Tag Archives: Legal Advice

Special Parents Confidential 51 Michigan Alliance For Families

Michigan Alliance For Families.

Find out how the Michigan Alliance For Families, and other similar organizations around the United States can help you negotiate special education services for free.

What Is The Michigan Alliance For Families?

Trying to get help with the special education process can be very difficult, and potentially expensive. There are dozens of advocacy service businesses and legal firms that specialize in handling IEPS for families. There are hundreds of books you can buy. Seminars you can attend. Personal counseling services. The list goes on.

But did you know that some of the best help for negotiating special education services is available for free from your own State government? Every State in America has what’s known as Parent Information and Training Centers that offer help in everything from early intervention, to writing an IEP, to legal support, transitioning issues, and beyond.

Free Is A Nice Price.

Here in Michigan, the Parent Center is called the Michigan Alliance For Families. They offer parent-mentors… these are parents of special needs children… who have been trained to coach other parents to work with schools and get the help that their children need.

Our guest for this episode is Kelly Orginski, who is the executive director of the Michigan Alliance For Families. She explains how the Michigan Alliance came together, how the parent-mentors are trained and work with families, and how they can help. She also talks about what parents can do to help themselves with the negotiations, and where to find help from similar organizations in other States.

Links Mentioned In This Podcast

Michigan Alliance For Families 

Center For Parent Information and Resources – National parent information center site.

Find Your Parent Center – Directory from the Parent Information and Resources website that links to all State Parent Information Centers.

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Revisiting Episode 21 Special Parents Confidential IEP And The Law

Revisiting Episode 21 Special Parents Confidential IEP And The Law.

It’s IEP Season and we are Revisiting Episode 21 Special Parents Confidential IEPS And The Law.

Individualized Education Plans. IEPs for short. Possibly one of the most stressful times for parents of special needs children. IEP meetings are those annual events when parents meet with schools to plan out the kinds of help and services their special needs children are going to receive for the next school year.

IEP meetings are very long, sometimes taking two hours or more, and usually filled with terminology that can sometimes be overwhelming. Parents are expected to understand a huge amount of information and make decisions on what kind of educational support their child will receive in the next grade year. The problem is for many of us, we don’t even know how our kids are going to do from week to week, much less three or four months later, after the entire summer break.

Typically the schools bring in the teacher, the special education teacher, any school therapists, the school social worker, and the Principal or Vice Principal of the school. Sometimes the school or district psychologist will attend, sometimes the district’s Director of Special Education will also attend. There can be as many as ten to fifteen people representing the school in these meetings. It is very easy for parents to feel ‘ganged up on’ or intimidated, especially when there is often only one or two parents in the room.

This is where Attorney Advocates can help. Lawyers who work in special education advocacy and mediation are trained in all areas of special education law. They can be the parent’s voice in the room and they know exactly what the laws are in what the school should be doing for your child and whether your concerns are being addressed.

Our guest on this episode of Special Parents Confidential is Attorney Randi Rothberg who’s firm, Thivierge & Rothberg is a Special Education Law Firm based in New York City. She and her partner, Christina Thivierge focus exclusively on representing families of children with special needs, including attending IEP meetings, mediation, Due Process, and, when necessary, litigation in the State and/or Federal Courts. She talks about some of the problems that can arise when parents face an IEP meeting, how to prepare for those meetings, what to watch out for when you’re faced with things you don’t agree with in an IEP, and how to look for an advocate in your area. Randi also does advocacy work for issues of bullying in schools and discusses addressing those situations.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER:

Some of the legal issues Randi discusses are general, however some points, such as the “Parent Member in IEP meetings” are specific to New York State and may not apply in your State, or Country. Please consult a Special Education and Disability Law Attorney or Special Education Advocate in your area for complete information on your State laws and your rights.

Here are the links mentioned in the podcast:

Thivierge & Rothberg PC – Representing children and adolescents with disabilities in New York & New Jersey

COPPA – Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates

Wrights Law – Special Education Law and Advocacy

Special Parents Confidential 46 Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder.

Virtually everyone has heard of sensory overload, and sensory issues. People who have problems with loud noises, large crowded areas, tastes, textures, strong smells, bright lights, the list goes on.

Not A Symptom of Something Else.

For decades sensory issues were simply considered a side-effect of whatever the more prevalent disorder was inhibiting the child, whether Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Dyslexia, Multiple Sclerosis, and other disorders. However medical research has proven that this is a separate disorder, called Sensory Processing Disorder.  And there is now a push to have it recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – known as DSM – which is the official medical reference for physicians.

