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Copyright 2020 Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler 2020
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April 2014

Understanding the dangers of seclusion and restraints in special education

The use of seclusion and restraint in schools for disciplinary and safety reasons is a difficult issue, especially in regards to severely disabled children. Part of the problem is that there is very little statutory or regulatory authority regarding what is permissible and what tools are available to educators in emergency situations. In fact, neither federal law nor the law of New Jersey contains guidance on this important issue. Obviously, extreme instances of seclusion or restraint are not tolerated in any school in the United States. However, there are many seemingly innocuous practices that do occur regularly in schools and can...

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What least “Restrictive Environment” means under the IDEIA?

The concept of “least restrictive environment” is a core element of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvements Act (IDEIA), and was a fairly revolutionary concept when embraced in its predecessor, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Stated simply, it is the idea that a child with a disability should receive as much of his or her education as possible in a typical classroom and should only be educated separately to the extent that his or her disabilities make it absolutely necessary. Section 612 of the Act sets forth the concept of least restrictive environment, as well as the steps states must...

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Knowing when to get your child the help he or she needs

There is a wide range of severity of different childhood disabilities. Many conditions may not be readily apparent and may take years to identify and diagnose. But that does not make those disabilities any less challenging for the children and parents who live with them every day. Furthermore, it does not diminish the benefits a child living with a disability can receive from a free and appropriate public education. Many parents are overly eager to chalk up their children’s struggles to mere discipline problems. Some even blame themselves and their parenting methods. While this may be true in certain cases, there...

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Researches note spike in U.S. Autism diagnosis

Autism has been a mysterious condition since it was first classified, and its cause remains largely unknown, even to this day. The fact that there is little to no consensus on the factors that can cause a child to develop autism has only added to the challenge of creating a reliable means of diagnosis and treatment. Recent figures released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have found that the rate of autism diagnoses in children in the United States has increased by 30 percent over the last two years. In late March of 2014, the CDC released figures outlining the rise...

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Early childhood benefits under IDEIA

Much of the discussion pertaining to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) focuses on what it provides to the parents of school-age children in New Jersey and throughout the United States. What many fail to mention, however, is that Part C of IDEIA also provides a host of benefits to children under the age of three. Part C promotes early intervention for children with disabilities followed by a smooth and controlled transition into a school environment at the appropriate age. The early intervention process established under Part C follows several steps: A concerned person, such as a parent, physician,...

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Due Process and Special Education Services

When most people hear the term “due process,” they think of a person’s right to a trial before receiving punishment for a crime. However, in our legal system, due process means that people have a right to be heard before the government can take away any right granted by the Constitution or by statute. Because schools are government agencies — and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) gives special rights to children with disabilities and their parents — parents are entitled to due process when they disagree with school districts or other agencies about what services their children should...

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New Jersey Special Education Statistics

Many parents in New Jersey worry that asking for special help for children with disabilities means pulling those children out of regular school and separating them from friends and classmates. However, the vast majority of students in New Jersey receiving special education benefits still spend a substantial portion of the typical school week in a general education classroom. This is because the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) directs educational institutions to include children with disabilities in regular school activities to the greatest extent possible while still adequately addressing their special needs. According to 2012 statistics provided by the New Jersey Department...

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Your IEP Team

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the centerpiece of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). However, establishing an IEP that is truly beneficial to your child requires not only your involvement but also the diligent work of a team of appropriate professionals with the skill and firsthand knowledge necessary to form a workable and beneficial education plan for your child. The composition of an IEP team can vary from child to child. New Jersey has certain minimum requirements concerning who must be present at IEP meetings: • At least one general education teacher if the child’s plan is to include...

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