Are you curious about Lawyers that work in Education Law? The following list begins from birth to 21 and each can help with referrals

As parents we may not know where to begin to get help when the education laws are broken or violated.  Whether it is an IEP that is not followed, a teacher who can’t get support from a district or medical malpractice that results in children needing special education services, there are many lawyers who can help guide you.

Wrightslaw is a  leading online legal advice website that focuses on education law.  Their mission is to disseminate legal information about the rights of students.  See their website  http://www.wrightslaw.com/.  There story is amazing and their mission even more.  Wrightslaw began on November 9, 1993, when The Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision on Shannon Carter’s behalf in Florence County v. Shannon Carter.  To learn more, read Three Generations at the Supreme Court and The Untold Story. Pete Wright is an attorney who represents children with special educational needs. Pete struggled with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD. His determination to help children grew out of his own educational experiences. Pam Wright is a psychotherapist who has worked with children and families since the 1970’s. Her training and experience in clinical psychology and clinical social work give her a unique perspective on parent-child-school dynamics, problems, and solutions. Pam has written extensively about raising, educating, and advocating for children with disabilities.

For younger children and birth complications another great resource for legal support is Reiter and Walsh.  See below their information:  The attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers focus on birth injury/newborn medical malpractice cases. Because our clients have permanent disabilities stemming from malpractice, we work tirelessly to help them obtain the funding that they need for lifelong care, therapy, special education programs, etc. Our goal is to allow our clients to focus on maximizing their children’s health, function, and quality of life without constantly worrying about money. Clients pay us nothing unless we win their case.  For more information, you can contact us by calling 866-558-1595, or by filling out a contact form here: https://www.abclawcenters.com/contact-us/

For dispute resolution in special education another great group providing advocacy and expert advise is SpedEx. SpedEd is an innovative dispute-resolution pilot project, launched and funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) as a pilot
project. SpedEx grew out of Special Education Day discussions representing
stakeholders from across the state over the past few years. It represents the combined
efforts of the DESE, the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA), the Special
Education Day Committee (SPEDCO), and the SpedEx Planning Committee. DESE is
funding certain SpedEx pilot activities for four (4) years.   See link here http://www.cadreworks.org/sites/default/files/resources/FreedmanBreakoutSpedExResolvingDisputes_0.pdf. 

If you want to see if you can submit your case please visit this page https://sites.google.com/a/bc.edu/spedexresolution/

 

 

Did you child struggle academically last year in school? How can you get started on a better place this year?

We have a third grader who we have been helping a lot with tutoring? How do I ensure a better school year?

Third grade is a big year where children begin the transition from learning to read (decode) to reading to learn (more comprehension and more content areas). I would recommend looking at these two options to ensure that your child gets additional support within general education if she doesn’t meet the criteria for a Section 504 Plan or an IEP.

Option1 Every public school in the US is beginning to implement a framework that provides support for all students using three tiers of support. The framework is called a Multi-Tiered System of Support or MTSS. In MTSS, the school guarantees that all students received access to the general education curriculum or Tier1, and then identifies ways to preventively identify students who will need additional instructional support. They often identify the students who need additional support by giving quick assessments called curriculum-based measurements (CBMs) in reading and math to identify which students are at-risk for not performing at grade level. These assessments are given to all students, in the beginning, middle, and end of the year to know if students are at grade-level or at-risk for not being at grade level. When a student is flagged for being at-risk like your third grader, the school provides ADDITIONAL, also known as Tier 2 strategic support in the area of need (e.g., reading or math or both). Tier 2 intervention has to be done outside of the general instruction in reading and math since it has to be additional. This additional intervention is provided in a small group of 4-6 students at least 3-times a week generally. The teacher must measure progress monthly and decide whether the students stay in the same level of support, no longer needs the support or need more intensive supports. If the student is not responding to both the general education and additional Tier 2 support, the school would provide Tier 3 support which again would be additional to the general curriculum, or Tier 1, PLUS Tier 2 small group instruction AND now Tier 3 individual or one teacher to three students intensive support. The teachers providing the Tier 3 support ensures that progress is measured weekly. If the child is still not making progress, the teacher may decide to refer the student for special education evaluation to see if the student meets the criteria for special education services including an IEP.

Knowing this; I recommend that you meet with the school principal and teachers and ask the following questions:
1. Does your school implement MTSS?
2. How did my child do at the beginning of the year universal screening in reading and math? Is he/she at-risk for not being at-grade level? Can you share the results with me?
3. If my child came out at-risk for not being at grade level, is my child receiving Tier 2 intervention?
4. Is the Tier 2 intervention in addition to their participation in the general education classrooms, in other words, is my child taken out for Tier 2 during reading and math or is it additional time where he/she gets support in a small group? How often and for how long is each section?
a. Can I see the progress my child is made since you have been doing Tier 2 additional support? Is it working?
5. If my child is taken out during the general education instruction how are you ensuring that my child gets access to the general curriculum and not just supplementary or additional help learning to do math or reading?
6. How can we change his/her schedule so that this support is outside of this time? Perhaps during another period?
7. If the support/intervention is not working is my child not also receiving Tier 3 support in groups of 1 to 1 or 1 to 3 with a teachers specialized in teaching reading or math?
a. Is his/her progress measured weekly?
b. Can I see how he/she is making progress towards grade level?
c. When and for how long is this happening during the week?
8. If your school is not doing MTSS, how do you provide additional help for students? How do you select students? Do you know or need support for doing MTSS in your school? Please visits Understood.org (provide a link)

Option 2. If you are concerned that the school is not doing MTSS or that the support won’t help your child, ask the principal or guidance counselor to get your child evaluated for special education needs again; you can do this at any time even yearly. You can also choose to have your child evaluated by a neuroeducational psychologist for a comprehensive educational evaluation. This evaluation will be much more in-depth than what the school process for special education evaluation includes. When the evaluation is completed, bring the results and recommendations from the professional to the school. It would be ideal if that professional can come with you to a meeting at the school to explain and advocate for you and your child’s behalf. The best way to get a recommendation for a neuroeducation psychologist is to consult with your pediatrician or family physician. If they don’t know of anyone, contact your nearest university or hospital and ask for a referral.

I hope these two options provide a place to start during this academic year. Please keep in place the current support for your child if you can until other supports are in place.

My child is bilingual and has dyslexia. I am getting conflicted information about helping him to read- help me please!

 

I recently received this email.  I edited the names and some details to address confidentiality.  See response below.

My daughter needs to success successfully and she is having reading difficulties.  Maria is a 9-year-old multi lingual (Spanish) 4th-grader.  She was evaluated in 2nd grade and 3rd grade at school and was identified with a learning disability.  We also had a neurodevelopmental psychologist evaluate her outside of school and she diagnosed dyslexia. Maria is behind grade level and needs help with reading and math

I was told to have her learn one system of reading versus another but the school suggested that I only stick to the one used by the school.  I am very worried because of the summer between 1st to 2nd grade, Maria’s reading level dropped after participating in the summer reading program at school. 

How do I go about finding amazing teachers specialized with her learning challenges and experience with multi language students that may be able to help?  

How can I find out what learning system is best for her?

I am so sorry to hear that your daughter reading skills decreased with the summer program.  I have several questions and some recommendations.   I also want to let you know that there is not one program over another reading program that will address dyslexia for every child.  Because of this, the are hundreds of readings programs that approach teaching reading in a variety of ways and different scope and sequences in the introduction of letters and sounds.  I would also like to highlight that for bilingual learners, Spanish in particular or other romance languages, learning to read is similar in that about 40% of the words have a cognate in English (eg. importante — important) but reading may be taught differently.  For example, teaching reading in Spanish is taught by using syllables that connect to each other to create words and all vowels have just 1 sound, while in English we focus on letter and sounds independently connected and there are 14 vowel sounds represented in the 5 vowels.  Below is my answer to this mother:

