What can possibly get done in a fifteen minute parent-teacher conference? It can seem like a waste of time. It’s not enough time to hear all about your child’s progress, or even hear about all the subjects he or she will be learning. It is barely parentTeacherConfenough time to take a peek at a few samples of your child’s work which your teacher likely will have selected to demonstrate your child’s progress. The teacher might address--gently or not so gently--issues or challenges your child is facing. As much as parents care deeply about their child’s education—especially when they already are aware that their child has special needs including learning challenges—they often dread the parent-teacher conference. The best you can hope for is actually something well worth bringing about: The start of an open dialogue.

 How can you start that dialogue and make your parent-teacher conference the most helpful for your child? Here are a few suggestions:

--Let the teacher know you are open to hearing her comments—positive and negative. Your teacher can be your best ally in uncovering what your child is struggling with. You want to know if other children are teasing your child, or if your child misses social cues. Your teacher is more likely to tell you if she understands that you will not look to blame her as the source of the problem.

--Spend most of the time listening. Your teacher will most likely have given thought to the information she shares. Take notes.

Thursday, 17 September 2015 17:10

Obama Administration Makes Push For Preschool Inclusion

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obamaPreSchool

Federal officials say that all children with disabilities should be able to attend preschool alongside their typically-developing peers.

Nearly four months after requesting public feedback on the issue, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services are jointly issuing guidance to states, school districts and early childhood providers urging them to make a place for kids with special needs.

“As our country continues to move forward on the critical task of expanding access to high-quality early learning programs for all children, we must do everything we can to ensure that children with disabilities are part of that,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in announcing the effort this week during his annual back-to-school bus tour.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015 13:57

Charter Schools

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Charter Schools Owe a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to Special Needs Students

What is a charter school? Most people know that charter schools are alternatives to local public schools. Charter schools are public schools, but are operated independently of local boards of education. They usually receive federal money as well as additional private donations or grants.  Unlike their local public school counterparts, charter schools are privately managed by their own charter school Board of Trustees.

Charter schools have leeway in determining their policies and programming. For this reason, they can be attractive to parents seeking an alternative learning environment. However, charter school boards are not free of government regulation. In fact, for the most part, they are bound by the same rules as all other public schools when it comes to identifying and serving students with special needs.

foodAllergy

Food bullying is not to be taken lightly. For a child with a life threatening allergy it can mean serious illness or death--not to mention the anxiety and other psychological consequences from experiencing both bullying and a physical response to a life-threatening allergen. We now know that fifty percent of children with food allergies who are in grades six through ten report being the victim of food allergy bullying. Fortunately, food allergy bullying law has evolved. Education will take more time, as schools, children with allergies, their peers, teachers, administrators and health care professionals work together to implement the law and keep children with food allergies safe in school.

 

United States District Court Upholds SGW Victory Against Summit Schools

SGW lawyers

Sussan Greenwald and Wesler together with co-counsel Connell Foley prevailed over Summit Schools in a case that proves that "meaningful education benefit" is a concept that has teeth in  New Jersey. On July 27, 2015, in T.O. et al v. Summit City Board of Education, the United States District Court affirmed the July 2, 2012 decision of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  The A LJ had held that Summit failed to provide a free, appropriate public education to a child, J.O., who suffered from apraxia of speech and dyspraxia. Jayne M. Wesler, a partner at SGW, tried the case before the ALJ for  J.O.'s parents.

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