RespectABILITY Law Center

RespectABILITY Law Center Respect ABILITY Law Center...making a difference for families. Calvin Luker, Attorney -- Tricia Luker, Advocate -- Royal Oak, MI -- Phone: (248) 544-7223 -- Fax: (248) 544-7233 -- Email: [email protected]
Calvin Luker, Attorney
Tricia Luker, Advocate

Calvin has been a lawyer since 1981 and has concentrated exclusively on issues related to people with disabilities since 1990, including 10 years with the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service. Calvin specializes in individual representation in Special Education; end of life issues; fair housing law; guardianship/conservatorship law; juvenile justice; and other legal areas when they directly impact his clients with disabilities. Calvin also has been involved in issue/systems work through governmental lobbying, non-profit and parent group advocacy. He has presented seminars and workshops locally and nationally on many disability-related issues including special education; housing law; alternatives to guardianships and conservatorships; respite care; advocacy strategies; positive behavior support; alternatives to restraint and seclusion; ADA; and ADHD. Calvin is a disabled Vietnam veteran.

Tricia is and always will be Jessica's Mom. Beginning in 1975, Tricia obtained her expertise in special education, community supports and parent advocacy through her direct efforts for Jessica and her family. She was the Director of Training at Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service for 6 years, and the Director of Family Services for Michigan's Parent Training and Information Center. Tricia has worked as a consultant for the Beach Center on Disability at the University of Kansas and at Exceptional Parent Magazine. She also has created and managed parent training programs for the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan. Tricia was a core member/consultant for MI Department of Education Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Pilot Project, where she co-wrote state PBS manual, conducted PBS awareness seminars for parents and professionals and acted as a PBS coach at a pilot inner city middle school. Tricia has presented seminars nationally on special education, service delivery, PBS, alternatives to restraint and seclusion and other issues important to children and young adults who have disabilities and the families who support them. Tricia’s work as a legal advocate concentrates on special education and Medicaid home and community-based waivers for children and adults.


Calvin and Tricia are proud founders and team members of Our Children Left Behind, created in 2003 to preserve the protections in IDEA '97. They also have been active in efforts in Michigan and nationally to eliminate the use of seclusion, restraints and aversives in public and charter schools; and have made presentations on the dangers of restraint/seclusion/aversives nationally.

The Respect ABILITY Law Center is a vehicle Tricia and Calvin created in 2001 to advance the civil, service and support rights of and for people with disabilities and their families. The Respect ABILITY Law Center is a founding member of the Alliance to Prevent Aversive Intervention and Seclusion [APRAISE], a national organization dedicated to the enactment and implementation of national legislation to eliminate the use of seclusion, restraint and aversives in all schools.
original member of Alliance to Prevent Aversive Intervention and Seclusion.


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North Shore Pediatric Therapy
05/11/2019

North Shore Pediatric Therapy

Some #OCD Facts:
✅It is an anxiety disorder.
✅Between 1 to 3% of children will develop OCD symptoms.
✅The average age of this can start is approximately 10 years, but children as young as 5 can develop OCD.
✅Its primary symptom is recurring, unwanted thoughts or ideas "obsessions" and an urge to do something repetitively "compulsion" to relieve the anxiety of the obsession.
✅OCD can have a significant impact on a child's daily activities and social interactions.
✅The 4 most common types of OCD are checking, contamination, hoarding, ruminations (undirected, unproductive trains of thought) and intrusive thoughts.
✅The treatment for OCD is Behavioral Therapy and at NSPT, a child will usually work one-on-one with a trained therapist to develop strategies to utilize when they are in situations that make them anxious. The therapist will also work with the child’s parents so they will also have strategies to help their child through his or her anxieties.
If you are in the greater Chicago area and are concerned about your child's anxieties or possible OCD, then please get in touch: 📞 1-866-309-4610

#OCD #OCDawareness

Visions and Voices Together
05/11/2019

Visions and Voices Together

Amy Langerman, appellate counsel for the student in the case of R.M. v. Gilbert Unified School District just made an announcement pertaining to recent 9th Circuit Court decision.