  1. Is your child taken out during the regular reading/ELA class in school to received special education supports under a learning disability?  If so, the first thing you need to do is to request a change that so that she receives the general education instruction and then supplemental support in special education.  Taking the child of the richness of the general education curriculum will impact peer learning, vocabulary, and comprehension practice.  The National Reading Panel is clear in establishing evidence that students must be taught all five areas of reading: phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The National Literacy Panel supported this view and added oral language development– a critical component for students learning English as well.  As a result, if a child is taken out of the general curriculum to get specialized services for decoding or phonemic awareness they are missing on the other components of reading instruction and this will set them back even further.
  2. Is the school implementing a Multi-tier system of Support (MTSS or RTI)?  If so, she should also be receiving General education ELA (also known as Tier 1), Tier 2 strategic intervention in a small group instruction with like peers, and Tier 3 intensive intervention which more likely be the special education supports.  The school must guarantee access to the general curriculum or Tier 1 so please ensure that before all.
  3. Although it makes sense that you don’t introduce different programs not provided in school, you want to make sure the intervention is evidenced-based such as Lindamood Bell Learning Process (not very common across public schools) or a kinesthetic or hands on program like Orton Gillingham Reading.  These programs are in English.  If the school can provide intervention in Spanish and English, consider requesting interventions in both as learning to read in Spanish is by syllables and learning to read in English is by sounds/letters.  Here is a review of many other evidenced-based reading programs that the school may be using  (you can look by grade level and subject) http://www.intensiveintervention.org/chart/instructional-intervention-tools
  4. I would also recommend that the teachers complete a curriculum-based measurement (CBM) check or progress monitoring check or oral reading probe (ORF) (all the same thing) weekly to show the ongoing growth.  They should share the results with you weekly so that you and your child can also keep track.  Basically, this assessment counts the number of letters, phonemes, or words read correctly in the text she is provided.  All children grow on average (give and take – 1 word per week with general education) you want to make sure that she is increasing more than that and chart it with her so that she sees the growth and feels successful.  Since she is receiving intervention/special education you would expect larger growth per week.  You can also do this at home.  Here is a good video and from there you can see much more – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt9Yi1-eMHM
  5. I would also recommend that you consider reading at least 7-10 minutes in whatever language, Spanish preferably, every day.  Pick or consider books that would be easy for her and that she likes.  Start by reading to her using your fingers to follow the words, then ask her to read together with you and then have her try it by herself and give lots of positive reinforcement.  Use a timer.  If she misses any words you can put them in index cards and practice them a few minutes after or in the car or during bath time, etc.

These are some starting steps to bring to your IEP team or teachers.

New Video Series on How to Implement Multi-tiered System of Support: A How To Guide for Schools

Soon after completing my doctorate degree in reading and special education, I embarked in a journey to support struggling learners. I began my research trajectory by investigating why teachers refer bilingual English learners and Hispanic students for special education services. This line of research quickly led me to Response to Intervention (RTI) in the early 2000s. I began reading and learning about the implementation of RTI. I soon found funding to begin my own study in a large urban school district. Since then, I had studied and consulted for over 120 schools across the country from a variety of districts. I have provided ongoing professional development, developed graduate programs, and created online courses for a couple of companies to help teachers learn about multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) as an instructional framework that uses prevention and intervention for all students including bilingual English learners and students with disabilities.

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MTSS refers to a framework that preventively organizes instruction and interventions for students by providing three tiers of instruction depending on need. Need is identified before students fail by using curriculum-based measurement at the beginning, middle, and end of the year minimally for all students. Based on this data schools and teacher teams and school can reallocate support for students who need it and monitor ongoing growth across grade levels and subgroup of students (e.g. English learners, English learners with disabilities). Teachers collect ongoing progress monitoring data to ensure that the additional tiered support provided is, in fact, making an impact on important education standards in reading and math for each student.

My goal today is to start a new video series where I provide you with my consultation services on how to begin the trajectory of implementation of MTSS. The series will consist of small video lessons that address each element of the model paired up with tools to help you implement it. I will address how the model embeds universal design for learning (UDL), culturally responsive teaching, and culturally relevant assessment practices to drive instruction. Below is my adaptation of the MTSS model triangle.

I hope to develop a video weekly. Feel free to send me questions and provide me with examples and feedback.

New Graduate Certificate Program in Teaching Bilingual English Leaners with Disabilities

Bilingual Special Ed

As part of Lasell College, we have developed a post-baccalaureate certificate program in Teaching Bilingual English Leaners with Disabilities.  The certificate program encompasses four 6-week courses and it is 100% online.  The courses are:

  1. Fundamentals of Bilingual Special Education: Policies, Laws, and Practice
  2. Removing Barriers for Classroom Assessment and Instruction of Bilingual Students
  3. Assessment for Equity and Inclusion of Bilingual Students with and without Disabilities
  4. Culturally Responsive Individualized Educational Planning for Bilingual Students with Disabilities

The goal of the certificate is to better prepare teachers- general, ESL, and special education teachers to work better, more informed and more efficiently with English learners who are struggling.

