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Governor Acts On Several Special Ed/State Special School Bills

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    SCHAFER AUTISM REPORT Healing Autism: No Finer a Cause on the Planet ________________________________________________________________ October 1,
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      SCHAFER AUTISM REPORT "Healing Autism:
      No Finer a Cause on the Planet"
      ________________________________________________________________
      October 1, 2002

      SPECIAL CALIFORNIA SUPPLEMENT EDITION

      Governor Acts On Several Special Ed/State Special School Bills
      As Veto Period Ends

      Marty Omoto's California UCP Budget Update

      SEE ALSO
      * "Governor Takes Action on 'Disabilities' Bills As Deadline Passes
      Approves Farmworker Bills
      * Attorney General Says News Media May Not Attend Child's IEP Meeting
      * A Spirit Of Resiliency: Salinas Boy Endures Autism, Seizures &
      Brain Surgery

      Governor Davis, rushing to meet the constitutional deadline of Monday
      midnight, September 30 to veto or approve bills, took action on several
      measures relating to special education and state special schools. Meanwhile,
      there is still, as of October 1, early Tuesday morning, no reported action
      by the Governor or Secretary of State on several key budget related
      (referred to as "budget trailer bills") measures impacting developmental
      services including regional centers, and Medi-Cal, and other programs. Due
      to the crush of last minute actions on bills, the Governor's office and the
      Secretary of State are behind on reporting.
      Actions on the budget trailer bills - and any other bill impacting
      people with disabilities - will be reported as information is available. A
      full summary of the status of all bills (by subject area, including special
      education/state special schools) impacting people with disabilities, will be
      sent out early Wednesday (October 2), including related summary on the
      budget. Here is the status of special education and state special school
      bills that were pending on the Governor's desk that he took action on
      September 30, Monday. See separate UCP Update for latest actions on other
      bills.

      SPECIAL EDUCATION AND STATE SPECIAL SCHOOLS BILLS AB 164 - Special
      Education: Alternative Dispute Resolution AUTHOR: Assemblyman Tom Harman
      (R-Huntington Beach) MOST CURRENT STATUS: VETOED by Governor on Monday
      9/30/02. NEXT STEPS: Bill is DEAD unless Legislature reconvenes (unlikely)
      to override. GOVERNOR DAVIS' VETO MESSAGE: "I am returning Assembly Bill 164
      without my signature...Although I support establishing ways to resolve
      disputes, current law already allows for the non-adversarial resolution of
      special education issues through mediation prior to filing for due process.
      This bill appropriates $300,000 to the SDE for administration of the ADR
      program and could result in local assistance costs between $17.8 and $13.1
      million for three years and ongoing costs of between $3.3 million and $4.4
      million annually. Since the proposed 2002-03 budget appropriates $8.9
      million for dispute resolution services including mediation and fair hearing
      services, and this bill would redirect federal funds, which are necessary to
      provide essential services to students with disabilities, I am unable to
      support this measure.
      Sincerely, GRAY DAVIS"

      WHAT THE BILL WOULD HAVE DONE (Reflects Version Vetoed by Governor):
      * These programs would have been coordinated with, and to the extent
      feasible, operated through, the Family Empowerment Centers on Disabilities
      (SB 511 last year).
      * Requires the CA Department of Education to establish a statewide grant
      program in support of special education alternative dispute resolution
      programs, with the provisions of this bill ending on July 1, 2008. Requires
      that the Department of Education select grant recipients who are broadly
      representative of the state.
      * Will fund the program's $300,000 annual cost only from federal funds.
      * Proposes to fund grants for Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs)
      and multi-SELPA applicants at $50,000 annually for a period of three years
      for initial implementation of an alternative dispute resolution program.
      Require that SELPAs and multi-SELPAs that continue to implement alternative
      dispute resolution programs after the initial three years receive $25,000
      annually in ongoing funding plus 25 cents per unit of average daily
      attendance.
      IMPACT TO CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL HEALTH & FAMILIES: Yes -
      would have had some IMPACT. The number of requests for special education due
      process hearings and complaints filed by parents of children with
      disabilities against local education districts have increased significantly
      in recent years. The costs of litigation, state level mediation, and
      investigation of complaints have reportedly increased significantly in
      recent years. A limited number of special education local plan areas
      (SELPAs) have implemented an alternative dispute resolution process that has
      successfully resolved disputes at the local level, and reduced the amount
      and cost of litigation and complaint investigation at the state level, which
      seems to suggest that the school districts may benefit more from this bill
      initially than families, though the author of the bill says it will expand
      the options available to the parent, take the adversarial aspect out of the
      process, and shorten the time between filing a complaint and resolution.
      IMPACT TO VENDORS/PROVIDERS/DIRECT CARE WORKERS: No direct IMPACT.
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION: No direct
      IMPACT.

