DD Quarterly - Fall 2010
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Editor's Note: This edition of the DD Quarterly features special education issues for school age children with disabilities.
- Educating Students with Disabilities: Achievements and Challenges
- Chairman's Message
- What's the Difference Between an IEP and a 504 Plan?
- How Can I Get The School to Follow My Child's IEP?
- IEP Toolkit Empowers Families
- Ohio Students Receive Assistive Technology to Transition to College
- Having Your Child Assessed for Special Education
- Laws Protect Students from Bullying and Harassment
- Access to School Buildings and Programs
- Use of Service Dogs in School
- Self Advocates Meet with Their Legislators
- Assistive Technology Assures Inclusive Education
- Ohio's Partners in Policymaking Program Growing
- News from Ohio Legal Rights Service: LRS Staff Protects Education Rights
- Ayers Recognized for Her Self Determination Advocacy
- DD Quarterly Collaboration
About the DD Quarterly
Copyright © 2010, Content may be reprinted upon request.
In 1975, Congress passed Public Law (PL) 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. This law, requiring public schools to provide students with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment, initiated the delivery of services to millions of students previously denied access to an appropriate education.
DD Quarterly recently asked several prominent Ohioans in the education system to reflect back over the 35 years and to comment on future challenges and issues in Ohio's special education system: Margaret Burley, Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities; Terri McIntee Larenas, Family and Community Involvement Consultant for the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County; Jan Osborn, Superintendent of Schools for the Putnam County Educational Service Center; Kathe Shelby, Director of the Ohio Department of Education's Office for Exceptional Children; and Sue Tobin, Chief Legal Counsel for the Ohio Legal Rights Service. The questions and their responses follow.
What do you think is the greatest achievement in special education in Ohio over the past 35 years since the passage of PL 94-142?
Burley: The inclusion of students with severe disabilities in the general curriculum of the public schools is certainly among the greatest achievements. The total exclusion of certain groups of students 35 years ago, based on the severity of their disabilities, was a grave violation of these students' civil rights.
McIntee Larenas: Ohio has always been a leader in early intervention programs. The state seems to understand the concept of the "whole child" and family centered planning. There always has been a systemic level of collaboration across departments when serving young children with disabilities and their families.
Osborn: The greatest achievements in special education have included expansion and development of comprehensive special education services and programs, better identification procedures, development and implementation of confidentiality and procedural safeguards and greater emphasis on parent involvement.
Shelby: The fact that public schools have stepped up and taken responsibility for the education of all children, including students with disabilities, is the greatest achievement of PL 94-142. The conversation about providing services to children with disabilities has changed significantly over the past 35 years. It has changed from one of access to school programs to conversations about results for children with a disabilities such as "How is she progressing in the general curriculum?" and "What services does he need to be successful in a career, post secondary training, and living in the community?".
Tobin: The law established that all children can learn, regardless of the severity of their disabilities. The Act opened the school doors to all children when previously some were deemed 'uneducable' and were denied access to public instruction.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for special education in Ohio over the next ten years?
Burley: Schools will be faced with a severe shortage of teachers trained and fully licensed to teach students who need specialized instruction in order to achieve to the level of their potential. Related services personnel, such as speech therapists; occupational and physical therapists; assistive technology specialists; and orientation/mobility specialists will most likely be in very short supply.
McIntee Larenas: We need to continue to break down the silos that have been built between special education and general education. We need to have meaningful and critical conversations that assist in changing the culture of segregation and separation. Ohio is lagging behind in this area because of the history of dual systems built since the late 1960s. That is when school districts began to integrate students with disabilities into neighborhood schools, but did so by placing the students in locations within the school building that continued to model the same segregated settings. Separate is never equal. This has to be a conversation for both educators and families.
Osborn: I believe appropriately funding special education is our greatest challenge, especially during these severe economic times. Even when Ohio experienced better economic times, the state chose to underfund special education. A second major concern will be staying focused on the needs of children rather than the potentially unnecessary legal and bureaucracy requirements.
Shelby: A challenge will be ensuring that children with disabilities are considered as an integral part of the school community so when districts or schools make decisions, the needs of all children, including children with disabilities are considered and planned for before decisions are finalized.
Tobin: There are many challenges ahead, including: budget cuts to an already underfunded system; disproportionate suspensions and expulsions, particularly of children with disabilities who are of color; the continuing achievement gap between children with and without disabilities; and the continuing failure to provide appropriate transition services to many children with cognitive disabilities that will enable them to be fully included in society.
In your work with families and students, what are they telling you is the most critical issue facing special education in Ohio today?
Burley: Many families are still relating tales of physical restraint and/or seclusion of their children with behavior or emotional issues. Well trained and knowledgeable, caring staff seems to be the greatest need in the area. Some school buildings still have rooms, boxes or other such areas where children are locked in for all or part of a school day without adult supervision or instruction of any kind. One young boy who had been subjected to this treatment at school refused to return saying he did not want to go to jail.
Another concern among parents is they are told there are only two options — a regular classroom with no aids or supports or a full-time classroom for children with multiple disabilities. These situations occur in many cases because teachers and administrators are not fully trained or licensed. The majority of teachers today, in Ohio, who are teaching with only a temporary license are teaching in special education.
McIntee Larenas: Families are frustrated that decisions are being made about their children's future without their input being a critical factor. There is too much of a "one size fits all" mentality rather than individual student-driven plans. Resources and services seem to benefit the educational side rather than what really might be beneficial to the individual student.
Osborn: Families are still seeking caring, well-trained professionals to teach their children. Even with our tremendous improvements in Ohio, some districts lack enough well-trained special education teachers and related service providers. In addition, students and parents still want their voices to be heard. Some parents have real concerns regarding the No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA)requirements. Many parents believe that their children have fewer options today regarding least restrictive environment, access to functional academic training and transitional training.
Shelby: More and more parents are telling us that their children now have access to the general education curriculum and have greater opportunities after graduating. We would like to hear from more parents that this is happening for their child.
Tobin: Low expectations of educators is a common complaint. Parents know their children are capable of achieving more and behaving appropriately, if given appropriate, individualized instruction to meet their needs. Judges and hearing officers contribute to low expectations by continuing to apply the outdated "Cadillac vs. Chevy" standard of appropriateness.
What grade would you give Ohio for implementing inclusive education in neighborhood schools for students with disabilities?
