Saturday, November 15, 2008

Comprehensive Rewrite of Section 1003.57

Rosemary Palmer is a talented, dedicated, and knowledgeable attorney who spends and contributes much of her time providing legal advocacy for children who need Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services. As a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Ms. Palmer provides advice and information to other attorneys, parents and advocates who are struggling to represent the needs of children requiring ESE services in Florida and throughout the country.

Ms. Palmer's interest in advocacy stems from her belief that we should be helping prepare children to become productive members of our community, rather than the alternatives. She told me that one of the factors prison analysts use to plan the number of prison cells needed in the future is the number of children who haven't learned to read by third grade. Another attorney shared that a Florida school district spent over $800,000 in legal fees during a long, arduous and contentious litigation defending a school district's abusive and discriminatory actions towards a student. Florida's School for the Deaf and Blind spent over $1.9 million in the past three years to defend discriminating against those with behavioral challenges, rather than implementing instructional solutions. All these examples (and those we really hope you will post here, along with your zipcode so we can use them to help educate legislators) represent the wrong headed thinking of schools that litigate instead of correcting the underlying issue that some children simply do not receive the educational support they need. This support could be easily provided at a fraction of the cost to build and support new jail cells or fighting parent's requests for an appropriate education.

As a result of her convictions and numerous attempts to help procure reasonable educational services, Ms. Palmer decided that Section 1057 of the Florida Statutes needed a comprehensive overhaul to ensure that students get the support they need. A copy of Ms. Palmer’s proposed rewrite is available here: Section 1003.57 F.S. Comprehensive Revision

Your support, your stories can help us convince our legislators that we need to update Section 1003.57 to help our students get the support they need.

We Need Your Stories

Marva Collins said "There is a brilliant child locked inside every student." Unfortunately, in some Florida schools that child is never given a chance. They are never afforded the opportunity for a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and instead they are simply warehoused, socially promoted, or even worse (if that is possible) retained. That brilliant child is left locked inside the student in spite of a complement of laws that are allegedly supposed to protect our students who need Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services.

In order to change this pattern we need the stories Florida's children who have asked their school districts for ESE services and who have not received the support they needed. We need these stories so that we show our legislators what we are up against, to substantiate our request to put real bite in our laws so that school districts cannot simply ignore our brilliant children anymore.

Please contribute your child's story to our website so that our unified voices can be heard. Select the option below to comment on this article and tells us as much as you like. Please include your zip code so that we can keep tally and notifiy the legislators that our children need their help.