Massachusetts is revising its Individualized Education Program (IEP) Form.
The goal of the IEP Improvement Project is to achieve an updated, meaningful and user-friendly form that works well for all educators, families and students.
Help improve the form by sharing your thoughts and opinions . Email: improveIEP@doe.mass.edu.
If you are concerned about the appropriateness of your child's IEP, contact the North Shore Law Office of Lillian E. Wong today for an initial consultation.
Question: How long after my child's annual IEP meeting does the school district have to send me the proposed IEP ?
Answer: Parents are often surprised to learn that federal laws and regulations do not contain a deadline if the IEP team met to review or revise an IEP. (But note: If the IEP meeting was an eligibility meeting, federal regulations do provide a deadline - parents must receive the IEP 60 calendar days after the District received consent to evaluate UNLESS the state imposes a shorter timeframe. In Massachusetts the deadline is 45 school days after the consent to evaluate.)
In Massachusetts, Districts may take no more than two calendar weeks to prepare the complete IEP for the parent's signature. This two week requirement is permitted as long as the District provided the parents with a summary of decisions and agreements reached during the Team meeting. This summary must include: (a) a completed IEP service delivery grid describing the types and amounts of special education and/or related services proposed by the district, and (b) a statement of the major goal areas associated with these services. Source: Memorandum on the Implementation of 603 CMR 28.05(7): Parent response to proposed IEP and proposed placement.'
If you live in Massachusetts and have more questions about your child's IEP, contact Attorney Lillian Wong for a consultation.
Parents and educational advocates often ask me what to do when a teacher is "bullying" a student.
Massachusetts' Bullying Law
Many people are surprised to learn that the Massachusetts Anti-Bullying law does not apply when teachers are "bullying" students. The Massachusetts Anti-Bullying law defines a "bully" as a "student," making it legally impossible for the teacher to be labeled a bully under this statute.
Reframing the Question
Just because the anti-bullying law does not apply to teacher/student interactions, doesn't mean the teacher is acting appropriately. When I'm told a teacher is bullying as student I always ask for a more detailed description about the teacher's actions.
Is the teacher refusing to implement the student's IEP or 504 accommodations? Then the teacher is denying the child a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Is the teacher continually making fun of the child's known or perceived disability? Then the teacher has committed disability-based harassment and discrimination. Is the teacher impermissibly sharing confidential information about the student? Then the teacher is violating the child's privacy rights under FERPA.
Before any parent makes allegations against a teacher, it's important to have a clear understanding of what events took place and what laws are implicated. It's also useful to corroborate reports of teacher "bullying" and provide supporting documentation to the school. If you have questions about the laws governing teacher/student interactions, contact the Boston area law office of Lillian E. Wong today.
On December 16, 2011 the State Director of Special Education, Marcia Mittnacht, issued a Memorandum advising against Procedures Lite for "legal and policy reasons."
In October, I warned parents against Procedures Lite. Read the entire article here. Many other special education advocates did the same. Ultimately, the Massachusetts Department of Education came to the same conclusion I made in October - "Procedures Lite" violates the law.
If you have questions about your child's special education rights, contact the Boston area office of Lillian E. Wong today.
UPDATE: On December 16, 2011 the Massachusetts Department of Education advised against Procedures Lite. Read the entire article here.
Have you heard about "Procedures Lite?" If you have a child in special education you need to.
What is Procedures Lite?
Procedures Lite is contract between schools and parents that waives special education procedural rights. Parents waive the right to convene an IEP meeting, develop an IEP, receive progress notes, and request annual evaluations. Parents also waive the right to enforce these rights and seek compensatory services and damages. What does the school waive? Nothing. Instead the school gains the unilateral right to educate your child without parent input, updated evaluations, and judicial oversight.
What is the purpose of Procedures Lite?
Schools and their attorneys claim that the purpose of Procedures Lite is to foster trust and communication between Parents and Schools. They believe that special education law, and not school officials or budgetary concerns, create conflict and distrust between parents and schools. Their solution - do away with IEPs as we know them and replace them with a one page Student Learning Plan (SLP). Don't allow parents to enforce the supports and services outlined in the SLP. Eliminate IEP meetings and Progress Reports in the name of better communication. Does this sound counter-intuitive? Maybe. But it's happening in Massachusetts. Read the current Weston, Massachusetts Procedures Lite contract here.
What is the ultimate agenda of Procedures Lite proponents?