Burley: Ohio is still a long way from an A.
Inclusion is not a place. Inclusive education is a philosophy where all children are seen as valuable members.
McIntee Larenas: C+
Ohio probably deserves a lower grade. Because there are pockets of good people who understand differentiated instruction and universal design for learning for all kids, I did want to recognize and celebrate those successes. The problem for successful implementation is often due to lack of a systemic belief that all kids can learn and achieve to the best of their abilities. There are many people who hear the words "it is not enough for a kid to be included in a classroom" and take that to mean if kids are not at the same level of understanding and learning then it is okay to begin to pull them out of that learning environment. Education needs to remove all barriers to learning which includes non-academic barriers. When that is done, improvements will be seen in student achievement for all students.
I believe Ohio is average among most states and continues to make positive progress. But a lack of parent and educator training, along with limited resources, compounds this challenge. I also believe that we are sent mixed messages when IDEA requires access to the least restrictive environment, continuum of services, as well as access to the general education curriculum, but federal regulations emphasize inclusion.
Shelby: B or B-
I gave this grade according to the data that school districts and community schools send to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). However, ODE is in the middle of responding to a focused monitoring visit from the Office for Special Education Programs which focused on the least restrictive environment. ODE is now implementing technical assistance and resources to districts on educating children with disabilities in inclusive settings in their neighborhood schools. Our Leadership Conference held in September focused on inclusion by bringing in national speakers as well as highlighting district's that are implementing successful inclusive practices.
Tobin: A and D
It depends on the district and its commitment to inclusion. The data tell us it also depends on the disability category and the child's race.
If you could do one thing to improve special education in Ohio, what would it be?
Burley: I would provide grants-in-aid to worthy, caring students in our colleges and universities so our children with special needs are ensured they have well prepared teachers trained to provide services for students who have visually impairments, hearing impairments, or emotional disturbance, and those trained to be reading specialists, behavior therapists, speech language pathologists, mental health counselors, and all other needed specialties. This will ensure that Ohio schools can really provide a high quality, world class education to 100% of their students.
McIntee Larenas: I would set up a committee of stakeholders, including parents of students with disabilities across all IDEA categories, young adults with disabilities, educators from all school levels, and university faculty and sit down with selected members of the Board of Regents to have a discussion of pre-service programs for educators in Ohio (special education, general education, related services and education administration) and to talk about what is lacking in teacher preparation.
Osborn: While my first response to this question is improved state funding, I am compelled to say we need to continually improve our respect and appreciation of diverse learners. We have come a long way during the past 35 years thanks to the tireless efforts of parents, educators, and advocates of children with disabilities. As Margaret Burley taught me many years ago, ALL MEANS ALL and HIGH EXPECTATIONS!
Shelby: There are wonderful things happening throughout the state on behalf of children with disabilities. There are many dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to help children with disabilities. ODE is working to spread the good practices employed by those districts and individuals to others so that there is consistency in services across the state.
Tobin: I would achieve a fully-funded cost-based system that fosters decision making based on children's needs instead of decisions being driven by the limited resources.
ODDC position statements
"Inclusion is a value and the underlying philosophy by which all students with and without disabilities are educated together in supportive settings - learning, playing and working with students their own age in the same schools and classrooms attended by their brothers, sisters and neighbors.
Regardless of individual needs, students are provided the necessary and appropriately trained and supported staff, as well as, the necessary and appropriate related services and supports, including technical supports as specified in the Individualized Education Plan, Individualized Family Services Plan or other educational plans."
by Virginia Wilson, Staff Attorney, Ohio Legal Rights Service
Federal laws assure all Ohio children with disabilities ages 3 through 21 are offered a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and state and federal regulations require FAPE and the development of individual plans for students with disabilities. These plans can be either an individualized education program (IEP) or a 504 plan.
There is much confusion, however, about the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan. The eligibility requirements, the types of services available, and the procedures to obtain services under each are often not explained to parents seeking special education services for their children with disabilities.
What is an IEP and what is a 504 plan?
An IEP is a written education program for a child with a disability that must include:
- the future vision for the child;
- the child's present levels of academic and functional performance;
- annual measurable goals designed to meet all of the child's unique educational needs;
- a description of how the child's progress will be measured and when progress will be reported;
- a statement of the specific special education and related services and accommodations that will be provided to help the child meet his/her goals and participate in the regular curriculum; and
- a statement of the extent to which a child will be educated with children who do not have disabilities.
A 504 plan is a written statement of the individualized educational accommodations, services and supports that will be provided to a child with a disability to ensure the child receives a FAPE. The 504 plan should be as detailed as possible and include who is responsible for providing the educational services and supports, what data will be kept on implementation of the plan and how often the 504 team will review the plan.
Who has a right to an IEP or a 504 plan?
To obtain an IEP, a child must be evaluated and determined to have one of the 12 disability categories listed in the IDEA statute (see page 7) and because of the disability, need special education and related services.
To obtain a 504 plan, a child must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity or be regarded as having such an impairment by others. A child with a disability has a right to a 504 plan if:
- special education or related services are needed but the child does not fit into one of the 12 disability categories under the IDEA; or
- special education services are not needed but the child needs accommodations, related aids or services to help him/her receive an appropriate education.
What does an IEP and a 504 plan require schools to do?
Under the IDEA, schools must offer a child with a disability in need of special education an IEP that meets all of his/her unique educational needs, is designed to help the child make educational progress and ensure the child is able to access the same curriculum as children without disabilities.
Schools must follow detailed procedures to ensure a child with a disability receives a FAPE in the least restrictive environment and that the child's parents have the opportunity to participate in the identification, evaluation, placement and provision of FAPE for their child.
Under Section 504, public school programs have a duty to have procedures in place to assure students with disabilities are not excluded from, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination by school programs and activities. Schools must make sure these children are appropriately evaluated and provided a FAPE.
A 504 plan should detail the specific educational and related aids and services the school will provide to the child to ensure his/her educational needs are met to the same extent as the needs of children without disabilities and they are educated to the maximum extent appropriate with their peers without disabilities.
What rights do parents have if they do not agree with the IEP or 504 plan?
Under the IDEA, parents may request mediation, file a state complaint with the Ohio Department of Education, or request an impartial due process hearing to challenge their child's educational services.
The due process procedures under IDEA detail the obligations of the district and the parents rights including:
- prior written notice of the district's actions;
- procedures for challenging services provided or refused by the district;
- the right to an impartial due process hearing;
- the opportunity to participate and be represented by counsel in an impartial hearing;
- the right to subpoena witnesses and review educational and related records; and
- an opportunity to file an action in state or federal court if they do not agree with a decision in a due process hearing.
Under Section 504, schools must ensure parents are given adequate notice of their child's rights; the opportunity to review their child's records; and an adequate procedure to challenge identification, evaluation and placement issues. This procedure must include, at a minimum, the right to parental participation in an impartial hearing, the opportunity to be represented by an attorney and a review procedure. Parents can also enforce their rights under Section 504 by requesting an impartial hearing using the school district's procedures, filing a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights or by initiating legal action in accordance with federal law.
What is special education?
Special education is instruction that is specially designed by adapting the content, methodology or delivery of the instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. Note: A child with a disability may have a 504 plan even if he or she is not receiving special education services.
- cognitive disability
- hearing impairment
- multiple disabilities
- orthopedic impairment
- other health impaired
- serious emotional disturbance
- specific learning disability
- speech or language impairment
- traumatic brain injury
- visual impairment
Where can I find help?
- Ohio Department of Education: (877) 644-6338; TTY (888) 886-0181
- Office for Civil Rights: (216) 522-4970; (877) 521-2172
- Ohio Legal Rights Service: (800) 282-9181; TTY (800) 858-3542
by Kristin Hildebrant, Supervising Attorney, Ohio Legal Rights Service
Your child's individualized education program (IEP) serves as the road map for the provision of a free appropriate public education, so it is important the IEP is implemented as written. However, sometimes a school may fail to follow your child's IEP. Common reasons include misunderstandings about the content of an IEP, not providing copies of the IEP to all staff working with your child and a lack of resources necessary to carry out the IEP.
There are steps you can take to ensure your child's IEP is implemented appropriately.
Know and Understand Your Child's IEP
Get a copy of your child's IEP and read it carefully. If your child needs a service or is receiving a service not listed on the IEP, make sure it is added to the IEP so the school must provide that service.
It is important your child's IEP is written in clear language that everyone understands. A clearly written IEP can prevent misunderstandings about what services are provided to your child.
For example, your child may receive speech therapy services. Therapy services can either be direct (provided to the child by a therapist) or consultative (therapist provides information to the teacher). The IEP should clearly specify the therapy given so you understand what level of service is provided to your child.
If you don't understand your child's IEP, if a service your child needs is not on the IEP, or if the IEP is misleading or unclear, contact the special education coordinator in your school district to help you understand the IEP and resolve your concerns. Your school board office can tell you who coordinates special education for your school district.
Ask the School to Provide the Service on Your Child's IEP
If a service is not being provided, talk with the person who is responsible for the service. Work with that person to resolve your concerns. If talking with the service provider does not resolve your concerns, ask the special education coordinator to help.
Everyone who works with your child should have a copy of your child's IEP and be familiar with it. If your child's IEP is not being followed, talk with your child's teachers and therapists to ensure they understand what the IEP requires. Sometimes people who work with your child were not present at your IEP meeting. This is especially true when a child has multiple teachers and spends time in both regular and special education. You may want to discuss specific details of the IEP with people who did not attend the IEP meeting.
If talking doesn't help, ask for an IEP meeting to resolve your concerns. You may ask for a meeting even if you have already had an IEP meeting during the year. At this meeting you can add services to the IEP or change unclear language.
If your school does not respond to your request for an IEP meeting or refuses to give you an IEP meeting, put the request in writing. If a meeting is still not provided, contact the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and ask ODE staff to call your school on your behalf to help arrange a meeting.
Discuss Alternative Ways to Provide the Service
In some cases, it is not possible to provide a service or support to your child in the identical way it was provided initially. In these situations, alternative ways to provide the service or support must be considered and provided. The school may provide services on the IEP in alternative ways, but those ways must be appropriate for your child.
Sometimes a service is not provided because the person who provided the service is unavailable. For example, your child may have physical therapy written on his IEP and the school's physical therapist is on leave. Your school is required to ensure those services are provided. Talk with your school about other options for providing the service. Your school may be able to hire a substitute therapist to provide therapy until the regular therapist returns. Your school may agree to pay for private therapy until a substitute therapist is employed, or you may agree to the therapy being provided when a new therapist is located.
If your child is not provided with a service on his IEP, the school may be required to makeup the service. This is called compensatory education. Compensatory education can be provided in different ways including after school, during the summer and during school breaks.
Your school can provide reimbursement for services that were missed because the IEP was not followed. For example, you could be reimbursed for transporting your child if your child's IEP includes transportation and bus transportation is unavailable. Your school will be required to provide alternative transportation (taxi, private transportation) or may ask you to transport your child. You do not have to provide transportation for your child, but can agree to provide it if alternative transportation is unavailable.
If you agree to transport your child, the school must reimburse you for mileage. If the service is a therapy, the school can agree to reimburse you for private therapy sessions you arrange for your child while the school therapy was not provided to your child.
Put Your Concerns in Writing
In most cases, make requests for services and supports to your school in writing. Letters help you keep a record of what you have requested. This is very important in situations where you cannot resolve your concerns quickly or where more than a phone call is required. Be sure to date your letter and request the school to answer you in writing within a reasonable time.
Where can I find help?
If these suggestions do not work to resolve your concerns, you have other options.
- Seek the assistance of an advocate.
- Use the techniques in Negotiation Skills for Parents: How to get the Special Education Services your Child Needs.
- Contact the Ohio Department of Education for assistance or to file a complaint call (877) 644-6338.
- Ask for an administrative review with your school's superintendent.
- Pursue formal mediation and/or a due process hearing.
- Seek the assistance of an attorney.
by Gretchen Carroll, Education Coordinator, Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Coordinator, University of Cincinnati UCEDD
Families of children with developmental disabilities often find the special education system to be confusing, frustrating and overwhelming. One aspect of the special education process that is particularly confusing to parents is the development of the individualized education program (IEP). Many parents do not understand the components of the IEP and, as a result, are not appropriately prepared for optimal participation in the IEP process. This can lead to an IEP that is not well matched to a child's needs. However, a toolkit is now available that helps families become more knowledgeable and empowered in the IEP process.
