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:
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.