SEPAC Presentation: Georgetown and Surrounding Towns (new date)

Presentation by Daniel S. Perlman for the Georgetown Special Education Advisory Council (SEPAC)

Topic: Beyond Basic Rights: Resolving Special Education Disputes

Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Location: Georgetown Public Library
2 Maple St, Georgetown, MA 01833

Time: 6:45 PM

SEPAC Website/Information:

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Malden SEPAC Presentation

SEPAC Presentation: Malden and Surrounding Towns

Presentation by Daniel S. Perlman for the Malden Special Education Advisory Council

Social and Emotional Learning and the Law

Date: Thursday, January 25, 2018

Location: Forestdale School Cafeteria
74 Sylvan Street., Malden

Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

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Malden SEPAC Presentation

Presentation: Discovery of Advocate Emails and Records

I’m looking forward to presenting at the Coalition to Defend Special Education meeting about Discovery and Maintaining Client Records and Communications for Advocates and Attorneys.

The meeting will also include an Ask the Attorney session on special education topics – please send your questions to Leslie Lockhart in advance of the meeting.

Date: October 26, 2017

Location: The meeting will be held at the Institute for Human Centered Design, 200 Portland St, Boston 02114. For more information on the Institute and for directions and parking information, see their website,

Time: 10 am – 12 pm

RSVP: Leslie Lockhart

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Systemic Change

After a case is resolved, my clients often ask me how they might help families who are less fortunate: “What do parents do when they don’t have access to an attorney or advocate?”

Others ask how they can help improve special education for other students: “My child is in a good placement, but how do we help all the other students in the public school?”

My answer is always the same: support Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC).

MAC has led the charge with its partners in pushing through every major piece of special education and school discipline legislation in Massachusetts. From the Autism IEP Act (requiring that districts specifically address the needs of students on the Autism spectrum), to ensuring that students who have experienced trauma can access education, to the recent sweeping school discipline reform – MAC is a force.

Each donation to MAC helps students: both individual students through MAC’s case work; and students across the Commonwealth through MAC’s systemic advocacy. I’ve seen it first hand, having had the pleasure to spend the first five years of my career at MAC. You can’t get “more bang for your buck” than with a donation to MAC.

MAC’s staff is indefatigable, and its approach to advocacy is cutting edge – which is why MAC is the single nonprofit that my family supports.

Please consider supporting MAC through donation or sponsoring MAC’s Gala this year. If you’re attending the Gala, let me know, and I look forward to seeing you there.

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Former BSEA Hearing Officer Bill Crane on FAPE

In his final blog post at Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC), former Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) hearing officer Bill Crane wrote an excellent analysis on the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). In the post, Bill discusses the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1. 

The post is definitely worth a read, and, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to read Bill’s entire series of posts over on the MAC website (as well as MAC’s other excellent online resources). Click here to read the blog post.

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SEPAC Presentation: Northborough Southborough (Rescheduled)

Presentation by Daniel S. Perlman for the Northborough and Southborough Special Education Advisory Council (NSPAC), co-hosted by Westborough SEPAC and Shrewsbury SEPAC

When You Disagree with an IEP: How to effectively resolve special education conflicts. 

Followed by questions and answers. 

Date: Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Location: Algonquin Regional High School Library
79 Bartlett St., Northborough

Time: 7 pm – 9 pm

SEPAC Website/Information:

RSVP: Click here

Malden SEPAC Presentation

SEPAC Presentation: Malden

Presentation by Daniel S. Perlman for the Malden SEPAC

Beyond Basic Rights: What Parents Need to Know To Successfully Navigate the Special Education Process

A presentation focused on resolving disagreements in special education. Followed by questions and answers. 

Date: Thursday, November 3, 2016

Location: Linden STEAM Academy (29 Wescott Street, Malden)

Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m.


Malden SEPAC Presentation

MA Survey Finds Students With Emotional Needs Increasing

The Massachusetts Youth Health Survey (YHS), provided to students in grades 6-12, is conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in randomly selected public middle and high schools biannually. DESE and DPH have just released the most recent statistics (available here), from a survey conducted in 2015, which shows an overall increase in students reporting emotional needs.

At a recent Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) conference, I presented about the importance of public school districts supporting students with emotional needs and authored an article on the subject. During the presentation, I discussed the 2013 YHS statistics – the most up to date statistics available at the time – and that nonprofits and special education attorneys have seen an increase over the years in calls about students who are not receiving appropriate services in school. Attorneys on both sides of special education disputes, educational experts, and advocates will not be surprised to learn about the increasing number of students reporting emotional needs in the 2015 statistics.

The 2015 YHS data shows an increase in high school students who reported feeling “sad or hopeless.” In 2013, 23.8% of high school students surveyed reported feeling “so sad or depressed daily for at least two weeks during the previous year that they discontinued usual activities.” In 2015, the percentage increased to 27.4% – the highest percentage reported since 2003.

In 2013, 12% of high school students surveyed reported that they “seriously considered attempting suicide” during the 12 months before the survey. In 2015, that percentage increased to 14.9% – also, the highest percentage reported since 2003.

Statistics also show an increase in the number of high school students who “made a plan about how they would attempt suicide” and those that attempted suicide.

As I wrote in the article for MCLE, entitled A Student’s Right to Emotional Progress:

The legal requirement for public school districts to provide appropriate services to students with emotional needs is well settled in Massachusetts. However, ‘what is old is new again’ as legislators, policy makers, hearing officers, and advocates continue to remind school districts of this important obligation. 

In recent years, research about the significant impact of emotional well-being on both immediate and long-term learning has gained traction in Massachusetts, influencing legislative and policy reform. Data suggests that this momentum might also be fostered by the volume of calls and complaints by families whose children with emotional challenges are not well supported by their local school districts …

The mandate to evaluate and provide appropriate services to students who have emotional needs is clear, and the importance of doing so in a timely and effective way is critical.

Click below to download the full text of my MCLE article.

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Advisory: High Quality Transition Services

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recently issued an advisory on the characteristics of high quality transition services. In Massachusetts, starting at age 14, public school districts are required to provide students who have disabilities with services to address the student’s needs and build skills related to employment, vocation, daily living, and post-secondary education.

The helpful guidance provides an outline and examples of required “results-based” transition services.

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Presentation: 16th Annual School Law Conference

I look forward to presenting at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) 16th Annual School Law Conference on Friday, May 6, 2016 in Boston.

Description from MCLE:

In the ever-changing world of school law, keeping up with new developments can be a huge challenge. There is no better way to educate yourself about the many changes in laws, regulations, and policies in the school law arena than to attend MCLE’s 16th Annual School Law Conference 2016. Experienced attorneys and other school-related professionals distill the most significant updates of the preceding year into one day of cutting-edge information and lively debate. Whether you represent school districts, school employees, or parents and students, you will find the Conference invaluable to your practice.

Date: Friday, May 6th

Location: MCLE Conference Center, Ten Winter Place, Boston

Time: 9:30 am – 4:00 pm

More Information: