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Debbie from New York has a 7 year old son with autism. Debbie just requested a special education due process hearing about her son's placement.

Sun, 5 Jul 1998 19:37:31 EDT

Dear Wrights,

Your help and advice as supplied on your web site continues to be invaluable.

To refresh your memory, my son Kevin is a 7 year old with autism. I have been trying to get the school district to change the placement they intend for Kevin next year.

Kevin has been in a "regular ed." first grade. I requested standardized testing in reading and math this year. He tests a full grade level behind in both areas. Yet his teacher describes the "good progress" he has made.

I knew that Kevin's progress next year would hinge on his placement in a visually rich program. Fortunately, there is just such a teacher/room in our district. I approached the CSE chair about this concern. He told me that which teacher Kevin has is completely out of the CSE's hands because Kevin is in a "regular ed" program. Over the last 3 months, I met with Kevin's (then) teacher, the elementary school principal, the district superintendent, and the Board of Education. All refused to place Kevin in the visual program, instead deferring to the recommendation of this year's teacher.

I consulted with an area education law attorney, who sent a letter to request an impartial due process hearing. She said that the organization of my material, the fact that I had taped meetings and that I placed my concerns in clearly written, civilly phrased letters would all make our case much stronger. (Thank you Pete!)

At the meeting with the Board of Education, I handed out my document, clearly stating what I was asking for, citing the supporting test results and quotes from meetings, and ending with the request for the change of placement. The Board president commented on how well written it was. He described it as "superb." And I have it on tape.

We never know what the future will bring. I cannot foretell what a hearing officer will do. But I know that our chances are much better because I had and used the excellent information you have so generously provided. I will keep you informed.



Mon, 06 Jul 1998 09:59 am


Thanks for taking the time to write and update us. We often wonder what happens to the families we communicate with.

Your situation shows what a big role parents can play, if they know how to go about it. This means doing what you are doing - getting all your material organized and making a clear request about what you want (and many parents have a very hard time w this one - they know that what the child is getting is not working but they don't have an alternative suggestion).

You taped the meetings, wrote clear letters that didn't threaten - and you went to the school board to make your case.

Your letter will give parents hope and a sense of direction when they wonder "what do I do?" - and the nudge they need to get started.

Again, many thanks!

Pete and Pam Wright

The Special Ed Advocate

Tue, 14 Jul 1998 19:52:09 EDT

Dear Wrights,

The school district received the letter requesting an impartial due process hearing on Monday, July 6. On Wednesday, July 8 there was a Board of Education meeting. I found out that the letter was brought to the board after that meeting. On Thursday, July 9, the district superintendent called me and said the district was "not interested in pursuing an impartial hearing."

In other words, we won.

Kevin will be placed in the visually based class next year. I have already spoken to the teacher (she called me). She is enthusiastic about what she and Kevin can together accomplish next year.

I'm very glad we did not have to go through with the hearing although we were prepared to do so if necessary. I feel we gave the district a way to change position yet still save face (the lawyer made them do it).

It can be characterized as a "win-win" solution.

Thanks again for all your great suggestions and advice.


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