Gretchen Carroll, special education coordinator in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center developed the "IEP Toolkit: Helping Families Become Knowledgeable, Prepared, and Empowered Partners in the IEP Process." The toolkit is structured like a workbook highlighting important sections of the IEP and providing families with helpful strategies to prepare for each IEP section. Families record specific information within the various sections of the toolkit, and they are able to utilize the completed toolkit to guide them as they engage in the IEP meeting. The toolkit was developed with support from the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Cincinnati and funding assistance from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities.
Study Assesses Usefulness
A study involving 30 families of children with Down syndrome (grades K-8) was conducted to evaluate the usefulness of the toolkit. Before using the toolkit, the families completed a questionnaire about their:
- knowledge of key sections in the IEP;
- level of preparedness for the IEP meeting;
- confidence in sharing information with the school team.
The families then received the IEP Toolkit and were asked to review and complete it before their child's IEP meeting. After using the toolkit, families completed an identical questionnaire, reflecting potential changes in their level of knowledge, confidence and preparedness. A follow-up questionnaire was done by phone after the IEP meeting to collect more in depth reactions toward the toolkit.
Results Find Toolkit Helpful
The findings of the study suggest that the IEP Toolkit is a useful and empowering tool to support families of children with disabilities. When comparing pre/post-questionnaire responses, families reported increases in satisfaction across all areas, including level of preparedness for the IEP meeting, understanding of key portions of the IEP and confidence in sharing information during the IEP meeting. The phone interviews conducted with participants after their child's IEP meeting revealed positive feedback. Comments included:
"The activities were great and helped me think things through, write it all out, and be more organized before the meeting."
"I felt like I was an equal player this year."
"Because of the IEP Toolkit, I felt I had a voice and I was heard for the first time in five years."
For more information about the IEP Toolkit, contact Gretchen Carroll at Gretchen.Carroll@cchmc.org.
The Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (RSC) and The Ohio State University Nisonger Center presented five college-bound, Ohio high school seniors who have disabilities with laptop computers during the recent DEAF Initiatives Conference in Columbus. The laptops were provided based on student need through a partnership between RSC and the Ohio Board of Regents.
The Cleveland-area students, Eugene Clark-Smith, Matilda Patterson, Jason Praeter, Tasmin Smith and LeRoy Woods, each received a laptop with a SMART Drive that is loaded with assistive technology (AT) including ClickSpeak, a text-to-speech program. They will also receive training so that they can effectively use the AT during their college careers.
Residential Student Learning Community
The students who received the laptops were part of a week-long summer program hosted by The Ohio State University Nisonger Center, called Residential Student Learning Community for College Bound Students with Disabilities. The program, funded through an RSC and Board of Regents partnership, provided each of the 19 participants with an iPod Touch loaded with iPod AT applications. The iPods were customized based on each student's abilities and needs. Some have applications such as Dragon Dictation, speech recognition software; My Homework, software that helps students track assignments; and Math Solver, a mathematical application that helps solve equations.
"The partnership between RSC and the Ohio Board of Regents provides students with disabilities access to valuable tools that will help put them on a more level playing field with other college students," said Susan Pugh, director of RSC Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR). "We are excited to help these young people as they progress into college and develop the skills they will need for employment opportunities."
RSC is the state agency that partners with Ohioans with disabilities to achieve quality employment, independence and Social Security disability determination outcomes through its BVR, Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired (BSVI) and Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD). Visit the RSC website for more information.
The Ohio Board of Regents is the state agency that coordinates for higher education in Ohio. Visit the Ohio Board of Regents website for more information.
by Derek Hamalian, Staff Attorney, Ohio Legal Rights Service
If you think your child, ages 3 through 21, has a disability and needs special education services, there are specific procedures to follow to streamline the process.
The first step is to contact your school district to request an evaluation of your child. Make your request in writing, date it and state that the district has your consent to evaluate your child for special education services. Sending a letter documents your request for an evaluation and establishes a timeline for completing the evaluation and for the provision of services, if your child is eligible. School districts often refer to this evaluation as a multi-factored evaluation (MFE) or an evaluation team report (ETR).
Informed Consent and Timelines
Your informed consent is required before evaluation can begin. Informed consent means you understand what assessments and evaluations the school proposes to use for the evaluation. The school is required to provide you with a notice describing any evaluation procedures it plans to use during the MFE/ETR. The MFE/ETR must be completed within 60 days of the date of your consent.
A school district, before it is required to evaluate whether your child is eligible for special education, has the option to provide interventions to address your child's learning difficulties. Examples of interventions can include assessment; monitoring of student progress; counseling; and programs and materials designed to support student achievement.
The school is required to collect information about how the interventions are working, and whether additional or different interventions are necessary. This information is used to determine whether your child may be eligible for special education and what teaching methods work for your child.
This process is often referred to as the intervention assistance team (IAT) or differential referral process and cannot be used to delay the MFE/ETR for a child with a disability.
If, while implementing these interventions, the school determines your child is likely to be eligible for special education, or it suspects your child has a disability, the school must conduct a MFE/ETR. If the school decides not to conduct a MFE/ETR within the 60 day timeline, you must be given notice of the reasons why it will not evaluate your child and your right to appeal this decision.
The Evaluation Plan and Process
As part of the MFE/ETR of your child, the school district's evaluation team is required to develop an evaluation plan that identifies existing information about your child. This includes information from classroom assessments and observations, and information about interventions tried and their success.
The evaluation team must ensure that it uses a variety of tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about your child, including information provided by the parent, in determining if your child is eligible for special education. The evaluation plan must also identify what additional information is needed to determine if your child is eligible for special education.
The school district must follow specific rules when conducting the MFE/ETR. The evaluation team may not determine eligibility solely on the basis of a single measure or assessment. The school must select a variety of assessments and evaluations and administer them:
- for the purpose for which they are designed to maintain validity and reliability;
- in a manner that is not discriminatory on a racial or cultural bias; and
- in accordance with publisher instructions.
The law requires the school to assess your child in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status and motor abilities. The law also requires that the evaluation is sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of your child's special education and related services needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which your child might be classified.
