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Ensuring Educational Stability for Kids in Care

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					Ensuring Educational Stability
       for Kids in Care
           November 17, 2004

    Beth Reimels, Managing Attorney
 Beth Locker, Post-Graduate Legal Fellow
     Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic
       Emory University Law School

            Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   1
                         2004
          Setting the Stage
Compared to the general school population,
  foster children:
• Have poorer attendance rates,
• Are less likely to perform at grade level,
• Are more likely to have behavior and
  discipline problems,
• Are more likely to be assigned to special
  education classes and
• Are less likely to attend college
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    Educational Stability for Kids
         Training Agenda
•   Overview of educational advocacy
•   Student discipline
•   Special education
•   Homeless youth
•   Programs and resources




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               Basic Strategies
1. Pay attention
  –   Make education planning a part of the initial
      discussions about placement
  –   Get into a routine
      •   Family Conferences
      •   72 hour and 30 day hearings
      •   Etc.
  –   Document your attention
      •   Example: “All the children should remain at their current
          school. They seem to be doing very well academically with
          no reported problems and as a result, it would be in their
          best interest to continue at that school.”


                      Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic                 4
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            Basic Strategies
1. Pay attention
2. Minimize school transfers
  •   When transfers are necessary, coordinate
      them with school holidays, whenever
      possible
  •   Find out if the new school has any tutoring
      supports – enroll the child immediately



                 Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   5
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         Basic Strategies
1. Pay attention
2. Minimize school transfers
3. Schedule appointments with an eye
   on the child’s schedule




             Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   6
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            Basic Strategies
1. Pay attention
2. Minimize school transfers
3. Schedule appointments with an eye on
   the child‟s schedule
4. Communicate high expectations
  •   Ask children about their homework and
      report cards


                Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   7
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            Basic Strategies
1. Pay attention
2. Minimize school transfers
3. Schedule appoints with an eye on the
   child‟s schedule
4. Communicate high expectations
5. Designate an educational advocate
  •   provide the advocate with an Education
      Checklist
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          Basic Strategies
1. Pay attention
2. Minimize school transfers
3. Schedule appoints with an eye on the
   child‟s schedule
4. Communicate high expectations
5. Designate an educational advocate
6. Encourage attendance at
   parent/teacher conferences
              Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   9
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Children have rights that need to
     be protected at school.
 Due Process

 The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  (IDEA)

 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

 Family Education records Privacy Act (FERPA)

                 Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   10
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 Due Process & Student Discipline

• Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565 (1975)
• Right to a formal hearing
  – Suspension of more than 10 days
  – Expulsion
• Informal hearing
  – Suspension of 10 days or less
  – Oral notice of charges
  – Explanation of the evidence
  – Opportunity to present their side of story
                 Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   11
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          Informal Hearing
• School policy often requires written notice
  – Notice includes charged offense, time, date,
    and location of alleged offense.
• Hearing is recorded
• Parent is invited
• Attorneys and educational advocates
  should ask to participate, but be prepared
  for school to say no or limit participation.
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           Discipline Tribunal
•   Formal hearing
•   Right to counsel
•   Right to cross examine witnesses
•   Right to present evidence
•   Right to testify
•   Hearing is recorded
•   Right to an appeal to the full school board
       -Georgia Department of Education (DOE)
       -Superior Court

                  Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   13
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              How It Works
• Find out when the hearing is
• Consider bringing an attorney; if expulsion is a
  possibility for the student bring an attorney
• Ask for a continuance if need time to prepare
• Request all student records before the hearing
• Request tape of the informal hearing
• Request a summary of the charge
• Provide character evidence
• Provide alternatives to suspension or expulsion

                 Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic    14
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 Educational Advocacy: first steps

• Get a release or court order to access
  student records
• Request all student records including
  discipline, special education, attendance
• Review the records
• Contact school to set up a meeting to
  review student progress

               Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   15
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    Questions to Ask & Records
            to Review
•   Absences? Truancy?
•   Discipline issues? Disciplinary tribunal?
•   Student Support Team (SST) meeting?
•   History of low academic performance? Repeated
    grades?
•   Sudden drop or improvement in achievement level?
•   Special education records?
•   Individual Education Program or IEPs?
•   In special classes or school?



