Sign up for a Special Education Workshop

The best thing a parent/guardian of a special needs child can do is educate themselves so that they know what their child's rights are as related to Education matters.  Attend a free workshop offered by our experienced staff. 

butterflies.jpg

Some of the workshop topics we could cover include:

1. An overview of Special Education Basic Rights 

2. Suspension & Discipline in Special Education

3. Transition Planning - Who, When, How and Why

4. The "Nuts & Bolts" of an IEP

5. Early Intervention vs. Special Education - The Importance of Turning Three

Please let us know which topic you would be interested in and we will let you know the dates/times/locations of future workshops. 

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

 

 

"Fake" Service Animals could soon cost their owner a fine or community service...

Murphy xmas 2015.jpg

Republican State Rep. Kim Ferguson of Holden is sponsoring a bill that would penalize those who say their animals are service dogs when they’re not. The proposed changes were discussed on Tuesday, September 12th and it is expected that Massachusetts lawmakers should swiftly codify into law.  

The proposed changes to Chapter 272 of the General Laws would state in relevant part: 

Section 98B. (d) It shall be a civil infraction for any individual to misrepresent a pet dog as a service dog. A violation of this section occurs when:

(1) An individual expressly or impliedly represents that a dog in his or her possession is his or her service dog or a service-dog-in-training for the purpose of obtaining any rights or privileges afforded disabled persons accompanied by service dogs, but unavailable to people and their pets, and

(2) Said individual knew or should have known that the dog in question did not meet the definition of a service animal or service-animal-in-training.

(3) It is an intentional misrepresentation and a violation of this section for an individual to take a dog into a place of public accommodation where pets are not permitted, and the dog is wearing a cape, vest, special leash, or other form of identification that states or implies that the dog is a service dog entitled to be present, even if the individual makes no affirmative statements.

(e) Any police or animal control officer may investigate and enforce this section by making inquiry of the individual accompanied by the dog in question and issuing a citation. Refusal by the individual to answer the permissible questions shall create a presumption that the dog is not a service dog and the officer may issue the citation and require the individual to remove the dog from the place of public accommodation.

(f) A person who violates this section commits a civil infraction, punishable by 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than 6 months and/or pay a fine no more than $500.

Click here to read the full text of the proposed bill:  https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2277 

Click here to read more about service dogs in Massachusetts: http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/your-rights/civil-rights/disability-rights/information-about-service-animals.html

National Suicide Prevention Week Sept. 10-17th

1604_suicide-is-preventable.jpg

What leads to suicide?

There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated. Conditions like depression, anxiety and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide. Yet it’s important to note that most people who actively manage their mental health conditions lead fulfilling lives.

Suicide Warning Signs

Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.

Here are are some resources to learn more about Suicide:

MA Dept of Health and Human Services

MA Coalition for Suicide Prevention

MA: Suicide Prevention Resource Center

When was the last time your child's IEP had a check-up?

To meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.
— Chief Justice John Roberts, U.S. Supreme Court decision, Endrew F. v. Douglas County Schools, March 22, 2017.
goals.gif

What is an IEP?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that public schools create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for every child receiving special educations services. The IEP is meant to address each child’s individual and unique learning issues and include specific educational goals. It is a contract, so it is a legally binding document. The school must provide everything it promises in the IEP to the student.  

What must an IEP include, by law:

By law, the IEP must include certain information about the child and the educational program designed to meet his or her unique needs. Here is a brief overview of what this information is:

Current performance. The IEP must state how the child is currently doing in school. This statement is based on data obtained from classroom tests and assignments, individual tests given to decide eligibility for services or during reevaluation, and observations made by parents, teachers, related service providers, and other school staff. The statement about "current performance" should explain how the child's disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general curriculum.

Annual goals. These are goals that the child can reasonably accomplish in a year. The goals are broken down into short-term objectives called benchmarks. Goals may be academic, address social or behavioral needs, relate to physical needs, or address other educational needs. The goals must be measurable-meaning that it should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Special education and related services. The IEP must list the special education and related services to be provided to the child or on behalf of the child. This includes supplementary aids and services that the child needs. It also includes modifications or changes to the program or supports for school personnel-such as training or professional development-that will be provided to assist the child.

Dates and places. The IEP must state when services will begin, how often they will be provided, where they will be provided, and how long they will last. This information is often broken down on a ‘service grid.’

Measuring progress. The IEP must state how the child's progress will be measured and how parents will be informed of that progress.

