Bourbon Street to host 4th annual “Mardi Gras for Autism” event

A crowd of more than 2,000 people is expected to attend  the 4th annual “Mardi Gras for Autism” event on Saturday, February 9, 2013, for 10 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. The free, family-fun event is scheduled to occur at Bourbon Street Bar and Grill and outside in the adjacent Fullerton Train Depot parking lot located at 110. E. Commonwealth Ave.

Larry Houser, the co-owner of Bourbon Street and the founder of Fullerton Cares, an organization founded to raise money, awareness and acceptance for autism in the Fullerton community, is hosting and sponsoring the event. Speaking about the event, Mr. Houser says, “The way we’ve designed Mardi Gras for Autism, families can come out and enjoy a good time together, whether they have children on the spectrum or not.” Houser became involved with autism and special education after his four year-old son Boyd was diagnosed with autism at age two.

The family-friendly free event is designed to encourage families to enjoy the fun of Mardi Gras while raising money for Fullerton special education programs and will feature many activities appropriate for children of all ages and abilities, including:

Aquarium of the Pacific — Joining Mardi Gras for Autism for the first time is the Aquarium of the Pacific and their “Aquarium on Wheels.” Some of the creatures that can be seen include sea stars, sea cucumbers, anemones, and sharks.

Medieval Times — Buena Park’s own Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament will join Mardi Gras for Autism for a second year to bring out some Knights and Kings, some freebies for the kids, and the Knights will be doing a mini-show.

MMA Demonstrations by — a national fitness outreach program for kids, partnering with gyms across the country and supporting physical fitness, will offer MMA demonstrations for attendees.

Custom Hats by “Artists Against Bullying” — The local tattoo community will volunteer time to create custom artwork on trucker-style hats donated by Liberty Board Shop. Participating tattoo shops will include Beyond Kreations, All Hallow’s Ink, Action Tattoo, Good Fellas Tattoo and Platinum Ink.

Face Painting by Gymboree — In addition to handing out Gymboree play items and blowing bubbles, Gymboree will provide two face painters who are volunteering their time for the cause.

Swipe4theKids — Bourbon Street exclusively uses S4TK to process their credit cards, and the funds are given to Fullerton Cares in order to further autism programs throughout Fullerton.

Autism Speaks U-CSUF — The Cal State Fullerton chapter of Autism Speaks U is designed for college students to promote awareness and advocacy and raise funds for Autism Speaks.

Information Booth by Talk About Curing Autism –TACA will be on hand at Mardi Gras for Autism to offer an information booth and answer questions that visitors may have about autism.

A.Skate — A.skate Foundation encourages the social interaction of children with autism through skateboarding. A.skate will be conducting skate demos throughout the Mardi Gras for Autism event.

The Complete Package –The Complete Package is the official printing partner of Mardi Gras for Autism and was created to give the daughter of the owner, who has autism, an opportunity to work, be productive, and give her a sense of purpose.

The Dixiedelics — A fixture in the Downtown Fullerton music scene, the Dixiedelics are the featured musical guest of Mardi Gras for Autism.

DMA Insurance — The title sponsor for Fullerton Cares’ annual charity golf tournament, DMA Insurance Services, Inc. is a full service insurance agency with three branches located in Southern California.

Miss Fullerton Scholarship Program — A 100% volunteer, not-for-profit organization, the Miss Fullerton Scholarship Program prides itself on representing the Fullerton community with service, style, scholarship, and success.

CF Dance Academy — Returning for their fourth year with Mardi Gras for Autism, CF Dance Academy has been a fixture in Orange County for 28 years.

Fullerton Union High School Circus Club — Joining Mardi Gras for Autism for the fourth consecutive year, the FUHS Circus Club provides the perfect entertainment for the evening.

ONEHOPE Winery — ONEHOPE Wine donates half of its profits donated to benefit a variety of causes, and is pleased to support the fight against autism.

Bourbon Street — Pleased to be the presenting sponsor of the fourth annual Mardi Gras for Autism, Bourbon Street has a close tie with not only the City of Fullerton, but also those directly affected by autism.

Chef Cody Storts — Chef Cody Storts is returning for his second year with Mardi Gras for Autism. With past endeavors including many creations with The Lime Truck and Bourbon Streets California Cajun cuisine, Storts will be serving up Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Cajun Dogs, Chicken Gumbo, and Biegnets on behalf of Bourbon Street.

Heroes Bar & Grill — A proud supporter of Mardi Gras for Autism, Heroes will be serving hot dogs and chips for the kids.

The Olde Ship British Pub — Serving up British pancakes as part of the traditional way to honor the British holiday of “Shrove” or “Pancake Tuesday,” as the day before lent is known in the United Kingdom.

Fullerton Cares — Founded in order to raise money, awareness, and acceptance of students with Autism within the Fullerton community, Fullerton Cares works tirelessly to promote and fund programs for students with autism within the Fullerton School District.

Please come out and join the festivities. You will be sure to have fun and also help support special education students in Fullerton.


District not required to serve ADHD student attending private school

(January 16, 2013) A school district does not have an obligation to provide services to an ADHD child enrolled in a private religious school under current federal disability-rights law.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that Baltimore City Public Schools had no obligation to provided special education services under Section 504 to an 8th grade ADHD student who attended a private Jewish school in Maryland.

