Augmentative Alternative Communication

Cocktails and Communication with AAC Connection  

Augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) devices are an invaluable tool for many children whose ASD or other neurological impairment impacts their ability to communicate.  If you are a family member or caregiver of a child who uses an AAC device, AAC Connection is hosting a “Talking AAC Happy Hour”:

Thursday, May 12
6:30 – 8 PM
460 West 34th Street
12th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Attendees will benefit from hands-on AAC instruction from experienced professionals and users in a fun, relaxed environment.   For more information on AAC Connection and to register, visit
http://www.aacconnection.com/events.html.

 

Parenting a Child with Asperger's

Love That Boy

In the book, Love That Boy, columnist Ron Fournier shares his personal story as a parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.  His figurative journey coincides with a cross country road trip with his son, Tyler.  Their father-son bonding experience further informs Fournier’s understanding – and his appreciation – of Tyler’s uniqueness.   Read more about Ron’s story here.

Autistic Student Assaulted by His Paraprofessional

Autistic Student Assaulted by His Paraprofessional

Yesterday, a local NY newspaper reported on a pending civil case against a paraprofessional who allegedly struck a then 9-year-old autistic student in the lunchroom of PS 225, which is located in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn.  A video showing the incident was made public yesterday in the course of civil litigation against the paraprofessional and the city.  Read more about this disturbing case here.  

Autism Awareness Month

                April is Autism Awareness Month.  Depending upon a child’s specific Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), language development and the ability to communicate will likely be impacted.  Many children with an ASD diagnosis will have difficulty using language effectively, while others may be completely non-verbal. 
                Many of these children can benefit from Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) methods.  In fact, children with a wide variety of communication and language deficiencies, in addition to those with an ASD diagnosis, can benefit from AAC technological applications.  In support of Autism Awareness Month, the Apple App Store is providing the following AAC app downloads at a discounted price:

How to Survive Turning 5 Seminar

How to Survive Turning 5
A FREE Seminar for NYC Parents of Children with Special Needs


Regina Skyer and attorneys from the Skyer Law team will guide parents through the complex process of entering the NYC special education system.  One-on-one question and answer session will follow the presentation.  Teachers, therapists and related service providers are welcome.  Spaces are limited.  Register today!

Tuesday, February 9
7:30 – 9:30pm

Brooklyn Conservatory of Music
58 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
REGISTER

NEW DATE ADDED:
Thursday, February 25
7 – 9pm

New York Open Center
22 East 30th Street
New York, NY 10016

REGISTER

How to Survive Turning 5: The handbook for NYC parents special needs children
   now available Amazon.  



Putting the Department of Education on Notice

 

While you and your children are enjoying the last unofficial weeks of summer, our attorneys have been busy working on your cases and getting ready for another successful year. If your child attends a private special education school/program and you are hoping to be reimbursed for this placement a 10 Day Notice of Intention is part of the required legal process for tuition reimbursement.

 

On Monday, August 24th our offices filed over 1000 of these individualized notices.This written notice is required by law to be filed with the school district ten days before a parent's removal of their child from the public school. This means 10 days before the child starts at his or her private school. The notices have to: (1)inform the school district of the specific reasons that the parent(s) disagree with the IEP and program recommendation made by the CSE; (2) as a result of these disagreements they intend to place their child at the XYZ private school; and (3) the parents intent to seek tuition reimbursement for this placement. The school district has ten business days to address these concerns. Starting last year, Mayor diBlasio initiated a policy whereby a district could recommend settlement based on the notice alone. We are told that the NYC DOE will continue to follow this policy and will inform us within 15 days of receipt of this notice whether they are going to settle the case based on the notice alone. The goal in our firm is to have the school district read this notice and be convinced that they should settled the case for tuition reimbursement. If the district does not agree to settle a case, we then have to file for an impartial hearing. Settlement can also happen once the full hearing request is filed. Our team does everything possible to avoid an impartial hearing. Check your email regularly; once we hear back from the DoE, your case manager or the paralegal assigned to your case will be reaching out with next steps.  Please note: If your child has a 12-month IEP, your notice was filed in June.

