Showing posts with label Special Schools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Special Schools. Show all posts

Friday, January 13, 2017

US Supreme Court ready to hear the land mark case on supporting Education for Disabled Students

Pls refer to my earlier post on  20 October 2016 titled 'US Supreme Court to hear ground breaking case involving what is "appropriate education" for students with Autism in public schools' . The Justices are hearing the arguments in the case wherein a school district refused to pay for private school for a student with autism whether federal law (IDEA) requires public schools to provide anything more than minimal instruction to such children.

A law dating from 1975, now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, subsidizes special education but also requires school districts to provide a “free appropriate public education” to disabled students. Congress didn’t specify what it meant by appropriate, and when parents have challenged public school programs as inadequate—often because they want the district to pay for a private institution instead—appellate courts have disagreed over the quality of education the law mandates.

The Supreme Court agreed to resolve the issue in a case from Douglas County, Colo., where the school district rejected a parental request to pay $40,000 tuition to send an autistic child to a private school offering specialized programs.

Neal Katyal, an attorney for the school district, told the court as long as the public school program was better than nothing, courts had little role beyond reviewing whether local officials followed procedures that the law, known as the IDEA Act, lays out for a disabled student’s educational plan.

“That’s what Congress had in mind, the idea that you’ve got to go through the checklist,” Mr. Katyal said.

“That’s wrong,” said Justice Elena Kagan. “This is not just a procedural guarantee. Yes, the IDEA has lots of procedures in it, but they’re all geared towards a particular substantive result.”

The justices likewise felt Jeffrey Fisher, a Stanford law professor representing the child, identified as Endrew F. in court papers, pushed too far in contending the law mandated that disabled students receive “equal educational opportunity” with other students.

Such a high standard could invite numerous claims forcing courts to evaluate whether a plan for a disabled child was legally equal to the opportunities provided other students, said Justice Stephen Breyer. “I foresee taking the money that ought to go to the children and spending it on lawsuits and lawyers and all kinds of things that are extraneous. That is what’s actually bothering me,” he said.

Much of the argument concerned the meaning of a 1982 Supreme Court precedent upholding a school district’s refusal to provide a sign-language interpreter for a deaf student because she was progressing well using a hearing aid. In that case, Board of Education v. Rowley, the court cited a congressional purpose “to confer some educational benefit upon the handicapped child.”

Responding to Mr. Katyal, Chief Justice John Roberts summarized the disagreement this way:

“You’re reading it as saying ‘SOME benefit,’ and the other side is reading it as saying ‘some BENEFIT,’” the chief justice said, prompting laughter across the courtroom.

The Obama administration has proposed a compromise position, and by the argument’s end it appeared likely to prevail.

The law should be read to require “significant progress towards grade-level standards, not as close as possible to grade-level standards,” Justice Department lawyer Irv Gornstein told the court. “And we think that this is just what most school boards are already doing.”

Justice Samuel Alito asked whether school officials could consider costs in determining an appropriate program.

Probably not, said Mr. Gornstein, who noted that the federal government provides about 15% of special-education costs.

“I think Congress took costs off the table in the usual case,” Mr. Gornstein said, except in extreme cases where extraordinary costs would yield little benefit to the student.

A decision in the case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, is expected before July.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

US Supreme Court to hear ground breaking case involving what is "appropriate education" for students with Autism in public schools

Dear Colleagues,

The origins of this potentially lank mark case stretch back to 2010 when the parents of a child with autism in Douglas County of USA had to withdraw their child from "Summit View Elementary" -  a public school  after the child (now 17) began to exhibit severe behavioral issues, including banging his head, dropping to the floor, disrobing and running away from school. The parents having been convinced the school wasn’t doing enough to help their son with autism progress academically, pulled the child out of Summit View and enrolled him in Firefly Autism, a Denver school that specializes in working with autistic children.

The parents have argued in the petition they submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court late last year that the intent of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was to provide a meaningful education to disabled students, not simply a “just-above-trivial” benefit. They noted that federal judges from several circuits across the country have issued conflicting rulings over the years on what is the "appropriate standard" to be used to assess the proper level of educational benefit a disabled student should get. The petition of the parents argues that this case presents an ideal vehicle for this Court to resolve the circuit split and provide lower courts with guidance in applying the IDEA.