The IEP must also address the following areas/topics:

  • Participation with non-disabled children
  • Participation in state and district-wide tests
  • Transition service needs
  • Needed transition services
  • Age of majority

The IEP and your child:

The IEP should not be identical year in and year out. It should reflect where the child is currently. Goals should be reviewed and changed as the child’s needs and achievements change. This is usually done once a year at the Annual Team Meeting but if you believe the IEP is no longer addressing your child’s needs, you may request a Team Meeting sooner.

What can E.M. Curran & Associates LLC do for you and your child(ren)? 

After an initial consultation, we will perform an in-depth review of your child's most current IEP as well as the past two years’ worth of IEPs, any and all current school or independent evaluations, as well as any other significant records/reports/etc.

We will then schedule either a meeting, either in person or telephonic; whichever is most convenient for you to discuss our findings and recommendations. The cost of this service is dependent upon the age of your child and the amount of materials that need to be reviewed. 

Contact Attorney Curran to see how we may be able to help you:

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

Need a clean slate? CORI Sealing

Criminal-Background-Check.jpg

WHAT IS CORI? 

A Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) is a record of all criminal court appearances in Massachusetts for a particular individual, including arrests, convictions, dismissals, and serious violations. Your CORI report is a summary of all your criminal cases in Massachusetts state courts. CORI does not include restraining orders or other non-criminal matters. Criminal records can make it hard to find a job, get housing or have a good life. Even if your criminal record is old, ti can create problems for you.

There are ways to reduce the impact of a CORI on daily life. In any case, removing an offense from your CORI requires getting a court order.

SEALING RECORDS

Most criminal records can be sealed eventually through an administrative process by mail or by a judge. Most misdemeanors and felony convictions from a Massachusetts state court can be sealed after a waiting period. The general rule is that you are eligible to seal a conviction after a waiting period of 5 years if it is a misdemeanor conviction, and after 10 years if it is a felony conviction provided that:

  • You have no new conviction(s) (except for motor vehicle convictions with a fine not greater than $50) during the same period in or outside of Massachusetts; AND
  • You did not serve a jail sentence during the same period in or outside of Massachusetts, AND
  • You are not now required to register as a sex offender.

Every time you are convicted or incarcerated, the clock re-starts to add another 5 years for a misdemeanor, and 10 years for a felony. 

Contact Attorney Curran to see how we may be able to help you:

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

It's Back to School Time!

 

Here are some tips and suggestions to start the school year off on the right foot:

1.      Review your child’s current IEP

The IEP is the foundation of your child's educational program, so it's important that you have a clear understanding of it. Take the time to review your child’s IEP before the school year begins to make sure it still ‘fulfills’ the needs of your child. If you are unsure, contact the school and ask for a TEAM Meeting to discuss how the child has progressed and/or regressed since the writing of the IEP. Be sure that you mark on the calendar when the IEP expires and if your child is up for re-evaluation this year so that you can plan ahead and be prepared.

2.     Set up routines

With some children, just talking about the upcoming year and changes can help reduce some of that back-to-school anxiety! While other children, they would benefit from a clearly established routine to help alleviate their anxiety. You can even begin practicing your new schedule, focusing on morning and evening routines, and begin implementing them well in advance of the first day of school.

3.     Introduce yourself   

Make sure you introduce yourself to each individual who will be working with your child and not just the classroom teacher – the aide, speech/language, OT/PT, job coaches etc. Share with each individual, a “3-Minute” overview of your child. What are the child’s strengths, likes, positives? What are some interventions that work with your child? Share your contact information and willingness to be a partner and support in your child’s success in school. Be involved in school events such as Open House, Fundraiser/Community events, and parent-teacher conferences to help you and your child get a feel for the school and meet the teachers, other staff, students, and families.

 4.     Start a communication log

Keeping track of all phone calls, e-mails, notes home, meetings, and conferences is important. Create a "communication log" for yourself in a notebook that is easily accessible. Be sure to note the dates, times, and nature of the communications you have.

Also ask the teacher how they usually communicate with families. Do they send home a log (how frequently)? Do they send out weekly emails?  Find out what they are able to do and establish a clear request for that to happen regarding your child. Remember, teachers are busy so they cannot report on everything. You should expect highlights, summaries and when appropriate concerns.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss any school related issues your child may have.

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

Top 5 ways to keep children engaged during the summer...

Often a student will have some regression over the summer months. There are several things that parents/guardians can do to help with this... 