Those proposing Procedures Lite would like to eliminate special education rights. One of Procedure Lite's vocal advocates is Massachusetts school attorney Miriam Kurtzig Freedman. In her recent presentation at the University of Chicago School of Law, Ms. Freedman compared special education to welfare and talked about the need to eliminate special education rights. In the meantime, Ms. Freedman supports Procedures Lite because, "Even if we won't or can't end the [special education] entitlement right away, [we can] end litigation and the fear of litigation about a proposed FAPE." Read the entire presentation abstract here.
What can you do?
First, NEVER sign away your child's special education rights without consulting an experienced special education attorney. Procedures Lite is a relatively new idea, but convincing parents to waive their child's rights is not. Read my warning to parents about waiving rights in settlement agreements here.
Second, inform other parents. Make sure every parent who has a child on an IEP is aware of their rights and the serious consequences of "Procedures Lite."
Third, talk to school administrators. Explain to them that eliminating laws designed to protect your child will not make your more trusting of the school. Emphasize that IEP meetings, Progress Reports and the IEP document are fundamental to parent-school communication. Point out that without required evaluations, your child's needs cannot be assessed and the school cannot provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
If you have any other questions about your child's special education rights, feel free to contact Massachusetts special education attorney Lillian E. Wong today.
The CDC recently released a report entitled Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Among Children Aged 5–17 Years in the United States, 1998–2009. The study finds that ADHD currently affects 9% of children in the US, an increase from 7% in 1998.
Does this mean more children with ADHD are on IEPs?
Not necessarily. Just because a child has been diagnosed with ADHD doesn't mean he or she qualifies for special education (and an IEP).
In order to qualify for an IEP, your child must need special education supports and services. Even though ADHD is not specific disabling conditions under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a child with ADHD can be found eligible for special education under “Other Health Impairment” category. The Federal Regulations specifically include ADD and ADHD in their definition of Other Heath Impairment. Alternatively, a child with ADHD might be found eligible for special education under the “emotional disturbance” (ED) or “specific learning disability” (SLD) classifications.
What if a child is found ineligible for an IEP?
If a child who has ADD/ADHD is found ineligible under the IDEA, she might still be eligible for support under Section 504 of the ADA. In order to establish 504 eligibility, you must show that ADHD interferes with a "major life activity." Section 504 eligibility is often established by showing ADHD interferes with the major life activity of learning.
Learn more about the difference between an IEP and 504 plan here.
If you believe your child needs an IEP or a 504 plan and your school district disagrees, contact Boston area special education attorney Lillian E. Wong for help.
School may be out, but that doesn't mean parents stop thinking about getting the best education for their children.
One great way to utilize the summer break is to schedule an IEP Check-Up. A special education attorney can review your child's current IEP, evaluations, and other documentation and help you form a plan to address your concerns. She can also point out potential problems you may have overlooked. The special education process can be frustratingly slow. Why not begin addressing your concerns now? You'll be closer to a solution come September.
Contact the Boston area Law Office of Lillian E. Wong today.
This is the fifth part of an eight-part series, Top IEP/504 Flaws and What You Can Do About Them
My child's IEP/504 plan is 15 pages long! I've read it a couple of times, but still do not understand what it means.
What You Can Do
The most important sections of the IEP/504 plan are those that directly affect your child's educational program - services and accommodations. Services are the special education your child receives in addition to the general education curriculum. On IEPs, services are described on a "service delivery page." This page lists your child's special education services (e.g. occupational therapy, speech and language, counseling), the amount of time per week your child will receive these services, where your child will receive the service, and the qualifications of the service provider (e.g. special education teacher, speech language pathologist, or paraprofessional). In addition to services, it is also important to understand your child's IEP/504 accommodations. Accommodations allow your child to access the curriculum. Accommodations may include assistive technology, preferential seating, and modified homework, to name a few.
If you need a special education advocate in Massachusetts, contact Boston area attorney Lillian E. Wong today.
Under IDEA, your child is entitled to:
A "Free Appropriate Public Education" (FAPE) in the "Least Restrictive Environment" (LRE).
An initial eligibility evaluation and thereafter, a yearly reevaluation.
An independent evaluation at public expense if you disagree with the school district's evaluation.
A written individualized education program (IEP).
An education as close to home as possible and in the school he or she would attend if not disabled.
Support services, called "related services," such as a one-on-one instructional aide, speech-language pathology, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, therapeutic recreation, transportation, and school nurse services.
Assistive technology such as a communication system, computer, or spell-checker.
Placement in a private school at public expense if the public school cannot provide a "free appropriate public education."
A transition plan and services.
If you need help advocating for your child's educational rights contact Boston area special education lawyer Lillian E. Wong today.
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