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Should We Sue the School? I Don’t Know What Else to Do!

12/16/10
by Susan Bruce

We are having a dispute with the school about placement in the least restrictive environment.  The school keeps denying our requests.  Should we threaten to sue them?

First – NO threats.

I never say anything in an IEP meeting that I am not prepared to do. You should never say anything that you cannot “back up” with data, statistics or documentation.

Use this same principal for requests. I never asked for things unless I have the data to show that  the request is “appropriate.”

Second – It sounds like you are having an LRE (least restrictive environment) issue.

Get the data.  Research LRE and make yourself an expert!

Ask yourself these questions.

  • Did the IEP team consider the LRE, the placement your child would be in if not exceptional? (When I say, “consider,” I mean did you and team actually talk about LRE?)
  • Did the team consider /discuss the supports/modifications necessary for your child to participate in this LRE?
  • Did you make your request to the team in writing?
  • Has the school issued prior written notice, explaining why they denied your request?
  • Where is the data that demonstrates that the placement your child is currently in is the LRE and is the appropriate placement? Ask for it, if you don’t have it.

Third – An option for resolving the dispute.

Check to see if your state offers Facilitated IEP Meetings. Facilitation occurs before a complaint is filed. In my state, the parent or the school district can request facilitation (in several “pilot” counties).

An IEP facilitator:

  • Should be an unbiased person who is not a member of the IEP team,
  • Has no decision making authority,
  • And is not there to judge who is right or wrong.

The facilitator is the “guardian” of the process who creates a “safe zone” and ensures that everyone has a chance to speak.  The facilitator keeps the focus on the child.

In my state, both parents and the schools have been satisfied with the outcomes.

The one thing I have learned is that everyone “plays nice” and is on his or her best behavior when a facilitator is present.

CADRE has information on their site regarding Facilitated IEP Meetings. Enter “facilitated IEP meetings” in the search box.

You’ll find more here:

Informal Approaches to Resolving Disputes from NICHCY. Five Options, 1-2-3

To help special education planning teams reach agreements, the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Special Education Mediation Service (MNSEMS) provide the option of facilitated IEP meetings. Facilitated IEP Meetings from the PACER Center.

 

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9 Comments on "Should We Sue the School? I Don’t Know What Else to Do!"


Irene
01/25/2014

My son has A IEP since pre school he is now 10 and in IL they finally have to give him a diagnosis other then delayed learning . We went to his IEP last week and they want to move him to a new school for 5 the grade next yr cause our 5 the grade is a jr high setting. Which we are ok with…. But they want to do it in 10 days time which through us for a loop!!! We want him to finish the yr at his current school!! They are trying to force us into this!! We have another meeting Feb 20 th… Trying to find out our rights!!

Cathy
01/12/2014

Our son who has Autism is in Kindergarten. Very Unsocial. Finally in December got them to agree to one hour a day of one-on-one with a para for his social skills and she walked out on him after 20 minutes on a Tuesday and never returned. The teacher actually wrote me a note telling me this. We pulled him out last week because he was showing signs of what his doctor calls “selective muteness” and we feel there is no one in this rural district who’s qualified to work with him. His teacher actually told us at his October Parent teacher conference that he’s the smartest “academically” In the class by far. We aren’t sure we have any choices left.

Luanne
07/16/2013

We have a new IEP for next school year for my son, who will be entering 7th grade. We haven’t accepted it. He has regressed and he didn’t meet the goals from the last years IEP. We would like him outsourced because of this and the toxic environment he is in at school. How should we proceed? Do we need an advocate or lawyer? We are so frustrated over this entire process or lack of progress. It appears it benefits the school district and not the child. This IEP team doesn’t do what they say they will do. We spend hours meeting with them trying to get them to do what is right for my son. Any suggestions. Help!!