                    Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   16
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    Contacting School Staff
1. First things first…
       REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE AN
      IMPORTANT RESOURCE. YOUR
            ADVOCACY IS CRITICAL!
2. There are levels of advocacy…
   Informal conference
   Student Support Team (SST)
   In School Team (IST)

              Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   17
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    Student Support Team (SST)
•   Identification of problem
•   Team approach
•   Monitoring and data collection
•   Strategy sharing and problem solving
•   Regular meetings to assess progress
•   Referral to In School Team


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       Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
    20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq; 34 C.F.R. Parts 300 & 303

• Part C - covers children with disabilities from 0 -3
   – Early Intervention Services
   – Babies Can‟t Wait
   – Services delivered by Georgia Department of Human
     Resources Division of Public Health, Family Health
     Branch, Children with Special Needs

• Part B - covers children with disabilities from 3 -21
   – Special Education Services
   – Services delivered by local school districts

                     Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic     19
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                               IDEA
                    Categories of Eligibility
•   Deaf / Blind (D/B)
•   Emotional / Behavior Disorder (EBD)
•   Hearing Impairment (HI)
•   Mild Intellectual Disability (MID)
•   Moderate Intellectual Disability (MOID)
•   Severe Intellectual Disability (SID)
•   Profound Intellectual Disability (PID)
•   Orthopedic Impairment (OI)
•   Other Health Impairment (OHI)*
•   Significant Developmental Delay (SDD)
•   Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
•   Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
•   Visual Impairment (VI)
    * Includes categories such as ADHD, Asthma, Leukemia, etc.
                        Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic         20
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            The Process
1. Identification of disability
2. Evaluation
3. Eligibility
4. Free Appropriate Public Education
     (FAPE)
5. Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)



              Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   21
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                  Evaluation
• Identification of potential disability
• Evaluation
   – For 0-3, call Babies Can‟t Wait 1-800-229-2038
   – For children ages 3 – 21 the school psychologist
     conducts evaluation
• Private evaluations are acceptable
• Parent consent or consent of surrogate parent is
  required – DFCS worker cannot be surrogate parent
• Right to an independent evaluation



                   Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic     22
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                  Eligibility

• The In-School Team (school) or Multi-
  Disciplinary Team (Babies Can‟t Wait)
  determines eligibility.
• Members of team include parents, psychologist,
  teachers, special education coordinator, and
  other interested parties.
• State law defines eligibility categories.
• If the parent disagrees, s/he can request a due
  process hearing.



                 Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   23
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    Free Appropriate Public
     Education or “FAPE”

• Each eligible student is entitled to FAPE
• FAPE is unique to every student and is
  outlined in the Individual Education
  Program (IEP)
• FAPE can include private school
  placement


               Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   24
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                             IEP
    Individual Education Program
•   Individual plan of instruction
•   Long and short term goals
•   Goals must be measurable
•   Must contain present levels of performance –
    benchmarks to measure progress –academic
    and social levels
•   Developed by a team – members of which are
    defined by federal law
•   Related Services
•   Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)
•   Transition Plan (students 14 years-old & older)
                   Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   25
                                2004
  Least Restrictive Environment
              (LRE)
• Think of LRE as a continuum of alternative
  placements to meet the unique needs of each
  child.
• Babies Can‟t Wait Services are to be delivered
  in a natural (read non-institutional setting).
• School age children should be educated as
  much as possible with their non-disabled peers.




                 Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   26
                              2004
      Parent Participation and
      Procedural Protections
• Right to review school records
• School should encourage parent participation
• Written notice
• Parental Consent
• Right to independent evaluation
• Mediation, due process hearing, appeal to state or
  federal district court
• If child is in foster care, a surrogate parent should be
  assigned by the school or Babies Can‟t Wait. Foster
  parents can be surrogate parents. The same rights &
  protections attach to the surrogate parent.

                     Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic        27
                                  2004
        IDEA Protections &
         School Discipline
• Special due process protections attach to
  students with disabilities
• Manifestation hearing
• Cannot be denied FAPE
• Cannot be suspended for more than 10
  days cumulatively



               Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   28
                            2004
       McKinney Vento Act
• What is the McKinney-Vento Act?

• How important is school stability?

• Why does this law matter to me?




              Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic   29
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                 Who is Homeless?
               (under McKinney-Vento)
The term „homeless children and youths‟ –
(A) Means individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime
      residence; and
(B) Includes –
    i.     Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss
           of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels,
           trailer parks or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate
           accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are
           abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;
    ii.    Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or
           private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping
           accommodation for human beings;
    iii.   Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned
           buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations or similar settings; and
    iv.    Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle
           because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i)
           through (iii).

