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Colorado Law Team Blog

Colorado Teachers Face Unique Challenges Under State Criminal Sealing Laws

The most valuable asset that any licensed professional has is their license to practice in their chosen field, and of course teachers are no different in this regard.  No matter how good you may be in your career, it makes no difference if you lose your license to practice.  All professionals - doctors, accountants, dentists, nurses, etc. - of course are terrified by the prospect of losing their professional license due to some past transgression, but teachers especially face unique circumstances when it comes to past criminal conduct.  

How to Use FBA and BIP Information

The most important thing to understand about the relationship between FBAs and BIPs is that the findings of the FBA must ultimately be the foundation for the recommendations of the BIP.  The FBA exists to identify why the child is acting the way he or she is, while the BIP considers the information that the FBA has gathered and then uses it to develop the best plan going forward. 

Who Should be Involved in the FBA/BIP Process?

The federal regulations only say that "school personnel" should be involved in the FBA/BIP process, and it is normally the case that some combination of school administrators, teachers, social workers, psychologists and other school workers are involved.  However, it is not unusual - and often is highly advisable - for the parents of the student to be involved, as well.  There are a few reasons for this:
1. If parents are involved in the FBA/BIP process, then they're much more likely to be cooperative with school officials when the actual behavior intervention plan is finalized.
2. Parent are capable of providing a great deal of valuable feedback about their children.  As well as school officials and teachers know the children they work with, no one is going to know kids better than their parents.  
3. Schools that are willing to work with parents in the FBA/BIP process are showing that they have an inclusive approach, and this will help them guard against future litigation.  
If the recommendation under a BIP is change of placement of the sped student under 34 CFR 300.536, then the student's regular IEP team must be involved, and that team includes school personnel but must also include the child's parents and other people the parents choose to include, including possibly an outside psychologist and/or attorney.

Functional Behavior Assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans for Special Education Students

As a general rule, special education students have to be kept in their regular placement as determined in their Individualized Education Program (IEP).  However, at times special education students will misbehave and may be disciplined by removal from that regular placement.  In fact, research shows that special education students generally tend to get disciplined more often than their general education peers, and also that the discipline for them may often be longer and more severe.  Luckily, however, the law does offer protections for special education students, but parents have to use the law properly.  

If I Get Fired, Do I Still Get My Bonus? YES!!!

Yes, as long as you earned your bonus prior to the date of termination you are entitled to your bonus upon separation under the Colorado Wage Act. A bonus has to be paid out if you earned the bonus through your labor or services performed in accordance with your employment agreement under the Act. As long as you did what was required to earn the bonus prior to being terminated then the bonus wages are lawfully yours. So if an employer is refusing to pay out your bonus because they just terminated you, be sure to demand payment and hire an attorney because you have a cause of action under the Colorado Wage Act.  

What if my spouse is trying to take all of my property in the divorce?

Divorce can get heated and often one spouse will attempt to over reach. The problem is how do we know when someone is over reaching when it comes to property? Colorado has developed a distinction between marital property and property that belongs to a single spouse. 

Part 2: Handling Disagreements on Placements of Kids with 504s

Options for resolving disputes regarding a kid on a 504 plan are different than they are for students on an IEP.  They're not as efficient and speedy as options for resolving disputes concerning students on an IEP.  If there is a dispute involving a student on a 504 plan, school districts must conduct an impartial hearing when parents disagree with their child's identification, evaluation or placement.  The details are left up to the discretion of the school district and hearing officer.  Parents often are unhappy with this option, so they may choose to file a complaint with OCR. This complaint may or may not be accepted by OCR, it will take several months for OCR to deal with it and OCR has limited enforcement mechanisms.  OCR will threaten to pull funding from a school district for violations, but this is extraordinarily unlikely.  
Still, OCR can help parents and districts mediate disputes.  Plus, the possibility of OCR consequences normally is enough to get districts to remedy their behavior in case OCR has determined that a district has engaged in a discriminatory fashion. What's particularly frightening for districts is if a parent files suit in federal court under 42 USC 1983 (simply known as "1983") and can prove discrimination against their 504-protected child.  If a parent wins such a suit, the damages could be substantial, and the district would have to pay the parents' attorney fees, which easily could get in the tens or even hundreds of thousands in a federal case.  

Kishinevsky & Raykin, Attorneys at Law
2851 South Parker Road, Suite 150
Aurora, CO 80014-2722

Phone: 720-863-4256
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