Friday, September 4, 2015

Terese Jurgensen September 4, 2015

Special Education Law
I received an email yesterday from a parent I worked with over 10 years ago asking me for help for their child because of a school district's poor treatment of their special needs child. I once again found myself searching through my special education law files to find answers to their problem.  It is so important to remember that special education students are protected by law. This fact is always foremost in my mind when we work with students, families and staff. Many of you may know that I am a special education parent and this role has brought many tears and heartache in my life. (Though I would never change my child one bit ~ he is one of the great joys in my life!) It is always my goal and desire during every IEP meeting that we communicate and create individualized educational plans for our students that will close the gap and create avenues that our students will learn what they need in order to be successful in their futures.  To be able to find and live their passions ~ What they are created to do! But equally important, we must follow the law. I once heard a special education lawyer say to a group of teachers and administrators, "Never forget - these students have more right to be in our public schools than you do."  I have never forgotten that.  As we move forward in our district creating an updated Special Education Service Delivery Plan, I am going to take the opportunity in our Weekly Update, to post articles about Special Education Law. 

Individuals With Disability Act ~ IDEA

The Purpose of IDEA

IDEA has been amended several times since Congress first passed it in 1975. The essential purpose of IDEA hasn’t changed, though. Its primary goals are:
  • To protect the rights of children with disabilities. IDEA ensures students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), just like all other children. Schools are required to provide special education in the least restrictive environment. That means schools must teach students with disabilities in general education classroom whenever possible. (At Howard-Winn, this means the Core + More!)
  • To give parents a VOICE in their child’s education. Under IDEA, you have a say in the educational decisions the school makes about your child. At every point of the process, the law gives you specific rights and protections. These are called procedural safeguards.

To all of our special education parents, please remember to attend our Special Education Parent Night on Thursday, September 10th @ 7:00 in the High School Media Center. We want to hear your voice! 


Home Base!

I want to give a big SHOUT OUT to the secondary staff for creating and leading Home Base for our students. This week I have had the opportunity to speak with lots of students who are really excited about their experiences during Home Base.  This block of time has also allowed our new Family Case Manager, Denise Headington, to meet with students & families.  Awesome!

Great Things that are Happening @ School!
Students who love their country!

Creative and Unique Ways of Learning!

Third Grade Students learning math through our new STEM Math 
Program - Crestwood Elementary received this program through a Grant!

September is Attendance Awareness Month

Attendance Works is a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance. We promote tracking chronic absence data for each student beginning in kindergarten, or ideally earlier, and partnering with families and community agencies to intervene when poor attendance is a problem for students or families. 

Our Success Team is carefully monitoring our student attendance. Yesterday, I made approximately 8 phone calls to parents of high school students who were missing a class or two throughout the school day.  Students were surprised, and parents were very happy to be notified. Please do everything you can to support your children in attending school. It is so important to their learning and to having them accomplish their dreams!



Thanks for Reading!
Have a Safe & Wonderful Holiday Weekend!

Terese Jurgensen
Director of Student Services/Special Education
tjurgensen@howard-winn.k12.ia.us
(563) 929-6344


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