Missouri Advocates For Families Affected by Autism

We are a citizens action group advocating and lobbying for families that have a child with special needs. We believe that EVERY child has a right to a FREE and APPROPRIATE EDUCATION and should NEVER BE LEFT BEHIND.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Teacher Stands In Place OF the Parent When The Child Is Sent To The Public Schools

Jeff Grisamore Not: Teacher Stands In Place OF the Parent When The Child Is Sent To The Public Schools

Teacher Stands In Place OF the Parent When The Child Is Sent To The Public Schools

Teachers Stands In Place OF The Parent When The Child Is Sent To The Public Schools


The law provides teachers with considerable authority over the control and education of the child, once the parent sends his child to the public schools. The authority of the teacher is given by law and is not delegated by the parent. Authority is granted to the teacher by the state as an essential part of teacher responsibility. The teacher stands in place of the parent when the child is under the teacherʼs supervision and care.

Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/kansas-city/1761615-lees-summit-school-district-really-good-2.html#ixzz2P8FJQ7bw



Policy Perspectives with the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri is an education reform podcast that will feature topics central to the need for education reform in Missouri. It will feature experts on accountability and transparency, teacher quality, and parental choice. To suggest topics or guests for our podcast please send us suggestions on FaceBook or tweet us at @ceamofficial.
8. Policy Perspectives (3/26/2013): Three things every parent of a special learner should know before attending an IEP meeting.
Click HERE to listen…Legal Services of Eastern Missouri attorney Pat Mobley who works with LSEM’s Children’s Legal Alliance talks about his work with special needs learners and the IEP process with CEAM’s Peter Franzen and Lisa Clancy.
7. Policy Perspectives (3/13/2013): Legislative Update
Click HERE to listen…Listen as CEAM State Policy Director Kate Casas discusses A-F school report card ratings and other education reforms being considered by the Missouri legislature.
6. Policy Perspectives (1/26/2013): Meet CEAM’s new field director, Lorna Kurdi, as she discusses her motivation for being part of the education reform movement in this interview with Peter Franzen.
Click HERE to listen…
5. Policy Perspectives (12/06/2012): Interview with Representative Steve Cookson
Click HERE to listen…
Peter Franzen and Kate Casas interview Representative Steve Cookson.
4. Policy Perspectives (11/13/2012): Interview with Amanda Henry
Click HERE to listen…
Teach for America – St. Louis alumnus Amanda Henry talks about the importance of making teacher evaluation a meaningful and instructive process that helps parents and school leaders understand the effectiveness of classroom teachers by using the “value-added” model.
3. Policy Perspectives (10/24/2012): Mike Malone discusses South City Prep’s finances.Click HERE to listen…Peter Franzen, Kate Casas, and Mike Malone, Founder and School Leader at South City Prep, discuss the Missouri State Board of Education’s declaration that South City Prep is financially distressed.
2. Policy Perspectives (10/18/2012): CEAM Position on St. Louis Public Schools Accreditation Status.Click HERE to listen…Kate Casas and Peter Franzen discuss CEAM’s position on the reclassification of Saint Louis Public Schools.
1. Policy Perspectives (10/12/2012): Meet the CEAM Staff-
Click HERE to listen…
The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri staff discuss their background and passion for education reform.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

How autism can cost families millions- MSN Money

How autism can cost families millions- MSN Money

How autism can cost families millions

As the rate of reported cases rises, the expense of providing care -- sometimes for a lifetime -- is becoming staggering.

By Jonathan Berr Mon 8:58 AM
daughter, illness, child, parenting, insurance, health, medicalLost amid the recent coverage about the frightening rise in reported cases of autism is any discussion of the costs to families -- which can be staggering.

According to data from the Autism Society, the annual cost to society from the illness is $137 billion, greater than the state budget of California and more than twice the market capitalization of General Motors (GM -0.86%), North America's largest automaker.

