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Wed Oct 17, 2012, 07:16 PM

SF Special ed teachers say administrator's e-mail broke law

A San Francisco Unified School District administrator raised the possibility of not offering summer school to some special education students as a way to cut costs, a move that special education teachers and attorneys say violates federal law.

Lisa Miller, the district's head of middle school special education, said in a Jan. 4 e-mail to her staff that the cost of summer school had become "exorbitant" and told special education staffers at middle schools not to authorize it without her approval.

"I am asking that all middle school special education staff consult with me PRIOR TO authorizing/offering" summer school, she wrote in the e-mail, which was obtained by the Bay Citizen.

The directive appears to violate the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which requires each child's special education plan to be agreed upon by the student's family, educators and disability experts, not district administrators. The law also prohibits districts from denying student services based on cost.


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Reply SF Special ed teachers say administrator's e-mail broke law (Original post)
RandySF Oct 2012 OP
MichiganVote Oct 2012 #1
proud2BlibKansan Oct 2012 #3
MichiganVote Oct 2012 #5
sulphurdunn Oct 2012 #7
MichiganVote Oct 2012 #8
sulphurdunn Oct 2012 #9
MichiganVote Oct 2012 #10
Stargazer09 Oct 2012 #2
LWolf Oct 2012 #4
MichiganVote Oct 2012 #6

Response to RandySF (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 07:35 PM

1. Not quite.


If a school district provides a general education summer school, all students are eligible to enroll. That said, not all general education summer programs are appropriate for all students with special needs.

If a school district has access to an extended school year for special needs kids, the fact that any sped administrator would request that staff consult with he/she prior to writing extended school programming in an IEP is not in and of itself a violation. Fact is, staff should consult with administrative staff for a myriad of reasons. Kids with school related disabilities are usually encouraged to take part in an extended school year program IF data shows that the student has demonstrated or is likely to demonstrate a regression in skills without the ESY.

And yes, ESY is exorbitant. The transportation costs alone are very costly. A SPED administrator is supposed to review the IEP's of students for all manner of services. They are by extension, the representative of the district agreement for that IEP.

BUT-the fact that the administrator coupled her remarks to staff in an email and included the $$ issue, her communication is just dumb. She will have lost all integrity and now the district's IEP's will likely go thru a monitoring process which is also costly and time consuming.

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Response to MichiganVote (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 10:10 PM

3. Sorry I disagree.

1. ESY is an IEP team decision.

2. All districts must have ESY programs available for kids who qualify.

Now, you and I both know that yes, it's expensive and yes, admins review every program we offer our sped kids. But technically, the law says it's a team decision. Cost can't be a factor. If this ends up in court, the district will lose.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #3)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 06:17 PM

5. The fact that the woman included her cost concerns in an email does not support


or provide evidence that ESY has, in this particular district, been approved or disapproved because of cost. What her email does show is a total lack of sense to even link the two in an email to staff.

Actually proud, yes an IEP team can make ESY a team decision. However, that does not mean that a district has to agree with it. The district has options to agree or not to agree to any service on an IEP and the parent then has options to pursue a hearing if they feel it is necessary. Most school staff have already provided supportive evidence for ESY on the plaaf section of the IEP and /or spoken with admin. so that it does not become a problem. Also, different states have differing standards for the provision of ESY. Something that is not included in this article.

The district is a part of the "team". They may be represented by a Sped administrator but they do have a right and responsibility to write a viable IEP-up to an including ESY. Many smaller districts share an ESY service as the numbers are generally small. Not every district has its own program. Transportation is included to and from the ESY site.

