Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Supreme Court Approves Reimbursement for Private Special Education Services

In Forest Grove School District v. T. A., decided by the Supreme Court on June 22, 2009, the issue decided was whether the 1997 Amendments to the IDEA prevented Courts from ordering school districts from having to pay for private special education services. An Administrative Due Process Hearing Officer held that the Forest Grove School District violated the IDEA by not providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and ordered the school district to reimburse T. A. for private special education services in T. A.'s junior and senior years of high school. The school district refused and filed suit in the federal district court.

The district court held in favor of the school district, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. The Supreme Court accepted the case for review. The 6 - 3 majority (perhaps to become a 7 - 2 majority if and when the Senate confirms Judge Sonia Sotomayor) held that the 1997 Amendments did not change the law and affirmed the Ninth Circuit's decision. The following quotation from the end of the majority's opinion sets out the standard:

"When a court or hearing officer concludes that a school district failed to provide a FAPE and the private placement was suitable, it must consider all relevant factors, including the notice provided by the parents and the school district's opportunities for evaluating the child, in determining whether reimbursement for some or all of the cost of the child's private education is warranted."


History, Briefs, and Other Information
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

HHS Announces Initiatives in Support of the “Year of Community Living”

June 22, 2009 -

Goal is to create Aging and Disability Resource Centers in every State

In support of President Obama’s proclamation of the “Year of Community
Living,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced a funding
opportunity that will make it easier for older people, younger adults,
and their families to learn about and access health and long-term care
options through Aging and Disability Resource Center Programs (ADRCs). 
ADRCs provide “one-stop shop” sources of information, one-on-one
counseling, and streamlined access to programs and services that can
enable people to remain in their own homes and communities.

Read Full Press Release with excellent hyperlinks for more information
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June 22, 2009 - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today joined President Obama's commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision by announcing that it will offer rental assistance to 4,000 non-elderly families with disabilities, including 1,000 vouchers specifically targeted to those transitioning out of nursing homes and other care facilities. Through its funding notice, HUD is seeking comment from public housing authorities and others to ensure this critically needed assistance is distributed and administered in the most effective manner possible.
Read Full Press Release

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Student Loans, Loan Forgiveness Program, and More

President Obama's budget contained programs for tuition and loan forgiveness for students.

Go to the GovCentral Web site for more information.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

EEOC Votes to Revise Rules to Conform to ADA Amendments Act

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has voted to revise its regulations to conform to changes made by the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008, which would make it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Federal Health Care Reform Legislation

There seems to be general agreement among members of Congress that there is a significant need for health care reform. The rising cost of health care cannot continue unabated, and the need to provide affordable health care for most, if not all Americans, is subject to little debate.

Legislative action on this issue cannot be allowed to turn on anecdotes. Unfortunately, people always have and always will fall through the cracks. During the debate in Congress, one will hear of isolated incidents after isolated incidents; the person who had to wait an inordinate amount of time to get a follow-up appointment; the person who was sent to the wrong specialist. These are the statements of members of Congress who realize the need for reform, but want the reform to wind up looking as much like the current system as possible.

The real question for people to focus on is how large are the cracks in the system, and how to close those gaps? A person with cerebral palsy may need physical therapy every week for his or her life. It is a common feature of health insurance plans to pay for only 10 visits per year for physical therapy. This is a major crack in the system and needs systemic reform.

A number of organizations that are involved with people with disabilities are working hard to try to shape the legislation to address the needs of people with disabilities. One such organization is Easter Seals. You can go to its Health Care Reform Web Site for information or directly to its "Support Health Care Reform Legislation" site to send messages to your members of Congress. I hope you will go to its "Support" web page; but, if not, at least, become familiar with the issues at its Health Care Reform site.

Thank you.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Emergency Information Forms for First Responders and Families

Autism Speaks, an organization devoted to helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorders in many, many ways, has posted a Web Site for its Autism Safety Project, a collaborative project of families and first responders.  This project has provided pdf files where all families who have have people with disabilities in them can print out the files to have on hand in case of an emergency or even a simple trip to the doctor.  These forms can be found at this web site,

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ethical Wills and Legacy Letters

Ethical Wills and Legacy Letters may be particularly helpful to parents and siblings of children with special needs.  The following is an except from an article written by Attorney Andrew Hook of Portsmouth, Virginia and published on Attorney Robert Fleming's blog at

A recent Investment News article by Kathleen M. Rehl discussed the value of parents leaving “legacy letters’ for their children and grandchildren to share after the parents are gone.  The author described the letter her mother had written shortly before her death.  “Please know how important you are to me and how much I love you.  Life has been such a fascinating and interesting adventure with you, my family, being a big part of this journey.”  She wrote about her values, lessons life taught her, and her love for each member of the family.  Ms. Rehl says that “[w]hat she experienced during her 84 years of life was much more valuable than the material stuff she left behind.”

Moe information about Ethical Wills can be found at  The website includes samples of ethical wills, written by people at various stages of their lives.

Ms. Rehl says that writing a legacy letter not only helps loved ones by communicating the meaning of the author’s life, but is a gift for the writer.  “In reflecting upon the past and recording thoughts on paper, writers learn about themselves, ponder what they stand for and have the opportunity to articulate that which is closest to their hearts.”  People can write their initial letter and keep it updated each year.

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Federal Student Aid -

Provides information on federal student aid and career resources to help unemployed workers pay for education and training to find new job opportunities.

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