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Where Do We Go from Here? Making Informed Decisions About Special Education Dispute Resolution

This article will focus on due process hearings, which are the most costly form of dispute resolution in terms of time, financial resources, and impact on relationships between parents and school personnel. BY WILLIAM BLACKWELL, ED.D. Planning special education services is a collaborative process involving parents, children, and school personnel. While the majority of individualized education programs (IEPs) are developed collaboratively, there are situations in which disagreements arise that are not easily resolved. Parents are […]

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Transitioning From Pre-School To Elementary School, And Beyond: Students With Special Education Services

BY DIANE WISCARSON, WISCARSON LAW As a parent of a child with special needs, you may be particularly anxious about sending your child to elementary school. After all, you want to make sure that your incoming kindergartner gets the full benefit of a public school education, and has a positive experience in the process. Prior to your differently-abled child reaching kindergarten age, they will have likely been getting services through your local Education Service District […]

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How Charter Schools & Vouchers Affect Special Education

BY MARIA DOCHERTY AND LAUREN AGORATUS, M.A. Families should carefully weigh the pros and cons of charter schools and vouchers, and speak with their Parent Training and Information Center about their state laws, regulations, and policies regarding special education and charters or vouchers, before making a decision. With the increased focus in the United States on charter schools and the use of vouchers to support student attendance at private schools, more and more parents of […]

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The Importance Of Enrichment Programs For Students With Learning Differences

BY EMILY MARTON, B.S. State funding of school districts has continued to weaken nationwide since 2008. In fact, at least 31 states provided less state funding per student in the 2014 school year (end) than in the 2008 school year before the recession took hold (CBPP, 2016). These budget cuts cripple the ability for schools to maximize student learning potential and creative development, usually beginning with the elimination of arts and enrichment programs. Ironically, these […]

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Service Animals: Required In The IEP? NOT!

BY DIANE WISCARSON, ATTORNEY AT LAW Service animals, usually dogs, can provide excellent support for people with disabilities. Service animals are individually and specifically trained to perform tasks that help a person manage and navigate their environments. These tasks can include anticipating seizures, signaling self stimulation behaviors, alerting to important/alarming sounds, providing deep pressure sensory input, interrupting self-harm behaviors, and preventing elopement, among others. DIVIDE AMONG SCHOOL DISTRICTS: In recent years, there has been disagreement […]

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A Profound Enigma – Teaching Sign Language to Hearing Children and Speech to Deaf Children

BY J. FREEMAN KING, ED.D. Is it not logical and linguistically savvy to play to the child’s strength and not his/her weakness? Throughout the years, many different language learning theories have emerged. The latest phenomena in the United States is the teaching of sign language to hearing toddlers and preschoolers. Conversely, there is a push to to teach speech to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are deaf. Herein lies the enigma: eliciting the use of […]

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Creative Housing Options For Independent Living

BY LAUREN AGORATUS, M.A. Families often wonder if and where their children with special needs will live on their own. Often the focus is on universal design to make housing physically accessible. But housing with supports will maximize independence for individuals with all kinds of disabilities. PHYSICAL ACCESS Universal design is a concept used to ensure that the home environment is accessible to all. In addition to people with disabilities, it is also helpful to […]

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EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR It’s More Than Just “Summer School”

BY DIANE WISCARSON, ATTORNEY AT LAW “My child is behind, and could really benefit from summer school!” This is a common sentiment of parents of children with IEPs, and certainly true in many cases. Being behind can indicate that a student should indeed attend summer school or engage in other learning activities during break times from school. What many parents may not realize, though, is that there are certain circumstances under which a school district […]

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Charter Schools and Special Education

BY DR. MICHAEL BERG Charter schools are viable options for students with disabilities, just do your homework first and make sure it’s a good choice for your student! According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, over three million students receive their education in approximately 6,900 charter schools across the United States. Roughly eight percent or 240,000 students in public charter schools have disabilities according to a United States Government Accountability Report published in […]

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Anyone Can Sleep in the Top Bunk!

BY LAURA WHITAKER In 2014, Extra Special People (ESP) officially became the proud owner of 70 acres of beautiful, empty land in northeast Georgia – and Camp Hooray, a place where accessibility will be a foundational feature rather than a rushed afterthought, was one step closer to becoming a reality. Worried? Anxious? Not even close. If Toni Boyd could have described her emotions on the day she dropped off her daughter Samantha at summer camp […]