today.
Question: My son is on an IEP for ADHD and a social / emotional disability. My son's classroom teacher recently told me that unless my husband or I agree to chaperone my son's field trip he could not attend because he was "too much of a handful." Is this legal?
Answer: No. This sounds like disability-based discrimination. Is the teacher requiring that all students in the class have a parent-chaperone or just your son? My guess is that your son has been singled out. If the teacher believes your son needs a 1-on-1 in order to safely attend the class field trip, the school must provide this accommodation. Having a 1-on-1 is a reasonable accommodation that allows your son to continue to learn in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).
If you believe the school is discriminating against your child, contact Massachusetts special education lawyer Lillian E. Wong today.
On October 26, 2010 the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali issued a "Dear Colleague" letter to educators throughout the country. The purpose of the letter is to remind school officials that "some student misconduct that falls under a school's anti-bullying policy may also trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal antidiscrimination laws enforced by the Department's Office of Civil Rights (OCR)." Ms. Ali warns schools that, "by limiting its response to a specific application of its anti-bullying policy, a school may fail to properly consider whether the student misconduct also results in discriminatory harassment." The letter specifically addresses disability-based harassment, and warns that bullying of a child with a disability, because that child is disabled, may very well violate Section 504 and Title II.
Read the entire 10-page letter here.
Read more about Massachusetts' new anti-bullying law here.
If your child is being bullied or harassed at school, contact the eduction law practice of Lillian E. Wong, located in the North
Can Teachers Require Me to Put My Child on ADD/ADHD Medication?
No. Teachers and school administration cannot require you to put your child on prescription medication. 34 CFR 300.174 (a). Medication can never be a condition of attending school. Medication can never be a condition of receiving special education evaluations, services or accommodations.
Can Teachers Talk to Me About ADD/ADHD Medication?
Yes. The law explicitly allows teachers and school personnel to share their observations about your child's classroom behavior and performance. 34 CFR 300.174 (b). If a teacher believes your child exhibits signs of ADD/ADHD, it is permissible for the teacher to communicate that to you. Similarly, if your child's teacher notices that your child's behavior and attention is worse at the end of the day, they can share that information with you.
Can The School Refuse to Administer ADD/ADHD Medication?
No. If your child needs to take medication during the school day to participate effectively in his educational program, then the school is required by law to administer that medication.
If you have questions about your ADD/ADHD child's education rights, contact Massachusetts North Shore special education lawyer Lillian E. Wong.
The trial of John Odgren, a child with Asperger's syndrome who was found guilty of first-degree murder, has been all over the headlines. This article contains one of the first interviews with his parents, and provides some important insights into the trial, the child, and the tragedy. As a special education attorney, I think it is very interesting that the parents and school struggled to find the proper placement for Odgren, a child with superior cognitive scores but severe emotional disabilities. In my experience, finding a school for a child with this profile in Massachusetts is incredibly difficult. Read the entire article here and feel free to leave your comments.
This question was originally posted on www.avvo.com.
I feel like my child is being treated unfairly by his 2nd grade teacher what more can I do? I have made it clear to the principal and teacher that I'm not happy with the situation. I have asked for a classroom change, sat in class with my son and I am at a point where I just have to tell him to grin and bare it. He is ADHD and has had no efforts by the teacher to facilitate his needs. It is to a point where she has been embarrassing him in front of other students in the classroom and although I complained It has currently had no action taken. Frankly I'm tired of him crying everyday because of her persistent bullying. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
If your child doesn't have a 504 or IEP plan, I would request that the school evaluate him, if you suspect his disability is interfering with his ability to learn. Children with ADHD often act impulsively because of their disability, and this can lead to school disciplinary action. It is always better to avoid this issue by proactively addressing the situation, often with a functional behavioral assessment and a positive behavior plan. Other children with ADHD are disciplined by teachers for their lack of attention in class or constant fidgeting. It is important that teachers understand that these behaviors are a result of a disability, and not simply bad behavior.
