Special Education and Other Children's Issues

Individual Advocacy - Education

2015: “James” was about to turn 18 and the school was ready to graduate him even though he could only read at a 3rd to 4th grade level, had no concept of money, and was far from being able to live independently. The school said he had all his credits, but in fact his work was so modified the “credits” he received were in name only. The school had neglected to provide him with a meaningful transition plan DRC represented James in a mediation session with the school district. They reached a settlement, and James was able to remain in school.

2014: Mikayla Fahey is a high school student who was planning to take a Child Development class at her high school. When the year started, she was told she had to drop the class and couldn’t take part in any Career and Technical Education (Vocational) programs because she would require accommodations and modifications in the class. She and her parents called DRC. While investigating, DRC discovered that the high school had removed 5 other special education students from vocational classes for the same reason: they needed accommodations in the class. Further, the prerequisites for the class had been increased to include algebra, and the school wouldn’t waive this requirement, even if it had nothing to do with a class such as child development. DRC discovered that students were removed due to a NH Department of Education policy that had misinterpreted federal vocational education guidelines. DRC got involved and worked with the NH Department of Education to clarify that the guidelines allow for curriculum modification as well as modification of program prerequisites to enable students with disabilities to participate in CTE programs. The NH Department changed its policies to comply with federal guidelines, and Mikayla and other special education students were once again able to take vocational education classes.

2011: A student with multiple medical and developmental needs was stranded at a medical hospital as a “social” admission because her family could not manage her many needs, and the various involved agencies (area agency, school district) could not agree on responsibility for her care and education. The DRC attorney spent hundreds of hours negotiating a solution so the child could have her medical needs met and receive an appropriate education. The attorney was able to get the area agency and school district to agree to jointly fund a placement. When it was time to plan for the next school year, the school district refused to continue funding at the current placement, so the DRC attorney once again represented the child and her parent, filing for a due process hearing. Prior to the hearing, a mediation agreement was reached and the child’s education continued, including an agreement that she could remain in school past her 21st birthday in order to graduate.

2011: DRC represented a student with severe emotional disabilities that impair his ability to function in school. The school district refused to identify or provide “Nick” with special education services, despite having an independent psychological evaluation with a recommendation that he be identified for special education. Instead, he was repeatedly suspended from school due to behaviors which his parent and psychologist believed were manifestations of his disability. DRC intervened and convinced the school district to identify Nick as needing special education, to retain an outside behavior specialist to conduct a functional behavior assessment and to develop a positive behavior plan.

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Call Disability Rights Center - NH at 1-800-834-1721 if you have an education problem related to your disability, or apply for an intake appointment online.

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