Recent News

9/13/2018

How to Organize Your Child’s IEP Binder

Making an IEP binder is a great way to keep information organized and at the ready when you need it. An IEP binder can help you prepare for IEP meetings and stay up to date on your child’s progress. This powerful tool can also help you communicate and collaborate with teachers and your child’s IEP team. Here’s what you need to get started:

  • A three-ring binder
  • Six tabbed section dividers
  • A three-hole punch

Our friends at Understood have created a pretty cool system and have made all of the parts easy to download.

You can read the entire article, watch a video about how it works and grab the pages here: https://u.org/2QqfCfD.

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8/27/2018

Tennessee Special Education Framework Updated


Several years ago, the TN Department of Education (TDOE) developed the first Special Education Framework and has continuously garnered feedback from educators on how to improve the framework in order to be most useful to teachers as they support students with disabilities.
In August 2018, TDOE shared the revised Special Education Framework at the special education directors' conference. The purpose of the framework is to support educators in writing instructionally appropriate IEPs. The framework is organized into two sections:
- General information about special education
- Writing IEPs
The framework has been updated to include best practices and tips for writing instructionally appropriate IEPs, alongside IDEA requirements. Other improvements include a component on the development of writing short-term objectives, additional clarification around service delivery, best practices in transition planning, and links to eligibility resources for the IEP team.
You can download a PDF of the August 2018 version of the Tennessee Special Education Framework here.

STEP's series of "on demand" inclusion webinars -- which aligns nicely with the Tennessee Special Education Framework -- is available here.

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8/23/2018

The Law of the Land in the 6th Circuit Makes Education Better for All

On August 20, 2018, parents, who are COPAA members, received an overwhelming victory in a swiftly delivered opinion from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in L.H. v. Hamilton Cty. Dept. of Educ., regarding their child’s right to be educated in his least restrictive environment (LRE), a decision which the school district’s counsel referred to at oral argument as “arguably the most important special education case heard by the Sixth Circuit in the past thirty-five years.”

The Sixth Circuit’s opinion affirmed the district court decision finding that the school district violated IDEA when it demanded that a second-grade student with Down syndrome be removed from his general education classroom in his neighborhood school to a segregated special education classroom comprised solely of children with disabilities at another school.  Rejecting the school district’s argument that L.H. could receive a more “meaningful educational benefit” from placement in the special education classroom at the separate school, the Sixth Circuit reiterated that the LRE is a “separate and different” measure than that of “substantive educational benefits” and that, “in some cases, a placement which may be considered better for academic reasons may not be appropriate because of the failure to provide for mainstreaming.” 

The Sixth Circuit then cited the Supreme Court’s recent Endrew F. decision which measures for “appropriate progress based on the unique circumstances of the child for whom it was created” in affirming the district court’s holding that, “What the IDEA implies, the case law makes explicit: a child need not master the general-education curriculum for mainstreaming to remain a viable option.  Rather, the appropriate yardstick is whether the child, with appropriate supplemental aides and services, can make progress toward the IEP’s goals in the regular education setting.” 

Additionally, in a stern condemnation of the school district’s actions in violating L.H.’s right to be educated his LRE, the Sixth Circuit stated that the school district’s approach “is the type of approach that the IDEA was designed to remedy, not encourage or protect.”  The Sixth Circuit further explained that “these actions at Normal Park [L.H.’s zoned school] do not demonstrate a failure of mainstreaming as a concept, but a failure of L.H.’s teachers and the other HCDE staff to properly engage in the process of mainstreaming L.H. rather than isolating and removing him when the situation became challenging.”

After affirming the district court’s decision with respect to L.H.’s LRE, the Sixth Circuit then addressed the parents’ right to reimbursement for his private education at the Montessori school where L.H. was educated alongside his typically developing same-age peers in the general education classroom for the past five years while litigation was pending.  Relying in large part on the contributions of the parents’ expert, and COPAA member, Dr. Kathleen Whitbread, the Sixth Circuit found that while the Montessori method is not as “structured” as public school, at the Montessori school L.H. was included in the general education classroom with his non-disabled peers, received personalized curriculum, and a paraprofessional dedicated to him, such that he was working well with instructional support and making academic progress.  Accordingly, the Sixth Circuit held that L.H.’s private school meet the standard for reimbursement under IDEA because even though it did not replicate all of the public school’s standards, it met Endrew F.’s requirement that it be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress in light of the child’s circumstances.”  Therefore, the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s decision denying reimbursement to the parents and remanded the case back to the district court to determine the appropriate amount of reimbursement.

Yesterday's decision clearly supports the argument made in the amicus brief COPAA filed in January. This was a tremendous victory on behalf of children with disabilities who strive to be educated in their general education classroom, as well as for COPAA members Justin Gilbert and Jessica Salonus, who tried the case below, and whom COPAA supported by filing an amicus brief on behalf of the parents.  

Read the 6th Circuit decision in L.H., et al. v. Hamilton Cty. Dep’t of Educ

Information provided by Jessica Salonus - Consulting Attorney, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) 

Jessica has been an active member of COPAA for a number of years prior to recently joining COPAA as a contractual attorney.  She graduated with honors with a degree in Management from Louisiana State University and with honors from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law with her law degree, where she was also the Managing Editor of the Law Review. 

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8/13/2018

Just in time for BACK TO SCHOOL – Information Guides Parents Can Use!

Cupcake image

Parent involvement in education is like the frosting on a cupcake, it makes it complete and oh so sweet.      

