Special Education services are provided under Federal law. This means that a child should receive the same type of services anywhere in the nation. Meaning, the same services should be offered in Los Angeles as they are in Salt Lake City. This is not the case.
Let us consider the state of special education in the state of Utah: Between 2002-2016 there have only been 7 administrative hearings in the state challenging special education programing. Based on national averages, this number should be 7-14 per year. Until now, no one has been standing up and asking what they are entitled to.
The CDC states that Utah has the highest rate of autism in the country. According to the number of children receiving special education services for Autism in Utah, they are tied for 36th. This statistic and the following ones, can be found in this Department of Education Report.
Utah has the highest highest dropout rate in the nation for students with disabilities. The percentage in Utah of students with disabilities who do not graduate because they dropped out is 32.3%; the national average is 11.7%.
Utah ranks 46th in the country for the rate of Special Education delivered in segregated environments. This is almost twice the national average. Under Federal law children are required to receive special education services in the least restrictive environment.
When children are segregated they can not learn from their typical peers. Often these services are sold to parents as special programs in special settings. Where their children will receive customized care tailored to the common experiences that they share with others who have the same disability.
What they really are is an attempt to limit disturbances these children bring to the classroom. Separate but equal is not equal.
Only Texas and the Washington DC rank lower than Utah for compliance with federal special education law. (25 other states also fall under the same status). Put simply for a state that holds itself out as caring for families Utah is doing a despicable job taking care of those who have disabilities.
Something has to change. The lives of thousands of children and their families are being neglected. An entire generation of children with disabilities are being put out into the world without the skills necessary to survive.
I am currently the only special education attorney in the state of Utah who represents parents. My efforts alone are not enough to change the way special education services are offered in the state.
As a result I have started to organize parents at a grassroots level to educate them on how to get the most from their child's special education program.
The way we change this is by insisting that these children's special education programs be adjusted to conform with the law. We address this by learning how to make a better Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
I would like to invite you to attend two free workshops I am hosting in the Salt Lake City area. They are on IEP development and will be a great resource for parents who have children with IEPs. If you cannot attend please share the links to the event page or this blog post with anyone and everyone who could benefit from this type of programing.
I am doing this free of charge because having parents demand more from their schools will make it easier to represent my clients.
If you are a parent who will be attending I highly encourage you to schedule or reschedule your next IEP meeting to be after September 9th. Attendance at both events is not required but is highly encouraged.
Here are the links to the events
10:30 to 12:30
A Collaborative Approach to Special Education
1:30 to 4:30
Let's Prepare Together
Join the revolution and demand the change you want to see in the world.