[blindkid] Victories and Defeats

Mary Strahan phouka at kc.rr.com
Wed Apr 10 01:00:39 UTC 2013

Carol--Congratulations!  Tammy--oh no they didn't.  As you know, what
they're doing is absolutely, 100%, against the law as outlined in the 2004
reauthorization of IDEA:

Section 614 (d)(3)(B)(iii)
(B) Consideration of Special Factors.-The Individual Education Program (IEP)
Team shall-
(iii) in the case of a child who is blind or visually impaired, provide for
instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP Team
determines, after an evaluation of the child's reading and writing skills,
needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of
the child's future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille),
that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the

The NFB has a great brochure about it called Braille and Visually Impaired
Students:  What Does the Law Require?  You can download a copy at
ts.pdf.  This brochure both cites the applicable section of IDEA and
explains it in layman's terms.

I just completed education advocate training here in Kansas, so have some
ideas from my notes.  I don't know if any of these will work, but they might
be worth a try:

1)  There's a civil rights law, Section 504, that protects people with
disabilities.  Sometimes, this is even used in place of an IEP (although
they'll tend to prefer the IEP because there's funding that comes with that
that isn't there with Section 504).  This may not just be an IDEA issue, but
also a Section 504 access issue.

2)  Parental consent is *required* whenever there is a "substantial change
in placement or a material change in services" for a student.  A "material
change," in this case, would be a decrease of "25% or more of the duration
or frequency of a special education service, a related service, or a
supplementary aid or service specified on the IEP of an exceptional child."
I'm not 100% sure of whether this is just Kansas or not, but here, any
change (1%+) requires notice, but 25%+ requires *consent*.

3)  Every state has a Parent Training Center mandated by IDEA.  In Kansas,
it's Families Together; in Missouri, it's M-PACT.  Find yours.  Tell them
what's happening.  See if they can help.

4)  Kansas has an organization called the Disability Rights Center of
Kansas.  They're amazing.  See if your state has something similar.

5)  You said you'd done Due Process before.  Call the people involved with
that case.  Call your State Board of Education.  Use your computer and your
telephone and raise a stink to absolutely anyone who will listen.  Since the
previous lawsuit--that you won--is out there, there should be someone
willing to enforce that suit.  (That's just me.)

6)  I don't think it will stop them from discontinuing Braille and being
idiots now, but file a Formal Compliance Complaint.  Be thorough:  attach
exhibits (i.e. evidence), quote the law, include your IEP, include the case
documents from your previous due process case etc.  Your state has a time
limit of 60 calendar days to investigate and issue a written decision.  Time
extensions are only given in the case of exceptional circumstances.  You
should include a) A statement that a public agency (i.e. your school) has
violated a requirement of Part B of IDEA.  B) The facts on which (a) is
based.  C) that the violation occurred not more than one year from the date
the complaint is received (not a problem in this case), and D) your request
for corrective action.  Your State Department of Education should have a
form and instructions to help you file.  And the complaint COSTS YOU NOTHING
but paper and time.  (I know.  I did it.)

7)  From what I understand, one of the risks of Due Process is that you can
be held liable for the other team's legal fees.  I believe that happened
with the young man back East where they took 2.5 years of court proceedings
to get him the Braille he was guaranteed by law.  I'd be very tempted to go
to your IEP team, note that you have already gone to court for this, state
that you're more than willing to go again (they don't need to know that $ is
an issue), and note that this time you will be asking for legal fees and
penalties against the school district.  In other words, bluff using your
previous Due Process.  They should be very, very interested in avoiding
going to court.

8)  You can request mediation.  I don't know if it will work, but it's your
right.  Both teams do have to agree to mediation.  You'll get an impartial
(i.e. not employed by the school district) mediator who is trained in both
mediation and special education law.  It's confidential and can't be used as
evidence in subsequent legal actions, by you or by them.  The written
agreement is binding under the law and attached to your child's IEP.
Mediation can't be used to deny or delay due process.

9)  We called our state Board of Education last year when we were having IEP
issues.  I think they were surprised to hear from us, but we did get to talk
to a state attorney and get guidance on what we could do to go forward.
Call your state board of education, tell them what's happening and ask for
help.  It's worth a shot.

I am stone-cold furious on your and your daughter's behalf.  Please keep us
in the loop and let us know if there's anything we can do to help.

All my best,


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