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The National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education

"Encouraging the use of mediation and other collaborative strategies to resolve disagreements about special
education and early intervention programs."


Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services has released a series of documents that review the statute changes in IDEA '04, including changes in the procedural safeguards provisions.

IDEA 2004 statue link to OSEP's IDEA.ED.GOV site: Statute

Procedural Safeguards Changes

The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement With Children's Education [Abstract from publisher] "It seems like common sense that children do better when parents are actively involved in their schooling. But how well does the evidence stack up? The Broken Compass puts this question to the test in the most thorough scientific investigation to date of how parents across socioeconomic and ethnic groups contribute to the academic performance of K–12 children. The study’s surprising discovery is that no clear connection exists between parental involvement and improved student performance. Keith Robinson and Angel Harris assessed over sixty measures of parental participation, at home and in school. Some of the associations they found between socioeconomic status and educational involvement were consistent with past studies. Yet other results ran contrary to previous research and popular perceptions. It is not the case that Hispanic and African American parents are less concerned with education than other ethnic groups—or that “Tiger parenting” among Asian Americans gets the desired results. In fact, many low-income parents across a wide spectrum want to be involved in their children’s school lives, but they often receive little support from the school system. And for immigrant families, language barriers only worsen the problem. While Robinson and Harris do not wish to discourage parents’ interest, they believe that the time has come to seriously reconsider whether greater parental involvement can make much of a dent in the basic problems facing their children’s education today. This provocative study challenges some of our most cherished beliefs about the role of family in educational success." [from]

Fitting it all in: how mothers' employment shapes their school engagement [Abstract] Although incompatibilities between work and home life are well studied, less is known about the implications of employment for another key life role, particularly for working mothers: being a ‘school-engaged parent’. Using data from in-depth interviews with 17 employed mothers in a mid-size Midwestern city, recruited from a diverse sample of 95 survey-taking parents, we examined the mechanics of how mothers' employment conditions shaped their involvement in their children's schools. We observed patterns between occupational status – professional and low-wage jobs, particularly – and when and how mothers engaged. Some with job schedule flexibility and paid time off were more often and easily able to participate in school activities, while others faced barriers to or negative consequences from using such supports. Several mothers lacked any time-related accommodations from their jobs. Yet all mothers pushed themselves to be involved, even as they had to make hard calculations about their work lives to do so. The findings extend research on the ‘life’ side of work–life research and point to the limits of U.S. education reform's emphasis on family engagement, suggesting that varied bundles of employment conditions stratify parents' school participation in ways that may be difficult for schools to accommodate. [DOI:10.1080/13668803.2015.1023699]

Family-school Cooperation in the Context of Inclusion of Children with Special Educational Needs [Abstract] Although current legislative measures recognize parents participation in school life, several difficulties remain and many barriers need to be broken down as there are still uncomfortable situations to be dealt with between school and parents. In this context, the aim of this study is to identify and to interpret parents, teachers and students’ opinions concerning parental involvement and participation in their children's school life. This study was carried out in an interpretative and descriptive paradigm which involves children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), their families and the relationship between them and the schools their children are attending. It is an exploratory, cross-sectional study, with convenience sample of 119 parents, 22 kindergarten teachers and teachers and 168 students attending a school situated in a rural area in the interior centre of Portugal. The four instruments used were adapted from Zenhas, A. (2006) and Dias, J. (1999). The results were analyzed through a descriptive statistics program, SPSS 19.0, which allowed us to discover that parents’ participation in their children's school life is still very incipient. The conclusion that it is up to school to assume a relevant role in coordinating with the families, to outline the objectives of the intervention and which strategies should be adopted to enable the increasing level of participation of families and implement policy measures where all stakeholders (parents, students with special educational needs and teachers) feel more included.

Assessing the Quality of Parent-Teacher Relationships for Students with ADHD [Abstract] Family involvement in education, including the quality of family–school communication, has been demonstrated repeatedly to have a substantial effect on child development and success in school; however, measures of this construct are limited. The purpose this study was to examine the factor structure and concurrent validity of the Quality of the Parent–Teacher Relationship, a subscale of the Parent–Teacher Involvement Questionnaire, in a sample of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Participants were 260 parents and teachers of children diagnosed with ADHD in Grades kindergarten to 6. Results provided support for a two-factor model, consisting of separate factors for parents and teachers, and correlational findings provided support for concurrent validity. This measure appears to have utility in assessing parent–teacher relationships and evaluating the effectiveness of family–school interventions.

Effect of Parent Involvement and Parent Expectations on Postsecondary Outcomes for Individuals Who Are d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing [Abstract] The purpose of this article is to investigate the potential role of parent involvement and parent expectation in post school outcomes for individuals who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing (DHH). Students who are DHH have lower retention and employment rates than their peers. Recognizing the importance of family in developmental outcomes for all individuals, this article focuses specifically on the role of parents in facilitating postsecondary outcomes. In an effort to address gaps in the literature in this area, this study utilizes the National Longitudinal Transition Survey 2 (NLTS-2) dataset to measure the effect of parental involvement and expectations as individuals who are DHH transition from secondary grades into a variety of post school settings. Overall, none of the parental involvement variables were statistically significant when controlling for student and parent demographics. The parental expectation variables that had a statistically significant impact on outcomes included expectations to live independently, to be employed, and to pursue postsecondary education. This article discusses findings in the context of operationalization of study constructs in the NLTS-2 and literature related to transition and parental involvement for students who are DHH.

Changing patterns of parent–teacher communication and parent involvement from preschool to school [Abstract] This study investigated the nature of parent involvement and parent–educator communication in prior-to-school early childhood settings and school, to explore relations to social capital variables and consistencies and changes in practices over time. Parent interview and teacher questionnaire data from two waves of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children were analysed. Results indicated that parental involvement and communication decreased as children moved from prior-to-school settings to school. Educators in both settings reported using similar strategies to promote parent involvement and communication, but there were setting differences for parents' ratings of communication effectiveness. Using regression analyses, family socio-economic position (SEP), home language (English versus other), Indigenous status and home educational activities were examined as predictors of parent involvement and communication strategies, and effectiveness. Results showed that parents who were more engaged in education activities at home were more involved in their child's early childhood and school settings, had more frequent communication with educators and rated educator communication effectiveness more highly. SEP and home language were less consistent predictors, and Indigenous status was not associated with any of the measures.

The underutilized potential of teacher-to-parent communication: Evidence from a field experiment [Abstract] Parental involvement is correlated with student performance, though the causal relationship is less well established. This experiment examined an intervention that delivered weekly one-sentence individualized messages from teachers to the parents of high school students in a credit recovery program. Messages decreased the percentage of students who failed to earn course credit from 15.8% to 9.3%—a 41% reduction. This reduction resulted primarily from preventing drop-outs, rather than from reducing failure or dismissal rates. The intervention shaped the content of parent–child conversations with messages emphasizing what students could improve, versus what students were doing well, producing the largest effects. We estimate the cost of this intervention per additional student credit earned to be less than one-tenth the typical cost per credit earned for the district. These findings underscore the value of educational policies that encourage and facilitate teacher-to-parent communication to empower parental involvement in their children's education. Surveys show parents receive remarkably little communication from teachers. We analyze a weekly one-sentence teacher-to-parent messaging intervention. It reduced the percentage of students who failed summer courses from 16% to 9%.Messages emphasizing behaviors students needed to improve had the largest impacts. Policies increasing teacher-to-parent communication can be extremely cost effective.

