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Ask the Advocate

Presented by Staci Greenwald, Esq.
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Do you have a question for an education advocate? Here is your opportunity to ask. Staci Greenwald has 27 years experience as a lawyer in this field and has a personal connection to making things right. Staci J. Greenwald is a partner in Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler, Esquires, in Cranbury, New Jersey, where she handles special education matters and offers advocacy in cases involving the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), guardianship, and estate planning for families of special needs students. Ms. Greenwald is admitted to practice in New Jersey, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. She is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s School Law Committee and has been a long time volunteer for Volunteer Lawyers for Justice where she represents families in special education matters and serves as a mentor for other attorneys. She presents annually at the Rutgers Law School Special Education Clinic and is also a frequent lecturer for The Institute for Continuing Legal Education and other professional and parent organizations regarding special education and children’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA).




0:01

Thanks, Kelly and good evening, everyone. Thank you for joining us. Presenter for tonight is Attorney Stacie Greenwald.

0:09

This is Stacy second webinar for us. She previously presented on 504, an IDA, and that was on November 13, 2019, and that webinar is available for download on our website.

0:25

Stacey is a graduate of Douglas college and received her Juris Doctor degree from Seton Hall, law school. She is admitted to practice in all New Jersey.

0:37

State district court for the District of New Jersey, and the US. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

0:45

Additionally, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences, and is a certified teacher of the handicapped. She is eminently qualified to advocate on behalf of her clients in forums ranging from the Office of Administrative Law to the federal courts.

1:03

She handles special education matters and offers advocacy in cases involving the Division of Developmental Disabilities, Guardianship, and to State Planning for families of special Needs students. She is also a frequent lecturer throughout New Jersey. Stacie, we’re so pleased to have you back, and now, without further introduction, I’ll turn tonight’s programming over to you.

1:30

Thank you very much, and thank you very much for having me back. It’s, it’s great to be here. We had a really great session last time, and there were so many questions that people had, that I thought it might be nice just to do a Q&A where everybody could, you know, talk and share ideas. I just want to mention that in addition to my background as a special education teacher and having a background in Speech and Hearing sciences, they also have two special needs, students, myself, both, my kids have gone through special education and then have a multitude of different disability. So, I, you know, I live this as a parent as well as, you know, an advocate in this area.

2:10

It’s, you know, interesting that I’m here tonight, when we planned this. You know the world was spinning, the way it was supposed to do. And we had, you know, typical questions with regard to what a parents’ rights were under the ADA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Now, we’re in, you know, kogod land, where nobody knows what’s going on and I know a lot of people have a lot of questions.

2:33

So, tonight, I’d like to, you know, answer any questions you have, whether it be coated specific or questions with regard to what do we do? when we get back to normal, what my child’s rights are? You know, I practice in New Jersey. So the law that I’m going to be mainly focusing on is New Jersey Law. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are both federal laws. So while we all start at the same level, it then leaves it up to the States had how they’re going to substantively employ those laws. So when I’m speaking, I’m referring to New Jersey Law. If you’re asking a question from another jurisdiction, please know that we may have some differences, and you need to take that into consideration. So, you know, I know that we’ve got some questions pending. I don’t want to take any more time. You know, talking about me, Let’s get right into it and see if we can have a great dialog.

3:36

OK, we’re ready to go and we have our first question up. So what are your thoughts regarding clinicians currently performing neuropsychological evaluations and providing parents with reports, including and including academic recommendations? Will these evaluations, if done by telehealth, be accepted by school districts once they re-open?

4:05

That’s a really good question, and we’ve had a lot of dialog on that.

4:09

I know that the publishers of the major tasks, for example, the woodcock Johnson, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, have all started to put out virtual ways to perform those tasks. I also know that the National Psychological Association came out and said that there are tests that are not normed to be done through telehealth, and as a result they would not be valid and reliable. Most of the school districts in New Jersey are not, at this point, conducting virtual evaluations, and they’re not accepting virtual evaluations conducted by outside providers.

5:02

I think that, depending on what happens in the fall, with regard to whether we go back to school, or not, is going to have a lot to do with whether we’re gonna have to rethink that, and start to allow those evaluations to take place. Virtually. There are a number of evaluations that can be done that way, and we could supplement thereafter. But, unfortunately, you know, we’re still in this unknown territory, and I think everybody is just waiting to see how quickly we can re open to decide whether we’re gonna have to really go to the virtual evaluations. Because, otherwise, what’s going to wind up happening is we’re gonna have kids that are not getting services, especially kids, that are, you know, turning three, who haven’t been evaluated, or students, who are being evaluated for the first time.

5:51

It’s, you know, impossible to have those children classified without those … being done. So, it may get to the point where we do partial evaluations and then supplement thereafter. We may take more teacher recommendations or teacher, you know, information with regard to where the child was, was functioning at the time we went out on coded. So, that’s going to be an ongoing discussion, and I don’t have a clear answer for you right now.

6:20

I’m sorry OK, but it to that end, though, is it going to have to be, like, really waiting till school starts word? Or will there be some solution to some of this in advance? So, you know, right now, the timelines under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act have not been extended. So, if you make a referral, everything is supposed to be done within that 60 days. They’re really not, to a certain extent, being followed right now. I think that if we knew that school was going to be up and running as of September one, the districts to respond to this point would be we’re not accepting virtual evaluations. However, if it doesn’t look like we’re going to be going back in September, I think decisions are going to need to be made. And we’re going to have to start doing those evaluations virtually, because we can’t have special education come to a standstill.

7:14

It’s impossible, we’re having the same issue with the office of administrative law and virtual trials. Initially we weren’t doing anything virtually. We weren’t holding mediations that way. We weren’t holding settlement conferences and we weren’t holding trials.

7:29

As we’ve gotten further and further into being, you know, virtual and being at home the Department of Education, the office of administrative law have started to train the judges and train the mediators, and we’re starting to do things through Zoom conferences. So, I think that, if we continue to be at home, into the summer, and into the fall, I think you’re gonna see that school districts are going to have to start considering virtual evaluations, because it’s going to have no choice.