It is pertinent to note that the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t spoken on the issue since the 1982 Board of Education Versus Rowley ruling, when it affirmed that IDEA guaranteed disabled students access to the public school classroom but didn’t address the quality of that education.

Even in India, we have been facing this issue of what is 'appropriate education' for children with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. While the government schools in India are woefully ill-equipped in absence of trained educators, lack of teaching learning material in the schools given the large number of students. The situation is equally grim in the private schools as well who charge a considerable amount in the name of tuition fee and other counts, however, have made the education of disabled children an affair to be managed by Shadow Teachers (paid by parents). In the name of inclusion, children do remain in the school but there is hardly an effort to include them in the classroom or the learning outcomes. Children with disabilities are also not included in play or extra-curricular activities. This is surely not inclusion. This is a clear violation of the spirit of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 and in particular Section 30 of the Act.

Entire world will be watching this case with great curiosity as to what Supreme Court of USA decides. But one thing is sure, Supreme Court had made up its mind to speak its mind on the issue and likely to grant Certiorari to the parents. This case is truly about equal opportunity for the special needs children that the law requires. And this is likely to help realize inclusive education as enshrined in the IDEA.

Brief about IDEA 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a four-part (A-D) piece of American legislation that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs. IDEA was previously known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) from 1975 to 1990. In 1990, the United States Congress reauthorized EHA and changed the title to IDEA (Public Law No. 94-142). Overall, the goal of IDEA is to provide children with disabilities the same opportunity for education as those students who do not have a disability.

IDEA is composed of four parts, the main two being part A and part B.[1] Part A covers the general provisions of the law, Part B covers assistance for education of all children with disabilities, Part C covers infants and toddlers with disabilities which includes children from birth to age three, and Part D is the national support programs administered at the federal level. Each part of the law has remained largely the same since the original enactment in 1975.

In practice, IDEA is composed of six main elements that illuminate its main points. These six elements are: Individualized Education Program (IEP), Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), Appropriate Evaluation, Parent and Teacher Participation, and Procedural Safeguards. To go along with those six main elements there are also a few other important components that tie into IDEA: Confidentiality of Information, Transition Services, and Discipline. Throughout the years of IDEA being reauthorized these components have become key concepts when learning about IDEA.

Here is the coverage in Denver on the issue

U.S. Supreme Court will hear Douglas County student with disabilities case
Origins of potentially landmark case stretch back to 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Thursday that it will hear a potentially groundbreaking case brought by a Douglas County couple who claim that their autistic son was not provided an adequate education in the public school system as required by federal law.

The high court’s ruling on the case, which likely wouldn’t come down until next year, could have substantial implications for students with disabilities across the country in terms of the standard school districts will be required to meet when providing instruction and services. At issue is whether schools must provide an education equal to other students.

The family, whose last name is not used in court documents, told The Denver Post on Thursday that they were “shell-shocked and giddy” about the decision by the Supreme Court to grant certiorari to their case, which has dragged on for half a dozen years.

“It’s about equal opportunity for special-needs kids that the law requires,” said Joe F., father of Endrew F., whose name anchors the Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District case file. “If we can change any families’ lives, that’s our goal.”

The district released a statement on the high court’s decision late Thursday.

“It would be inappropriate to discuss the specifics of the case while it is still being litigated, but the Court’s decision today is not a decision on the merits, and we look forward to addressing the issues before the Court,” district spokeswoman Paula Hans said.

The roots of the case go back to 2010, when the Highlands Ranch couple pulled Endrew, now 17, out of Summit View Elementary after he began to exhibit severe behavioral issues, including banging his head, dropping to the floor, disrobing and running away from school. Convinced the school wasn’t doing enough to help their son progress academically, the couple pulled him out of Summit View and enrolled him in Firefly Autism, a Denver school that specializes in working with autistic children.
“If he was able to show up to school and say ‘good morning,’ that was good enough for them,” Joe F. said of the Douglas County School District. “They weren’t moving his education forward.”

The family has asked that their last name not be used.