Building partnerships with low-income families of students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Implications for professional school counselors Parental involvement is vital in helping students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) perform successfully in schools. Often, low-income families are not involved in their children's education. Therefore, the school counselor's role in partnering with families of students with ADHD to work for their children's academic and social success in school is addressed. Effective ways professional school counselors can encourage parental involvement, such as trainings and family education programs, are also explored.

Developing positive school–home relationships through structured conversations with parents of learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) [Abstract] Parents play a crucial role in their children's education, and their active involvement can lead to better outcomes. However, evidence suggests that parental engagement and confidence among perhaps the most vulnerable group of learners – those with special educational needs and disabilities – may be lower than for those without difficulties. We report on research exploring a model for developing positive home–school relationships, known as ‘structured conversations with parents’, which was implemented as part of a comprehensive intervention to improve outcomes for learners with [SEND]. Our research design utilised both quantitative and qualitative elements, including school-level surveys, parent questionnaires, interviews with key personnel and stakeholders, and case studies of pupils/parents in participating schools across 10 local authorities in England. Our analyses suggest that the structured conversations with parents were successful in achieving their intended outcomes, albeit with important caveats in relation to issues of individual differences, implementation fidelity/adherence and sustainability.

A Study of Factors that Contribute to Conflicts in Special Education between Parents and Schools: A Validation of Lake and Billingsley's Theory [Abstract] This quantitative research conducted in Southern California validated Lake and Billingsley’s (2000) Grounded Theory regarding factors causing conflicts in special education. This study found that discrepant views of a child or child’s needs, knowledge, service delivery, constraints, valuation, reciprocal power, communication, and trust, were associated with the perception of conflicts. Generally, the bivariate correlation coefficients indicated that all the predictors were statistically significant except use of power. The regression model evidenced significant association of knowledge, services, valuation, and trust. The comparison of the models for three subgroups of participants indicated that for parents, service delivery and valuation were significant factors of conflicts. For administrators and service providers, trust was a significant factor of conflicts.

Parents’ Experiences as Predictors of State Accountability Measures of Schools’ Facilitation of Parent Involvement [Abstract] The aim of this study was to ascertain which dimensions of parents’ experiences with schools are most strongly associated with parents’ perceptions that schools are or are not facilitating parent involvement as mandated by the federal accountability system under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Participants were 92 parents of students with disabilities from 18 schools in 8 school districts in a large southeastern state. Parents completed the quantitative measure used by their state to report on schools’ parent engagement efforts; they then described their experiences collaborating with their child’s school. Data from the qualitative analysis of parents’ comments were transformed into quantitative variables used to predict success, defined as meeting the state’s standard on the quantitative measure of schools’ facilitation of parent involvement. Results suggested that schools prioritize responsive communication with parents and careful monitoring of students’ progress to improve collaborative relationships with parents of students with disabilities.

Social-Emotional Learning Program to Promote Prosocial and Academic Skills Among Middle School Students With Disabilities [Abstract] This 3-year study evaluated the effectiveness of the Second Step–Student Success Through Prevention (SS-SSTP) socialemotional learning program on increasing prosocial behaviors that could serve as protective factors against peer conflict and bullying among students with disabilities. Participants included 123 students with disabilities across 12 schools in Midwest United States. Students labelled with a disability were selected for inclusion. Students completed self-report measures of school belonging, empathy, caring, and willingness to intervene in bullying situations. Report card grades and standardized test scores were collected from school records. Students with disabilities in the intervention schools reported a statistical and clinical significant increase in willingness to intervene in bullying incidents in comparison with students with disabilities in control schools and an increase of half a grade on their report cards in comparison with the control sample. The current study demonstrates the promise of social-emotional learning programming for students with disabilities. [DOI: 10.1177/0741932515627475]

Review of Practices That Promote Self-Advocacy for Students With Disabilities [Abstract] Self-advocacy skills for students with disabilities have been linked to elevated school retention rates and more successful adult outcomes. Test, Fowler, Brewer, and Wood examined evidence of self-advocacy practices published from 1972 to June 2004. As an update to their study, we reviewed empirical studies (N = 18) published from June 2004 to June 2012 that promote self-advocacy for students with disabilities. Interpretations included a continued need to study program effects on students from diverse backgrounds and more rigorous research on self-advocacy predictors and outcomes. Compared with the previously reviewed studies, recent single-case studies improved participant selection reporting and procedural fidelity but declined in controlling for internal validity; group experimental studies improved from the previously reviewed studies in measuring dependent variables at appropriate times and using appropriate analysis and declined in reporting intervention agent details.

Impartial Hearings under the IDEA: Legal Issues and Answers [Abstract] This updated Question-and-Answer document is specific to impartial hearing officers (IHOs) and the impartial hearings that they conduct under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It does not cover the IHO’s remedial authority, which is the subject of separate comprehensive coverage. The sources are limited to the pertinent IDEA legislation and regulations, court decisions and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education’s (OSEP) policy letters that the author’s research has revealed. Thus, the answers are subject to revision or qualification based on 1) applicable state laws; 2) additional legal sources beyond those cited; and 3) independent interpretation of the cited and additional pertinent legal sources.

Engaging Parents in Productive Partnerships Engaging Parents in Productive Partnerships is an easy-to-read presentation of suggestions on how educators and service providers can effectively collaborate with parents including specific recommendations for IEP meetings.

Guiding Principles: A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline [Executive summary - excerpts] Schools must be both safe and supportive for effective teaching and learning to take place. Three key principles can guide efforts to create such productive learning environments. First, work in a deliberate fashion to develop positive and respectful school climates and prevent student misbehavior before it occurs. Ensure that clear, appropriate, and consistent expectations and consequences are in place to prevent and address misbehavior. And finally, use data and analysis to continuously improve and ensure fairness and equity for all students. Principle 1: Climate and Prevention: Schools that foster positive school climates can help to engage all students in learning by preventing problem behaviors and intervening effectively to support struggling and at-risk students. Principle 2: Expectations and Consequences: Schools that have discipline policies or codes of conduct with clear, appropriate, and consistently applied expectations and consequences will help students improve behavior, increase engagement, and boost achievement. Principle 3: Equity and Continuous Improvement: Schools that build staff capacity and continuously evaluate the school’s discipline policies and practices are more likely to ensure fairness and equity and promote achievement for all students. [Action steps are provided for each principle, along with sources for further reading.]

Parsing Disciplinary Disproportionality: Contributions of Infraction, Student, and School Characteristics to Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion [Abstract] In the context of a national conversation about exclusionary discipline, we conducted a multilevel examination of the relative contributions of infraction, student, and school characteristics to rates of and racial disparities in out-of-school suspension and expulsion. Type of infraction; race, gender, and to a certain extent socioeconomic status at the individual level; and, at the school level, mean school achievement, percentage Black enrollment, and principal perspectives all contributed to the probability of out-of-school suspension or expulsion. For racial disparities, however, school-level variables, including principal perspectives on discipline, appear to be among the strongest predictors. Such a pattern suggests that schools and districts looking to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in discipline would do well to focus on school- and classroom-based interventions.