The Evaluation Report
After your child's assessments are completed, the school is required to invite you to a meeting to discuss the results of the MFE/ETR. The report will include a summary of the information obtained during the evaluation process; the names, titles and signatures of each team member; and whether or not they agree with the eligibility determination. A parent is entitled to a copy, at no cost, of the evaluation report prior to the initial or next individualized education program (IEP) meeting and no later than 14 days from the date of eligibility determination.
A group of qualified professionals and the parents determine whether a child is eligible for special education. Their decision is based on the results of the MFE/ETR and whether the child meets the eligibility criteria for special education. The eligibility criteria determined by state law require the child to qualify under any of the following: cognitive disability; hearing impairment including deafness; speech or language impairment; visual impairment including blindness; emotional disturbance; orthopedic impairment; autism; traumatic brain injury; other health impairment; specific learning disability; deaf-blindness; and multiple disabilities.
Getting a Second Opinion
If you disagree with the results of the MFE/ETR conducted by the school, you can pursue an independent expert evaluation (IEE). You may choose the evaluator as long as the evaluator meets the school's criteria for IEEs. Your school must either pay for the IEE or file for an impartial due process hearing and prove that its evaluation was appropriate. If your school wins this hearing and you do not appeal or you lose the appeal, you will be responsible for the cost of the IEE.
Even though a parent may take the first step in getting his or her child evaluated, a school district has an affirmative duty to locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities, regardless of severity, who are in need of special education within its district. This includes homeless children, children who are wards of the state, children who attend non-public schools, and highly mobile children such as migrant children.
This duty, referred to as "child find" also includes children who are suspected of being a child with a disability and in need of special education, even though that child may be advancing from grade to grade.
by Kristin Hildebrant, Supervising Attorney, Ohio Legal Rights Service
Children with disabilities are more likely than other children to be bullied by their peers. Studies show that children with learning disabilities and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are vulnerable to peer bullying. Research is also showing that children with medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or spina bifida are more likely to be victimized by peers and frequently report being called names related to their disability.
Bullying and harassment can have a substantial negative impact on a child's education and can lead to anxiety, depression and poor school performance. Fortunately, there are state and federal laws that prohibit bullying and disability harassment.
Ohio Revised Code section 3313.666 prohibits harassment, intimidation or bullying in Ohio's public schools. The law defines harassment, intimidation or bullying as any intentional written, verbal or physical act that a student exhibits toward another student more than once and:
- causes mental or physical harm, and
- is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for the other student.
School districts are required to establish a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying and are required to develop the policy in consultation with parents, students, school employees and community members. The policy must address a strategy for protecting victims from additional bullying and procedures for: documenting reports of bullying, investigating reports, reporting bullying and parent notification when bullying is reported. School districts are required to publish their bullying policy in the student handbook and to include the policy in school employee training materials.
Disability harassment is intimidation or abusive behavior toward a student based on disability that creates a hostile environment by interfering with or denying a student's participation in or receipt of benefits, services or opportunities in the school's program. A school is required to prevent disability harassment.
Disability harassment can violate different laws, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). These laws can be violated when the harassment is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to create a hostile environment. Harassment can include name-calling, physical abuse or inappropriate written comments about your child.
Prevention - What You Can Do
Explain the problem to someone who can help
Talk with your child's teacher. Your school must take steps to make sure your child is not being bullied or harassed in school. If the harassment is happening in your child's classroom your child's teacher may be able to resolve the problem quickly. Explain the problem to the teacher and ask that steps be taken to stop the harassment.
Talk with your building principal or special education coordinator. Harassment or bullying can occur anywhere in school including hallways and on the school bus. Harassment can come from students who are not in your child's class. In these cases, talk with your building principal or special education coordinator and ask that steps be taken to resolve your concerns.
Document your concerns in writing
Send a letter to your superintendent or special education coordinator. If the harassment is not easily resolved by talking with school personnel, send a letter to your child's school documenting your concerns. Date the letter and clearly explain the situation including what happened, where and when it happened and any witnesses to the harassment. Explain how the harassment affects your child. Request the school officials to respond to you in writing about how they are going to stop the problem.
Ask for your school's harassment and bullying policy
Request a copy of this policy and determine if the school is following its policy. This required policy must include a procedure that is used to address harassment. Request a copy and determine if the school is following its policy. Use the school's procedure to resolve the problem.
Ask for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting
Contact your school's special education director for an IEP meeting. The IEP team is required to ensure your child receives a free appropriate public education. This requires an education free from bullying and harassment that affects learning. The IEP team should discuss ways to ensure that your child is free from harassment in school and ways to remedy the effects of the harassment. This can include:
- changes in your child's schedule to avoid problem situations or problem students;
- the use of additional adults (guidance counselors, therapists, aides);
- in-service training for staff on how to prevent harassment; or
- additional services for your child.
The IEP should be changed to reflect any additional services or changes to your child's program. All services provided to your child should be written on the IEP.
Discuss if your child is entitled to compensatory services
If your child missed school due to bullying or harassment he may be entitled to compensatory education to make-up for missed services. The IEP team should discuss if compensatory services are necessary. These services should be written on the IEP.
Pursue formal methods to resolve bullying and harassment concerns
If you are not able to stop the bullying or harassment by talking to your school or through an IEP meeting, you have other options.
Initiate a due process procedure. You may request an impartial due process hearing under the IDEA or Section 504. For information on how to pursue an impartial due process hearing, contact the Ohio Department of Education at (877) 644-6338; TTY (888) 886-0181.
Contact the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to file a complaint if the disability harassment denies your child a FAPE. ODE investigates complaints and issues plans of correction. Call (877) 644-6338; TTY (888) 886-0181.
Contact the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) or the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) for more information about disability harassment. You may contact either office by calling (800) USA-LEARN or (800) 437-0833 for TTY services. You may also contact the OCR enforcement office in Cleveland at (216) 522-4970; TTY (877) 521-2172 or at OCRCleveland@ed.gov. OCR will investigate allegations of disability harassment.
Consult an attorney about a court action. You may have the right to bring a lawsuit against your school district for harassment that violates the law. You should be aware that there are timelines for bringing a case and should consult an attorney without delay if you are considering court action.
by Virginia Wilson, Staff Attorney, Ohio Legal Rights Service
Federal and state laws require publicly funded schools to assure all children with disabilities are educated with their peers without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate for each child. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) all require schools to make sure children with disabilities are provided an equal opportunity to access the same educational and extra-curricular programs and activities offered to children without disabilities.