The parents, who said their son has made progress in his learning since attending Firefly, asked the district to reimburse them for the tuition they paid for Endrew’s private schooling. They claimed that the Douglas County School District did not do enough to provide their son with a “free appropriate public education” as required by the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

But an administrative law judge, a federal judge and the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed the district, claiming in separate rulings that the federal statute only requires that schools provide students with “some educational benefit,” a standard they determined Douglas County had met with Endrew.

The family argued in the petition they submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court late last year that the intent of the IDEA was to provide a meaningful education to disabled students, not simply a “just-above-trivial” benefit. They noted that federal judges from several circuits across the country have issued conflicting rulings over the years on what is the appropriate standard to be used to assess the proper level of educational benefit a disabled student should get.

“This case presents an ideal vehicle for this Court to resolve the circuit split and provide lower courts with guidance in applying the IDEA,” their petition argued.

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t spoken on the issue since the 1982 Board of Education v. Rowley ruling, when it affirmed that IDEA guaranteed disabled students access to the public school classroom but didn’t address the quality of that education.

The family received a boost last month when the Office of the Solicitor General filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to take up the case. It said that the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had set the bar — a standard of “merely … more than de minimis” educational benefit — too low.

“No parent or educator in America would say that a child has received an ‘appropriate’ or a ‘specially suitable’ or ‘proper’ education ‘in the circumstances’ when all the child has received are benefits that are barely more than trivial,” the solicitor general’s office wrote.

But Kathleen Sullivan, chief counsel for the Colorado Association of School Boards, said it would be better for Congress to clarify its statutes than for the court to impose an order. A uniform standard handed down by the Supreme Court would prove “disruptive” to what is today an individually tailored analysis and decision between educators, parents and students, she said.

“The disruption is in shoving aside more than 30 years of case law that we have in helping us understand what the IDEA means for students,” Sullivan said. “I think we would see a wave of litigation to define and apply that new standard.”

The district, in a brief it filed earlier this month urging the Supreme Court not to take up the case, argued that in passing the IDEA, Congress guaranteed access to public education for students with disabilities but did not specify what the level of that education should be.

“Thus, for over 30 years, this Court has held that if a State provides a program ‘reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits,’ then it ‘has complied with the obligations imposed by Congress and the courts can require no more,’ ” the brief argued.

But Jack Robinson, an attorney for Endrew F.’s family, said one of the IDEA’s stated goals is readying a student with disabilities for the workforce or independent living, something that can’t be achieved with a minimal education offering.

“There has to be a more heightened and robust standard than a little more than nothing,” Robinson said. “This case has the potential of recognizing that children with disabilities have a right to a substantive education.”

Source : Denverpost 

Note: This post is also reproduced on " Subhash Vashishth's Blog"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

No Teachers for Disabled Students in MCD Schools!

Dear Friends,

For me, this report means, all the efforts of RCI (Rehabilitation Council of India) are taking overseas flights for jobs and this brain drain is surely going to cost us dearly. The manpower trained at the cost of ex-chequer is not being used in India except in a handful NGOs, grassroot organisations and Govt. schools etc. Isn't it an irony that even today we don't have any facility of educating a child with disability in a mainstream school in a city like Delhi, forget about a rural school in Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal!?

If I correctly remember, in my earlier posts of 02 January 2009 and 22 December 2008, there was a proposal from Delhi Government that they would open a Model school in each district both for MCD schools and Delhi Govt. Schools so that the needs of students with various disabilities could be met. However, there seem to be no update publicized by the department nor there is any recruitment of special educators by the Education Department of Delhi Govt. This is no excuse and the Court is rightly shocked over such lapses.

Not only there is an urgent need to sensitize & train mainstream teachers about needs and abilities of children with disabilities but also the Principals, vice principals, Headmistress/ headmasters, Education Officers and supporting staff who often are found unaware about such issues. Ignorance can not be allowed to be a blessing in disguise for them. I have personally received messages from teachers whom I sensitized & trained at DIETs (SCERT) on Inclusive education and accessible school infrastructure, that their Principals / Viceprincipals /Headmistresses were not willing to take in disabled students and sending their parents to find admissions in special schools nearby. There is an urgent need to tackle such a trend among the senior staff at schools.

Appointment of Special Educators in all MCD Schools/ Delhi Cantonment Schools & Delhi Administration Schools will boost the confidence of the School Managers and staff to readily take in more students rather than discouraging them to go away.