Disturbing Inequities: Exploring the Relationship Between Racial Disparities in Special Education Identification and Discipline [Abstract] This study used negative binomial regression to investigate whether exposure to novice teachers and risk for identification for special education predicted suspension rates. Data from the 2009-2010 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) was used. The sample was comprised of 72,168 schools from nearly 7,000 school districts from nearly every state. Identification as having emotional disturbance and specific learning disabilities were found to predict an increase in suspension rates for some subgroups across some school levels. Conversely, identification as being autistic was found to predict a decrease in suspension rates for some subgroups across some school levels. Policy implications are discussed. KEY TAKE AWAY POINTS Recommendations for Policymakers - Increase federal education resources for the monitoring and enforcement of civil rights laws - Improve the enforcement of the IDEA’s provisions on school discipline disparities - Improve procedural protections to eliminate unjust disciplinary exclusion - Improve the enforcement of state obligations to ensure that poor and minority students have equitable access to experienced teachers - Step up federal oversight and enforcement of current law

A CADRE Webinar~Vamos a Prepararnos para la reunión del IEP Este webinar en español ha sido especialmente diseñado para el personal bilingüe de centros de apoyo, y padres líderes en su comunidad, y será presentado por personal de tres centros para padres con amplia experiencia en el tema.

The Facilitated Individualized Education Program Process: State Perspectives [Abstract] Conflict between parents and school personnel continues to be an area of concern for students with disabilities, despite efforts by lawmakers to provide more parental input into the process of identification and continuation of special education services. Recent data suggest that unresolved conflict at the local level can cost a school district thousands of dollars to resolve the conflict in court, without consideration to the emotional costs that can be involved with this type of conflict resolution. Through mandates from IDEA 2004, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) strategies, such as facilitated individualized education program (FIEP) meetings, have been utilized to reduce these costs. FIEP meetings offer an alternative to costly litigation by utilizing a neutral third party to ensure all stakeholders involved in the FIEP meeting are focused on the best interests of the child. ADR strategies, specifically FIEP meetings, have not been widely researched. More than half the states utilize these meetings, therefore it is important to research what, if any, impact these meetings have on resolving conflict between stakeholders. This study examined the different types of ADR utilized across the states, specifically FIEP meetings, and data were collected regarding their effectiveness. Results revealed that the overarching perception regarding their effectiveness are positive; however, there are some limitations to these meetings and not all states collect and/or report data regarding FIEP meetings. Additionally, there are many different parameters regarding the implementation and use of FIEP meetings, including the training offered, compensation and case load for facilitators, and years these meetings have been offered state-wide. Implications and suggestions for future research are provided. [Conclusion, p.106+] Findings from this study support earlier research regarding the use of ADR strategies in lieu of more formal complaint procedures, as outlined by IDEA. While there were some limitations mentioned, overall qualitative data indicated more strengths were perceived by state respondents. Over half of the states in the United States offer FIEP meetings, with 15 states offering them for 6 or more years. None of the states involved in the study indicated they would stop offering FIEP meetings, but many did indicate that they are taking measures to provide more training, or more facilitators, or offer this option to more districts in the future. Results showed there is room for improvement especially in regard to consistency of how FIEP meetings are utilized and data reported, which is why results from this study are integral to this specific field. Data collected and analyzed can assist current states utilizing FIEP meetings, in addition to new states that propose adding this ADR strategy, gain perspective on what can be the most effective way to reduce conflict and provide viable services for students in special education.

Disciplinary Trends in Boston Area Schools: Programming to Improve Conflict Resolution Practices and Close the Education Gap [Abstract] Research shows disproportionate rates of suspensions and expulsions for youth of color and youth with special needs. Removing these students from schools at higher rates reinforces the education gap and puts them at a sustained disadvantage academically and socially. This thesis explores trends in discipline in Boston area schools and programs designed to address disciplinary issues. To provide further context to the available data, a sample of public school teachers were surveyed on their experiences with classroom conflict. My research found that according to the public data, Black and Hispanic students were disproportionately suspended when compared to their White counterparts across both general and special education programs. Teachers reported wanting to receive more training on conflict resolution methods. My research suggests that alternative disciplinary programming based on models such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and restorative justice may help to reduce the disproportionate use of suspensions and expulsions of minority students and facilitate more constructive responses to conflict.

2015 Symposium Program Agenda Program Agenda

Every Day Counts: Proposals to Reform the IDEA's Due Process Structure [Abstract] "It is a core principle of special education legislation that the parents of a disabled child can challenge the child’s educational programming through an administrative due process hearing. Yet, for years the special education due process structure has been criticized as inefficient, anti-collaborative, and prohibitively expensive. Those criticisms have given rise to widely varying proposals to reform special education due process, proposals that range from adding certain alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to a wholesale replacement of the due process structure. This article provides a comprehensive analysis of special education dispute resolution. The article first examines the lively debate among scholars and special interest groups about perceived deficiencies of IDEA due process and various proposals to remedy those deficiencies. The article then sets forth the results of a nationwide survey in which over three hundred and fifty special education attorneys voiced their opinions about the current structure and some proposals for reform. Finally, the article recommends certain structural changes to IDEA due process that are designed to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of special education dispute resolution."

Framing the Future: SelfDetermination This article offers reflections and recommendations on self-determination of students with disabilities. [Abstract] "There is an established and still-growing evidence base that promoting self-determination has positive school and post-school benefits for students with disabilities, and yet efforts to do so remain sporadic, at best. This article examines the evidence that promoting self-determination is critically important for students with disabilities, explores reasons such efforts are not wide-spread, and provides recommendations to remedy this situation."

Looking Backward and Framing the Future for Parents’ Aspirations for Their Children With Disabilities [Abstract] "This article frames the past and future role of the parents of children with disabilities within the context of special education. We highlight their past aspirations: to organize nationally to assert that their children could learn, to codify into law their children’s right to an education, and to foster trust-based parent–professional partnerships. Using the past as a prelude to the future, we then identify two aspirations for the future: to foster empathy, compassion, and dignity; and to “get a life” rather than just “get an education.” The theme of future aspirations is to develop schools and communities where empathy, compassion, and dignity abound and where, as a consequence, children and adults with disabilities can experience across the full lifespan the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s outcomes of equal opportunity, independent living, full participation, and economic self-sufficiency."

Parents’ Experiences as Predictors of State Accountability Measures of Schools’ Facilitation of Parent Involvement [Abstract] "The aim of this study was to ascertain which dimensions of parents’ experiences with schools are most strongly associated with parents’ perceptions that schools are or are not facilitating parent involvement as mandated by the federal accountability system under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Participants were 92 parents of students with disabilities from 18 schools in 8 school districts in a large southeastern state. Parents completed the quantitative measure used by their state to report on schools’ parent engagement efforts; they then described their experiences collaborating with their child’s school. Data from the qualitative analysis of parents’ comments were transformed into quantitative variables used to predict success, defined as meeting the state’s standard on the quantitative measure of schools’ facilitation of parent involvement. Results suggested that schools prioritize responsive communication with parents and careful monitoring of students’ progress to improve collaborative relationships with parents of students with disabilities."

