Inclusive Yoga!

Outside The Box Associate Marilyn Scattoreggio recently spent some time in Boca Raton, Florida and attended a class in “Chair Yoga”.  The class was taught by her friend Marge– a 25 year Yoga practitioner who needed to find a way to continue to do Yoga after having knee and shoulder replacements.  Marge’s “Chair Yoga” classes are filling up fast. Marilyn took three classes during a week-long stay and after the first class found her chronic back pain was nearly alleviated over night. So impressed with her own experience, she made a video after the second class, interviewing several participants, and Marge herself. If you are struggling with physical injuries or limitations, Chair Yoga just may be for you. Marge’s DVD can be ordered by emailing Marge directly

School Leaders Fret Over Possible Medicaid Changes: From Disability Scoop

by Michelle Diament | February 28, 2017
As federal lawmakers consider broad changes to Medicaid, school chiefs from across the country are warning that such modifications could have big consequences for students with disabilities.

School districts rely on Medicaid to help pay for everything from nurses and therapists to screening and treatment for students in special education.

This could change if Republicans have their way with the state-federal program.

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President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have indicated that they support switching Medicaid to a block grant, or per capita cap, system.

Currently, Medicaid benefits are generally extended to anyone who is eligible, with the federal government providing matching grants to states to cover the costs. But under a block grant approach, states would likely receive a set amount of money from Uncle Sam, a move that could lead to more limited eligibility or other cost savings measures.

The prospect of such a significant shift has school district leaders “overwhelmingly concerned” and “deeply worried,” according to findings from a survey of nearly 1,000 superintendents and other administrators released this month by AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

School districts are currently able to seek reimbursement from Medicaid for a variety of medically necessary services provided to children under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Two-thirds of educators polled said they use Medicaid dollars to pay salaries of health care professionals who work in schools while others said the funds go toward assistive technology, equipment like walkers and wheelchairs, professional development for special educators or transporting students with disabilities.

While it’s unclear precisely how funding levels might change under a block grant approach, AASA asked school chiefs about the impact of a 30 percent reduction.

Those surveyed said such a cut would likely mean fewer paraprofessionals and other staff and districts that are less able to support students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms, potentially falling short of obligations under IDEA.

“This would lead to reduced services for children with disabilities especially children with significant cognitive and motor delays,” one survey respondent said. Another indicated that cuts would “drastically cut back on the individualized supports” that could be provided to children with disabilities.

Officials with AASA said they hope lawmakers will consider Medicaid’s impact on school services as they weigh the future of the program.

“This survey illustrates the growing concern that our school districts have for the communities they serve, especially the families within our communities that need help the most,” said Daniel A. Domenech, the group’s executive director.

Supreme Court Sides With Family In Service Dog Case: Detroit Free Press Article

Supreme Court Sides With Family In Service Dog Case
by Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press/TNS | February 22, 2017

Supreme Court
In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has largely sided with the family of a girl with cerebral palsy who sought to bring her service dog to school. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca
WASHINGTON — Wonder the goldendoodle will get another shot in court.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals should reconsider whether Ehlena Fry and her family can sue a Michigan school district for its decision years ago to tell Ehlena, who has cerebral palsy, that she couldn’t bring her service dog to school.

In Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, Ehlena’s parents and their lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union argued in October that they shouldn’t be required to exhaust administrative remedies under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act before suing under a separate law involving access to public institutions, as the school district argued.

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The eight-member court largely agreed — not deciding whether the Frys, who live in Manchester, Mich., had fully proved their argument, but sending it back to the lower court with instructions on a two-pronged standard that could help decide such cases in the future.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court, saying that “exhaustion of the IDEA’s administrative procedures is unnecessary” in cases where the larger point of a suit is about “something other than the denial” of that statute’s guarantee of a free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities.

The Frys brought the case against the Napoleon Community Schools and the Jackson County Intermediate School District in 2012, saying that when Ehlena was 5 the staff at Ezra Eby Elementary balked at her bringing Wonder to school to help her retrieve dropped items, open and close doors and perform other tasks, saying a human aide could help.

But Ehlena’s pediatrician had prescribed Wonder to be with Ehlena at all times to help them solidify a working bond. Eventually, the Frys moved Ehlena to a new school where Wonder was welcomed. But the school district argued that the Frys could have sorted out the situation in a few months by using the process under IDEA instead of suing for damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In sending the case back to the 6th Circuit, the Supreme Court said while Congress made clear that disputes over appropriate educational requirements needed to work through the IDEA process, that was not the case in claims involving public access under the ADA, such as the Frys’ appeared to be.