#5 - Active reading

Check out your local library for reading events, activities or summer book clubs. If you cannot find one appropriate for your child, set one up with your own children or a group of your child's friends. 

#4 - Active engagement

Make sure your child is still engaging in appropriate social interactions during the summer. If your child has skill sets they are working on, ask their teacher for some worksheets or suggestions that can be done at home. 

#3 - Active critical thinking

Going away or have a family member or friend not too close? Have you child write letters, stories and/or postcards to this person that requires them to use their writing skills as well as their brains to critically think about what to say and how to say it. 

#2 - Active bodies

Encourage play and time spent outside during the summer instead of electonics. Something as simple as a scavenger hunt or a bingo game based on items found in your child's usual environment can reinforce content they have been taught and/or just show an interest in.

#1 -  Active communities

Reach out to your local schools, recreation departments and children friendly businesses to see if they have summer programs and/or volunteer positions open. 

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss any school related issues your child may have.

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

April is Autism Awareness Month...

 Autism was first described by Leo Kanner in 1943. There is no single known cause for Autism, or autism spectrum disorder. Autism is displayed in many ways depending on the individual. It may appear as challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. Autism comes in many forms, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences. The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.

Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. According to the Autism Society, about 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder.

Goals of Autism treatment should include: fostering development, promoting learning, and reducing rigidity, eliminating maladaptive behaviors and alleviating family distress. Instructional strategies should provide structure; consider the social and sensory demands of each activity and environment; and apply strategies in response to the child’s specific area of need. The law mandates that specific academic goals should relate to the child’s cognitive and functional level, and the program should be provided in the least restrictive environment.

 

Call the firm today to schedule a consultation:

E. M. Curran & Associates LLC
10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, Massachusetts 01810

(781) 933 -1542
 

What does Endrew F. mean for your student...

On March 22nd the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Special Education students in Endrew F. V. Douglas County School District.  School districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress. The case focuses on a student from Colorado with autism and attention deficit disorder (ADD) whose parents removed him from public school in fifth grade. He was placed in a private school where he made substantial progress. His parents argued that the individualized education plan (IEP) offered by the public school was inadequate and that as a result the district did not meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) thereby, denying the student of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).  The parents were suing the school district to have the district pay for the student’s private school tuition. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the parents/student.

In delivering the opinion on behalf of the unanimous  Court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in relevant part, “when all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing ‘merely more than de minimis’ progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all.” The importance of this case means that schools and their districts need to be held to a higher standard than currently exists. In addition, Roberts stated in the opinion, “a child’s education program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances, just as advancement from grade to grade is appropriately ambitious for most children in the regular classroom… the goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging in objectives.”

In light of this decision, parents, guardians and advocates need to evaluate the adequacy of a student’s IEP based on the “unique circumstances of the child for whom it was created.” More should be expected of schools and their districts. Every child, whether they have a disability or not, should be provided a meaningful education so that they may reach their full potential and live lives as independent as possible based on their unique abilities.

Call the firm today to schedule a consultation:

E. M. Curran & Associates LLC
10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, Massachusetts 01810
(781) 933 -1542

How to Choose an Education Attorney

There have been many recent changes in the U.S. Department of Education, most notably the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. DeVos’ background does not include any studies or work experience in the field of Education. Ms. Devos’ education experience comes from being a political activist. She has publicly promoted ‘educational choice’ for families in the form of school vouchers. For further information on her interview please review the interview’s transcript.

Additionally, there have been significant changes to the U.S. Department of Education’s website since Ms. Devos’s appointment. The most relevant changes have been to the Laws and Guidance section which has seen the removal and/or replacement of several areas such as the guidance links for the IDEA.

It is important now, more than ever, to have an Education attorney/advocate that you can consult with and turn to when issues arise regarding a student’s right to special education services, gender equality, and a safe and welcoming school environment. You should consider many factors when selecting an attorney, including the following:

  • The attorney’s experience in school law.
  • The attorney’s experience and knowledge of education practices in the classroom.
  • The attorney’s experience and knowledge of working with students with special needs.
  • The attorney’s willingness to play a dual role as a guide you from the sidelines, when needed, and as a zealous and vocal advocate , when more deliberate negotiations are needed.
  • The attorney’s fee structure, whether the fee is the same for any time of day and whether it includes all of the necessary support services.

Call the firm today to schedule a consultation:

E. M. Curran & Associates LLC
10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, Massachusetts 01810
(781) 933 -1542