Question on school policies

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101 Archives' started by IAmTheDad, Mar 10, 2004.

  1. IAmTheDad

    IAmTheDad New Member

    Hello to all. Been many months since I have been on this board. Shouts to Connie, Abby, and many others.

    Our oldest daughter (difficult child) is 17 now. She is in a seperate school of specEd children. This is a relatively new public school only in its second year of existance. This is a public school run by the local school district. They have two policies that I have questions about but cannot seem to remember the exact citation in the IDEA that says this is wrong.

    #1: Paying for PE
    This school does not have PE facilities. The director of the school is now introducing a policy where we must purchase our child a membership to the local Boys & Girls club for $20. The school will then take my child to the B&G Club via transporation provided by the B&G Club. The school district only pays for gas.

    If I recall correctly, the school district must provide the same opportunities (PE in this case) to specEd student that are availiable to mainstream students at no additonal cost to the parents.

    #2 Shorter school day
    The school lets the kids out of school at 1.5 hours earlier then their mainstream peers on Friday every week. Over a 180-day school year this amounts to 270 classroom hours or about 34 8-hour school days.

    Is the School District required to provide the same number of hours of education to specEd students as their mainstream peers?
     
  2. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Have to admit right up front that I don't pay much attention to "policy." Our school district tends to try to take liberties with "policy."

    I am not an attorney, so keep that in mind. I think the school district is on some shakey ground. You'd need to contact a Special Education attorney.

    I look first to the Federal Regs for guidance and then to the State regs. My understanding is that States can address areas of IDEA where Federal Regs are silent, and if there is a conflict between State and Federal Regs the Federal Regs supercede State regs.

    Regarding your questions:

    #1: §300.13 Free appropriate public education.

    As used in this part, the term free appropriate public education or FAPE means special education and related services that—

    (a) Are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge;

    (b) Meet the standards of the SEA, including the requirements of this part;

    (c) Include preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the State; and

    (d) Are provided in conformity with an individualized education program (IEP) that meets the requirements of §§300.340-300.350.

    It would be my position that if PE is provided for other students in the District at no charge, it is a violation of IDEA to require payment for PE. In addition to the policy being in conflict with IDEA, it is also discriminatory and Section 504 comes into play.

    #2: §300.9
    Day; business day; school day.

    (1) School day means any day, including a partial day, that children are in attendance at school for instructional purposes.

    (2) The term school day has the same meaning for all children in school, including children with and without disabilities.

    I interpret "school" as "all schools in the school district."

    I read about a lawsuit involving a somewhat similar situation a while back. It pertained to children with disabilities being bused home early (+/- 20 to 30 minutes) so that they'd be out of the way when mainstreamed students were dismissed for the day. If I remember correctly, the parents won that suit. I found that information at www.wrightslaw.com
     
  3. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    by the way, check your State Education Agency curriculum requirements. There's likely something there that mandates the school districts to include "X" minutes of PE per week in the curriculum.
     
  4. IAmTheDad

    IAmTheDad New Member

    re: #2

    The most relevant legal action that I could find is an OCR Complaint that was resolved by the school district before being brought before a hearing.

    The Director's reasoning for ending school 1.5 hours earlier then their peers is to give teachers and staff time to work on IEP and other administrative duties.

    re: #1
    Thank you for the citations. I am not opposed to adding PE to the curriculum. I am in favor of adding any appropriate opportunities my child's education. Those opportunities must be balanced with the reasons our difficult child has been placed into this environment.
    I am opposed to requiring families to purchase a club membership as a prerequisite to receiving the PE class.
     
  5. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Pure balogna in my opinion. It's no different than deciding to shorten the school day for mainstreamed children in order to give teachers and administrators time to work on lesson plans, work on their bulliten boards, attend continuing education, catch up with paperwork, etc.

    The school semester begins and ends at a certain time of the year and the classroom day starts and ends at a certain time for a specific reason. It has to do with the state Education Agency's instructional minute requirements. School district's have some latitude (it's why ABC school district is out for spring break this week and the adjoining "XYZ" school district is out the following week -- but they must work within the Education Agency mandates.

