Posts tagged with "Education Law"

What is the evaluation process used to determine a child’s special education requirements?

What is an Initial Evaluation?

An initial evaluation is the first step in the evaluation process for special education. Following a referral, the state education agency or local education agency is obligated to conduct a full and individualized initial evaluation for each child in order to determine his or her eligibility under the IDEA. Prior to conducting an initial evaluation, the agency must obtain informed written parental consent. Consent to this initial evaluation must be in writing and may only be given following full disclosure of all information needed for you to make a knowledgeable decision pertaining to your child’s educational needs. It bears repeating that parental consent to an initial evaluation may not be construed as consent for the placement of your child in special education or related services. However, failure of a parent to consent to an initial evaluation may allow the school district to initiate a due process hearing as a way to proceed with an initial evaluation.

Conducting the Evaluation

In conducting the evaluation, the local educational agency, “shall use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information, including information provided by the parent, that may assist in determining – (i) whether the child is a child with a disability; and (ii) the content of the child’s individualized education program, including information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum…” An evaluation study will include a review of information collected by the school district through formal and informal observations, a review of schoolwork, standardized tests and other information provided by your child’s teachers and other school personnel.

Reruirements Under IDEA

Additional requirements in the evaluation assessment under the IDEA provide that:

(A) assessments and other evaluation materials used to assess a child under this section-
(i) are selected and administered so as not to be discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis;
(ii) are provided and administered in the language and form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is not feasible to so provide or administer;
(iii) are used for purposes for which the assessments or measures are valid and reliable;
(iv) are administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel; and
(v) are administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of such assessments;
(B) the child is assessed in all areas of suspected disability;
(C) assessment tools and strategies that provide relevant information that directly assists persons in determining the educational needs of the child are provided; and
(D) assessments of children with disabilities who transfer from one school district to another school district in the same academic year are coordinated with such children’s prior and subsequent schools, as necessary and as expeditiously as possible, to ensure prompt completion of full evaluations.

Parents During Evaluation

As a parent you will receive written notice of the particular tests and procedures that will be used in conducting your child’s evaluation. It is important as a parent to have an active voice in the initial evaluation process and you should share any and all relevant information you have regarding your child’s skills, abilities and needs.
The local educational agency conducting the initial evaluation is required to determine whether your child is one with a disability within sixty (60) days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation and to determine the special educational needs of your child if he or she is eligible. As a parent, if you fail or refuse to produce your child for an initial evaluation the sixty-day time constraint will not be applicable.

Following the initial evaluation, the child’s Planning and Placement Team will meet to evaluate the data and determine whether your child meets the necessary criteria to receive special education and related services. As a parent you will be provided with a written report of the evaluation that was conducted.
What is an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)?

Independent Educational Evaluation

If you disagree with the school district’s evaluation you may request an Independent Educational Evaluation, referred to as an IEE. Upon a request for an IEE, the local educational agency must provide information to parents as to where you may obtain an IEE and the criteria necessary in conducting an evaluation. An independent educational evaluation is one that is conducted by a qualified examiner, who is not an employee of the local educational agency, such as your child’s private therapist. Moreover, a parent is not required to inform the school district in advance of plans to obtain an IEE.

Evaluation Disagreements

Although parents should work alongside their local educational agency to resolve any disagreements pertaining to evaluations, there are times where an independent evaluation will be necessary to resolve such disagreements. Parents have the right to an IEE at the local educational agency’s expense unless the local educational agency challenges the need for an IEE. If the local educational agency challenges the IEE they must, “without unnecessary delay” file for a due process hearing to demonstrate that its evaluation was appropriate or that the evaluation obtained by you did not meet the requisite evaluation criteria. If the local educational agency files for a due process hearing and its evaluation is found to be sufficient, you still have the right to obtain an IEE, but not at public expense. A parent is only entitled to one IEE at public expense each time the local educational agency conducts an evaluation with which the parent disagrees. If, however, a hearing officer requests an IEE during the course of a due process hearing, the evaluation shall be conducted at the expense of the agency.

If an IEE is conducted at public expense, the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, including the location and qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria that the local educational agency uses when it conducts an evaluation. However, the results of an IEE, irrespective of who pays for it, must be considered by the school district when designing your child’s educational program.

What is a Reevaluation? When and why will my child be reevaluated?