Special Education Law: Illustrative Basics and Nuances of Key IDEA Components [Abstract] "Intended as professional development for both new and experienced special educators, this article provides both the basic requirements and nuanced issues for foundational, successive, and overlapping key components under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): (a) child find, (b) eligibility, and (c) free appropriate public education (FAPE). The introductory section identifies ensuing IDEA components along with relatively recent references for each of them. Next, the section for each component includes the pertinent IDEA statutory provisions or regulations, the basic criteria, one or more nuanced issues, and illustrative court decisions of recent vintage. This treatment shows that the key components are not mutually exclusive, scientifically or professionally precise, or clearly uniform in their case law interpretations and applications. The concluding section offers suggestions for teacher educators for improving the relevant and useful legal knowledge of future special educators. It also provides the culminating message that maintaining current legal literacy is challenging but useful within the larger context and primary purpose of achieving effective results for students with disabilities via communication and collaboration with parents."

Quality in Individualized Family Service Plans: Guidelines for Practitioners, Programs, and Families This article provides guidance and recommendations for practitioners and families around five components of an IFSP: - functional assessment - functional outcome writing - linking functional outcomes to services - service integration - progress monitoring Each component "should be an opportunity to build and solidify the relationship to better support young children and families toward empowerment." [Excerpt] "In this article, we will describe concerns or challenges around the IFSP components that EI practitioners and families have expressed. Next, we aim to provide guidance and recommendations for practitioners and families on quality IFSPs based on these five components of quality. We use the model of Ridgley and her colleagues (2011) as it captures both the process and product of the IFSP, thus aligning with the definition by Campbell et al. (1992). We also provide checklists that practitioners and families can use to guide the development of quality IFSPs in all aspects of the process and product."

The School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System [Executive Summary] "Research and data on school discipline practices are clear: millions of students are being removed from their classrooms each year, mostly in middle and high schools, and overwhelmingly for minor misconduct. When suspended, these students are at a significantly higher risk of falling behind academically, dropping out of school, and coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. A disproportionately large percentage of disciplined students are youth of color, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). There is no question that when students commit serious offenses or pose a threat to school safety they may need to be removed from the campus or arrested. Such incidents, however, are relatively rare, and school typically remains the safest place a young person can be during the day. In schools with high rates of suspension for minor offenses, however, students and teachers often feel they are not safe or supported in their learning environment. Trailblazing student and parent groups, advocacy organizations, researchers, professional associations, and school districts have raised the visibility of exclusionary discipline practices across the nation. In response, individual schools, districts, and state education systems have implemented research-based approaches to address student misbehavior that hold youth accountable, address victims’ needs, and effectively improve both student conduct and adult responses. These approaches also help keep students engaged in classrooms and out of courtrooms. The federal government has also put a spotlight on these issues. As part of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued joint guidance in January 2014 to assist public elementary and secondary schools in meeting their obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. The School Discipline Consensus Report builds on this foundation and breaks new ground by integrating some of the best thinking and innovative strategies from the fields of education, health, law enforcement, and juvenile justice. Leaders in these diverse systems agree that local and state governments must not only help schools reduce the number of students suspended, expelled, and arrested, but must also provide conditions for learning wherein all students feel safe, welcome, and supported. The central thesis of this comprehensive report is that achieving these objectives requires the combination of a positive school climate, tiered levels of behavioral interventions, and a partnership between education, police, and court officials that is dedicated to preventing youth arrests or referrals to the juvenile justice system for minor school-based offenses."

Identifying the Associated Factors of Mediation and Due Process in Families of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder [Abstract] "Compared to families of students with other types of disabilities, families of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are significantly more likely to enact their procedural safeguards such as mediation and due process. However, we do not know which school, child, and parent characteristics are associated with the enactment of safeguards. For this study, 507 parents of students with ASD responded to a national web-based survey. Parents who filed for due process or mediation were more likely to advocate for their child, have poor family-school partnerships, and have greater household incomes. Parents were also more likely to utilize their safeguards if their children were older, experiencing more internalizing behaviors, and educated in segregated placements. Implications for research and practice are discussed." A review in Disability Scoop on this article included notation that "[this article presents the findings of] a national survey of over 500 parents with children on the autism spectrum finds that families earning more than $100,000 a year are significantly more likely to pursue litigation compared to those with incomes that are half that level."

Are the Outcomes of Hearing (and Review) Officer Decisions Different for Pro Se and Represented Parents? This article reviews thirty-five years of administrative decisions, seeking to understand any differences between families who were represented by attorneys at the hearing and families who were not. Significant differences were found, and the author notes that this correlation does not confirm causation. [Introduction] "The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides states with the option of having one or two tiers of administrative adjudication prior to the judicial level of dispute resolution. Although the numbers of states that have only a hearing officer level and those that additionally have a second tier, i.e., review officer level, have fluctuated, the net direction and overall balance has been clearly in favor of a one-tier system. Although originally established as a relatively informal and expedited means of adjudication in comparison to the courts, these administrative levels have become increasingly legalized. Given the costs of legal representation and the lack of attorneys with specialization in IDEA cases, the question of whether there is a significant relationship between attorney representation, i.e., whether the parents proceed pro se, and the case outcome, i.e., whether the parent prevails, looms large. Although the considerations include other factors, including parental choice regardless of affordable availability, empirical information specific to this question would be useful." [Conclusion] "In sum, the response to the question set forth in the title of this article is that the outcomes for pro se parents at the IDEA hearing officer level appear to be significantly less favorable than those in which both parties have legal representation—at least for IDELR published decisions. The national scope and thirty-five-year period of this analysis, along with methodological refinements, confirms the more limited findings of previous research. However, the finding of a difference does not necessarily mean that attorney representation made, i.e., caused, this difference."

A Longitudinal Study of Special Education Due Process Hearings in Massachusetts: Issues, Representation, and Student Characteristics [Abstract] "Of the three formal dispute resolution procedures provided by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), due process hearings are the most costly in terms of time, fiscal resources, and impact on relationships between school personnel and parents. This study examined 258 due process hearings held over the past 8 years in Massachusetts to examine the characteristics of students at the center of these disputes, the issues that were addressed in the hearings, and the representation utilized by parents and school districts. The findings from this study indicated that (a) Massachusetts school districts utilized attorney representation and won due process hearings at notably higher levels than parents, and (b) the most frequently addressed issues at due process hearings were Individualized Education Program (IEP) development/implementation and educational program placement, which are issues that represent the core mandate of IDEA to provide a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment (34 C.F.R. §300.300, 300.550). The authors present recommendations for policy actions and areas for future research."

The Evolving Landscape in Special Education Dispute Resolution: CADRE’s Sixth National Symposium CADRE, the National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education, is seeking proposals to present at The Evolving Landscape in Special Education Dispute Resolution: CADRE’s Sixth National Symposium. Symposium participants include OSEP staff, State dispute resolution coordinators, directors of special education, dispute resolution practitioners, researchers, parent advocates, attorneys, educators, service providers, and parents.

Guía rápida para la Educación Especial del Procesos de Resolución de Disputas para Padres de Niños y Jóvenes (edades 3-21) Después del lanzamiento de unas P & R de IDEA Parte B de la Resolución de las Disputas de OSEP de julio de 2013, se le pidió a CADRE que creara un conjunto de recursos complementarios para padres y familias. En respuesta, CADRE desarrolló cinco guías para padres. Además, CADRE creó un cuadro de comparación de fácil utilidad que ve a los procesos de resolución de conflictos desde una variedad de perspectivas.

