Supreme Court Cases May Reshape Special Education

Supreme Court Considers How Schools Support Students With Disabilities

a photo of the supreme court

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday in a dispute that advocates describe as the most important case involving public school special education in three decades.

At issue is whether federal law requires public schools to provide more than the bare minimum in special services for children with disabilities. The court’s ruling could have a profound effect on millions of children.

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How US Supreme Court Cases could Reshape Special Education

In a year without many landmark cases, two cases provide the high court an opportunity to significantly reshape how American schools educate students diagnosed with disabilities.

a photo of Ehlena Fry and her service dog

The high court heard arguments Wednesday in what experts say is the most important special education case to come before the justices in almost 25 years. The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, will revisit the knotty question of what quality of education school districts must provide their disabled students.

The court heard arguments two months ago in another special education case, Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, that questions when the parents of disabled students can seek damages from a school district in federal court.

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Developmental Disability News Blog

Developmental Disability News is a RI website that covers the long-term impact of the 2014 Consent Decree between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the State of RI, as well as a related Interim Settlement Agreement between the DOJ and the City of Providence signed in 2013. 

a photo of journalist Gina MacrisGina Macris is a career journalist with 43 years’ experience as a reporter for the Providence Journal in Providence, RI. She retired in 2012. During her time at the newspaper, she wrote two series about her first-born son, Michael M. Smith. Both series won prizes from the New England Associated Press News Executives Association.

Ms. Macris is an excellent writer who has taken the initiative to develop this News articles to provide information on the status of implementation of the Consent Order in RI and other related interesting topics that people should know about. She has written a number of articles so check the website frequently to keep up to date!


Check out Ms. Macris’ Developmental Disability News Blog Updates at:

http://olmstead-ddnews.org/olmstead-updates

Department of Justice US District Court Monitor Charles Moseley Issues Report on Progress of Consent Decree in RI

Charles Moseley - US District Court MonitorCourt Monitor Chas Moseley has issued his first report assessing RI’s progress on the Department of Justice Consent Decree filed on April 9, 2014. The terms of the Consent Order resulted in the State making a commitment to restructure the nature and operation of day and employment services to provide people with developmental disabilities the training/support they need to become employed in competitive, integrated jobs at or above minimum wage in the community.

This report documents the progress that has taken place during the first year of Consent Decree implementation with a particular focus on the provisions specifically related to two target populations, the RI Youth Exit Target population and the RI Youth Transition Target Population. The report also covers activities related to key infrastructure development including the establishment of the Sheltered Workshop Conversion Institute, the Conversion Trust Fund, Quality Improvement and other programs. Progress on several of the benchmarks related to activities of the RI Sheltered Workshop Target Population and the RI Day Target Population are deferred to subsequent reports.

adults with developmental disabilities attend a press release to announce the State's employment settlement with the Department of JusticeThe agreement requires the three State agencies responsible for providing the majority of services to children and adults with IDD, the department of Behavioral Health Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the Office of Rehabilitative Services (ORS) to reach key performance milestones within the first year and on an ongoing basis thereafter.

This review reveals that the State has made significant progress in meeting the many performance benchmarks identified by the Consent Decree that were to be achieved during this period. Additional actions need to be taken by BHDDH, ORS and RIDE to fully operationalize the changes that have been made and to build the foundation for the next stages of system change and program development.

This report identifies key benchmarks for each operational provision of the Consent Decree and the status of the State’s efforts to address the various outcomes. Each section concludes with a statement of recommended actions the State should take to meet Consent Decree requirements.


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To Review a Copy of the Full Report, click here.

How New “ABLE” Accounts will Help Americans with Disabilities

Modeled after 529 college savings accounts, ABLE will offer tax advantages for people with disabilities.

By 

a woman with a child with Down SyndromeAmericans with disabilities and their families often face a myriad of financial challenges, but they will soon have a new financial vehicle allowing them to save for expenses and enjoy tax-free growth similar to 529 college savings accounts. Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act on the final hour of the final day of Congress in December, creating a new type of tax-advantaged account called an ABLE account or a 529A.

The hope is that ABLE accounts will help level the financial playing field for families raising kids with disabilities. The National Down Syndrome Society estimates that the accounts will benefit roughly 5.8 million individuals and families.

“As a country, we’ve basically said that we value saving for higher education using a 529 plan, but we don’t value saving for the basic needs that are connected to a disability,” says Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who sponsored the Senate version of the bill. “We have this bizarre and really insulting situation where a child with a disability, his or her family couldn’t save for his or her future [in a tax-advantaged account], but they could save for his or her brother or sister because they were going to university.”

Like 529 college savings accounts, ABLE accounts allow families to set aside money (up to $14,000 per person annually), and pay no taxes on that money’s growth as long as it’s used for qualified expenses. For a 529 college account, qualified educational expenses include college tuition, fees and textbooks.

The beneficiaries of an ABLE account may have more diverse needs, so those accounts allow for a broader list of qualified expenses, including special education services and tutoring, health care costs, assistive technology and housing. “[ABLE accounts] are tailored for different purposes because it covers the support, the housing, legal fees and even funeral and burial expenses,” says Dave McKelvey, a tax and business consulting partner at New York accounting firm Friedman LLP.

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