The Child & Family Law Center
A Division of Grund & Leavitt P.C.
NEWSLETTER
August 2022
~ In this Issue ~

Special Education Issues:
New Guidance Helps Schools Support Students with Disabilities and
Avoid Discriminatory Use of Discipline

Family Law:
The Minor's Right to Confidentiality under Illinois Law

UPCOMING WEBINARS AND PRESENTATIONS

Getting the Best IEP for your Student:
Advocacy and Empowerment Part 1

An Interactive Discussion and Q&A    VIA ZOOM
Thursday September 8, 2022, 5:00- 6:30 p.m.

  • Starting Points
  • Evaluations
  • Present Levels of Performance and Why they Matter
  • Measurable, Data Driven Goals
  • Research Based Interventions 
  • Communication Strategies
  • Setting Priorities
  • Least Restrictive Environment and FAPE, Two Sides of a Coin
  • Related Services
  • Question and Answer Following the Webinar

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Advanced Advocacy for Parents and Families: Life after the IEP Meeting
Wednesday September 21st, 2022, 5:00-6:30 p.m . VIA ZOOM

 The webinar will cover the following topics:

  • Literacy
  • Homework
  • Dealing with the School when you don't agree
  • Measuring Progress
  • Revising the Plan
  • Examples of real world IEP issues and management techniques

There will be an opportunity for questions following the presentation.
Click here to Register for one or both of these webinars
Minor's Right to Confidentiality under Illinois Law
Parents are often shocked at how much control their minor child has over their mental health records. In a post-dissolution of marriage proceeding, the petitioner mother sought to restrict the father’s parenting time with their minor child based on allegations that the father would continue to interfere with the medical services necessary for the child’s mental health. The father moved for production of the child’s medical, psychiatric, psychological, and school records, and the mother objected based on the child’s statutory privilege to keep the requested records confidential and objected to disclosing the records to his father. The trial court denied the father’s entire request for production of the child’s records. The Appellate Court addressed the issues that arise in the context of divorce and post-decree matters, specifically a minor’s right to deny access to his or her mental records, whether in the context of mental health treatment by private practitioners as well as in a therapeutic day school.
The minor was seeing a therapist and attended a therapeutic day school. Father sought both the entire school records as well as the private treatment provider’s records. Mother and the child representative were both in possession of the records. The minor objected to the disclosure of these records to the father.
The father also sought records from the therapeutic day school where his child attended asserting that he was entitled to education records under the terms of the Allocation Judgment. The court recognized the ambiguity created by the records kept by a therapeutic school and reasoned as follows:
Section 5(f)(1) of the Student Records Act recognizes the patient-therapist privilege and keeps confidential information communicated in confidence to a psychologist or other psychotherapist, school social worker, school counselor or school psychologist intern who works under the direct supervision of a school social worker, school counselor, or school psychologist. This list of protected communications includes information communicated in confidence to a teacher of an academic subject at a therapeutic school. 105 ILCS 10/5(f)(2) (West 2020). “Construing the provisions of the Student Records Act and the Confidentiality Act harmoniously, we conclude that privileged records and communications under the Confidentiality Act do not include a minor’s grades, grade level, academic assessments, and similar information, even if that child attends a therapeutic day school. Consequently, a trial court cannot deny a parent access under section 4(a)(3) of the Confidentiality Act access to the non-privileged school records of a minor child who attends a therapeutic day school, even if that child, who is at least 12 but under 18 years of age, objects to the parents request to inspect and copy those records. Furthermore, the trial court may conduct an in-camera review to ensure that the child’s therapeutic school’s records do not contain any privileged information concerning the child’s mental health services beyond the limited information regarding the child’s current physical and mental condition, diagnosis, treatment needs, services provided, and services needed, which the parent is entitled to receive. 740 ILCS 110/4(a)(3) (West 2018). 
NEW GUIDANCE HELPS SCHOOLS SUPPORT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES and AVOID DISCRIMINATORY USE OF DISCIPLINE
On July 19,2022, the Department of Education for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released guidance to assist public elementary and secondary schools fulfill their responsibilities to meet the needs of students with disabilities and avoid discriminatory use of student discipline.
These newly released resources are the most comprehensive guidance on the civil rights of students with disabilities concerning student discipline and build on the Department’s continued efforts to support students through pandemic recovery.
           “ All students deserve to have their rights protected, and schools deserve greater clarity on how they can avoid the discriminatory use of discipline”, said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “ Too often, students with disabilities face harsh and exclusionary disciplinary action at school. The guidance we’re releasing today will help ensure that students with disabilities are treated fairly and have access to supports and services to meet their needs-including their disability- based behavior. We also expect that districts utilize the American Rescue Plan dollars to build capacity, provide professional learning opportunities for educators and school leaders and hire additional staff. These resources will also help schools live up to their legal obligations, support an equitable recovery for all our students, and make sure that students with disabilities get the behavioral support and special education services they need to thrive. “
           The new releases reflect the concern, particularly in light of the prevalence of student mental health issues associated with the pandemic, that some students with disabilities are not receiving the supports and services necessary to address their educational needs, including their disability- based behavior.
The new resources include:
Our office is dedicated to advocating for the best outcomes for children and families. Call (312)-640-9850 or email me at mmoran@grundlaw.com. Consultations for special education and family law issues are available in person or by Zoom. Safety protocols are followed.
The Child and Family Law Center: A Division of Grund & Leavitt
Micki Moran
The Child & Family Law Center of the North Shore
A Division of Grund & Leavitt, P.C.
600 Central Avenue, Suite 248
Highland Park, IL 60035
Phone 312-640-0500
Fax 847-681-1295