Dear Nevada Children, Families, Providers, and Advocates,
The U.S. Department of Justice invites you to a Community Meeting about the ongoing DOJ investigation into the State of Nevada’s services for children with behavioral health conditions. The meeting will take place via Zoom on Monday July 19, 2021 at 12pm (Pacific time).
The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is examining whether the state of Nevada is violating Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that states like Nevada provide services to people with disabilities, including children with behavioral health conditions, in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs. The investigation will evaluate whether children receive the community-based services they need to prevent institutional placement.
At the community meeting, attorneys from the team conducting the investigation will provide more information about the investigation and answer questions from attendees. Because an important piece of the investigation is hearing from community members who have experience navigating Nevada’s public system of care for behavioral health, we will also provide information about how you can connect with the team to share your story.
The meeting will have closed captioning in English and a professional who will provide American Sign Language interpretation throughout the entire meeting and Spanish language translation of certain participant questions and presenter answers.
To attend the community meeting, please register by clicking on the following link or copying and pasting it into your browser: https://www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_Tw7rzeGtRBevtoTBr1FGZg
After registering, you will receive a link to join the Zoom meeting via email. You do not need a Zoom account to join the meeting; you only need to click on the link that will be emailed to you after you register.
Please feel free to circulate this information to other Nevadans who may be interested in our investigation.
We encourage anyone with information pertinent to our investigation to reach out to us using the following contact information:
Respectfully, Sarah Louise Malks
One year ago, Nevada PEP publicly pledged its solidarity with the Black Community. Since that time, we have consciously increased the number of parent resources about race and racism, expanded training for our staff, and further infused our advocacy efforts with racial and cultural awareness. All the while, we have remained aware that the Disability Rights and Civil Rights communities have worked together towards justice in the past and will continue to support each other into the future.
This year, we celebrate the historic legislation designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Nevada PEP is honoring this holiday and will not be open on Friday, June 18, 2021. In addition to the celebration of freedom, the Juneteenth holiday also gives us a moment to take pause and reflect on ways that we can all support justice and equity, and Nevada PEP reaffirms its commitment to do so.
Nevada has received $110,000 to seed the first-in-the-nation ABLE Accounts program created by AB62. The funds will help provide Nevadans with disabilities opportunities for financial independence through tax-advantaged savings accounts that can fund disability expenses.
Treasurer @ZConine & his team are continuing to lead the charge on this important program to provide Nevadans with disabilities opportunities for financial independence. This program takes our State further in the right direction as we continue to expand programs & services. https://t.co/alkIno9U20— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) May 20, 2021
Nevada PEP is appalled and saddened by the recent hate crimes against Asian Americans in Atlanta, and we stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Our deepest condolences to those who lost their loved ones in the Atlanta shooting rampage. We understand that many feel targeted, devalued, or afraid. As an organization dedicated to families, we stand against these senseless acts of crime against our Asian American families and recognize that the effects of racism are felt across every community in our State. There is no place for hate in a just society. We will continue to uplift the lives and stories of those who have struggled with discrimination as we strive for a more inclusive society. We will speak out against these manifestations of injustice and the longstanding systemic racism that is present in our society. Our future and our children’s future depend on ensuring that people of all backgrounds can flourish in our state and nation.
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada Investigated by the Department of Justice
The Department of Justice is investigating the State of Nevada. The complaint filed by the Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law Center is looking into whether Nevada unnecessarily relies on institutions that are in or out of state, that treat children with behavioral health conditions. The complaint states that, because of the lack of community-based mental health treatment for children, parents or the courts must send children to out of state facilities. Additionally, when the children come back into the home there are very few support services available.
Parents, do you have information that you would like to share about your personal experience, due to lack of mental health services for your child? Contact Outreach Coordinator Sarah Louise Malks at 202-598-5344 or Sarah.Malks@usdoj.gov.
Nevada’s Correctional Facilities Investigated
In January, the Department of Justice announced that it was investigating the State of Nevada for the use of pepper spray at two juvenile correctional facilities run by the Nevada Juvenile Justice Service. The investigation is focused on the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko and the Summit View Youth Center in Las Vegas to determine whether staff at the two facilities violated youth’s rights under the Constitution.
The civil rights division’s special litigation section is conducting this investigation. Parents, do you have relevant information that you want to share? Was your child placed in any of these two facilities? Call 1-833-591-0426 or email at community.NVJuveniles@usdoj.gov.
Source: Disability and Philanthropy Forum
By Karen Taycher and Tamika Shauntee (Special to the Review- Journal)
Forty-five years ago, on Nov. 29, 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law. As we celebrate this milestone, students who receive special education services face a situation unlike at any time in the four and half decades since the law was signed.
