Introduction to The Arc@School Advocacy Curriculum in Spanish

These recorded webinars provide a brief overview of the Spanish version of The Arc@School’s Special Education Advocacy Curriculum. The curriculum provides basic information that parents, educators, and non-attorney advocates need to support students and families in navigating the special education system. Watch the webinar to learn more about the content of the curriculum, how to sign up to receive an account, what to expect after signing up, and more.



Restrained and Secluded: How a Change in Perspective for Students With Disabilities and Simple Science Can Change Everything

Students with disabilities are more likely to be restrained, secluded, suspended, expelled, and subjected to corporal punishment. In the name of behavior, children with disabilities, Black and brown children, and children with a trauma history are often misunderstood. Outdated behavioral management approaches are not working for the children who need our help the most. Being the parent or caregiver of a misunderstood child can be difficult. We are often blamed and shamed, but there is hope. A bit of neuroscience and a new lens on behavior can reduce and eliminate punitive practices and lead to endless potential.

Speaker Bio: Guy Stephens lives in Southern Maryland with his wife and two amazing children. He is the founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint (AASR). AASR is a community of over 25,000 parents, self-advocates, teachers, school administrators, paraprofessionals, attorneys, related service providers, and others working together to influence change in supporting children whose behaviors are often misunderstood. He has presented at conferences and events across North America and guest lectures for undergraduate and graduate courses as a national expert on the issue of restraint and seclusion.

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Jacobs v. Salt Lake City School District

Filed: September 29, 2023

Court: Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

Overview: Amicus brief explaining that children with disabilities must have access to education in their neighborhood schools.

Excerpt: “The ruling below is flatly inconsistent with the IDEA and case law interpreting its least restrictive environment (LRE) mandate. Congress has made clear through IDEA (in all its iterations over the past five decades) that one of its overriding priorities was giving students with disabilities access to the general education curriculum and education in the regular classroom to the maximum extent possible. Congress enacted IDEA, an “ambitious piece of legislation,” in response to the serious problem that a “majority of handicapped children in the United States were either totally excluded from schools or [were] sitting idly in regular classrooms awaiting the time when they were old enough to drop out.” Endrew F. v. Douglas Cnty. Sch. Dist. RE-1, 580 U.S. 386, 397 (2017) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)… IDEA’s mandates are not empty aspirations: decades of scientifically based research demonstrates that children with disabilities achieve considerably more educational benefit from placement in general education classes with access to the general education curriculum through supplementary aids and services than from placement in special education classrooms or schools with limited access or no access to their age-appropriate non-disabled peers or general education curriculum.”

Case Documents

Jacobs v. Salt Lake City School District Amicus Brief

Osseo Areas Schools v. A.J.T.

Filed: April 21, 2023

Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit

Overview: Amicus brief to safeguard parental involvement in the IEP process and ensure children have access to a full school day as part of a free and appropriate education.

Excerpt: “…when a school district designs a program and placement without considering the student’s actual needs and parental input, it violates IDEA…Courts have recognized that shortening school days for IDEA-eligible children based on administrative convenience rather than individual student needs can cause substantive harm…IDEA’s procedural safeguards, especially the right to meaningful parental participation, exist to ensure the delivery of meaningful educational benefit to all children with disabilities. Because of Osseo’s undisputed failure to comply with IDEA’s procedural mandates, A.J.T. did not receive an appropriately ambitious program with challenging objectives.”

Case Documents

Amicus Brief 

Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools

Filed: November 16, 2022

Court: U.S. Supreme Court

Overview: Amicus brief explaining that students with disabilities are not required to exhaust their administrative remedies to bring non-IDEA civil rights claims.

Excerpt: “…the decision below significantly undermines IDEA’s policies of protecting students’ rights and the use of alternative dispute resolution procedures as a preferred method for resolving IDEA claims. If allowed to stand, the decision will force parents who could otherwise achieve all available IDEA relief through settlement to nonetheless litigate their claims, lest they be left foreclosed from pursuing non-IDEA civil rights claims as Miguel Perez (Miguel) was. This would be true even though an administrative record regarding appropriate educational instruction serves no purpose whatsoever for adjudicating non IDEA claims and, more significantly, would delay the implementation of any appropriate IDEA remedy…In other words, it adds nothing of value and may further harm students who already prevailed on their IDEA claims.”

Case Documents

Amicus Brief

Press Releases

National Disability Rights Groups File Amicus in Perez v. Sturgis

National Disability Rights Groups Applaud SCOTUS Decision in Perez v. Sturgis

Related Media

Disability Scoop: Supreme Court Case Could Change How Special Ed Disputes Are Handled

Disability Scoop: Supreme Court Unanimously Sides With Student in Special Ed Case

USA Today: Special Education Clash: How One Student’s Supreme Court Case Could Make Schools More Accountable

K-12 Dive: 3 Takeaways From the Perez Special Education Case

Engagement in the Early Intervention Program Planning Process for Parents and Professionals

Early intervention program planning can be challenging at times for students, parents, teachers, service providers, and administrators—but it doesn’t have to be.

Enter your information below to watch a free video. You will hear from Dr. Rachel Brady about IDEA Part C & B, program planning requirements, and strategies that support more meaningful engagement in early intervention programs. Equity issues and the points of advocacy at the individual and systems levels are also explored through examples, discussion, and a review of available resources.

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Education for Students With Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System

Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) do not lose their right to public education, including all rights to special education, when they are adjudicated delinquent. Once in the juvenile justice system, young people with IDD may be placed in a variety of settings, ranging from home confinement to foster homes to group residential settings and so on, all the way down the continuum to secure detention and solitary confinement. Wherever they are, they have the same rights to access the coursework the state requires for all students, as well as the services and supports provided by their IEP and/or Section 504 plan. In a secure setting, the way in which some services are provided may be altered, but the services cannot be denied.

Speaker Bio: A litigator with more than 26 years of experience in juvenile and education law, Diane Smith Howard’s work at NDRN focuses on conditions for children, youth and adults with disabilities in institutional systems. Specifically, youth in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, and refugee resettlement systems, and adults with disabilities in the criminal justice and mental health systems.

Diane holds a B.A. with honors from Colby College, Waterville, ME, and a J. D. from Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, MI. Diane’s passion for this work is rooted in a family connection to foster and adopted children with disabilities, and to adults who are at risk of institutionalization due to a lack of community supports.

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D.R. v. Redondo Beach Unified School District

Filed: March 3, 2022

Court: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Overview: The District Court denied D.R., a student with a disability, a more inclusive placement because he failed to demonstrate “appropriate educational benefit” from inclusion in general education. The amicus brief argues that, by placing the onus on students to prove that they can benefit from general education, the District Court would overturn fifty years of Congressional and judicial consensus that students with disabilities should be educated in inclusive settings “whenever possible.”

Excerpt: “The IDEA’s language, legislative history, and judicial interpretation speak with one voice: ‘To the maximum extent appropriate,’ students with disabilities must be educated ‘with children who are not disabled.’ This robust presumption of inclusion is reflected in the IDEA’s procedural requirements, which require Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to account affirmatively for ‘the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class.’ The IDEA codified an emerging consensus from landmark special education cases that schools must educate students with disabilities in integrated settings wherever possible. Congress later amended the IDEA to further strengthen the LRE requirement in light of new education research, describing it as ‘a presumption that children with disabilities are to be educated in regular classes.’…The presumption of inclusion is so robust that it may even justify placement in general education in the rare case where the more restrictive setting may be educationally superior.”

Case Documents

D.R. v. Redondo Beach Unified School District Amicus Brief

D.R. v. Redondo Beach Unified School District Opinion

The Arc of Iowa v. Reynolds

State: Iowa

Filed: 2021

Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa

Plaintiffs: The Arc of Iowa and parents of students with disabilities

Defendant: Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa Department of Education, individual school districts

Counsel: The Arc, ACLU, ACLU of Iowa, Disability Rights Iowa, Arnold & Porter Law Firm, Tom Duff Law Firm

Overview: In the final days of the 2021 legislative session, the Iowa General Assembly passed HF 847, which prohibits school districts in Iowa from requiring everyone to wear masks in their schools. As the school year begins and COVID cases soar, school districts face a dilemma: whether to comply with HF 847 or whether to meet their obligations under federal disability rights laws by protecting the health, safety, and dignity of their students with disabilities and providing equal access to their education. Parents of children with disabilities that put them at risk of severe illness should they contract COVID also face a dilemma: whether to send their children to school at risk to their health and even lives or whether to keep them at home at the expense of their education and development. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provide broad protections for individuals with disabilities. Both federal disability rights laws prohibit outright exclusion, denial of equal access, or unnecessary segregation of students with disabilities in public education.

Case Documents


Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction

Order Granting Temporary Restraining Order

Reply in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction

American Academy of Pediatrics Amicus Brief

Order Granting Extension of Temporary Restraining Order

Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Eighth Circuit Brief

Eighth Circuit American Academy of Pediatrics Amicus Brief

Eighth Circuit Opinion

Eighth Circuit Per Curiam Opinion

Order on Motions to Dismiss and Summary Judgment

Press Releases

Lawsuit Challenges Iowa Law Banning Schools from Requiring Masks

Federal Court Blocks Iowa’s Law Banning Masking Requirements in Schools

Mask Mandate Preliminary Injunction Continues to Protect Iowa Children

Federal Appeals Court Decision Ensures Iowa Schools Can Require Masking to Protect Students with Disabilities

Related Media

Associated Press: Parents of disabled kids sue over Iowa ban on mask mandates

Des Moines Register: Parents of students with disabilities sue over Iowa’s COVID mask mandate ban in schools

KCRG: Parents of students with disabilities, ACLU sue Iowa over mask mandate ban law

We Are Iowa: ‘Not an equal education’: Parents of kids with disabilities sue over Iowa ban on mask mandates

Iowa Capital Dispatch: Lawsuit: Iowa’s school mask mandate ban violates disability rights

Business Insider: Iowa ban on mask mandates at schools overturned by federal judge

WQAD8: Davenport Education Association praises federal judge’s order to allow Iowa schools to mandate masks

Des Moines Register: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds asks judge to reinstate mask mandate ban, citing concerns from parents

The Gazette: Documents: COVID outbreaks at nearly quarter of Iowa schools

Des Moines Register: Iowa school districts may continue mask mandates after judge grants preliminary injunction

NBC News: Federal judge blocks Iowa’s ban on school mask mandates

ABC Action News: Families of children with disabilities challenge mask mandate bans

Des Moines Register: Federal court will decide the fate of mask mandates in Iowa schools

KETV Omaha: Federal judges hear Iowa’s appeal over injunction of law that bans school mask mandates

Courthouse News Service: Iowa asks appeals court to uphold ban on mask mandates in schools

Iowa Public Radio: State attorneys ask appeals court to restore Iowa’s ban on school mask mandates

Des Moines Register: Iowa will not enforce school mask mandate ban for now, Attorney General’s Office says

Iowa Capital Dispatch: Appeals court rules that some Iowa schools can impose mask mandates

Our Quad Cities: ACLU, others celebrate federal ruling on Iowa mask mandate in schools

Education Week: Relaxed Mask Guidelines Raise Anxiety for Parents of Children With Disabilities

ACLU Iowa: 8th Circuit Court Decision Allows Iowa Schools To Protect Students With Disabilities With Masking Under Federal Law

Des Moines Register: Iowa must permit school districts to require masks in some cases, court rules; Iowa to appeal

Associated Press: Federal court dismisses case against Iowa governor’s ban on school mask mandates

How Marginalized Families Are Left Behind in Disability Education Services and How to Address It

Historically marginalized families face many barriers in regards to education service access and supports. These disparities have significant implications on both children and their families long past graduation. In this webinar, learn about the barriers faced, the historical and systemic factors that contribute to them, and the long-term implications. Attendees will also engage in an exercise to develop advocacy plans in their communities to address these issues and create meaningful change.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Jamie Pearson, a former behavioral interventionist and autism program consultant, is an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences at North Carolina State University. Dr. Pearson earned her PhD in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she developed FACES, a parent advocacy program designed to support African American families of children with autism.

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