The Child & Family Law Center
A Division of Grund & Leavitt P.C.
~ In this Issue ~
Special Education Issues:
Ground Hog Day;
ISBE issues Rules Regarding the Use of Isolated Time Out,
Time Out and Physical Restraint;
Residential Placements: A Crisis for Families, Students, and District.
Special Needs Consideration in Divorce
UPCOMING WEBINARS AND PRESENTATIONS
Advocacy Tips for Parents of Children and Adolescents
with Dyslexia: Understanding your Rights:
An Interactive Discussion and Q&A VIA ZOOM
Wednesday March 9th, 2022, 6:00-6:45 p.m.
- Summary of recent case law regarding special education services for students with dyslexia
- Research-based interventions
- IEP Goals
- Data driven progress monitoring
Divorce Considerations for Families with Children with Special Needs
Wednesday March 16th, 2022, 6:00-6:45 p.m . VIA ZOOM
Navigating a divorce is complicated for any family. When a child has special need’s parents often face unique legal issues in the process. This webinar will provide information regarding divorce in general and the concerns common to families with children with disabilities in the family law area. The webinar will cover the following topics:
- Decision Making (medical, education, extracurricular- shared or sole)
- Parenting Time
- School District Considerations
- Child support and departures from guideline support
- Special Needs Trusts, Support of an Adult with a Disability and Guardianship issues that should be addressed in the divorce documents and judgment.
There will be an opportunity for questions following the presentation.
Click here to Register for one or both of these webinars
Ground Hog Day
I founded the Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore, 26 years ago. I advocated for children, specifically in the area of special education as a result of my own struggle to get help for my own child. My son had been diagnosed with severe dyslexia at age six and we started intervention immediately. Then and now, the research supports a multi-sensory, phonics based, structured reading intervention such as Orton-Gillingham. There were other suggestions at the time (colored lenses, vision therapy, whole language) but I went with the research. The Orton-Gillingham approach was not new even then. It was founded in the 1930’s and continues to be research based and backed by credible sources.
I attend IEP’s several times a month where a child with dyslexia is struggling to read, and the school indicates that they don’t provide Orton-Gillingham or structured literacy -based interventions. The reference to ground hog day is to the Bill Murray movie of the same name. The fact that schools and parents are stuck in the same loop regarding appropriate and research-based reading interventions thirty plus years later is astounding. It is also baffling. Orton-Gillingham is hardly a cutting- edge intervention. It works. Yet it is not available to many struggling readers.
The issue of the district’s failure to provide reading interventions to dyslexic students is litigated time and time again. Schools lose many of these cases. Yet, the problem remains. Schools often fail to screen for dyslexia and if they do, they all too commonly fail to provide meaningful research- based interventions. The IDEA requires schools to provide research -based interventions to the extent practicable. This failure to do so violates both federal and state law.
This failure is not confined to uninformed or unsophisticated school districts. In Illinois, many of the wealthiest suburban districts, despite an abundance of resources and skilled teachers do not offer multi-sensory, research -based reading instruction. That this debate is ongoing in 2022 should shock both parents and school districts. Schools should at the very least take seriously and invest in the resources to teach a child to read.
What can you do as a parent if you suspect your child has a reading disability?
- Request an evaluation from the school. If the school declines to provide the evaluation seek a private evaluation if possible.
- Ask for data on your child’s progress.
- Be informed. (Selected Resources below)
- Put any request or concern in writing.
Town Hall Meeting 2/28/22
ISBE issues Rules Regarding the Use of Isolated Time Out, Time Out, and Physical Restraint
When can time out and physical restraints be used:
“Only when the student’s behavior presents an imminent danger of serious physical harm to the student or others, other less restrictive and intrusive measures have been tried and proven ineffective in stopping the imminent danger of serious physical harm, there is no known medical contraindication to its use on the student, and the school staff member or members applying the intervention have been trained in its safe application… You will note that some of these requirements are the same as prior rules; however, the lack of medical contraindication and the staff training requirement are now included in the use limitations.
Limitations on time out:
Students in isolated time out or time out cannot be deprived of necessities needed to sustain the health of a person. The prohibition was added to the provision that requires students to have reasonable access to food, water, medication, and toileting facilities during time out and isolated time out.
