Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fort Wayne Moms Prosecuted for Home Schooling

Some time ago a few Indiana parents who home-schooled their children took my blog to task for my opinions on the legalities of home schooling. I had indicated that Indiana's laws on home-schooling were vague and that parents of special needs children should be very careful and invoke many shields if they intended to home-school their children. This blog was severely attacked by a few home-schooling parents.

I do hate to be right, but now we have this Fort Wayne case, where two moms are on a year's probation for not being able to prove that they are able to provide an adequate education for their children. These are criminal charges, neglect of a dependent. Interestingly, the parents' attorney unsuccessfully argued that Indiana's home-school law was too "vague."

The information provided by the press does not indicate whether either of these two children have any special needs and/or require any type of special education. Assuming that they do not have any special needs, this is a warning flag for parents whose children are in need of any type of special services. If parents can be criminally prosecuted for educational neglect for home-schooling their typical children then parents who choose to home-school special needs children should understand certain things.

If a parent is charged with educational neglect for home-schooling a special needs child, they are the school and are charged with providing an "appropriate education." They should be prepared to prove that they are providing their child with every service the child would be entitled to if the child were enrolled in a public school. That means the court could look at whether the parent provides a teacher licensed in the area of the child's disability (either a teacher of record or a teacher of service), as well as any related services that the child is entitled to have in the public school setting.

As I responded to the parents who criticized my earlier blog: my position on parents who choose to home-school special needs children has not changed. In fact, I think this latest occurance proves my point. Any parent who home-schools a child should keep excellent records on what type of education their child/children receive. The courts will require parents to prove that their child is receiving an adequate education. The burden is even greater for a parent who wants to home-school a special needs child.

I would never say to a parent to NOT home-school a child. That is a personal decision and from what I see in schools I think there are some very good reasons for not wanting to expose your own child to what goes on. I simply say again that parents of special needs children must understand that they must do MORE than a parent of a typical child.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Just for Fun: Schools of the Future

In February of 1960, I wrote an article for my high school newspaper. The headline read: "School of the Future Pictured As A Luxury."

This particular spot on my blog has nothing to do with special education. I just thought it was fun to see what my 14-year-old self thought schools of the future would be like. See what you think:

There have been many improvements made since the year 1492. But there are still many things that aren't quite perfect. By the year 2000, the world will be changed so much that we, of the year 1960 will never know it. Here are a few of the changes which might be made.

In the morning you will be awakened with sweek music by your clock radio. It will need no electricity or batteries. It runs by cosmic rays from the sun. You, like other children of your day, will have your chores to do. So, you push a button. Your bed is made and your floor vacuumed by a robot housekeeper. Next you will pick your clothes for the day. Since they are made of paper, when they get dirty, you simply throw them away.

You then walk to the self-service elevator in your room and ride to the kitchen where you mother is busily ordering food by walkie-talkie. The food is sent from town kitchen by means of a disintegrator-integrater. Only very old-fashioned people cook their own meals now.

After you have finished breakfast, you will take a robot to school. Or, if you feel energetic, you canstep on the moving sidewalk which will take you right to the escolator steps of the school building. You don't have to worry about being late because you will be by yourself in a small room with all your supplies: a television set which won't be turned on until you get there and if you are late you will just stay in school that much longer.

Desks will be cushioned for the comfort of the pupil and lunch will be sent right to your classroom by the town kitchen.

Gym will be the only class from which you will have to leave your room. You'll ride on the "moving hallway," which has the same principle as the "moving sidewalks." The gymnasium converts into a swimming pool on alternate days. Some days instead of gym class, you will go to the recreation center where there will be ping pong tables, juke box, (the juke box will always be here) and a great big dance floor. This center can be rented out to youth groups.

At the basketball games, there is no need for referees. Fouls are detected by means of a radar system set up in the ceiling of the gym. The points are scored the same way. You can't boo the "ref" in this day and age.

Well, now that you've spent a day in the future would you like to live with all those modern conveniences? Your children may!

Friday, May 8, 2009

FERPA Inspection Rights

Q. I requested a copy of my child's education records. The school tells me that "FERPA only requires that the school division permit you the right to inspect and review your daughter's educational records. Is this true?

A. According to Federal law, your school is correct:

§ 99.10 What rights exist for a parent or eligible student to inspect and review education records?(a) Except as limited under §99.12, a parent or eligible student must be given the opportunity to inspect and review the student's education records.

State's may grant parents more inspection rights, including the right to copies. Check your State's education rules and regulations to see if that is true where you live. You should also check your school's policy. Sometimes, a school's policy will grant its patrons more inspection rights, as well.

Please remember that the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act applies to ALL students, not just students eligible for special education and related services.

Behavior Plans: Who should implement?

Q. My daugher has school behavor problems. She has a behavorial plan. Should everyone at school implement the plan, including teachers, security, coaches, and administration, or is it only for classroom teachers?

A. It depends. You must look at the IEP and the behavior plan to see how it is to be implemented.

In general, behavior plans should extend to all settings in which behaviors occur. However, a vague IEP or behavior plan opens the door to lots of different interpretations.

A more important question is that if you do not understand where the school should implement the behavior plan you cannot expect anyone at school to understand when and where they should implement it.

I strongly suggest that you convene the IEP team, work this out, and put it in writing so that EVERYONE knows the intent of the behavior plan.