BROWARD COUNTY SCHOOLS EARNS AN "F" July 9, 2011 - Florida Education Advocate, Inc. today gave Broward County Public Schools an "F" on resolving issues with parents of students with disabilities. Public schools, like Broward County Public Schools (School District), are mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)1 to provide students with disabilities with a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment by providing a continuum of placement options, services and delivery models. Public schools are required to provide such students with a meaningful educational benefit. Parents of and students with disabilities have the right to be involved in developing an individualized education plan (IEP) for the student. Parents have the right to an administrative due process hearing when they feel the school district is not complying with the law. Such hearings in Florida are conducted by an administrative law judge (ALJ) with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). A recent review2 of Final Orders entered during the months of January - June 2011 shows that the School District accounted for 100% of the Final Orders entered despite their being 67 other county school districts. Further, the School District accounted for 51% of all of the Final Orders entered during the months of January 2010 through June 2011. DOAH's3 records show that the School District was involved in 58 due process hearings of which 39 were filed against the school district by parents during this year and 2010. Neighboring Palm Beach County School Board was only involved in 21 due process hearings of which 19 were filed by parents during the same time period. Palm Beach County School Board also did not have any Final Orders entered in its due process hearings cases during the same time period 1
IDEA is a federal law. Florida has adopted rules and laws that implement the requirements of IDEA. 2 Source: Florida Department of Education, http://www.fldoe.org/ese/dueorder.asp 3
FLORIDA EDUCATION ADVOCATE, INC. Students with Disabilities Deserve an Education, too! Jamison Jessup Executive Director Senior Education Advocate email@example.com Phone: 1-800-742-6390, x. 1 Cell: 386-801-7882 Facsimile: 386-845-9202 Executive Mailing Address: 557 Noremac Avenue Deltona, FL 32738 Central Florida Office: 1202 Sacramento Street Deltona, FL 32725 South Florida Office: 1061 Summerwood Circle Wellington, FL 33414 www.mychildwins.com
indicating a better record of resolving issues with parents without the need of an administrative law judge to enter an ruling. Jamison Jessup, executive director of Florida Education Advocate, Inc., has assisted parents in several issues related to the School District including advocating at IEP Team Meetings and representing a parent in a due process hearing filing. "In my opinion, Broward County Public Schools is very hostile against parents of and students with disabilities as evidenced by the number of cases filed. This opinion is further supported by the number of cases filed that were not resolved prior to hearing," Jessup said. He further stated that he is not surprised by number of cases filed based upon his own experience advocating for students in Broward County compared to other Florida counties. "School districts ought to be working with parents instead of fighting them. I suppose we now know why it is that Broward County Public schools has two due process hearing coordinators in addition to the in-house legal staff devoted to defending the school district. There seems to be a atmosphere of fighting parents rather than collaborating with them," Jessup said. In a time when public schools are facing reduced budgetary spending, it would seem the School District would be better served by working with parents rather than against them. Florida Education Advocate, Inc. is increasing its efforts in Broward County to make sure students with disabilities have access to a quality education. ### Jamison Jessup is the executive director and senior education advocate for Florida Education Advocate, Inc. He advocates for students with disabilities in student problem solving meetings. He also practices as a nonlawyer qualified representative before Florida's Division of Administrative Hearings representing parents in due process hearings. Florida Education Advocate, Inc. is prepared to help students with disabilities to obtain a high quality education by making its services available to parents in all Florida counties. One way it accomplishes this goal is by providing low cost advocate and qualified representative services. Its services often times are one-third to one-fourth of what some attorneys charge making it more affordable for parents to assert their student's right to a free, appropriate public education.