      AB 1895 - SPECIAL EDUCATION AUTHOR: Assemblyman Roderick Wright (D-Los
      Angeles) MOST CURRENT STATUS: APPROVED by Governor 9/26/02. Chaptered by
      Secretary of State on 9/27/02, Chapter 944, Statutes of 2002 [reported
      earlier in error as 9/12/02] NEXT STEPS: Takes effect on January 1, 2003.
      WHAT THE BILL DOES (Reflects Version Approved by Governor): Allows an
      employee or contractor of a school district, county office of education, or
      Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) to assist a parent or guardian of
      a student with exceptional needs to obtain services or accommodations for
      that student without interference from the employee's or contractor's
      employer, as long as this assistance does not interfere with the employee's
      other job duties. Provides that if a person believes an employee is in
      violation of this bill, that person may file a complaint, as specified in
      the bill.
      IMPACT ON CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL HEALTH & FAMILIES:
      IMPACT to those families with children with disabilities when special
      education teachers are discouraged by school administrators from offering or
      identifying other services to those children, who might benefit. Supporters
      of the bill say that school districts receive no "fiscal rewards" when
      another child is identified or served in the special education system and as
      a result the special education funding system may discourage identification
      that adds to workload and costs, spreading a fixed entitlement over more
      students in need.
      IMPACT TO VENDORS/PROVIDERS/DIRECT CARE STAFF: No direct impact - though
      does directly impact school staff.
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION: No direct
      significant impact.

      AB 2444 - State Special Schools & Diagnostic Centers/Salaries AUTHOR:
      Assemblyman John Dutra (D-Fremont) MOST CURRENT STATUS: APPROVED by Governor
      9/28/02. Chaptered by Secretary of State on 9/28/02, Chapter 1043, Statutes
      of 2002.

      NEXT STEPS: Takes effect January 1, 2003/ WHAT THIS BILL DOES
      (Reflects Version Approved by Governor): Requires the State Personnel
      Administration to consider making salaries for teachers, specialists, and
      administrators of the state special schools and diagnostic centers
      competitive with the salaries of similarly qualified school teachers,
      specialists, and administrators who are employed by the encompassing school
      districts.
      IMPACT TO CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS/SENIORS &
      FAMILIES: No direct IMPACT.
      IMPACT TO VENDORS/PROVIDERS/DIRECT CARE STAFF: No direct impact.
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION: No direct impact.
      * * *

      Governor Takes Action on 'Disabilities' Bills As Deadline Passes
      Approves Farmworker Bills