No less overwhelming is the cost to individuals and families caring for a person with autism. The Autism Society cites estimates of $3.2 million for the lifetime costs of such care. Behavioral therapies for children can cost $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Caring for an adult with autism in a supported residential setting can cost $50,000 to $100,000 per year.

"Even if no new instances of autism occurred starting today, the number of adults who would potentially turn to the human services delivery system for services and/or supports by 2030 will be 500% higher than it is today," according a statement the society provided to MSN Money.

The costs can be such a burden that parents have known to move to states where children on the autism spectrum get better benefits for care. Parents must often pay for services out of their own pockets because what schools provide is inadequate. Increased emphasis on early detection is no doubt costing taxpayers more money, but it's not clear exactly how much.

And, of course, the concern about the rising rate of reported cases is indeed justified. Data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that that rate in American children is now 1 in 50. In 2007, the estimated rate was 1 in 86. Most of the increase is due to better, early detection of autism, which experts say is critical for successful treatment.

But Michael Rosanoff, associate director of public health research at Autism Speaks, says those figures, which are based on parental surveys, are probably too conservative. Data from South Korea collected by doctors estimate the rate at 1 in 38, or about 2.64% of that country's children.

"We think it's at least 2% (in the U.S.), but it may be higher," he said, adding that the federal government needs to do more. "It's absolutely frightening."

Jonathan Berr is the father of a 6-year-old son on the autism spectrum. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

Autistic Girl's 'Broken Cheeseburger' Story Goes Viral | ABC News Blogs - Yahoo!

Autistic Girl's 'Broken Cheeseburger' Story Goes Viral | ABC News Blogs - Yahoo!

Autistic Girl's 'Broken Cheeseburger' Story Goes Viral

A local Chili's restaurant in Midvale, Utah, might have made the grave mistake of "breaking" one little girl's cheeseburger by cutting it in half, but the waitress, manager and line cooks more than made up for it Sunday when they presented her with a brand new "fixed" one.
Seven-year-old Arianna Hill is autistic and she loves cheeseburgers. But apparently, ones that are cut in half just won't do.
"We just decided we were going to get some lunch before we were taking her to see the Easter bunny," Arianna's older sister, Anna MacLean, 25, told ABCNews.com. "She usually does OK in restaurants. It seemed to be going pretty well. She wasn't too overstimulated. She was really enthusiastic before we were even able to put our drinks orders in. She told the waitress, 'I'll have my cheeseburger.'"
However, when Arianna's burger was delivered to the table, MacLean noticed that Arianna wasn't touching it, but instead only eating her french fries.
"Her verbal skills aren't the best, but she can communicate basic things," MacLean said. "I asked why she wasn't eating and she said, 'I don't want it. It's broken.' She said, 'I need one that's fixed.'"
MacLean loves spending time with Arianna, but is always prepared to come across someone who might not be as understanding of her special needs. Fortunately, the restaurant didn't skip a beat in correcting the broken burger and their compassionate actions have now gone viral.
"Our waitress came back over and I felt bad. I don't really expect people to understand these special requests, so I just told her to add a new burger to our bill," said MacLean. "I just told her to charge it to us and she said, 'No way.' She was just so sweet and played along with Arianna."
The Chili's server, Lauren Wells, didn't hesitate before leaning down to personally apologize for the broken burger and assured Arianna she would bring her a brand new fixed one.
"The manager came over and did the same thing. It was really a big deal. The line cooks even got involved," MacLean said. "When she brought it back out, Arianna said 'Oh, thank you! You brought me a fixed cheeseburger.' She sat there and looked at it and said 'Oh I missed you,' and kissed it over and over again."
MacLean was so touched by the staff's compassion and understanding that something as minor as a cut-in-half cheeseburger would be enough to ruin Arianna's whole day that she snapped a photo of Arianna giving the cheeseburger a kiss and uploaded it to Facebook along with a brief description of how well the restaurant handled the situation.
Before MacLean knew it, the "broken cheeseburger" photo had more than 100,000 "likes" on the social media site, a number that continues to rise rapidly. At the time of this writing, the post had more than 220,000 "likes" and 10,000 comments.
"It's just touching," said Harrison Dixson, the Chili's general manager. "I had no idea. I looked at it this morning and it had a couple thousand likes. I thought someone would say, 'Hey, good job Midvale. But I'm talking to 'Good Morning America.' This is just unbelievable."
Dixson said he's gotten calls from people all across the country, including the president of Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization, thanking him for the way his manager, Brad Cattermole, and server, Lauren Wells, interacted with Arianna.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of those two. I've been with this company for 13 years and I've never been as proud as I am today," said Dixson.
"It turned out great and this turned into something way bigger than anything I ever imaged," MacLean said. "The comments on the post just bring awareness to people. This is Arianna's story. And this is Lauren's story, and the manager. They are a true inspiration."
Also Read

