Exceptional Times is a monthly electronic newsletter produced by
 Families Helping Families of Jefferson and 
Louisiana Parent Training & Information Center
a project of FHF of Jefferson.

Exceptional Times 
December 2017

Last Chance to Claim High School Diploma! 
Act 303 option ends on December 31, 2017

By:  Mary Jacob

Act 303 of the 2016 Legislative Session allows students with exceptionalities to claim their high school diplomas if they did not earn it while in school.  There are some guidelines previous students need to meet, but you must apply quickly as this opportunity will expire on December 31, 2017.  Since most schools are closed at the end of December, individuals interested in applying for their diploma should take action NOW! 
Act 303 states:
"(5)(a) A person who is no longer enrolled in a public school but was identified as a student with an exceptionality as defined in R.S. 17:1942(B), except a gifted or talented student, and who previously failed to receive a high school diploma or was denied graduation solely for failing to meet the exit examination requirements pursuant to State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education rules, regulations or policy may petition the city, parish, or other local public school board to determine if he is eligible to receive a high school diploma pursuant to this Paragraph. A petition shall be submitted to the local school board by December 31, 2017."
What exactly does this mean?  

Let's dissect the above quote:
  • A person who is no longer enrolled in a public school = a student that no longer attends a public school.
  • Identified as a student with an exceptionality as defined in R.S. 17:1942(B) = a student that had an IEP for anything other than Gifted and Talented.  
  • And who previously failed to receive a high school diploma or was denied graduation = a student that did not earn or receive a high school diploma.
  • Solely for failing to meet the exit examination requirements pursuant to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education rules, regulations or policy = a student that failed the high school LEAP exit exams, but earned all their required Carnegie Credits and wasn't allowed to graduate or earn a diploma based SOLELY on the fact they didn't pass the required high stakes graduation exit exams.
  • May petition the local public school board = if you believe you meet the above criteria, you can ask your local school board to review your records, and if you did meet all other graduation requirements, you can receive your high school diploma. 
If you or your child WAS enrolled in a public high school, as a student on an IEP, and didn't earn your high school solely because you couldn't pass the exit exams, you have the right to petition your local school board for your diploma.  If you are unsure if this applies to you, call our office and let us help walk you through the requirements. 
The petition process is very easy.  In most cases it's a one page form.  Check on your school districts website to see if they have the form.  If not, start with the Special Education Department.  Because time is running out, I'd highly recommend you be assertive.  If someone is going to call you back and they don't, you call again.  Once December 31, 2017 passes, your opportunity will have come to an end.  
We Want To Make You 
a Star!

We need you!  We will be redoing a lot of our products and want to feature our families.  Do you have some great high resolution pictures of your child, siblings, family?  Send us your best pictures and let us decide if we can use them.  All pictures need to be emailed in an attached file to Bebe at  bbode@fhfjefferson.org.  Please only send jpeg and png formats.  Professional and iphone pictures are good, as long as they are high quality photo's.  


Check out these other great articles we've provided for you this month: 

Upcoming Trainings 

Facebook Live Mini-Trainings for December

FHF Facebook Live Mini Trainings are short interactive trainings to give you the information you need to know now. Topics will be on hot subjects at the moment, interactive, and maybe even with a little added fun thrown in there occasionally. No registration is required.  You just need to sign onto Facebook and go to our Facebook Page .  So like us on Facebook and we'll share our LIVE sessions with you!

Supported Decision Making, Friday, December 1, 2017, 11:00 am: Supported decision-making happens when an individual with a disability is the decision maker but has support from one or more persons who explain issues to them in a manner that he/she can understand. In this presentation, you will learn who can be your supporters, what kind of decisions will they help you make, what is your role, and what is your supporters role.

How do I plan for my departure from high school to the adult world? - Friday, December 8, 2017, 12:00 pm: The purpose of this event is to help youth take the lead in planning for their adult lives. We will share important information that can encourage youth to begin thinking about life after high school and offer ideas for planning a course to reach their goals. 

 In-Person Trainings in December by FHF 

FHF offers monthly in-person trainings on hot topics that can be best addressed in person.  These are topics that require more time and allows for more participant interactions.  Let us know if there is an in-person training you'd like to have us do.

Know Your Rights: Section 504 - Friday, December 1, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, La 70001: This training will cover what Section 504 is, what schools must do because of it, the criteria for students to qualify for a 504 Individual Accommodation Plan (IAP), and how 504 is different from Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). We will also cover how Section 504 can help people with disabilities in college.

To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736

 Webinars in December by FHF 

FHF and LaPTIC webinars are designed for busy people that doesn't have the time to attend an in-person training.  Webinars are just 60 minutes long and offers time for questions and answers.  In additional to our staff, webinars frequently have knowledgable professionals presenting on topics they are considered specialist in.  Don't  see what you need?  Let us know and we'll do our best to bring you what you need. 

IEP vs Section 504 Plans: Which Is Right for My Child? - Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: Children with disabilities who qualify for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) receive services under an IEP plan. However, some children with disabilities do not receive services under an IEP but are instead served under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). Participants will learn the similarities as well as differences between the IDEA and Section 504.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Procedural Safeguards - Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Since the first federal law dealing with the education of students with disabilities in public schools was passed, legal rights for parents has been an important part of the law. These legal rights for parents are generally referred to as "procedural safeguards".
The purpose of this webinar is to let parents know that they have legal rights and to help them understand what these rights are.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Related Services - Thursday, December 7, 2017, 10:30 am - 11:30 am: Children with disabilities are entitled to special education and related services. The IEP must contain a statement of the special education, related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child. Participants will learn several critical elements used to determine what related services a student needs.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Understanding the Evaluation Process in Special Education - Thursday, December 7, 2017, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm: You've noticed your child is not keeping up with the rest of the class and you suspect your child may have a learning disability. If you feel your child's needs aren't being met in the general education setting, he or she may be eligible to receive special education services. In this presentation, you will learn about the evaluation process in special education. Questions like, when can I ask for an evaluation, what is the process and what are my child's rights. Join us and learn all you need to know about getting the evaluation process started for your child.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Know Your Rights: Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools - Friday, December 8, 2017, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: This presentation outlines guidance issued by ED on December 28, 2016, to help parents, students, local educational agencies (LEA), state educational agencies (SEA), charter schools, and others better understand the rights of students with disabilities in public charter schools under Federal laws.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Anatomy of an IEP - Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 10:30 am - 11:30 am: Like a biology student, this presentation will dissect the parts of the IEP document and examine their functions individually, learning their meanings and application. It will provide constructive and practical tips to help create an IEP that supports all of the student's needs. We will explore the parent's role in the IEP process and learn the basics of their child's right to special education services, the process of developing special education plans, and the parent's role.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act: After High School - Wednesday, December 13, 2017, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504. On today's topic Section 504 and Transition we will Bridge from High School to Postsecondary Services. In this webinar, we will help you to understand the ITP process as it pertains to postsecondary education and other related services. We will also provide an overview of programs and resources available to your child entering postsecondary education or employment.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students  

Accommodations vs Modifications - Thursday, December 14, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Meeting after meeting, parents and teachers use the words "accommodation" and "modification" almost interchangeably when discussing IEPs and student needs. If understood and used correctly, these words can greatly impact the success of a child's educational program. Get answers to these questions and more: How can accommodations and modifications help my child in the general education classroom? How is it included in IEP and which accommodations are provided for state testing?
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

View our full calendar of events here. 

 E-Learning Mini Modules by FHF 

e-Learning Mini Modules are formatted for all devices so even if you are at a ball game, dance practice or waiting for your dinner to arrive in a restaurant, you can log onto our website and watch one of our e-Learning Mini Modules in approximately 10 minutes. That's right - you only need about 10 minutes!  The following e-Learning Mini Modules are currently available:

  • What do you do when the school calls to pick up your child?  
  • What transportation services are available to my child with a disability?
  • How can I prepare for my child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting?
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Basics
  • What is Least Restricted Environment (LRE)?
We hope these are useful to you and happy to be able to add additional ways for families to learn relevant information they need in to get their child the most appropriate education they deserve.     Click here  to go to our website and learn more about the e-Learning  Modules!

Trainings & Webinars by Others

It's My Right! Right? - Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 5 - 7 pm, The Advocacy Center, 8325 Oak Street, New Orleans, LA  70118:   Join the staff of The Advocacy Center on a presentation on legal status.   RSVP for this training by contacting Jeannie Doiron at (504) 908.2707.

Do you have an idea for a training?  Is there something you need that isn't being offered?  Share your suggestions and ideas for training topics with us.  

Teens & Young Adults  with Disabilities:
This section will feature our trainings and resources specific to individuals between the ages of 16 - 26 years old.  Of course, others are welcome to check them out too!

- FHF November Webinars for Teens & Young Adults - 

Looking for a Job? - Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm:  First thing you might need is a resume. A resume is where you list information about yourself and your experiences. 
This webinar will guide you through the process of creating a resume and some tips about what you want and don't want to include on a resume. 

-  Resources for Teens & Young Adults -

Getting Ready for Managing Finances at the Age of Majority
When young people with disabilities reach the "age of majority," you gain the right to manage you own affairs, including your money. Legally considered as adults, you can take charge of financial decisions large and small. But will you be prepared to make financial decisions for yourself?

Supported Decision-Making and Community Based Supports
Moderated by Jonathan Martinis; Erica Wood & Marcia Tewell will discuss new and innovative ways for older adults and people with disabilities to receive community-based supports and services that can increase their self-determination, independence, and access to improved life outcomes.

Supported Decision-Making: Protecting Rights, Ensuring Choices
What does person centered planning mean when a person might have difficulty making choices? With statistics and individual cases, Jonathan Martinis challenges his audiences to re-think how they perceive risk, protection, and capacity for persons living with disabilities. Participants will gain an understanding of how less restrictive alternatives can be created, and make the most of an individual's capabilities and supports. Jonathan Martinis is Senior Director for Law and Policy at the Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University.