      Governor Davis, rushing to meet the constitutional deadline of Monday
      midnight, September 30, to approve, veto or allow bills to become law
      without his signature, took action on a number of bills impacting people
      with disabilities, mental health needs and seniors.
      In addition, the Governor surprised some Capitol observers, by
      approving the highly controversial bills relating to farmworker arbitration
      and mediation, AB 2596 by Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson (D-Culver City) and
      SB 1156 by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco). Both
      measures represented a compromise to an earlier tougher arbitration measure,
      SB 1736, also by Burton, that passed the Legislature in August, but faced a
      certain veto by the Governor. Approval of the two farmworker measures was
      seen as politically significant for the Democratic governor, who faced
      either offending the United Farm Workers union and their allies, including a
      huge segment of the Latino population in California - or the growers,
      especially in the Central Valley, who have contributed to the Davis
      campaign. With polls now showing the Governor's margin over Republican
      opponent Bill Simon narrowing, approval of the farmworker bills could be an
      indication that the Governor is moving to shore up weakened support within
      the traditional Democratic Party constituencies that he will need to win in
      November.
      Meanwhile, there is still, as of October 1, early Tuesday morning, no
      reported action by the Governor or Secretary of State on several key budget
      related (referred to as "budget trailer bills") measures impacting
      developmental services including regional centers, and Medi-Cal, and other
      programs. Due to the crush of last minute actions on bills, the Governor's
      office and the Secretary of State are behind on reporting. Actions on the
      budget trailer bills - and any other bill impacting people with
      disabilities - will be reported as information is available. A full summary
      of the status of all bills (by subject area) impacting people with
      disabilities, will be sent out early Wednesday (October 2), including
      summary on the budget.
      Here is the status of bills that were pending on the Governor's desk
      that he took action on September 30, Monday. In some cases bills are listed
      that had an action a few days earlier but were not reported in a previous
      UCP Update). See separate UCP Update for latest actions on special education
      bills. The bills are sorted by subject area:

      HOUSING FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES/SENIORS BILLS:
      AB 1866 - HOUSING: SIMPLIFYING PROCESS FOR SECOND HOUSING UNITS (DENSITY
      BONUSES)
      AUTHOR: Assemblyman Roderick Wright (D-Los Angeles)
      MOST CURRENT STATUS: APPROVED by Governor on Monday 9/30/02. Chaptered by
      Secretary of State 9/30/02, Chapter 1062, Statutes of 2002.
      NEXT STEPS: Takes effect on January 1, 2003.
      WHAT THIS BILL DOES (Reflects Version Approved By Governor):
      Simplifies the process for obtaining second housing units and housing
      density bonuses in order to increase California's supply of affordable
      housing for people with disabilities, seniors and other families. Requires
      local governments to use a simplified process for approving second housing
      units and prohibits them from applying any development standard that would
      have the effect of precluding an affordable housing development from
      receiving a density bonus and concessions.
      IMPACT ON PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS/SENIORS &
      FAMILIES: Yes - eventual impact that could result in increased affordable
      housing opportunities for people with disabilities, families and seniors.
      Assemblyman Wright's reasons for authoring the bill was because "too many
      local governments have undercut these laws by layering density bonus and
      second unit projects with unnecessary and procedural obstacles," resulting
      in fewer housing opportunities for families, seniors and the disabled.
      IMPACT ON VENDORS/PROVIDERS/DIRECT CARE STAFF: No direct impact,
      except possibly for direct care staff who might benefit from increased
      affordable housing opportunities. The bill was strongly opposed by local
      government entities, including the California League of Cities.
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION/ADA: Yes -
      eventual impact once provisions of this bill are fully implemented in local
      areas.
      SB 972 - PREVAILING WAGE EXEMPTION FOR HOUSING PROJECTS
      AUTHOR: Senator Jim Costa (D-Fresno)
      MOST CURRENT STATUS: APPROVED by Governor 9/28/02. Chaptered by Secretary of
      State 9/29/02, Chapter 1048, Statutes of 2002.
      NEXT STEPS: Takes effect January 1, 2003.
      WHAT THIS BILL DOES (Reflects Version Approved by Governor): Exempts
      from prevailing wage requirements, the construction or rehabilitation of
      privately-owned residential projects, unless such requirements are otherwise
      required by a public funding program, if certain specific conditions are
      met.
      IMPACT TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS/SENIORS &
      FAMILIES: Could impact people with mental health needs and others who are
      homeless, providing (potentially) additional shelter, and possible
      affordable housing opportunities.
      IMPACT TO VENDORS/PROVIDERS/DIRECT CARE STAFF: Possible impact to
      those providers who construct/rehabilitate housing, depending on conditions.
      No impact to direct care staff.
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION/ADA: Possible
      impact depending on how directly this bill results in more shelter, housing
      for people with mental health needs (who are homeless), and other people
      with disabilities, seniors, etc.

      LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT BILLS:
      AB 1357 - PERSONAL SERVICES CONTRACTS: COMPENSATION
      AUTHOR: Assemblywoman Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa)
      MOST CURRENT STATUS: APPROVED by Governor 9/30/02. Chaptered by Secretary of
      State on 9/30/02, Chapter 1132, Statutes of 2002.
      NEXT STEPS: Takes effect on January 1, 2003.
      WHAT DOES THIS BILL DO (Reflects Final Version Sent To Governor):
      Requires personal service contracts entered into by state agencies to
      include provisions for employee wages and specified benefits at no less than
      85% of the state employer cost provided to state employees for performing
      similar duties. Includes retirement benefits, holiday pay, sick pay and
      vacation pay in the definition of benefits. Provides that it applies only to
      those personal services contracts and lease subcontracts entered into,
      renewed, or extended on or after July 1, 2003.
      * Specifies that personal service contracts being entered into by
      state agencies for janitorial, housekeeping and security guard services
      provide employee "benefits" valued at 85 percent of the state employer cost
      of wages and "benefits" provided to state employees performing similar
      duties.
      * Expands the definition of "benefits" for purposes of this provision
      to include
      holiday pay, retirement benefits, sick pay, and vacation pay.
      * Applies the provisions of this bill to state contracts and leases
      entered into,
      renewed, or extended by the State after July 1, 2003.
      IMPACT TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL ILLNESS/SENIORS & FAMILIES:
      Uncertain but potential impact for those people with disabilities who work
      in a supported employment or similar program IF it results in a lost
      contract, as some advocates contend.
      IMPACT TO VENDORS/PROVIDERS/DIRECT CARE STAFF: Uncertain impact for
      those providers who have contracts with the state employing people with
      developmental (or other) disabilities (through supported employment programs
      under the Department of Rehabilitation Habilitation Program). Major concern
      that contracts employing people with developmental disabilities would not be
      competitive (Assemblywoman Wiggins however strongly contends that this is
      not true).
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION: No direct
      significant impact.

      AB 2235 - In Home Supportive Services Employer of Record Deadline
      AUTHOR: Assemblyman Juan Vargas (D-San Diego)
      MOST CURRENT STATUS: APPROVED by Governor 9/30/02. Chaptered by Secretary of
      State on 9/30/02, Chapter 1135, Statutes of 2002.
      NEXT STEPS: Takes effect January 1, 2003
      WHAT THIS BILL DOES (Reflects Version Approved by Governor): Requires
      counties to provide documentation of progress toward establishing an
      employer of record for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers. Requires
      the State Controller to deduct union dues or fees from the wages of IHSS
      workers in public authority counties as agreed to in local collective
      bargaining agreements. Changes existing county requirements to document
      progress towardestablishing an employer of record for IHSS workers to
      including establishing a deadline of January 15, 2003, to submit the
      documentation to the Department of Social services. Permits a county that
      fails to provide the required documentation by the deadline, to provide the
      Department of Social Services a written notice explaining its failure and
      describing a compliance plan to be implemented by March 31, 2003. If a
      county fails to provide the required documentation the county shall be
      deemed to be the employer of IHSS providers for purposes of this bill until
      the county documents that another entity has been established as employer of
      record.
      IMPACT ON PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS/SENIORS &
      FAMILIES: Yes, significant impact to recipients (and potential recipients)
      of IHSS services in these counties where employer of record have not been
      established, that could mean increasing hiring and retention of more and
      better qualified IHSS workers.
      IMPACT ON VENDORS/PROVIDERS/DIRECT CARE STAFF: Yes, significant impact
      to In-Home Supportive Services workers in those counties where employer of
      record have not been established that could eventually result higher wages
      and benefits.
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION/ADA: Yes - if the
      result is more and better qualified IHSS workers, providing more options of
      community supports and services for people with disabilities and seniors.

