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New York Education Law Blog

Can 'mindset' theory help those with special mental health needs?

There was a time in education when teachers operated under hard and fast rules. The standards were set by tradition or the best information available at the time. Today, in New York and elsewhere, there is greater appreciation that one-size-fits-all solutions generally don't work and certainly don't in the context of helping students achieve their individual goals.

Individualized learning crafted to serve a student's special needs is acknowledged as a right and so federal and state laws mandate that school districts accommodate those needs. Defining needs, however, can be challenging. Working with a skilled education law attorney is how parents and students can be sure their opinions get consideration when formulating individualized education plans.

Do charter schools have to accommodate kids with disabilities?

Charter schools are public schools. They may have somewhat different programs or a specific focus that traditional schools do not, but they still have to comply with the same legal rules. That means they have to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504, the Americans With Disabilities Act and other state and federal civil rights laws.

You may have noticed that charter schools often have strict rules of conduct, require uniforms, and have other differences from ordinary public schools. In the past, that has sometimes resulted in non-compliant kids being "counseled out," or discouraged from attending. In some cases, these included children with disabilities or learning issues. The law is very clear; counseling out kids with disabilities is unlawful. If your child has a disability, they still have every right to attend any charter school they otherwise qualify to attend.

DOE: Less than half of states meeting special ed obligations

In an annual review this summer, the U.S. Department of Education found that only 22 states could be awarded the "meets requirements" designation for providing all services required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA.

The IDEA is our nation's premier law guaranteeing special education. More specifically, it requires public schools to provide a free and appropriate education to every student, regardless of disability.

Education Dept. to reduce school civil rights investigations

Under the leadership of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Department of Education will be scaling back the scope and number of its civil rights investigations into public schools and universities. In part, this is in response to Obama-era mandates said to have bogged down the department.

The acting head of the agency's civil rights office issued an internal memo with the changes. The Obama Administration had required investigators to broaden all inquiries to include the identification of systemic issues and ensure all classes of victims are known. It also required regional offices to alert agency higher-ups when receiving complaints regarding race-based, disproportionate discipline and campus sexual assaults.

AngelSense safety devices may violate privacy, broadcast consent

It's relatively common among kids along the autism spectrum to wander off from school. It's also pretty common for kids with autism to have difficulty sharing the details of their school day with Mom and Dad.

A new GPS-based technology could have a role to play in helping parents feel comfortable that their children are safely at school. The AngelSense device allows GPS tracking, so if a child wanders down the street, he or she can be easily found. It also contains a listening device, which could allow parents to monitor their child's experiences at school.

What services must public schools provide for disabled students?

New York City’s department of education is under scrutiny for alleged information mismanagement issues, particularly regarding specialized educational services.

Specifically, a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, requires school districts to provide a comparable education to disabled students. That standard is called a free and appropriate public education, or FAPE. If the normal classroom environment is insufficient, the school district is obligated to provide the comparable amount of specialized educational services needed to bridge the gap. Services may include speech or physical therapy, individualized instruction, or other services.

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