The Massachusetts Disability Law Center recently published an online manual on special education transition services. You can access the entire document here.
The Manual is based on Massachusetts and federal law, but advocates in other jurisdictions may find it to be useful as well. This Manual is written for parents and students who are advocating for better transition services, including social, vocational and independent living skills. It is written in an easy-to-understand format but also contains “Endnotes” and an Appendix at the end of the Manual with legal information for attorneys and experienced advocates.
The Manual was edited by the Disability Law Center (DLC), in partnership with the Federation for Children with Special Needs, the Institute for Community Inclusion, and Massachusetts Advocates for Children. It was written by the Northeastern University School of Law Legal Skills in Social Context program.
State and Federal law require that a student's IEP contain measurable post-secondary goals and services called a "transition plan" when the child reaches a certain age (14 in Massachusetts).
In my experience, some schools completely overlook this requirement while other schools' transition goals and services are inadequate to prepare the student for life after high school. This manual is an excellent resource for parents, advocates, and attorneys advocating for transition rights.
If you have questions about your child's transition plan and special education rights, contact Massachusetts special education lawyer Lillian E. Wong today.
Settlement of special education disputes can be a good thing. Most of my hearing requests are resolved this way. But there are dangers. I receive many calls from parents who are asked to waive their child's stay-put, transportation and transition rights in settlement agreements. I have even heard of parents being asked to waive their child's right to a Free Appropriate Public Education! What's worse, hearing officers and courts are upholding these agreements.
Your child's rights under IDEA are there for a reason - your child needs them. If you chose to proceed to a hearing in lieu of a settlement, a hearing officer would never order you to forgo these rights. It is a wise investment to have an experienced special education attorney review your settlement contract and make sure you are not waiving these and other critical rights.
If you are looking for a special education lawyer in Massachusetts, contact Boston area attorney Lillian E. Wong today.
Can I still go to college if I have an IEP Diploma?
I'm just wondering what benefits can you get having that kind of diploma what can you do with it.
I'm not sure what you mean by an IEP diploma. IEP means individualized education program. Some students on IEPs receive "regular" diplomas, while other students graduate under a modified program.
I would recommend that you take a look at your IEP. On one of the last pages there should be a section about "transition plans." Transition plans are the IEP teams goals for you after high school. Your school is legally required to help you figure out what you want to do after high school and help you get there. If you want to go to college, make sure that the IEP team knows that. You have the right to participate in IEP team meetings and give your input. If you are too intimidated to participate, your parents can represent your point of view to the IEP team.
If you need a special education advocate in Massachusetts, contact Boston area lawyer 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.
This question was originally posted on www.avvo.com
How do I get my Autistic son into an out of district school when the public school continues to ignore a doctor's recommendation? My son is autistic and I have filed due process last year because of an incident that should not have occurred if he had not been moved to a school that did not have an adequate autism program in place. My son cannot ask questions, still points and moans when he is frustrated. He uses echolalia when talking, which is never in a full sentence. He is 8 years old and still has to wear a overnight pamper because he still doesn't fully understand the concept of going to the bathroom. My son needs one on one therapy, with ABA one on one, a behavioralist needs to be seen at school and at home because of his violent tantrums which are dangerous to himself and others. My son gets none of these services and the school continues to try and convince me otherwise. What do I do now? I'm will file again.
This sounds like a very frustrating situation. Navigating the special education system can be difficult. I applaud your determination.
As you certainly now realize, just because your doctor recommends an out-of-district placement for your son doesn't mean the school is required to provide it.
In order to secure this placement you must establish (1) that the current placement is inappropriate AND (2) that the proposed placement is appropriate.
The law defines "appropriate" as a place where your child can make "effective educational progress" in the "least restrictive environment." Each state defines "effective educational progress" differently, so consult your state regulations and case law. Because an out-of-district placement is less inclusive than your son's current placement, you must also prove that the out-of district placement is the least restrictive environment in which your son can make effective educational progress.
How do you prove your case? With evidence - evaluations, classroom observations, and testing over time, for example. I would strongly urge you to consult with a special education attorney before filing a due process request. Good luck! If you are in the Boston area, contact The Law Office of Lillian E. Wong today.
Just because your child receives testing accommodations on their IEP doesn't mean your child will receive accommodations for the PSAT, SAT, AP Tests, or ACTs. Most colleges and universities require some of these tests, so it is very important that your child's scores accurately reflect their potential.
The accommodations on your child's IEP or 504 plan refer to accommodations for school administered tests and for the MCAS . Read more about MCAS accommodations here.
In order for your child to receive disability based accommodations on the PSAT, SAT, SAT II subject tests, or AP Exams you must first apply for accommodations with the College Board. Use of accommodations without prior approval will result in the cancellation of test scores. With limited exceptions, once approved for accommodations, students remain approved and do not have to apply again when they apply for another College Board test. Apply Early! Documentation is required and review can take approximately seven weeks. PSATs and AP Exams may be administered during a child's 9th grade year. Find out more information here.
Similarly, the ACT requires prior documentation and approval of testing accommodations. Find out more information here.
This question was originally posted on www.avvo.com.
He has dyslexia and spelling dyspraxia. He has been on an IEP since 7th grade. He has been extremely successful in high school and his only special ed classes this year are for lang. arts and a study period. He would like to attend college and we have done extensive research on colleges that will offer support services (which he would have to apply for). This year he is due to have his full battery of tests, but on the annual WIATT, he scored well and now they feel he doesn't need his IEP. Our concern is that without the support he receives his senior year he could be dramatically affected along with the assistance of his IEP documentation for college services, when applying for college.
In order to remain on an IEP you must prove that your child needs special education and related services. Read more about gathering evidence in the special education context here. Keep in mind that the law requires your child be given a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) not the best education.
If the school decides to remove your child from special education, they must hold an IEP meeting because this is a change in placement. In this meeting voice your opposition to this decision. Now you must decide how you want to resolve this dispute. Both parties can voluntarily agree to participate in mediation or you can request a due process hearing. Either way, the school must continue to provide your child with the programs and services outlined in his current IEP until this dispute is resolved. This right is sometimes called "stay-put."
The Maine Department of Education ("DOE") is proposing changes to their special education guidelines. The Maine DOE claims they are troubled by the variation in special education identification and explain that Maine currently provides more special education protections than required by federal law. Officials admit that these changes are motivated, at least in part, by budgetary concerns. Their proposed solution is to streamline special education identification procedures and to eliminate any protections not required by federal law. But will this "streamlining" result in non-identification of children who should benefit from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? One thing is certain: these new guidelines will provide Maine children in special education will have less legal protection. For example, in Maine, as in Massachusetts, transition planning begins when the child is 14, two years earlier than federal law requires. But now, the Maine DOE would like to begin transition planning at 16. And Maine doesn't seem to be the only government cutting back on special education protections. I recently came across a similar report about a school district in New Hampshire making changes similar to Maine. Will we see this trend in Massachusetts? Stay tuned.
State and Federal law require that a student's IEP contain measurable post-secondary goals and services called a "transition plan" when the child reaches a certain age. Massachusetts General Law chapter 71B section 2 (signed into law in August 2008) requires a plan be in place by the child's 14th birthday. While this is two years earlier than Federal law requires, it is best to begin transition planning long before the child is a teenager. I encourage all parents to set high but realistic goals with their children and to treat each IEP goal as a small but important step towards their child's post-secondary aspirations.
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
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Topsfield, MA 01983