    (In Texas, even the minutes of PE required per week are stated.)

    That's the way I understood your original post.

    It's my understanding that school district's can not require payment for things of this nature except in some situations where all student's are required to pay the same fee.

    This may be helpful for you. It pertains to Section 504. If your child has an IEP, she's automatically covered under Section 504.

    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that:

    No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...
    Section 504 and Title II of the ADA prohibit the discriminatory assignment of disabled students to segregated classes or facilities. These laws apply to elementary and secondary as well as postsecondary schools. In elementary and secondary schools, disabled students may be assigned to separate facilities or courses of special education only when this placement is necessary to provide equal educational opportunity to them. Any separate facilities, and the services provided in separate facilities must be comparable to other facilities and services.

    Nonacademic Services and Activities
    Students may not be excluded on the basis of disability from participating in extracurricular activities and nonacademic services. These may include counseling services, physical education and recreational athletics, transportation, health services, recreational activities, special interest groups or clubs sponsored by the school, referrals to agencies that provide assistance to disabled persons, and student employment.


    The above is from http://www.ed.gov/. There is other info at ed.gov that would be helpful for you.

    Interesting situation. Please keep us posted.
     
  6. kris

    kris New Member

    in our county all our kids are dismissed an hour early on wednesdays...for just the stated reasons above...planning time, admistrative duties (paperwork), etc. it's been in effect for heaven knows how many years.

    kris
     
  7. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    The kids probably love it. :D

    I wouldn't personally have a problem with early dismissal if: 1) all high school students in the District are dismissed early also, and 2)I was comfortable with the amount of instructional and related services time my child is getting.
     
  8. Lizz

    Lizz New Member

    Hi.....

    A couple of things to consider.....

    Does the alternative school provide "adaptive PE" for kids who don't pay for the memebership? Students who are in alternative setting need to receive Adaptive PE. This can be anything that is related to health, fitness, sports, etc. But it does not necessarily mean the the students have to receive it in a gymnasium.

    Also, while sped is FREE for all practical purposes, there are fees involved in regualr public schools and you can be assessed these fee whether you daughter is schooled in the neighborhood school or elsewhere. The $20 fee may be akin to purchasing a gym suit or PE t-shirts, etc. If you school district does such, the school may not be out of line.

    On to the schedule. Since your daughter is in an alternative program she may NOT be following the same school schedule your neighborhood school district follows. For example, many therpeutic day schools are in session on certain holidays (Veteran's day, Presidents Day, shortened breaks over the winter holidays, etc).
    Secondly, does this school run during the summer? If so the school probably exceeds ther required number of school days set forth by your educational board.

    You may want to consult you state educational board's website. Is your daughter's school on their list of approved alternative schools? If so, the school must be in compliance with the states guidelines for hours, days, etc.

    Good Luck
    Lizz
     
  9. OTE

    OTE Active Member

    In my area the alternative behavioral day schools have a 5 hour day while the mainstream schools have a 6+ hour day. My son is now a state school (owned and operated by the state for children in state custody and residential placements when the placement program does not have it's own school). ie the people who run the school work for the state dept of education. And they have a 5 hour day. The "half day" is a 4 hour day. So whatever the state guidelines are in my state I know it allows for them to have a 5 hour day!

    The building doesn't have a gym. They bus the kids a couple days a week to a local town gym and they play football every Thurs afternoon on the field behind the school. I've never been asked to pay a penny for anything in either of the schools he's been in. In my state, and I thought in every state by federal law, gym is mandatory. As such to be provided free of charge- I'd refuse personally.
     
  10. IAmTheDad

    IAmTheDad New Member

    I e-mailed the school district superintendant carefully laying out my arguments against charging the $20 membership fee. He agreed that it should be at no-cost to the students or parents.

    Wish all battles could be resolved with a simple e-mail.
     
  11. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    The power of the pen...errrr...the email. ;)

    Good news!

    Yes, it would be lovely if all problems could be so easily resolved.
     
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