D.L., the student around whom the law suit swirled, was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety as a fifth grade student in 2007. Two years later, Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners (BCBSC) determined that while D.L. did not qualify for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA), he was eligible under Section 504. Upon making this determination though, BCBSC notified D.L.’s parents that it could not provide the student services unless D.L. was enrolled in one of its schools. Since Maryland is a state that does not allow dual enrollment in a private and public school, D.L. would have to withdraw from his Yeshiva and enroll at the local public school.

D.L.’s parents challenged this decision, arguing that Section 504 creates an affirmative duty for school districts to provide services to eligible students enrolled in private schools. The parents’ arguments failed before a hearing officer so they filed suit in the United States District Court of Maryland. BCBSC filed a motion for summary judgment (a motion which basically says that even if D.L.’s parents were to prove all the facts they assert, they would still lose the case as a matter of law) and the parents filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The lower court granted BCBSC’s summary judgment motion and denied the parent’s partial summary judgment motion. The parents filed an appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

In the case, D.L. v. Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners, the parents argued two main points: 1) that Section 504 regulation mandate that BCBSC provide D.L. with a free and appropriate education (FAPE), and 2) that BCBSC’s requirement that the family enroll D.L. in a public school violates their constitutional rights under the First Amendment’s Freedom of Religion clause.

With regard to the first contention, the court recognized that the plain language of Section 504 leaves unclear whether public schools are required to provide services to students enrolled in private schools. 34 C.F.R. § 104.33(a) states in relevant part that districts must “provide each Section 504 eligible student within its jurisdiction with a [FAPE].” The parents contend this language means that public schools have a greater obligation that simply making such education available.

The court reasoned that while the plain language is ambiguous, that further clarification in Appendix A of the regulations where it states in relevant part, “[i]f . . . a recipient offers adequate services and if alternate placement is chosen by a student’s parent or guardian, the recipient need not assume the cost of the outside services.” In looking at this, the court noted that while this shows that a district need not pay for services obtained outside the public school, it leaves open the question of whether such services can be obtained from the school.

Here, the court relied upon a clarification letter by the Department of Education entitled OCR Response to Veir Inquire Re: Various Matters which offers a direct clarification of the disputed regulation. The court noted that where a regulation is ambiguous, courts must grant deference to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulation. In the Vier letter, the DOE stated that “[w]here a district has offered an appropriate education, a district is not responsible under Section 504, for the provision of educational services to students not enrolled in the public education program based on the personal choice of the parent or guardian.” The court applied this language to hold that BCBSC had no responsibility to provide services to D.L. in his private school placement.

In reaching its holding, the court also rejected the parents’ arguments that Section 504’s language should be interpreted broadly since it is a remedial statute. While noting that turth of the parent’s contention that remedial statutes should be broadly construed, the court noted,

“The purpose of Section 504 does not, however, extend as far as Appellants [parents] assert that it should. Section 504 and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, not on the basis of school choice.”

The court next tackled the First Amendment issues raised by the suit. The parents’ suit tried to persuade the court that the Supreme Court’s rulings in Pierce, 268 U.S. 510, and Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, show that requiring D.L. to attend Baltimore public schools was a violation of his First Amendment rights.

The court easily distinguished these cases in that both involved parents being charged under criminal statutes for failure to educate their children in public schools. Here, the parents face no such sanctions and retain free choice as to where their child go to school. The issue was one of payment of services. While it is true that the parents would need to pay additional services that would be free were they to attend public schools, such increased economic burden does not meet the standard of a First Amendment violation. The court noted, “The Supreme Court has explained that a statute does not violate the Free Exercise Clause [First Amendment] merely because it causes economic disadvantage on individuals who choose to practice their religion in a specific manner.



The types of special education services provided in California

California spends, on average, $12,700 more per year educating our students with disabilities than regular education students. What types of services does that money pay for?

A new report from California’s Office of Legislative Analyst’s sheds light on to the answer to this question. The report, Overview of Special Education in Californiashows that far and away the biggest service provided is specialized academic instruction. Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI) is defined as: “ Adapting, as appropriate to the needs of the child with a disability the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that he or she can meet the educational standards within the jurisdiction of the public agency that apply to all children.” (34 CFR 300.26(b)(3)). Examples of this are one-to-one tutoring, specialized instruction is a separate classroom, or modified assignments. Roughly 550,000 CA students benefit from these services.

The second largest area of services provided is speech and language therapy, with over 300,000 students receiving this type of assistance. Speech and language services are defined as:

i. Identification of children with speech or language impairments;
ii. Diagnosis and appraisal of specific speech and language impairments;
iii. Referral for medical or other professional attention necessary for the habilitation of
speech or language impairments;
iv. Provision of speech and language services for the habilitation or prevention of
communicative impairments; and
v. Counseling and guidance of parents, children, and teachers regarding speech and
language impairments. (34 C.F.R. 300.24 [14].

No other provided service reaches the 100,000 mark in terms of students receiving that service. On the list of lesser provided services, in order from highest to lowest, are occupational therapy, college awareness, career awareness, adapted physical education, vocational assessment, behavior treatment services, and individual therapy.

The report also notes that at the age of 16, children begin to receive assistance in order to ease their transition into adulthood. School districts are required to develop IEP services to  aid students in this difficult transition. Types of services that are provided include vocational and career readiness activities, college counseling, and training in independent living skills.