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Response to MichiganVote (Reply #5)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 07:32 PM

7. The district is represented


on an IEP committee by a principal or principal's designee. There must also be at least one general and one special education teacher on the committee, who are also de facto representatives of the school district. A parent or other legal guardian is also a required member, whose signature must be affixed to the IEP stating that it is acceptable or not. If the parent or guardian refuses the IEP, the next step is to write a new one or go to a due process hearing (something to be avoided if at all possible). The committee determines what the IEP considerations, accommodations and services are, including EYS. ESYs are most frequently provided only for students with server and profound disabilities to avoid any disruption in the continuation of their services, not as remedial services for poor academic achievement. For a school administrator to even mention the cost of special education services in a memo is an act of extreme folly, since cost cannot be a legal reason for denial of services and even the inference that it might be could easily lead to costly legal problems. I'm sure this one won't do it again.

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #7)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 07:56 PM

8. A district can be represented by any administrator they so choose. And...


1. A gen. ed. teacher is required IF the student has gen. ed. classes, otherwise they are not required. Ditto for ancillary services, S&L, PT, OT etc.

2. A parent is not required to attend an IEP. A school district is required to try to schedule a mutually agreed upon time, supply an invitation and provide follow up to the parent in the event they are unable to attend. Best practice on the part of any school district is to discuss expectations before the IEP.

3. Not all states require parents to sign an IEP. A parent can request a hearing at any time, but they must supply/pay for their own representation.

4. Depending on the state/area, an amendment may be written to deal with an issue, not a whole new IEP.

5. ESY in most areas is provided when there is an anticipated or documented regression in skills. As most kids with special services for academic purposes have remedial skill deficiencies, in comparison to their same age peers, they can be said to have poor academic achievement. Some kids have been documented to have lost as much as 50% of their skills over the summer. Those are the target kids for ESY in most locale.

6. Folly to write that email? Oh baby, couldn't agree with you more.

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Response to MichiganVote (Reply #8)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 08:45 PM

9. 1. True


2. True, but in most states parental consent in writing is required before the annual IEP can be implemented, in which case the old IEP becomes the fallback position, which creates no end of new difficulties.

3. True

4. Most LEAs use addenda for changes to the annual IEP unless a student transfers from a different state, in which case a new IEP needs to be written.

5. It has been my experience that ESYs do not remediate the academic problems you describe for most students unless due primarily to attendance, which is problematic when considering ESY for such students.

6. Yea, that sure was dumb.

7. This has been an interesting discussion. Thanks.

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #9)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 08:57 PM

10. Thanks for the discussion. But, despite what most people think


1. Parental consent is not required. It has been the practice in most states to have parent signature but in actuality, it is not required. States are increasingly formulating IEP's that do not require parent signature. Part of this is our very changing society. For example, for the kids in foster care, we used to have to track down the foster care worker, have them come to the meeting to act for the state..but with the wide variety of living situations that kids have nowadays, sometimes it is impossible. If a parent objects to an IEP, surely the district should do everything possible to work with the parent but the parent can ask for a new IEP or they can go to hearing--at their expense.

2. If a student arrives from out of state, in some states a new eval. is required if an eval. has not been done in the state in the past. If the state in which they arrive feels that they can match the services from a previous state, they are not required to do a new IEP. Having said that, most districts do have a new IEP anyway. If for no other reason than new goals and objectives are needed, especially among high school kids. Some school district offer various HS curriculum that a student could benefit from and then an IEP can be necessary even if their service continues to be the same-Resource Room, Self Contained etc.

3. In Michigan, lack of attendance would likely rule out ESY unless there were mitigating circumstances such as a significant illness or accident. Even then, it would probably depend on the district.

4. You bet, that gal is going to eat those words for a long time but hey, we're all mere mortals.

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Response to RandySF (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 08:05 PM

2. In my school district...

...summer school for any of the kids is dependent upon whether or not the summer vacation will undo everything the child learned during the school year. Some children can't handle the extended time away.

From what I was told, they really try to avoid sending children to summer school. Very expensive, as well as unpleasant for the teachers.

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Response to RandySF (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 08:10 AM

4. More than a decade ago,

in a different state and district than I exist in now, our district psychologist sent a message, not through email, but through admins: stop identifying so many students with learning disabilities. We don't have the funds to serve them.

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Response to LWolf (Reply #4)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 06:19 PM

6. Yup. Same stupidity.


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