specialeducation

OSPI complaints for students not receiving IEP services during COVID-19

We are passing this information along in the public interest, to inform our state about problems families are experiencing.

Disability and youth rights organizations are mobilizing parents to fill out and file citizen’s complaints with OSPI and their school districts.  If you know of students who have not been receiving special education and related services during the school closure, or who cannot access the education offered during the closure, please feel free to share the template below for an OSPI citizen complaint.  The template requests compensatory education for individual students as well as districtwide plans to ensure that all students will receive appropriate services next school year.
   

The template below is intended to be easy for parents to fill out with their student-specific details, without the need to hire an attorney. OSPI’s website provides more information  about how to file an OSPI citizen’s complaint on your own here.

Disability and youth rights organizations have asked that citizen’s complaints be filed on the same day: June 12th.  But if you cannot file by this date, and you want to file a citizen’s complaint to remedy loss of educational services during the COVID-19 closures, you should file one when you can.

Again, OSPI does not require that Parents use an attorney to file a citizen’s complaint.  Cassady Mineiro, PLLC is providing this information as a service to the community and is not providing legal advice. Use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Cassady Mineiro, PLLC.

specialeducation

Special Education and Coronavirus

All public and private K-12 schools in Washington will be closed until April 24th to slow the spread of Coronavirus in Washington state. Where does this leave the approximately 143,000 students in our state that receive special education services?  

*These are challenging times for the disability community. We will continue to monitor the evolving situation and post updates if there are any changes.

Will my child still receive IEP services when our school is closed?
According to the state and federal government, if the school is not providing instruction to all students during the shutdown, then it is not required to provide special education services. WA state is asking schools to consider special education needs on a case-by-case basis to address health and safety needs of students with disabilities.

If the schools continue providing instruction to students, then they must provide services to students on IEPs. Schools are not permitted to deny all services to students with IEPs then offer compensatory services later.

Will my child receive exactly the same services as they were receiving at school? The guidance from the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) states there may be exceptional circumstances or an inability to provide services during school closures, and that IEP teams will have to address compensatory services or Extended School Year (ESY) services when school resumes. Students with special health care needs must have those needs addressed on a case-by-case basis. 


OSPI has indicated that the Special Education Technology Center, an IDEA funded state needs project, will be providing technical assistance to schools. Districts are being asked to consider accessible technology, small group instruction with access to nondisabled peers, and instructional phone calls.  There is no prohibition on providing related services to students on a case-by-case basis, as long as social distancing methods are observed.


Does my school still have to hold IEP and evaluation meetings? 
There is no prohibition on having IEP and evaluation meetings at school, and individual evaluations. While schools are being asked to consider holding video conference meetings, there is no ban on having the meetings in person.


How will this affect state citizen’s complaints and due process hearings? OSPI is not waiving IDEA dispute resolution options and timelines. They may consider whether “extenuating circumstances” necessitate changes in activities and timelines, and will document and share them with involved parties.

What if my child is placed in a Non Public Agency (NPA?) Districts and NPAs are expected to work together to provide learning resources and support during school closure. 


We have heard of school districts beginning to communicate to parents that they will not make payments to the NPA during school closure. OSPI is communicating to districts that they must refer to their contracts with NPAs, and that safety net eligibility will still apply to payments made during school closure.


What if my child is placed at a residential facility out of state?
If the out-of-state NPA is closing, then the school district and NPA are responsible for ensuring the safety of the student. The school district and NPA must contact the family and arrange for the safest and most reasonable method of transportation back to Washington if needed.
If the out-of-state NPA remains open, then it should continue providing services to the student and communicate its plans to the school district, according to OSPI. 


Do the IDEA and disability civil rights law still apply?
All federal and state laws governing special education and the rights of students with disabilities still apply, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Want to learn more? Read the U.S. Department of Education guidelines here. Read the OSPI guidelines here.

Questions? Schedule a consultation with us at http://www.cass.law or call at (206) 452-5665.

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Ninth Circuit Win

Charlotte Cassady and Nicholle Mineiro won an important victory for the rights of youth to receive FAPE in residential treatment centers. Edmonds School District v. A.T. solidified the right to receive related services in mental health under IDEA. Read the decision here. Watch the oral argument here.
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Diana Lafornara earns COPAA Advanced Advocate Training Certificate

Cassady Law paralegal and education advocate Diana Lafornara has earned an Advanced Advocate Training Certificate from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). This certificate is only open to experienced advocates. This is the first year this certificate has been offered by COPAA and is the highest-level certification offered by COPAA for non-attorney advocates. Diana earned this certificate while attending the 2018 COPAA national conference in Monterey, California. Also in attendance at the conference were Cassady Law attorneys Nicholle Mineiro and Christine Porter.

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Cassady Law Welcomes C. Christine Porter

Cassady Law PLLC is proud to announce the addition of C. Christine Porter, Attorney at Law, to the firm. Christine brings a wide variety of experience to the firm including experience in employment law and a long history of volunteering in the disability and special education advocacy community.

Christine earned her law degree from the University of Washington Law School. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Hunter College and a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Washington.

For Christine’s bio, click here.

C. Christine Porter, Attorney

C. Christine Porter, Attorney at Law

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Victory: Federal Court Decision on Residential Placement

Cassady Law received a favorable ruling from the Western District of Washington on a residential placement case on November 7, 2017. This ruling will affect many students with profound mental health needs and other disabilities who need to be placed in residential treatment schools in order to receive a free appropriate public education in a therapeutic setting. Our firm prevailed in a due process hearing for our clients, and the school district appealed in federal court seeking to overturn the decision. Judge Lasnik wrote, “Having failed to provide an appropriate public education from which [the Student] could derive any educational benefit, the district is financially responsible for the appropriate residential placement the parents were forced to find on their own.”  Edmonds School District v. A.T., Western District of Washington C16-1500 RSL (November 7, 2017).