May 2018 SERC Scoop
- What is SERC?
- Communication Strategies: Diversity Checklist
- Dispute Resolution Process: Due Process Hearing
- Oklahoma Department of Education: Updates on the New Ruling in Endrew F. vs Douglas County
- Civil Rights Data Collection: School Climate and Safety
- Upcoming Events & Special Topics
The Special Education Resolution Center of OSU (SERC) has been collaborating with the Oklahoma State Department of Education for over 10 years to help families and school district resolve conflicts at the earliest stage possible. SERC provides services for children from birth to 3 in SoonerStart and for students 3 through 21 in public schools.
What Does SERC provide to schools, SoonerStart sites and families at no cost…?
- …training on communication and collaboration skills to help prevent conflict,
- …an IEP Facilitator to manage conflict during contentious IEP meetings,
- …a Mediator to guide a structured process in which parents and school personnel can resolve specific issues related to special education,
- and a Due Process Hearing Officer at an administrative hearing to resolve legal issues that could not be resolved at an earlier stage. During the resolution time of the process, SERC can provide a facilitator to help the parties discuss the hearing issues in a safe and structured setting and try to resolve them if possible.
TEACHERS - Are you prepared to interact and communicate with children of diverse cultures:
- Do you have the training and experience to work effectively with multicultural and minority populations?
- What resources have you used in attempting to resolve the problem?
- Have you gathered cultural information specific to the student and family?
- Do you incorporate aspects of the student's culture into the curriculum?
- Are your language skills adequate to deliver instruction in the student's native language?
- If the student is not in bilingual education, what resources have been used to provide native language support?
- Are you adequately trained to provide dual language instruction and ESL intervention?
- Are you aware of your own preferred teaching style?
- Are you aware of the student's preferred learning style?
- Do you use a variety of styles to accommodate various learning styles of students?
- What are your perceptions of the student?
- Are expectations and level of instruction geared to higher levels of thinking?
- How do you view cultural diversity in the classroom?
- How do these views influence expectations as well as instructional planning?
A Due Process Hearing is an administrative process used to resolve a Complaint Notice made by a parent or a school district. The hearing process is used to resolve disagreements relating to the identification, evaluation, education placement, least restrictive environment or the provision of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to a child who needs, or is suspected of needing, special education and related services.
An impartial hearing officer is appointed to oversee the process, conduct the hearing and make findings of fact and a decision-based on relevant state and federal law. The impartial hearing officer is trained in both legal procedures and special educational law.
While many administrative hearings in other areas of the law can be quite simple, these special education due process hearings can be appealed to federal court and become quite complicated. The Special Education Resolution Center embraces the belief that there may be issues that have to end up in the DPH System. However, most issues that come to the SERC office can be settled when reasonable people sit down with a service of IEP facilitation or mediation and work hard to settle the dispute. These types of discussions keep the focus on the child and getting services to the child in a timely manner. When the parties reach an impasse that cannot be resolved, even with a service, then the resolution may need to be determined by a third party – the hearing officer.
A parent or school is NOT REQUIRED to engage in mediation before filing a Due Process Hearing Complaint Notice. A party may file due process whenever they believe the law has been violated. Due Process is the only avenue available to a parent that desires to file “stay put” and freeze the current IEP of the child, except in discipline issues.
SERC encourages parties to try and work it out together or together with services from our office. Parties who engage in Due Process Hearings often report to this office that the process is exhausting and time consuming. SERC would like to see parties resolve those disputes before reaching this stage.
For more information about Due Process Hearings – visit our website to read more articles.
Endrew F. vs Douglas County
In the spring of 2017, the United States Supreme Court entered a decision that is commonly known as Endrew F. This decision changed the measure of education benefit that is required for FAPE in the entire country, but most significantly in the 10th Circuit. No longer is the measure of educational benefit just more than de minimus or as some say – just more than nothing. The Supreme Court found that this new standard is “markedly more demanding” than the merely more than de minimus standard test applied by the Tenth Circuit. Oklahoma is in the 10th Circuit. The Supreme Court ordered the case to be sent back to the District court in Colorado to re-evaluate the Endrew F. case under the new measure.
On February 12, 2018, the District Court issued their opinion. It is an important opinion for all people in Oklahoma to read. It reveals how the Judge interpreted the change in standards to the case at hand. The case is being challenged by the school district, but at this time, this case discusses the current standard that will be used by hearing officers in due process hearing cases.
Link to read more about Endrew F. vs Douglas County.
The 2015–16 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) is a survey of all public schools and school districts in the United States. The CRDC measures student access to courses, programs, staff, and resources that impact education equity and opportunity for students. The CRDC has long provided critical information used by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in its enforcement and monitoring activities.
In addition, the CRDC is a valuable resource for other federal agencies, policymakers, researchers, educators, school officials, parents, students, and other members of the public who seek data on student equity and opportunity. To further explore the CRDC data through the use of data tools, please visit the CRDC Reporting Website at ocrdata.ed.gov. To download the CRDC data, visit crdc.ed.gov.
Link to 2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection: School Climate and Safety PDF - Data highlights on school climate and safety in our nation's public schools.
Archived Webinar - "Expanding the Circle: Restorative Practices in Special Education" from March 7, 2017
Presented by Candace Hawkins, Diana Cruz, and Leila Peterson
About the Webinar: Increasingly, restorative approaches to discipline are being recognized as promising alternatives to suspension and expulsion. Focusing on the field of special education, this webinar will explore the use of restorative practices beyond school discipline. Members of School Talk/Restorative DC will join us to talk about the different ways that restorative practices are being used in DC area schools, including how restorative approaches may be valuable in IEP meetings. In addition, we will explore the potential of restorative approaches for preventing and resolving special education disputes.
Oklahoma Parents Center Conference- Featuring Dr. Rose Marie Allen.