11 Things You Need to Know About Section 504 and Special Education to Help Your Child!

Do you have a child with autism, or a learning disability that has suffered discrimination in school related to their disability? Have they been harassed, emotionally damaged, or physically hurt in school by another student or school staff that is disability related? Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits disability related to a persons disability in any program that receives federal funding. This article will be discussing 11 things about Section 504 that you can use to protect your child.1. Disability harassment defined. In a letter from the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (that investigates Section 504 complaints) describes what is considered disability harassment. The letter states: When the harassing conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates a hostile environment, adversely affecting the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program.The letter further states that harassment based on disability may decrease the student’s ability to benefit from his or her education and amount to denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) under IDEA and Section 504.2. In the above letter the Department of Education also states that the discrimination can be done not only by school staff, but also by students. Many school districts have taken the position that they are not responsible for student’s actions-though many courts have found that they are.3. Children with disabilities who receive special education services under IDEA are automatically eligible for the protections under Section 504.4. Children with disabilities have the right to achieve as adequately as persons without disabilities under this law.5. Children also have the right to receive services and benefits that are comparable to those given their non disabled peers. For benefits or services provided to be equally effective they must afford students with an equal opportunity to obtain the same result, gain the same benefit, or reach the same level of achievement as other students. This is so important to know because many children’s services are not the same as their non disabled peers, and the child is not expected to reach the same level of achievement as their non disabled peers! Though I have believed for many years that will appropriate related and special education services children with disabilities can achieve the same as their non disabled peers.6. Reasonable accommodations must be given to meet the needs of students with disabilities.7. Children with disabilities must be educated with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate, and in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of the child.8. Children with disabilities must be taught using state standards that apply to general education, and their non disabled peers. Failure to apply standards to students with disabilities is a failure to provide comparable benefits and services under Section 504.9. A child being excluded from taking district and state wide standardized tests may be a violation of the laws comparable benefits. Why? Because standardized testing makes school districts accountable for teaching children according to the academic standards set by the state for all children. Testing is accountability and should be used for most children.10. Some parents have been successful in getting services for their children under this law that they have been unable to get under IDEA. The Early Complaint Resolution Process is a good way for parents to give input on how their complaint can be resolved, to benefit their child.11. It is possible to file a Section 504 claim in IDEA cases, but the parent must prove that the school employee showed either bad faith or gross misjudgment before they can prevail.Consider using Section 504 to help get your child needed special education services as well as stopping bullying and retaliation!

10 Things Parents Can Do to Decrease Restraint and Seclusion For Their Special Education Child

Are you the parent of a child with autism, pervasive developmental disorder or Aspergers syndrome that has severe behavioral issues at school? Does your child with an emotional disorder also have severe behavioral issues at school? Are you concerned that they may be harmed or emotionally injured by special education personnel that are not trained to deal with the behavior? Then this article is for you! You will learn about 10 things that you can do that are easy and proactive to do to decrease your child’s chances of being restrained or secluded in school.Item 1: Review all of your child’s school records (temporary, permanent, E mails, etc), and see if there are any incident reports in your child’s school file that refers to restraint and seclusion. Look for any other information about your child’s behavior and what positive steps special education personnel are taking to help your child improve their school behavior.Item 2: If you find any evidence in your child’s record that restraint or seclusion has been used, ask for a copy. This will be the beginning of your paper trail documenting this harmful tactic on your child. Make sure that the things copied are dated.Item 3: Immediately start investigating your states laws on seclusion or restraint. Start with your Department of Education and ask for written copies of all state law and policies on the subject. When you receive them immediately go through the laws and policies and take notes.Item 4 : Once you think that you have a working knowledge of your state laws and policies call an IEP meeting to discuss the use of restraint and seclusion on your child, and use of positive supports and plans.Item 5: Begin educating yourself on the appropriate research based way to deal with negative school behavior. This is functional behavioral analysis and developing of a positive behavioral plan to increase your child’s positive school behavior. This is not a punishment plan, as punishment does not work in the long term to positively effect a child’s behavior!Item 6: Write up a No Consent Letter and bring it with you to the IEP meeting (bring copies). Look for the Ezine article that I wrote on what to include in a No Consent Letter.Item 7: Write up a one page parent input statement and also bring that with you to the IEP meeting (bring copies). State in there your concern about the use of restraint and seclusion on your child and that you would like to discuss positive behavioral supports and plans to help your child.Item 8: At the IEP meeting hand the special education person a copy of your parent input statement and also the No Consent Letter and ask them to be attached to your child’s IEP, make sure that they are. Make it clear that if your child becomes injured because special education personnel restrain your child, you will consider legal action.Item 9: Keep track of any restraint issues by checking on your child. If any injuries occur immediately take pictures and seek medical care.Item 10: File a complaint with state and federal agencies. All 50 states have a protection and advocacy system (P&A) that are required to provide protection and advocacy to persons with disabilities. To find yours go to Google and put in your state name and protection and advocacy organization-it should come up.Many police agencies absolutely refuse to get involved when a child is injured or killed at school by the use of restraints. It is so sad that children with disabilities cannot depend on the police to protect vulnerable children!Restraint and Seclusion is responsible for many injuries and deaths in the United States. There has recently been a lot of media attention to this issue, which may help the cause. Do these 10 things and you will be on your way to protecting a child with disabilities that you love from restraint and seclusion!

How to Become a Special Education Teacher in Georgia

I am writing this article because I decided to change careers from social work to teaching and had no idea initially how to do it. I thought it would be impossible because I was a single mom (recently divorced) of a 2 year old little girl and needed to work full-time to pay the bills. Also, my daughter was in daycare while I worked, and I didn’t know how I would be able to attend night classes (she had to be picked up by 6:00pm). I was working at the Department of Family and Children Services as a child protective services investigator. I enjoyed being able to help children, but the crazy hours and being on call were not working for me being a single mom. I had a friend that was in investigations with me and she told me she was actually thinking about becoming a teacher. She told me that the you can find online programs for special education teachers. The State of Georgia will allow you to get a provisional teaching certificate while you complete your schooling online. The best part is that you can begin teaching right away.If you are interested in teaching, you need to already have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.To do:
*Take the GACE Basic Skills Test or be exempted based on certain SAT, GRE, or ACT scores.
*Do a Google search for “online teaching programs in Georgia” and apply for the program you are interested in.
*Secure employment with a local school. Make sure you highlight your experience in working with children. I have found that it is so much easier finding employment teaching special education because the need is so great. Just send your resumes out and prep for your interviews!I had an amazing experience in beginning my teaching career. Teaching special education is a rewarding career with good benefits. It really is a unique opportunity to be able to earn while you learn and finish your degree. Please keep in mind, many programs use a cohort philosophy, and only accept new students to begin each spring semester. It’s important to plan ahead and get started taking your GACE Basic Skills Test so you will be ready to apply before the application deadline.