None of the parents, self-advocates and educators who fought for special education services on that day imagined the challenges to a “free appropriate public education” from a pandemic. Over the past nine months, the challenges schools have faced because of COVID-19 have created uncertainty for families of children throughout Nevada, especially those with disabilities.
Educators and parents alike are faced with difficult choices and must weigh the risk of contracting COVID-19 over going back into the school building. A significant number of students with disabilities are at greater risk for COVID. Virtual learning and other social distancing measures as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts must be in place to ensure the safety of students with disabilities and school personnel.
The foundation of IDEA is to develop an individualized educational program that meets each student’s unique needs. In addition, Nevada statutes and administrative code include standards for special education. School districts across Nevada have implemented their own reopening plans and taken different approaches for the roughly 63,000 students with disabilities in our state.
Our focus is not on a call to re-open schools or for a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, our emphasis is that students with disabilities should be provided quality services that meet their educational needs. Ultimately, IDEA is not in lockdown. The obligation of school districts to provide services to students with disabilities has not decreased and continues without any change.
Last month, the Nevada Department of Education’s Office of Inclusive Education created guidance to assist districts in their responsibilities under IDEA during the pandemic. The guidance identifies that “it is uncontroverted that the mandates of the IDEA and (Nevada law) must drive all decision-making with regard to the provision of a free appropriate public education to each student with a disability during these unprecedented times.”
Unfortunately, our organizations have heard too many stories related to the lack of access to federally mandated services and supports outlined on each child’s individualized education program. School districts must ensure their commitment to the law or students will continue to be denied access to the general education curriculum, specialized instruction, related services, adaptive equipment, assistive technology and effective communication supports.
With the pandemic continuing into the foreseeable future, our organizations recommend the following:
— Value creativity and collaboration to ensure compliance and quality support services: When educational services are not working, schools must make sure that students with disabilities do not bear the consequences. If virtual learning is not effective, schools will need to be creative and collaborate with parents to meet the individualized needs of students. Regular communication among parents, students and educators is essential to address concerns.
— Ensure compensatory services: School districts should take affirmative steps to ensure compensatory education for all students with disabilities. Whether remote or hybrid learning, quality and accessible education is necessary to include ample direct instruction. Under IDEA, children with disabilities are eligible for compensatory services to make up for any failures to provide an appropriate education.
— Protect civil rights and access to dispute resolution mechanisms: Civil rights of students with disabilities and their families remain in place. Schools must continue to honor these rights and offer the related services, instruction and accommodations. The options under IDEA to resolve disputes also remain in place — mediation, state complaint and due process complaint procedures should be accessible to parents.
— Enhance policies to have consistency related to workload, homework submission and attendance: The transition to virtual and hybrid learning has been an incredible challenge for families and students. Over the past nine months, students have often been punished for circumstances beyond their control. Policies that are tailored to support students during this time will improve overall performance and reduce stress.
— Use compassion: Lastly, a compassionate approach can produce meaningful educational outcomes. With the substantial impact of a pandemic that has resulted in loss for far too many and placed some of the most vulnerable in our community in danger, an effort to exercise compassion is essential for students and educators.
Ultimately, at the end of each school day, if we are able to work together as a team and as a community, our students will both continue to receive a quality education and remain safe from the virus.
— Karen Taycher is executive director of Nevada PEP; Tamika Shauntee is legal advocacy coordinator for the ACLU of Nevada. This essay was also signed by Jack Mayes, executive director of the Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law Center, and Alex Cherup, staff attorney for Nevada Legal Services.
This article first appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal on December 5, 2020 at the following link: https://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/commentary-districts-still-have-obligations-to-disabled-nevada-students-2206044/
Nevada PEP is honored to have been selected for the “3 Degree Guarantee” program for the month of October! Nevada PEP Board Chairman Bryce Loveland accepted the donation of $2,100 on News 3 Las Vegas from Goettl Air Conditioning and Plumbing of Las Vegas on November 12th.
Every October Nevada PEP recognizes National Bullying Prevention Month with our signature Run Walk Roll Against Bullying. In keeping with the need to social distance, PEP has decided to adjust course and launch a new awareness campaign called “I Care, We Care” in partnership with Findlay Automotive Group.
Nevada PEP Chairperson Bryce Loveland was recently interviewed by the Fox5 Take 5 To Care team to promote the event and to champion Bullying Awareness. Watch the interview on their site:
To join our campaign, visit the I Care, We Care homepage and learn how to participate!