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Teachers Should Never Bully Their Students! - The Autism Site

Teachers Should Never Bully Their Students! - The Autism Site

District refutes looting allegations - Gate House

District refutes looting allegations - Gate House

An allegation that a former school board action "looted" $1 million from the teacher's insurance fund came up during a discussion of Camdenton's salary schedule.
During the public comment portion of a Camdenton Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, teachers spoke on behalf of veteran teachers who felt their wages aren't competitive.
One of those teachers, Camdenton football coach Jeff Shore, told school board members that he felt it was a “situation where the teachers feel like a million dollars was taken out of that account and then in turn their insurance goes up. At best it creates a distrust among the teachers and the board."
Shore is the husband of Stacy Shore, who has used the Lake Watch Dog display name in the past. The anonymous Lake Watchdog website is where the allegation of the "looting" of $1 million from the teachers’ insurance fund surfaced.
Shore said that although teachers questioned the move by the board in 2007, they did not get a response. To this day, he claimed, there has been no response.
In a strongly worded and detailed explanation provided at the request of the Lake Sun, four members who were serving on the school board in 2007 addressed the allegations.
According to the members, there was indeed a transfer of $1 million from the insurance fund to the general operating fund. However, they said there was nothing illegal or covert about the move and that the transfer did not negatively affect the teachers’ insurance fund. They went on to say that the money transferred was not earmarked for any one particular project or payment.
John Blair, former president along with Wayne Compton, who served as treasurer at the time, Susan Leslie and Danny Drover said the funds were moved only after the district checked with the state to make certain no rules were being violated.
The Teacher’s Insurance Plan
The Camdenton health insurance plan has been a self-funded plan since July  2000.  This means the school district is responsible to pay for all participant health insurance claims incurred and allowed by the plan document. 
At the same time, the school district also must pay for re-insurance to protect itself for large claims above a certain amount, and for efficient payment of claims by a “third party administrator”, a.k.a. TPA, to insure compliance with HIPPA and other privacy matters.
The board annually calculates a monthly contribution amount per participant for different levels of participation in an amount projected to cover actuarial estimated claims, health network fees and TPA fees. That amount does not include any overhead, broker commission, or built in profit that is included in the premiums charged by an outside insurance company indemnity plan.
According to Blair, the monthly contribution for health insurance is considered a board paid fringe benefit, and the school district paid 100% of the certified employees’ individual premium.  This employee contribution amount is not taxable to the employee under IRC Code section 125.  However, the contributions paid yearly qualify for credit toward retirement benefits in addition to other paid employee wages.  This benefit increases a retiree’s monthly retirement benefit. 
He said it is much like social security withholdings, the employee pays ½ and the employer pays ½ .  The school district is obligated by state statutes to remit its portion of the retirement contribution on this health benefit which ranged from 10.5 % in 2001 to 14.5% in 2013 for certified staff (teachers and administrators)  and 5% to 6.86% for classified staff (cooks, janitors, secretaries, and para-professionals).
The computed monthly contribution did not include any amount to cover the district’s portion of the retirement contribution or the additional administrative time necessary for the district’s employees to deal with additional administrative costs attributable to a self-funded plan when compared to an indemnity plan, he said.
All district retirement contributions for both certified and classified employees were paid from the General Fund through June 30, 2005.  Thereafter, all district classified retirement contributions continued to be paid from the general fund while the certified matching contributions were paid from the teachers fund. 
Blair said transfers from the general fund to the teachers fund were made in several years to cover any shortfall in the teachers fund.
To facilitate the bookkeeping process, monthly contributions were deposited in a separate bank account.  Claims were also paid from this same bank account.  This bank account is not a separate fund like debt service or capital projects, but rather part of the operating funds, Blair said.
 If the contributions by the district were not adequate to cover the claims, then the district would be obligated to make up the difference regardless of how much had been budgeted and paid into this account. In fact claims, could have been paid from the main district bank account without any monthly transfers to a separate account. 
Moving the funds
Sometime in early 2007 the balance in the separate claims account was approaching  $3,500,000.   Discussion occurred among the administrative team and board members concerning this excessive balance.  The TPA advised the board that adequate reserves were three months of claims.  The $3,500,00 represented about 18 months of claims. 
Blair said it became apparent that just the district’s portion of retirement contributions alone that had been paid from the general fund on the past years’ contributions substantially exceeded $1,000,000.   A decision was made to transfer this amount back to the general fund from this separate bank account. 
The legality of this transfer was cleared by the superintendent with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the district’s outside auditors, he said.
According to the information provided by the former school board members, the money was then moved to the general fund. At the same time, money was moved to capital projects. This occurs every year. The money was transferred into the general account at the end of the 2006-07 fiscal year and it was then included in the next year’s budget.
The money, from the district funded insurance account, was not earmarked for any one particular project or payment.