The need

need ell_sped.JPG

For more information please visit http://www.lasell.edu/academics/graduate-and-professional-studies/programs-of-study/graduate-certificates/bilingual/english-learners-with-disabilities-(ell/sped)-certificate.html

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How to help English Learners Improve their Reading At home

This link provides access to a 20-minute interview conducted by one of the best parents resources, Understood.org that presents reasons why reading in the native language support reading in English. I am excited to share this resource because often time parents feel that not knowing English they can’t help their children in school. In fact, by reading in any language you are supporting language development including fluency in reading, comprehension, decoding practices, and a general enjoyment in reading. The webinar is in Spanish so feel free to share with Spanish-speaking parents in your classes.
https://www.understood.org/en/community-events/experts-live-chats-webinars/2014/december/12/webinarioh

Please visit Understood for more information on how to support the 20% of children with learning and attention issues.  Their mission in their own words:

Understood aims to give parents a direct path to the support they need most to make them feel more confident and capable, less frustrated and alone:

Understood aims to give parents a direct path to the support they need most to make them feel more confident and capable, less frustrated and alone:

Understood promises:

  • We promise well-researched, practical information that’s easy to apply to everyday life.
  • We promise daily access to expert advice that’s free of charge, clearly communicated and never influenced by commercial interests.
  • We promise a secure community where parents can trade tips and experiences with other parents like them.
  • We promise to help parents recognize and develop their children’s strengths—and to address their challenges.
  • We promise to share resources and tips to help parents work constructively with schools, professionals and others in their community.

New Graduate Certificate Program in Teaching Bilingual English Leaners with Disabilities

As part of Lasell College, we have developed a post-baccalaureate certificate program in Teaching Bilingual English Leaners with Disabilities.  The certificate program encompasses four 6-week courses and it is 100% online.  The courses are:

  1. Fundamentals of Bilingual Special Education: Policies, Laws, and Practice
  2. Removing Barriers for Classroom Assessment and Instruction of Bilingual Students
  3. Assessment for Equity and Inclusion of Bilingual Students with and without Disabilities
  4. Culturally Responsive Individualized Educational Planning for Bilingual Students with Disabilities

The goal of the certificate is to better prepare teachers- general, ESL, and special education teachers to work better, more informed and more efficiently with English learners who are struggling.

The need

need ell_sped.JPG

For more information please visit http://www.lasell.edu/academics/graduate-and-professional-studies/programs-of-study/graduate-certificates/bilingual/english-learners-with-disabilities-(ell/sped)-certificate.html

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Interview on the Forefront of Education in the Lasell Leaves Alumni Magazine

I wanted to share this article that they did on what we are working on in my current position as Chair of the Education Department at Lasell College.  The two main initiatives are integrating the TeachLive simulators into our courses and the recruitment of minorities students into the field of education.

We currently have first-year students interact in the TeachLive classroom by having them introduce a lesson while managing typical classroom behaviors.  For second year students, we will be engaging the delivery of a reading lesson or reading assessment.  For third year students, we will get the opportunity to practice a parent-teacher conference Finally, seniors will move the parent-teacher conference to a referral to special education.  The video shows a short demonstration.

The other aspect of the interview focused on developing a pipeline fro high school to college by encouraging minority students in neighboring districts to become teachers.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p9rPtCAzKM&hd1

Dynamic Assessment for the Evaluation of English Language Learners with Potential Disabilities

SAVE THE DATE MAY 30-31st, Boston, MA–

SAVE THE DATE MAY 30-31st, Boston, MA– Proud to announce that Professor David Tzuriel, PhD -an international expert on Dr. Ruven Feuerstein’s Dynamic Assessment of Learning Potential – will conduct a 2-day workshop on the Assessment of ELLs with Disabilities Using Dynamic Assessment. Dynamic Assessment is the most culturally and linguistically responsive method of cognitive evaluation.  The method uses specific methods embedded in teaching and learning processes. More information to come.

Dynamic Assessment is the most culturally and linguistically responsive method of evaluation.  The method uses specific methods embedded in teaching and learning processes.

More information to come.