Q & As from Wrightslaw: Accommodations – IEPs

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 (see Topics L – Z)

A: AccommodationsADHD | Advocacy | Aides | Assistive Technology | Attorneys 

B: Behavior | Braille | Bullying

C: Child Find | Class Size |Classification | Complaints | Compliance & Implementation | Confidentiality & Privacy

D: Diplomas |Discipline | Discrimination | Documentation | Due Process | Dyslexia

E: Eligibility | ESL | ESY | Evaluations | Extra Curricular


G: Goals | Grades

H: Homebound

I: IDEA 2004 | IEPs | Independent Educational Evaluations IEE



Even more answers – in this topic listing



Mary:  My 16 year old son has Aspergers, ADD, Anxiety, and Depression. His school does not want him to have a 504 because he he gets good grades even though they have made unofficial accommodations; whereas we and his health providers believe we should make those accommodations official (such as reduced workload when overwhelmed and flexible scheduling). It sounds like they are going to refuse us, what are our options?

Sandy:  Good grades are NO reason to deny a 504, especially when accommodations are already being offered. Push for the official 504-tell them you want it for use with ACT/SAT, college, etc. (so they feel less defensive). If they refuse, you can request a special education evaluation under IDEA and 504, which will take them more time and effort than simply giving you a 504. Hope this helps!


Emily:  At my sons 3 year reevaluation the fairly prestigious school he attends advised that his paper pencil accommodation (listed on his IEP since 3rd grade) for state testing was no longer valid now that he is in middle school. His documented disability is aspergers syndrome and he has a documented delay in processing. Parent advocate is also telling me that I can‚Äôt do anything about it. My child has been very very successful when given accommodations of both ET and Paper Pencil based tests. Can anyone tell me if I have any recourse for this action? I am an educator and accommodate students daily, did I miss something?

Chuck:  Emily, are they saying that the accommodation is not valid for state testing, instruction or both? They should have a district policy or state rule to show you what supports their statement. You can request a Prior Written Notice from them explaining why they cannot, or will not do this. You could make a complaint to the state education agency or request mediation. Contact your state parent training & information center. They should be able to help you.

JG:  Emily,  Did the Team explain why the accommodation was no longer valid? One potential reason I can think of is the use of that accommodation on statewide standardized testing.

For a student to receive a particular accommodation on statewide testing, he should routinely be using that same accommodation during in-class testing. For this reason, many IEP Teams will not include a testing accommodation anywhere on the IEP if it is not allowed during statewide testing.

It’s possible that the accommodation your son received previously is only an approved accommodation through a certain age or grade. You could check with your state’s testing manual to check this.

Whatever the reason, the Team should discuss whether a new testing accommodation is needed (the testing manual can be helpful for this).

You can ask that any new accommodation be tested out for a certain period of time. Then the Team can meet again when this time period is up, to determine if the accommodation is working or if a new one should be tried.

If you feel strongly about the use of the accommodation, disagree with any new one that is selected, or disagree if the Team selects no new one, you do have access to dispute resolution options. You could ask for mediation, or could request a due process hearing.

Accommodations:  OHI-SPED

Gina:  My daughter is currently under the 504 plan for OHI however we are needing a bit more help other than the current accommodations. She has qualified because of some seizures. I will not go into the specifics. I would like to try to qualify her with SPED is this possible?

JG:  Gina – If you think the 504 plan is not meeting her needs but *could* be revised to meet her needs, you can ask the school to do so. You can also ask them to reevaluate her, so they have current information about her needs (Section 504 requires periodic reevaluation).

If you think the 504 plan is not meeting her needs and revising it would not change that, you can certainly ask that your daughter be evaluated for eligibility for special education. Here’s a sample letter requesting an initial evaluation: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/evaluation-2/.

You can connect with your local parent center for info on your rights regarding both Section 504 and evaluation under IDEA: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.

Sophie:  Since advocating for an IEP may take some time, I would suggest that in the meantime you work on strengthening her 504 plan. The single thing that helped me the most in strengthening my son’s 504 plan was that a local special education lawyer told me, “I’ve seen very detailed, lengthy 504 plans, where the list of accommodations went on for several pages.” After hearing that, I started asking for every specific accommodation I could think of that might help my son to be more comfortable and successful in school.


Lauren:  How should I proceed if ACT has granted multiple-day accommodations to my child over a 3-week period in order to take the ACT exam and the school is not cooperating with providing a schedule that works for my child (given his needs) and also refuses to secure a proctor that is available?

Sophie:  Lauren, I don’t have specific experience with this, but my first idea would be to contact the folks at the ACT Program, including a copy of the IEP or 504 plan. Also, take a look at these instructions for homebound students: http://www.actstudent.org/faq/confined.html

Because ACT is a private organization I am not sure that the accommodations they approved can be enforced. My son does have a 504 but our school has stated that it is is a courtesy that they administer the ACT and are under no obligation to do so, and, that it is a loss of revenue for them each time they do. That is somewhat confusing since ACT pays the proctors. I called ACT special testing and they said I might need to find a different school for him to take it at but that would be difficult to arrange being that he is not be their student.


Holly:  My seventh grade son is dyslexic and dysgraphic. The Special Educator blames my son for everything. My son has tracking issues and cannot take scanned tests. He was given one yesterday and I emailed her. Her response, “XXXX was asked by both the teacher and the paraeducator if he would rather write on his test then take the scantron and he refused. This was documented.” I feel like responding with this…”XXX was asked by my husband and myself to do his homework but he refused and this has been documented.” I get it that my son doesn’t want to be different. Is there any legal recourse for requiring my child to accept these accommodations? Or is there any way I can word the IEP differently?

Morning: If you think about it, special education and you have tracked and carefully planned his education. He had little or no say in the process or did he? I ran into a similar issue when my son was in middle school. My son was given choices and we collaborated with the teachers and administrators. The issue of “looking different” deeply pained him. His voice was heard and he advocated for himself. His self advocacy boosted his confidence and motivated him to continue to achieve. He “owned” and significantly contributed to his IEP goals, use of AT, etc. He is doing well and headed for college. I also think the teachers are as frustrated as you are. Students sometimes shut down for various reasons.

Chuck:  FYI – For Parents: 5 Things Your Middle-Schooler with Dyslexia Can Say to Self-Advocate
Middle school can be a tough time for kids with dyslexia. Your child probably doesn’t want to feel singled out, so it’s important that he build self-advocacy skills to get what he needs. Rehearsing common situations with your child can help him know where to start. From our partner, Understood.org.

Sophie:  Are we talking about the bubble sheets? Does your son test in an alternate location? If not, please get that, since your son would feel less self-conscious when he’s not right there in the classroom with everyone else during exams. // Perhaps you could compromise with your son and ask him to write in the test booklet AND fill in the bubble sheet, and then ask the staff to check for inconsistencies, and ask him for clarification if needed. For that, it might be helpful to have an extra time accommodation. // My son got a big boost from going to a camp for children with his disability.


Kristin:  My daughter has IEP. She is getting a D in a class. She has A’s in this class but is failing assessments. The teacher has not communicated via email, sometimes does not respond.

Retakes of tests and modified tests are accommodations. The teacher said a retake would not include the existing curve. I popped in to visit the teacher unannounced since he wasn’t responding to email. He said he had read the IEP early on, but not since. He acted surprised about the accommodations, said he would revisit the IEP again. His service coordinator is looking into it.

What actions can I expect to improve his grade now?

As:  If your teacher is willing to work with you on things, then great. I have had various alternatives given to show a child’s understanding in a subject area, incl. written reports, dialogues between teacher-student (oral tests or discussions), project boards, retakes, video documentaries, etc. it would depend on child’s age, class, abilities. If the case worker is looking into it, keep working with them on finding a good solution for your son, and possibly being specific on alternatives for the future.


Janet:  Modification or accommodation? CALIFORNIA

JG: Janet, Accommodations are designed to provide a student with equal access, and do not fundamentally alter standards or expectations.

Modifications are designed to provide a student with meaningful access, and do fundamentally alter the standards or expectations.

Depending on how much the work load is reduced, this could potentially be an accommodation or modification.

If the student is working at the same grade level as other students and learning the same content, but (for example) has to complete half as many math problems as other students, this is likely an accommodation.

Janet: Where is that line? What about the rest of his classes? To much busy work.
Thanks for your input.

JG:  Where that line lies is definitely subjective, but I’ve seen reduced workload used most often as an accommodation. If your child needs that adaption, it wouldn’t matter what you call it as long as it’s provided!

I’m not sure if this child has an IEP or 504 plan, but  IEPs can and usually do include both accommodations and modifications (modifications is the “special” in special education). We usually think of 504 plans in terms of accommodations, but nothing prevents a 504 plan from also including modifications.

In any case‚ if you have questions about whether your child is getting the support/services that they need (and they have either an IEP or a 504 plan), evaluation is a great tool for providing clarity and direction.

Janet:  JG, thanks. Anthony has an IEP. My concern about modification verses accommodation is last year I was told that He would not get a diploma. This year I was told he would get a diploma,but there would be a M ( modified) on his transcripts. He is in college prep classes.

JG:  A very valid concern. You *can* request a due process hearing regarding this issue, whether it’s an accommodation or modification. That little M can potentially have a large impact on his future.

You can also contact OCR at the federal Dept of Education about the legality of the M. It generally can only be used if it does not indicate that the modification is due to disability. See here: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-qa-20081017.html


Suzanne: We made a decision as to an accommodation during an IEP meeting and it was not included in the IEP that was printed and sent to me.Whatever do I do????

Jennifer:  As a parent, I would ask for another meeting to clear it up.


Paul:  I have been told by a teacher that in her classes, RSP students who have accommodations can’t get higher than a C grade. I’m told it is because the other students don’t get these accommodations, so a C grade is fair.
I think this is wrong, but can’t find any info to support my view.

Chuck:  I believe that this would be considered discrimination under Section 504 by the Office of Civil Rights who enforces that law.


Tamyron: Son is 9th grade high school student w/ADHD, high function Aspergers- when he was in Middle School & below, accomodation of “provide advance notice of major assignments and tests.” Until now, didn’t realize this needed clarification-teachers always communicated with me, unit calendars always in print or online. Now, in 9th grade, two teachers are stating that the changing nature of their curriculum doesn’t allow for them to create a unit, or even semester, calendar- they say things like, “we write everything on the board, all your son has to do is copy it down.” I have absolutely no way to support, help organize, or even know what he’s studying. Can they refuse to give a class assignment or semester calendar like this?

Chuck:  Tamyron, it is not uncommon for MS & HS teachers to find reasons for not following accommodations. If the campus principal(s) understand the accommodation & agree that it can be implemented, then they could direct the teachers to do so without an ARD/IEP meeting. I would suggest starting with the principal. If that does not help, request an ARD/IEP meeting. I work for the TX Parent Training & Information Project & we can assist you. The main office # is 800-866-4726 & http://www.partnerstx.org/


Shavonne: My austistic son has been denied restroom access on 3 separate occasions which has caused him to urinated on himself in a class of 25+ students. What can I do? How do I not respond with anger and ranting?

Wrightslaw: Shavonne, you write a letter to the Director of Special Ed, copy to the Superintendent, describing what happened at school. {Someone} denied him access to the bathroom. He urinated on himself. He reacted by xxx, yyy, zzz. This needs to be resolved immediately. Please advise when my son will have access to the bathroom as needed.


karyn: My 7 year old son has Sensory Integration Disorder as well as Chronic Lyme disease. He has an ARD in place (we are in Texas) for Speech issues. The common issues associated with Sensory Integration are present and acknowledged in his ARD as well as being frequently tardy to school due to both chronic exhaustion as well as issues with task completion (unless it is hand over hand). 90% of his tardy arrivals involve being less than 5 minutes late. He has had several absences simply due to illness. These are “excused”. The late arrivals are not. The school has filed charges and I have been summoned to court for “failure to attend school”. This is how I discovered that unless his ARD specifically is about the Lyme or SPD then the input/accommodations I always discuss mean nothing. Any similar experiences? Advice?

Chuck: Karyn, I work for the TX federally funded Parent Training & Information Center. We have staff through out the state. You can find the person serving your area at: http://www.partnerstx.org/ or contact me at: cnoe59@hotmail.com You need to provide the judge with information about your son’s condition & anything in the IEP paperwork that relates to his behavior & needs. We can assist you in addressing the tardies with the ARD/IEP team. You can also let the judge know that you will be doing this, since the school is required to address & meet his needs.

Accommodations:  ALLERGY TABLE

Jill:  We have several students with severe food allergies at our school. They carry epi pens to lunch with them. There are designated tables (No Peanut Table, No Dairy Table, etc) Other children may sit there, as long as their lunch does not have the specific food. The teachers at lunch (myself included) specifically check the lunches at these tables to make sure they are safe. (Also-there are about 160 kids at lunch and 2 adults on duty and I work in a K-4 building)
This year, we have had several parents request that their child, with severe food allergies, not sit at the designated tables. They do not want the child to “feel different”. So, if the child sits where they want, at the parents’ request, and has an allergic reaction, who is liable-the parents or the school?

Patty:  Are you certain these parents (that don’t want the kids at the “allergy table” are the parents of the kids with the severe allergies? My child only has intolerance, so I might be inclined to be like one of these moms. If they are severe, moms and kids might benefit by knowing that other kids would be more angry if they couldn’t bring a food because of another child’s allergy.


Susan: My daughter attends a private school and was independently evaluated in 7th grade for ADHD and a math learning disorder. After her evaluation she began taking Vyvance and has received (1 1/2) extended time on tests and PSAT. The school requires re-evaluation every 3 years and she was recently evaluated by the same independent psychologist.

This time the psychologist informed us that because she “did so well” academically and on her evaluation she would probably lose the extended time accommodation. My child cannot finish her math and science tests without the extended time due to her visual processing disability. She is bright and studies hard but cannot work faster. What is the rationale behind denying extended time if she makes good grades (B’s in math and science)? What rights do we have?

K.Ball: Susan, you should explain that the only reason she did so well was because of the extended time. A re-eval should encompass more than just the psych eval, it should also take into consideration parent, teacher and student input.


Mary: I am a Special Education high school teacher who has had three special ed administrators that I have worked under. The first two administrators would not allow the Team and/or special education teacher to add an accommodation at an annual team meeting. However, we could remove an accommodation not used by the student as long as it was agreed upon by the team. We could add accommodations only at a three year reevaluation because the testing would backup any/ all new accommodations. My new administrator states that I can add accommodations at an annual team meeting without three year testing. Is this legal to do? What if I felt a student needed an accommodation that a regular education teacher doesn’t agree with, can a special education administrator over rule this decision? I hope this isn’t too confusing to understand.

Wrightslaw: Mary, maybe I am confused. The student’s needs – based on the strengths and weaknesses in the present levels – drive the IEP. These strengths and weaknesses help the IEP team (the whole team – not just one teacher/administrator) decide on the individualized accommodations that are appropriate for a child. The present levels should be updated every time the IEP team meets. https://www.wrightslaw.com/howey/iep.present.levels.htm

A parent can request their child’s IEP be revised at any time. A parent, teacher, or related services provider may decide that a child’s IEP needs to reviewed/revised early, before the annual review, certainly without waiting 3 years. There are any number of reasons that could trigger a revision of the IEP (including accommodations noted in the IEP). Chapter 11, Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.

