Special Education

  • The Council of the Great City Schools has long advocated for students with disabilities special needs, conducting strategic support teams and research to advise our members how to leverage resources and systems to improve student achievement.

    Special Education Strategic Support Teams
    The Council teams work hard to examine the accountability of schools and principals for serving students with disabilities and the delivery of rigorous grade level instruction aligned with state standards with appropriate accommodations. This includes the analysis of child find, inclusive practices, equitable delivery of programs and services, staffing, parent engagement, strategies to address the disproportionate placement and discipline of minority students, professional development and behavior management for students with disabilities. Meeting the needs of students with disabilities include the Council recommendations for multi-tiered system of academic and behavioral interventions. There has been considerable research supporting the use of multi-tiered system of interventions, universal screenings, progress monitoring and data-based decision making for students with reading and behavioral challenges in general education to avoid unnecessary reliance on special education services and to reduce disproportionate placement of students by race and ethnicity.

    Special Education Policy, Legislation, and Case Law
    The Council has been at the forefront of policy, legislation, and case law affecting federal support and programs for students with disabilities special needs. Legislative Counsel Julie Wright Halbert has worked extensively on the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1997 and 2004. On behalf of the Council, she is responsible for drafting numerous technical provisions to the IDEA and providing technical assistance to Congress and the U. S. Department of Education. In 1997 and, again, in 2005, testified before the U.S. Department of Education on its proposed regulations on IDEA. The Council has facilitated special education strategic support teams in many cities around the nation, including the District of Columbia, Guilford County (NC), Richmond, St. Louis, Charleston, New York City, Rochester, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Providence and St. Paul.

    The Council has provided amicus briefs in the Supreme Court of the United States for many special education related cases.  This includes Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York v. Tom F., On Behalf of Gilbert F., A Minor Child (2007); Jacob Winkelman, a Minor By and Through His Parents and Legal Guardians, Jeff and Sander Winkelman, et al.,  v. Parma City School District (2007); Brian Schaffer v. Jerry Weast, Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, et al., (2005); Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District  and  Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education (2007) and Forest Grove School District v. T.A, (2009).
    Julie Wright Halbert, Esq
    Legislative Counsel