SPD Parent Zone.

My guest for this episode has first hand knowledge of Sensory Processing Disorder. Kelly Jurecko is the President and Co-Founder of SPD Parent Zone, a non-profit organization that offers a website that is full of reliable and credible information on Sensory Processing Disorder. She also hosts a blog and a podcast on the site where she posts articles and interviews experts on SPD and keeps people updated on the latest information.

If your child is having any kind of sensory issues, SPD Parent Zone is a website you need to bookmark and search.

Links Mentioned In The Episode.

SPD Parent Zone

SPD Parent Zone Podcast on iTunes

SPD Foundation – The Star Institute For Sensory Processing Disorder

The Sensory Processing Disorder Resource Center

Support Special Parents Confidential.

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Thanks for listening.

Special Parents Confidential 43 Special Education Rights

Special Education Rights.

For many parents of special needs kids, special education rights continue to be the main cause of concern and worry. Are our kids being given the right accommodations in school? Are the schools being held accountable for special education services, and who is supposed to be checking to see if they are? 

Further, with a push in this country to seriously consider doing away with public schools and instead moving into privatizing the public education system into a for-profit model, where does this leave special education and what rights will parents of special needs kids have if it happens?

What Are Your Education Rights?

Back in October of 2016, I attended a rally for Special Education that was held in Lansing, Michigan. Among the speakers at the rally was our guest for this episode, Kristen Totten. She is an education attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLUMich). Kristen spoke at the rally about the special education rights that the ACLU is working on to help our kids. I asked her to be a guest on the podcast and she agreed.

For this episode we talked about the current state of special education rights in Michigan and across the United States, how some states, like Michigan, allow Charter Schools to reject special education students even though they are required to accept them, and what parents can do to get involved to make sure the education rights of their children are being met.

Update: A Major Victory.

One of the issues we addressed in the podcast is the work that the ACLU of Michigan has done along with Lt. Governor Brian Calley in eliminating the use of restraints and isolation on children in schools. And I’m pleased to be able to say that within 24 hours of our interview being recorded, the Michigan State Senate passed the bill that ends the use of those in all schools.

Links Mentioned In The Podcast.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan

ACLU Michigan: Ehlena and Wonder’s Supreme Court Case

What’s Up With Lead Levels in Flint (Michigan) Schools?

ACLU Local Affiliates Directory Connect with your State’s chapter of the ACLU.

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Special Parents Confidential Episode 34 Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome. Myths and Facts.

Down Syndrome is one of the most well known of all disorders and disabilities. The common facial characteristics of Down Syndrome, along with certain physical challenges make the disorder easy to recognize. Yet, for all the familiarity, most people know very little about Down Syndrome and how it affects those who have the disorder.

Despite many years of progress and improvements in medical research of it’s causes, most of “what we know” about Down Syndrome is rooted in beliefs that are out of date by many decades. Often, parents who’s child has been given a diagnosis are told to expect a very bleak future, with many medical challenges, along with physical and cognitive difficulties for their child. While that can be true to a certain extent, in most cases the future for someone with Down Syndrome is nowhere near as bad as some people believe.

Fortunately many organizations across the United States, and around the world, have come out to help parents, families, educators, and even the medical community gain a better understanding of Down Syndrome and how it affects those who have it. One such organization is the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan. They offer a variety of programs and services to help and inform everyone who has interest in Down Syndrome. 

We’re pleased to interview Meredith Lange, Community Relations Specialist of DSAWM, who talks about the common misconceptions about Down Syndrome and provides the facts. She also talks about what life is like for children and adults with Down Syndrome and how most of the misunderstandings cause more harm than good. People with Down Syndrome can do well in school, can have successful careers, even becoming business owners and executives.

Links to Websites mentioned in the podcast:

National Down Syndrome Society 

National Down Syndrome Congress 

Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action 

Global Down Syndrome Foundation 

As always a reminder that if you like this episode of Special Parents Confidential or any episode we’ve done, please share our site with your friends, family, and all your connections on social media. You can do this easily with the social media buttons located right below this paragraph. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us on Google Plus, Tumbler, Linked In, Pintrest, Stumble Upon, Reddit, or other social media sites that you prefer. You can also sign up for our email service and have new posts and podcast episodes delivered right to your inbox the moment they’re available online. That form is located to the right of this text. We’re also on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIN, and Poddirectory as a free subscription and if you have a moment, feel free to write a review about our podcast on either of those sites. Anything you can do to help spread the word about Special Parents Confidential will help us be able to continue these podcasts.
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Special Parents Confidential Episode 33 Lt. Governor Brian Calley Returns

Lt. Governor Brian Calley Returns.

