Posts tagged with "Individualized Education Programs"

Growing Awareness Surrounding Bullying of Students with Disabilities in Fairfield County

Bullying has gained the attention of the media over recent years, but despite the focused spotlight, bullying is rampant in our society.  Among the easiest targets are children with special needs.  They are, on average, at a greater risk to be bullied than their non-disabled counterparts.  This is in part because special education children make easy targets. It is often harder for children with disabilities to recognize which behaviors are socially appropriate and those that are not.

Many organizations are stepping up to the challenge of educating the community and parents on the complex issues surrounding bullying of students with disabilities. The Stratford Special Education Teacher and Parent Association held a presentation on “Bullying of Students with Disabilities.” The presentation focused on how to help schools avoid litigation stemming from the targeting of children with special education needs. The hope is to set up systems in schools that address bullying before it becomes a problem.

Interestingly, the presentation also focused on teaching parents how to work with the school system to effectively develop plans to prevent harassment of their children.  It is important that parents work with school administrators to develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that encourages students to learn and develop self-advocacy, and social and life skills necessary to reduce disability related harassment.

In addition to parents and school administrators working together to reduce and bring awareness to bullying and its drastic effects, it is also important to be familiar with the laws that protect children with disabilities.  At Maya Murphy, P.C., we have experience dealing with Education Law, harassment or bullying, Special Education Law, and discrimination.

By Leigh H. Ryan, Esq.

If you have any questions regarding bullying of students with disabilities, or any education law matter, contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at

The Use of Restraint and Seclusion of Students in Connecticut’s Public Schools

In early 2012, news broke regarding the use of so-called “scream rooms” for students at a school located in Middletown, Connecticut. Although the school district was quick to change its policy in light of media coverage and public outcry,[1] the practice of using last-resort measures, such as restraint and seclusion, as the initial reaction to seemingly problematic students is an epidemic affecting countless public schools and districts nationwide.

Investigative journalist and filmmaker Bill Lichtenstein described in a New York Times op-ed piece, in heart-wrenching detail, what no parent should ever experience first-hand: learning that his own five-year-old daughter was routinely placed in a seclusion room over the course of several months. As he explained, “in today’s often overcrowded and underfunded schools, where one in eight students receive help for special learning needs, the use of physical restraints and seclusion rooms has become a common way to maintain order.”[2] The physical and psychological trauma inflicted upon such students can be devastating and extensive, which makes it all the more imperative that States articulate to the “t” the parameters governing restraint and seclusion of students in public schools.

Connecticut Special Education Statutes

In Connecticut, our statutes specifically address such use in the context of special education students, who have what are called “individualized education programs,” or IEPs. Restraint is generally prohibited unless there are emergency situations, as is the case with seclusion, unless it is specified as an option in the student’s IEP. In February of 2012, the Office of Legislative Research drafted “a summary of state law and regulations governing restraint and seclusion of students in Connecticut public schools,”[3] which provides an overview of applicable statutes, notification and reporting requirements, and guidelines for implementing seclusion as part of a student’s IEP. You may reach this report by clicking here.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Should you have any questions regarding school discipline, or any other education law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport, CT at (203) 221-3100 or at

[1] “Middletown: ‘Scream Rooms’ Will No Longer Be Used For Some Students,” by Julie Stagis.

[2] “A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children,” by Bill Lichtenstein.

[3] “Use of Restraint and Seclusion in Connecticut Public Schools,” by John Moran, Principal Analyst, Office of Legislative Research.

What You Should Know About a Special Education IEP in Connecticut

If your child is determined to be eligible for special education services in Connecticut, you will have to begin the process of developing an individualized education program (IEP) to meet your child’s specific needs. The IEP is a written plan that describes your child’s special education program.

To develop an IEP, you will have assistance from the Planning and Placement Team (PPT).  As a parent, you are an integral part of the team that can shed light on the personal specific needs of your child. Alongside yourself, the PPT will consist of at least one of your child’s regular education teachers, at least one of your child’s special education teachers, related service providers such as a therapist, and someone from the school district such as the Director of Special Education.

Pre-PPT Meeting Planning

Before you meet with the PPT to develop your child’s IEP, there is some significant planning that should be done.  For instance, parents are encouraged to do the following before their child’s IEP meeting:

  • Talk to your child about their thoughts and feelings about school
  • Make a list of your child’s strengths and weaknesses and set realistic goals for the school year
  • Ask for a copy of your child’s school records and review them carefully, you have a right to receive a free copy upon 5 days advance written request
  • Make sure all necessary evaluations have been completed
  • Think about inviting professionals who will support your suggestions about your child’s IEP or placement
  • Make a written plan of what you are going to say in the meeting
  • Record the meeting either visually or with a tape recorder
Post-PPT Meeting IEP

After the meeting, the IEP for your child will be developed and should include most, if not all, of the following elements:

  • The present level of education and functional performance
  • Measurable educational goals and objectives
  • Evaluation procedures and performance criteria
  • Accommodations your child needs to participate in general education curriculum
  • Special education needs and related services
  • The date services will begin and end
  • The length of the school day and year
  • Recommended instructional settings
  • A description of how your child will take statewide tests
  • Transitional goals

Once this plan is developed and submitted, it generally will not be changed without participating in another PPT meeting.  However, in some situations, changes may be made without a PPT meeting if you and the school agree to them.  After the plan is developed, the PPT will recommend placement in a special education program and related services. Such placement could include regular classes with supportive aids, special classes, special schools, your home, a hospital, and residential programs.  In Connecticut, each special education child will be placed in the “least restrictive environment” possible for a beneficial education.

Finally, your child must be reevaluated once every three years, unless you and the school agree otherwise; before any significant change in placement; and before a determination is made that your child is no longer eligible for special education.

Developing a special education IEP is very labor and detail intensive.  There are many steps to ensuring a proper IEP is developed and that the PPT recommends appropriate placement for your child.  It can be very beneficial to have an experienced educational law attorney on your side throughout the IEP development process.

With decades of experience and extensive knowledge on the intricacies of Special Education IEP development, the educational law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. are here to help you every step of the way.  From planning to placement, Maya Murphy can ensure you and your child’s needs are appropriately documented and taken care of.  Contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at to schedule a free consultation today.