Yesterday the Alexa Posny, the assistant secretary for the federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, announced that Ms. Melody Musgrove had been named the Director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).
What does OSEP do?
In a nutshell, OSEP administers the Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT (IDEA). You can find more about OSEP here.
Who is Ms. Musgrove?
Formerly, Ms. Musgrove was the State Director of Special Education in Mississippi, a due process hearing officer, an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Federal Programs for the Lawrence County School District, an Assistant Principal, and a special education teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Melody has been noted for her work to reduce the achievement gap for traditionally under-performing students, conducted statewide self-assessments, and designed and implemented a focused system of monitoring local districts. You can find Ms. Musgrove's LinkedIn profile here.
I've personally heard good things about her from several attorneys in Mississippi. Let's hope she is able to live up to her reputation.
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.
Check out this great New York times article and video about APD and Rosie O'Donnell's personal experience with her son's disorder. It is inspiring to hear that with proper diagnosis and intervention children with this challenge can make such amazing progress.
I recently came across this article in my copy of Parenting magazine. While I applaud the magazine for addressing learning disabilities, I was disappointed with the advice. In the article, a mother of a child with learning disabilities asked the magazine financial expert, "My son has been diagnosed with learning disorders. A special school could help him -- but it costs $7,000 a year. That's about what we have budgeted for savings and chipping away at our debt. Should we do it?" While the expert did indicate that public funding for the school may be available, that was not the main focus of her answer.
As a special education attorney, I think it is very important to emphasize that if a child needs to be educated in a special school it is the school district's legal responsibility to pay for the tuition. Navigating special education law can be confusing, especially when advocating for private placements. It is a good idea to contact a special education lawyer who can consult with you about the process and assess the strength of your case.
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.
Hold up on cuts to special needs
My response to those complaining that medical insurance should pay for disabled students' medical care while at school:
The laws and regulations governing what constitutes a special education cost are complex. For example, surgically implanted medical devices, like cochlear implants cannot be funded through special education. However, school nurse services such as catheterization or blood pressure monitoring may be considered a related service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) if such services are necessary for a child to access special education.
Sensory processing disorder is real to thousands of kids - The Boston Globe
I am interested to know what kind of services, if any, Ana receives from her public school. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its Massachusetts equivalent seems like it should apply in this case. I am a special education lawyer and help children like Ana and her parents advocate for their legal right to free and appropriate education. While a DSM addition would certainly help children like Ana receive appropriate accommodations, it is not legally necessary.
Beginning this Monday, January 11th at 7:35am, Boston's public radio station WGBH will begin a 10-part series on called Educating Everyone: The Struggles and Costs of Special Education in Massachusetts.
When parents request a necessary, but expensive program or service for a child the school district often claim that they don't have the funding. This response has become even more prevalent during the current economic recession. Not only is this excuse impermissible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), it may not be true. A recent Wall Street Journal article reports that school districts have been "redirecting" millions of dollars meant for special education students. What's more, President Obama has increased IDEA funding by $11.3 billion for the next year. The bottom line: if your child has a disability covered by IDEA your child is entitled to a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE). Cost should never be a factor.
Parents and advocates are often too quick to view teachers as the opposition instead of the child's greatest potential ally. Teachers in Dedham demonstrated their commitment to educating students when they filed a complaint with the Department of Education against their Superintendent for her failure to implement thirteen childrens' IEPs.
See the complete Boston Globe story here.
The school district has agreed to provide the children with compensatory education. Compensatory education is a legal term used to describe future educational services awarded to disabled students for the school district's failure to provide a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) in the past.
If you need help advocating for your child's special education rights, contact the Boston area law office of Massachusetts special education lawyer Lillian E. Wong.
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