Autistic Boy Injured During Body Sock Incident

Jeff Grisamore Not: Autistic Boy Injured During Body Sock Incident

Columbus, OH – An autistic boy was injured after teachers at his Ohio school used a restraint device known as a body sock on him. Naqis Cochran, 10, was placed in the device without permission, according to the family.The body sock was allegedly used on the autistic boy because he would not stop laughing during class. Naqis Cochran is a student at the South Mifflin Elementary School. The Teacher supposedly felt that spending some time in the body sock would help calm Cochran down.

The restraint device is made of a stretchy purple Lycra material. The boy told his mother that he remembers the teacher helping him step into the body sock and having his arms, legs, and head zipped inside. The next thing the Ohio autistic boy remembers is falling on his face and having his tooth knocked out. Naqis reportedly underwent two emergency root canals, but is doing fine now.

The South Mifflin Elementary School teacher reportedly noted in a statement about the body sock incident that she told the student to stop moving, and that is when he fell down and knocked out his front tooth.

Cochran’s parents maintain that they never authorized the use of a body sock on their child. When the family asked for an incident report about the body sock injury, the Columbus City Schools principal allegedly stated that no such document had been filed.
During an interview with NBC4, the autistic boy’s mother had this to say:
“No reports and the principal doesn’t report it and there is no emergency squad called. There things are very serious to us and our family and when we look at that, we called Children Services and filed a police report.
When the boy was taken to the hospital to care for his body sock injury, the mother recalled thinking that something just didn’t “feel right” about the scenario. She maintains that her child is not violent and would even find it difficult to defend himself. The Ohio mother feels that her special needs child was taken advantage of during the incident.

Naqis Cochran’s IEP (individual education plan) reportedly does not include any process for restraint usage or even address the need to be restrained. Both the teacher who placed the autistic boy inside the body sock and the building principal have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation.