To be involved, parents and family members need information. STEP, Inc. collaborated with the Tennessee Department of Education on new information guides that families can use to become informed, empowered, and engaged in their child’s education.

The Tennessee “Say Dyslexia” law requires school districts to screen all students for characteristics of dyslexia. The new Dyslexia Overview for Parents one-page guide includes information about the  law, school obligations, the screening process, tips for parents, and resources.  The “Say Dyslexia” Law Overview for School Districts provides requirements of the “Say Dyslexia” law, universal screening process summary, continuum of programming, and resources

   

Dyslexia Overview for Parents

   

"Say Dyslexia" Law - Overview for School Districts

This Quick Guide to Parent Rights and Responsibilities in Special Education is an overview of some of the provisions of special education. It is designed  to assist families in understanding their rights and responsibilities in the special education process. Parents of children who receive or may be eligible for special education services have rights under both the TN Rule 0520-01-09 and The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA 2014). An important part of these laws provides parents with the right to participate in their children’s education.

Quick Guide to Parents Rights and Responsibilities in Special Education

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What can you do with the information in these Information Guides?

Prepare questions you have for your next IEP team meeting. Ask your child’s teacher how your child is doing in reading compared to their peers. Share the guides with families, administrators, and educators

Please contact a member of the STEP Team if we can be of assistance in understanding your rights.

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8/6/2018

STEP lanza la Capacitación Virtual sobre Educación Especial en Español



Familias en Tennessee ya tenemos el taller de Derechos Básicos en Español disponible en DVD, si no puede asistir a un taller, contáctenos al 1-800-975-2919 y se lo enviaremos por correo!

As you may know, we offer the Basic Rights workshop in Spanish. What happens if you cannot attend a workshop? Contact us at 1-800-975-2919 and we will mail a DVD of the training to you!



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7/24/2018

Referrals to TN's Early Intervention System (TEIS) can now be made online

Early intervention is crucial for providing a good education to children with special needs. Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) helps families with children who have disabilities or developmental delays connect to the supports and services they need.   

Make a Referral to TEIS

Please provide the following information:

  • your name and contact information,
  • the child’s name, date of birth, county the child lives in,
  • parent information (if someone other than the parent calls), and
  • the reason for referral or developmental concern.

Eligibility

Information from the child’s doctor as well as the results of a developmental test will determine if a child meets the eligibility criteria in Tennessee. Read more about eligibility requirements.

How Much Does TEIS Cost?

Tennessee has a system of payment process in place to ensure that supports and services are provided in a way that will not create a financial hardship for families. Read more about the TEIS system of payment.

More Information for Parents

Learn more about TEIS services for families with children ages birth through two years of age with disabilities and developmental delays.

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7/12/2018

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Note from Executive Director Wanda Willis
  • New Council Member Alicia Hall
  • New Commission on Aging and Disability representative to the Council
  • Council Co-Hosts 2nd Youth Leadership Academy with Empower Tennessee
  • NPR features Council-led 'Partners in Policymaking' program; New TN 'Partners' Video
  • Council Trains Vocational Rehabilitation Staff, Families
  • Transition TN: Archived Webinar on Supported Decision Making
  • News from Our Partners
  • July 17 - Amerigroup Project SEARCH Information Night
  • July 18 - Inaugural Middle TN Assistive Technology Reutilization Open House
  • July 19 - Youth Advisory Council Open House
  • July 19 - STEP-TN Webinar on Alternate Academic Diploma
  • August Enabling Technology Forums in Crossville, Franklin
  • Upcoming Events Other recent news from the Council
  • Other recent news from the Council

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7/12/2018

TN Special Education Directors Update

The latest Special Education Directors Update is out from the Tennessee Department of Education.

In this issue:

  • Reminder About Significant Disproportionality
  • Speech-Language Resources: Assessments to Inform Eligibility and Present Levels
  • RTI2 Listening Tour Takeaways and Next Steps 
  • Resource: Warning Signs of Child Abuse
  • Summer Professional Development on Writing Effective Present Levels of Educational Performance
  • Summer Implementing the Alternate Academic Diploma Training
  • TRIAD Professional Development and Training Opportunities
  • Advisory Council for Children with Disabilities
  • Special Populations Professional Development Request

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7/2/2018

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Council Presents to The Arc of the Great Smokies Parent Support Group,Teens
  • Council Exhibits & Presents to Young Adult Deaf-Blind Transition Institute
  • Long Term Council Impact: Chattanooga’s Inclusive Sports Group Prepares for Triathlon
  • 2nd Annual Southeast Adult Autism Symposium - Early Bird Registration ends 6/30
  • News from Our Partners
  • STEP-TN Trainings, Webinar on Alternate Academic Diploma
  • TennesseeWorks Blog: TN Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Enabling Technology Forums, Summit
  • TN Statewide Plan for Independent Living Survey - Deadline 7/30
  • Upcoming Events
  • Other recent news from the Council

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7/2/2018

TN Special Education Directors Update

The latest Special Education Directors Update is out from the Tennessee Department of Education.

In this issue:

  • Southwest Special Education Consultant
  • Provisional Endorsements for Special Education
  • High-Cost Reimbursement Requests
  • Summer Professional Development on Writing Effective Present Levels of Educational Performance
  • Summer Implementing the Alternate Academic Diploma Training
  • TRIAD Professional Development and Training Opportunities
  • Advisory Council for Children with Disabilities
  • Special Populations Professional Development Request Special Populations Professional Development Request

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