Does accessibility mean more than access to the school building?
Yes. Schools are required to assure children with disabilities have access to all of the different programs and activities offered to children without disabilities including academic and vocational programs, recess, lunch, electives, field trips and extracurricular activities such as athletics and after school clubs or other programming. Schools must assure children with disabilities are not excluded from participating and enjoying the benefit of these programs and activities because of their disability.
Schools may need to modify materials or provide adaptive equipment to allow a child with a disability to effectively participate in or benefit from the district's programs or activities. Unless required for a free appropriate public education (FAPE), schools are generally not required to provide individually prescribed devices such as hearing aides or wheelchairs for students or other services of a personal nature.
What must schools do to ensure children with disabilities can access their buildings and programs?
It is each school district's responsibility to assure children with disabilities can participate and benefit from the district's educational programs and extracurricular activities. Schools are not required under the law to have all existing buildings in the district accessible, but each of the district's educational programs and activities, when viewed in their entirety, must be readily accessible and usable for children with disabilities.
Schools must have a sufficient number of accessible buildings in the district so children with disabilities can access all of the courses, programs and activities of the district. Students with disabilities must also have access to all the commonly utilized areas and facilities in the building such as the office, restroom, library, computer rooms and cafeteria. The entire building does not need to be readily accessible and usable by people with disabilities to comply with the ADA, but all areas of the building necessary for the student to fully participate and benefit from programs must be accessible and usable.
What factors are important in determining whether a school's programs and buildings are accessible?
Schools are required to provide adequate accessible parking and loading/unloading zones; an accessible route to enter the building; doorways that allow ready access; accessible restroom facilities and drinking fountains; accessible rooms with appropriate floor surfaces for wheelchairs; and furniture and equipment usable by individuals with disabilities. There must also be an accessible means of exiting the building and/or an accessible and safe means of emergency evacuation.
It is not necessary for schools to make structural alterations to existing school buildings or to make the entire building accessible if there are other effective methods of providing access to school programs. For example, schools can make alterations to an existing building, reassign classes to the first floor, move classes and other services to accessible buildings in the district or assign aides to ensure access. However, they must give priority to methods which allow children to access programs while remaining in the most integrated setting possible.
What if a school district updates an older building or builds a new school building?
When a district updates a building in the district, any alteration must be readily accessible and usable by people with disabilities, to the maximum extent feasible. Newly constructed school facilities must be readily accessible and usable by people with disabilities.
Must the school provide the same services, classes, and supports to children with disabilities as they provide to students without disabilities?
Schools must provide a child with a disability: 1) the opportunity to participate, 2) an equal opportunity to obtain the same benefits, and 3) supports, services and benefits that are as equally effective as those provided to other children in the district.
It is discriminatory under Section 504 to deny children with disabilities the opportunity to participate in regular classes and programs based on their disability. Schools can only provide different or separate services or programs for children when it is necessary to make the service or program as effective for the child with a disability as it is for other children.
Services and benefits for children with disabilities must be provided in the most integrated setting appropriate to the child's needs. Schools cannot give children with disabilities services or programs that are not equal to or are less effective than those provided to other children in the district.
What if the district offers separate facilities, classes or different supports, benefits or services specifically for children with disabilities?
A school district may not, based on disability, deny a child the opportunity to participate in supports, benefits or services offered to all children, even if the school offers separate programs and services for children with disabilities.
If schools provide separate programs for children with disabilities, the school must assure the facilities, programs and activities are comparable to the other facilities, programs and services offered by the district for students without disabilities.
Where can parents get more information or assistance regarding accessibility in schools?
Ohio Legal Rights Service: If you have questions or concerns about the accessibility of your child's school district's educational programs and activities, you can contact the Ohio Legal Rights Service at (800) 282-9181; TTY (800) 858-3542.
Office for Civil Rights: You can file a complaint or seek additional information regarding accessibility violations of the ADA, Section 504 or the IDEA in schools by contacting the Office for Civil Rights at (216) 522-4970; TDD (877) 521-2172 or by email OCR.Cleveland@ed.gov.
Ohio Department of Education: If your child has an individualized education program (IEP), you can utilize the mediation, complaint and due process procedures provided parents through the Ohio Department of Education, Office of Exceptional Children, at (877) 644-6338; TTY (888) 886-0181.
by Kristin Hildebrant, Supervising Attorney, Ohio Legal Rights Service
A teenager with social phobia and separation anxiety disorder. A young child with type 1 diabetes. A child born with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair. What do these children have in common? They all have service dogs that accompany them to school. Service dogs provide assistance to students with a variety of disabilities including sight, hearing and physical disabilities, autism, seizures, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Service Animal Defined
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that schools be accessible to individuals with disabilities, defines the term service animal as: any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. (See ADA Amendments for information regarding recent changes to the ADA.)
The work or tasks performed by a service dog may be different depending on the needs of the student with a disability, but the work must be directly related to the disability. The teenager with social phobia and separation anxiety disorder uses a service dog as a transitional support so that she can leave her parent and go to school. The young student with diabetes is alerted by his dog if his blood sugar levels are too high or too low. The student with cerebral palsy is assisted by his dog who helps to open doors, pick up objects and otherwise assist the student in the school environment.
The ADA generally requires a school district to modify its policies, practices or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by a student with a disability. In addition, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) may require school districts to allow a child to bring a service dog to school as part of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
Section 504 Access
Section 504 prohibits disability discrimination in schools. The Office for Civil Rights, responsible for school district compliance with Section 504, has determined that a school district violates Section 504 when it disallows the use of service animals and this effectively denies a student with disabilities the equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from an educational program.
School districts are permitted to offer alternative modifications to the use of a service dog, but the alternative must be effective in all of the functions the service animal performs with respect to the student's disability. These determinations should be part of a collaborative process, including an individual case-by-case determination specific to the student and his animal.
Service Dogs Required for a FAPE
A FAPE provides special education and supportive services that allow a child with a disability to benefit from his or her education. For some children with disabilities a service dog is an integral part of a FAPE. Determining whether a service dog is necessary for a FAPE requires an individualized assessment by the child's education team. Issues that should be considered by the education team include:
- Tasks the dog is trained to provide to the student and the extent to which these tasks can be fulfilled by other means.
- The dog's impact on the student's ability to function successfully and independently.
