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2016 Breakout Session V
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Breakout Session V (Sunday, March 13th 10:00 - 11:15)

Ø 5.1 School Closings &Restructuring: Protecting Students with Disabilities

Presenters: Katherine Gladson, Esq., Ashley Fretthold, Esq., Verity Sandell, Esq.

Audience Category: All Attendees

Audience Experience Level: All Levels

Description: School closings have impacted urban school districts across the nation. The individualized nature of special education law is not easily reconciled with these extreme district-level decisions. State and federal law unquestionably require that the needs of the student drive special education services and instruction. However, in many cities, district-level decisions to restructure and destabilize large numbers of schools—including schools that are closed and schools that welcome displaced students—have not effectively and appropriately taken into account the unique needs of students with disabilities. This presentation provides an overview how this issue impacts students with disabilities along with strategies for representing students who have been or will be affected by a school closing or other form of district restructuring.


Ø 5.2 You Can't Make Me Go! Navigating the Legal Labyrinth of School Refusal Cases

Presenters: Josh Kershenbaum, Esq., Jason Fortenberry, Esq. 

Audience Category: Attorney, Advocate and Related Professional

Audience Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced


Description: When a child is unable or unwilling to attend school it poses uniquely difficult challenges to families and Districts alike. Excessive absenteeism is a significant concern for Districts because it can trigger Child Find, complicate eligibility determination and placement decisions and frustrate their ability to deliver services. In some cases, Districts have been required to fund residential placements (and to provide compensatory education and other relief) based on their failure to refer an excessively absent student for an evaluation or to address the absenteeism in an IEP. At the same time, ·excessive absenteeism wreaks havoc in the home forcing parents to choose between work and childcare and pitting parents against their children. This session provides practical and effective strategies for avoiding and breaking the educational and legal stalemates that so often arise in these exceptionally challenging cases.


Ø 5.3 When Access to Language Means Access to Services

Presenters: Caitlin Parton, Esq., Tere Ramos, Esq. 

Audience Category: All Attendees

Audience Experience Level: Novice / Intermediate.

Description:  This session included strategies and advocacy perspectives for Limited English proficiency (LEP) and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clients and Their Families.  Language access as an essential right for individuals with disabilities in the education process and the particular language access and communication needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as their parents who may have hearing loss are discussed.  We address the fact that many children with disabilities come from families where English is not the first language and explain the legal rights, statutes, and case law protecting both deaf and hard of hearing students and their parents, as well as individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), and how to assert those rights. Also explained are the most important laws and how they related to language access—Title VI, IDEA, ADA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.



Presenters: Catherine Merino Reisman, Esq., Sarah E. Zuba, Esq.

Audience Category: Attorney

Audience Experience Level: Intermediate

Description: Federal courts across the country are in flux over questions regarding whether district courts have the obligation – or even the authority – to hear certain disability rights claims asserted against educational defendants, even when those claims are grounded squarely on federal civil rights. Courts vary on the proper interpretation of Section 1415(l) of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which provides that the procedures for impartial due process hearings under the IDEA must be exhausted before filing a civil action under “Federal laws protecting the rights of children with disabilities,” but only when the action seeks “relief that is also available” under the IDEA. This session canvasses the state of the law on exhaustion of remedies and federal jurisdiction over claims against local education agencies under Section 504, the ADA, and other laws, and explore arguments that will persuade Article III judges to hear and decide federal civil rights claims.


Ø 5.5 EVERY Child A Reader

Presenters: Anne Treimanis, Esq., Sheryl Knapp, M.ED., A/AOGPE

Audience Category: All Attendee

Audience Experience Level:  All Levels

Description:  The ability to read and write is the quintessential civil right – critical to obtaining meaningful employment, staying safe, and navigating our print-based society, as well as a major source of enjoyment. Too many educators see a face with Down syndrome and assume that child will never be a proficient reader. Reading MUST be taught to ALL students, using the same research based methodologies – and delivered by the same reading specialists – typically reserved for students with LD labels.


Ø 5.6 Educational Advocacy for Youth in Juvenile Justice System

Presenters: Dustin Rynders, Esq., Hannah Benton, Esq.

Audience Category: Attorney

Audience Experience Level: Advanced

Description: Youth with disabilities face barriers to accessing FAPE throughout the juvenile justice system from: pre- referral educational deprivation; inappropriate probation conditions; inadequate services while incarcerated; obstacles to returning to community-based education; and implicit racial bias that impacts educational decision-making. Presentation provides cross-system advocacy strategies to improve these students’ educational outcomes and reduce their future court involvement.


Ø 5.7 Bridges to Cross and Bridges to Burn: Using Transition Assessment Data

Presenters: Ann Simun, PsyD, Sandra Dixon Shove

Audience Category: All Attendees

Audience Experience Level: Intermediate

Description: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As children mature, their answers evolve from the fantastic (“I want to be Batman!”) to the idealistic (“I want to be President”), and ultimately to the realistic (“I want to be an engineer”). Daily experiences of success and failure come together until as young adults, increasingly aware of their own abilities and interests, they focus on achieving specific educational or vocational goals. For students with disabilities, the question becomes more fraught.  A lifetime of challenges interferes with students’ growing understanding of their own strengths and abilities. What is an appropriate Transition Assessment?  Which tools, strategies, and methods are “age appropriate”, and will these provide the data needed to create meaningful educational and vocational plans?  What about students who graduate “on time” with a regular diploma?  An Advocate and Psychologist discuss legal requirements, methods of assessment, and how use data to create and monitor transition plans.


Ø 5.8 Implementation of Trauma-Informed Approaches in Special Education

Presenters: Sande S. Shamash, J.D., Marissa J. LaVette, J.D.

Audience Category: All Attendees

Audience Experience Level: All Levels

Description: Often, childhood trauma is not identified or is misidentified in special education. When it is properly identified, the impact on special education can be minimized, and appropriate and effective interventions are commonly missed. This occurs for various reasons including the fact that trauma can look like other disorders symptomatically, and that few school have staff equipped and trained to provide trauma informed interventions. The result is children who are suffering from trauma both academically and emotionally. This presentation focuses on issues involving childhood trauma as a disability and its impact on special education and the implementation of appropriate services and approaches for children with trauma histories that may be impacting their education.



more Calendar

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