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Our guide to a better education for your special needs child

Since we first started our school dazes pages when IDEA was in it's baby stages in my opinion we've tried to help you obtain as much information as we could to assist you in having the best and most appropriate education for your child. 

A brief history about IDEA is  In 1997 Congress passed the Amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (IDEA) This Act came into existence over 20 years ago, and was to be renewed after 20 years. The reason it came into being was because millions of children were falling through the cracks educationally. 

But the question remains in the year 2003 what has improved. What remains to be millions of children falling through the cracks educationally? Lets take a brief moment to examine that.


  • Parents are becoming aware of their roles in their child(rens) education.

  • According to the latest updates from Wrights Law According to the No Child Left Behind Act, schools that don’t produce proficient scores will have to provide supplemental services to the students through after school programs and the hiring of extra staff that will be paid for through taxes. To read more please visit Wrights Law

  • Paige Releases Principles for Reauthorizing IDEA. Sec. of Education describes "principles in the reauthorization of IDEA" - accountability for results, expanded parental choice, a focus on what works, simplified paperwork, and increased local flexibility. (February 25, 2003)

  • Education is not for just our elementary through high school students learn more about Help for College students here Help for College Students with Disabilities Flyer. College-bound students need to learn self-advocacy skills - how to present information about their disability and accommodations so professors want to help. If students master these skills, they are more likely to make a successful transition from high school to college.

  • Reauthorization of IDEA2003 This being the most important improvement because we can once again make a difference in our children's education. Be sure you obtain these items Action Alert, Idea News, The Special Ed Advocate, Strengths and weaknesses of idea , Schedule of public meetings and visit the following link to obtain more information to be an active advocate in your child's education  Progress Report: IDEA 2002 . The Individuals with Disabilities Act is scheduled to be reauthorized in 2002; President establishes Commission to make recommendations about how to improve special education outcomes; meetings scheduled around the country.


The harsh reality about IDEA is that not 1 single state or territory is in complete compliance with IDEA.  And according to the National Council on Disability over half of the states violated 1 or more of the 5 most important provisions made for our children. Among the study's other findings, two "core civil rights provisions" of IDEA are not being followed, according to Andrew Imparato, NCD general counsel and director of policy. Only 20 percent of states and territories provide a "free and appropriate public education" for students with disabilities as it is defined in IDEA, and 72 percent fail to follow IDEA's "least restrictive environment" guidelines. Seventy-eight percent do not have procedural safeguards in place to ensure IDEA compliance. The National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that advises the President and Congress

"The department doesn't appear to have been very aggressive in using the tools that are available to them over the last 24 years," he said. Particularly, the NCD found little explanation of how, or if, non-compliance can trigger sanctions such as the department withholding federal funds. "The department appears to not want to do that, but we feel that that is an important detail to lay out to the states so they know there will be defined consequences," Imperato said.

We come to our meeting prepared and doing our part knowing the law to find out 3 months down the line... "bobby isn't getting therapy" Who is not complying?  I have been told by several Nationally recognized advocates that this is yes indeed on a state level. By what I've researched I see that provisions are being looked at to insure that the above averages improve.  But when every state fails???? Where does the breakdown lie?

On the subject of "Least restrictive environment" I believe for those with more "Involved" children, that least restrictive environment might begin by the schools providing HOME SCHOOLING when our children are ill. During those times at school what ever is found to be the least restrictive environment should be followed. 

 In the state of Washington there is a law for education called the Becca Bill. According to Governor Lowry's office, the purpose of the bill is to empower parents to help their children when they have run away or when their child's substance abuse or mental health problems place them in serious danger of harming themselves or others. One aspect of the bill requires that all school districts track the number of student absences and notify parents when their children have violated attendance policies. This law in no way is applicable to a special needs child, the constant threat to parents of special needs children to file a petition against them for their child's absences is absurd. I agree with it in the case of my child with ADHD because his ADHD does not encompass his life and he is not incapacitated to the point of not being accountable for his attendance and I've in fact recently requested he be enforced to go to school but in the same turn offering him the least restrictive environment because he is a child with an IEP  by suggesting a school that was less crowded and would follow his educational process and attendance more closely. His previous special education counselor told me when I was getting his transfer paper, that he does go to school. BUT yet he hadn't been in most of his classes for the past four weeks and I knew this as he told me that.. I was shocked that the counselor  could tell me this. I informed him SURE my child comes to school he lets you see him, leaves comes back has lunch lets you see him again and leaves.  Transferring him to the new school  has worked to date successfully. But in the case of Amanda. I feel that the least restrictive environment at times would be that when she is ill she have home schooling. This includes therapists coming to her home. Two different solutions for 2 very different needs of which the Becca bill only should apply to one of them. To learn more about the Becca bill please look at these links.


As you can clearly see by what I've tried to show you is we've won many victories, have educated ourselves, but we still have a long road ahead of us. Without each and every person taking that extra step, change will not happen and for another 20 yrs. Nothing will change and millions more children will fall through the cracks. Please take a moment to read all the information here at School Daze. I hope that it can at least be a stepping stone for you.


Dena Kirchoff


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