The IDEA mandates that a reevaluation must occur at least once every three (3) years, unless the parent and the local educational agency agree that a reevaluation is not necessary. Either parents or local educational agencies may request a reevaluation but the local educational agency must first obtain written parental consent before conducting a reevaluation. Failure to provide the consent needed for your child’s school district to conduct a reevaluation may lead to your local educational agency filing for a due process hearing or seeking other dispute resolution proceedings in order to conduct the reevaluation.

The purpose of conducting a reevaluation is to reassess the educational needs of your child and determine whether your child continues to have a disability, to evaluate the levels of academic achievement and developmental needs of your child, to determine whether special education and related services are still needed for your child, and whether your child’s Individual Education Plan requires modification.

In conducting a reevaluation, your child’s PPT will review existing reports and data to decide if additional testing is needed to determine whether your child is still eligible and continues to need special education and related services.
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If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

 

No Child Left Behind – Connecticut

No Child Left Behind – Connecticut

            One of the legislative centerpieces of Federal Education Law is “The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001” (“NCLB”).  The Act is 670 pages in length and almost as controversial as it is long.   Therefore, parents should be familiar with at least its stated purpose and general provisions.  NCLB does not, however, give parents the right to sue on behalf of their children. 

          NCLB funds Federal programs established by the U.S. Department of Education aimed at improving the performance of schools throughout the 50 states by imposing greater accountability on public schools, expanding parental choice in the school attended by their child, and placing increased emphasis on reading and math skills.  NCLB has as one of its focal points improvement of schools and school districts serving students from low-income families.

            The theory underlying enactment of NCLB was that improved educational programs would enable students to meet challenging state academic achievement standards and thereby achieve their full potential.  Among other areas, the Act funds programs and resources for disadvantaged students, delinquent and neglected youth in institutions, improving teacher and principal quality, use of technology in schools, and fostering a safe and drug-free learning environment.  One source of controversy is the fact that NCLB allows military recruiters access to the names, addresses, and telephone listings of 11th and 12th grade students if the school provides that information to colleges or employers. 

          More specifically, NCLB requires states to strengthen test standards, to test annually all students in grades 3-8, and to establish annual statewide progress objectives to ensure that all students achieve proficiency within 12 years. There are no Federal standards of achievement; each state is required to set its own standards. Test results and state progress objectives must be stratified based upon poverty, race, ethnicity, disability, and English proficiency to ensure that “no child is left behind.”  Schools and school districts that fail to make “adequate yearly progress” are subject to corrective action and restructuring.  Adequate yearly progress means, for example, that each year a school’s fourth graders score higher on standardized tests than the previous year’s fourth graders.

          Once a school has been identified under NCLB as requiring improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, local school officials must afford its students the opportunity (and transportation, if needed) to attend a better public school within the same school district.  Low-income students attending a “persistently failing school” (i.e., one failing to meet state standards for 3 out of the 4 preceding years) are eligible for funding to obtain supplemental educational services from either public or private schools selected by the student and his parents.  Under-performing schools are highly incentivized to improve if they wish to avoid further loss of students (and an accompanying loss of funding).  A school that fails to make adequate yearly progress for five consecutive years is subject to reconstitution under a restructuring plan.

          Simply stated, NCLB provides states and school districts unprecedented flexibility in their use of federal funds in return for more stringent accountability for increased teacher quality and improved student results.

          One of the stated goals of NCLB is that every child be able to read by the end of third grade.  To this end, the Federal government invested in scientifically based reading instruction programs to be implemented in the early grades.  An expected collateral benefit of this initiative is reduced identification of children requiring special education services resulting from a lack of appropriate reading instruction.  NCLB funds screening and diagnostic assessments to identify K-3 students who are at risk of reading failure, and to better equip K-3 teachers in the essential components of reading instruction.  Funds are also available to support early language, literacy, and pre-reading development of pre-school age children.

          In keeping with its major themes of accountability, choice, and flexibility, NCLB also emphasizes the use of practices grounded in scientifically based research to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality teachers.  Once again, local school administrators are afforded significant flexibility in teacher staffing, provided they can demonstrate annual progress in maintaining and enhancing the high-quality of their teachers.

