Education

EDUCATION: PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

 DRI will focus on the following areas:

Keeping students with challenging behaviors in school all day and assisting them in making adequate progress in the curriculum.

Why This is Important: Students with challenging behaviors related to their disability need to be in school and in their classroom all day so that they can receive specially designed instruction from qualified special educators. An appropriate behavior intervention plan not only helps a student access the general education curriculum but it also is the foundation for a successful transition to the community and post-secondary work. Research has shown that frequent use of suspensions or expulsions has no educational benefit, is strongly associated with low achievement, increases the risk of a student dropping out, and creates a greater likelihood of juvenile justice involvement. The use of seclusion and restraint, especially when it happens again and again for long periods of time, represents a failure of the behavior intervention plan.

 Possible activities to accomplish goals

  • Provide students who have been suspended at least 6 days with technical support and advocacy assistance to develop appropriate goals and a behavior intervention plan that reduces the use of restraint, seclusion, and other exclusionary disciplinary measures, including the use of suspensions and/or the use of police for behavior related to the student’s disability;
  • Provide students who have been suspended for 10+ days advocacy including legal assistance to develop appropriate goals and a behavior intervention plan that reduces the use of restraint, seclusion, and other exclusionary disciplinary measures, including the use of suspensions and/or the use of police for behavior related to the student’s disability;
  • Collaborate with Special Education Directors of Area Education Agencies to create better oversight to ensure the compliance of schools with special education laws;
  • Train parents and students regarding their rights with respect to discipline issues;
  • Collaborate with the Department of Education, area education agencies and local education agencies to investigate the capacity of challenging behavior teams, including researching the number of students who have been placed on shortened school days;
  • Collaborate with the Department of Education, area education agencies and local education agencies to further improve state regulations regarding the use of restraint and seclusion in schools;
  • If needed, file due process complaints or state complaints (if systemic) for individual students and their families to develop appropriate goals and a behavior intervention plan that reduces the use of restraint, seclusion, and other exclusionary disciplinary measures, including the use of suspensions and/or the use of police for behavior related to the student’s disability; and
  • Advocate for the systemic training of teachers and other educators in districts of need through collaboration with universities, retired educators, behaviorists, Area Education Agencies, and the Iowa Department of Education.

Implementing transition plans that will enable individuals with disabilities to live in the community as independently as possible.

Why This is Important: Students with disabilities are required by Iowa code to begin developing a transition plan at age 14. Standards set by the IDEA have been broken into three categories by the Iowa Department of Education living, learning and working. The three categories need to be meaningfully addressed in order to successfully transition to life in the community following the completion of graduation requirements.

What DRI will do?

  • Provide advocacy and technical assistance to students who are in their first and second year of high school to make sure that adequate skill building and interest/work assessments are being done;
  • Provide advocacy and legal assistance to students from their third year until end of eligibility for Special Education for inadequately designed/implemented transition Indicators of an inadequate transition plan might include:
    • students not being supported appropriately under the requirements of WIOA,
    • students not being provided appropriate human growth and development curriculum as required by Iowa law
    • students with inappropriate BIP that do not develop work skills because of behavior,
    • students who are not provided voter education as required by Iowa law
    • students who would benefit with alternatives to guardianship and conservatorship
    • students who would benefit from benefits planning including the use of a PASS plan or ABLE account
    • students who have not had appropriate assessments or work experience opportunities and
  • Serve on working committees, developing materials and presentations on topics included in the indicators of inappropriate transition plans.
  • If needed, file due process complaints or state complaints (if systemic) with the Iowa Department of Education regarding inadequate transition services and plans;
  • Train students and their families about their rights under state and federal law regarding transition issues;
  • Collaborate with Special Education Directors of Area Education Agencies for better oversight to ensure compliance with state and federal transition law, and
  • Advocate for the systemic training of teachers and other educators in districts of need through collaboration with universities, retired educators, behaviorists, Area Education Agencies, and the Iowa Department of Education.

Expanding the special education knowledge and skills of Iowa attorneys and law students

Why this is important: It is important to build the capacity of the Iowa attorney bar for parents/students so that there is more access to more skilled representation in the dispute resolution process in the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). This, in turn, will lead to more positive educational outcomes for students with disabilities.

Possible activities to accomplish goals

  • Train attorneys and law students at law schools and other attorney CLE events
  • Provide technical assistance to attorneys
  • Attend ISBA Family/Juvenile Justice Section meetings
  • Provide training for DRI contract attorney on Special Education law