What a difference a year can make. In December of 2014, the Michigan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules was going to approve some changes to the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE) that would have severely impacted parent participation in their children’s education. However, during the only Public Comment time the committee allowed, Michigan’s Lieutenant. Governor, Brian Calley asked the committee to suspend the meeting and take no further action, because he felt that there had not been an adequate amount of time to allow parents to have input into the rules changes.

What followed next, in 2015, was an unprecedented listening tour undertaken by the Lieutenant Governor. He traveled around the State, holding public meetings where he listened to parents of special needs children talk about their concerns. These meetings were up to two hours in length, during which the Lt. Governor said very little and allowed every parent who attended to speak.

I was privileged to attend the meeting the Lieutenant Governor held in Grand Rapids, and had a chance to ask him if he would be a guest on Special Parents Confidential to talk about his efforts. That interview took place in June and you can listen to it here – Special Parents Confidential Episode 24.

In November of 2015, Lt. Governor Calley completed his listening tour and compiled a report summarizing the key points from parents for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who then appointed Lt. Governor Calley to head a Special Education Reform Task Force, which would take the Lt. Governor’s report and make a recommendations strategy for the State Board of Education. That report was presented to the Board of Education in January of 2016.

We are very pleased that Lt. Governor Brian Calley has taken time from his schedule to talk to us on Special Parents Confidential about the Special Education Reforms that the Task Force has recommended, and what Michigan families can do to help. Lt. Governor Calley also talks about a new project that he and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein (who I interviewed in August of 2015 – Special Parents Confidential Episode 30) are working on together, called the Hidden Talent Tour.

As always a reminder that if you like this episode of Special Parents Confidential or any episode we’ve done, please share our site with your friends, family, and all your connections on social media. You can do this easily with the social media buttons located right below this paragraph. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us on Google Plus, Tumbler, Linked In, Pintrest, Stumble Upon, Reddit, or other social media sites that you use. You can also sign up for our email service and have new posts and podcast episodes delivered right to your inbox the moment they’re available online. That form is located to the right of this text. We’re also on iTunes, Stitcher, and Poddirectory as a free subscription and if you have a moment, feel free to write a review about our podcast on either of those sites. Anything you can do to help spread the word about Special Parents Confidential will help us be able to continue these podcasts.
Thanks for your support!

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley’s Website

Summary of the Special Education Reform Task Force Recommendations

Full Report of the Special Education Task Force (.pdf form)

Information on the members of the Special Education Task Force

Information on the Michigan Hidden Talent Tour 

Michigan Senate Website – including the Find Your Senator link

Michigan House Website – including the Find Your Representative link

 

John Pellegrini Will Speak At The 2016 Kent ISD LEAP Conference

John Pellegrini Will Speak At The 2016 Kent ISD LEAP Conference.

I am very excited to announce that I’ve been invited to give the keynote speech at this year’s Kent Intermediate School District LEAP Conference.

LEAP, which stands for Lead Empower Assist Parents is a day-long six hour conference, scheduled for Saturday, March 12th, 2016, for parents of Special Needs Children in Kent County, Michigan. The workshop is designed for parents and providers of children with special needs to meet with area experts, educators, therapists, and other organizations who work to help children with special needs. Exhibitors, vendors and service providers will be on hand throughout the day to share resources and answer questions.

Many presenters at this year’s LEAP Conference have been guests on Special Parents Confidential and they will be talking in greater depth about their services. For my own Keynote Presentation, I’m going to talk about Special Parents Confidential, why I decided to create the podcast, and what I’ve learned in the three years that I’ve been doing these episodes. You’ll also have a chance to ask questions and I’m interested in hearing your ideas for future episodes.

Some of the breakout sessions during the day include legal planning for a child with disabilities, challenging behaviors: when typical parenting strategies aren’t working, caring for the caregiver, building communications skills through play, aided communication for early childhood, and much more. You’ll also be able to meet the presenters in the vending area. Free childcare will be provided throughout the day by the David D. Hunting YMCA.

There’s still time to register to attend the LEAP Conference. You can find out more information on the Kent ISD LEAP Conference Page, and you can register to attend the conference (cost is $15.00 per person) by Clicking on the LEAP Registration Page. If you live in the West Michigan area, I highly recommend you attend the Kent ISD LEAP Conference. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Kent ISD Leap Conference Page

LEAP Registration Page

LEAP Breakout Session Schedule.