      AB 2989 - WAGES: SEVERANCE
      AUTHOR: Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment
      MOST CURRENT STATUS: VETOED by Governor on Monday, 9/30/02.
      NEXT STEPS: Bill is DEAD unless Legislature reconvenes (unlikely) to
      override.
      WHAT THIS BILL DOES: (Reflects Version Vetoed by Governor): Grants a
      right to severance pay to certain employees. Requires payment of severance
      pay at the rate of one week's pay per year of employment to an employee who
      is laid off, or who loses his or her job because the employer closes down
      or relocates a facility. Does NOT require such payment under certain
      conditions, including if the employer does not employ 100 or more persons.
      IMPACT TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL ILLNESS, SENIORS & FAMILIES:
      No direct
      impact (except if they are employees covered by this bill)
      IMPACT TO VENDORS/PROVIDERS/STAFF: Yes - potential undetermined costs to
      those
      providers and vendors who meet the threshold of total number of employees
      (with
      obvious impact to direct care workers and staff in those facilities). Gives
      some level of protections to staff that fall under the provisions of this
      bill.
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION/ADA: No direct
      impact.

      MEDI-CAL AND SSI/SSP BILLS:
      AB 692 - HUMAN SERVICES (Including SSI/SSP)
      AUTHOR: Assemblywoman Dion Aroner (D-Berkeley)
      MOST CURRENT STATUS: APPROVED by Governor on 9/28/02. Chaptered by Secretary
      of State 9/28/02, Chapter 1024, Statutes of 2002.
      NEXT STEPS: Takes effect on January 1, 2003.
      WHAT THIS BILL DOES (Reflects Version Approved by Governor):
      Establishes the California Savings and Asset Project (CSAP) to match
      low-income participants' savings in Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)
      and makes technical changes to AB 444, the omnibus social services budget
      related bill. Delays the implementation of the annual state cost-of-living
      adjustment of benefits under the State Supplementary Program (SSP) program
      from January 1, 2003 until June 1, 2003, but would provide that the SSP
      payment schedules shall include the pass-along of any federal cost-of-living
      increases in federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in that
      period.
      IMPACT TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS/SENIORS &
      FAMILIES: Yes - to those people receiving SSI/SSP. While the cost of living
      increase for the state portion (SSP) is being delayed for 6 months - which
      is really a temporary cut for people receiving SSI/SSP, the federal increase
      WILL be passed to recipients on schedule this January (the Governor
      originally proposed that this federal increase not be passed on).
      IMPACT TO VENDORS/PROVIDERS/DIRECT CARE STAFF: No direct impact
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION/ADA: No direct impact.

      STATE GOVERNMENT RELATED BILLS
      AB 2525 - ACCESSIBILITY OF VOTING SYSTEMS FOR BLIND/VISUALLY DISABLED
      AUTHOR: Assemblywoman Hannabeth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara)
      MOST CURRENT STATUS: APPROVED by Governor 9/26/02. Chaptered by Secretary of
      State 9/27/02, Chapter 950, Statutes of 2002.
      NEXT STEPS: Takes effect January 1, 2003, however counties not in
      compliance have until March 2004 to comply.
      WHAT THIS BILL DOES (Reflects Version Approved by Governor): Requires
      each polling place to have at least one voting machine that is fully
      accessible to voters who are blind or visually impaired. Requires the
      Secretary of State to consult with organizations representing people who are
      blind or visually impaired, experts in software that could be used for
      voting machines, and others.
      IMPACT TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS/SENIORS &
      FAMILIES: Yes - direct impact to adults who are blind or visually impaired
      who wish to vote - but their polling place does not currently have a voting
      machine that is accessible. Would not apply to upcoming November election.
      Those counties upgrading their voting systems within the next two years will
      fall under the provisions of this bill.
      IMPACT TO VENDORS/PROVIDERS/DIRECT CARE STAFF: No direct impact.
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION/ADA: Yes, for
      people with disabilities, there is impact relating to accessibility and
      right to vote.

