Here’s What’s on My Mind – IEP, 504 and Special Education Advocacy


According to the U.S. Department of Education, there is no evidence that restraint is effective in reducing the occurrence of the problem behaviors that frequently precipitate the use of such techniques.6 As such, the repeated use of restraint may deny students with disabilities a FAPE under the IDEA. For example, the frequent use of restraint may suggest that current strategies are not effective at changing or minimizing the problematic behavior and that the student’s current educational placement is not appropriate. Moreover, students who are removed from the educational setting to be restrained are effectively denied educational instruction or access to the curriculum for the duration of the removal.

The inherent danger of physical restraint heightens the already critical importance of the IDEA’s right of parent participation. Prompt notification of restraint helps parents participate as informed team members who can work with their child’s teachers to determine whether the behavioral supports at school and at home, including prevention and de-escalation strategies, are effective.8 Moreover, when parents learn of restraint incidents days later, they lose the crucial window to seek needed medical and other care for physical or psychological harms.

The Education Code provisions on restraint emphasize FAPE and parent participation. Consistent with the IDEA, they call for schools to ensure that students exhibiting serious behavioral challenges receive appropriate and timely assessments and positive supports and interventions. Cal. Educ. Code § 56520(b)(1). They only allow restraint to control unpredictable, spontaneous behavior that: (1) poses clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the student, or others, and (2) that cannot be immediately prevented by a less restrictive response. Cal. Educ. Code § 56521.1(a). To prevent restraint from being used in lieu of planned, systematic behavioral interventions, schools must contact the student’s parent within one school day of the restraint incident and call an IEP meeting to develop or modify a behavioral intervention plan (BIP). Cal. Educ. Code § 56521.1(e)-(h).

Is Your Child Eligible to be a Regional Center Client? Don’t be too sure Regional Centers are giving you the correct answer!

I have had many people contact me who were turned away from the Regional Center, namely Tri-Counties Regional Center, because they were denied the right to even be assessed. Instead they were told by the “Gate-Keeper” your child does not qualify because…. insert one a few reasons, most often, your child is not severe enough.  DO NOT FALL FOR THIS TACTIC!!! The law states: Any person believedto have a developmental disability… shall be eligible for initial intake and assessment services in the regional centers… Initial intake shallbe performed within 15 working days following request for assistance. California Welfare and Institutions Code§ 4642.

Initial intake shall include, but need not be limited to, information and advice about the nature and availability of services provided by the regional centerand by other agencies in the community, including guardianship, conservatorship, income maintenance, mental health, housing, education, work activity and vocational training, medical, dental, recreational, and other services or programs that may be useful to persons with developmental disabilities and their families. § 4642.

  • If assessment is needed, the assessment shall be performed within 120 days following initial intake. Assessment shall be performed as soon as possible and in no event more than 60 days following initial intake where any delay would expose the client to unnecessary risk to his or her health and safetyor to significant further delay in mental or physical development, or the client would be at imminent risk of placement in a more restrictive environment.

§4646 ( c ) An individual program plan shall be developed for any person who, following intake and assessment, is found eligible for regional center services. These plans shall be completed within 60 days of the completion of the assessment. It is very important that you are aware of your legal rights and Regional Center obligations so that you can drive the process.  When the Gate-Keeper tries to turn you away, or engages in delay, delay, delay… you can ask for the Supervisor and advise them that you know what the legal process is and therefore they can’t send you away.

The Regional Center has no downside to delaying your process… they don’t really get in trouble, they don’t have to provide compensatory services or pay parent legal fees… the longer they delay you, the more money and resources they save. This conduct should be criminal in light of the reason the Lanterman Act was created: Welfare and Institutions Code §4433 indicates in pertinent part:

(a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(1) The State of California accepts its responsibility to ensure and uphold the rights of persons with developmental disabilities and an obligation to ensure that laws, regulations, and policies on the rights of persons with developmental disabilities are observed and protected.

(2) Persons with developmental disabilities are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and deprivation of their rights.

Saturday April 13, 2019: Meds or No Meds? Giving your child medication is a very personal decision. Many people like to weigh in on the subject, including teachers, principals, counselors and other school staff, especially if the medication is for ADHD. Certainly if medication is effective, it can help the student be better available for learning and require less consistent intervention from their teacher. At What Cost to Your Child? I have worked with a family for many years representing twins who are graduating from high school this year, Yay!!! They both suffer from severe ADHD, one has an IEP as there are other learning challenges as well, the other has been very successful with a 504 Plan and accommodations that have adequately supported learning. Both have tried various medications to help their attention and focus. The twin with the 504 Plan is very successful with medication and has no adverse side effects. The twin with the IEP has tried many different medications and doses. While the medication did facilitate focus, it also caused depression, consistent heart palpitations and panic attacks. Medication turned this very social athletic twin into a depressed kid who couldn’t function normally, but it did help the inattention. This twin and the parents have determined, thus far, no medication is worth the cost for this child when weighed against the benefit. I am very sad that two of my kids are graduating seniors and don’t need my help any longer, I am also very proud of their accomplishments and grateful that the one could explain to me the adverse effect of medication as many younger kids do not have the experience and vocabulary to identify these feelings.

Sunday April 7, 2019: Is it possible for us to learn to celebrate the accomplishments of others without feeling like they have somehow taken something away from us? Like Educational needs, we are all unique, each having our own strengths and challenges. I have never been married and though I consider every kid I represent “my kid,” I don’t have any children. I happily celebrate at the weddings, births and milestones of family and friends. I feel fortunate to witness such love and miracles. I also sometimes feel like I have missed out on being the center of a wedding ceremony or bridal/baby shower, experiences that many take for granted. I am grateful for those who share their kids with me, watching them grow, evolve and launch into life. On the flip side, I have never been awake all night worrying about a fever that won’t break, comforting a kid who lost someone important to them or didn’t get something they wanted and deserved. Special Education can be tricky. Parents see the services and accommodations that make up other kids’ IEPs and want all of it, everything that exists, somehow feeling like they might be missing out on something for their kid. I understand this intense desire and yet I know that having a million components and pieces to an IEP doesn’t make it better or guarantee educational success. The real key is understanding what your child needs at this moment to make the next step and then to be sure it is implemented with fidelity. More is not always better. Individually tailored, monitored and adjusted as necessary is the way IEPs are designed to work best. Don’t worry about what somebody has that you don’t, just focus on creating your path, in my opinion, life and education work best that way.

Saturday April 6, 2019: April is Autism Awareness month, also known as, Autism Acceptance month, but either way… April or any other month I believe we should all celebrate the things that make us uniquely us.

The Education system makes it very difficult at times to have unique needs and have access to curriculum in a way and place that works best. It is constant balancing act where the School Team tries to shape student needs to fit into programs that already exist. Very hard to get school personnel to think outside the box. Especially in small Districts where they do not have many special education options, regardless of the amount of money they have to create options. It is either general education with some push in support or shipping students out to County programs that are totally inappropriate. I have seen Districts take very high IQ kids on the Spectrum with needs that relate to Autism and attempt to turn them into ED kids, and send them to lock down County ED programs. Going from a middle school kid who has only ever been in general education and only recently on an IEP, to lock down. Why can’t they figure out how to serve the kid? It is after all the District’s legal obligation. The process can be very frustrating. Maybe somebody should remind Districts Autism Acceptance & Awareness is an every day priority as is serving all of our kids with unique needs. Happy Saturday all.