Once your child's special education needs are addressed, you could consider filing a complaint against the teacher with the Department of Education.
This question was originally posted on www.avvo.com.
How do I pursue litigation for discrimination in the school against my son who has ADHD? My son is diagnosed with ADHD. We recently moved into a new state/school system. He is currently under a 504 plan, but the school refuses to follow it and issues punishments for actions that are due to his disability without any discussion with us (the parents). They have repeatedly said they would call, set up a hearing, etc., but none of those things has yet happened. He has just been suspended for 10 1/2 days. How to we proceed with a grievance, and what type of lawyer would be able to represent us in this situation?
You need to talk to a special education attorney. You can find one via the Council for Parent Attorneys and Advocates website (www.copaa.org). There are special legal protections for children whose disability causes inappropriate behavior. These protections only apply if the team decides the behavior was a manifestation of the child's disability. There are also rules regarding transferring a 504 plan from the old school to the new school. A special education lawyer can also help you with this issue.
Yesterday's Boston Globe Sunday Magazine had a very interesting article about early-childhood mental health and treatment. To read the entire article click here.
Early intervention programs for learning disabilities have been proven effective scientifically, which saves taxpayers money. I believe the same will be proven true for emotionally disturbed children.
Massachusetts Education Regulation 603 CMR 46.00 governs the laws of physical restraint in public elementary and secondary education.
The purpose of the regulation is "to ensure that every student participating in a Massachusetts public education program is free from unreasonable use of physical restraints." As a general rule, "physical restraint shall be used only in emergency situations, after other less intrusive alternatives have failed or been deemed inappropriate, and with extreme caution." The regulations require schools to develop written physical restraint procedures and to conduct in-depth staff training.
When Physical Restraints can be Used
Physical restraint can only be used if non-physical interventions would not be effective AND the student's behavior poses a threat of imminent, serious, physical harm to self and/or others. Physical restraint may NEVER be used as a form or punishment or as a response to property destruction, disruption of school order, a student's refusal to comply with a school rule or staff directive, or verbal threats that do not constitute a threat of imminent, serious, physical harm.
The major exception to these requirements is when restraint is administered to a student with a disability pursuant to IEP or other written plan to which student's parent or guardian has agreed.
Proper Administration of Physical Restraint
Restraint must only be administered by trained personal in the safest method available and appropriate for the situation. Restraint must never prevent student from speaking or breathing. Restraint must prevent or minimize physical harm. If, at any time during a physical restraint, the student demonstrates significant physical distress, the student must be released from the restraint immediately and school staff must seek medical assistance. Restraint must discontinue as soon as possible. Restraint lasting more than twenty minutes is considered an "extended restraint," which triggers additional reporting requirements.
Physical restraint must be reported if it results in injury to a student or staff member or if the restraint lasts longer than five minutes. Parents and school administration must be verbally notified as soon as possible. School administration must a written report on the next school working day. Parents must receive a written report in three school working days. The regulations also describe the contents of the report. If the restraint resulted in serious injury to the student or staff or if the restraint lasted more than 20 minutes, the written report must be send to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education within five school working days.
Update on HR 4247
HR 4247, which would prohibit use of physical restraints in schools, passed the House on March 3, 2010. The Senate has not yet voted on the bill. For more about the bill, click here.
When to Contact an Attorney
If you believe your child has been improperly physically restrained or disagree with the school's decision to include physical restraint in your child's IEP or behavior plan, contact a special education attorney.
Case summary: School district indefinitely suspended Student with a disability, alleging Student had inappropriately touched others, attempting to give them "wedgies." School proposed a substantially separate placement. Attorney Wong, on behalf of Parents, argued for Student's return to the general education setting with a comprehensive behavior plan in place. Hearing Officer agreed with Parents that the general education classroom was the least restrictive environment and ordered that Student be allowed to return to his regular education classroom.
To read the entire decision, click here.
It is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education.
Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
The Law Office of Lillian E. Wong, LLC
15 Morningside Drive
Topsfield, MA 01983
15 Morningside Drive
Topsfield, MA 01983