The Perceptions of IEP Meetings of Parents Who have Used a Parent Training and Information Center [Abstract] "This study examined the perceptions of Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings of 11 parents of children with disabilities who used a Parent Training and Information center (PTI). The purpose was to examine parental perceptions of the effectiveness of a PTI. The characteristics of all children whose parents contacted the PTI were also examined. Each parent participated in an individual interview and the characteristics data were provided by the PTI. The characteristics data are presented using descriptive statistics and indicated parents of children with Autism (25%) or who suspected their child had a disability (19%) had the highest usage. The interview data were analyzed to identify common themes representing the perceptions of a majority of the participants. The themes prior to interaction with the PTI were (a) lack of understanding, (b) trust, (c) acquiescence, (d) lack of participation, (e) negative emotions, and (f) long-term. Themes related to the PTI were (a) special education rights, (b) special education concepts, (c) IEP meeting strategies, (d) validation, and (e) empowerment. Themes after the PTI were (a) better understanding, (b) treated differently, (c) effective advocacy, (d) active participation, and (e) power. These themes provide insight to how the participants believe the PTI impacted their participation in IEP meetings." While a sample of eleven does not provide generalizable findings, it is noted that all eleven parents had similar experience: "The parents in the present study all reported having bad experiences in IEP meetings, benefitted from the services at PEATC, and believed their subsequent IEP meetings were better." (p.162)

Parents' Perceptions of Engagement During IEP Meetings [Abstract] "Parents of special education students may take a passive role at individual education planning (IEP) meetings. This passivity often results in poor planning and reduced student performance at school. Understanding parent experiences during IEP meetings for children could help administrator and faculty gain insights integral for improving team processes and decision making. Informed by the Hoover-Dempsey and Sadler Model, the purpose of this sequential mixed methods descriptive explanatory study was to understand parent perceptions of IEP meetings. Using convenience and purposive sampling, 55 parents first completed a non-standardized questionnaire; subsequently, 15 parents participated in structured interviews. Data analyses consisted of determining central tendencies along parent participation themes, and propositional and thematic analysis of the interviews. Resulting emergent themes included lack of parent voice and value at IEP meetings, although parents reported generally high regard for participation and decision making. The aspects of this study design relating to truth-value, reliability, and neutrality supported the overall validity of the research approach. The research resulted in generation of a professional development series for staff and teachers that will increase awareness of parental importance in the IEP process. Assessing and subsequently acting on parent perceptions of participation at IEP meetings has significant implications for special education planning and student success. The increased participation and comfort of parents in the IEP process will result in positive social change by increasing parent activity in student educational programming." The researcher suggests that IEP meetings should be designed to deepen a sense of partnership among participants, to promote "democratic collaboration" (empowering all parties to have both voice and a role in decision-making), and to overcome barriers to parental involvement and engagement. (pp.97+)

What Do Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Think? [Abstract] "The purpose of this mixed methods study was to better understand the perspectives of parents with children who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders regarding the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, and interventions implemented to help their child meet IEP goals. The web-based survey included both closed and open-ended items. Major findings revealed that although a majority of the parents responded negatively to the single item asking their overall perceptions of the IEP process, they responded positively when asked their perceptions concerning specific IEP aspects including (a) their participation as equal IEP team members with educators, (b) that their suggestions were integrated into the IEP, and (c) that their child’s IEP would meet their child’s educational needs. Parents provided suggestions for improving the IEP process and desired the best education possible for their children, but also expressed concerns that generic and not “individualized IEP goals” may compromise the quality of their children’s education. Parents believed their participation in the IEP process was critical, and greatly enhanced the individualization of IEP goals. Knowledge of their rights, special education law, and autism enhanced parents’ abilities to participate in IEP meetings as equal partners with school personnel. Major findings also revealed that most parents had not used a majority of evidence-based practices for children with autistic spectrum disorders which were predominantly weighted toward individuals with more severe disabilities. However, a majority of parents who had implemented evidence-based practices rated these practices as effective or very effective, and a majority of respondents reported having higher functioning children. Most parents learned about autism from the Internet or other parents. In addition, most parents learned their rights and special education law from the Internet, other parents, professional and parent associations, school districts, or Wrightslaw. Findings are discussed with respect to previous and future research and practice."

Multiple Perspectives on Parent Involvement for Middle School Students Receiving Special Education Services [Abstract] "Parent involvement is recognized as an important factor in the education of all students, including those receiving special education services. Research indicates that parents of students with disabilities often experience barriers to their participation in their children’s education, and that the efforts put forth by school personnel to engage these parents may be insufficient or ineffective. Using data collected as part of a larger study of parents’ and professionals’ perceptions related to schools’ parent engagement efforts, this study compared the perspectives of 25 parents of students with disabilities and 26 teachers and administrators from five middle schools located in four different school districts in a large southeastern state. The analysis of data aggregated across participants from all five schools yielded four themes, identified as (a) the quality of the school’s efforts to engage and collaborate with parents, (b) the frequency, variety, and effectiveness of communication, (c) the quality of services, placement, and education, and (d) beliefs and values about parent involvement. When parents and professionals from each school were considered as separate units of analysis, important differences emerged across schools. In one school, there was a high level of agreement between parents and professionals in relation to all four themes; in the other four schools, the perspectives of parents were consistently different from the perspectives of school personnel. The findings of this study add significantly to the literature on parent-school collaboration and highlight important school-level variation in the degree of congruence between parents and school staff. Insights gained from the study can inform middle schools’ future efforts to develop more effective educational partnerships with parents of students receiving special education services."

Advocates and IEPs: Parental Perspectives and Solutions Schools Can Offer [Abstract] Parental perspectives regarding the utilization of professional advocates and attorneys is non-existent in the current academic literature base. The limited extant literature contains school personnel perspectives on the IEP process when advocates are involved. Thus, to investigate this phenomenon from a parental perspective and to capture parent voice, a phenomenological collective case study was conducted. Nine participants contributed to this research via semi-structured interviews, recounting their experiences through the special education process with the assistance of a professional advocate or attorney. Their stories, including their thoughts on the process, why they obtained advocates, suggestions for school personnel on how to improve the process, and advice to other parents are included in this research. Overall, parents were unhappy with the IEP process and believed the process was emotionally exhausting. They wanted their child to receive an individualized education with support from school personnel and their input taken into consideration. While certain IEP team members attempted to work with them, parents experienced barriers that prevented their needs and the needs of their child from being met. When parents became frustrated at not being heard or not knowing how to navigate the system and were in need of relief, they obtained advocates to engage in the process with them. Through these parents' recollections of their experiences, school personnel and other parents are provided with suggestions for how to make the process better for all parties involved. Resources and recommendations for individuals who cannot afford to hire professional advocates are also provided.

