Advocates Consider Changes to Connecticut’s Special Education Burden of Proof and Funding

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In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parents, not school districts, are required to prove that an Individualized Education Plan is unsatisfactory to a child’s needs. This federal ruling does not overturn state statutes where they exist, however, and Connecticut is currently one of just five states to place the burden of proof on the school district during an appeals process of a special education determination. In 2005, twice as many states and the District of Columbia had similar regulations. “A bill to change that is submitted every year, but it hardly ever makes it out of committee,” said

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High Costs, Diverse Outcomes for Educational Special Needs in Connecticut

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Sarah Tyszka’s son is in sixth grade, but reads at a preschool level. He has dyslexia, a condition that typically requires one-on-one reading instruction to learn to read and write, according to the Dyslexia Society of Connecticut. Last year Tyszka’s son received one-on-one instruction, but this year his school does not have a teacher certified for that instruction. “He clearly needs intense intervention to be successful, yet they lie and say he’s getting small-group instruction, when in reality that means he sits at a table of four in a classroom of thirteen,” Tyszka said. “He’s not learning to read in

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Mediation, Non-disclosure Agreements Challenge Educational Opportunity in Connecticut

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This year Elizabeth’s son started at a special school for children with dyslexia after years of fighting to have his disability acknowledged by the local education agency. The local school district, however, is not helping to pay his outplacement tuition.  “The school district denied all of our requests for appropriate practice, trained expertise and service time in August and then in the same meeting denied our resulting outplacement request. They denied the outplacement and then denied our request for mediation,” said Elizabeth, who asked to remain anonymous due to the ongoing discussions regarding her son’s individualized education plan (IEP). “The

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Navigating Local Education for Students with Special Needs in Connecticut

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There are 77,000 students in the state of Connecticut with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), nearly 15% of the total student population of about 530,000 in 2018-19, according to the State Department of Education. For students with various disabilities that can impact their learning in a traditional school environment, an IEP is a written agreement between a school district and a family that provides a modified plan of education, services and resources. “It is supposed to be everyone looking at the information and making a decision about what is appropriate for the child together,” said John Flanders, the executive director

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LEARNing Academy in New London Educates Children From Across Southeast Connecticut with Complex Needs

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NEW LONDON — In January, after five years of anticipation, Ocean Avenue LEARNing Academy opened for its first full school year, with 57 students and a full team of teachers and medical support providers. The school serves children in 25 towns and 21 school districts across southeastern Connecticut. “Five years ago, when the team sat down and dreamed of what could be for the students with the most complex needs they wanted the kids to feel like a part of a school and a community member,” said Kate Ericson, the executive director of LEARN Regional Educational Service Center. “Historically programs

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