"As some of you know, I am the appellate attorney in a case recently decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals involving inclusion of a kindergarten student (now 9 years old) with Down Syndrome (RM v. Gilbert Unified). I have not posted on any of the social media sites that have been following the case intentionally; there was a 14 day time period to file a Request for Rehearing or Request for En Banc review and additional time to consider whether a petition for certiorari should be filed in the Supreme Court. I needed time to carefully look at the legal requirements to file any such reviews. I requested several sites to take down their posts, which did not include my substantive input, and which included incorrect information and speculation, to allow the parents and me, and those with whom we were consulting, to fairly consider the legal issues as well as more practical ones involving where to go from here for this young child.

After careful consideration, the family made the decision not to pursue additional avenues of appeal. While there were legal avenues of appeal, both the District Court and the 9th Circuit had issued memorandum opinions. As such, pursuant to federal rules they are not precedential for anyone except this one student. He and he alone will be affected by this decision. His District had already made clear he was not wanted and so the parents had already been forced to develop an exit strategy. Like many other parents faced with discriminatory exclusion of their child – they have fled – feeling as though any chance of having their child treated with respect and dignity was impossible even if an appellate court might further consider the case. As there was a risk of further review resulting in a publication of the decision, that could affect many, they chose to continue thinking of others, protecting their son, and leaving.

As an attorney who has specific training in inclusion and who trains nationally on the subject, I am dismayed at a system that could allow a school district to treat this child as it did. I no longer live in Arizona; I live and work in a district in San Diego, California that supports inclusion and welcomes neuro diversity. Unfortunately, that is not the case in Arizona in many districts, including Gilbert Public Schools. Anyone reading the 9th circuit memo decision in this case would know nothing about the facts as the court failed to include any of them. While it is disheartening to me as an appellate lawyer – that the court would simply ignore the facts - I also know it helps everyone else. In future cases, if Districts want to try what Gilbert Public Schools tried against RM, they will not be able to use this case against any other student. It is improper to cite to an unpublished decision in most circuits around the country – and on the face of the decision it makes clear it is NOT precedential. And the facts were never disclosed for comparative purposes anyway.

The district court decision does set out facts – of course, they got them wrong. That is what made the appeal so much more challenging. The Arizona District Judge refused to even allow me to argue – he ruled on the briefs. I had not tried the case – I got the record as it was – and hoped to be able to show the district court how the administrative law judge erred. I thought the briefs were well done but as the Judge did not even give me the time of day to argue, I could not answer any questions he had. The 9th circuit, if you saw the oral argument on video stream, gave me a whopping 15 minutes and spent the entire time asking me narrow questions that were unrelated to the legal issue that was dispositive – I never even got to tell them why that legal issue was so important because they kept on me - very aggressively – on the fact that they simply could not understand why a parent would “want less services” as most cases the parents are seeking more. I tried to explain that this was not about less or more but about LRE but, well, let’s just say I did not have a friendly audience that day!

So you know the truth – the District staff ADMITTED that they were meeting this student’s needs “per his IEP” at the time they made the decision to move him, in December of his kindergarten year (after giving him a whopping 5 months to prove he should be allowed to stay – which no Parent should ever have to prove). The progress reports showed progress on every goal. EVERY GOAL. A psychologist assessed Student and his report made clear that his progress was AMAZING (that was the word used in the report); he was significantly exceeding his developmental expectancy which the psychologist attributed to the high expectations that were held for him in the general education setting that he was accessing and allowing him to make such significant progress. This is what makes the outcome here so heartbreaking. This child was EXCELLING at his home school but the district didn’t want him anyway.

So, many have posted very relevant questions. Doesn’t the law prohibit segregation? Does a Student have a right to go to his home school? Doesn’t 40 years of research all support inclusion? While there are nuanced legal answers to all of those questions, the law does provide that schools must educate students in the least restrictive educational environment, they must provide supplemental services and supports, like aides and behavior plan, and inclusion specialist and everything else to allow students to be educated in the LRE. So, you ask, how could this be? And the answer is simple: because a school district convinced one administrative law judge that they could, with arguments that I believe are legally wrong and factually unsupported and her decision was affirmed in unpublished and non-precedential decisions. The law is not perfect.