 

Exciting News: We are growing!

Hi Everyone,

On August 1st, our administrative operations will be moving to our new Brooklyn location, located at  142 Joralemon Street, Suite 11C. 

Our Manhattan offices will be undergoing renovations. We have temporary offices available for consultations in Manhattan. Our contact information remains the same. 

If you have any questions about this, please contact Ben Foley at BFOLEY@SKYERLAW.COM OR 212-532-9736. 

Join Us in Our Fight Against Breast Cancer

Hi Everyone,

 Join the Skyer Law team this Sunday, October 19th in Central Park as we participate in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk! Look for our team "Sky's The Limit" and visit our home page: Making Strides - Sky's The Limit

 We'd love you to walk with us, but if not we hope you support this worthwhile cause. 

Update on de Blasio's New Policy of Fast Tracking Tuition Reimbursement Cases

On August 20th our office filed notices in cases seeking tuition reimbursement for private school placement. As of today, the DOE has responded to 80 percent of these notices, recommending settlement in 60 percent of the cases. We are told that the remaining 20 percent where we have not had a response are still being reviewed by DOE lawyers. This is the first year since 1993 when the Supreme Court issued the landmark Carter decision that the city is recommending tuition reimbursement based solely on the required 10 day notices. We are calling this “fast tracking.” I refer you back to my Blog of August 20th which summarizes this new fast track policy: Follow up Re: Mayor's New Policy

 

In cases where settlement has been recommended, negotiations between our paralegals and the Department of Education paralegals are already underway. We have been in touch with all the private schools and we are also asking parents to provide us with documents.

 

On the cases where we are told that the DOE is not “fast tracking” settlements, we are now drafting and filing detailed Hearing Requests. Once these hearing requests are filed the Department of Education will review them and determine whether to recommend settlement or proceed to impartial hearing. Our hearing requests are extremely detailed and legally nuanced and we are optimistic that in most cases settlement will be recommended.

 

This is all good news and we are happy that the policy initiative put in place by Mayor de Blasio is actually being implemented. Stay tuned and we’ll continue to keep you posted.

 

Best,  

Regina

Follow Up Re: Mayor's Policy

Many of you have been emailing and calling asking for an update on the Mayor’s June 24th Policy Memorandum on Special Education Settlements.  Well, here’s the news hot off the press: on August 14th the DOE’s Office of General Counsel held a meeting with lawyers and advocates practicing in this area.  The important “take aways” from this meeting are as follows:

 

1.       The DOE will absolutely continue to litigate cases where they believe a student has been offered a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”). This is the same as it has always been.

 

2.      The biggest change will be that when we file our Notices of Unilateral Placement (this year they are being filed on August 20th) the DOE will consider settlement only under the following conditions:

 

a.       The parent prevailed in a prior year at an impartial hearing, and the DOE did not appeal this decision and it concerned the same placement;

b.      There was a settlement the prior year for the same placement and circumstances;

c.       When a student is entering a “terminal grade in a school” that the DOE has previously funded (good for all you 8th graders at Gaynor, and seniors at MMFS, WP, RLS, EH, Windward, etc.)

 

3.      The changes in the payment process when the DOE does recommend settlement should be the most dramatic change.  When the DOE agrees to settle a case they will finalize the settlement/negotiation process within 90 days of making a determination to settle a case and begin to pay out on these cases 30 days after this.  This will help most parents who find themselves in a difficult cash flow position.

 

4.      For students first entering the DOE/CSE system, and for those turning five students leaving CPSE and entering CSE, nothing has changed.  The new policy will not effect your case this year.  Accordingly, we will file Notices for you on August 20th and between September and November we will file hearing requests.  For this group of students settlement offers will only be made after the filing of an impartial hearing request.

