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An Overview of Special Education Law—Part II

Part II (continued from Part I1) examines aspects of special education law that apply particularly to child welfare and juvenile delinquency.

Why Special Education Is Relevant

Foster children are more likely to have a disability than children in the general population. A high percentage—30 to 40 percent—of foster children are in the special education system. This is a significantly higher percentage than for non-foster care children.2 Children born with disabilities are more often abused and more often relinquished to the child welfare system than children without disabilities.3 Disabilities may be caused by abuse, and approximately 25 percent of developmental disabilities are estimated to be caused by abuse.4 Children with disabilities also remain in foster care longer.5

On the other hand, children in foster care sometimes are overidentified as special education students because they are troubled, and may be removed from the general school population.6 Special education is not a solution for problems not related to disability, and segregation into a special education program can be damaging.

Both youths with disabilities and youths in foster care are more likely to drop out of school. Both are at high risk of failing to make successful transition to adulthood.7... Read More →


An Overview of Special Education Law—Part I

Part I of this article provides an overview of special education law, to give the practitioner a working knowledge of the process. It reviews the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), including “child find” and eligibility, how services are provided, due process, school discipline, and transitions. It also addresses Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act.

Many children have special needs that affect their education. Sometimes, the educational system works to meet these needs. Often, it does not. A parent, attorney, or other advocate needs to know what the law pertaining to special education provides and how the system should work for children with special needs, be able to identify where things go wrong, and use the legal process to fix it.

This two-part article provides an overview of the laws governing educational access for children with special needs. Part I describes the statutory and regulatory scheme that covers all children with special needs. Part II, which will be published in a future issue, will discuss areas of special education law relevant to children involved in the juvenile justice system in child welfare and delinquency matters. ... Read More →


Elements of a Successful Appellate Brief

As law clerks for the Colorado Court of Appeals, we read briefs each week and analyze them with our judge. In addition, our job regularly involves appellate writing that conforms to the standards discussed in this article. These experiences provide us insight into writing persuasive and effective briefs that can strengthen your appellate advocacy. This article will discuss the elements of successful appellate briefs.

This article was originally published by Theresa L. Sidebotham and Aaron N. Einhorn in The Colorado Lawyer, June 2008, Vol. 37, No. 6 ... Read More →


Expression of Religion in Public Schools

Religious Liberty in Public SchoolsThis article discusses the intersection of religious expression and public schools. It focuses on the Equal Access Act, student speech, school personnel speech, access forcommunity viewpoints, and released time.

Confusion is widespread as to what may be taught, expressed, or otherwise introduced onto the premises of the nation’s public schools. “Nowhere has the proper line of demarcation [in the appropriate amount of separation between church and state] been more difficult to define than in our nation’s public schools.”1As the Tenth Circuit has said:

So long as the state engages in the widespread business of molding the belief structure of children, the often recited metaphor of a “wall of separation” between the church and the state is unavoidably illusory.2... Read More →


Interested Parties in Juvenile Dependency and Neglect Cases

When a dependency and neglect case is on the juvenile court docket, things have already gone wrong with the child and his or her family. Tangled relationships and unhealthy situations are almost certain. Although the court is entrusted with protecting the best interests of the child, other parties have certain rights and obligations.

People connected with the child may be joined in the case, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Those involuntarily joined are “respondents” and “special respondents.” Respondents are parties and include parents, guardians, and legal custodians who are alleged to have abused or neglected the child.1 ... Read More →


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