My Son

My Son

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Do I Have to Pick Up My Child with Special Needs Every Time the School Calls?

Do I Have to Pick Up My Child with Special Needs Every Time the School Calls?

When your house telephone or cell phone rings between the
hours of 8:00am-4:00pm on school days, does a feeling of panic or dread
overcome you, believing that your child’s school is calling?  If you
answered yes, then you are not alone. That time, when our special needs
children are in school, and out of our sight, makes our imaginations run
rampant. Seeing the name of the school on the Caller ID, makes our
heart stop, and sets our imaginations into overdrive.

Many times the reason for the call is to come collect our child with
special needs because he/she is requesting to leave, the school doesn’t
feel like dealing with them, or he/she doesn’t want to do the

Working and non-working parents alike are forced to scurry to school
in the middle of the day to pick up children for issues that the school
could have typically handled internally. These repeated pick-up calls
beg the question as to whether the school can legally require parents to
come get their special needs children before the school day concludes.

It Depends on the Situation

The short answer to the aforementioned question is it depends on the situation.   Your child has the right to attend school. Students can only be kept away from school if they have been officially suspended. 
Further, suspension should always be a last resort.  The schools should
always try different interventions to help your child before resorting
to a suspension.

Question #1: Has he or she been suspended?

The first question to ask when you have been requested to pick up
your child because of behavioral issues is whether he/she has been
suspended.  If he/she has not been officially suspended then he/she
cannot be removed from the school by the administration.

The school, when they call you for a pick-up, in essence, is
requesting that you voluntarily take your child home when there is a
behavioral situation that doesn’t warrant suspension. Schools are
required to provide your child with the necessary supports to benefit
his/her education, and schools must find a way to deal with your child’s

If behavior is an on-going issue, then discussions must be had to
find the proper placement for the child.  Schools cannot give you
conditions of attendance or even mention or suggest the use of
medication for your child.

A meeting is required

Again, if behavioral issues related to the disability continue to
persist, the school needs to meet with the parents and IEP Team and
determine the best course of action. School is challenging for special
education students and some would rather be at home than school. These
students quickly learn the behaviors that will get them to be picked up
early and will effectuate those behaviors more frequently.

School is the best place

The best place for a child is in a school setting with other
children. Calling parents for early pick-up is a quick route for schools
not wanting to deal with the underlying issues and causes. School
personnel and professionals have far superior training in dealing with
behavioral issues stemming from disabilities than most parents do.  That
is why school is the best place for your child during the school day.

Federal and State Law Requirements

Most states have enacted laws or regulations requiring that each
student’s school day be a minimum amount of hours per day, per year. 
 Under federal and state law, disabled students must be afforded the
same opportunity to participate in and benefit from instruction and
other education-related services that are equal to those provided to
nondisabled students.   The ironic part is that the school day is being
routinely shortened for students who can least afford it.

The 2 Big Questions to Ask

There are obviously certain situations where you are glad the school
called and you are happy to extricate your child that day from a very
precarious position.  Once in a while is fine.  Daily, weekly, and/or
monthly calls are not acceptable.  When you get the phone call from the
school requesting you pick up your child, immediately ask:

  1. Is he/she being suspended?  
  2. Has he/she been physically injured or harmed?
If the answer from the school to the two above questions is no, you
are not required to come running to the school.  You are not being
callous or un-caring, you merely want your child to be educated like all
the other students in the building.

Early Dismissal

Schools in the past have been cited for the early dismissal of
disabled students.  “Packing up” disabled students early, before school
is dismissed, deprives them of educational benefit and allows for them
to be treated differently than nondisabled students.

There is no basis for shortening the day of an entire classroom of disabled students. When I use the term “early” I do not mean five minutes, it is typically 30-60 minutes early.
Your child is the consumer, don’t let he/she be deprived of valuable
education time because its more convenient to get them packed up early.

Needs still not being Met?

If you have attempted to discuss these concerns with your school’s
administration or IEP team, with no resolve, your next plan of action
should be to file a state or federal complaint.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: I'm As Disappointed In Lee's Summit as Dr. McGehee Is About The New Commissioner

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: I'm As Disappointed In Lee's Summit as Dr. McGehee Is About The New Commissioner

However, Lee’s Summit Superintendent David McGehee made it known in a tweet after the board’s announcement that he wanted new leadership from outside the department.

“Chance to heal and regain trust is lost,” he wrote. “Shame on you @MOEducation State Board. Reality and perception collide with no surprises here.”

