In 2009, three researchers – Wall, Wheaton and Zuver – reviewed all U.S. studies done on bullying and developmental disabilities. The results were consistent and staggering.
All 10 studies found that children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be victims of bullying than their non-disabled peers. Additionally, research showed that the bullying experienced by these students was more severe and most often directly related to the child’s disability.
Philadelphia’s current restructuring plan is based on the “portfolio school district” model, where there is an array of public, charter, and other schools operated by independent organizations. Parents have choices among a “menu” of schools, including schools that are not operated by the District. District administration manages the portfolio of schools based on performance, closing poor-performing schools, expanding capacity in those that are doing better, and opening new ones designed to meet community needs.
The School District of Philadelphia and its largest charter school turnaround operator have agreed on the outlines of a deal that will prevent the relocation of 12 severely disabled children from one of the city’s Renaissance charters.
The deal avoids a potentially traumatic move for students in two Multiple Disabilities Support (MDS) classrooms at Mastery Charter Clymer Elementary in North Philadelphia. It also allays, at least for now, the concerns of disabilities rights advocates that the District had established a precedent for exempting charters from their responsibility to educate some of the city’s most vulnerable – and expensive to serve – students.
“I think we came up with a really positive solution,” said Courtney Collins-Shapiro, deputy chief innovation officer at Mastery Charter Schools.
“I think this is a good sign of the District and charters partnering.”
The transition from high school to college is difficult for any student. But for special needs students, who often depend on tailored instruction and targeted resources at the high school level, the move to higher education can seem even more daunting.
About a third of District graduates who attend college enroll at the Community College of Philadelphia. We posed some questions to Theresa Tsai, who has been a counselor at CCP's Center on Disability (COD) for 20 years, about the transition to college life for special education students.
South Philadelphia senior Marcus Johnson stands at the front of his classroom eager to give his presentation on mammals. But there are no poster board cutouts here, no sketches across a blackboard, no pages borrowed from an animal encyclopedia. Johnson, with his back to a class that has iMacs and iPads, works the keys on his laptop computer with the focus of an engineer in a computer lab. After a few clicks, he turns to face his peers, and the website he designed – which gives vivid images and rich content about the animals he loves so much – fills the interactive projector at the front of the room.
This guest blog post is a statement of the Lower Merion School District, submitted by Director of School & Community Relations Doug Young.
The Notebook recently published an inaccurate, misleading, and inflammatory guest commentary by attorney Sonja Kerr and communications assistant Dave Hanyok both of Philadelphia Public Interest Law Center (PILCOP). Kerr is part of the team of attorneys that have pursued a 2007 federal lawsuit against Lower Merion School District (LMSD). The case is scheduled for trial very soon in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
As demonstrated in study after study and acknowledged in the text of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), minority students (and especially Black students) are disproportionately diagnosed with disabilities and placed in special education or lowest-level courses.
Many people don’t understand how this is possible. They think: Isn’t it clear when someone has a disability? Can’t you just administer an IQ test, look at test scores, and be done with it?
Unfortunately, the evaluation process is much more complicated than that – and as it’s actually implemented, it leaves a lot more room for human error.
The start of this school year is markedly different from past years. Dramatic state cuts to education funding have Philadelphia and other school districts facing unprecedented budget shortfalls.
It's not clear how cutbacks will impact students with disabilities. The Education Law Center will be working with parents and school officials to monitor this.
One point remains clear: Though school budgets have changed, a student's rights have not. Here's a reminder of what parents and students with disabilities are guaranteed by law:
Going to college is filled with academic and social challenges. Those issues can be compounded for students with disabilities if they are limited in their access to programs, services, and activities.
Colleges and universities are prohibited from discriminating against students with disabilities in all aspects of their college-going experience, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA). "Discrimination" includes the refusal to provide reasonable accommodations.
The District is responsible for educating some of our most vulnerable children – children with disabilities who are among the 6,000 or so foster home children in our Family Court dependency system.
"Dependency" arises with an allegation that there is a lack of parental care so that the court legally assumes the parental role; in these cases, the child is dependent on the court to advocate for their education.