8:03

Yeah, OK. All right.

8:04

Good, thank you, um, just, for the sake of, of people who may not know kind of the basics, could you just talk a little bit about the distinctions between 504 as IEPs? What’s federal? What shape, and kind of just lay the groundwork for, for that.

8:22

Sure, the rules around those. Absolutely. So, the special education stems from, it goes back to 19 75, and the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. It’s been modified multiple times, and in 19 90, on the name was changed to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. And that is a federal law. And it indicates to states that if they participate and agree to follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, they will get federal funding. And the law provides for a free and appropriate public education for students between the ages of 3 and 21, who are eligible for special education and related services. Now, education abroad concept. It includes a lot more than academics. It’s social, emotional toileting communication. It’s whatever skills a child needs to learn in order to become, to the extent that they had an independent functioning member of society based on their ability level.

9:20

In order to be eligible for special education and related services, it’s a three pronged test. one. does the child have a disability?

9:29

two, does that disability adversely affects educational performance? And does the child require special education and related services? And years ago, it used to be special education or related services, but that was changed, I believe in.

9:46

It’s either 19 90 to 19 94. Don’t hold me to that.

9:50

So when we talk about education, it’s not just academics. It could be emotional needs, social needs, and when we talk about educating a child, we talk about educating that child in the least restrictive environment. The environment closest to home, where progress rather than regression or stagnation will take place. And while we have a multitude of different programs that we can provide to a student. when we talk about the least restrictive environment, that continuum starts with providing services within a mainstream environment, whether that be, you know, accommodations and modifications. It could be a personal aid, it could be a classroom aid, it could be a two teacher classroom, where there’s a special education teacher at a regular education teacher, and then we go to a resource room programs, and then special classes, and then add a district schools.

10:41

But what you have to understand is that you don’t have to try each of those different environments before you go to the next level. Because the least restrictive environment is individual individualized for each child. And while we may have more than one appropriate program, the least restrictive is always the environment closest to home where progress, rather than regression, or stagnation will take place. And the purpose of special education is to provide the student with an educational program that’s going to allow them to make significant and meaningful educational progress in, you know, all areas where they need, you know, academic instruction, or educational instruction. Because, as I said before, education is more than just academics. So when we talk about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, we’re talking about special education and related services.

11:36

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, it says civil rights, statute. And it indicates that if an individual has a disability and that disability adversely affects a major life activity, that individual is entitled to reasonable accommodations and modifications basically to level the playing field. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 19 73 applies not just to students, but applies to, you know, people throughout their lifetime in the workplace. So that if you have a disability, and you need reasonable accommodations, those reasonable accommodations need to be made for you.

12:16

You know, in your workplace, whether you’re going to school, whether it be college, whether it be, you know, a vocational school, we like to say that, you know, we do say that every student who is IEP eligible is automatically 504 eligible, because part of the IEP itself is to provide accommodations and modifications to the child, in addition to the special education and related services, the child needs.

12:44

With Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, it is it is just accommodations and modifications to allow the individual to equal or even that playing field so that they’re on the same ground as their neurotypical peers. So, for example, if a child has a low processing speed, we may give that child additional time on tests or quizzes. If a child has a visual impairment, but doesn’t require special education, we may provide that student with.

13:18

You know, larger print. Those are accommodations and modifications that allow the child to function in the classroom.

13:25

Going back to idea, and I can talk all night about this, so just cut me off and start asking questions. You know, we talk about related services and related services are broad in nature. Most people know speech and OT and PT, but, you know, related services can include social skills. It could include recreational therapy, could include a multitude of things that would allow that trial to benefit from their educational program.

13:52

OK, there’s a couple more questions coming in, so I’ll leave that there for now.

13:59

Talk a little bit about accommodations. In college, I mean, you get out of high school, you’ve had, whatever you’ve had, potentially, K through 12. What happens when you move to college, and what’s possible, or, or how does that work, and what do you need to say?

14:18

And when would be the appropriate time to, to discuss that with your college admissions folks?

14:25

So, if you have a 504 plan coming out of high school, you’re going to take that 504 plan, and you’re going to bring it to the college. If you have an IEP, I try and tell my clients that in their child’s senior year of high school, when they’re getting ready to graduate, you want to talk to your case manager, or your guidance counselor, about converting the IEP to a 504 plan, because colleges don’t utilize IEPs, they only use 504 plans.

15:01

When you are transitioning to college, the college wants to also see a psychological or neuropsychological psycho educational evaluation within I believe it’s two years of going into college. It may be three.

15:18

But I’m not sure, and they’re going to use that to determine whether you’re, you know, eligible for the accommodations The difference between high school and college. When you’re in college, the accommodations that you’re entitled to you have to affirmatively ask for. Nobody’s going to develop this plan for you.

15:37

Nobody’s going to give the accommodations to you unless you specifically ask for them And the colleges are all different. We have a multitude of colleges that you utilize and employ a multitude of different levels of service. So, we have some colleges that, you know, have a disability services office, and you would go into that disability services office, and you would say, Here’s my 504 plan. These are the accommodations that I’m entitled to. And that individual in the office, will help you set up that accommodation plan, and help you get in touch with your professors, and make arrangements, so that if you are able to take tests in an alternate location, or you’re allowed to take it on a computer. There are ways that the professor would be in touch with the Disability Services. And you, and you would co-ordinate together to make arrangements for those accommodations to take place.

16:30

We also have colleges that have a higher level of accommodation, where you can work with a support person to help you work on executive functioning organization. Some of these are paid programs, where you pay an additional fee, you get accepted into that program, and then they provide you with that additional support. Whether it be one day a week, two days a week, Sometimes it’s five days a week, we have other colleges that provide, you know, tutoring as needed.