Also the process of extending support to such students need to be made more smoother. Currently, as per my information, the concerned class teacher has to line up in the office of the District Education Officer to get the concessions and other facilities for the child with disability in his class while leaving the class of 50-60 unattended students. This is surely discouraging from all angles. May be the Secretary-Education, Govt. of Delhi needs to look at this seriously.

Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Advocate-Disability Rights

Here is the shock that nerved the High Court of Delhi :

MCD schools must have teachers for disabled students: HC
HT Correspondent, Hindustan TimesEmail AuthorNew Delhi, May 28, 2009

For 12-year-old Avinash, a visually impaired student of an MCD school in Jahangirpuri, it was smooth sailing from classes I to IV. But since two years, he has been stuck in Class V, as his promotion now is based on performance.

“What could he do? All four years he just came to school and went back and could do nothing,” says lawyer Ashok Aggarwal.

He is pleading in the High Court for a direction to government and MCD schools to appoint special teachers for differently-abled students. “There was no teacher in the school who knew the Braille technique,” Aggarwal says.

As per the MCD’s own admission there are 10,600 such students in schools across Delhi.
A shocked Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the MCD and Delhi Government to take immediate steps to appoint adequate number of such teachers.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Social Jurist, an NGO that had contended that 1,000 schools run by the Delhi government and 1,800 MCD schools do not have trained teachers for disabled students.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Explanation of the Education Department on creating Special Schools for Disabled Children

With that all the confusion over the newspaper report on the decision of the Government to open special schools for the disabled children in Delhi that I referred to in my post dated 22 Dec 08, Here is the clarification by the Education Secretary Ms. Reena Ray herself on the plans of Education Department to tackle the education needs of Children with diverse disabilities.

In nutshell, for me, the model schools will be a new name to the special school only. However, with one such school in each district which Govt. may call a model school and I would say it a Special School still, the educational needs of the children will be better looked after. Many children specially with visual and hearing disability do learn better in exclusive set ups for the infrastructure is designed for them and more individualised attention is feasible. However, they face socialisation problems while their social & economic rehabilitation takes place and society is not better prepared for accepting them as a part of them.

Here is the clarification from Education Department on that goof up:

Subhash Chandra Vashishth

Govt schools to make room for special children

Aneesha MathurPosted: Jan 02, 2009 at 0131 hrs IST

New Delhi As an extension of the Right to Education and Integrated Education schemes of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, 24 government schools in Delhi will be turned into “model schools” implementing policies regarding the mainstreaming of children with physical and learning disabilities. These schools will serve as “laboratories” and help solve problems of inclusive education through the identification of problem areas, and through innovative solutions that will allow differently abled children to study in mainstream schools using to the CBSE syllabus.

Twelve schools belonging to the Directorate of Education (DoE), and a similar number of schools run by the MCD, will be part of this project, Education Secretary Rina Ray said. “It’s not possible to blindly follow the model of education followed in the US or Europe. This will allow us to see what is required in the specific environment of Delhi government schools,” she
said. One DoE and MCD school in each education district will be developed as a model school.
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’s Delhi office has taken out an advertisement inviting 50 teachers for children with special needs, including visual and hearing-impaired children. The teachers will be posted in these model schools to enable the DoE to work out guidelines for expanding the integrated education model.

In 2008, there were 10,065 differently abled children enrolled in 750 Delhi government schools. Most have some physical disability or visual or auditory impairment. Some also have learning disabilities like dyslexia. “Most schools today have some number of children with disabilities but there are no fixed methods to teach them. There is too much diversity in Delhi and too little awareness or expertise as far as dealing with these children is concerned,” Kanta Kapoor, coordinator, District Southwest, Integrated Education for Disabled Children, said.

The model schools will have both the infrastructure and the trained teachers required to integrate the children with disabilities. “We are in talks with the Vinyas Foundation to create Building as Learning Aid (Bala) concepts for children with visual impairment or learning disability. We are also working out retrofitting and renovation plans to introduce ramps,
wider doors, specially designed toilets etc, for these children,” Ray said.

