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November 2015

What you need you know about special Needs Trusts and Estate Planning for your family’s future

Written by  Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler Alex Hilsen is an attorney and Certified Financial Planner at Sussan Greenwald & Wesler.  In the following interview, he answers some of the most common questions he has fielded lately from his parents. Q: Who needs to think about estate planning and special needs trusts – everyone, or just parents who have children whom they expect will not live independently as adults? A: Everyone with a child should have an estate plan. It lays out or directs how your money will be distributed and who should care for your children in case of emergency or death.  If...

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month – bullying laws protect children with special needs

Written by  Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler Bullying can be a devastating experience for any child. When the child being bullied has special needs, serious and long-term consequences for the child may result. Fortunately, special needs children receive extra protection under the law. Parents can invoke the laws that have been written specifically to protect children with disabilities when instances of bullying occur. Bullying includes physical threats, but it may also encompass verbal abuse (teasing and threats), graphic or written statements, and behavior that creates a hostile environment or infringes on a student's rights at school. In general, bullying involves an imbalance--or a...

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Students with disabilities cannot be barred from gifted and talented programs

Written by  Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler Federal and state law requires that accelerated programs be made available to students with disabilities and that entry requirement for such programs not discriminate against students who require special services. Furthermore, if a student requires modifications such as extended time or a computer for taking notes, the school must provide those same modifications in any accelerated or gifted programming in which that child participates. It has been eight years since a letter issued by the Office of Civil Rights clarified this law for schools and parents. Despite the letter, confusion still seems to exist among...

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Charter Schools

Written by  Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler Owe a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to Special Needs Students What is a charter school? Most people know that charter schools are alternatives to local public schools. Charter schools are public schools, but are operated independently of local boards of education. They usually receive federal money as well as additional private donations or grants. Unlike their local public school counterparts, charter schools are privately managed by their own charter school Board of Trustees. Charter schools have leeway in determining their policies and programming. For this reason, they can be attractive to parents seeking an alternative learning...

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Your child has rights when it comes to food allergy bullying

Written by  Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler Food bullying is not to be taken lightly. For a child with a life threatening allergy, it can mean serious illness or death--not to mention the anxiety and other psychological consequences from experiencing both bullying and physical response to a life-threatening allergen. We now know that fifty percent of children with food allergies who are in grades six through ten reports being the victim of food allergy bullying. Fortunately, the food allergy bullying law has evolved. Education will take more time, as schools, children with allergies, their peers, teachers, administrators, and health care professionals work...

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District Court upholds SGW victory against Summit Schools

Written by  Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler Sussan Greenwald and Wesler together with co-counsel Connell Foley prevailed over Summit Schools in a case that proves that "meaningful education benefit" is a concept that has teeth in New Jersey. On July 27, 2015, in T.O. et al v. Summit City Board of Education, the United States District Court affirmed the July 2, 2012 decision of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The A LJ had held that Summit failed to provide a free, appropriate public education to a child, J.O., who suffered from apraxia of speech and dyspraxia. Jayne M. Wesler, a partner at...

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The courage of grandparents of special needs children

Written by  Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler Grandparents of children with special needs are often unsung heroes in their family’s lives. They are often tremendous advocates for these children. They provide incredible support to both their grandchildren and their parents who often face many challenges outside the home. When a special needs child comes into a family, grandparents, like parents, need time to go through the stages of blame, sadness, anger, and acceptance as they adjust to how their expected roles may have changed. Once grandparents are ready to embrace the gift of special needs grandchildren and roll up their sleeves, there...

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How to prepare for a substitute teacher when a child has special needs

Written by  Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler “Today We Had a Substitute….” Having a substitute teacher can be welcome news for some students. For those students, it can be a chance to try to break the rules and hopefully do less work. For other students—especially children with special needs—having a substitute teacher can be a source of uncertainly, anxiety, frustration, and fear. In addition, when having a substitute means that special needs kids miss out on receiving needed supports or accommodations, a substitute can mean a difficult day, missed opportunities for learning, and even getting in trouble. It’s not easy to be a substitute...

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Confusion Surrounds “Twice Exceptional Children”

Written by  Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler Children who are “twice exceptional” have been around for a long time. Once called “gifted handicapped,” this group of school children has two defining characteristics: 1) they are gifted in one or more areas, and 2) they have learning differences or other disabilities that interfere with their functioning. Twice exceptional children are, in fact, a large population—one estimate placed the number at 70,000 in the K-12 years. So why do “twice exceptional” children (sometimes referred to as “2e” children) often fall through the cracks? The clear answer is confusion: confusion exists about the definition of twice...

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What caregivers need to know about Extended School Year (ESY)

Written by  Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler What is ESY? If your child has a disability and receives special education and related services, you'll want to know. The New Jersey Department of Education defines "extended school year" or "ESY" as educational programming beyond the traditional 180-day school year for eligible students with disabilities as outlined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). As part of each annual review of a child's individualized educational plan (IEP), the school is required to consider the need for ESY. ESY most commonly takes the form of a four week to eight week school program offered during...

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