17:00

And then, we have other colleges that have support programs, that are a college within a college, So you really need to do your research, with regard to what level of support you think your student requires. And then you want to make sure that, when you’re applying to colleges, you ask about their disability services. All of the online, through the, and I remember doing this with both my kids when, when we were applying the college on the College Board. When you go through, and you look at all the different colleges and you sort of plugin.

17:32

Whether you want a large college or a small college.

17:35

All of the different, you know, things that you can study when your college. one of the things that you can check off is disability services. Whether you’re looking for a program within a program, or, you know, additional support, or just the basic accommodations that you would be entitled to, any college program. So you want to make sure that when you’re doing your research, you look at all of that, because we do have colleges have come a really long way in helping to support our kids. They realized that, you know, we have a lot of kids that are really, really, really smart. They just learn differently.

18:07

Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm.

18:08

OK, good, Thank You. Can curriculum modifications be done through a 504 plan?

18:18

Typically, no. Accommodations and modifications.

18:24

Let me step back. If you’re talking about curriculum modifications, in terms of, the student, only has to do 15 problems instead of 20 problems, to show mastery, The answer is yes. If you’re talking about the student only having to learn a portion of the curriculum as compared to the full curriculum, that’s normally a special education issue, and it’s something that you would do through an IEP rather than a Section 504 plan. Because it’s more than just an accommodation or modification, it’s a it’s modifying the curriculum, which is modifying the learning, which falls into the realm of special education rather than accommodations.

19:04

OK, so if it’s a simple modifications such as Extra time, maybe your, you know, Five out of ten progress. Yeah, that’s one thing, If it gets beyond that, then it’s, it’s another issue.

19:20

Correct. So, if you’re talking about, yeah. You know, we’re learning about.

19:25

The Civil War, and there are 15 concepts that the entire class is going to learn, and you’re saying that this student is only required to learn. five of those concepts are six of those concepts, that’s a special education issue. But, if you’re talking about, there’s going to be, you know, for essays on the exam, and this student’s only entitled to three of them, or, you know, we’re only going to, we’re going to give this student multiple choice, instead of, you know, doing it through an essay. Those are accommodations that could be provided through a 504 plan. OK, good. Does the, does the IEP or 504 Plan Trump district policy?

20:06

Or can the district say, that certain things cannot be placed in a 504 due to district policy?

20:15

So, the IEP and the, I need a little bit more information on that, but the IEP is a federal law, as is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in 19 73. And it says that, you know, if a student needs specific services, or services need to be included in the IEP. If you’re saying, you know, district policy is that the student has to take two years of a language, and the parent wants that wave through the IEP. Normally, what happens is we make accommodations and modifications so that maybe the student is doing something different in that language class, or maybe it’s a pass fail, or maybe they’re taking a, you know, not learning the language, but learning the culture. So there are ways to modify and accommodate.

21:09

But in terms of, you know, things that a child needs, it’s based on the child’s needs in that IEP. District policy, I really need to know what you’re talking about. You know, we can modify the discipline for a student, if they have behavioral issues, so that they’re not held to the same discipline standards as other students in the district. So there are specific things that absolutely can be done through an IEP that would modify the district policy. It really depends on the situation. It’s not a blanket rule, OK. There’s a clarification that just came in. So the example that’s being offered here is, is placing to not penalize the student for attendance issues due to anxiety and they are then needing to go to Saturday school to make up the time.

22:04

That is absolutely an accommodation that can be included in an IEP and or a 504 plan and we do it regularly, we get doctor’s notes indicating that due to anxiety or school refusal or whatever it is, even medical issues.

22:21

I’ve got, you know, children that have severe migraines and can only attend school, you know starting, you know one day they come in at 10 o’clock and the next day they don’t come in at all. And then they come in if you allow whenever they come in. We absolutely through a 504 plan or an IEP, put specific thing that the attendance policy is waived that tardiness is not going to count against the student. As long as it’s related to that disability, you know, the kid just decide they don’t want to come to school one day and it’s not related to the anxiety. They’re going to be held accountable for that. But the district’s attendance policy. The district’s discipline policy doesn’t trump the individual needs of that student. As long as we’ve got the backing from medical professionals, are outside professionals to support the need for that modification, but that’s something that’s done as a matter. Of course.

23:11

OK, so then backfilling with this Saturday school then would not be the appropriate action then. Absolutely, the child is being disciplined for a behavior that’s caused by their disabling condition and that’s against the law.

23:27

OK good, Thank you for clarifying that.

23:30

Does a 504 have to contain goals and objectives, know, and in fact most of the most 504 plans don’t contain goals and objectives. They contain accommodations and modifications, things like extended time on tests, multiple choice instead of, you know, essay questions, allowing the student to come in late. Not penalizing with student for late hallmark. But the goals and objectives relate to special education and that’s where the IEP would come in. Now, there are times that I have seen some districts allow for related services to be provided through a 504 plan, and then we would have goals and objectives for those related services on, But that’s not normally necessarily put in the 504 Plan itself. There’s normally a different plan that talks about the goals and objectives of those areas, but if we’re talking about goals and objectives, were normally talking about a student who requires special education, not just accommodations and modifications.

24:31

OK, good, thank you.

24:34

Is there a, it, this is a question about Dyslexia, but I’m wondering if it applies kind of across the board, to other, other issues like that. Is there an age or grade requirement for Dyslexia in this case, Dyslexia screening?

24:53

Yes. So a number of years ago, grassroots.

25:01

Parents got together and put together decoding Dyslexia, which is a group for parents and caregivers of individuals that have dyslexia in their family. And they petitioned the government and we put together not only the dyslexia New Jersey Dyslexia Handbook, but they also put together the requirement for Dyslexia screening and Dyslexia screening has to start as, early as kindergarten. So, if you go to your individual school district, and this is New Jersey, I’m not talking about any other state, but in New Jersey, just screening for reading disabilities, and dyslexia. And Dyslexia is a reading disability. Starts as early as Kindergarten, and it has to be done in kindergarten, first, and at least second grade.