- The dog's impact on the student's behavior, including the student's ability to behave appropriately and develop and maintain positive social relationships.
- Degree to which separation from the dog during the school day would impair the student's transition to independent living skills.
Requirements for Individual Training
A service dog must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the person with a disability. With most service dogs, it is apparent they have been specially trained, but in some cases it may not be clear a dog has been individually trained. A school district may ask if the dog is required because of a disability and what work or task the dog has been individually trained to perform. However, a district cannot require documentation, such as proof that the dog has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal.
The Student's Responsibilities
A service dog must be under the control of its handler, the student with a disability. A dog must have a harness, leash or other tether, unless either the student is unable because of a disability to use them or the use of a harness, leash or other tether would interfere with the dog's safe, effective performance of work or tasks. In either case, the dog must be under the student's control (e.g., voice control, signals or other effective means).
Some students with disabilities may have difficulty controlling a service dog because of their disability or young age. A dog's trainer can be valuable in developing a plan to help the student handle the dog. A plan can include assistance from school personnel. For example, a student aide can help transfer a service dog's leash from a student's wheelchair to a stationary object during recess so the student can play on the playground while the dog rests on the sidelines. A very young child might need reminders from school staff to control his dog until he is comfortable handling the dog in the school setting.
The care and supervision of a service dog is the responsibility of the student. School districts are generally not responsible for feeding the dog or for taking care of the dog's toileting needs. However, the school district and the student should develop a plan that allows the student the time necessary to care for the dog and a designated location for the dog's toileting needs.
Overcoming School District Concerns
A school district may have a variety of concerns about admitting a service dog into a school. Common concerns include allergies, safety issues and disruption to the school environment. The best way to overcome a school district's concerns is to address the concerns through dialogue. Students who want to bring a service dog to school should notify the school district prior to receiving the dog so the school district and student have time to meet, discuss any concerns and develop a plan.
Service dogs are trained and chosen to be service dogs partly because of their calm temperament. It is rare that service dogs cause disruptions in the school environment. In the unlikely event that a service dog is disruptive, the school district may ask the student to remove the dog from school. Prior to removing the dog the school staff and student should meet to discuss ways to eliminate the disruption.
A school district may deny a request to bring a service dog to school if the dog is a significant risk to the health or safety of others (direct threat) that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services. Prior to denying a service dog access to the school environment, the school staff and student should meet to determine if the threat can be eliminated.
Planning and discussion prior to bringing a service dog to school will help smooth the transition of a dog into a school setting that has never dealt with the issue before. A plan should be developed that includes how school staff and other students will be educated about the service dog, how the student will be accommodated in order to care for the dog and how any issues about the dog will be resolved. Careful planning can make the introduction of a service dog into the school setting a positive experience for the entire school environment.
For more information or help with a problem regarding a service dog, contact Ohio Legal Rights Service at (800) 282-9181 or TTY (800) 858-3542.
Final regulations implementing changes to the ADA regarding service animals, including the definition used in this article, will be effective March 15, 2011.
More than 325 self advocates, family members and others packed the Atrium of the Ohio Statehouse for ODDC's Legislative Advocacy Day event. The self advocates' mission was to inform policymakers about the need for home and community-based services in Medicaid long term care and about how a lack of services would affect their life in the community.
Carolyn Knight, executive director of ODDC, told the group of enthusiastic advocates, "This campaign will not fail because of a lack of resources or a lack of energy as demonstrated by this group today!" Other speakers at the event, including Senator John Carey (R-17th District) and Representative Jay Goyal, (D-73rd District), said they want to hear what self advocates have to say. Senator Carey encouraged the advocates to tell their story. "You are the experts," Carey told the audience.
After the presentations, many of the advocates met with their legislators. Event organizers scheduled 218 appointments for self advocates and their legislators.
Mike Ruf from Medina County expressed his excitement and nervousness about his appointment with Senator Bob Gibbs (R-22nd District). Ruf said, "I plan to tell Senator Gibbs about my goals in life — to work full-time and get healthcare benefits."
The event was sponsored by ODDC and Nisonger Center at The Ohio State University.
In 1990 Congress amended the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to include the definitions of assistive technology (AT) devices and services. In doing so, Congress underscored the critical role AT plays in the education of students with disabilities. The following article demonstrates how AT enables students to participate in, and benefit from, inclusive educational programs.
This past spring a young woman with a visual disability graduated from high school. Her high school years were typical of other students: she took college prep courses, participated in talent shows, played drums for a band she helped form and did recreational sport activities. But her path to high school was not easy.
When she completed 8th grade, the school district wanted her to attend high school at the Ohio State School for the Blind (OSSB). School district staff felt her educational needs would be better met in the specialized school. According to her father, "The school district didn't even evaluate her — they just decided to send her to the OSSB." He continued, "We as a family were determined she would attend high school in her community — she wanted to be with her friends."
The student wanted her high school experience to be like it was in middle school where teachers made accommodations by modifying assignments, adapting the curriculum and providing other resources to best meet her educational needs. She and her family met with school district officials to advocate for placement in the local high school and to explore AT devices and services needed to assure a successful educational experience.
"We were very involved and convinced the school district officials that our daughter could be successful in a high school curriculum if she had the necessary AT," said the father. He said that the school district was initially reluctant to buy the AT devices but as the year progressed, they saw the value and even offered suggestions to improve AT services.
AT at the High School
With the appropriate AT, the student was able to participate in classes and her teachers adapted easily to her learning style. The school district purchased a laptop computer with JAWS screen reading software installed on it. This allowed her to take and review notes and do other class assignments. She was also given a BrailleNote device which helped her to refine her Braille reading skills and complete writing assignments. The student said, "With the assistive devices, I felt very connected to my classes, teachers and other students. I enjoyed my high school years and it would not have been possible for me to complete high school without AT."
The student currently uses her AT devices at an alternative school where she attends a music appreciation program. She plans to enroll in college this winter.
School district responsibility
It is the responsibility of the school district to provide for AT devices and related services identified in the individualized education program (IEP) to ensure that assistive technology is useful to a student in the school setting. The intent of the IDEA is that, if a student with disabilities needs technology in order to be able to learn, the school district will (a) evaluate the student's technology needs, (b) acquire the necessary technology, (c) coordinate technology use with other therapies and interventions, and (d) provide training for the individual, the individual's family and the school staff.
by Paul Jarvis, Liaison Officer, ODDC
Effective advocacy can be broken down into two key elements: passion and "know-how." Anyone involved with public policy will tell you about their passion, and they will have a basic understanding of what steps to take to make their advocacy issue a reality.