      SB 105 - Services for the Blind/Visually Impaired & Deaf/Hard of
      Hearing
      AUTHOR: Senator John Burton (D-San Francisco)
      MOST CURRENT STATUS: APPROVED by Governor 9/29/02. Chaptered by Secretary of
      State 9/29/02, Chapter 1102, Statutes of 2002.
      NEXT STEPS: Takes effect January 1, 2003.
      WHAT THIS BILL DOES (Reflects Version Approved by Governor):
      Establishes, within Department of Rehabilitation, a Division of Services for
      the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Deaf and hard of Hearing with the
      purpose of enlarging economic opportunities and enhancing the
      self-sufficiency of persons who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, and hard
      of hearing, and assisting them to gain competitive employment. Specifies the
      programs currently administered by the Department of Rehabilitation for
      which the division will have responsibility beginning on July 1, 2003, and
      specifies other responsibilities of the division.
      IMPACT TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES/MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS/SENIORS &
      FAMILIES: Yes - direct impact to those people who are blind/visually
      impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, if creation of this division within the
      Department of Rehabilitation results in better or expanded programs and
      services. According to the sponsor of the bill, the Blind Alliance for
      Rehabilitation Change, approximately 70% of California's working age people
      who are blind and visually impaired are unemployed, and the current services
      provided by the Department of Rehabilitation are inadequate to meet their
      needs (the Department of Rehabilitation says it is moving in the direction
      of where the bill is going)
      IMPACT TO VENDORS/PROVIDERS/DIRECT CARE STAFF: No direct impact.
      IMPACT ON STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OLMSTEAD DECISION/ADA: No direct
      impact.

      NOTE: If you would like to get on the UCP Update distribution (and
      conversely, get off of it) please send an email with that request to:
      martyomoto@.... Please allow some time to be removed from the list (it
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      would like it reported. Please feel free to forward or copy this (just be
      nice and give some attribution). Thanks!

      FOR MORE INFORMATION
      Marty Omoto, Legislative Director
      CA Coalition of United Cerebral Palsy Associations
      1225 8th Street Suite 480 Sacramento, CA 95814
      916/446-3204 FAX: 916/446-3206 email: martyomoto@...
      Coalition Chair: Michael Williams (UCP of the Golden Gate)
      Immediate Past Chair: Ron Cohen (UCP LA and Ventura Counties)
      * * *

      Attorney General Says News Media May Not Attend Child's IEP Meeting

      California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has issued an opinion
      concluding "members of the news media may not attend a child's
      individualized education program [IEP] meeting as observers even though
      their attendance has the consent of the parents."
      The opinion, written by Deputy Attorney General Gregory L. Gonot, was
      issued on August 26, 2002, in response to a question from Senator Richard G.
      Polanco (D-Los Angeles).
      The weight of the opinion rested on Section 56341 of California
      Education Code. Since 1982, "the Legislature has intended that only those
      specified in section 56341 may attend an IEP meeting. This construction of
      section 56341 is confirmed by federal law."
      The opinion found that "individuals with 'knowledge or special
      expertise regarding the pupil' are present at the meeting to help develop,
      review or revise the IEP plan. They are expected to participate meaningfully
      in the process, contributing valuable information with the best interests of
      the child in mind."
      As observers, "the news media members would not have 'knowledge or
      special expertise regarding the pupil' or be able to engage in sharing of
      valuable information concerning the child with the other team members.
      Section 56341 thus does not authorize the attendance of 'observers,' whether
      members of the news media or not. Federal law supports our construction of
      section 56341 that those without knowledge or special expertise regarding
      the child are prohibited form attending. (34 CFR Pt. 300, App. A, p.113.)"
      The opinion did say "members of the news media, as well as members of
      the pubic, may attend the next level in the process at the discretion of the
      parents (section 56501, subd. (c)(2)), which is a [due process] hearing the
      parents may request if they disagree with any part of the IEP that the
      public agency intends to implement (section 56346)."
      The full text of the Attorney General's Opinion [02-406] can be viewed
      at http://click.topica.com/maaayAZaaTMkMa4Pmzeb/
      * * *