The Right to Make Choices:  International Laws and Decision-Making by People with Disabilities
Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) has released a new toolkit discussing supported decision-making (SDM) and guardianship, and the many different laws pertaining to both in the United States and internationally. The toolkit is called "The Right to Make Choices: International Laws and Decision-Making by People with Disabilities." The toolkit will help self-advocates, policymakers, providers, and families understand how laws can make it easier or more difficult for people with disabilities to exercise the right to manage their own lives.
Hot  off the Press
Self Direction is once again a hot topic.  Toward the end of last month families started receiving notices that Acumen would no longer be the fiscal agent for individuals using self direction for their waiver services.  ACES$ would be the new company.  At this time the state received a protest of the award and this change is on hold.  Individuals  need to continue sending timesheets and paperwork for new staff to Acumen until further notice.  Additionally, there has been a few revision made to the employer manual.  Click on the link to read Karen Scallan, Special Needs & Parent Support Services of Louisiana's great article on this topic.

Louisiana School Finder i s a new tool released by the Louisiana Department of Education to help parents make informed decisions about the school their child attends.  All publicly funded schools and early learning centers are listed.  The site offers basic school information like grades served, district, type, contact information and more.  Additionally, it offers Academic performance information. 
Links You Want To Check Out

If you've ever done an internet search on a topic, you know first-hand how difficult it is to sort through the thousands of links that come up with the search. Below is a list of some of our favorite links for the month that others have shared with us. We hope you find them as informative as we did.

The webinar goes into detail on how people with disabilities can speak up for themselves and others. The 10 steps include believing in yourself, learning your rights, being effective on the phone and more. 

This list is geared towards younger children with developmental delays or older children who are functioning on a lower level than their peers. I would suggest not  reading  too much into age ranges or what gender a toy is geared towards.

This publication page hosts an extensive collection of downloadable tip-sheets and briefs, reports, articles, posters, infographics and video, many of which were developed and reviewed, with input from young adults with serious mental health conditions and given their "stamp of approval". Included are presentation slides given at national seminars and conventions. Many available in Spanish. 

Learn how this part of the IEP allows a teen in special education to outline goals that will help him achieve his post-high school plans.
Toys and games are tons of fun for kids and adults. Whether your kids are working on a puzzle, playing with building blocks or even inventing their own games, here are a few things to think about to help them stay safer and have a blast.  

The holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for many special needs families, it can be the most stressful - especially when it's time to hop on a plane or hit the road. Whether it's unfamiliar settings, noises or crowds, travel often requires planning and a lot of patience.

Success Story of the Month

Every day we hear wonderful things about the work we do for individuals in the community. One of the things that keep us going daily are the success stories we hear.

My name is Jana Prince; I work for an agency
called IMPACT, a behavioral service center and
I have a disability so Families Helping Families
is a great tool for me both professionally and


This section will give you information on events FHF of Jefferson will be attending, waiver waiting list info, other community events you might be interested in attending and anything else that doesn't fit in one of the above sections.

The Louisiana Department of Education is hosting Regional Special Education Community Meetings.  The final meeting for this series of meetings will be on Friday, December 1, 2017 from 12 to 2 pm.  Parents and others interested in special education are encouraged to atend .  The meeting will be held at the Paul Emenes Building at 822. S. Clearview Parkway, Harahan, LA  70123.  

The Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities provides supports and services through a variety of locations throughout the state to support the dignity, quality of life and security in the everyday lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families, acting as the Single Point of Entry.

Waiver Registry Dates - As of November 30, 2017, the following dates have been reached on the waiver registry, a.k.a. The waiting list. 
New Opportunities Waiver (NOW) - 8/18/2004
Children's Choice Waiver - 07/31/2006
Supports Waiver - 02/19/2015
Not sure where you are on the registry? Call 1.800.364.7828

LaCAN (Louisiana Council's Advocacy Network) -  LaCAN advocates for service systems that support children and adults with disabilities to live in their own homes and be fully-included and participating members of their local schools and communities.
Click here to join!  

FHF Team

Click here for a list of  Staff  or  Board Members

Families Helping Families of Jefferson is your one stop shop for disability information. We are the only family resource center for individuals with all disabilities, all ages and their families in Jefferson Parish. We offer services across the lifespan.

Happy Holidays

The Staff and Board of Directors of Families Helping Families & Louisiana Parent Trainining and Information Center wishes you a wonderful Holiday Season. 

Our office will be closed from  December 18th thru  January 2nd to allow our staff to enjoy refresh and enjoy the holidays with their family. 

 Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center (LaPTIC) is a program  of Families Helping Families of Jefferson and a grant from the US Department of Education; Office of Special Education (OSEP) as Louisiana's official and only statewide federally funded Parent Training   and Information Center. 
The Mission of Families Helping Families is to educate and 
connect children and adults with disabilities and their families to resources, services & supports to attend school, work and thrive 
in their communities

FHF of Jefferson 
201 Evans Road, Bldg. 1, Suite 100
Harahan, LA  70123
800.766.7736 (toll free)