Restraint does not include momentary periods of physical restriction by direct person to person contact, without the aid of material or mechanical devices, accomplished with limited force and designed to prevent a student from completing an act that would result in potential physical harm to himself, herself, or another or damage to property. The updated regulations, consistent with the new law, remove the use of momentary and limited restriction to “remove a disruptive student who is unwilling to leave voluntarily” from the exception to physical restraint.
School districts must include a written record of each episode of restrictive intervention in a student’s temporary records. While most of the requirements for documentation remain the same, the new rules indicate that the record must now “include a description oof any alternative measures that are less restrictive and intrusive that were used prior to the implementation of isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint and why those measures were ineffective and deemed appropriate.
Notification of Parents:
After each use of a restrictive intervention, the school principal or designee must also notify the student’s parent or guardian within two school days that they may request a meeting with the appropriate school personnel to discuss the incident. If a parent or guardian requests a meeting, it must be convened within two school days after the request, unless extended by parent or guardian. The meeting must include at least one staff member involved in the incident and at least one staff member who was not involved (social worker, psychologist or behavior analyst); provide an opportunity to describe the events prior to, during, and after the intervention; and provide an opportunity to discuss what could have been done differently and what options exist in order to avoid the future use of restrictive interventions. Summaries of the meeting must be documented.
School districts must provide the following information to a student’s parent/guardian within one business day of the use of a restrictive intervention:
A copy of the standards for when restrictive interventions can be used;
Information about the rights of parents, guardians, and student;
Information about the parent/guardian’s right to file a complaint with the Superintendent of Education, the complaint process, and any other information to assist the parent/guardian in navigating the complaint process.
- A Crisis for Families, Students and Districts
There is a critical shortage of approved residential placements for students with special education issues requiring such a placement. ISBE has been very slow to respond to this crisis. ISBE will reinstate its prior practice of reimbursing districts for room, board and tuition at non-approved residential schools when ordered by a hearing officer (after the district pays its two times per capita per student rate for tuition). This practice was discontinued in 2020.
This change does nothing to alleviate the shortage of available residential placements for students requiring this intense level of education. Our office is often involved in residential placement disputes with school districts and as of last week, nearly every residential placement on the ISBE list was reporting a six month to a year waiting list. Most of the students requiring this level of care are already in crisis. This lack of availability is exacerbating the problems for the student and their families.
On Friday February 4, 2022, ISBE issued emergency regulations to address the shortage of placements. Section 226.330 that will allow placement in non-ISBE approved facilities under certain circumstances. There are many factors that must be taken into consideration when making this placement and should be based on assessments, lack of an appropriate state operated facility, evidence of a condition that presents a danger to the physical well-being of the student or other students may be taken into consideration in identifying the appropriate placement for a child. Section 401.110 was also amended.
Special Needs Consideration in Divorce
This article is intended to provide practical assistance to professionals and clients who are dealing with a family with a child with special needs. Many of these cases are factually complex and involve considerations that are outside of the normal course of a divorce.
The First Step is to Not Overlook Special Needs Considerations in Divorce or Post-Decree Issues. The number of children with disabilities is significant. The prevalence of autism in children is now 1 in 68. (CDC 2018) There is conflicting evidence that having a child with a disability increases the likelihood of divorce. What is known is that having a child with special needs complicates the divorce process and requires careful consideration of many factors in counseling and representing clients.
For many parents contemplating divorce, the first consideration when one or more of the children have a disability is how and whether they will manage the complications of parenting and supporting a special needs child. At the initial client interview, when there are children (including older children) one of the initial questions I ask is whether any of the children have special education issues or have been diagnosed with a disability. If the answer is yes, then I use a comprehensive checklist to assist me in getting a thorough understanding of the child’s needs in the context of this family. It is important to ask detailed questions about the nature of the disability. It is also a good idea to request documents (e.g. evaluations, school records, Individual Education Plans (IEP)) that provide detailed information regarding the child’s disability.
Our office is dedicated to advocating for the best outcomes for children and families. Call (312)-640-9850 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consultations are available in person or by Zoom. Safety protocols are followed.
The Child and Family Law Center: A Division of Grund & Leavitt