Hawai'i Association for Behavior Analysis

To educate, advocate for, and support both providers and consumers 
of Applied Behavior Analysis.


ABA Lawsuit Filed (11/30/2018) - Civil Beat

According to Dr. Amanda N. Kelly, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Legislative Chair of the Board of Hawaiʻi Association for Behavior Analysis, the lawsuit is “specific to the lack of coordination of DHS and DOE. Our state has literally failed these children on both the medical and educational front. They [DHS and DOE] are both responsible,” she said.


We’re asking the court to tell DHS and DOE to talk to each other and work it out so affected students can get the services they need during school,” said Kristin Holland, an attorney with Dentons law firm in Honolulu — previously known as Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing — which is handling the case.


She said the small percentage of kids in Hawaiʻi public schools who do receive ABA services through their Individualized Education Programs (IEP) is the result of parents fighting their way through the system or waging due process cases.


“It’s this inscrutable process … that parents of children with autism are expected to navigate,” she said. “The end result is children are not getting services they’re entitled to during school. It’s putting parents in an impossible situation, where they have to pull the kids out of school to get services.”

Dr. Amanda N. Kelly's Comments on the ABA Lawsuit Filed in Hawai'i 

Many of you know that I have been a strong advocate for #ABAInDOE here in #Hawaii. Just as with anything a #behavioranalyst does, we started out with pairing and by taking a positive approach. We led a phenomenal #malamaourkeiki grassroots campaign and passed #autisminsurance as well as #ABALicensure in 2015. We advocated for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the DOE and had laws changed to reflect this requirement for our children with behavioral needs, primarily those with #autism. We urged our legislators and pled for access to medically necessary care so our students could make meaningful progress on their IEPs. We advocated. We lobbied. We testified. We applauded our allies.


Yet, parents are still being forced to choose between the #HIDOE's offer of a "Free and Appropriate Public Education" (#FAPE) or their child’s need for access to #medicallynecessary care.


Despite the fact the #HIDOE has not created adequate in-house positions and that they have a policy, which adamantly blocks access to available (insurer or privately-funded) Licensed Behavior Analysts (LBAs) on their campuses, the numbers of providers in Hawaiʻi continues to grow. Currently, there are 264 Licensed Behavior Analysts and over 675 Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) in the state.


In 2018, the Hawaiʻi State Legislature amended the Behavior Analyst Licensure law, adding a mandate that the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) and Department of Human Services (DHS) work collaboratively to roll-out #schoolbased claiming procedures for related services; ABA, OT, PT, SLP, Skilled-nursing and other federally covered educational and medically-necessary treatment under #Medicaid #EPSDT(Early Periodic Screening Detection and Treatment). Legislators estimated that the HIDOE had been missing out on approximately $50 million ANNUALLY in federal Medicaid funds!


On July 10, 2018, Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige signed the amended bill (ACT 205) into law. In the 4 months since then, what families have experienced is regression and a degradation of #specialeducation services to a level even I did not imagine possible.


This civil rights lawsuit comes after many years of fierce advocacy, heartbreak, and delays in services, which have caused permanent, irreparable harm for thousands of children across the Hawaiʻian Islands. This lawsuit is our community (parents, providers, the public) exercising what feels like our only remaining option to help our keiki (children). They deserve to have a fighting chance at an independent and high quality life!


We have a long road ahead of us still, but this moment is a notable one. I truly believe the outcome of this lawsuit will lead to an improvement of services for students in need of ABA –not only here in Hawaiʻi, but elsewhere too.


I would like to extend a warm mahalo (thanks) to the allies and advocates who have supported these efforts along the way. Some people and entities prefer to remain unnamed --no worries (you know who you are). Publicly, I would like to thank the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the Hawaii Association for Behavior Analysis, the Autism Legal Resource Center, the Hawaii Disability Rights Center, our Legislators, the BACB - Behavior Analyst Certification Board, and the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts, as well as the fearless self-advocates, parents, educators, and practitioners who have come #togetherforourkeiki.”

For more information on this issue stay tuned to the For Our Keiki FB page.