The end result here is that one student and only one student is going to be affected by this decision – this precise decision. Rest assured that school districts around the country will continue to try this and they have been, long before this decision and will continue particularly with unrepresented parents. There are cases already working their way up through the courts which we considered in making our decisions here – from decisions where the parent fled much earlier and privately placed the student in a general education private school (e.g. Montessori, religious) where there was built in evidence of their ability to be educated in the least restrictive environment. It is appalling that parents have to pay to generate the evidence to keep their seat at the general education table but some school districts, like Gilbert Public Schools, are still discriminating against children with disabilities, particularly Down Syndrome. And, if you don’t have the money to privately place the student someplace safe, and you are forced to remain in the “stay put” placement, they are gathering evidence that they can twist – as was done here. Despite making progress on 100% of his goals in his general education placement with supports, they said “he is languishing” and then they blamed the parents for not allowing the school district to play white knight and save the child. I kid you not.

I have intentionally not reviewed the legal arguments, the responses to them, and the "lessons learned" - the strategies to prevent this going forward. I recognize that anything posted in public forums will get to Districts and there is no reason to provide them advance notice of what parents might do and should do to prevent the application of very technical and nuanced applications of the law to bypass the cases that clearly support inclusion. What I can say is that research supports inclusion. Universal design for learning informs how teachers can adapt and meaningfully include many students who are currently being excluded. But, even the best general education teacher cannot do this alone; just as it takes a village to raise a child, the general education teacher needs support. That support should primarily come from a teacher trained in inclusion - an "inclusion specialist". The good ones are few and far between. And just as you would not go to a GP to have your child's broken arm set, a District should not be going to a resource teacher to serve as inclusion specialist. The "resource" model is a pull out model; inclusion specialists are trained in how to support the child in the general education classroom, how to provide for adaptions and accommodations, how to help peers support student with patience and compassion, consistent with the character curriculum schools claim to be implementing. That is the first line of defense. Behavior specialists are trained in behavior management but most are trained in 1:1 support which looks and often is "separate". A behavior specialist who understands inclusion is what is needed if the child needs additional support but often, behavior in a child who is in an inclusion placement is secondary to the lack of engaging curriculum, instruction and activities and pulling him to the back of the class, so they can say “he is an island in the mainstream” and he objects to being pulled away from his friends. They pull him to the back to do flashcards, because they think that is what to do. The "drill and kill" theory doesn't work for anyone and teachers need to adapt to the needs of all diverse learners. There, I will get off my soapbox now.

So now, for the end of this saga.

While RM had friends at his homeschool and loved going to school, he cannot stay there; the district won’t allow it. They made clear the day after the Court of Appeals ruled, that they intended on carrying out their plan – to force him into a segregated classroom they euphemistically call “the Academic SCILLS” class (Academic Structured Classroom for Intensive Learning of Language Skills.) While it was not a life skills class, the students there follow an “alternate” curriculum, and “alternate” standards, and do not access the challenging standards that the State of Arizona thought were appropriate for all other Students and which RM was accessing up to this time. So, his parents made the hard decision to withdraw him effective at 3:40 today (thus explaining the timing of my post). He will start in his new Charter school on Monday. And, because his IEP has just expired, Gilbert Public Schools will not get to write a new one. His new Charter will take over from here, write an interim IEP, and hopefully RM and his family will get the do-over that they deserved from the outset. This Charter school had no issues accepting RM into their general education program, allowing him to start immediately, and working with parents to make this work going forward.We hope they not only demonstrate acceptance; we hope they celebrate diversity.

For now, please pray for the parents and RM and keep your comments positive and forward thinking. We live in a world filled with hate. Let’s take the high road. Please also respect the parents’ privacy. You can privately email me if you want at [email protected] or through my website at www.amylangerman.com.

Thank you for your support of me, my team, the Parents and especially, RM, an amazing little guy who deserved better by the educational system."

11 unique ideas to finish the school year strong
05/10/2019
11 unique ideas to finish the school year strong

11 unique ideas to finish the school year strong

State testing is done (or will be), the weather is getting nicer, and the school year is coming to an end. It’s hard for students to stay focused and sometimes even harder for educators.

Flying with autism: TSA program helps families at Sea-Tac Airport
05/10/2019
Flying with autism: TSA program helps families at Sea-Tac Airport

Flying with autism: TSA program helps families at Sea-Tac Airport

A growing number of families traveling with a child who has autism are asking about a TSA program that offers assistance during the more stressful parts of the trip. The program is available at Sea-Tac International Airport.

AutismTalk
05/10/2019

AutismTalk

Heartsong of a Hummingbird
05/10/2019

Heartsong of a Hummingbird

My mom helped me make this. It’s how I feel about being autistic. A lot of people talk about autism like it’s something I can turn off and on. That would be like saying I can turn off my eyes being blue or my hair being brown.

I am a proud autistic person. My mom taught me that. To be proud of myself. She is proud of me.

Have a good day!

💜💜💜Tadum

Left Behind | Santa Fe New Mexico | Searchlight New Mexico
05/10/2019
Left Behind | Santa Fe New Mexico | Searchlight New Mexico

Left Behind | Santa Fe New Mexico | Searchlight New Mexico

By Ed Williams. The mountain-rimmed village of Questa, just south of the Colorado border, is home to one of the worst performing districts in the state, its schools earning multiple F’s from the Public Education Department.

Controlling tics during active shooter event a concern for students with Tourette Syndrome
05/10/2019
Controlling tics during active shooter event a concern for students with Tourette Syndrome

Controlling tics during active shooter event a concern for students with Tourette Syndrome

CAPITAL REGION (WRGB) - In an active shooter situation, when staying hidden could mean staying alive, imagine the fear if you physically couldn’t keep quiet. "It is a big fear of theirs because even if it's just a little noise like a squeaking or a barking or something like that, they just fig...

05/10/2019
NJ.com

NJ.com

Wait for it... it's going to put a huge smile on your face.
👏👏👏👏
Tommy is 16 years old and was diagnosed with autism at age 3. He's known for always having a smile on his face and especially loves singing with his school choir. His father recently shared this video with Autism Speaks saying, "This is what inclusion looks like."

Family Turns To Tiny House For Son With Down Syndrome
05/10/2019
Family Turns To Tiny House For Son With Down Syndrome

Family Turns To Tiny House For Son With Down Syndrome

To give their adult son with Down syndrome the freedom he craves, one couple is working to build a 360-square-foot house and they're hoping their community will help make the plan a reality.

Google Unveils New Accessibility Initiatives
05/10/2019
Google Unveils New Accessibility Initiatives

Google Unveils New Accessibility Initiatives

Tech giant Google says it is working on multiple projects designed to improve day-to-day life for people with various disabilities.

Trump Administration To Appeal Special Ed Ruling
05/10/2019
Trump Administration To Appeal Special Ed Ruling

Trump Administration To Appeal Special Ed Ruling

The U.S. Department of Education is fighting to delay a special education regulation two months after a federal judge found that the agency's efforts to do so were illegal.

We join with our brothers and sisters in disability to mourn the passing of civil rights pioneer Bob Liston.  Bob's ener...
05/10/2019

We join with our brothers and sisters in disability to mourn the passing of civil rights pioneer Bob Liston. Bob's energy and commitment to disability rights was an example for all of us. While we will miss him we and families and children will have better and freer lives for his work. Our hearts and support go out to his wife, Marsha Rose Katz, Bob's tireless fighting partner in the effort to expand rights for people with disabilities. Someone else wrote that they Bob and Marsha define love, decency, and fearlessness in pursuit of justice. Rest in power Bob.

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2007 Guthrie Avenue
Royal Oak, MI
48067

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