Rights of Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools

The key word is public – if a public Texas charter school is not following federal and state special education rules, it would fall to TEA (Texas Education Agency) to enforce them under the dispute resolution processes. Information on the laws and regulations that Texas charter schools must follow is at http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Schools/Charter_Schools/Charter_Schools_-_Resources/

On December 28, 2016, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released a Guidance Package developed to provide parents and the charter school community with information about the rights of charter school students with disabilities.

Students with disabilities who are enrolled in public charter schools, like students with disabilities enrolled in other public elementary or secondary schools, have important rights under two federal laws.

Students with disabilities who seek to enroll in public charter schools or traditional public schools have important rights secured by these two laws.

These documents provide information about how to provide equal opportunities in charter school recruitment, application, admission, enrollment and disenrollment, accessibility, nonacademic and extracurricular activities.

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Extended School Year (ESY) for Kids with Autism

If your child with autism is like mine, he thrives on routine. Set up a program that works for him, and he’s up with the sun, ready to jump on the school bus, and eager to do what he’s done yesterday and the day before.

Then the school year ends. And for many families, the problems begin.

Children with autism have a tough time adjusting to transitions and change.  But summer is all about vacations to new places, interactions with extended family, different routines, and unexpected events.

What’s even tougher is the reality that children with autism, unlike typical children, have a very hard time just playing with the neighbors, sharing with cousins, or collaborating on the choice of a video game or TV show.  In some cases, asking a child with autism to just relax and take things as they come is asking for major tantrums and negative responses from friends and family.

Fortunately for most families of children with autism, Extended School Year (ESY) offers at least a partial low-cost, at least moderately appropriate answer to the summer dilemma.

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What Are Extended School Year (ESY) Services?

If your child receives special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), did you know he or she may be eligible for a program of special education and/or services beyond the normal school year? Such services are commonly referred to as extended school year (ESY) services. Read on to learn how ESY might help your child, the types of services it might include, and how the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team would determine if your child is eligible.

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Bullying in Texas Schools

Texas laws require schools and school administrators to take actions to prevent bullying and to investigate reports of bullying.  The law breaks bullying into 3 components:

Conduct Physical conduct that occurs at school, a school function, or in a school vehicle. – Written, verbal or electronic expression.;

Motivation:  Bullying involves exploiting an imbalance of power. – Exploit: “to use selfishly for one’s ends.” – Exploitation involves intentional conduct.;

Effect: The conduct must either 1) interfere with the student’s education; or 2) substantially disrupt the operation of the school.

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A Parent’s Guide to Effective Instruction for Students with Dyslexia

Reading problems are the most common type of academic underachievement. Especially for students with dyslexia, learning to read and write can be exceedingly difficult. Dyslexia and related reading and language difficulties are the result of neurobiological variations, but they can be treated with effective instruction.

Effective instruction is instruction that is tied to student needs, as determined by diagnostic testing and evaluation. It is instruction delivered by knowledgeable and skilled individuals in a step-by-step fashion that leads to the achievement of desired outcomes or goals by targeting a student’s relative strengths and strengthening his or her relative weaknesses. Effective instruction also requires the ongoing monitoring of student progress to determine the ultimate course and duration of the instruction.

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The Dyslexia-Stress-Anxiety Connection

What is stress?

Stress is the reaction of the body and brain to situations that put us in harm’s way. The stressor may be a physical threat (e.g., a baseball coming quickly toward you) or a psychological threat (e.g., a worry or fear that you will make a mistake delivering your lines in a play or write a passage that won’t make sense to the reader). Stress, or more specifically, the stress response, is our body’s attempt to keep us safe from harm. It’s a biological and psychological response. When we’re under stress, the chemistry of our body and our brain (and, therefore, our thinking) changes. A part of the brain called the amygdala does a great job learning what’s dangerous, and it makes a connection between certain situations and negative outcomes.

How can stress be good and bad?

All human and non-human animals have the built-in capacity to react to stress. You may have heard of a “fight or flight” response. This means that when faced with a threat, we have two basic ways of protecting ourselves. We can run away (flee) or stand firm and try to overcome or subdue the threat (fight). When we have a sense that we can control or influence the outcome of a stressful event, the stress reaction works to our advantage and gets our body and brain ready to take on the challenge. That’s good stress; at the most primitive level, it keeps us alive. It also allows us to return to a feeling of comfort and safety after we have been thrown off balance by some challenge.

On the other hand, bad stress occurs in a situation in which we feel we have little or no control of the outcome. We have a sense that no matter what we do, we’ll be unable to make the stressor go away. Body and brain chemistry become over-reactive and get all out of balance. When that happens, it can give rise to another protective mechanism, to “freeze” (like a “deer in the headlights”.) We can freeze physically (e.g., become immobilized), or we can freeze mentally (e.g., “shut down.”) In these situations, the stressor wins and we lose because we’re incapacitated by the perceived threat.

How does good and bad stress work with dyslexia?

Individuals with dyslexia are confronted regularly by tasks that are, either in reality or in their perception, extremely difficult for them. These tasks might be reading, spelling, or math. If they have experienced success at mastering this kind of task in the past, good stress helps them face the challenge with a sense of confidence, based on the belief that “I can do this kind of task.” If, on the other hand, someone has met with repeated failure when attempting this or a similar task in the past, his or her body and brain may be working together to send out a chemical warning system that gets translated as “This is going to be way too difficult for you! Retreat! Retreat!) That’s bad stress in action. And remember, perception is everything! It doesn’t matter if a teacher, a friend, or a spouse believes that you can do something; it’s that you think you can do it that matters.

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Planning for a Meeting about Your Child’s Behavior Needs

Raising a child with a disability is challenging.  Raising a child with a disability who also has behavioral needs is even more challenging.  As a parent, you may find yourself among competing approaches to handling behavior concerns.  Planning ahead for an individualized meeting about your child’s behavior needs will help you explain your own ideas about the best way to help your child in addition to listening to the ideas of others.

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Need for Functional Skill Training

Functional Skills are defined as life skills that people use every day, in different environments. Functional skills focus on different areas such as home, family, self help skills, social skills, independent living skills.  Also, skills needed for employment and job retention, recreation, community living, as well as functional academics that can be used every day.

While academic skills are important for all children with disabilities, many parents and advocates seem to overlook, the importance of functional skill training and instruction. These skills need to be addressed during a child’s school career, but absolutely during the child’s transition from high school to adulthood.

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5 School Trouble Spots

Getting your child an appropriate educational program is hard enough, but even if you’ve dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” on the IEP, or chatted up every teacher on your child’s strengths and weaknesses, there will still be times during the school day when all those helps fall down a hole. Periods like recess and lunch and gym and locales like restrooms and buses are hard for most school kids — there are volumes of children’s literature devoted to them.  But for kids with special needs, those youthful rites of passage can be downright dangerous.

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