PWN like a Pro

Does your team write prior written notices that communicate clearly to parents and protect the district in case of a dispute? Or are the PWNs somewhat lacking? After a long (possibly contentious) ARD meeting, drafting a cogent and detailed PWN can feel overwhelming. But its definitely worth the time and effort. A strong PWN can help avoid misunderstandings and provide compelling evidence in the event of a TEA or due process complaint.  

Lights! Cameras! Action! (To Take Following a Request to View Special Education Camera Footage) 

Texas Education Code 29.022 leaves little room for confusion regarding the requirements for placing video cameras in certain self-contained classrooms and other special education settings following a request by a parent, Board member, or District employee. The law is less clear, however, regarding the parameters for responding to requests to review recordings on these cameras. This uncertainty often leaves school districts, particularly school administrators, confused as to how to respond to these requests in accordance with the law. Fortunately, the special education team at Thompson & Horton LLP has broken down these requirements and provided step-by-step guidance for responding to these requests. 

Free Personal Assistants for Special Educators!

Imagine a world where special education teachers have an invaluable assistant—a tireless digital companion capable of drafting IEPs, offering tailored lesson plans, and even communicating with parents. This isn’t science fiction; it’s the reality we’re moving toward with the growing presence of artificial intelligence in special education. But the science, so far, is imperfect, and users must guard against potential pitfalls.  

New Accelerated Instruction Requirements Call for Changes to Policies & Procedures for 2023-2024

In the wake of the pandemic, House Bill 4545 left school districts scrambling to figure out how to address learning loss for all students, including students with disabilities, through accelerated instruction. School districts were cautiously optimistic that the most recent legislative session would ease many of the burdens of House Bill 4545. In June 2023, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1416—otherwise known as the House Bill 4545 ‘Clean-Up Bill—which introduces new changes to the accelerated education environment. While House Bill 1416 narrows some requirements for school districts, it broadens others.  

Don’t You Forget About Me: OSEP Policy Letter Sheds Light on Rights of Students Who Have Graduated 

Phew! It’s the day after graduation, and your school district is finally off the hook for a potential state complaint you have been fearing the legal guardian of a student with disabilities would file against the district for months. Not so fast! On March 30, 2023, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) (part of the U.S. Department of Education) released a policy letter relating to the rights of students who have graduated. Letter to Oettinger, which is dated March 2, 2023, addresses the following issues:  

(1) Must a State Educational Agency (SEA) resolve a complaint if the child who is the subject of the complaint has graduated? 

(2) Must an SEA resolve a complaint that alleges systemic noncompliance based on facts related to a child who has graduated? 

Addressing Common Myths Regarding Accommodations Decisions and Implementation

Perhaps one of the most critical components of a student’s IEP, accommodations are designed to provide equal access to the learning environment for students with disabilities. Despite their importance, ARD committees sometimes gloss over this section of the IEP without giving it the attention it deserves. One cause for confusion is that the term “accommodations” is not actually defined in the IDEA, which may lead to disputes over what is necessary and appropriate to provide FAPE. To ensure that school districts make appropriate decisions regarding accommodations and comply with implementation requirements, we address common myths that we hear regarding accommodations and clarify the legal truth below: