Update On Delaware IEP Task Force, SCR 63

I spoke with both Legislative Hall and Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn’s office this morning, and received some updates on Senate Concurring Resolution 63, the creation of an IEP task force.  The bill passed both the House of Representatives and the state Senate at the end of the 147th General Assembly legislative session.  Legislators are in recess until January, 2015, but there will Continue reading “Update On Delaware IEP Task Force, SCR 63”

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Delaware House Reps & Senators Emailed Tonight to Include Parents on IEP Task Force

Whether it was their regular email on the website or their Facebook account, all Delaware House Reps and Senators were emailed by me tonight.  Most of them got the same one, but I have met a few of them already to discuss some issues.  I appreciate those who emailed back so quickly.  One of them told me this was not the first email they received today.  Hopefully parents can be included in Senate Concurrent Resolution 63, which creates an IEP Task Force to basically look at why Delaware is doing so bad in Special Education two years in a row.

Here is the letter I sent to ALL of them:

I am a father of a special needs child.  My son has Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, and Sensory Processing Disorder.  I am a huge advocate not only for my own son, but all the children in Delaware with special needs.  So much so that I started my own blog, Exceptional Delaware, after writing a story on Kilroy’s Delaware about what happened to my son at a Delaware charter school. 

I read about SCR 63, the IEP Task Force.  This is a wonderful thing, and it is very needed.  However, I noticed there are no parents designated on the Task Force.  I believe this is a very big mistake.  Children with special needs are the primary stakeholders of whatever this task force comes up with, and the parents are the primary advocates for our children.  Parents are always part of the IEP process, and this should not be an exemption to parents at all.  Please speak about this tomorrow during the last day of legislative session and propose that parents be allowed a part of this.  I would highly recommend at least 3 parents of special needs be allowed on the Task Force, one from each county of Delaware.

We are the ones who are highly invested in this process, and we probably have the most to say about it, and how Delaware has arrived at the position they are in with the Federal Government.  IDEA and IEP are very tricky animals, and it needs to be looked at very carefully.  One wrong mistake can have tragic consequences for these children. 

Thank you for your time, and I appreciate all you do for our kids.

I hope Governor Markell realizes what a very big deal this is to so many in our state.

Delaware Senate Responds To Federal Ruling About Special Education Mess **UPDATED**WITH SUCCESS!!!!!!!!

Finally, someone in the government does something!  But I think they MUST have at least three parents of special needs children on this task force.  Parents are always a part of the IEP process, so they MUST be a part of any task force involved in making changes to it.  Otherwise, it is a slap in the face of every single parent of a special needs child that has had to fight to get accommodations for their child.  SCR 63 MUST change this immediately!  Yesterday, the US DOE stated Delaware is one of three states that needs federal intervention.  As a result, the Delaware Senate has put forth the following:

SPONSOR: Sen. Sokola & Sen. Poore & Rep. M. Smith & Rep. Ramone

 

DELAWARE STATE SENATE147th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 63

 

ESTABLISHING A TASK FORCE TO EXAMINE MEANS TO IMPROVE THE INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN (IEP) PROCESS FOR STUDENTS IN DELAWARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

 

 

 

 

WHEREAS, Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are the mechanism under federal and state law whereby schools determine what academic and other services should be provided to students with special needs, and what goals should be set for those students; and

WHEREAS, the process of developing IEPs for students in some of our state’s schools and school districts is, at best, difficult for parents to understand and navigate, and at worst in some instances, unfair and intimidating to parents; and

WHEREAS, the General Assembly has made efforts over the past several years to improve the IEP process, by passing legislation leveling up the services to which students with disabilities are entitled and legislation making it more economically feasible for parents dissatisfied with their children’s IEP to appeal the IEP decision; and

WHEREAS, notwithstanding these improvements, the IEP process does not always result in the best outcome for students with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of students with disabilities for Delaware to improve the IEP process used in its schools.