Clearwater teacher arrested, accused of abusing two special needs students | Tampa Bay Times

Clearwater teacher arrested, accused of abusing two special needs students | Tampa Bay Times

LEARWATER — A Skycrest Elementary School teacher was arrested Thursday on charges that she abused two special needs students at the school over a period of at least two months, Clearwater police said.
Melanie Jo Fox, 44, of Clearwater is accused of pulling a 6-year-old girl's hair, kicking her, hitting her with a book and binding her hands with duct tape.
Police say she also pushed down an 8-year-old boy and bound his hands with a rubber band.
Fox was charged with two counts of child abuse and remained in the Pinellas County Jail Thursday night on $20,000 bail.
Clearwater public safety spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts said Fox's arrest came after interviews with the teacher and students. There's no indication other students have been abused, but the investigation is ongoing, Watts said.
It's unclear how the alleged abuse could have continued for two months without being discovered.
Donna Winchester, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County School District, said Fox began working for the district as an hourly teacher in 2004 and was hired full time in 2005.
"The district had moved Ms. Fox to a non-student site earlier this week following an investigation, which is still under way," Winchester said in a statement.
The case is the latest of several in the Tampa Bay area in which school employees are accused of harming or neglecting special needs students, and it raises questions about the training and supervision of special needs teachers.
In October in Hillsborough County, 11-year-old Jennifer Caballero, who had Down syndrome, wandered from her Riverview Middle School gym class and drowned in a nearby retention pond.
In January, Bella Herrera, a 7-year-old student at Sessums Elementary School in Riverview who had a neuromuscular disorder, choked while riding a school bus. Neither Bella's bus aide nor the bus driver called 911, instead calling a supervisor and the child's mother. Bella later died.
The incidents led to protests and lawsuits and prompted some Hillsborough County School Board members to call for reforms.
This week, video was released that appeared to show Hillsborough County bus driver Stephanie Wilkerson pushing an 8-year-old autistic girl off the school bus in September, causing the student to fracture an ankle. Wilkerson faces a charge of aggravated child abuse. She pleaded not guilty.
Schools are responsible for protecting all children from physical and sexual abuse, said attorney Lance Block, previous chair of former Gov. Charlie Crist's Commission on Disabilities. That need is more acute with special needs children.
"These students often can't communicate, can't express that they're being abused," said Block, whose 24-year-old daughter has Down syndrome. "Principals and teachers have to constantly look for and report anything suspicious. Otherwise you have tragic situations like this that can leave life-long scars."
Educators who serve disabled students are supposed to swiftly take action if, say, a child describes any uncomfortable interactions or develops bruises, scratches or a sudden attitude shift, Block said.
"Children are trained to obey and love their teachers," Block said. "If a teacher abuses them, how are they supposed to trust anyone with authority after that?"
Fairly or not, fingers are often pointed at school principals when a student is harmed at school. This is not the first time that Skycrest Elementary School principal Angelean Bing has faced a crisis of trust in her school.
She was principal at Fairmount Park Elementary School in St. Petersburg when a 5-year-old student was arrested and put in handcuffs at school — a scene that made national news.
Bing initially came under fire when a 6-year-old boy ran away from Fairmount and was seriously injured when he was hit by a car. An investigation showed Bing was doing her job supervising other children when the boy darted away.
A man who answered the door at Bing's home Thursday would not comment.
No one answered the door at Fox's apartment Thursday or answered the phone.
Fox had no prior discipline on her record, according to school officials, but there are indications she has had a troubled home life, according to court documents and interviews with neighbors.
Court records show she has taken legal actions against Denny Peterson, 52, the father of her two children, claiming failure to pay child support and domestic violence.
"This is very hard on us," said Peterson, who was out of town for his son's Army graduation. "My main concern is taking care of our kids."
Times education reporter Cara Fitzpatrick and news researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Contact Brittany Alana Davis at bdavis@tampabay.com or (850) 323-0353 or Danielle Paquette at dpaquette@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4224.
Clearwater teacher arrested, accused of abusing two special needs students 03/21/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 7:37am]
© 2013 Tampa Bay Times 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wanna Get Crabby With Us? | Think Autism. | causes.com