I feel the same every election.  We have the same people on the school board, the city council, the CAC, Lee's Summit Cares, and every other organization in this town.  We need new leadership in Lee's Summit.  We need a chance to heal and regain trust.  We will never see it, either.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fox school administrators book $1,000 hotel rooms for Conference |

Fox school administrators book $1,000 hotel rooms for Conference |

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Former Fox Superintendent Dianne Critchlow wasn’t the only one responsible for a costly trip to an Orlando Conference that cost taxpayers thousand of dollars more than it should have.

A suite for Critchlow was booked at the Hard Rock Hotel for more than $1,000 a night. The rate was dropped to $550 a night when six people and their spouses finally arrived for the conference. A Freedom of information request reveals that the current Acting Superintendent Tim Crutchley actually booked the rooms and the charges were approved by the School Board. The Board still voted to approve the charges that were well above the $110 limit for hotel rooms set by School District Policy.
We caught up with Crutchley to explain why he took an action that violated District policy. He answered that he was acting on orders from Dianne Critchlow. Federal funds were used to pay for this trip. Funds intended to provide professional development training for teachers and administrators. Instead six top school officials and their spouses got to go to a convention on taxpayers dime.
It seems the district has been hording the Federal Funds and had amassed $600,000. They used some of the money to send Critchlow, her husband and other administrators to Orlando.
District’s website:

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Fox C-6 Watchdogs: Critchlow Getting Invoiced for Money She Owes the District - UPDATED: 10/03/2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Fox C-6 Watchdogs: Critchlow Getting Invoiced for Money She Owes the District - UPDATED: 10/03/2014

This week's Arnold-Imperial Leader is reporting that former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Critchlow is getting invoiced by the district for money that she improperly charged the district. If the community wasn't already mad enough about the fact that she was purchasing meals and personal items using her district credit card, we now learn that she was double dipping. She was getting reimbursed for personal miles while driving a district owned Chevy Tahoe and filling the tank of the Tahoe using her district credit card while raking in more than $260,000 in salary.

It's really hard sometimes to even come up with the words to write after uncovering or learning about all of the things that we have so far about the misdeeds and dishonest things former superintendent Dianne Critchlow did while "leading" the district. She took advantage of the system in just about every possible way she could.
It's obvious that she used intimidation and fear to keep anyone from reporting what was going on inside the district. If you discovered things and you weren't an employee of the district, she sent you Cease and Desist letters to try and stop you from publicly exposing her misdeeds and shedding light on the problems and cover ups by the district. Her deception and obfuscation worked well in hiding the money that she was collecting both in salary and for items she was purchasing for personal use with her district credit card.

It was also reported in the Arnold-Imperial Leader that Critchlow had the district reimburse her for eye glasses even though the district was already paying for her vision insurance. It was like a FREE RIDE using taxpayer dollars.

What little trust anyone had for her should be completely shattered by now. Facts are being uncovered that are irrefutable and indefensible. People can't even make up some of the things she has done because so many of them are so egregious that they are just too incredible to conceive. As a person who was touting on almost every single document sent out by the district and on banners throughout the district how Fox was a National District of Character, she was far from being representative of a person of character.

I commend all of the teachers, staff, volunteers and administrators who have had to put up with the abuse and intimidation that everyone has put up with for the past 9+ years under our former superintendent's reign of fear. I've been told so many stories in the last couple of months and I'm sure that I will hear many more in the years to come as to what went on behind closed doors was kept from being discussed in public through fear and intimidation.

I certainly hope that morale continues to improve as new leadership gets hired and policies protecting employees are put in place. Bad behavior should result in eventual dismissals or demotions and hopefully fear won't be a factor anymore.

In order for an organization like our school district to truly succeed and excel, there must be that feeling of trust that everyone will always do the right thing and will always take the high road no matter what. You can't have people fearing for their jobs or fearing for their safety. They must be able to trust their supervisors, administrators and coworkers to do the right thing.

There must also be a mutual level of respect for everyone in the organization and outside the organization with the community in order to succeed. Otherwise, it will just be a job for many and students, staff and the community will suffer as a whole.

Our district has a lot of great teachers and staff and despite the lack of respect that they have received from Central Office administrators over the years, they have still gone above and beyond expectations and do what's best for the kids. I would like to say thank you for doing what you do every day despite what you've been through for the past 9+ years. I can see that things are improving albeit not as fast as everyone would like. We know it's going to take time and that there will be many challenges ahead that we will have to overcome and we will overcome them.

It's been very rewarding to hear from so many people who work or have worked in our district tell me that they are so glad that things have finally been exposed and brought to the public's attention. They say that many people have known for a long time but were afraid to speak for fear of retaliation.

