ElderLaw News-The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Discipline and the Special Ed Student

A Justice Department report indicates that while special education students represent 12 percent of the nation’s students, they comprise 19 percent of those suspended or expelled from school.

The rights of students with disabilities are protected by both IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and Title II of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and they cannot legally be subjected to long suspensions or expulsions for behaviors that are manifestations of their disabilities. Research indicates that “reprimands, detentions and exclusion” are ineffective means of modifying student behavior and that long absences from school increase dropout rates, especially for students with special needs. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of unemployment and continuing economic dependence.

Students with special needs face a wide range of behavioral challenges. A child with severe intellectual disabilities may require concrete illustrations in order to understand a school’s discipline code. A young person with ADHD may be prone to outbursts. A child with autism may repeatedly bang on her desk.

As students with special needs have moved from self-contained classes into mainstream learning environments, they have often faced pressures that exacerbate problem behaviors. The transition from elementary to middle and high school can be particularly fraught. Through grade six, a child is likely to have only one or two teachers throughout the day, offering an opportunity to develop relationships and coping strategies. In the upper grades, though, students are faced with an array of instructors charged with evaluating them for credit-bearing coursework. They have tight schedules throughout the school day, and the flexibility of grade school has disappeared.

While there are many documented benefits to being taught — as required by law — in the least restrictive environment possible, a child with ADHD may find it excruciating to sit through a 90-minute algebra class, which can occur with block scheduling. With the introduction of national “core standards” and increased focus on test results, teachers sometimes find it difficult to provide the individualized attention that many students with disabilities require.

Funding cuts – at a time when the number of special ed students is ballooning – aggravate the situation. Affecting everything from teacher-student ratios to educator training to the number of school counselors on staff, tight budgets are making it more difficult to provide children with special needs with the support they need in order to flourish.

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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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