25:50

And that happened probably 4 or 5 years ago, and if you ask your district, you shouldn’t be able to tell you what screenings they’re using to screen for, for Dyslexia, OK? To other, other other things, in terms of disability issues that have a certain age built into them, or a grade built into them, such as this.

26:15

So, normally, when we talk about disability, we’re looking at an adverse educational impact. So, if the impact is happening in kindergarten, then we’re going to do our evaluations in Kindergarten. If we’re not seeing that adverse impact into first grade, or second grade, or third grade, that’s when we’re going to start to do our evaluations on every student. Whether they are, whether they think they have a disability or not, get screened for Dyslexia in kindergarten, and then again, in first and second grade. So, everything else, because there are so many different disabilities, we’re looking at that adverse impact. And that’ll be done based on, you know, when that starts to show itself.

26:57

OK, I have another follow-up to the Dyslexia thing. Is there are many doctors who are no longer diagnosing Dyslexia.

27:08

Can a district’s Can a district diagnose a student with dyslexia? in terms of giving them an IEP?

27:17

That’s the first part of the question And then doctors are telling parents that they need to have the school test students for dyslexia. Now, so.

27:28

So this diagnosis then is being done in school versus through some other?

27:34

regular form of testing.

27:37

So Dyslexia is a reading disability. So when we diagnose dyslexia, we’re looking for specific markers in terms of how that student’s reading is evaluated and where those deficits are, and there are a number of different kinds of dyslexia. You know you, so, you know, when we test for Dyslexia. It really should be either a speech pathologist or a learning consultant a neuropsychologist a psychologist who’s going to give reading? Evaluations that are going to?

28:16

Indicate where that student is, where the strengths, and the weaknesses are, that are going to allow us to determine whether the child meets the criteria for dyslexia. You know when a parent goes to a neurologist and a neurologist says, oh the child has dyslexia but doesn’t do any academic testing to test that reading disability. School districts want to know, what are you basing that dyslexia on? So you really need to have objective data, which is normally done by, as I said before, a learning consultant, speech pathologists, a psychologist, or a neuropsychologist because they’re the ones that are actually doing the testing. Then what typically happens, and a lot of parents go to school districts, and they say, I want to make sure that my child’s IEP indicates that he, he or she is dyslexic, and school district will come back and say, we cannot classify a student based on Dyslexia. And that, to a certain extent, is true.

29:09

And the reason I say that is because when we classify a student, there are 13 different classification categories in New Jersey. Stemming from other health impaired, multiply disabled, visually impaired. And then we have a category called Specific Learning Disability, and a child with dyslexia falls under the category of Specific Learning Disability. Because it is a severe discrepancy between performance and achievement in 1 of 5 different areas, and it talks about reading comprehension, oral reading comprehension, reading fluency, decoding, and then there are there are.

29:51

I can’t remember all of them right now, so a child would have to meet the criteria in order to be found eligible under SLD, Specific Learning Disability. Dyslexia falls under that category, so typically what I tell parents is that you can’t be classified as dyslexic because it’s not a classification category. What you are classified as as specific learning, disability, and in the IEP and the present levels, or under where the evaluations are done, you would indicate that the child was diagnosed with dyslexia.

30:28

OK, all right, I hope that answers the question, so, let’s get a follow up, and I’ll keep going.

30:37

If a private provider for a student, such as a therapist or doctor, does not obtain information and input from teachers and makes recommendations, is the school district obligated legally to follow those recommendations?

30:55

So, I’m not if I’m understanding this correctly.

30:58

The school apparently didn’t respond, I think, to the E.

31:06

Information that the doctor was requiring, and so, the doctor went ahead and made the recommendations. So, under the law, if a parent has an outside evaluation done, and they pay for it privately, or even if it’s an independent evaluation where the parent asks the school district to pay for the evaluation and the district agrees.

31:28

Whether they get input from the teachers, or they don’t get input from the teachers, either way, The district is required to consider the evaluation, consider the recommendations, but they’re not required, by law to follow those recommendations.

31:48

I would argue that if the doctor put in specific requests for information from the teachers, and then made recommendations, and the teachers did not come, you know, comply. And the district then turned around and said, We’re not going to follow those recommendations. The parents would have a good basis if they wanted to go to mediation or even a due process to argue that the school district was not co-operative and therefore, no.

32:21

Just let me interject that apparently, the school was never asked for input.

32:28

Well, again, so, by law, they don’t have to follow anything. They only have to consider it. But, you know, school districts always say, you know, if you didn’t reach out to ask us questions, You don’t know how the child is functioning in the classroom. And I do think that, that goes a long way. If the doctor didn’t ask for any information, it goes. a long way to say that they, they only have a snapshot. Because when we evaluate a child, we’re evaluating them on one day. It is important to get that information. So, it is, you know, if a district turns around and says, You know, we don’t think these are accurate, because we don’t see this in the classroom, And they adopted and ask the teacher for any of that information. I do think that that’s relevant. So no, they don’t have to follow those recommendations, but they Wouldn’t do even if the doctor had gotten information from from the teacher.

33:19

OK, All right, going back again. I’m sorry, this, we’re jumping back and forth to the dyslexia question.

33:28

So, the comment, then, from the, the attendee, is: So not by the Child Study team, but I don’t know if you can bring yourself back to where we were at, but that question, Let me just find it again. I got it. I got it. Got it, OK, the child study team is made up of professionals, including a learning consultant, a psychologist, and you can ask for a speech pathologist as well. So technically speaking, those individuals can diagnose dyslexia. Most school district employees don’t use the word dyslexia. They use the word reading disability. So, you know, if you’re looking for specifically the word dyslexia, you’re probably better off going and having an outside evaluation done. But even without the word dyslexia, if a child has a reading disability, you know, the research shows that we’re looking at a multi-sensory approach to teaching that reading.

34:35

Yes, correct.

