Meeting the Needs of All Students: Amending the Idea to Support Special Education Students from Low-Income Households

By Koseki, M. Hannah | Fordham Urban Law Journal, July 2017 | Go to article overview

Meeting the Needs of All Students: Amending the Idea to Support Special Education Students from Low-Income Households


Koseki, M. Hannah, Fordham Urban Law Journal


Introduction                                                       794 I. Overview of the Individuals with Disabilities Act               797    A. Connecting Poverty, Disability, and Education                798    B. History and Evolution of Special Education Law               801    C. Overview of Individuals with Disabilities Education       Act                                                          803    D. The Role of Parents in the Individuals with       Disabilities Education Act                                   807    E. Barriers that Prevent Parents from Effectively       Advocating for Their Children                                810       1. Development of the Individualized Education          Program and Unequal Bargaining Power of          Parents Compared to Schools                               811       2. Financial Inability to Retain Council                     814    F. Consequences of Unequal Enforcement                          818 II. Proposals to Address the Shortcomings of the Individuals     with Disabilities Act                                          819    A. Burden Shifting Prior to Individualized Education       Program Implementation                                       820    B. Putting Parents in Touch with Each Other                     822    C. Addition of a Legal Advocate to the IEP Team                 824 III. Addition of a Special Education Counselor as a Family      Advocate                                                      875    A. Elimination of the Mandatory Regular Education       Teacher                                                      826    B. The Benefits of School Counselors                            828    C. School Counselors as Family Advocates                        829 Conclusion                                                         831 

INTRODUCTION

In 2011, Jonah entered the tenth grade, reading between a first grade and third grade level. (1) He struggled to read simple words like "chicken," and had never passed a state assessment in reading, math, or science. Although he aspired to join the air force, because of his low reading and math levels, he struggled to obtain qualifying scores on his military aptitude exams. (2) Jonah attended a school that served a low-income population, and nearly seventy percent of his classmates were eligible for a free or reduced lunch. (3) A new special education teacher, who entered her first classroom just one month before meeting Jonah, was in charge of developing and checking on Jonah's academic and emotional well-being. She taught three out of four periods per day, and during her fourth "free period" she observed her students in their regular education classrooms, updated data to track their progress, drafted Individualized Education Programs ("IEPs"), and ran IEP meetings.

At his IEP meeting, Jonah's father, exhausted after finishing another night shift, listened to Jonah's special education teacher rattle away about "benchmarks" and "accommodations." Unsure about what everything meant, he kept quiet, his eyes staring down at the table or occasionally over to Jonah, who was visibly uncomfortable by the number of teachers talking about his career goals and academic shortcomings. A regular education teacher sat in the corner, politely listening but straining to follow along. Apart from seeing him around campus, she did not know Jonah, and because his reading level was so low, there was little to no chance that he would ever step foot in her classroom.

Before the meeting concluded, Jonah's teacher asked his father if he approved of the proposed accommodations. Although he was not convinced that "extra time to complete assignments," or "frequent breaks" would help Jonah's reading level, he nodded his head. He knew Jonah's reading level was low, but he did not know how else to help him. The vice principal handed Jonah's father a copy of his procedural rights and asked if he would like it read to him. …

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