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

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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

Dyslexia Is Very Treatable. So Why Aren’t We Helping More Kids?

Below is a link to a powerful article by Phoebe Adams and Cathy Mason about the challenges for students with dyslexia in our public schools. The article also highlights legislation that is pending in Massachusetts requiring early screening procedures for dyslexia – a step in the right direction to helping students with language-based disabilities.

From the authors: “Many students who receive generic reading instruction learn to read at grade level. However, dyslexic students require structured literacy approaches. As one first grader said, ‘I have a locked box in my brain and no one has the key.’ But we have the knowledge. We have the key. All we need is someone to turn it.”

Read the full article here:

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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:

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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

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

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IEP Protections and Autism

The Autism IEP Act, championed by Massachusetts Advocates for Children, took effect in July 2006, amending M.G.L c. 71B § 3. Fast approaching its 10-Year anniversary, the law provides critical protections for students on the Autism spectrum and has had a significant impact on how school districts meet the needs of students.

The law requires that an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) Team consider and specifically address the full range of a student’s complex communication, social, behavioral, and academic needs resulting from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to help ensure the provision of appropriate supports and services.

Following the passage of The Autism IEP Act, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued an Advisory to school districts instructing that “[i]mpairment in communication is one of the defining characteristics of ASD; therefore communication skill development should be addressed as an essential piece of the student’s IEP.” Further, “[p]rogress in social skill development is a likely focus within the IEP of every student with ASD.”

Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) hearing officers have highlighted the importance and power of the protections. In Re: Amherst-Pelham Regional School District – BSEA # 12-1264 provides a helpful roadmap and analysis of the law. In Amherst, the parents of a twenty-one-year-old man challenged the appropriateness of their school district’s program and sought a private residential school placement for their son. Applying the content of the Autism IEP Act to the facts of the case, the hearing officer found that the district had failed to address the student’s communication and social skill needs, as required, and, in turn, failed to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

The hearing officer wrote, “Social skill development is also a central area of focus for Student, as it is generally for all students on the autism spectrum. As discussed above in the Legal Standards section, [The Autism IEP Act] requires Amherst to have an IEP for students on the autism spectrum to ‘specifically address the … the need to develop social interaction skills and proficiencies.’” Further, “..notwithstanding the critical importance of communication skills, as recognized for many years…Student has virtually no functional communication skills, with the result that he is not able to express his choices or preferences in a reliable manner with respect to the vast majority of routine decisions and life choices…”

Student v. Belmont Public Schools – BSEA # 13-05177, and In Re Uxbridge Public Schools – BSEA # 11-1115 discuss eligibility for students on the autism spectrum, following the passage of the Autism IEP Act. Importantly, in Belmont, the hearing officer highlighted that an IEP Team must consider and specifically address a student’s need resulting from autism, even if the school district disagrees with the diagnosis.

After quoting the entirety of the Autism IEP Act, the hearing officer wrote, “On cross examination it was clear that the Team did not discuss Student’s engagement in repetitive activities, stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental changes, and the impact of changes in daily routines, even though the Belmont service providers, evaluators and teachers testified as to observations of some form of manifestation of same, as discussed in the Facts section of this Decision… Belmont’s witnesses conceded that no meaningful discussion regarding the diagnosis of autism ensued because the Belmont Team did not see its manifestation.”

In Belmont, the hearing officer concluded: “the evidence is persuasive that Student has made progress, but said progress is not meaningful progress in his greatest areas of need: the social, emotional and behavioral realms.” Similarly, in Uxbridge, the hearing officer, relying on the language of the Autism IEP Act, concluded that the student had significant social and communication needs that could not be remediated within the context of a general education program.

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SEPAC Presentation: Acton-Boxborough

Important Special Education Law Updates 

Presentation by Daniel S. Perlman for the Acton-Boxborough SEPAC

Presentation followed by questions and answers. Questions should please be submitted in advance to The SEPAC’s regular business meeting will follow this event. Food and refreshments will be served.

Date: Wednesday, November 18th

Location: R.J. Grey Junior High library (16 Charter Rd, Acton, MA 01720)

Time: 7:30 PM

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