I've also been told by many in the district that the start of this school year has been one of the best that they've had in years and that morale has improved quite a bit and that's a good thing!

Hearing those types of comments lets me know that all of my work was worthwhile and that I wasn't wasting my time as some may have wanted you to believe. I won't name any names but I'm sure you might know a few people who didn't want anyone to know about what was getting documented on this blog. <g>

I'm glad I could help and I'm glad that many people are now aware of what's been going on. Societal pressure is what's needed in order to maintain a certain level of trust. Most people expect people to always do the right thing but that doesn't always happen as we've learned here at Fox.

Going forward we need to learn by our mistakes of overly trusting those in charge to do the right thing and not listening to those that speak up and try to bring issues to everyone's attention.

There were many times when I felt like I was working on a huge thesis on how school systems should function as demonstrated by other districts and at the same time documenting how badly a district can behave because there was no pressure or oversight to do the right thing. After several years of not getting anywhere you begin to wonder if things will every change. Now we know it can. It just takes lots of perseverance and motivation. It was a lot like running a marathon but a LOT longer. It was probably more like running the 90 miles to Jefferson City on the Katy Trail but over and over again as the years went by.

As we move forward we need to remember and document what happened so we can put measures in place to keep this sort of thing from happening again in the future. We don't want to go down this road again.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Education Law Center | Bullying

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Education Law Center | Bullying


According to national survey results, bullying affects approximately 30% of students in the United States, whether they are bullies, targets, or both. Bullying may be physical (hitting or punching), verbal (name-calling or teasing), emotional (intimidation through gestures or social exclusion), or, increasingly, cyberbullying (sending insults or threats through electronic communication). Research shows that by creating a climate of fear and disrespect in schools and adversely impacting student learning, bullying negatively impacts not only those directly involved, but also the bystanders to this behavior. Those who are bullied are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide, while those who bully are at risk of other antisocial or violent behavior.
New Jersey school districts have been officially required to take measures to prevent and respond to bullying since 2002, when the State's first anti-bullying statute, N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13, was enacted.  In 2007, in L.W. v. Toms River Regional Schools Board of Education, which ELC joined as an amicus, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a school district can be sued for damages, under the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), for not responding reasonably to bias-based student-on-student bullying and harassment that creates a hostile educational environment. Relief under the LAD is limited to students who are targeted for bullying based on a characteristic protected by the law, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
Following the L.W. decision, the State created the New Jersey Commission on Bullying in Schools to study and recommend ways to strengthen New Jersey's approach to the problem.  Through its active participation in the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention, a coalition of advocacy organizations, government agencies, and service providers whose goal is to eliminate bullying in New Jersey's schools, ELC was invited to serve on the law committee established to advise the Commission.
The Commission issued a comprehensive report in 2009, establishing a road map for the legal and policy reforms needed to combat bullying in New Jersey's schools.  That report heavily influenced the drafting of New Jersey's "Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act," which was signed into law on January 5, 2011 and is considered to be the strongest anti-bullying legislation in the country.

Current Issues

Under the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, effective in the 2011-2012 school year, all New Jersey school districts must strengthen their standards and procedures for preventing, reporting, investigating and responding to incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) of students, both in school and off school premises.  In addition, school districts must comply with enhanced public reporting and training requirements, appoint an Anti-Bullying Specialist and Safety Team at every school, and appoint an Anti-Bullying Coordinator for every district.  The Department of Education also has increased responsibilities under the law, including requirements to investigate HIB complaints that have not been adequately addressed at the local level and to create and administer a Bullying Prevention Fund.
ELC priorities in this area include education about and enforcement of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, providing legal assistance in bullying and harassment cases, and expanding a pool of trained attorneys willing to handle cases pro bono on behalf of children who are bullied in school.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Legal and Appropriate Educational Programs for Children with Autism - West Palm Beach Autism & Education |

Legal and Appropriate Educational Programs for Children with Autism - West Palm Beach Autism & Education |

More children than ever before are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates that 1 in 68 eight year-old children has an ASD. This dramatic increase in the prevalence of children with ASD over the past decade, together with the clear benefits of early intervention, have created a need for schools to identify children who may have an autism spectrum condition. It is not unusual for children with milder forms of autism to go undiagnosed until well after entering school. In fact, research indicates that only three percent of children with ASD are identified solely by non-school resources. As a result, school professionals are now more likely to be asked to participate in the screening and identification of children with ASD than at any other time in the past.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) are the two major systems used to diagnose and classify children with ASD. The DSM-5 is considered the primary authority in the fields of psychiatric and psychological (clinical) diagnoses, while IDEA is the authority with regard to eligibility decisions for special education. The DSM-IV was developed by clinicians as a diagnostic and classification system for both childhood and adult psychiatric disorders. The IDEA is not a diagnostic system per se, but rather federal legislation designed to ensure the appropriate education of children with special educational needs in our public schools. Unlike the DSM-5, IDEA specifies categories of ‘‘disabilities’’ to determine eligibility for special educational services. The definitions of these categories (there are 13), including autism, are the most widely used classification system in our schools. According to IDEA regulations, the definition of autism is as follows:
(c)(1)(i) Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance, as defined in this section.
(ii) A child who manifests the characteristics of ‘‘autism’’ after age 3 could be diagnosed as having ‘‘autism’’ if the criteria in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section are satisfied.
This educational definition is considered sufficiently broad and operationally acceptable to accommodate both the clinical and educational descriptions of autism and related disorders. While the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria are professionally helpful, they are neither legally required nor sufficient for determining educational placement. It is state and federal education codes and regulations (not DSM-5) that drive classification and eligibility decisions. Thus, school professionals must ensure that children meet the criteria for autism as outlined by IDEA and may use the DSM-5 to the extent that the diagnostic criteria include the same core behaviors (e.g., difficulties with social interaction, difficulties with communication, and the frequent exhibition of repetitive behaviors or circumscribed interests). Of course, all professionals, whether clinical or school, should have the appropriate training and background related to the diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. The identification of autism should be made by a professional team using multiple sources of information, including, but not limited to an interdisciplinary assessment of social behavior, language and communication, adaptive behavior, motor skills, sensory issues, and cognitive functioning to help with intervention planning and determining eligibility for special educational services.
Legal and special education experts recommend the following guidelines to help school districts meet the requirements for providing legally and educationally appropriate programs and services to students with ASD.
1. School districts should ensure that the IEP process follows the procedural requirements of IDEA. This includes actively involving parents in the IEP process and adhering to the time frame requirements for assessment and developing and implementing the student’s IEP. Moreover, parents must be notified of their due process rights. It’s important to recognize that parent-professional communication and collaboration are key components for making educational and program decisions.
2. School districts should make certain that comprehensive, individualized evaluations are completed by school professionals who have knowledge, experience, and expertise in ASD. If qualified personnel are not available, school districts should provide the appropriate training or retain the services of a consultant.
3. School districts should develop IEPs based on the child’s unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Goals for a child with ASD commonly include the areas of communication, social behavior, adaptive skills, challenging behavior, and academic and functional skills. The IEP must address appropriate instructional and curricular modifications, together with related services such as counseling, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, physical therapy and transportation needs. Evidence-based instructional strategies should also be adopted to ensure that the IEP is implemented appropriately.
4. School districts should assure that progress monitoring of students with ASD is completed at specified intervals by an interdisciplinary team of professionals who have a knowledge base and experience in autism. This includes collecting evidence-based data to document progress towards achieving IEP goals and to assess program effectiveness.
5. School districts should make every effort to place students in integrated settings to maximize interaction with non-disabled peers. Inclusion with typically developing students is important for a child with ASD as peers provide the best models for language and social skills. However, inclusive education alone is insufficient, evidence-based intervention and training is also necessary to address specific skill deficits. Although the least restrictive environment (LRE) provision of IDEA requires that efforts be made to educate students with special needs in less restrictive settings, IDEA also recognizes that some students may require a more comprehensive program to provide FAPE.
6. School districts should provide on-going training and education in ASD for both parents and professionals. Professionals who are trained in specific methodology and techniques will be most effective in providing the appropriate services and in modifying curriculum based upon the unique needs of the individual child.
References and Further Reading
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Pub. L. No. 108-446, 108th Congress, 2nd Session. (2004).
Mandlawitz, M. R. (2002). The impact of the legal system on educational programming for young children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 495-508.
National Research Council (2001). Educating children with autism. Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism. C. Lord & J. P. McGee (Eds). Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Wilkinson, L. A. (2010). Best practice in special needs education. In L. A. Wilkinson, A best practice guide to assessment and intervention for autism and Asperger syndrome in schools (pp. 127-146). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Yell, M. L., Katsiyannis, A, Drasgow, E, & Herbst, M. (2003). Developing legally correct and educationally appropriate programs for students with autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18, 182-191.
Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, CCBT, NCSP is author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. He is also editor of a new Volume in the APA School Psychology Book Series, Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Adolescents: Evidence-Based Assessment and Intervention in Schools.
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