34:37

And there are some, you know, I know I have most of my family is in education, so I have one sister that’s a … and other sister that’s a learning consultant. The district that she’s in, my sister, that’s a learning consultant. She will diagnose dyslexia because she’s got advanced training. In reading: She is, you know, Wilson certified, and she’s done OGE classes. And so she’s not afraid to sit down and say, This child has dyslexia, and she will put that in our reports. But I have other districts where the Learning Consultant, just a reading disability, they won’t specifically say dyslexia.

35:11

Like, yes, they can be diagnosed Because you would have to meet the criteria when we go to outside professionals. And I do this, you know, all the time when a family comes to my office. Will have outside evaluations done by speech pathologists and learning consultants, and they will look at what the definition of dyslexia is and they’ll do the testing on the child. If the child meets that criteria, then that child is diagnosed with dyslexia. Those are the same individuals that can work in a public school, and, in fact, some of the professionals that I use, you know, in my practice, to do outside evaluations, also worked for school districts.

35:48

OK, good, thank you for clarifying that. So, another question: We are getting pushback from our district because daughter has anxiety and struggles to complete the volume of work presented, but, is cognitively able to do the work? 

36:04

How would you recommend that we were at the exemption from work or modified work at the high school level?

36:13

Are the credit issues with not completing all the work? For example, the worksheets associated with a quiz are not completed. But test grades are A’s or Bs.

36:29

But, I think that it would.

36:33

It’s a difficult question to answer, and I really need a little bit more information. But, in a situation like that, you know, one of the things that a lot of times, we’ll put into an IEP, or even a 504, is testing for mastery. We’ve, all we have situations where I, you know, homework isn’t counted against the student’s grade. So the, how we were that in an IEP is going to depend on the level of support that child needs, and why that child needs to support. So, sitting here today, I don’t think I could come up with specific language. Because I don’t have enough information to know how it affects the child. But based on the limited information I have, you know, we could waive the homework requirement.

37:19

We could, you know, wave, or reduce, you know, math problems, so that the child only has to show mastery. We could just allow the child to take tests and quizzes and, you know, complete assignments. Rather than having to do homework, we could extend time for completion of homework assignments.

37:45

There are a multitude of things that can be done OK, all right, that sounds good, thank you.

37:51

Let me see, what else have we got here? Could you talk about who typically makes up the Child Study team?

37:59

I mean, we’re, you know, and, and who might be added, if you had a speech language problem or occupational therapy, those individuals, then would become the child.

38:12

The child study team. It is, and let’s that, we’re talking about the child study team, and then we’re talking about the IEP team. You know, when we’re talking about the development of an IEP and having an annual review, which is the, you know, meeting, to develop the IEP, You’re talking about the child’s case manager, the case manager could be the social worker, it could be the psychologist, it could be the learning consultant. We’re talking about any related services providers, the speech pathologist, occupational therapist The parent is part of that team, the teacher. We want to make sure that somebody who’s got the ability to You know, discuss what the district has to offer. Sometimes that’s the building principals, sometimes it’s the supervisor, sometimes it’s just the case manager that has that ability. We need to make sure that there’s a regular education teacher at a special education teacher present, to be able to answer any questions.

39:10

The Child Study Team, the basic Child Study team, is normally made up of the psychologist, the social worker, and the learning consultant. And when we talk about doing an initial evaluation of a child, we need to evaluate, have at least two evaluations done.

39:27

So it’s either going to be, you know, the the psychological, the educational, or and the social that we’re going to be doing. And then we have to also test in all areas of suspected disability. So if we suspect that the child has a psychiatric disability, we want to make sure that we asked for a psychiatric evaluation. If we suspect that the child has Attention Deficit Disorder, we want to ask for a neurological evaluation and a parent has the right to ask for those evaluations when they meet with the Child study team. A lot of times, what I find is that a parent, or refer the child to the child study team for evaluation, because they believe the child has a disability. And the child study team will meet and say, OK. Well, we’re going to do as a psychological evaluation and educational evaluation and a social evaluation. But the child may very well have emotionally based issues where we really need a psychiatric.

40:22

But the team doesn’t make that recommendation. The parent has a right to say, hey, look, I think my child may have Attention Deficit Disorder. I’d like to see a neurological done, or my child has emotionally based issues. I’d like to see a psychiatric done. And then the school district would have to agree to those evaluations and pay for those evaluations. If the team believes that the child has a language issue, you want to make sure that speech and language evaluation is done. If the child has occupational therapy or physical therapy needs, we want to make sure those evaluations are done. If the child has a hearing impairment, we wanna make sure that we get an ideological done, if the child has a vision impairment, we wanna make sure that somebody from the Commissioner of vision person is involved.

41:06

So again, it’s all areas of suspected disability, OK.

41:10

So if you had a child, then that had a physical disability, and I’m throwing in here a heart issue, then then the nurse the, or someone at Sun at, let’s say, the school nurse, and would be part of that team based on that particular chiles situation.

41:33

Absolutely. And the parent is. So, every time you gotta have a meeting with the school district, they send you, know, the notice indicating when the meeting is going to take place, and they have to tell you who’s going to be at that meeting. You have a right to bring somebody from the outside of you, so choose. You need to let them know that in advance. You also have a right to tape record, the IEP meeting, but you need to let them know that in advance, as well. If you get that notice, and there are individuals that you think need to be there, that are not on that list, you have an absolute right to ask that those individuals be present at the meeting. So if you think that the school nurse needs to be there, then you say, I would like to school nurse present, and that could be at a 504 meeting, or an IEP conference.

42:18

In fact, just last week or the week, before, I was at a meeting where the child, this child had severe migraines. And she had had a 504 plan. And the parents were in constant communication with the nurse for a variety of reasons, not just the migraines. But the nurse was actually co-ordinating some of the home instruction and some other things when we were converting her 504, and we were having her evaluated for classification. Under IDA, we specifically asked the nurse, to be part of the team, because that nurse had a lot of pertinent information with regard to what the child needed and how her needs could best be addressed.