National Trends in the Frequency and Outcomes of Hearing and Review Officer Decisions Under the IDEA: An Empirical Analysis This article presents trends in hearing/review officer decisions under IDEA. Employing a sample of 361 cases from around the country, drawn randomly from thirty-five years of cases published in the Individuals with Disabilities Law Report, this research documents that a handful of jurisdictions account for the vast majority of decisions. The article reports an inverse-U trend in the frequency of cases: "a steady upward phase from the initial interval in 1978–82 until a leveling off in 2003–2007 and then a relatively dramatic drop in 2008–2012." Specific questions explored in the study: 1. What was the overall frequency of (a) the cases and (b) the issue category (IC) rulings? 2. Which states had the highest frequency of (a) cases and (b) IC rulings? 3. What was the longitudinal trend in the frequency of (a) cases and (b) IC rulings? 4. What was the outcomes distribution of the IC rulings? 5. What was the longitudinal trend of the outcomes of the IC rulings? 6. What was the outcomes distribution of the cases? The typology of issue categories (ICs) employed: Identification: • Child Find • Evaluation • Eligibility • Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) Program/Placement: • FAPE Substantive • FAPE Procedural • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Placement • Extended School Year (ESY) • Discipline Remedies: • Tuition Reimbursement • Compensatory Education Adjudicative: • Jurisdiction • Other Adjudicative • Miscellaneous

Special Education Complaints Filed by Parents of Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Midwestern United States [Abstract] The number of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) receiving services in public schools is increasing steadily. However, the findings of previous research and recent litigation trends suggest that a notable disconnect persists between school-based services and parental satisfaction. As a means to better understand parental dissatisfaction with educational services, I analyzed presenting issues and outcomes of complaint investigations filed by parents of children with ASD in a midwestern U.S. state. A total of 97 electronic summaries of complaint investigations filed from January 2004 to January 2009 were examined using content analysis to identify the most frequently cited complaint issues, as well as the findings of fact leading to decisions in favor of schools. Common complaint issues included problems with Individualized Education Program content and implementation, parental participation, evaluation and case conference committee procedures, staff qualifications, and behavior/disciplinary procedures. Implications of the findings for educators, parents, and future research are discussed.

Litigation and Special Education: The Past, Present, and Future Direction for Resolving Conflicts Between Parents and School Districts [Abstract] As we prepare for the upcoming reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), recommendations about restructuring dispute resolution options will likely surface. Conflict between parents and school districts has been a topic of high importance during previous IDEA reauthorizations, with Congress focused on the implementation of dispute resolution procedures that encourage meaningful problem solving and shared decision making. Studies indicate due process hearings can reach extreme costs and diminish opportunities to repair the parent–school partnership. These outcomes are not productive for any of the parties involved, especially the student. Over the past decade, due process hearing rates have decreased and researchers have identified a number of promising conflict prevention and resolution practices. This article provides a discussion of the changing relationship between litigation and special education through the interpretation of IDEA regulations, national data, and research. Recommendations for future research, policy, and practice are presented. DOI: 10.1177/1044207314533382

Engaging Parents in the Special Education Transition Process: Perspectives of Parents of Students with Significant Disabilities [Abstract] This qualitative study examined the perspectives of parents of students with significant disabilities about the Secondary Transition Process. Significant disabilities were defined as students with intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, and autism. Federal regulations require that parents participate fully in the IEP transition process once their children reach age 16, and in some states age 14. Using snowball sampling, ten parents were interviewed to determine their knowledge about transition, what their roles are in the process, and what issues were important to them. The interview data was analyzed to identify major themes. The data suggested that most parents are satisfied with the transition process in general and view themselves as very involved. In fact, parents who described themselves as advocates spoke more about a parent-driven process. However, deeper questioning showed that parents do not possess a clear knowledge about the process and what their roles should be. The results also showed that parents receive more information from other parents and outside agencies than is provided by their own school districts. Four main themes emerged. The first is that parents possess limited understanding about transition. Second, parents described themselves as playing a variety of roles, which ranged from passive to active. They mostly all characterized themselves as informants. The other roles that emerged were advocate, adversary and liaison. The third major theme centered on collaborative practices. Parents described the need for communication with school staff and the importance of relationship building. The fourth and final theme was the need for communication and collaboration. As a result of parent information, this study provides recommendations to school districts for improvements they can make regarding engaging parents in the special education transition process based on parent perspectives and review of research on best practices.

The Perceptions of Individualized Education Plan Meetings of Parents Who have Used a Parent Training and Information Center [Abstract] This study examined the perceptions of Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings of 11 parents of children with disabilities who used a Parent Training and Information center (PTI). The purpose was to examine parental perceptions of the effectiveness of a PTI. The characteristics of all children whose parents contacted the PTI were also examined. Each parent participated in an individual interview and the characteristics data were provided by the PTI. The characteristics data are presented using descriptive statistics and indicated parents of children with Autism (25%) or who suspected their child had a disability (19%) had the highest usage. The interview data were analyzed to identify common themes representing the perceptions of a majority of the participants. The themes prior to interaction with the PTI were (a) lack of understanding, (b) trust, (c) acquiescence, (d) lack of participation, (e) negative emotions, and (f) long-term. Themes related to the PTI were (a) special education rights, (b) special education concepts, (c) IEP meeting strategies, (d) validation, and (e) empowerment. Themes after the PTI were (a) better understanding, (b) treated differently, (c) effective advocacy, (d) active participation, and (e) power. These themes provide insight to how the participants believe the PTI impacted their participation in IEP meetings. UMI Number: 3624968

What Virginia Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do to Minimize Special Education Disputes Between Families and Schools: A Delphi Study [abstract] "Today’s schools face a mounting number of court cases resulting from conflicts between parents of children with special needs and educators tasked with meeting those needs (Osborne, 2009). Principals have the enormous responsibility to ensure appropriate services to educate students with disabilities and, as special education leaders, require a skill set that includes knowledge of current laws, litigation, student learning needs, and how to support parents’ decision making rights and responsibilities. A gap is evident between what principals know about special education leadership and case law and what principals are doing in the field. The purpose of this study was to identify effective actions and behaviors that support Virginia principals’ leadership in special education decision making. More specifically, the study examined what can be done to minimize special education disputes between parents and schools and identify principals’ skill sets to minimize special education disputes. Two concurrent Delphi studies were conducted with 16 member panels; stakeholders with familial responsibilities to children with disabilities and professional experts with responsibility to special education compliance participated. A final round exchanged findings between the panels. The study identified a list of best practices for Virginia school principals to support special education leadership and decision making." [findings] "Key findings of this study are mentioned regularly in the literature. Although findings are not linked directly to litigation, each has an impact on cooperation and communication between parents and school officials (Zirkel, 2007). Experts and stakeholders called for the principal to ensure adequate training for the school staff. Special education law is difficult even for trained personnel to understand (Shuran & Roblyer, 2012); thus skilled training for school personnel is crucial. Training staff to have knowledgeable and effective communication with parents, specific to the individual needs of the child and training staff to understand their responsibility to implement a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment is a combination that seems to work in minimizing disputes (Shuran & Roblyer, 2012). Interpreting requirements for IDEA can confuse parents and school staffs (Applequist, 2009). Appropriate delivery of an IEP requires a thorough knowledge of the law. Additionally, an understanding of program or strategic implementation practices to meet a child’s needs is called for if the principal is to monitor academic and behavioral interventions that support student learning. The two-part test established in Board of Education of Henrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley (1982) defines school districts’ legal obligation to comply with the procedures set forth in IDEA and to develop an IEP reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits (Romberg, 2011). Taking immediate action, if the school is not meeting its obligations for the education of the child, is key. Supportive relationships, with continuous communication between parents and school districts, are essential in minimizing litigation (Shuran & Roblyer, 2012). Sharing information with parents in a timely manner can promote effective, respectful communications between parents and school staff. Respectful communication and IDEA compliance, led by the principal, facilitates parent and school responsibility in the education of a child with a disability, and sets the tone for collaboration." (pp.79-80)