Wanna Get Crabby With Us? | Think Autism. | causes.com

Congress Rewrites IDEA Funding Rule - Disability Scoop

Jeff Grisamore Not: Congress Rewrites IDEA Funding Rule - Disability Scoop

A small change tucked inside a government spending bill this month may have big implications for special education.
Lawmakers included language clarifying the penalties that states may face if they fail to adequately fund education programs for students with disabilities. The issue has become significant in recent years as states struggled financially in the recession and some sought to cut education spending.
Under federal law, special education funding must be maintained or increased from one year to the next. If states fail to meet what’s known as “maintenance of effort” without obtaining a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education, they can lose out on future federal dollars.
At least two states — South Carolina and Kansas — got into trouble in recent years for slashing their special education budgets without federal approval. As a result, they faced permanent reductions in their allocations from the Department of Education.
Now, Congress has clarified that any penalties assessed for failing to meet maintenance of effort should only apply for the year or years that the requirement is not met. Moreover, any funds that are taken away from states for being out of compliance will not automatically return to the federal coffers, but instead can be redistributed to other states that follow the rules as bonus special education dollars.
“Without this language, these funds for special education and related services would lapse and be unavailable for the children with disabilities they are intended to serve,” said Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the Department of Education, in a statement.
The change, which was proposed by the Obama administration, had broad support on Capitol Hill, congressional staffers say.
The move is also winning props from state leaders. Mick Zais, South Carolina’s superintendent of education, had been among the most vocal in pressing for a policy change after his state faced over $36 million in what he called an “absurd perpetual penalty.”
“This is a victory for students with disabilities in South Carolina and across the nation,” Zais said of the congressional action.

Kate Casas: Why I Want to Protect Great Teachers

Jeff Grisamore Not: Kate Casas: Why I Want to Protect Great Teachers

Why I Want to Protect Great Teachers

Posted: 03/26/2013 10:46 am

My third grade teacher was fabulous; in fact, in my 20 years of education I had a lot of really wonderful teachers. However, it is Mrs. Mason who inspired me to take on the challenging work of reforming the way teachers are evaluated, compensated, hired and retained.

Before being in Mrs. Mason's class I didn't hate school, but I didn't want anyone to notice me while I was there. I was terrified that my teachers were going to call on me; I might have to answer a question and worse yet that I would get it wrong. Mrs. Mason had a way of coxing me out of my shell, getting me to answer questions, and even taught me that raising my hand was a risk worth taking.
I will never forget the day she assigned us famous women to study for women's history month. When she assigned me Carol Burnett for my report, she whispered in my ear that she had given me Carol Burnett because I was important enough to have people listen to me the way they listened to Ms. Burnett. To this day, when my natural tendency to be an introvert rears its head and I want to hide in my office instead of make the hard phone call or go to the difficult meeting, I can hear Mrs. Mason whispering to me, telling me to be confident because I have value to add.
Having spent years in the classroom, I now realize that Mrs. Mason must have been doing this kind of thing for each student fortunate enough to be in one of her classes. She clearly knew that for me to be a successful student and adult I would need confidence and the ability to make myself be heard. These "soft skills" she taught me served me well throughout my long career as a student and now in my professional and personal life.
When my organization, the Children's Education Council of Missouri, decided to endorse theTeachGreat.org Initiative Petition that, when passed, will reform teacher evaluations, tenure, and seniority-based layoffs, it was the possibility of protecting and elevating the profession for educators like Mrs. Mason that won me over. Every student deserves a teacher who, like Mrs. Mason, can look at the 25 faces sitting in the desks in front of them and know what each one needs to be successful and most importantly, how to get it for them.
CECM is supporting the TeachGreat.org Initiative Petition because it will move Missouri one step closer to recognizing the teachers who are doing for Missouri's students what Mrs. Mason did for my classmates and me. I know change is hard, I know teachers and administrators, and maybe even some parents are concerned about overhauling a system that has been in place for decades, but I also know that our current system is broken. Missouri's educators and students deserve a system of accountability that rewards educators who can meet every child where they are and move them forward.