    Age Range: Applies to children and youth who are eligible for public education,
         including preschool, under state or federal law.

                               Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic                          30
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               LEA Liaisons
        (under McKinney-Vento)
Key Provisions
• Every local educational agency (LEA) must designate an
  appropriate staff person as a liaison for students in
  homeless situations.
• Liaisons must ensure that:
   – Students enroll in, and have full and equal opportunity to
     succeed in, the schools of the LEA
   – Families, children and youth receive educational services for
     which they are eligible, including Head Start, Even Start, and
     pre-school programs administered by the LEA, and referrals to
     health, mental health, dental and other appropriate services
   – Parents or guardians are informed of educational and related
     opportunities available to their children, and are provided with
     meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their
     children
   – Parents and guardians, and unaccompanied youth, are fully
     informed of all transportation services, including to the school of
     origin, and are assisted in accessing transportation services.
                        Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic               31
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             School Selection
          (under McKinney-Vento)
Key Provisions
• Youth in homeless situations can stay in their schools of
  origin or enroll in any public school that students living in
  the same attendance area are eligible to attend,
  according to their best interest.
• Students can stay in their school of origin the entire time
  they are homeless, and until the end of any academic
  year in which they move into permanent housing.




                     Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic         32
                                  2004
                  Enrollment
           (under McKinney-Vento)
Key Provisions
• Youth in homeless situations can stay in their schools of origin (to
  the extent feasible) or enroll in any public school that students living
  in the same attendance area are eligible to attend
• Youth have the right to enroll in school immediately, even if they do
  not have required documents, such as school records, medical
  records, proof of residency or other documents
• If a student does not have immunizations, or immunization or
  medical records, the liaison must immediately assist in obtaining
  them, and the student must be enrolled in school in the interim
• Enrolling schools must obtain school records from the previous
  school, and students must be enrolled in school while records are
  obtained.




                         Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic                33
                                      2004
               Transportation
           (under McKinney-Vento)
Key Provisions
• School districts that provide transportation to the school of origin
  have documented increased attendance and increased
  achievement, resulting in increased funding to the district
• LEAs must provide students experiencing homelessness with
  transportation to and from their school of origin, at a parent or
  guardian‟s request
• For unaccompanied youth, LEAs must provide transportation to and
  from the school of origin at the LEA homeless liaison‟ s request
• If the student‟s temporary residence and the school of origin are in
  the same LEA, that LEA must provide or arrange transportation. If
  the student is living outside the school of origin‟s LEA, the LEA
  where the student is living and the school of origin‟s LEA must
  determine how to divide the responsibility and cost of providing
  transportation, or they must share the responsibility and cost
  equally.

                        Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic             34
                                     2004
                      Resources
• Foster Children & Education: How you can create a
  positive educational experience for the foster child.
   – A publication of the Vera Institute of Justice
   – Available at http://www.vera.org/publication_pdf/241_452.pdf
• What Keeps Children in Foster Care from Succeeding in
  School?
   – A publication of the Vera Institute of Justice
   – Available at http://www.vera.org/publication_pdf/169_280.pdf
• Educating Children in Foster Care
   – A publication of the National Conference of State Legislatures
     Children‟s Policy Initiative
   – Available at http://www.ncsl.org/programs/cyf/cpieducate.pdf


                       Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic               35
                                    2004
                             Resources
ATLANTA LEGAL AID SOCIETY, INC.
TeamChild Atlanta (404)614-3955
(404) 524 – 5811 Fulton County
(404) 377-0701 DeKalb County
ATLANTA VOLUNTEER LAWYERS FOUNDATION
(404) 521-0790
BARTON CHILD LAW & POLICY CENTER
(404)727-6664
FULTON COUNTY JUVENILE COURT EDUCATION ADVOCATE
(404)224-4550
GEORGIA LAW CENTER FOR THE HOMELESS
(404)404-681-0680
GEORGIA ADVOCACY OFFICE
(770)885-1234
GEORGIA LEGAL SERVICES
(800) 498 – 9469
NATIONAL LAW CENTER ON HOMELESSNESS & POVERTY (McKinney-Vento info)
www.nlchp.org
GEORGIA‟S EDUCATION FOR HOMELESS CHILDREN AND YOUTH COORDINATOR
David Davidson. 404-651-7555
THE GEORGIA LAW CENTER FOR THE HOMELESS
www.galawcenter.org; 404-681-0680




                              Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic        36
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