Enhancing the collaborative capacity of individualized education programs (IEPs) in Delaware schools [abstract] This Executive Position Paper explores promising practice recommendations for enhancing the collaborative capacity of individualized education programs (IEPs) in Delaware Schools. Recommendations marry existing literature on collaboration, building capacity through adult training/coaching, and special education, together with the hands-on expertise of conflict resolution professionals and experiences of IEP stakeholders. Data for this study was gathered primarily through IEP meeting observations and participant feedback in five Delaware school districts in spring 2000. Position Paper One provides an overview of the special education landscape in which IEPs figure so prominently, including a discussion of the national and local scope of the problems associated with enhancing collaboration in IEPs. The Special Education Partnership for the Amicable Resolution of Conflict (SPARC) program under the auspices of the Conflict Resolution Program at the University of Delaware is then introduced as a resource in the effort to build collaboration in special education. SPARC and this companion study, is funded by the Delaware Department of Education. From this introduction, a summary of literature related to collaboration, building capacity, and promising practices in training and coaching efforts will be provided. Position Paper Two shares and reflects upon the study methodology and collected data. Data analysis focuses on developing answers to the study question: What SPARC services and related training efforts can CRP make available to Delaware schools, districts and families that represent a promising practices approach to making a measurable difference in the special education arena? Position Paper Three concludes with implications and recommendations. A statewide proposal for building collaborative capacity in IEP meetings is detailed. Recommendations are supported by the study's data analysis, past CRP professional experiences and research related to SPARC, district needs assessment work, a contextual understanding of special education legislation, the IEP process, and adult learning theory and development in the school setting.

Advancing Parent-Professional Leadership: Effective Strategies for Building the Capacity of Parent Advisory Councils in Special Education [Introduction] "The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, last amended in 2004 (IDEA 2004), encourages parents and educators to work collaboratively, emphasizing that as a team they are uniquely suited to make decisions that help improve the educational experiences and outcomes of children with disabilities. The Advancing Parent-Professional Leadership in Education (APPLE) Project was funded to develop the leadership skills of parents individually and within their communities. The project took place in Massachusetts, where school districts are required to have a special education parent advisory council (SEPAC). As part of the overall evaluation of the APPLE project, we asked 39 parents who participated in the leadership training about ways to create a better SEPAC and improve its capacity to effectively collaborate with educators. The 39 parents represented 21 SEPACs in Massachusetts. This brief presents effective strategies and recommendations to support parent leaders and advocates in special education, whether they are part of a SEPAC or another similar group." [Recommendations for Parent Leaders and Advocates in Special Education] "The following recommendations are derived from comments of APPLE parent leaders and the experience of Federation staff. - Have clear goals and objectives for parent involvement. Establishing clear goals and objectives for parent involvement is important for parent organizations so that new members understand what is expected and what they can offer, from mere attendance at meetings to taking on more active roles. This broader approach will help parent organizations to welcome, support and accommodate parents who have different needs. - Connect parents to and help them utilize existing resources. There is a wide network of parent leadership and advocacy resources both in the state (e.g., MASSPAC) and nationally (e.g., the ALLIANCE) that can help provide training, information and support to parents of children with special needs (see Additional Resources, below). Because no one parent organization can meet all the needs of a family, helping parents identify and connect with relevant resources quickly and efficiently is important. Keeping parents up-to-date on new resources is also critical. Provide ways for parents to identify and value their own leadership styles. While some parents are natural born public speakers, others are better at “behind the scenes” organizing and nurturing new members. Very often leadership experiences gained through jobs and hobbies can be effectively applied. Using the talents of many parents with different backgrounds will help a parent organization be stronger. Seeking out leadership-styles training might be worthwhile so parents can work together harmoniously and avoid conflict. - Be clear that all parents’ voices and perspectives are needed and valued. Having one group of parents—either from one social group, or representing only one type of disability, or not representing the ethnic and racial make up of the community—will limit the ability of a parent organization to get all families involved in the conversation about special education programs. Thus, parent organizations should find out who their community is and actively reach out and engage community members in their efforts."

Encouraging Active Parent Participation in IEP Team Meetings This article presents implications for practice related to parent participation. [conclusion] "Walker and Singer (1993) pointed out that the relationship between parent and professional is developmental in nature. As professional team members develop relationships with parents new to special education services, team members must consider the long-term effect of that relationship on active parent participation in decision making. Parents who are supported in their initial attempts to be equitable team members in decision making will likely continue to participate later in their child’s school career. Professional team members should take these factors into consideration during the developmental process. Team members should view team practices as a focal point for ongoing professional development. Recognize that as the knowledge base related to teaming and collaboration grows, new and better practices may continue to emerge. Along with professional team members, parents and administrators will require knowledge of new practices and opportunities to employ them in an environment supported by all team members."

IEP team meetings: A guide to participation for parents This resource is designed to prepare parents to participate in IEP meetings. [excerpt] "A parent’s first encounter with the Individualized Education Program—the IEP—can be intimidating. However, participation in special educational planning is critical in assuring positive long-term outcomes for students with disabilities. Parents and guardians of school-age children with disabilities need to be familiar with relevant regulations and procedures for developing an IEP to fully participate in IEP development and long-term planning. Similarly, students who have attained legal adult status in their state and have assumed responsibility for their own IEP need information to assure informed participation at their IEP meetings. The IEP is a legal document that describes a student’s instructional needs and identifies the special education services the school will provide to meet those needs. Therefore, the IEP is one of the most important components of the educational program for students with disabilities and is developed by a team that includes the parent(s), student (when appropriate), and school personnel. Since the IEP is a legal document, schools are required to comply with the conditions of the IEP; however, the IEP is not a guarantee that a student will achieve all the educational goals targeted. Laws governing the IEP are revised periodically, and that while federal laws dictate broadly defined procedures, each state has its own set of regulations. Usually these regulations are available from your state department of education. Schools are also obligated to provide you with information about your rights under state law. The following guide provides an introduction to the IEP process so you will have an idea of what to expect, feel more comfortable in the meeting, and be better able to advocate for your child’s (or your own) educational needs."

An Exploration of the Dynamics and Collaboration within IEP Teams [abstract] The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) (2004) mandates the establishment of an educational team that convenes once a year if not more to review and adjust each exceptional student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). There are a variety of social and political characteristics of the team that impact the decisions that are made on behalf of individual students. IEP teams are charged with operating as equal decision-making members. This study explored the nature of collaboration among IEP team members and took a closer look at how IEP team members perceived both their own contribution and the contribution of other members. It also examined how IEP team members' beliefs, experiences, and characteristics contributed to their role on the IEP team. The findings in this study indicated that there is a need to develop clearer definitions of IEP team member roles, and opportunities for professional development are needed to develop educated and prepared team members who work collaboratively to develop IEPs that meet the needs of students with special needs.

Student and Parent IEP Collaboration: A Comparison Across School Settings [abstract] "The purpose of this study was to determine if differences existed across rural, urban, and suburban environments when special education teachers reported perceived levels of student and parent involvement and participation during IEP meetings. The investigators surveyed special education teachers (N= 159) across a Southwest state and applied log linear analyses to show possible differences in groups. Special education teachers in rural environments reported significantly higher rates of parent and student involvement and participation in IEP meetings than their counterparts in urban and suburban environments. Results are discussed and suggestions and implications for practitioners are provided." [excerpted recommendations] The researchers recommend that educators learn collaboration skills through pre-service preparation or in-service professional development. While this research noted greater student and parent participation in rural districts, the value of greater collaboration may be realized in all contexts.