NOW, THEREFORE:

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the 147th General Assembly of the State of Delaware, the House of Representatives concurring therein, that an IEP Improvement Task Force is hereby created by the General Assembly.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the membership of the IEP Improvement Task Force shall be as follows:

  1. Two members of the State Senate, a member of the majority party appointed by the Senate President Pro Tem and a member of the minority party appointed by the Senate Minority Leader;
  2. Two members of the House of Representatives, a member of the majority party appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and a member of the minority party appointed by the House Majority Leader;
  3. The Secretary of Education or his designee;
  4. The President of the State Parent Teacher Association or the President’s designee;
  5. The chair of the Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council or the chair’s designee;
  6. Three representatives of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Exceptional Citizens, to be selected by the chair of the Council;
  7. The Governor or the Governor’s designee;
  8. The Lieutenant Governor or the Lieutenant Governor’s designee;
  9. A representative of the Delaware State Bar Association, to be selected by the President of the Delaware State Bar Association;
  10. The President of the Delaware State Education Association or the President’s designee;
  11. Two representatives of the Delaware Association of School Administrators, to be selected by the president of that organization;
  12. Two persons who teach special education in Delaware public schools, to be selected by the task force chair;
  13. Two persons who provide services to children with disabilities in Delaware public schools, to be selected by the task force chair;
  14. One non-attorney who advocates for parents and children in IEP proceedings, to be selected by the task force chair.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force shall report to the General Assembly and Governor by January 1, 2015 on the following topics:

  1. Practices being used in other states for development of IEPs that are different from practices in Delaware;
  2. The differences in practices used in different school districts within Delaware for development of IEPs;
  3. Research or other academic evidence of best practices with respect to development of IEPs;
  4. Federal or state law restrictions on changes to Delaware’s IEP process;
  5. Potential legislative, regulatory, funding, or other improvements to Delaware’s IEP process.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the chair of the Task Force shall be selected by the President Pro Tem of the Delaware State Senate, with the Lieutenant Governor to serve as temporary chair pursuant to Senate Rule 8(b)(4).

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that staff support for the task force shall be provided by the Delaware Department of Education.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Delaware Department of Education and all Delaware school districts and charter schools shall respond promptly to requests for information from the task force.

 

SYNOPSIS

This concurrent resolution creates an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Task Force.

Author: Senator Sokola

Updated, 6/26/14, 2:44PM: Despite all my best efforts, emailing every single Delaware House Rep and Senator, this resolution passed the Senate at 2:18 pm today with NO amendment to add parents, even though several reps told me they would let Senator Sokola know so he could amend it.  All who got in touch with me seemed to agree that it should have happened, and one even said it was probably an oversight.  Rep Paul Baumbach informed me on Twitter there was no time to amend the bill, but there are opportunities to be named to the task force or to attend and testify at all their public meetings.  Which does answer one question about whether this would be open or closed.

I think it is a travesty not to include regular parents on this that aren’t 1) an advocate, 2) a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council For Exceptional Citizens, and 3) Someone providing services at a school for special need’s children.  Just a regular parent who has been through all the exhaustive school battles and will give raw, untainted testimony about what is really going on.

Updated 6/26/14, 7:03PM: After creating a twitter storm advising all Delaware parents to have outside special needs parents added to the Task Force, and emails coming at me left and right from House Reps, the Senate stopped any motion on the resolution and put it under the label of “reconsider”.  At 6:28 pm tonight, they added this amendment and repassed the resolution:

AMEND Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 63 between lines 37 and 38 by inserting the following:

“15. Three parents, one from each county, each having a child who has had or currently has an IEP, to be selected by the Senate and House Task Force members.”

SYNOPSIS

This amendment adds three members who are parents of children who have experience with an IEP.

Victory!!!! Thank you to all the parents out there who helped with this and advised our public officials what is best for our awesome children!  We did a good thing today.  I also want to give a huge shout-out to Representative Kim Williams, Representative Rebecca Walker, Representative Darryl Scott, and Senator Nicole Poore for going the extra mile on this.  Thank you!