 

5.  Any notice that was filed earlier than August 20th, meaning for our 12 month students, this policy will not apply.  Hearing requests must be filed and our offices will do these between September 4th through 11th. The good news is that once the hearing request is filed 12 month students will be considered under the expedited settlement process.

 

               Your team at Skyer Law has been meeting continuously about this new policy.  Our decision is to write extremely detailed notices, giving the DOE enough information to push them towards a settlement.  This year’s notices are akin to any hearing request filed in years past.  We are filing these notices on August 20th and we’ll update you again as soon as there’s more information.

 

               Enjoy these last hazy, crazy days of summer –   Regina and Company

Busing Blog: Part 4 of 4

BUSING BLOG FOUR – HOW TO FIND YOUR BUS ROUTE AND WHAT TO EXPECT

       If your child is known to the DOE and has a nine digit NYC ID number, here is how you will know if your child has been assigned a route. At the end of August, you can check the OPT website: found here. Scroll down on the homepage and you will see “Find Your Child’s Bus Route.” You will need your child’s NYC ID and birth date to search for their route. You will also receive a letter from OPT at the end of August with your child’s bus route, the route’s start time, your child’s pick-up and drop-off number (meaning how many kids will be picked up before your child and how many will be dropped off before him/her), and the name and phone number of the bus company responsible for your child’s route. This is useful information because it will give you a sense of how many kids are on the route, an idea of how long your child will be on the bus and contact information for the bus company that will be transporting your child.

A word of caution here: The routes are always a mess at the start of the school year! Be prepared for that. Try not to panic when you see that the route starts at 6:15 or 6:30 in the morning. In many cases, once the route starts and the driver gets a hang of it, the pick-up time will shift later. You can call the bus company (the phone number will be on the letter from OPT) to find out what time your child should be ready to be picked up on the first day. Many parents choose not to put their child on the bus for the first few days until the driver becomes familiar with the route. You can also check OPT’s website to see whether your child has been assigned to a route.

      Once your child has been assigned a route, the aggravation doesn’t necessarily end. Drivers and matrons vary but, for the most part, they care about the kids and take their jobs very seriously. It is in your best interest to establish a good relationship with your driver and matron. They will be very important people in your lives! Most of them will give you their cell phones numbers so that you can be in direct contact if you know your child won’t be riding the bus one day or if they know that they will be running late. When you do run into a problem, contact OPT to file a complaint (718-392-8855) and make sure your child’s school does the same thing. For example, if the kids are consistently getting to school late.

      For the most part, once the routes get set after the first few weeks of school, most kids really enjoy their ride to school and meet kids from other grades that they may not know otherwise. So hang in there!

Busing Blog: Part 3 of 4

BUSING BLOG THREE – TRANSPORTATION FOR CHILDREN WITH AN IEP THAT DOES NOT RECOMMEND FULL TIME SPECIAL EDUCATION

 If you had a CSE/IEP meeting but your child’s recommendation was for ICT or General Ed with SETTS, or you did not have a meeting, or they found your child to be non-handicapped, although you now have the nine digit NYC ID number, you are not automatically entitled to a bus route. In this situation, the process of securing a bus route is more difficult. In our office, we will request busing for all of our clients who need it, in our August Notices to the DOE. Sometimes as a result of this request, the child will be placed in the OPT system and routed on a bus. However, this is not an entitlement. Any family that is in the process of having their child attend a private special education school must use an attorney or seasoned advocate to help them. The transportation is part of this process and we advise all parents to start planning for this well in advance of the school year.

Another and often time overlooked way of getting a bus route for a child who does not qualify by virtue of the program recommendation is if a parent can establish a medical reason why their child needs door to door transportation.

If you cannot secure busing through the DOE, be sure to keep records of the cost of transporting your child to and from school and speak with your attorney about including this in your impartial hearing request for tuition reimbursement.