NGOs such as the Spastic Society of North India, Muskaan, Aastha etc, have also been involved in the project for spreading awareness and contribution of expertise to the scheme. The Vinyas Foundation, which introduced the Bala idea, has been roped in to create more such aids for these children. “We are thinking about getting tiles that indicate directions to blind students, painting scenes out of stories on walls so that children with hearing impairment can see the story that they are not able to hear,” the Education Secretary said.Under the proposed plan, all teachers and students in these schools will be sensitised to the needs of the differently abled students, through workshops and life skills education programmes. Two teachers from every school under the DoE have already been identified as in-charge of the special education programme.
Workshops were held last year to train them in methods to integrate children with disabilities. Sensitisation drives were also organised across schools in December to create awareness about the problems faced by differently abled children.

The “buddy support system”, where students act as the support group of a differently abled child, was introduced in Delhi schools in 2006.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Should we go back to Creating New Special Schools or Inclusive Schools?

Dear Friends,

Many of us have been reading UNCRPD day in an day out to understand its ramifications, impact on the conditions of the disabled people in India. We do believe it to be the only mantra to bring an equalitarian society so far as the disabled people of this country are concerned. The major thrust of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act-1995 and now UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)- 2006 has been INCLUSION.

So many of us have started practicing it too! AADI (Action for Ability Development & Inclusion) presents a remarkable model of inclusion though it is other way round. i.e. while they moved from Special School to an Inclusive School, we are expecting the Government Schools and other Schools to move from General Schools to Inclusive Schools. There has been lot of brainstorming on the subject and on issues that one needs to deal with while implementing the true inclusion.

However, during this transition period from Segregation to Inclusion, we need to tread cautiously! Yes, it is true that while such a system is being put in place, we should not close down the special schools. However, our larger aim should be to mainstream the education. The special schools might co-exist to meet the needs of those who might not benefit or prefer the mainstream or inclusive education for various reasons.

However, when such questions go before the Court of Law, A judge with a good conscience and intentions might not be able to do justice for they may not be sufficiently exposed to the philosophy of inclusion and UNCRPD. Also, in this transition stage, many of us may not have clear answers to all issues which might work across the dimension and diversity of learners around.

In such a situation, the most likely fall out may be that we might see Orders /judgements from the Court of law that may put the trend in the reverse order. I think that this is what has occurred in the instant case in the Delhi High Court "Social Jurist Vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi" where the Court seems to be ordering for creating Special Schools for the Disabled Children!! I feel there is an urgent need to assist the Court at this juncture to arrive at a more cogent decision in the matter which is in consonance with the UNCRPD, The PWD Act-1995 and the philosophy of Inclusion!

Here is the news items that appears today in Mail Today :

Govt to open special schools for disabled kids By
Praveen Kumar

In New Delhi ABOUT two lakh disabled children in the Capital can look forward to special schools with state- of- the- art facilities from the 2009 academic session.

The decision comes after the Delhi High Court criticised the Delhi government, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation ( NDMC), and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi ( MCD) for not doing enough for children with special needs.

The authorities have assured the court that they will open dedicated schools for physically challenged students.

The Delhi High Court had constituted a committee in October to look into issues related to disabled children and nonavailability of specially trained teachers for disabled students in schools run by the MCD and Delhi government. In its reply, the committee said the government would build 11 schools, the MCD 22 and the NDMC one. They would be named Rajkiya Samakit Vidyalaya , it said. The committee also informed the court that the proposal to build these schools was under way and the staff hired would be trained to cope with the needs of disabled students.

According to the latest figures, only 8,000 disabled students study in Delhi government schools, while 2,000 study in MCD schools. Besides, the schools have no special facilities for disabled children.

The response of the authorities came after a PIL filed by Social Jurists, an NGO, through counsel Ashok Aggrawal. The PIL said children suffering from blindness, hearing impairment and mental disability were deprived of the right to education.

Aggrawal said a three- member team had visited various primary schools run by the MCD and Delhi government. The teachers had admitted their ignorance about teaching disabled children.
“ The failure on the part of authorities to provide quality education, attention and care to children with disabilities amounts to violation of fundamental rights,” the petition said. Seeking a barrier- free environment in schools, the lawyer said the government should provide special toilets and ramps for students with disabilities.

The next hearing is on February 11, 2009.