The court instructed the 6th Circuit to review the case and determine whether the same claims could be raised “if the conduct had occurred in a public facility which was not a school” and whether an adult with disabilities who was not a student could have “pressed the same grievance.”

The Supreme Court said while it appeared that the “Frys’ complaint alleges only disability-based discrimination, without making any reference to the adequacy of the special education services” she was provided, “the possibility remains that the history of these proceedings might suggest something different” and that it should be left to the lower court to decide.

© 2017 Detroit Free Press
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

The Accidental Hero

Ramone, who had Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ran to the Walgreens across the street to phone the police.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein

I first met Ramone in the middle of his Sophomore year in high school. He was good looking and seemed pretty smart to me, though his academic career was on a sharp downward curve. It seemed that Ramone had no record of achievement or identified strength. Unless you counted his flair for taking the opposing view of any opinion, directive, or suggestion.

His disciplinary record was impressive. If Ramone was interested in a life that involved doing little while appearing busy, task avoidance, strategic attendance, creative procrastination, and the art of getting attention while also staying under the radar–at least some of the time–he’d have been gold.

Ramone had two things going for him. He had charm, and he was smart. It was most likely those two characteristics that figured into his somehow having been promoted to the tenth grade while never having passed a single course. That, and his school district had a limited budget and so failed to offer Ramone the help he needed to be successful. It’s not supposed to work that way.

Ramone had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder–ADHD. I suppose the school district’s budget issues plus the fact that his mother spoke mainly Spanish may have led a rather complacent school staff to assign him a rather low ranking on the school districts’s list of priorities. I could see that Ramone didn’t always motivate people to want to help him.

In fact, Ramone was on his way out. A meeting had been scheduled to move Ramone to an “alternate school”. He was toast. And I was his advocate.

Since the beginning of tenth grade, Ramone had cut class fifty-five times, skipped an equal number of detentions, skipped school entirely more than 30 days (which ironically, resulted in numerous out of school suspensions). He had been found on school property numerous times while he was on out of school suspension for those illegal absences. And now he had once again been insubordinate to a teacher, with colorful commentary that didn’t engender any sympathy on the part of his teacher or the principal.

I got up early the day of his meeting to read the newspaper I a short article about a robbery caught my eye. The robbery took place at a fast food restaurant in the town where my young client occasionally attended school. Four young men had entered the restaurant with guns pointed and ordered everyone into the walk-in freezer.

According to the article, everyone did as they were told except for one customer who ran out the door and across the street to a pharmacy where he called police. The non compliant customer who bolted was shot at four times as he darted across the street to the pharmacy. All four shots had missed their receding target, and so the perps had continued to herd the remaining customers and staff into the freezer. They were still in the process of burglarizing the place when police arrived and captured them in the act.
Later, when I arrived at the school where Ramone’s Committee on Special Education would take place, Ramone met me at the door.

“Did you see me in the paper?” He asked, excitedly.

Immediately I knew. “That was YOU?”!

I’d rarely seen a smile bigger than the one on Ramone’s face at that moment. He told me the whole story: He and his cousin were having a bite around 9:30 pm (later than his curfew allowed), when the gunmen raided the restaurant and ordered everyone into the freezer. Everyone–including Ramone’s cousin–did as they were told and were heading toward the freezer.

Everyone except Ramone, that is.

While everyone in the restaurant was busy complying with the gunmen’s orders, Ramone, who if you remember has ADHD (with impulsivity) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (did I mention that?), did what he always did when someone told him what to do. He did the opposite; he ran the other way.
It was Ramone who had run out of the restaurant. It was Ramone who had been shot at four times as he ran across the street to call the police. It was Ramone who had saved the day, albeit after his curfew. And now we would be having a meeting that would most likely put the last nail into the coffin of Ramone’s high school career.

When the meeting began, I told the assembled teachers, psychologist, guidance counselor and Special Education Director that Ramone had something important to tell them.

“Before we begin, I want you to know that we have a genuine hero sitting here.” I asked Ramone to tell his story. When he was done, while the committee members still were absorbing the details, I said to Ramone, “You have oppositional defiant disorder. Mostly it gets you into trouble. But this time it was a strength. The trick is to learn to choose when you will be oppositional, and when you’ll go along with things. Power is the ability to choose and take action based on your choice”.

The school psychologist picked up the the ball from there, discussing a goal to help Ramone learn to choose his behaviors and to be aware of the fact that he could, in fact, learn to make choices.

The chairperson of the committee told Ramone an assembly would be planned for the next day to honor him for his bravery. And the committee decided Ramone would remain at the high school, which didn’t have anywhere near enough heroes on its rolls.