To even a marginal observer of the disability community, passion is an ingredient that is overflowing in families and self advocates working to affect positive change in disability policy. Disability advocates live and breathe in the very system they work so hard to improve — no one can say there is a lack of passion in the disability community.
More remarkable, however, is the effort of many advocates to learn how the system works, how to be effective and how to build relationships with policymakers. Classes and training programs designed to improve advocacy skills are heavily attended by disability advocates. For some, obtaining the best training in advocacy and leadership development is as simple as applying to the Partners in Policymaking Program.
Partners in Policymaking is an advanced advocacy training program created in 1987 by the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities and is replicated in nearly every state and also in other countries. Participants in the program follow a set curriculum related to inclusive education; housing; supported and competitive employment; media relations; and legislative and community advocacy. In addition to receiving the advanced training, many graduates of the program maintain contact with each other and offer help and support on individual advocacy issues.
Council has supported Partners classes since 2000, and plans to support another class in 2011. Classes are held in central Ohio and each class typically includes 20 students, ten are parents of young children with developmental disabilities and ten are adults with developmental disabilities. Most classes begin on a Friday afternoon and are finished by Saturday afternoon. Funding provided by ODDC ensures that participants receive the training at no expense. In recent years, select graduates of the program have travelled to Washington, D.C. to receive training on federal policy issues and to practice their newly formed advocacy skills on Capitol Hill.
Applications for the 2011 class will be accepted until November 15, 2010. Go to The Arc of Greater Cleveland website to download an application packet or contact Cindy Norwood.
- Training: Ohio Partners in Policymaking
- Deadline: November 15, 2010
- Contact: Cindy Norwood, The Arc of Greater Cleveland
- Phone: (216) 622-0755
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Promoting educational rights of students with disabilities is a priority for protection and advocacy systems throughout the nation. Ohio is no different. A significant number of cases accepted at LRS involves special education related issues.
In fiscal year 2010, LRS provided technical assistance to hundreds of families seeking assistance with special education concerns. The agency represented families and their children in matters ranging from IEP disputes and complaints to representation at mediation and due process hearings.
Special Education Short Term Assistance
The LRS intake department has expanded to include short term assistance to students and family members seeking assistance through the agency's front door. The department includes a disability rights advocate, Marilyn Figley, who provides short term assistance in the area of special education rights. Figley empowers families through information and resources to become decision makers and self advocates for their children in school settings.
The special education section at LRS employs an experienced group of attorneys and a disability rights advocate to address education concerns. Attorneys Derek Hamalian, Virginia Wilson and Kristin Hildebrant practice primarily in the area of special education law where their determined advocacy results in many positive outcomes for clients. They represent children with disabilities in special education cases and engage in class action litigation.
Earnestine Hargett is a disability rights advocate. Hargett is involved with some of the most complex special education cases, often dealing with multiple service systems to ensure appropriate services for Ohio's children.
Special Education Priorities and Resources
LRS recently published programmatic priorities designed to guide the agency's work for the next three years. The special education priorities focus on systemic issues in Ohio and protecting the rights of students with disabilities to assure a free appropriate public education. Go to LRS' website to view the agency's priorities.
LRS has produced publications and written a series of frequently asked questions about special education. Topics include: extended school year, related services, special education resources, transition planning, seclusion and restraint in schools, Medicaid, negotiation skills, traumatic brain injury and other special education related issues.
All of these publications are available on the Special Education section of the LRS website.
ODDC staff member, Fatica Diana Ayers, received the Steven R. Cooley award at the Ohio Self Determination Association's (OSDA) annual conference. Ayers, policy analyst for community living issues at ODDC, received the award for her excellent leadership and commitment in supporting self determination.
Ayers was a pioneer in promoting self determination throughout Ohio in the early 1990s. She implemented an ODDC grant, Removing the Mask, that targeted systemic reformation based on the principles of person-centered planning and self determination. Ayers continues to advocate for self determination through collaboration with grantees she monitors, including grants that address housing, transportation, and personal assistant services.
Ayers, discussing her award said, "I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the Steven R. Cooley award. I have worked on initiatives involving self determination for over 20 years with the Council and this award will inspire me to continue to promote self determination until it is universally accepted across Ohio by everyone."
The Steven R. Cooley award acknowledges individuals who play a vital role in advancing the concepts of self determination: freedom, authority, support, responsibility and confirmation. Nominees are evaluated based on creativity, how they support the principles of self determination and their contributions toward systems change.
Dana Charlton, executive director of OSDA said, "Fatica has been a driving force behind self determination in Ohio for years. She not only initiates and supports system change projects promoting the principles of self determination, she also speaks out loud and clear at every opportunity. She truly deserves this award in honor of Steve, who was a strong self advocate in Ohio."
ODDC and Ohio Legal Rights Service joined others as sponsors of the 2010 OSDA conference. For more information about OSDA, go to the Ohio Self Determination Association website.
The DD Quarterly newsletter is an ongoing collaboration among the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, Ohio Legal Rights Service, the Nisonger Center and the University of Cincinnati, University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.
DD Quarterly is produced by the Ohio Legal Rights Service. To share your comments or suggestions about the newsletter, or to sign-up to receive email notification when the DD Quarterly is published, contact:
Ohio Legal Rights Service
Attn: Tom Hemmert
50 W. Broad Street, Suite 1400
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Voice: (614) 466-7264 or (800) 282-9181
TTY: (614) 728-2553 or (800) 858-3542
Fax: (614) 644-1888
The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council is a group of 35 people, appointed by the governor, who plan and advocate for Ohioans with disabilities. ODDC receives federal funds and distributes those funds by awarding grants for projects and activities that create visions, influence public policy, pilot new approaches, empower individuals and families, and advocate system change. Contact information for ODDC is: 899 E. Broad Street, Suite 203, Columbus, OH 43205, Voice phone: (614) 466-5205 (800) 766-7426 (Toll free in Ohio); TTY: (614) 644-5530; Fax: (614) 466-0298; Web site: www.ddc.ohio.gov