42:57

OK, good.

42:58

Going back to, You know, you mentioned, if you think your child has this, then, you get, I can’t remember any of the tests that you talked about, educational, psychological, yep.

43:12

Yeah, but the question is: Is the school legally obligated to perform any tests, parent requests? Now, obviously, if there’s no evidence of that in your child, then that’s a reach, but.

43:28

So, who determines that?

43:33

So that the child Study team makes that determination, The parent is part of the child study team, but it, it’s almost it becomes an oxymoron sort of. Because you’re a part of the child study team. until you disagree with what the child study team, thanks needs to happen. So, if you’re sitting down in a meeting, and you say, listen, you know, I really think that my child requires a central auditory processing evaluation, because I think they have auditory processing deficits. The school district can turn around and say, You know what, We don’t think that that’s the case. We don’t want to do an auditory processing evaluation right now And they can leave it at that or they could say, But you know what We’re gonna do We’re gonna have the speech pathologist do some auditory processing. We have the test of auditory processing the taps test that can be done by a speech pathologist. Let’s start with that and see what happens?

44:22

If those test results come back and show either they, your child does have auditory processing, or the district refused to do tests that you think are vital and necessary, you have a right to ask for an independent evaluation. And you do that in writing. The school district has to respond in writing and tell you. yes or no, if the district refuses to do an independent evaluation and you need to specify what independent you’re asking for, whether it be speech and language or an educational a neurological a psychological, whatever it’s going to be, you need to let them know what it is you’re looking for.

45:02

They have to tell you, yes or no, if they tell, you know, than, by law, they have to take you to court to prove to a judge why what you’re asking for is not reasonable. Now. Sometimes, what will happen is you’ll sit down with the child study team, and the child study team will say, OK, well, we’re gonna do an educational evaluation. We’re gonna do a psychological evaluation, and you don’t ask for anything else at that point. That doesn’t preclude you. After those tests come back from asking for more tasks, or asking for an independent, school district doesn’t get a second bite of the apple if they only did an educational and psychological, And let’s say they only gave you one brief educational tests. They gave the woodcock johnson and they spoke to the teacher and they interviewed the parent, and that was it. And then with the psychological, they did just an IQ test.

45:58

You would have a right, after those tests are done, to come back and say, You know what? I don’t think you really tested in all areas. I want a more comprehensive educational evaluation, where you’re going to, you know, test written language, more in-depth. You’re gonna give the gray oral reading test, or it may come back, or you say, well, you know what? You gave an educational, and you gave a psychological, but you didn’t give a speech and language, And I think my child should have had a speech and language. I now want an independent speech and language. And the school district could come back and say to you, OK, we’ll give you a speech and language. But we’re going to do it. You can say, no, no. no, you had the right to do it. When we did our vows you didn’t do it. I now wanna done by an outside person.

46:39

Again, if they refuse to do it, then you then they have to take you to due process to show why they, They shouldn’t have to do it.

46:49

Wow.

46:50

You know, the idea that a parent by themselves is going to know what to ask for and be confident in, in that It’s a, it’s an overwhelming situation. It is. Absolutely. And that’s why a lot of seek out advocates. Meals, The Statewide Parent Advocacy Network is always there for parents. There are a lot of good advocates that they do a phenomenal job in terms of helping with that and an attorney, just for for advice, not because you have a legal issue with your school district. I work with a lot of families in an advocacy role because everybody in my practice has some background in special education. You know, one of us is a speech pathologist, one of us, as a social worker. We all have young children with disabilities, you know, a special education teacher. So, we bring a background in and can help advocate for parents who might not know what their rights are.

47:51

You know, I’m speaking, yeah, I’m speaking for myself here for just a second, but I had three kids. The first two were fine. The third one was the problem. So, with a physical disability, a medical disability. So, there you go. I had no idea what to ask for. All I knew was that, you know, he couldn’t run around and, Jim, I mean, that was how this whole thing started.

48:15

But it was just, it was a huge, a huge problem with the schools to begin to get familiar with the lingo and in appreciate what, you know, what you need to do.

48:28

Absolutely. You know, in today’s webinars like this, with individuals’ giving information, the Tourettes Association, does a great job in terms of having people, you know, come and speak on variety of topics. The Learning Disabilities Association does the same thing, the Psychological Association, and American Speech and Language. There are a lot of different seminars and webinars that parents can go to. There are a lot of great support groups.

48:57

And the best thing that I can say is to try and, you know, look yourself up with great people outside of the school district professionals who you have faith and confidence in. that can give you information. And help guide, you know, I, when my kids were younger, and I was trying to figure out what was going on, I was lucky. I mean, I did this as a living, so I knew where I needed to go, but I avail myself of, you know, a neuropsychologist, who I knew had a really great background and could really delve into where the strengths and the weaknesses were. So that I had, you know, a baseline and I had information to help me guide the school district, in terms of making sure that my child’s needs were appropriately addressed.

49:44

Well, I think it’s, it’s just, it’s overwhelming. Say, the average parent. And, it’s, it’s a little scary. So, I would like to add, you know, I think that that one of the best things that a parent can do, and a lot of times, you know, apparent. I’ll come to me, and they’ll say I had an outside evaluation done, but I haven’t shared it with the school district. If you’ve got information that’s going to help the school district meet the needs of your child, share that information, You need to be open and keep the lines of communication open. Because, otherwise, you know you’re not going to be able to help guide the school district, the teachers, and your child, in terms of making sure that those needs are addressed.

50:29

Yes. And that pertains to, you know, kids with Tourette also. I absolutely talk to families that they don’t want to, they don’t want to tell the school, which leads me to a particular question here. My son has T S is in middle school. And this ticks are being treated like their deliberate behavior.

50:49

What recourse does the family have about this, and would a 504 IEP make any difference?