          Finally, in an effort to ensure safe and drug-free schools, NCLB, as proposed, requires states to allow students who attend a persistently dangerous school, or who have been victims of violent crime at school, to transfer to a safe school.  To facilitate characterizing schools as “safe” or “not safe,” NCLB requires public disclosure of school safety statistics on a school-by-school basis.  In addition, school administrators must use federal funding to implement demonstrably effective drug and violence prevention programs.

          It is within this overarching educational framework of NCLB that the State of Connecticut oversees and administers its constitutional and statutory obligations to educate your children.

 

How to File a Personal Injury Claim Against a School in Connecticut

If you have a personal injury claim against a school, a school employee, or a similar
government entity or employee, you probably already know that it’s more complicated
than just suing a private homeowner for a slip-and-fall. But what makes it so
complicated, and what is the process?

Schools and their employees are often immune from liability for actions they undertake
within the course and scope of their duties. That immunity is not unlimited, however,
and particularly where a child’s injury is caused by gross negligence, malice, or
wantonness, you can be compensated with monetary damages. CGS § 4-141, et seq.
But, before you take your case to court, your case must be reviewed by the
Commissioner of Claims. Depending on the value of your case, the Commissioner of
Claims will review your case, and may conduct a fact finding investigation, including
witness interviews, document inspections, and other types of inquiries. The parties may
engage in discovery in some cases, and the Attorney General may also be permitted to
file a dispositive motion that asks the Commissioner to decide the issues in the case
just on the known facts and law, but without a full hearing or trial. Once the
Commissioner of Claims’ investigation (if applicable) is complete, s/he may issue a
decision, or if there are unresolved legal issues, they may authorize you to file suit in
court.

Navigating an administrative process with an administrative authority requires expert
guidance. Small mistakes such as misunderstanding a statute or missing a deadline
can impact or even eliminate your ability to seek relief. If you have a personal injury
claim against a school, school employee, or a similar government entity, the attorneys
at Maya Murphy, P.C. can assist you. Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya may be
reached directly by telephone at (203) 221-3100, ext. 110 or by email
at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

The above is not intended to constitute legal advice, and you should consult with an
attorney as soon as possible if you believe you have this, or any other type of claim.

How NCLB Implements it’s Goals

One of the stated goals of NCLB is that every child be able to read by the end of third grade. To this end, the Federal government invested in scientifically based reading instruction programs to be implemented in the early grades. An expected collateral benefit of this initiative is reduced identification of children requiring special education services resulting from a lack of appropriate reading instruction. NCLB funds screening and diagnostic assessments to identify K-3 students who are at risk of reading failure, and to better equip K-3 teachers in the essential components of reading instruction. Funds are also available to support early language, literacy, and pre-reading development of pre-school age children.

In keeping with its major themes of accountability, choice, and flexibility, NCLB also emphasizes the use of practices grounded in scientifically based research to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality teachers. Once again, local school administrators are afforded significant flexibility in teacher staffing, provided they can demonstrate annual progress in maintaining and enhancing the high-quality of their teachers.

Finally, in an effort to ensure safe and drug-free schools, NCLB, as proposed, requires states to allow students who attend a persistently dangerous school, or who have been victims of violent crime at school, to transfer to a safe school. To facilitate characterizing schools as “safe” or “not safe,” NCLB requires public disclosure of school safety statistics on a school-by-school basis. In addition, school administrators must use federal funding to implement demonstrably effective drug and violence prevention programs.

It is within this overarching educational framework of NCLB that the State of Connecticut oversees and administers its constitutional and statutory obligations to educate your children.

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Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

What Services Are Required for School-Aged Children with Autism in Connecticut?

Children with autism are eligible for special education and related services in Connecticut.  State and federal law does not require local school districts to provide particular services for children with autism.  These laws do require school districts to identify children with disabilities that affect their educational performance and provide them with a free and appropriate public education tailored to their individual needs.

Specific services for autistic children depend on his or her disability and individualized educational program.  This program is established by the child’s planning and placement team.  A planning and placement team is a group consisting of the child’s parents, teachers, and educational specialist that evaluate the child’s services annually.

If you have any questions related to education law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

What Is the Law Controlling Drug Testing in the Workplace or in Public Schools in Connecticut?

Among employees there are a variety of times in which they may legally be drug tested in the workplace.  Employees are often tested prior to being hired to prevent employers from hiring people who use illegal drugs.  After an employee is hired, if an employee’s supervisor has reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may test the employee for illegal drug use.  Employees in a workplace may also be tested post-accident to determine whether drugs or alcohol contributed to the event.  Lastly, employers may choose to conduct random testing to deter drug use.  However, Connecticut law prohibits private-sector employers from requiring employees to undergo random drug tests.  An employer must have a reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol that is affecting, or could affect, his job performance before he may require a test.