      A Spirit Of Resiliency: Salinas Boy Endures Autism, Seizures & Brain Surgery

      [By Dave Nordstrand in The Californian.]
      http://click.topica.com/maaayAZaaTMkNa4Pmzeb/

      Life's blows -- autism, seizures, brain surgery -- rain down with
      merciless ferocity upon Joshua Baltierra.
      Yet the Salinas 6-year-old struggles to his feet and battles on.
      "He's my hero and the toughest person I've ever met," said Michael
      Baltierra, Joshua's father. "I don't know if I could go through what he's
      gone through."
      Joshua, a twin, was diagnosed as autistic in 1999. That alone would
      seem challenge enough for any one child, for any one family.
      Then in July 2001, the boy suffered the first of what was to become a
      lengthy crescendo of seizures.
      "The boys were in the car, and I'd run into a storage unit to grab
      something," Michael recalled. "When I got back, Joshua was just staring into
      oblivion."
      He rushed his son to his mother-in-law's house nearby.
      "I picked him up," Michael said. "He was like jelly. I carried him
      inside where he had a serious convulsion."
      He dialed 911.
      Six weeks later, Joshua suffered a seizure at school. Then the
      seizures appeared every other week.
      By late April, Joshua's leg had stiffened. He couldn't walk but with a
      painful limp.
      "He'd fall to the ground, grab his leg and go, 'Ouch, ouch, ouch,'"
      Michael said.
      In seeking answers to what was wrong with their son, Michael and his
      wife, Kelley, sought out pediatric neurologists at Stanford and at Johns
      Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Md.
      After many tests, they determined that Joshua had Rasmussen's
      encephalitis, a disease of uncertain origin but believed to be an autoimmune
      problem.
      The disorder occurs almost exclusively in children younger than 10,
      information from the Rasmussen's Encephalitis Support Network said.
      So rare is it that Rasmussen's affects only 1,000 worldwide.
      Left untreated, it causes seizures, loss of motor skills and speech,
      paralysis on one side of the body and dementia, among other things.
      Joshua's own seizures continued to multiply until he was suffering 50
      a day.
      In mid-August, an air ambulance flew him to University of California,
      Los Angeles, Medical Center.
      On Sept. 3, surgeons at UCLA operated.
      They separated the two hemispheres and performed a "hemispherectomy."
      Aiming to cut away diseased tissue, they removed 30 percent of the brain's
      right hemisphere.
      As they worked, surgeons updated the family.
      "I would have been a basket case if they hadn't come out and given us
      those reports," Kelley said.
      Since then, the twitching in the Joshua's leg has gone and he's been
      seizure free.
      He is now undergoing therapy at Children's Recovery Center in
      Campbell. His mother stays with him at the center.
      Scars from the surgery are healing. Joshua is learning to walk again,
      and he's working with a speech therapist.
      Given time, functions of the brain's right side will transfer to the
      left, his mother said. His prognosis is good, Kelley said.
      "He's an amazing spirit," she said. "With all the stuff that's
      happened to him, he's come through it great."
      A chance exists that the symptoms of autism may even have been due to
      the Rasmussen's, his parents said.
      Joshua can look forward to getting back to his special education
      class. His intelligence should increase and his speech rise to the level of
      his brother's, they said.
      Joshua's courage will help make it all happen, said Michael who drives
      to Campbell after work to see his son.
      "Believe it or not, when they rolled him out after brain surgery, I
      said 'Hey Josh.' He put his hand up. He said, 'Hi, Dad,'" Michael said.
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