50:56

Absolutely. So a 504 plan would absolutely make a difference. I think the first thing that needs to happen is training and understanding, you know, Tourette’s Association will send individuals in to do training with the teachers. They’ll do training with the kids in terms of having an assembly to just talk about, you know, what Tourette’s is? And then sitting down and developing a 504 plan that talks about how we’re going to address the ticks. Are we going to ignore them? Or are we going to let the student know, go out of the room if they need to? If the ticks are getting you know, incredibly bad in a certain circumstance? The 504 plan could talk about having a meeting at the beginning of the year with all of the students teachers to explain what those ticks are gonna look like. And, you know, what they should be doing? I find that, you know, having a 504 plan and explaining what’s going on. A lot of people don’t know what tourists Tourette’s, as they see. You know, individuals on TV that might have Tourette’s. 

51:55

But they don’t allies that it comes in all different shapes and sizes that it could be affected by anxiety. It could be effected by a multitude of things.

52:03

And I find that most teachers aren’t looking to be oppositional. They’re not looking to call your child out. They just don’t know they don’t have the experience. They don’t have the education. They don’t have the knowledge. So let’s give them the tools they need in order to help make your child’s life and school better now. If we do all of that and that they individualist still calling the child out then we have a bigger problem. And then we need to file a complaint with the school itself and maybe, you know, have that child move to a different classroom or had the the teacher reprimanded or forced the teacher to follow the 504 Plan. Because then that, that teacher is, is disciplining that child for a disabling condition over which they have no control.

52:53

Isn’t that terrible? It is, Yes. That’s horrendous. Yeah.

52:57

And in this day and age of not being able to do things in person, we can do things via vehicles like this.

53:09

Absolutely.

53:11

And it’s not just Tourette’s. I mean, there, you know, children with hearing impairments, children with visual impairments, children that might have autism when we do all different kinds of training, we have a nice with a hearing impairment. Every year, her audiologist goes in and train the teachers on how to use that FM system. And what we’re gonna do? So, you know, the best thing we can do is, provide our teachers or educators with, the knowledge and training to help meet our kids’ needs.

53:42

Well said.

53:43

So there is a question about: If the school district has a special ed, PTA, is it essential to connect with that group? I didn’t know school districts did that.

53:58

So, every school district in the state in New Jersey is required to have what we call a C-pac, which is a special education, parent, advocacy advocacy committee and it depends on how involved your C-pac is. We’ve got some districts whose special education PTA is really vibrant and robust and they share a lot of great ideas. We’ve got other school districts who’s you know, PT as special education PTAs. So, good. I would suggest that you go to a couple of meetings and see whether you like it, or you don’t like it, whether you find it to be helpful or not helpful, if it’s helpful to keep going.

54:39

If it’s not, then, you know, you can not go and find other ways to get your information, OK, we’ve talked a lot about public schools. Could you talk a little bit about charter private situations and, you know, in those situations, you know, who pays for testing, and do they, you know, have can, can they, do they have IEPs and 504 is and so forth, in that environment? So let’s talk about others in public schools here, OK?

55:10

So we’re going to talk about charter schools first.

55:12

So a charter school is almost an offshoot of a, a public school. If a child has a disability, the charter school is required to evaluate that child and develop an IEP.

55:27

If the charter school does not have the services that the child requires, the required by law to outline in that IEP, what type of service the child needs, and then they are actually required to look elsewhere for those services. It becomes a little complicated with a charter school, because the law says that the charter school makes the recommendations, but the public school actually pays for it. So what typically happens is, if a charter school determines that the child, let’s say, needs, a specialized school, because the classroom that they have are too large, or they don’t have enough support in terms of special education services, they take their IEP, they go to the public school, and they say, this is what we’re recommending. And then they work with the public school to look at something else.

56:15

If the charter school develops the IEP, then they’re required to provide the special education and accommodations and modifications in the charter school, whether that be, you know, reading instruction, or a resource room or whatever. It’s going to be, that the child is entitled to the same types of services they are as they would in public school. Private schools are a little different, and I’m going to limit this to private schools, where the parent is paying for the private school. Because if a student is in a private school paid for by the public school, technically they’re still considered public school students.

56:54

And they’re, they’re entitled to the same special education and education as if they were in public school. But, for students who are enrolled in private schools, where they are paid for by their parents, they are entitled to services under, what we call Chapter 192, 193, and under Chapter 192, 193 services, If a child needs to be evaluated. there, they’re evaluated through, normally, the county commission, and they’ll do an educational evaluation, and they’ll do a psychological in a speech and language. They’ll do whatever evaluations need to be done. But, then, the child is provided if they’re found eligible. They are provided with with what’s called an ISP. Which is an Individual Service Plan. They are not entitled to an IEP, and they’re not entitled to the same protections as a child enrolled in public school.

57:50

The services that can be provided through an ISP are limited. They’re normally limited to supplemental instruction. We used to call it trailer services, because a lot of times this would be done and parochial schools. And the teachers couldn’t go into the parochial schools because of separation of church and state. So we’d have these trailers setup and for one period day or, you know, two periods a week, The child would leave the regular classroom. They go out to the trailer, they’d work with a special education teacher, and they go back to class, they are also entitled under an ISP to speech and language services. There are other services that a child can get. Sometimes you an aide, sometimes occupational therapy, but that’s based on availability and funding.

58:37

Under the law, public schools have to count all students enrolled in their district, living in their district, whether they’re in public school or private school, and then they have to allocate a certain amount of money based on the funding formula to all the students that are in private schools. And then they have to allocate that money to the private schools. But it’s up to the discretion as to what that money is used for, somebody to choose for books, sometimes it’s used for aids. But the only services that are mandated are the supplemental instruction and the speech and language services. After that, everything is based on availability, so it’s not the same level of service as a student enrolled in public school.

59:19

Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, OK, All right, we’re just about out of time. And I think we’ll wrap it up with one more question: Do you good for one more?

