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  • U.S. Department of Education Announces Initiative to Address the Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion to Protect Children with Disabilities, Ensure Compliance with Federal Laws

    U.S. Department of Education Announces Initiative to Address the Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion to Protect Children with Disabilities, Ensure Compliance with Federal Laws
    JANUARY 17, 2019
    Contact:   Press Release, (202) 401-1576,

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today that the U.S. Department of Education will launch an initiative to address the possible inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in our nation’s schools. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in partnership with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), will oversee this proactive approach which will protect students with disabilities by providing technical assistance and support to schools, districts, and state education agencies, and strengthen enforcement activities.

    “This initiative will not only allow us to support children with disabilities but will also provide technical assistance to help meet the professional learning needs of those within the system serving students,” Secretary DeVos said.  “The only way to ensure the success of all children with disabilities is to meet the needs of each child with a disability. This initiative furthers that important mission.”

    The Department’s Initiative to Address the Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion will not only include components that help schools and districts understand how federal law applies to the use of restraint and seclusion, but the Department will also support schools seeking resources and information on the appropriate use of interventions and supports to address the behavioral needs of students with disabilities.

    The Department’s initiative will include the following three components:

    Compliance Reviews

    OCR’s 12 regional offices will conduct compliance reviews on recipients’ use of restraint and seclusion on children with disabilities.
    Compliance reviews will focus on the possible inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion, and the effect of such practices on the school’s obligation to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for all children with disabilities.
    OCR will conduct compliance reviews and work with public schools to correct noncompliance.
    CRDC Data Collection

    OCR will conduct data quality reviews and work directly with school districts to review and improve restraint and seclusion data submitted as a part of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC).
    OCR will provide technical assistance to schools on data quality, to ensure that they are collecting and reporting accurate data relating to the use of restraint and seclusion.
    Support for Recipients

    OCR will provide technical assistance to public schools on the legal requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act relating to the use of restraint and seclusion on children with disabilities.
    OCR will partner with OSERS to provide joint technical assistance to support recipients in understanding how Section 504, Title II, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) informs the development and implementation of policies governing the use of restraint and seclusion.
    OSERS will support recipients identified by OCR through compliance reviews or through the complaint resolution process to ensure they have access to appropriate technical assistance and support.
    OSERS will support schools to ensure they have access to technical assistance and available resources as they establish or enhance environments where the implementation of interventions and supports reduces the need for reliance on less effective and potentially dangerous practices.
    OSERS will consider how current investments may be utilized to provide support and training to schools, districts, and states.

    OSERS and OCR will jointly plan and conduct webinars for interested parties related to the use of appropriate interventions and supports for all students.
    “In collaboration with OSERS, we will work to ensure that recipients are aware of their legal obligation under Section 504 and Title II, and that we have accurate information and data on the use of restraint and seclusion,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus. “Working directly with schools and districts provides an excellent opportunity to help recipients and support their efforts toward compliance to ensure that all children have an opportunity to succeed in the classroom.”

    “OSERS has long focused on improving results and outcomes for children with disabilities,” said Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Johnny W. Collett. “Rethinking special education and challenging the status quo includes examining systems that keep us from making the kind of improvement we know is necessary. This initiative furthers our ongoing efforts to examine any practice that limits opportunities for children with disabilities.” 

    Read more

  • Special Education is Broken

    Special Education Is Broken
    —Daryn Ray for Education Week - By Christina A. Samuels - January 8, 2019 - Shared with Permission from Education Week
    Editor’s Note: Associate Editor Christina Samuels covers special education. This analysis is part of a special report exploring pressing trends in education. Read the full report: 10 Big Ideas in Education.

    The year was 1975, and President Gerald Ford was ambivalent about the law he was about to sign, guaranteeing that students with disabilities are entitled to education in the public schools. He said so in what was then an infrequently used presidential option—a signing statement.

    No one could argue against the law's goals, Ford wrote. But the "Education for All Handicapped Children Act" was underfunded, promised too much to families, and was burdened by complex technical requirements, he said.

    Fortunately, he said, the law wasn't scheduled to be fully implemented until 1978. "There is time to revise the legislation and come up with a program that is effective and realistic," Ford wrote.

    That was optimistic.

    Special education must move beyond a one-size-fits-all model, explains disability civil rights pioneer Judith Heumann. 

    Over 43 years later, others still hold Ford's concerns, and they aren't opponents of the law. Rather, people who have spent their professional careers or personal lives deeply involved in the cause of educating students with disabilities are the same ones who are troubled—publicly and privately—about special education as functional law and as a process intended to get students the education that they need.

    What is now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was the culmination of decades of activism all over the country. Now that the law is here, it will take a revival of that same spirit to fix what is broken in the implementation. Read entire article

  • Stranger Danger for Your Special Needs Child

    From EParent with permission  - January 9, 2019

    When we envision a child with Down syndrome navigating the world without adult supervision, fears about encounters with strangers naturally surface. Many individuals with Down syndrome are friendly and trusting, by nature, and respond warmly to a new acquaintance, a trait that is generally celebrated by those who are privileged to meet them.

    But, this endearing quality creates a vulnerability that obligates parents to teach them to distinguish between acceptable, harmless exchanges with strangers and those with more sinister implications.

    Here are some tips to help teach your child that “stranger” doesn’t always mean danger, but that self-protection always comes first.

    Define the concept of “stranger” broadly
    Talk to your child and explain that people not known to us may be very nice and well-intentioned, but also emphasize that some people intend to do us harm. Sometimes, it may be difficult to tell the difference. Review what it means to trust and list people that your child can safely trust.

    Read more

  • How Parents and Educators Can Team Up on Special Education

    By Christina A. Samuels - December 5, 2018 - Shared with permission from Education  Week

    As its name suggests, the Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood was founded with the goal of fully embracing students with disabilities and their families.

    You can see that philosophy at work when you walk through the door—literally.

    Unlike many schools, "the Henderson" doesn't require parents to drop off their children at the school entrance. Usually schools make that request so they can efficiently get the kids to their classrooms.

    But Henderson parents are welcome to take their children right in to the building each day—not just on opening day—and to chat with staff along the way.

    Read entire story

  • Can Special Ed Teachers Be Forced to Stay in the Classroom During Strikes

    By Madeline Will on January 4, 2019 - Shared with Permission from EdWeek

    Updated 1/7 at 12 pm, with district's response 

    Los Angeles teachers are planning to go on strike on Jan. 10—but the school district this week asked a federal judge to prevent special education teachers from leaving the classroom. 

    However, on Friday evening, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald S.W. Lew denied the Los Angeles Unified school district's attempt.

    To use an analogy from the ongoing partial government shutdown, the district had wanted special education teachers and other employees who provide services to students with special needs to be considered "essential personnel," and blocked from going on strike. Teachers are planning to strike over a contract dispute; they've asked for pay raises, class-size reductions, fewer required tests, and more school nurses, counselors, social workers, and librarians. The district has offered a smaller pay bump and class-size reductions in some schools.

    "A strike would be detrimental to students with disabilities and their families, depriving the students of the special-education support and services they rely on each day," said David Holmquist, the general counsel for the Los Angeles Unified school district, in a statement upon filing the request. 

    The district's statement added: "In the event of a strike, these students' health and safety would be in jeopardy. They could get hurt, hurt themselves, or hurt others."

    Read entire article