Implementing Restorative Practices: A Case Study of How One Urban High School Approached Alternatives to Punitive Discipline Practices [abstract] "Over the past 20 years, a serious trend has developed that disconnects too many students from school due to suspensions. Suspensions continue to widen the achievement gap within the educational system. Consistently, African American males are suspended at a much higher rate than the rest of the student population in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Milwaukee Public Schools Data Warehouse, 2013). The purpose of this study is to determine if restorative practices are a viable alternative to punitive discipline approaches for students. Insights were revealed by gathering lived experiences of the 2011-2012 12th grade students and staff at one urban high school that implemented a program of restorative practices with fidelity in order to eliminate excessive suspensions and expulsions. Given the research purpose of studying a model of discipline with possible replication at other sites, the research approach was that of a single case study employing methods of document analysis, observation, and individual interviews. Related research questions focused on how leadership implemented the restorative practices model and how necessary conditions for ownership of this model were created. Also, what aspects of the school climate changed as a result of the adoption of the restorative practices model? What was the effect of restorative practices implementation on the suspension rate? Finally, what impact did the restorative practices model have on relationships? The research indicates both students and staff responded positively to the use of restorative practices at this urban high school. Suspensions were limited, the student attendance rate was high, and academic success was above average as compared to the district. Relationships between students and staff were strong, as well as the relationships between students. Restorative practices were not only used at the high school, but were extended in many of the students’ homes and communities. Moreover, restorative practices were successfully used as an alternative to punitive discipline approaches."

In the Best Interests of the Child: Individualized Education Program (IEP) Meetings When Parent Are In Conflict This publication was developed to better understand issues related to when parents or caregivers are having difficulty working together, especially during IEP team meetings. The document includes both preventative and responsive CADRE Cover strategies and approaches from a variety of sources, including research on the effects of parenting a child with a disability on parent and family relationships, literature on conflict resolution practices, and data collected through surveys and interviews. Children’s best interests are served when all members of the IEP team cooperate to design the IEP. Properly prepared and appropriately skilled IEP team members — administrators, educators, related service providers, the student, and parents alike — can improve the dynamics and interactions among team members in service of this goal.

IDEA Special Education Written State Complaints: A guide for parents of children and youth This booklet, which is particularly aimed at parents and family members, provides an overview of the written state complaints process and how it works.

IDEA Special Education Due Process Complaints/Hearing Requests: A guide for parents of children and youth This booklet, which is particularly aimed at parents and family members, provides an overview of due process complaints/hearing requests and how it works.

Longitudinal Trends in Impartial Hearings under the IDEA This article documents the decline and stabilization of the number of adjudicated due process hearings between 2006 and 2012 across the country. Zirkel notes that while innovations such as resolution meetings, mediations, and facilitated IEP meetings are possible contributors, other factors--such as local changes in trends and services in the District of Columbia (which accounted for 71% of the decrease of the overall reduction nationally)--may be more explanatory. Further analysis focuses on the wide variation across jurisdictions of the filings-to-adjudications ratios. "[A]mong the eleven leading jurisdictions, the ratios varied from Puerto Rico (1.84) and District of Columbia (2.46) to Massachusetts (28.52) and California (28.92)" (p.10).

Trends in Impartial Hearings under the IDEA: A Follow-up Analysis This article presents analysis of trends in the number and location of adjudicated due process hearings conducted in the United States. Changes between data assembled 1991-2005 and those for 2006-2011 are presented both in annualized numbers and per capita ratios. "The more recent jurisdictional pattern of DPH adjudications shows not only a considerably reduced overall level of activity but also notable changes in rankings. The expanded scope of the data for the more recent period reveals the prominence of the District of Columbia, which is not surprising in light of its high frequency of corresponding activity at the court level of adjudication activity under the IDEA, and Puerto Rico, which is surprising in light of its low frequency of IDEA court decisions" (p.9). "Second, the per capita analysis of these longitudinal data adds a depth dimension to the picture, thus revealing partially different members and positions for the two worlds of DPH adjudications. Within the top group, Hawaii and, even more surprisingly, the Virgin Islands emerge in high positions,28 establishing an insular or at least special jurisdictional character to the top three,29 and the particularly prominent position of the District of Columbia becomes clear as a distinct outlier, with an annual rate that for the recent period is more than eight times that of second-place Puerto Rico and almost fifty times that of third-place Virgin Islands. Thus, Table 2 and Appendix 2 show a parallel pattern of moderate longitudinal change among the jurisdictions but—in comparison with the prior analyses, which did not factor in enrollments—partially different members and rankings within the two worlds of DPH adjudications" (p.10). "Overall, the per capita analysis suggested that litigiousness—often associated with metropolitan areas, such as New York City, the District of Columbia, and Los Angeles-San Francisco—is not merely or primarily a matter of population density. Rather, at least for the administrative adjudicatory process under the IDEA, which has a structure of “cooperative federalism,” the variance in the rates of DPH filings and adjudications appears to be attributable to a complex constellation of factors" (p.11).

Building Bridges: A Case Study of the Perceptions of Parents of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder towards Family/School Partnerships [abstract] This qualitative case study examines the perceptions of parents of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) towards family/school partnerships. Interviews were conducted with parents of children with autism that belonged to a parent support group in western Pennsylvania. The resulting interviews cast light on the motivators and barriers that influence parental decisions to enter into partnerships with educational professionals. The parents were motivated towards family/school partnerships through the concepts of invitation to involvement, trust, emotional connect, and parental efficacy. Role construction, team approach, parent’s knowledge, and “it’s the law” served as lesser motivators. The motivators toward family/school partnerships also have the ability to serve as barriers against family/school partnerships. Whether a concept serves to motivator or stand as a barrier depends on how the interactions occur between families and educational professionals. Furthermore, analysis centers on the rights and responsibilities of parents found under family/school partnerships and special education law. As parents of children receiving services due to a recognized disability, the parents have additional rights and responsibilities in the area of school collaboration. The law mandates that parents be included fully in the six major principles contained within the law: due process safeguards, shared decision-making, zero reject, nondiscriminatory identification and evaluation, free appropriate public education, and least restrictive environment (IDEIA, 2004). Since 2004 the law incorporates a sense of responsibility for parents to do all that they can to engage actively in participatory behaviors. As a result of this study, the complexity of participatory behaviors of parents of children with ASD towards family/school collaboration emerges. Bronfenbrenner’s (1992) bio-ecological theory of human development and Epstein’s (2001d) overlapping spheres of influences serve as the conceptual framework for the study. The environment works on the person as the person works on the environment creating the constancy and change that occurs over the course of a lifetime. This understanding serves to shed light on motivating behaviors that can be adopted by educational professionals to ensure parents of children with ASD develop positive perceptions towards family/school partnerships.

IDEA & FERPA Confidentiality Provisions Crosswalk The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) released this IDEA and FERPA Confidentiality Provisions crosswalk in July 2014. This document is a side-by-side comparison of the primary legal provisions and definitions in IDEA Part B, IDEA Part C, and FERPA that relate to the requirement to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information of students and children served under the IDEA.

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