In the News - 2013 Archives


Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion at Mt. Iliamna Elementary School

September 3, 2013

The Disability Law Center uncovered the inappropriate systemic use of restraint and seclusion at Mt. Iliamna Elementary School. During the 2012-2013 school year, the approximately 60 students at the school were placed in the safe room over 850 times. The educational time lost for these students totaled 42 school days, even though many of these students require specialized instruction in academic areas such as reading, writing and math.

DLC found that the pervasive use of restraint and seclusion was more the result of inappropriate behavior plans and staff responses than a result of problematic behaviors on the part of the students that could only be managed by these restrictive interventions. DLC made extensive recommendations to the District that it hopes are adopted as soon as possible to ensure that these students receive appropriate educational services in a safe and supportive environment and that the systemic reliance on and use of restraint and seclusion as was the case last year is discontinued at once.

The District’s response follows the report. DLC disagrees that the problems cited in the report have been resolved. See the full report here, and the district response here.

UPDATE: February 27, 2014
On January 16th 2014, the District provided a more comprehensive response to DLC’s report. See the District’s January response here.
A note to the reader -- Within the District’s response is the copy of a transcript between DLC’s investigator and District staff. For reasons unknown to DLC the transcription provided by the District does not include the first portion of that interview.

UPDATE: April 18, 2014
On April 10th, 20114, we submitted reply to the Anchorage School District's response. See DLC's reply here.

Social Security Hearing Denials in Alaska

April 15, 2013

Anchorage, AK - The Disability Law Center would like bring to your attention a troubling trend that is having a significant negative impact on Alaskans with disabilities and their eligibility for Social Security benefits. The application process for Social Security benefits can involve multiple steps. If a claimant's initial application is denied, they have the right to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge where they can contest the denial. While statistics show that the approval rate of initial applications in Alaska is consistent with national rates, it is a very different story at the hearing level. Alaskans with disabilities are losing their hearings at nearly twice the rate as similarly situated claimants in the lower-48.

The Disability Law Center and other Social Security advocates are trying to ascertain the underlying cause(s) for this trend. A few of the issues that we are looking at include:

  • Staffing at the Anchorage Office of Disability Adjudication and Review;
  • The increased use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants – the Administrative Law Judges do not always give full faith and credit to the reports prepared by these providers;
  • The high number of claimants in Alaska who are not represented at their hearing by a lawyer or other qualified advocate; and
  • The high rate at which hearing requests are being dismissed.

If you have any information that could contribute to this discussion and review, please respond to this email or contact Dave Fleurant at the Disability Law Center. For more information and data about this problem click here.

Related Data: Disability Judges

Update: 05/20/13 Letter from Senator Begich to Social Security Administration (SSA)
Update: 06/20/13 Response to Senator Begich from Acting Commissioner SSA
Update: 03/03/14 Alaska State Legislature - House Joint Resolution
Update: March 2014 DLC Reply to Acting SSA Commissioner's Letter
Update: 04/30/14 Letter from Senator Begich to Acting Commissioner SSA
Update: 06/12/14 Response to Senator Begich from Acting Commissioner SSA

Disability Law Center to Train Parents on Education of Children with Autism

January 2, 2013

Anchorage, AK -- The Disability Law Center of Alaska (DLC) announced today that it will begin a state-wide training program designed to reach parents and guardians of children with autism, and help them become stronger advocates for their children. Click here for the full press release