State and municipal employees are not covered by the state law that prohibits random drug testing, however they are protected by the Fourth Amendment which prohibits the government from carrying out unreasonable searches.  The Supreme Court has ruled that urine tests are searches and that the Fourth Amendment applies to governments acting as employers.

Federal law and regulations also require the operators of commercial vehicles over a certain size, to undergo drug tests before they are hired, after serious incidents, and when there is a reasonable suspicion.   In the private sector, pre-employment drug testing is fairly common.

There are no federal or state statutes that cover drug testing of students in public schools.  Students do not have the same level of constitutional rights as adults however.  A 2002 Supreme Court decisions permits schools to conduct random drug testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities, but drug testing cannot be a condition for attending school.

If you have any questions regarding employment law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

What Should I Do if My Child Has Been Denied Special Education?

Schools may often refuse to make reasonable accommodations for children who need special education.  If your child has special education needs, the school must accommodate for the child under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  You have many rights in this situation such as the right to a manifestation hearing.  You may also have the right to file a complaint against the school district.  You should obtain an education attorney as soon as possible to educate you on your rights, and help you get the accommodations your child needs and deserves.  If you have any questions related to education law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Who Refers Children to Special Education?

Connecticut requires each school district to reach out and identify children from birth to twenty-one years of age who may be eligible for special education services. The IDEA covers all children with disabilities residing in the state, including those who are homeless or wards of the State, and children with disabilities attending private schools, irrespective of the severity of their disability. It is the obligation of the school district to identify children in need of special education from birth on. This duty is called “child find.” After “finding” a child with a disability, the school district must initiate an evaluation of that child to fulfill their duty under the IDEA.

A referral to special education services is the first step in determining whether a child is entitled to receive special education and related services. The referral takes the form of a written request that a child be evaluated if he or she is suspected of having a disability and who may be in need of special education and related services. If your child is over the age of three and you believe he or she may have a disability, as a parent you may submit a written request to the director of special education of your school district. If someone other than a child’s parent refers a child to special education, such as a teacher or school administrator, the parent must receive written notice of such referral.

Those who may make a referral for an evaluation are: the student, provided they are 18 years of age or older, a parent or guardian, the state educational agency, the local educational agency or individuals from other agencies, including physicians or social workers having parental permission to make a referral.

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Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

NCLB: Schools Must Continue to Make Progress

What happens if a school declines in standardized testing? Schools and school districts that fail to make “adequate yearly progress” are subject to corrective action and restructuring. Adequate yearly progress means, for example, that each year a school’s fourth graders score higher on standardized tests than the previous year’s fourth graders.

Once a school has been identified under NCLB as requiring improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, local school officials must afford its students the opportunity (and transportation, if needed) to attend a better public school within the same school district. Low-income students attending a “persistently failing school” (i.e., one failing to meet state standards for 3 out of the 4 preceding years) are eligible for funding to obtain supplemental educational services from either public or private schools selected by the student and his parents. Under-performing schools are highly incentivized to improve if they wish to avoid further loss of students (and an accompanying loss of funding). A school that fails to make adequate yearly progress for five consecutive years is subject to reconstitution under a restructuring plan.

Simply stated, NCLB provides states and school districts unprecedented flexibility in their use of federal funds in return for more stringent accountability for increased teacher quality and improved student results.
________________________________________________________________________________
Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

Written By: Joseph Maya 2013

School Learning Environment

Connecticut Public Act No. 08-160, An Act Concerning School Learning Environment, is of interest to parents of school age children and, in particlular, parents of children with special needs.

Two of the major changes that are enacted are (1) all suspensions starting July 1, 2009 are in school suspensions unless it is determined that the student is dangerous or disruptive to the educational process; and (2) all schools must “develop and implement a policy to address the existence of bullying in its schools.”  Also of note is a new provision that provides for in-service training for school personnel and pupils on a variety of issues they face daily.  A few examples are: (a) drug and alcohol awareness; (b) “health and mental health risk reduction;” (c) working with special needs children in regular classrooms; (d) cpr and emergency life saving procedures…..