Frequently, students with disabilities are not able to attend a class (due to doctors or specialists appointments, illness, behavior, tardiness, related services, etc.). Absences affect a student’s ability to learn: the skills, content taught in the class, and restrain the teacher’s ability to measure the student’s learning.
Educators and the Texas Legislature are concerned about attendance and a law was passed to address this issue. The intent is to provide support for students to master the curriculum and be prepared for the next grade or course. The rules on the law are referred to as “the 90% rule”. A student with a disability and their family may be told that the student is or about to be in violation of the 90% rule. On the other hand, schools must establish ways for students to make up work or regain credit or a final grade. If a student misses more than 75% of a class, they might not be allowed to earn credit, so it is important students and parents are aware of this rule and make up work as soon as possible. When students are struggling and feel that they cannot catch up, it is common for many to consider dropping out or to drop out. To help parents and youth understand more the provisions of this rule, let’s consider the details:
1. Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the general public. There are five sections, referred to in the law as “titles” that detail the rights of approximately 54 million Americans with disabilities. The ADA impacts employers, schools, businesses and transportation providers. The US Department of Justice (DOJ), the main federal agency that enforces the ADA, has a comprehensive frequently asked questions section that can help anyone looking to understand the nature of this important civil rights law. If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of your disability, you can file a complaint with DOJ or a charge of employment discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Prior to IDEA 2004 the standard for a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) was that schools had to provide services so that the child received some educational benefit. Congress said that the purpose of IDEA 2004 is to provide FAPE that “emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their (the child’s) unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.” “Further education” is an outcome that had not been stated previously. This sets a higher standard for parents to push for their child.
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) announced this month its release of a Question and Answer (Q&A) document addressing the Endrew F. decision. OSERS is issuing this Q&A document to provide parents and other stakeholders information on the issues addressed in Endrew F. and the impact of the Court’s decision on the implementation of IDEA.
The Q&A explains the case and provides a summary of the Court’s final decision and prior case law addressing the FAPE standard. The document also explains how FAPE is currently defined, clarifies the standard for determining FAPE and addresses how this ruling can support children with disabilities.
The Texas legislature has passed a law (SB 179) that adds to the rules on harassment, bullying and cyberbullying of a public school student or minor.
Starting September 1, 2017, notice of alleged bullying must be given to the parent of the target student on or before the third business day after the incident is reported. The alleged bully’s parent is to be notified within a “reasonable time.”
Chapter 37 is amended to allow for expulsion or DAEP for a student who 1) engages in bullying that encourages suicide; 2) incites violence through group bullying; or 3) releases or threatens to release “intimate visual material” of a minor or an adult student without consent.
Are you concerned your child’s 504 plan isn’t working? Sometimes 504 plans need to be adjusted to better serve your child and help her make progress. Here are steps you can take if you think your child’s 504 plan isn’t working.
1. Define what “not working” means to you.
The first step is to identify why you think the 504 plan isn’t working. Maybe you expected your child to improve in certain areas or have higher grades because of the 504 plan. Maybe you’re concerned that there’s a snag or mix-up with your child’s services and supports. You might think she needs different accommodations or more help than the school currently provides.
Grant programs for students with Autism, and another for students with Dyslexia were approved. $20 million is budgeted to fund ten public or charter schools for each program for two years beginning in the 2018-19 school year. The programs are for children three through eight years of age. Parents must give consent for their child being in the program.
The programs must incorporate: evidence-based and research-based design; the use of empirical data on student achievement and improvement; parental support and collaboration; the use of technology; meaningful inclusion; the ability to replicate the program for students statewide.
Does my child’s 504 plan have to be revisited at the beginning of each school year? Is there a legal requirement to review it annually?
No, unlike with IEPs, there’s no legal requirement to review a 504 plan each year. But it’s a good idea to have an annual 504 plan review meeting anyway. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a situation where you wouldn’t want to revisit the plan at the start of the year.
The new school year brings a lot of changes for your child—such as new teachers, curriculum and classes. If your child is starting middle or high school, she may be in an unfamiliar setting for the first time. There are also possible changes in medication, as well as new extracurricular activities, like sports and clubs. A 504 plan should adjust for these changes.
The draft of the Texas ESSA state plan has been posted online at: http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Laws_and_Rules/ESSA/Every_Student_Succeeds_Act/
Comments on the plan can be made until August 29th, 2017. However, the draft mentions disabilities very little. If anyone has any addition information on the state plan, please let us know.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has also posted the following video:
Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist, shares his insights on newly signed Texas legislation. Please keep in mind that even though a bill is effective immediately, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) must go through the process of developing and posting rules before schools can begin implementing some of the laws.
“Sec. 8.061. DYSLEXIA SPECIALIST. Each regional education service center shall employ as a dyslexia specialist a person licensed as a dyslexia therapist under Chapter 403, Occupations Code, to provide school districts served by the center with support and resources that are necessary to assist students with dyslexia and the families of students with dyslexia.”
Currently, students in kindergarten thru second grade must be tested for dyslexia and related disorders. Now students in kindergarten and first grade must also be screened at the end of the school year. The question becomes, will the Texas Education Agency (TEA) feel that schools must do much if anything different than what they are currently doing.
TEA must annually develop a list of training opportunities regarding dyslexia. At least one of these must be available online. These opportunities must comply with the knowledge and practice standards of an international dyslexia organization, enable an educator to understand and recognize dyslexia as well as implement instruction that is systemic, explicit, and evidence-based to meet the educational needs of a student with dyslexia.