59:30

Absolutely, OK, um, when would you recommend that a student be part of the IEP 504 process? And let me, let me just throw in, again, a personal comment here. I found when I was negotiating these things for my son, it was awkward. If he was there, that was just my personal opinion. Because I don’t know that he completely at that age understood all of these issues.

1:00:00

And it was uncomfortable for me to kind of broach them with not strangers, but these other people.

1:00:09

And, and I just was, you know, I was never a fan of bringing the kid into that discussion. And I think that it really depends on the child. I mean, the law says that, at age 14, the student is invited to the IEP conference, but the student doesn’t have to attend. And I think it really depends on who the student is and who the parents are. I agree with you. You know, sitting down and having a Frank discussion about the child’s weaknesses in front of the child is sometimes very uncomfortable for everybody around the child, and the child himself, because all their hearing is, the negative, and we’re talking about the negative, because we want to help the child. Not!

1:00:51

because we want to bring out all the negative things that child can’t do, but we need to have those frank discussions in order to have a good road map, in terms of what the education that’s gonna look like, What the accommodations and modifications. So, I really find that it depends on the child. I’ve got some kids who, at 14, want to attend their IEP conference, and they want to advocate for themselves.

1:01:14

And I’ve got 18 year olds who would rather you boil in oil, then go to an IEP meeting. So I really think it depends on the child and how comfortable they are. Sometimes what I’ll do is, I will bring the child in at the beginning of the meeting, just to let them say hi to everybody, and, you know, to ask them a couple of questions. You know, what do you like about school? What don’t you like about school? You know, where do you see yourself when you graduate? You know, do you think certain things are harder than others? And then, OK, go back to class. And now we’re going to have the rest of the meeting without you. So at least they feel like they’re, you know, part of the meeting for, that, they’ve got some say, if they’ve got something they don’t want to include. But we’re not forcing them to sit there through the entire meeting, which a lot of times, you’re absolutely right, becomes very, very uncomfortable for everybody sitting there.

1:02:01

Well, thank you, because I always felt that was the most comfortable thing in my situation, but I’m not sure if that would be for everybody. And I think kids need to advocate for themselves, so there’s no question, But I never attended their IEP conferences. They would have been that neither one of them felt comfortable to do so.

1:02:22

OK, then, I feel very vindicated right now. Alright, and I think, where, we’re just, a little bit over 8 30. Unless you have, so, we want to wrap it up with something very compelling at the end.

1:02:37

I’ll give you a few minutes, but I think we’re done with the, with the patient. And I just wanna say thank you for giving me the opportunity to come back. I always enjoy, you know, having these discussions with everybody. I hope everybody stay safe. And hopefully, we’re gonna get back to school soon, because this can’t keep going on. You know, our kids aren’t getting the education that they need and deserve, so thank you again for having me.

1:03:03

Oh, you are more than one more, one more than welcome. Wonderful, thank you so much. I’m going to go back to Kelly now.

1:03:13

Thank you for joining us on in this unique Q and A session with an attorney Stacey Greenwald. I hope you all learned something There is an exit survey, which we want everyone attending to fill out. The webinar blog is now open and available for the next seven days for any additional questions that we didn’t cover. The website is WWW dot N J C T S dot org, and an archived recording of tonight’s webinar will be posted to the site. We do have presentations in the pipeline, We simply haven’t nailed down a date, but we’ve got one in June and then several from August through the end of the year. Please keep an eye out for our announcements on knows. This ends tonight’s session. Thank you, Ms. Greenwald, for your presentation. And thank you, everyone, for attending. Goodnight.



Comments(14)

  1. JSchmidt says

    If a student is on medication is documentation required for either a 504 or an IEP?

    • S.Greenwald says

      There is nothing in the law that says you have to share that your child is on medication but if you choose to share that information it is usually included in the IEP and/or 504.

  2. KPringle says

    Regarding accommodations in college – what is typically considered reasonable?

    • SGreenwald says

      It depends on the student but as a general rule extra time on tests, testing in a different location, using a computer to answer questions are all reasonable. Depending on the level of support a student needs it could also include the provision of notes. It really depends on the level of support the college provides and the individuals needs.

  3. LNeilsen says

    I would like to know if a CST feels that a child needs a paraprofessional can the administration have a say as to if this service will be provided or not?

    • SGreenwald says

      Legally no but practically they usually do. If a CST is willing to put in writing that the student needs a paraprofessional then it would be near impossible for the administration to veto the service.

  4. SFlora says

    As a parent what if my daughter’s 504 or an IEP isn’t followed?

    • SGreenwald says

      You can file a complaint investigation with the Office of Special Education Programs in NJ (if you are a NJ resident. IF you are in another state I am assuming it works the same way.) The NJ Department of Education has on line forms which you would fill out. The DOE would then investigate and if the District is found in violation the DOE would mandate compliance.

  5. tleggio says

    Who determines how many and which tests will be provided to determine a child’s eligibility for services?

    • SGreenwald says

      It is usually a CST decision. As a parent you have input but at the end of the day the District can do what they want. If you disagree you then have the right to ask for independent evaluations if you feel the testing was not complete and did not test in all areas of suspected disability.

  6. lshadis says

    Please comment on school based evaluations for services under a 504 particularly a parent’s right to request an independent evaluation?

    • SGreenwald says

      If a parent disagrees with the results of school evaluations the parent has a right to ask for an independent evaluation with professionals of your choosing. The District does have a right to limit the cost to what is reasonable and customary. If the evaluator charges more than what is reasonable and customary you have a right to pay the difference. If the District disagrees with your request for an IEE they have to take you to Due Process to show why the evaluations are not needed.

  7. mmothersead says

    Who is the designated person in school that can see a 504?

  8. SGreenwald says

    Multiple people can see the 504. The Team that meets to develop the plan, which usually includes a Teacher, all of the child’s teachers and anyone else who comes in contact with the student where knowledge of the 504 plan would be relevant. The building Principal, nurse (if needed) are also individuals with access.

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