Monday, October 22, 2012

Bullying and Restraint and Seclusion

The Indiana Governor's Council for People with Disabilities July/August newsletter, SPARK, has great articles on Bullying. It also has an article that features a quote from Pat Howey regarding the restraint and seclusion of students with disabilties. To read the newsletter, click this link:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Foundation of the IEP

Mark Kamleiter, Florida parent attorney (St. Petersburg) says that parents and advocates often focus only on the "last pages" of the IEP. That is what I see, too.

The concerns I hear from parents are mostly about placement, goals, and least restrictive environment. Yet, when I review the child's most recent Individualized Education Plan (IEP), there is little helpful information under the Present Levels of Functional and Academic Performance (PLOPs) section. The few lines that are written there are not helpful to the IEP Team. Often, I can find no relationship at all between the "present levels" and the "needs" and the "goals."

Most of the IEPs I review have, at most, three to four lines of PLOPs. Rarely, do they have Functional PLOPS. (Remember, schools still tell parents, "We do not have to do that because it is not related to academics.") Parents have to learn now to design accurate and up-to-date present levels. Advocates have to learn how to do this to and teach parents how to do this. It is one of the easiest things for parents to do because they know their child best. Until the PLOPs are accurate, parents will never be able to get the program, placement, or education their child needs.

The PLOPS are the foundation of the IEP. (The form your school uses may have each of these two levels in two separate sections). The PLOPs in all IEPs must include functional and academic performance. 20 U.S.C. Sect. 1414 (d) (1) (A) (i). Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition p. 99. The student's PLOPs must always be accurate and up-to-date.

When the IEP fails to include accurate and up-to-date information about the child's present levels, the IEP is defective. It has no foundation. Like Mark says, the parents and their advocates have focused their efforts on the "last pages" of the IEP. That is, they have provided information to the IEP Team about placement, goals, and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) instead of present levels of performance. They have placed the cart before the horse. Until they have completed accurate and up to date PLOPs, the IEP cannot be accurate.

Let's talk about the procedure that IEP Teams must follow when developing an IEP. First, we fill in the child's name and biographical information. Next, we provide information about how the child currently functions academically and in the real world. This is where the IEP Team usually fills in the test scores and grades. However, this section is about much more than that. The PLOPs are the most critical part of the IEP. It is also the section that most parents and advocates prepare for the least. The parents' input is most important during the IEP Team's assessment of the child's PLOPs. Only the parents know how the child functions at home, in the community, when doing homework, at work, and in the real world.

"The present levels of performance are the foundation for everything else in the IEP," says school attorney Joe Hatley. "If your starting point is fundamentally flawed, then everything that comes after that is flawed, too."

Each time the IEP Team meets, it must update the child's PLOPs. The Katonah-Lewisboro (NY) School District failed to do this for one of its students. It simply copied the last year's "Present Levels" into the new IEP, despite information that the student had made progress in all academic areas from the private placement the parents had secured the previous school year. The Second Circuit decision found that the child's IEP "was likely to cause [the student] to regress or make only trivial advancement."

The school district's fatal flaw cost it dearly. The Court ordered it to pay the student's private placement tuition. It also had to pay the parents attorneys fees and expenses of over $156,976.00. You can read the decision here:

If you want to learn more about how to develop your child's Present Levels click the links below.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Indiana Emergency Response Conference Presentation

Last Thursday, September 13, 2012, I presented at the Indiana Emergency Response Conference on the topic of "Prehospital Care of Children with Special Needs." Click here for the presentation paper.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fall, 2012, Lafayette, Indiana, Date TBA Special Education Advocacy Training-Tippecanoe (SEATT).

Special Education Consulting will sponsor another advocacy training this fall for parents of children enrolled in, or who should be enrolled in, special education or Section 504 programs.

This program focuses on Tippecanoe County, but we welcome parents in surrounding counties to attend and learn advocacy skills.

This fall, we will focus on your child's psychoeducational evaluations: how to read and understand them, what the numbers mean, and are they comprehensive and appropriate to meet your child's needs.

If you have a child who is struggling in a general or special education program, please email Pat at:

When we get enough interest, we will schedule the training.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Special Education Advocacy Training for Tippecanoe County

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at the Tippecanoe County Library Public Meeting Room.

Special Education Consulting is proud to sponsor an introductory special education advocacy training meeting for parents within Lafayette School Corporation, West Lafayette Community School Corporation, and Tippecanoe School Corporation.

This is an informational and organizational meeting for a new advocacy training group for parents of special needs children in the Greater Lafayette Area Special Services (GLASS) catchment area. If you have a child enrolled in special education or have a child that you think should be enrolled but has been denied services, you will want to attend this meeting.

Light refreshments will be served and parents who helped shape today's special education programs will be available for questions.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Tippecanoe Parents and Professionals for Special Education (TPPSE) was an active special education advocacy group. Interest waned and the group disbanded. Perhaps it is time for a refresher course in special education advocacy. If there is enough interest, we can regenerate an advocacy group.

Three drawings will be held. You will have a chance to win one of three Wrightslaw books, From Emotions to Advocacy, All About IEPs, or Special Education Law. I look forward to meeting you all on May 2.

Monday, February 27, 2012


The Conference page is up with the application form for the William and Mary College of Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy. Class size is limited. Get your application in early. Experienced advocates, law students, new lawyers, lawyers new to special education: This is the program you need to expand your horizons. Expanded curriculum and experienced faculty make this a premium program. CLEs will be available. Find the conference page here.

William & Mary College, School of Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy

For those of you who have been asking about the annual Institute of Special Education Advocacy: Look for the application late today or tomorrow on the Wrightslaw website: We look forward to seeing you in July. Do not miss this opportunity! I will also have the application form on my website: