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IEPs Keep Parents And Teachers On The Same Page

Seth Perlman
Individualized education plans, or IEPs, are required for any American child with a recognized developmental challenge, such as autism, visual or hearing impairment, behavioral issues and more.


On today's program: There are some interesting exemptions to PA’s new tobacco law; a look at the state of the Paris climate agreement minus the U.S.; the unintended consequences of lead-based ammunition; and exploring options for parents when schools aren’t supporting their special needs students.  

PA restricted tobacco sales, and some control groups are still uneasy
(00:00 — 5:42) 

The commonwealth is now one of 19 states with higher legal tobacco purchase ages, but Pennsylvania’s version includes a contentious carveout. Eighteen to 20-year-olds will still be allowed to buy tobacco if they are active-duty service members or honorably discharged veterans.

That provision was a late-in-the-game addition to the bill, and it drew ire from anti-smoking advocates. WESA's Capitol bureau chief Katie Meyer weighs in.

What happens next with global climate policy?
(5:43 — 9:41)

World leaders are gathering in Madrid this week for a UN conference on climate change. One subject they’ll be dealing with is what to do now that the U.S. has begun pulling out of Paris Climate Agreement. 

Last month President Trump started formal withdrawal from the agreement, which was negotiated under President Obama to prevent catastrophic global warming. To find out what happens next, StateImpact Pennsylvania's Reid Frazier spoke with President Obama’s chief negotiator on the Paris agreement, Todd Stern.

Game Commission warns of unintended dangers of lead bullets
(9:42 — 14:10) 

Ammunition is deadly by design, but traditional bullets made with lead can harm or kill birds and animals that weren’t even the intended target. WHYY’s Kenneth Burns reports the Pennsylvania Game Commission is trying to persuade hunters to try lead-free ammo.

What is an IEP and what does it do for special needs students?
(15:11 — 31:00) 

A new Pennsylvania commission is evaluating whether a five-year old formula for distributing state funds for special education is fair. The progress report will look at how a change in the way funds are allocated is working. Currently, schools are given resources according to the cost of their need instead of a set amount for each special needs student.  

According to the state Department of Education one out of  six students in the commonwealth, —about 300-thousand in total— receives special education services.  Under federal law, each of these students is entitled to have an IEP, an Individualized Education Program, to help them succeed in the classroom.

Jennifer Price, a special education attorney, says devising a good plan should include the school’s special education director, the principal, the student’s teachers and parents.  She says there is a persistent gap in awareness. According to Price, the special education director should oversee that the plan is being implemented but parents, “Should be micro-managers to make sure the plan is progressing the way it should.”

Ricky Sanders’ daughter is a special education student with emotional disturbance challenges. He says he was unaware of his rights and his daughter’s rights to education. “I was totally lost and needing help, so I had to reach out because I was clueless,” he says.  

Sanders’ offers advice to parents in similar situations: “Don’t give up, it’s your child.” 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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