It looks like the GOP Senators questioning the US DOE and Arne Duncan about major special education violations wasn’t the only item on their agenda. Apparently, Republicans in D.C. who are upset about how Obama handled the health-care law are using other items President Obama has used in executive action, including education reform in a bid for a lawsuit against President Obama. In particular, No Child Left Behind waivers and Race To The Top funding were cited as specific examples in their claims of abuse of executive powers.
The major issue concerns the Race To The Top funding, introduced in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The $4 billion funding directive was given to states who, the Republicans feel, were coerced into forming the Common Core State Standards. As well, the issues of teacher evaluations based on the test scores of students who performed new standardized testing based on Common Core appear to be major issues with the GOP as well in D.C. They argue this was not approved by the legislators of Congress or The Senate.
A Republican House Representative from Minnesota, John Kline, stated “The proposal raises questions about the department’s legal authority to grant conditional waivers in exchange for reforms not authorized by Congress.”
In a quote to the Associated Press on July 30th, 2014, House Representative John Sessions said “Branches of government have always attempted to exert their influences on the other branches. But the president has gone too far. Rather than faithfully executing the law as the Constitution requires, I believe the president has selectively enforced the law in some instances, ignored the law in other instances, and in a few cases unilaterally attempted to change the law altogether.”
Since no lawsuit has been filed yet, it is unclear what implication this could have on current state Common Core and Standardized Testing initiatives. Many education experts believe this could have an implication on mid-term elections as well as Congressional oversight over executive decision-making ability. President Obama has staunchly supported his position of utilizing executive orders to improve education and health due to what he feels is an inept Congress. The results of these actions by the GOP Senate could have long-lasting effects on the ability of the Obama administration, and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to grant waivers with pre-existing conditions not signed into law by Congress.
More information can be found on the original article on EdWeek’s website: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/08/20/01lawsuit.h34.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1
The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will be airing a full run of 13 episode series called “The Specials” on September 7th. This series follows five young adults with intellectual disabilities over a four year time span that live together in England. “The Specials” was originally a series of Webisodes in England, consisting of ten parts.
The young adults in this series range from 19-23, and it will showcase how they transition from secondary schooling to a post-secondary lifestyle. Many important “life” moments occur for the real-life characters. Transitional services has become a big issue in the United States in recent years for special needs students so this could be an excellent series for all special needs parents to watch.
In a statement from the OWN website, “We were extremely thrilled to bring this series to OWN. We fell in love with the fun, adventurous energy and bond the housemates share,” said producer Carolyn Strauss. “It is our hope that viewers are not only entertained by their experiences, but inspired by their excitement for life and encouraged to accept and celebrate all people no matter their walk in life.”
To meet the characters, please check out this information on Oprah’s website: http://www.oprah.com/app/the-specials.html
A plaintiff prevailed in a very important special education case regarding tuition reimbursement and compensatory damages in Pennsylvania. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania reversed a decision by a Pennsylvania Special Education Hearing Officer. The Federal District Court ruled in L.G. v. West Chester Area School District, that the plaintiff was denied a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and the student was entitled to a full tuition reimbursement for a private school as opposed to the earlier ruling for limited tuition reimbursement.
The case utilized both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and IDEA as arguments for cause in arguments. For the 504 argument, which covers “any disability which substantially impacts learning or other major life activities”, the plaintiff, represented by McAndrews Law Firm, argued the school district did not provide appropriate Child Find in identifying a student with disabilities. Despite behavior interventions and attendance issues, the school did not perform their obligatory responsibility as required by IDEA as well. As well, the child did not receive an IEP while in the 2nd and 3rd grade at the school district.
This case won a good deal of victories for special education advocacy. It established FAPE, Child Find duties, and tuition reimbursement as clear avenues for special needs parents to advocate for their children, not only in Pennsylvania, but nation-wide.
Yesterday, we had a sort of unofficial IEP meeting with my son’s new school. Transitioning from elementary school to middle school, my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to meet the IEP team in an unofficial capacity. My son attended as well, and it was an excellent way of not only introducing him to his primary teachers, but to also let the team know what to expect with his Tourette’s Syndrome and other diagnoses.
Everyone was very willing to listen to our understanding of TS and suggestions. Many questions were asked in regards to certain scenarios that may come up. It was a great way to clear the air and start the school year off on a good note. I highly recommend doing this for any special needs child who may be transitioning from one school to another within the same district. I have to give high props to Capital School District in Dover, Delaware for their excellent special education team!