What's New

2017 Guidelines for Occupational Therapy in Connecticut Schools

May 15th, 2017

In a May 10, 2017, memorandum to Connecticut Special Education Directors, it was announced that the 2017 Guidelines for Occupational Therapy in Connecticut Schools is now available. Please review this memorandum which contains the Web link leading to this guidance document.

Memorandum 2017 Guidelines for Occupational Therapy in Connecticut Schools

U.S. Access Board Issues Guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility

May 2nd, 2017

The U.S. Access Board has released guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) to address questions that have arisen on the use of alternative symbols. Some cities and states have adopted a different symbol that was created to be more dynamic and suggestive of movement. The Board’s guidance explains how use of a symbol other than the ISA impacts compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Standards issued under the ADA require that the ISA label certain accessible elements, spaces, and vehicles, including parking spaces, entrances, restrooms, and rail cars. Similar requirements are contained in standards issued under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) for federally funded facilities. The ISA, which is maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), has served as a world-wide accessibility icon for almost 50 years.

“Consistency in the use of universal symbols is important, especially for persons with limited vision or cognitive disabilities,” states Marsha Mazz, Director of the Board’s Office of Technical and Information Services. “In addition to the ADA and ABA Standards, many codes and regulations in the U.S. and abroad also require display of the ISA.”

While the ADA Standards do not recognize specific substitutes for the ISA, they do generally allow alternatives to prescribed requirements that provide substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability under a provision known as “equivalent facilitation.” However, in the event of a legal challenge, the entity pursuing an alternative has the burden of proof in demonstrating equivalent facilitation. Under the ABA Standards, use of a symbol other than the ISA requires issuance of a modification or waiver by the appropriate standard-setting agency.

“The Board understands the interest out there to revisit the ISA but strongly recommends that such efforts be directed to the ISO to ensure consensus in adoption and uniformity in implementation,” says Mazz.

The ISA bulletin is posted on the Board’s website along with other issued guidance on the ADA Standards and the ABA Standards. For further information, contact Dave Yanchulis, yanchulis@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0026 (v), or (202) 272-0027 (TTY).

Testing for Students Enrolled in Out-of-State Facilities or State Non-Approved Schools

May 2nd, 2017

Connecticut public school districts are now responsible to test students in the Public School Information System (PSIS) who are enrolled in out-of-state facilities or are enrolled in state non-approved schools. Please see the following important previously published documents for information.

Students in PSIS who attend Out-of-State Facilities or In-State Non-Approved Facilities

Connecticut Alternative Assessment System Participation Guidance for Planning and Placement Teams

Parent Input Needed for IEE Task Force

March 29th, 2017

In February a number of parents and organizations, including CPAC, filed a petition with the State Board of Education to amend the State’s regulations on Independent Educational Evaluations, (IEE) and on parents’ rights to observe their children in school. The Board responded by establishing a task force to study the issue and to report back in July with recommendations on how things can be improved. This means you have the chance to have your voice heard.

Two changes to the regulations are being considered, but first a little background. Whenever a parent disagrees with an evaluation done on their child, or when they request and evaluation and the school has denied to conduct an evaluation the parents are entitled to request an IEE. An IEE is an evaluation performed by a professional who does not work for the school, either to see if there are errors in the one performed by the schools, or the get the information the school does not believe it needs to obtain. When a parent makes a request for an IEE the school has two options: They can take the parents to a due process hearing to prove the information they have collected is correct, or they can provide the parents with the qualifications required for the person to perform the IEE.

The petition was made because sometimes the list of necessary qualifications tends to vary depending on what town is being asked. More importantly, in many towns the list limits the parents’ ability to find a professional to do the evaluation.

The other issue is parent observation. Some schools put unnecessarily strict limits on the amount of time that parents, or professionals hired by parents can observe their child during the school day. Some totally refuse to allow parents to observe at all. This can mean that the parents are unable to get a full picture of their children’s programs, or how those programs are working.

We know many families face one or both of these problems because many of you call us for help. If you have experienced one or both of these problems there is an opportunity for your voice to be heard, an for you to make a deference for all our kids.

The Task Force has set aside two hours of it meetings on April 7 and April 17 to hear from parents and school personnel on this. The meetings begin at 10:00 at the Connecticut State Department of Education’s offices at 450 Columbus Avenue in Hartford. If you have run into problems on either of these issues we urge you to make the time to testify so parents’ voices are heard. For more information please call us at 860-739-3089 or email at iee@cpacinc.org. If you are unable to make it and would like to tell your story in writing or in a video or voice recording please call and we will tell you how to do that as well.

The Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center Announces the Election of Two New Members of Our Board of Directors

March 6th, 2017

Margarita Vargas-Torres, 37, has worked at the Fair Haven Community Health Center as the Cancer Screening Coordinator and Referrals Manager for the past 17 years. She is a patient advocate for improving access to timely cancer testing and treatment among under served women and men in the Fair Haven community. She has a B.S. in Public Health from Southern Connecticut State University. She resides in East Haven with her husband Will and two sons, Gian, 8 and Alex, 13, who at a young age was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. “I welcome the opportunity to be on the board of CPAC because of my personal experience, but also because it’s my way of paying it forward.”

David Goldblum is the principal of Pathways Academy of Technology and Design, a magnet high school in East Hartford that is part of the Hartford Public Schools. He lives in Branford and, with his wife Joanne, is the parent of three grown children. As a professional and as a parent he has been involved with special education issues for the past twenty years and is looking forward to supporting children and families through his work on the CPAC board.

New Special Education Professional Learning Modules

January 30th, 2017

The Bureau of Special Education (BSE) in partnership with the State Education Resource Center (SERC), has developed a series of Special Education Professional Learning Modules with three central themes running throughout the series including Independent Education Program (IEP) development, culturally-responsive family-school partnerships and state and federal special education programs.

Several of these professional learning opportunities will be offered prior to the close of this school year, but all will be offered during the 2017-2018 school year, with some modules offered as overviews and others as in-depth learning opportunities.

Intentionally designed with a target audience that includes general educators/school leaders as critical partners, participants will return to their districts with tools and strategies ready for implementation to build staff capacity and to better support students with disabilities and their families.

Individual module details and registration information can be found here.

U.S. Department of Education Announces Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Final Regulations on Accountability

November 30th, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) issued final regulations to implement provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regarding school accountability, data reporting, and state plans. The regulations incorporate the valuable feedback that the Department received through the public comment process, while maintaining the focus on providing states with new flexibility to ensure that every child gets a high-quality and well-rounded education, and enhancing equity and preserving critical civil rights protections for all students.

For more information, visit the following resources:
View the final regulations.
Read the fact sheet.
Review the timeline for identification of schools for support and improvement.

iPad Grant Applications Now Open

November 13th, 2016

Autism Speaks has announced that this year, 685 iPad Airs will be awarded to financially disadvantaged people with autism. The application is now open!

Eligible applicants are individuals who:

Have been diagnosed with autism by a licensed professional
Reside in the United States
Have limited income and cannot afford to purchase an iPad
The timeline is below:

November 7: Online application opens at 6:00 a.m. EST
November 11: Application closes at 11:59 p.m. EST
November 15 – December 9: Review committee selects recipients
December 15: Recipients announced and iPads sent out!

Applications must be submitted by the person with autism, an immediate family member of the person with autism, or a licensed social worker or therapist. The Technology Grant Review Committee will review applications and select the iPad award recipients. All applicants selected to receive an iPad Air will be contacted by December 15. If selected, the iPad will be shipped via UPS directly to the address provided with the application. Others will receive an email informing them of their status.

Click here to apply!

30th Anniversary of IDEA Part B, Section 619 and Part C

October 4th, 2016

This October marks the 30th Anniversary of the passage of Public Law 99-457, which established Part C and mandated Part B, Section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These programs have played a critical role in improving results and upholding the rights of infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.

Throughout the week of October 3–7, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) will run a campaign showcasing many perspectives from the field, including researchers, families, practitioners, and even individuals who participated in early childhood services through Part C early intervention, and Part B, Section 619 preschool. The week will culminate in a Google Hangout to discuss how the law has impacted the early childhood field, on Friday, October 7th at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Supreme Court to Weigh FAPE Mandate

October 4th, 2016

For the first time in more than three decades, the U.S. Supreme Court says it will consider how much educational benefit schools must provide students receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The nation’s high court said Thursday that it will hear arguments in a matter known as Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. At issue is the IDEA’s mandate that public schools provide children with disabilities a free appropriate public education, or FAPE.

The case was brought by parents known in court papers as Joseph F. and Jennifer F. who pulled their son with autism out of his Colorado school district and sent him to a private school. They then sought reimbursement from the Douglas County School District arguing that the boy, Drew, was not provided FAPE.

Both a hearing officer and the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado found in favor of the school district, saying that FAPE was provided because the boy received “some” educational benefit.

Read the full article from Disability Scoop.