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Posted: 10/12/2016

Carl Leupker was diagnosed at the age of 10 with a genetic condition known as dystonia, a neurological disorder that causes painful muscle spasms and affects his speech. It makes it difficult to walk, write, and speak. Despite his challenges, Carl spent 20 years teaching in the Minneapolis Public Schools, and is married with two children.

His son, Liam, who is now 11, has been diagnosed with dystonia. Leupker recently wrote an article for the Washington Post about passing this disorder to his son.

“Like any loving parent, I don’t regret anything about who my child was born to be,” Leupker writes. “Dystonia has been cruel enough to me that I’m angry only at the injustice that Liam will have to relive this struggle in his own way.”
Leupker has also written the first of a trilogy titled Spite: The Biding Time Series , a fantasy story about children with disabilities and the power they unlock with the help of an energy healer.

The Kindle edition of the book is available on Amazon. PACER supporters can make purchases on AmazonSmile , which will donate 0.5 percent of the price of eligible purchases to Pacer Center, Inc.

Posted: 9/26/2016

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have released a set of resources that address improving school climates, ensuring safety, and supporting student achievement. The resources include tools and guidance for local educational agencies (LEAs) and state educational agencies (SEAs) to responsibly incorporate School Resource Officers (SROs) into the learning environment.

Letters from these departments emphasize the importance of well-designed SRO programs. To assist in the K-12 context, the Departments also jointly released the Safe, School-based Enforcement through Collaboration, Understanding, and Respect (SECURe) Rubrics .

These new resources can help education and law enforcement agencies that use SROs to review and, if necessary, revise SRO-related policies in alignment with common-sense action steps that can lead to improved school safety and better outcomes for students while safeguarding their civil rights.

Visit for more information about the Administration's work on school climate and discipline

Posted: 9/14/2016

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has released determinations on each state’s implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for Part B (children ages 3-21) and Part C (infants and toddlers) for fiscal year 2014.

Annually, states must report the progress it has made in meeting the targets established in the State Performance Plan (SPP). IDEA details four categories for determination: meets the requirements and purposes of IDEA, needs assistance, needs intervention, or needs substantial intervention.

This year, 26 states and territories met the “Meets Requirements” determination. Minnesota met that determination for both Part B and Part C — one of only 16 states to meet in both areas.

Posted: 9/7/2016

September marks the 27th annual National Recovery Month, designed to bring greater awareness to the value of chemical and mental health treatment. This year’s theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!” highlights the value of peer support by educating, mentoring and helping others.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported in 2014 that about 21.5 million Americans ages 12 and older (8.1%) were classified with a substance use disorder in the past year. Of those, 2.6 million had problems with both alcohol and drugs.  By 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide.

PACER’s Children’s Mental Health and Emotional or Behavioral Disorders Project brings together parents, youth, and professionals to help families receive the resources and support their children need. Learn more about PACER’s Children’s Mental Health and Emotional or Behavioral Disorders Project.

Recovery Month will include a variety of ceremonies, activities, and celebrations across the state. Read Gov. Dayton’s proclamation of September as Recovery Month .

Posted: 8/12/2016

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has issued guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter  to ensure students with disabilities who attend public virtual schools receive the special education and supports they need.

The letter clarifies the responsibility for a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities attending public virtual schools. It also requires each state and school district to enact child find policies so that all children with disabilities residing in the state who are in need of special education and related services, including those who attend virtual schools, are identified and evaluated.

Posted: 8/8/2016

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) recently issued guidance that emphasizes the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities who need them. It also clarifies that the repeated use of disciplinary actions may suggest that many children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports.

Data indicates students with disabilities are disciplined at far higher rates than their non-disabled peers. The “Dear Colleague Letter on the Inclusion of Behavioral Supports in Individualized Education Programs” and a “Summary for Stakeholders,” which lays out the main points of the guidance in an easily digestible format, are now available on the Department’s updated school discipline webpage, Rethink Discipline.

Posted: 8/4/2016

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued guidance clarifying the obligation of schools to provide students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with equal educational opportunity under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Dear Colleague Letter and “Students with ADHD and Section 504: A Resource Guide”

This new guidance provides a broad overview of Section 504 and school districts’ obligations to provide educational services to students with disabilities, including students with ADHD.

In addition to the guidance, the Department also released a Know Your Rights document that provides a brief overview of schools’ obligations to students with ADHD.

Posted: 7/20/2016

PACER Center Executive Director and co-founder Paula F. Goldberg was honored for her work as a humanitarian at the 2016 Starkey Hearing Foundation Gala on July 17 in St. Paul, along with Jennifer Garner and Tony Blair.

Goldberg was recognized for "making PACER a lifeline for parents of children and young adults with all disabilities," according to the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

In the photo below, Goldberg (second from right), Garner and Blair are with Bill Austin, founder of Starkey Hearing Technologies, and Tani Austin, co-founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

Posted: 7/5/2016

The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) recently released a policy statement on Response to Intervention (RTI). The document outlines COPAA’s concerns about its implementation and provides suggestions to improve RTI rules and procedures to ensure it is used appropriately in a way that does not delay services to students with disabilities.

Read the policy statement

Posted: 6/27/2016

The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released guidance to states, school districts and child welfare agencies on the new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for supporting children in foster care. The guidance aims to assist state and local partners in understanding and implementing the new law, and to inform state and local collaboration between educational and child welfare agencies.

Read the guidance in its entirety about the new protections under ESSA that will apply to all children in foster care enrolled in public schools.

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