You are receiving confusing/conflicting information from administrators, sometimes they just don’t know. As a special ed teacher you need reliable information about the legal requirements for IEPs.

Use these resources.
IEPs at https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/iep.index.htm
Wrightslaw: Special Education Law at https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/selaw2/selaw2.htm, 20 U.S.C. 1414(d), 34.C.F.R. 300.303, 300.320-324.
Wrightslaw: All About IEPs at https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/aaiep/index.htm
Don’t hesitate to use the search box on any Wrightslaw.com page.

Sorry if I have misunderstood your question. If the admin could share the section in the statute / federal regulations about the requirements for adding accommodations only at certain times, maybe it would be clearer to me.


Patricia: My daughter’s 10th grade World Geography teacher posted a 1st semester exam review with 140 questions on his website. I think he should he also be posting a modified exam review (with fewer questions) for those students taking a modified version of the exam. Is there any policy or law that supports my thoughts? I sent him an email asking if he was planning to do so. What should I do if he refuses to do so? Thank you.

K.Ball: Patricia, no the teacher does not need to modify the test only because your child is taking a modified state test. The modifications/accommodations page of your child’s IEP is what would determine whether or not the modified test needs to be provided. Also, remember that the goal of SPED is to get the student’s back to gen ed, not keep them in SPED forever.


Kendra: My ADHD high schooler has an IEP and gets extended time on tests. The teachers give her the tests one page at a time in case she needs to use the extended time. This is embarrassing to her. It really does not seem right to me.

SharonL:  Kendra, my children also got extended time but got the test all at once. In college my son takes his math tests over a 2 day period because of the stress level. It has helped reduce his stress but the test is not delivered one page at at time.
That does sound ridiculous.

Morning:  The first place, if you have not already done so, is sit down with your child and role play a discussion with the teacher about her concerns and suggested ideas. This promotes self advocacy. She must go in with a plan with alternative solutions which are comfortable for her. I know teachers who use the one page at a time but if it is not working for your daughter have her work with the teacher or you can talk to the teacher as long as you have alternatives to bring to the table. Seems like the teacher is trying. Sometimes, it is simply just a conversation.

ASDmom: Send e-mail to teacher that this is embarrassing and causing undue stress/anxiety. Go up the chain of command if needed. Recently dealt with similar issue – teacher ignored request to stop embarrassing child (she knew better) then backpeddled in the end.


Tracy:  My son receives time and a half on all tests as an accommodation in his IEP. He has dyslexia and needs the extra time to successfully show what he knows. He has an above average IQ and does great in math. He is taking the CogAT test to determine if he qualifies for a high ability class next year. Does his school have to give him time and a half on the CogAT since that is an accommodation in his IEP? Or because it’s a high ability test can they chose to not allow any accommodations?

SharonL:  Tracy,  my children got any accommodations that were listed in the IEP on ANY test they took. After all the disability does not go away on certain tests therefore they needed the accommodations on every test.


Shevon:  I am having difficulties with my daughters school. She has an IEP for SLD where she receives services for Reading, Math, and Writing. She should be getting 10 hrs of small group, 5 hrs collab, and 5 hrs support (para). Her Spec ed teacher has been out for the past 3 weeks and she has not received proper accommodations. I have spoken with the gen ed teachers as well as sent a follow-up email to the Spec ed dept chair advising of my concerns. Her grades are reflecting the lack of services and accommodations. I have tried to speak with the teachers and was advised they didn’t have time to follow all accommodations and was not getting the support from the other teachers. What can I do to ensure my daughter gets what she needs to be successful, especially with her being in the fifth grade and preparing for CRCT. Please help!

Sandy:  Have them put in writing that the teachers do not have the time to provide the accommodations, and then file a state complaint for non-implementation of the IEP. Or at least let them know that’s what you intend to do unless IEP services start immediately, with compensatory education time for the time your child lost. Just my advice. Hope it helps!


TJ:  Our daughter is dyslexic, in a public school, with an IEP, doing extremely well. We were very aggressive with the accommodations in her IEP in middle school to ensure we were prepared in advance for her HS transition. She is now 3 weeks into 9th grade and the school is sharing that they feel some of her accommodations are modifications rather than accommodations. I disagree – I spent a lot of time with the middle school counselor that I felt really did work on our behalf to ensure this was all in place. How do I verify the difference between an accommodation that will not hinder her diploma and college entrance chances and modifications that will hurt her in the long run. To provide an example: her IEP says that when spelling is not the focus of the test or quiz, there needs to be a word bank for her to work use for fill in the blanks.

SharonL:  TJ, it sounds like your IEP is right on track. You can request that they put their concerns in writing to make it clearer. Otherwise the IEP will stand until someone makes a change and they cannot do that without your involvement and consent unless they want to go to due process.


Shay:  I am the mother of twin, pre k boys in special education pre k program. The boys have 24/7 nursing services but the school will not allow their nurse to accompany them to school. Do you know of a district in Texas that has allowed this? Looking for the written policies/procedures they may have in place as examples to share at ARD.

Chuck:  Shay, I know that there are schools that allow this, but am not sure which specific schools. I suggest that you go to the Partners Resource Network website (the TX Parent Training & Information Center), http://www.partnerstx.org Find the Regional Coordinator for the Region that you live in. They should be able to help you. Someone in the spec. ed. dept. of the ESC that serves your area might also be able to help you. If you have difficulty getting help, contact me at: cnoe59@hotmail.com & I will try to assist you.


Laura:  If children are on a 504 or IEP is the school required to provide them with meals that meet their dietary restrictions documented by a physician? Both of my girls have several allergies and intolerances and the school is being difficult even though they both qualify for the free lunch program and one is on an IEP and the other is on a 504.

JG:  Laura – the USDA’s regulations regarding the free/reduced meal program requires participating school districts to accommodate the dietary needs of students with disabilities. Schools who do not abide by this can lose their funding.

The USDA issued this guidance to assist school districts with this requirement: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/special_dietary_needs.pdf. Although this document is older, it is still helpful – you may want to forward a copy to the district.

If you continue to have trouble with the district, consider contacting either your state’s Dept of Education or OCR at the federal Dept of Education.


Kathy:  I have a 4-yr old grandson who has 40 hour per week nursing due to G-tube, lung weakness, etc. He has started trying to eat and chokes very frequently. The public school will not allow him to have his nurse with him at school. We are only asking for her to be there shortly before noon to be sure he doesn’t choke during meal time. Is there anything legally that says they must allow him to have his nurse in his special ed class?

Miranda:  Kathy, perhaps your grandson’s doctor could attend an IEP meeting to speak to district personnel about his health, eating, and safety needs.
Also, perhaps the doctor could write a prescription for the nurse to be present. Also, ask district personnel to put in writing their rationale for refusing this service that presents no cost to them and provides a safety measure for your grandson’s well-being.


Rebecca:  My brother has on ongoing informal grievance with his State College for failure to accommodate appropriately, professor error not providing extended time.

He requested that I participate in a meeting with a school official, that is a required part of the process. I am his support person so I would participate by phone, since I live in a different state.

The college refused to allow me to participate by phone. Is there a part of the OCR 504 code that can help me convince them they should allow me to participate? thanks!

Chuck:  Rebecca, I do not believe that Section 504 rules address this. I imagine that the college’s issue is over confidentiality. If your brother gives them a signed consent to allow you to hear information discussed, you should be allowed to do so. If they refuse to agree, your brother should push for a written answer on why they are refusing. Their reasons for refusing could be the basis for a complaint to OCR.

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Janice: My 9 year old son they say is adhd and the school is trying to force me into putting him on meds. I did put him on Concerta for one school year and he ended up with elevated liver enzymes. I will not put him on meds again and what to do when this is all they talk to me about?

Chuck: IDEA regs say that a state “must” prohibit district staff from “requiring parents to obtain a prescription for substances identified under schedules I, II, III, IV, or V in section 202(c) of the
Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C.812(c)) for a child as a condition of attending school, receiving an evaluation …, or receiving services under this part.” 300.174(a) This rule covers ADHD medications & is to address situations like you are dealing with.


Mari:  I’m a regular ed teacher. I have two students that need accommodations for ADHD. In both cases, the parents have been told by physicians that their child has ADHD, but because they didn’t want to medicate, nothing was put in writing. My district refuses to put them on a 504 plan until the parents bring in a written doctor diagnosis. I have been very firm with the Special Ed Director in insisting that it is our job to determine their disability. Meanwhile the year is ticking away and these kids will leave me and be out of my reach. My district would very much like to fire me. Am I right or are they right? My parents are unable to afford a trip to the doctor and I don’t think they should have to. Help!

Morning:  Mari, I want to applaud you for being such a strong advocate for students. I know of many students with ADHD who are not on medication with documentation from their doctors. What can you do for these kids? I would encourage you to educate the parents on how to navigate the school system and refer the parents to state resources to help them. Many parents that I work with have had great success this way. It does not involve money but it does involve an investment of time by a parent or guardian. Once a parent is empowered with information, they can better advocate for their child. Sometimes, parents are the change agents in this type of scenario. I admire your persistence—

Jennifer:  Mari, while I feel your pain, I have never heard of a school being allowed to diagnose ADHD. There surely are some resources that can help these parents obtain the services they need. Teachers can certainly recognize the symptoms, but they cannot diagnose. Willingness or unwillingness to medicate should not stop the diagnosis from happening. Maybe they need a different doctor.

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Patty: I asked the district for review of my Type 1 Diabetic son’s 504 process. Review is conducted and district has offered to meet with me–if I DON’T bring anyone with me. So it will be 3 district reps and just me. I already have had a hard time dealing with the district–never told of 504 plans during 1st year of diagnosis, denied a 504 process when first requested one, some items still not allowed on plan like after school activities. What can I do to get the results of the review–but not go to what I think will be an unfair meeting?

Sharon: Patty, You have every right to bring someone with you to any meeting at the school. Check with the board office on the policy on how to do that. Maybe they want you to have the person sign in or fill out something but there should be a way for people to join you in meetings. If they refuse again ask them to put their refusal in writing. I bet they will not do that. Remember there is an IEP called OHI (other health impaired) IEP. You can get the information from the board office on how to have your child possibly qualify for that. This way your child can be on a real IEP.


Kara:  Where do I find that one page regulations page that Pete advocacy classes to print front and back on cardstock paper to pull out during an IEP meeting?

Wrightslaw:  Kara – sorry you missed Pete, he is out of town for a training conference. Here’s the page he tells his conference attendees to copy. https://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/comment/0.cover.page.pdf It is the cover page for the Federal Regulations. He says to copy this one page on both the front and back of a sheet of heavy card stock. Trim about a 1/4 inch from around the sides of the page so that it fits nicely inside your law book and is always available (it might slip out at the appropriate time).

Links to full Regulations and Commentary can be found here: https://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/law.htm


Kristin:  If anyone can please help me find an advocate that is reasonably priced, or better yet, free, I would GREATLY appreciate your help!

JG:  Kristin – I would suggest that you contact your local parent center: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.

They may keep a list of advocates or attorneys in your area who may work for free or on a sliding scale. They may also be able to point you to other local organizations that can offer assistance.

Wrightslaw:  Kristin – not sure where you’re located. Find your state in the Yellow Pages for Kids and look for an advocate in your area.

Sophie:  Also, you may be able to find someone connected an organization connected with the type of disability. For example, Tourette Syndrome and epilepsy have organizations with advocates.


Karen:  As a teacher, how do I handle a proclaimed advocate who continually sabotages the school’s effort to provide services for students? They are the ultimate loser when the system becomes a target of wrath.

Morning:  Such is also an education for the parents who have hired an advocate who is “over the top and sabotages.” In such cases, the advocate gets paid leaving the parents to deal with a broken relationship with the school district. All adults should focus on the child, regardless!!!!! Hopefully, the parents “wake up” and realizes that wonderful relationships are being broken with a paid advocate who does not understand collaboration. Most advocates do not act like this. In many cases, the parents are “holding the bag.” Parents, know the law for yourself and carefully make it clear to advocates that it is about the child and collaboration. More, the advocate is working for you and sometimes you have to give them their walking papers. I consider such unethical type of behavior.


Wendy: Are there any laws of ethics or regulations against or in favor of a CSE Chairperson also being a paid special education advocate?

Ryan: Wendy, I don’t know about the legal end of it, perhaps wrightslaw can comment on that piece, but I think it is unethical for a CSE chair to be a paid advocate. Getting paid for being a district employee as well as a paid advocate profiting from both sides of the table and using struggling parents cases to help a client who is paying them advocate. Benefiting from being well versed in Education law and knowing exactly what the CSE can and is willing to do for personal gains. Shame on your chairperson. Obviously, this person is not doing it for the the benefit of enabling children with disabilities to have equal access to a free and appropriate education.


Karen: My child is in 3rd grade. He has an IEP. His IEP includes goals to help with creative writing and help with organizational issues. On testing, he appears to have significant learning problems. His short term memory is poor and he does not score well. I am having trouble with the school because they pull his cards for behavior because he is not listening they call it. Maybe it appears like he was, but he was tuned in to something else.

With my older child, they would use her name while they were teaching, and walk by and tap her. Do those things still work? How can I gently talk to the teacher about punishing him for not listening. I don’t feel like she gets him. He does not remember her telling him things. Frustrated.

SharonL: Karen, I had those accommodations put into my son’s IEP. This way the teachers have to do it.


Jen: If you are a paid child advocate for a family, can either the family you’re working with or the school district sue me or threaten a lawsuit if things don’t go their way. Is their a particular type of insurance I need to purchase to protect myself? Thank you in advance

Wrightslaw: Jen – much depends on whether you are a paralegal, what state you live in, if you work under the supervision of an attorney. Suggest you use Google – I did and learned that the right answer is “it depends.”


Jayleen:  I need help finding an advocate that could come to a 504 meeting with me in Kansas City MO.

JG: Jayleen Your local parent center may be able to help you locate a local advocate, or at least point you to another organization that can.

The PTI serving your area is Missouri Parents Act (http://www.ptimpact.org).

jane: Look online for parent advocate in your area. If you have time do your research.
Be a out spoken advocate for your child. Never sign anything until you are 100% sure it is right for your kid.

Sophie: What are the disabilities? I was able to find an advocate through the Tourette Syndrome Association. I found one for a friend through an epilepsy organization.

Wrightslaw: Use the listings in the directory on the Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids to find help in your area / state.  http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com


Lorraine:  Do educational advocates all cost money or are there advocates that attend and help with IEPs at no cost? Money is tight and we are desperate.

JG:  Lorraine‚There are certainly some advocates out there that work for free or, at the very least, on a sliding scale. Your local parent center is a good place to start looking: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.

Some parent centers have advocates on staff that can work directly with you. Others offer training to advocates that includes required pro bono work. Yet others might simply keep a list of advocates (and attorneys) who have worked pro bono in the past, or can point you to other organizations in your state that may be able to help.


Miriam:  The school district refuses to answer the following questions:

1. We want to be explicitly told what the ASL interpreter’s hours of service provision are for our son. What time does she start interpreting for our son and what time does she stop interpreting for him each day during the regular school year?
2. Describe the plan school staff have developed for coverage regarding staff in the classroom when multiple needs arise
3. On only 1 out of the 8 goals in our son’s current IEP rough draft indicates that it will be addressed during ESY. Is that true? Yet, we were led to believe during IEP verbal discussion that ALL goals would be addressed during ESY.
4. Please provide the names of all individuals who will be providing interpreting services for all periods of the day as well as their qualifications.

What should we do?

Sharon L.:  Miriam, if the school refuses anything they MUST send you a prior written notice letter explaining why. In the past when I have reminded them of this sometimes they will get the information we need as they do not want to write things down. Sometimes it was not big deal to write the letter. I have received many PWN letters. It allows you to take the next step to get what your child deserves hopefully more discussion.

Miriam:  Thank you, Sharon, that’s a big help!


Sara:  When do we need a lawyer? The school seems more interested in finding an excuse to kick our son out for his academic failure and truancy than they are in implementing or changing his IEP. I have asked many times to schedule a formal IEP meeting by email not by printed letter. Does this qualify as “in writing”? In any case, they haven’t responded to that request.

Chuck: I suggest that you read & follow the suggestions in today’s blog item. Also learn what the state rules are regarding requests for IEP meetings. In TX schools must agree to requests or ask the state to set up mediation. If you have not done so, send a letter or email to the special ed director. You can ask your state Parent Training & Information Center (PTI) for assistance. This website has a listing of the PTIs for each state.


Aimee: I was told I need to get an advocate to help me with my sons school. I was just diagnosed with cancer and I am not able to handle all the stress anymore. Do you know where I could get a list of advocates in my area?

Wrightslaw: Aimee: Check the Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids in your state to find help in your area. http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com/

Today we published an issue of the Special Ed Advocate about the Yellow Pages for Kids. https://www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/14/nl.0527yp.htm

Are you on our mailing list? You may want to subscribe to receive a free, weekly newsletter on special topics, alerts, caselaw, legislation, and special offers. https://www.wrightslaw.com/subscribe.htm


Peggy:  How can a school support a child whose parents have teamed with an advocate who is not following any of your guidelines for a positive advocate/school relationship? This advocate started calling the district office asking for information about the student. We had no release from the parent and did not know who this person was. Her requests were unclear. The district office contacted the school and suggested we call the advocate. I contacted the parents and sent them a release. The advocate has misstated laws to the parents and told them not to talk to us. We set up requested meetings and she cancelled the first two at the last minute for personal reasons. She is requesting an IEE before testing began. Now she is requesting a full eval knowing that school is out in a few days. We said yes. How do we get a win-win here?

Morning: I am speaking from several reference points–as a parent who hired a advocate for six months and as a parent who has attended PPTs with parents to offer support.
1. I hired an advocate because my child’s rights were violated under IDEA. Instead of hiring lawyer and making a complaint to the state, we chose to collaborate with school system. It was a great success. I wish I did not have to hire, but some school districs aren’t following IDEA and they know it. Parents feel bamboozled.
What you can do? Follow the IEP, IDEA, etc. and ensure that the staff is implementing services with fidelity. Make sure that the child is happy at school. Think about why the parent hired the advocate. Sometimes, it is a teacher who refuses to accommodate, no progress, failed FAPE, etc.


Allie: I would like to participate in a particular student’s ARD/IEP meeting. I have to administer meds to this student and provide additional services on a daily basis. The school diagnostician has told me “the district is your priority” and not suggest any services that may help the child. The diagnostician has also told me that it is a violation of FERPA for me to attend the ARD meetings, except for 2-3 minutes at the beginning. Is this fact? or am I being strong-armed to save the school money?

Chuck: Since you address needs of the child, you have a right to attend the meeting. I am not aware of why it would be a violation of FERPA for you to attend for all or most of the meeting. You can ask where in district policies or FERPA rules that it addresses what you were told. TX rules say that school nurses are to develop health plans for all children & to present it at an IEP/ARD meeting for those with a disability. I work for the TX federally funded PTI & can provide you with additional info, cnoe59@hotmail.com

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Paula:  Obtaining services for my 8 yr old son diagnosed w/ PDD post chemo treatment 5 yrs ago was a nightmare. I have had to armor myself w/ facts prior to each mtg & this yrs mtg is this Wed. I am thinking of having him placed FROM a sp ed rm w/ 4 staff to an inclussion class. His biggest challenge to date are social/emotional. That being said, he will not benefit from this move w/out a 1:1 aid. How do I request this move & justify the 1:1? I was told the school only provides a 1:1 when it is a safety concern. He is not a runner but when in the halls & if a fire alarm went off he would not know what to do. He would panic & instinctively run to his familiar class rm. & not the nearest exit. He is hyper sensative when things go “wrong” in his mind & has trouble focusing on tasks w/out help. Does he qualify for a 1:1 in an inclusion class?

Chuck:  On the Wrightslaw home page do a search for “One to One Aide” and you will find an article on this by Wayne Steedman.


Jaim: Hello, my son is in a self-contained kindergarten class and we signed him up for after school care with a one on one aide provided in September. This is in his IEP but no time restrictions are written. He has been staying until 4:30-5 pm and now I notified the teacher over 2 weeks ago that we need until 5:30 pm since I finally found a full time job. I have verbally and written in emails said I would need it until 5:30 pm once I found a full time job. Yesterday I get an email from the program’s director that they can’t provide after care after 4:30 pm. Can they do this? Now also concerned they will take out of IEP for next school year. If I didn’t need to work full time, I wouldn’t! We pay for the after-care (same fee as all the other kids).

Chuck: If they are serving other students after 4:30 p.m., then this could be an issue of discrimination. Discussing this with the sp ed office might be more productive than dealing with the campus. If this service is provided by another agency & not the school district, then you need to deal with that agency also.

Sophie: Jaim, I don’t know about the legal side of this ‚ but have you considered finding family day care instead, or having someone care for your child after school in your home? A good, compassionate caregiver is worth her weight in gold.

For your other question: even if they succeed in declassifying your son for next year, he will still be entitled to extra help for, I think, three more years. However, it would make more sense, if they think his needs are significantly less than they were originally, to decrease the one-on-one hours gradually, monitoring his levels of performance during that process. Your son can have an IEP even if he doesn’t have an aide.


Kathy:  At a CSE Annual meeting, if it was determined a student must have a 1 on 1 TA, must this be shown on student’s IEP?

JG:  Kathy – Nothing prevents the district from providing supports that are not listed on the IEP. But nothing prevents the district from NOT providing supports that are not listed on the IEP.

If a support is listed on the IEP, then the student has a right to receive it (and options for compliance if they do not). If a support is not listed on the IEP, then the student does not have those rights and options.


Veronica:  Can a paraprofessional be assigned to replace the Special Education teacher when the teacher must attend meetings (partial day) or when the teacher is out sick (full day)? Or should a credentialed substitute teacher be assigned to cover for the Special Education teacher? If someone knows and/or can point me to the Education Code that addresses this I’d appreciate it.

CHuck:  The answer would depend on the state education code & district policy. Your state parent training & information center should be able to assist you.


John: A new teacher’s aide accidentally caused an injury to two special needs students on two separate occasions in their P.E class. The incidents were investigated but, we never heard the outcome of it. The aide continued to behave recklessly in P.E class. This continued behavior was reported to the principal by another person in the school who saw the teacher present in the gym (on the 2 injuries she was not there) while the aide was playing recklessly with the students and the teacher did nothing to correct her aide.

Marita: It’s doubtful that the sped teacher could be held responsible. In my district, aides are assigned according to seniority- and they receive zero training. This is on the district, not the sped teacher. However, if the aide works with the children without the supervision of the teacher, and that was not approved by the special education supervisor, then the sped teacher bears some responsibility.

Lack of training is against the law, but is never addressed. It should be! In California the Ed Dept. allows aides to work alone with students in separate locations, sometimes miles apart from the supervising sped teacher. Why we allow untrained people to be alone with students is far beyond my understanding but it is common.

John: To add some info…The P.E class is supervised by a gen ed P.E teacher. The sped teacher is usually not present. The first incident happened when the aide accidently threw a ball hitting the student on the head and caused her to have a seizure. The parents were notified of the seizure, but the aide did not mention the ball part. It was discovered by the parents a month later from a gen ed student that witnessed it. The aide never denied it.

One day the sped teacher was in the gym while reckless behavior continued and did nothing. There is proof of the sped teacher being there this time. Although no one was injured, is that a reason to believe the students safety was being neglected by the sped teacher?


Tom:  My wife and I have a 10 year old child who is autistic. He is often non-compliant and aggressive, especially when things are asked of him. He is in a functional skills classroom. During the first half of last year, there were six kids in his class and he did well. The last half of the year, the class size doubled and his behavior became very negative and he hit and scratched several students and teachers. We requested one on one with in aid, but this request was denied. We are fearful that the school district is going to propose sending him home and sending a teacher by the house a couple of hours every day in order to discharge their educational obligations. Can they do this? Any thoughts on how we should proceed?

JG: When was your son last evaluated? An aide would be a major change to his program, and such changes should be backed up by evidence. Evaluation is one of the best ways to create that evidence.

I would suggest either requesting an evaluation from the school or arranging for an independent evaluation. You mention behavior and the ‚”fit” of his classroom as problem areas, so you would want these evaluation to target these. You may also want to ask that your child’s communication skills be assessed (including the potential use of AAC/AT), as problem behavior often results from lack of means to communicate.

With evaluation results in hand, it’s much easier to make the case for what your son needs, be it an aide or some other support.


Stephanie:  Hello! I think my son will need one on one support to begin Kindergarten. Is it his right to have it? Thank you, Stephanie

Chuck:  A child with a disability has a right to have their needs addressed/met. This may include 1-1 assistance for some. Wrightslaw has good articles on this. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/relsvc.index.htm & https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?tag=related-services are two. You can google 1-1 aide on the homepage to find more.


Matt: Must aides in special education classroom have spceific qualifications? In Ohio, have grandson with autism.

Wrightslaw: Check your state education and special ed regulations – the requirements vary from state to state As a general rule, aides are not required to be trained or certified. Paraprofessionals who assist in Title 1 programs must complete two years of college or pass a test. The test should assess their ability to help classroom teachers in reading, writing and math instruction. See more at: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/nclb.parent.guide.heath.htm


Jaime: Any suggestions on how an afterschool program (which is run by the school and we pay a tuition for) be handled if child needs a 1:1 for his safety? It is in my son’s current IEP, but the school does not want to put it in for next school year since it’s technically not educational.He has a 1:1 during school due to history with elopement and for redirection. The school plans on changing the structure of the afterschool program, but I still feel that for his safety, my son will need a 1:1. Thanks

Chuck: Is the school wanting to take out this service for just the after school program or for his entire day? If he gets this service during the school day, it would be hard for them to deny it under the IDEA rules for extracurricular, nonacademic services. Supplementary aids & services do not have to be “educational”.

Jaime: They want to take it out during the afterschool program only. He will still have a 1:1 during the school day. Which is just plain silly to me. If he needs a 1:1 during the day, why wouldn’t he during an afterschool program!!?!?

Chuck: You can challenge this through the district complaint process, & IDEA, state dispute resolution processes: mediation, state complaint or due process hearing.

Jaime: Thanks. We did file for mediation but have not had the meeting yet. We will next week.

JG: Jaime – What information did the Team use to determine that your son no longer needs the 1-1 during the after school program? Did they conduct an evaluation? Major changes to the IEP should never be made without evidence (i.e. evaluations) to support the changes.

If no evaluation was conducted, I would suggest asking that they assess his safety during the program before removing the aide.

And do make sure to assert your child’s “stay put” rights, clearly and in writing, while you resolve this.

I do not know what state you are in, but many states also have guidance for school districts on the use of 1-1 aides. Try to find if your state does, as it may help you with your dispute.


Eve: My health insurance provided behavior therapy at home and at school. The therapist is his one to one at school, as well. However, the school is not allowing her in the school. But they won’t provide the service. Is this allowed since I’m paying for the aba services?

Wrightslaw: His need for a one-to-one therapist should be included in his IEP – that would help. If not in the IEP, the school is not required to provide and/or allow.

Have you written to the principal / special ed director to describe the problem and ask why the school is refusing to allow the therapist into school? When you do write, be sure to include info about how not having this therapy at school will harm your child. Having experts address this issue is more powerful than your opinion.


Akt: My best friend’s son has Aspergers and ADHD. she is pulling him out of special ed and transferring him to regular classroom.Based on his diagnosis, Can he get an aide?
Please help.

Wrightslaw: An aide is a “related service” under IDEA. The answer depends on whether he *needs* an aide, not his disability category.


Pamela: I am an sdc aide. I was just told that I would be working one-to-one with a student in a secluded room (small sensory room) for the whole school day with no supervision. I am confused. I thought instructional aides must always be supervised when with students. When I brought it up I was told it was okay as long as I am not instructing the student.

Sophie: I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to your specific question, but I wanted to bring up a troublesome aspect of this — where’s the education in this? Where’s the inclusion?

Could you check the student’s IEP to see what level of inclusion s/he is supposed to have?

Could you check what District and state policy are about time-out rooms and aversive interventions? My district’s policy (which mirrors state regulations) says, “A time out room is an area for a student to safely deescalate, regain control and prepare to meet expectations to return to his or her education program. Time out rooms are to be used only in conjunction with a behavioral intervention plan, in accordance with a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).”

Also — at my son’s school, only a certified occupational therapist may take a child to the sensory room. It’s a safety thing. There’s a ball pool and a special swing.


Denise: My 7yr 2nd grader with Speech & ADHD son was suspended from the bus because of his behaviors… I requested a Behavioral specialist to help with his “non-structured time” behaviors since the team was wanting me to go to the bus barn for bus behaviors. I want to request a temporary para but not sure of his rights. He has rode the bus Kinder & 1st grades w/out been suspended & I do not want him on the specials bus…

Sophie:  I’m afraid I don’t know the legalities for a para on the bus, but I’ll try to contribute something here. What I have noticed is that the bus is the LAST place PBIS gets applied. My son was getting very discouraged because he felt that the driver was picking on him (and a friend of his, who is pretty objective, told me a few observations, things he had noticed on the bus, that seemed to give some confirmation of that). At the same time, I had no doubt that the driver was ready to tear her hair out. It was just not a good situation. I asked to meet with her and the director of transportation. Funnily enough, we ended up meeting in the driver’s bus, between runs, and I think this was helpful — they felt more comfortable there than in an office or a classroom! One thing that made the conversation difficult was that in the meeting, she swept all the problems under the rug for most of the meeting. I had to work pretty hard to draw her out and get a little bit of honesty from her — but that was important. We had to have some problems on the table in order to be able to brainstorm some things that might help. The other thing that was extremely frustrating for me was that she immediately nixed EVERY SINGLE IDEA I brought up. The best I could get was the agreement that on a day my son behaved well, she would give him a good behavior slip of paper to bring home, and she agreed to have someone in the office notify me by phone if there was a problem with his behavior. This was very important to me, because what had been happening was that she would just get more and more negative in her interactions with my son, instead of telling someone there was a problem. Maybe it was her pride as a veteran driver. Anyway, at least they were able to see that there was a loving, devoted family behind the annoying kid. (He has Tourette Syndrome and ADHD.)

These two things helped. I didn’t get everything I was hoping for, but the two things were enough to get through a few months. (Who knows what the warmer weather will bring….)

Good luck — sorry I don’t know about your para idea.


Elisabeth: I believe my student’s case manager has certification for special education – will double check that; however I am certain that the para educators have no qualifications or certifications to teaching my special ed student. These instructional assistants teach my student during the entire school day. Can a student on an IEP receive all their instruction by non-certified/licensed personnel?

Chuck: The NCLB law sets qualifications for paraprofessionals. States typically have state rules that they encorporate with the federal rules. Paraprofessionals working with students should be operating under the direction of certified teachers. The rules may also say that they can not introduce or teach new material or skills, just reinforce material introduced or taught by the teacher.
Check your state education website and/or check with your state parent training & information center for the rules in your state.

Wrightslaw: Elisabeth, this article by Sue Whitney should help. What IDEA 2004 says about Paraprofessionals at https://www.wrightslaw.com/heath/parapro.qual.htm

Elisabeth: Dear Chuck and Wrightslaw, thanks for your response to my recent question. After looking at my student’s school schedule, it appears that all of his learning is done with various para educators and only his speech/communication time is with an SLPA. None of his day is spent with an actual teacher. I will share my new knowledge about qualifications for Para Educators and also share my concerns that none of his time at school is spent with a special education teacher. Many thanks


Rebecca: Can you comment on what questions should be asked by parents of a female student, when the parapro is male? Parents want to make sure that the female student remains safe and that her modesty is protected.

Wrightslaw: Rebecca, you should read Pat Howey’s article on Male Aides for Female Students. Not sure of the details about the specific female student, but this article will provide some talking points for the parents. You will see how creating sensible goals, objectives, and benchmarks in the IEP can help the parent/school team focus on specific concerns and address practical issues, including modesty and safety.  https://www.wrightslaw.com/howey/malepara.hygiene.htm


Kim J: Yesterday, my daughter was sent home from school because her PCA couldnt be there. She’s not very hard to manage at all, she follows directions. But they still told me I had to pick her up when her PCA had to leave. This is a private preschool that we pay tuition for. Its upsetting to me.

Morning: Is there another PCA available for your daughter at the school? Do they have substitute PCAs. If not, staff may not be comfortable or not enough staff to service your child. It is a private pre-school and sometimes they have workers out of high school. Depending on the needs of your daughter, I would ask some questions so this does not happen again and collaborate with them on a back-up plan. Remember you want someone working with your daughter who is willing and competent. Do not force the private school to do a service if they do not have a back-up staff member who is willing. This is a great time to discuss options and how the much the school is committed to serving your child. It is too bad that such was not made clear by the school before this incident.

Mari: Dear Kim J, as usual, Wrightslaw has a great post concerning the topic:
https://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/ltrs/kids_sent_home.htm. Although it is true that you cannot expect the school to have all the answers when they are short-staffed, it is also true that no school, public or private, may discriminate against a child because they are disabled. Essentially, they said, “Sorry, we can’t accommodate you today.” That’s not okay.

You are well within your rights to say, “Okay, you were caught off-guard once. But now that you realize that your staff member may not always be there, we would really appreciate a back-up plan.” Be sure that they understand that “really appreciate” does not mean optional. Education is not optional.

Morning: Mari, thanks for the additional feedback. As a former paraprofessional myself, parents should always advocate for a trained staff members to work with the specific needs of their children. I caution parents to press this issue as not just any para or PCA can work with a child with special needs unless they are trained, I have seen far too many instances of staff not being fully trained or not even having a desire to work with certain students. The label of para or PCA may or may not qualify that person to work with your child. Ask the tough questions and research the Wrightslaw’s website to truly get a sense of how parents and advocates work through this situation. There are many ways to navigate this and inform the school that you know your rights.


gurdy:  I live in Ohio and my son has an IEP. In the IEP he has a one to one aide. I’ve learned that they are sharing his aide with another student and the aide told my son that she can no longer help him because she is this other child’s aide. We have not had a meeting to get rid of the aide. Can they share his aide and not allow her to help my child who she was originally hired for?
My son has a field trip coming up and I was told that his father or myself had to go on the field trip because his aide will not be able to be with him because she will be in charge of giving medications out to the children for that day who take them during school hours. His father and I may not be able to go with our son. Can they not provide my son an aide and deny him the right to go on the field trip?

SharonL:  gurdy, be sure to check the exact wording in the IEP. Sometimes it sounds one way & can be looked at other ways. I am also in Ohio & I normally get a DRAFT copy of the IEP before the meeting & after just to be sure it reads exactly like I think it should. One time I thought my son was supposed to have a 1:1 aide but it really was not written that way. We reconvened theIEP meeting & had it changed. If you have checked the IEP & it really says 1:1 aide they cannot do what they are doing so you will have to meet with them to discuss & take necessary steps to get it accomplished if necessary.

Morning:  From what I have been told, some school do not include 1-1aides on IEPs due to budget issues,, etc. I worked as an aide for two students who had 1-1aides listed on their IEPs. The parents were never informed. The poor classroom teacher hand’s were tied and we made due to the end of the year. I would advise parents to stress the indivdual needs of the child in order to justify having an aide as opposed to “my child needs a 1-1 aide.” I do believe that the kids I worked with needed their own aides but the parents did not have a clue. Their programs were not being fully implemented. You may want to review with staff on how his IEP program is being implemented with fidelity with or without an aide. Aides have to be careful as they can lose their jobs or be put in difficult situations.

Yve: I am commenting on the portion of your inquiry that asks about your child wanting to attend an activity but cannot. Your child’s school must provide FAPE, so anything the general population is getting is what should be offered to your child. If your child needs support off-campus, especially for an event during school hours with educational benefit, it is their responsibility to provide the support, not yours. They also cannot require you attend unless they have asked the same of the other students. See Wrightslaw Special Ed Law 2nd Edition, look up FAPE and extra-curricular activities.


Katherine:  The school is saying it is fine to have a paraprofessional provide direct 1:1 IEP mandated time. They even quoted IDEA from 1997 as the reasoning. We are not a Title 1 school. The original goal of the 1:1 time was to build foundational skills not review skills which is what the paraprofessional is doing. Can they use a paraprofessional for 1:1 direct instruction and how do I determine if the paraprofessional is certified or just an instructional assistant?

Wrightslaw:  Katherine, use the information in the following links about paraprofessionals in NCLB and IDEA to find answers to your question.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) includes requirements about the education, training and duties of paraprofessionals.


Jennifer:  I am a mom of a 12 year old daughter who has high functioning autism. She’s verbal. We live in MN. I have a problem with her bus company, MTI bus company. They have been placing a male para on the bus with her on her special needs bus. I am Not OK with this. Is there anything I can do to fight this? They state that they can’t make any special rules for us. I want to fight this!! Please held me with this issue, thank you!!

Morning: I understand your concern. I am also a mother. I was a para and male paras were few and far between and much more needed and still not enough in the field. Has he done anything to your daughter that would warrant suspicion? Is your daughter also on a bus with behavioral students? If so, a para (male or female) is very helpful. I have seen many behavioral students on the bus also with students like your daughter. My bigger concern was the behaviors of those students with other students. I saw kids from behavior disorder classroom on the same bus with non verbal kids. I was always concerned with student to student behavior. A para was helpful and an extra set of eyes. If this helps, remember–there are two adults on the bus. The driver and the para.


Lisa: I have been a one on one paraprofessional for the same child for three years now. She has Down Syndrome and requires a one on one. I was told recently that I now have to be a one one one with another student in the same class. So now I have two students with different disabilities that I am responsible for. If it’s in their IEP that they need a one on one how can I be shared? If the parents aren’t aware of this how do I or do I say anything? Thank you

MORNING: “Hear nothing, see nothing and say nothing.” I was para at several schools in the same district. The last school where I worked I was a 1-1 for TWO and sometimes THREE disabled students who not only needed a lot of 1-1 care but they were only in kindergarten. I had to sometimes ignore the needs of one to take care of another. The teacher wanted me to inform the parents secretly as the teacher was so upset about the matter. The teacher did go to the principal as their individuals IEP stated 1-1. The district was not sending anymore paras to the school. So, what do you do? Lose your job for speaking up? Do you struggle all day to take care of kids who need so much more than one person can handle? I quit, for other reasons, but I am so glad that I quit. Parents must open their eyes.

Pam Wright: Morning is right. Parents must open their eyes. After a child is found eligible for special ed services, parents often breathe a sigh of relief. They assume experts will handle their child’s problems so they turn their attention to other things. This is often a big mistake.

As a parent, you represent your child’s interests. You cannot leave this job to others.

If you pay attention to what is happening at school, you’ll know if your child’s special ed program is not being implemented and take steps to remedy the problem quickly.


Paula:  Our daughter is being transitioned to a new school. What type of wording or phrasing can we use to emphasize the importance of her current para moving with her. She is mostly nonverbal and we are fearful of her moving to the new school with no one familiar with her and her communication methods. Transitions are so challenging for her and we feel like this consistency of staff is the only crutch they can provide to help ease the difficulty. No one in the new school will know her at all.

SharonL: Paula, transition is critical. It would be great if they can keep the same person however I am not sure they are legally obligated to do so. If they will not keep the same Para perhaps a transition can begin from one para to a new one well in advance of the move so your daughter can adjust to a new person before the move. I know this may be tough but what if the para got ill or moved you would be in the same situation. At least get the school to agree to some kind of transition. That is a must.


Lee:  I’m an “Instructional Assistant” for an NJ district. I have K-5 and TSWD certification, but my contract stipulates I do not work under certification. I assist a classroom teacher to carry out the IEPs of 4-6 classified students, and supervise students during lunch/recess.
My concern: All assistants’ hours were cut from 32 hrs/wk to 28 hrs/wk so we are not eligible health ins.benefits, As we are required to do lunch duty, this takes us out of the classroom for 45 minutes of the students’ instructional time. Previously, we had a 30-minute paid break, but most of us rarely use this due to the many different needs of the students. Can a district that uses Federal special education funding use instructional assistants for lunch duty at the expense of academic time – and ensure that we are not eligible for health insurance benefits?

Sophie:  Lee, the part of your question dealing with cut hours is not something I can address. As a special education administrator in the Midwest, when I found out a paraprofessional was being pulled out of instructional duties, I always called the principal to ask which regular education salary fund they wanted to use to fund their 1/8th (or whatever part of the day) to pay the aide. Every single principal decided to return the paraprofessional to their instructional duties. Sorry I can’t be of any other help.


Theodore: If a public school has an afterschool activity held on school property such as a sport, learning how to play an instrument…then is the child with the shadow/all day (required by her IEP) to be provided a shadow/assistant to be with them for the school sponsored and paid for afterschool activity or activities. Is there a law that requires the school to provide the shadow/assistant?

Chuck: I believe that 300.107 (Nonacademic services) of the IDEA regulations addresses your question.

Wrightslaw: Theodore, DOE Guidance on Legal Obligations for Extracurricular Activities and other articles that you should read.
IEP Pop-Up Question 9. What about extracurricular activities in the IEP?


Patty:  My son is receiving a temporary para at school. We are pushing for shared para for him. They are testing the waters … So to speak. They will gather the data and let us know if para is really needed. I sent a note to have para contact me since I have no idea who this person is. I simply wanted to tell her more about my son’s issues.
I was informed by vice principal that goes against district policy. Is this the norm?

Sophie:  Patty, I don’t know, but I’ve had this problem too. I recommend that you make an appointment to observe your child in his classroom, and see if an opportunity presents itself for you to speak briefly with the para. Maybe you could give her your card with a note such as “it was such a pleasure to see how you work with my child. Could you give me a call sometime this week, please?” and then just hope she doesn’t give the card to the principal….

You can also try to arrange for an in-service (training for staff working with your son). Even if it’s only for an hour, staff can benefit a lot. Talk with the trainer ahead of time to alert him/her to your son’s particular situation and then the trainer can tailor the workshop to your son’s particularities.

Morning: I was a para for a few years. I had a sincere parent approach me several times about her child as I was the 1-1 for that child. The parent was sincerely concerned but inappropriate. My job as a para was to work with the supervising staff (teacher, counselor, special education staff, etc). Parental concerns and issues should go through the right channels. Many paras I know have felt harassed by parents. We care about students and want to see them make progress. The school administration had to set some guidelines for that parent as that parent’s behaviors were distracting. I understood the parent’s concerns but paras report to the staff not the parents and crossing that line is not good. It puts the para in a compromising position.

Lauren:  Patty- it can be a problem for Special Ed teachers when the parents and paras are communicating without the teacher, as the teacher has to document concerns, establish expectations for the para, etc. However, it seems reasonable to ask to meet with the para and teacher/admin together. Or, at least, to be able to supply the para with written information about your son that may to be a part of his IEP/formal records.


Krista: School is offering a shared aide but I want them to specify the aide won’t be shared with more then 3 kids including my son while in the classroom. School says “they don’t put that in iep’s” Has anyone dealt with this before?

Chuck: Decisions like this are to be based on the child’s needs. The decision needs to be clearly written in the IEP so that anyone can understand the needs to be addressed. If there are specific times and situations when the aide needs to be available that needs to be stated. The issue is not how many students the aide is working with, but do they have the time & training/skills to address the child’s needs appropriately.

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Tiffany: I am an advocate. I am working with a family, the child is non-verbal and school is using an augmentative communication device at school. The parents requested the device be sent home, the school agreed to send it home and it was written in the IEP. The school is now requiring the parent to sign a waiver before the device can go home stating that they take full financial responsibility if anything happens to the device once it leaves the school building? Is this legal?

Chuck: Recently a court ruled that it is legal for a school to do this. Whether this ruling applies to all areas of the country, I do not know. School attorneys will certainly argue that it does.

Assistive Technology:  NEED ASSISTIVE TECH (AT) GOALS

Denise:  I want to make sure that my student with quadriplegic CP receives the AT he needs to meet his goals, as he has not received any AT in the past. Do I need to add a statement to each goal stating that “the student will need AT appropriate to his needs to help him work on this goal”?

Chuck:  Denise, IDEA regs say schools “must ensure that assistive technology devices or services, or both..are made available to a child with a disability if required…” 300.105 After reading the complete section, I suggest a written request for an IEP meeting to discuss your child’s needs for AT devices & services in order to receive FAPE.


Kim:  My 9 yo 3rd grade son has an IEP for ADHD and Autism. Primary goals involve a severe deficit in executive functioning skills, focus and attention. Several county schools were involved in a pilot program last year for neuroscience (brain training) software to help with these issues. The county has since approved the program for use throughout the county.

I have done a fair amount of research and believe the software could be life-changing for our son. Upon inquiring about the program to our son’s school I am told they “currently have no plan to implement the software program.”

Could such software fall under “assistive technology”? (Code reference?) Is there any other WL section (or other means) which could be used to attain such software for my son’s use?

Many thanks!
Frustrated in VA

Sophie:  Kim, I’m not an expert, but I think the answer is yes, the software could be considered AT. Has your son had an AT evaluation?

You may be able to get a copy of the software free of charge from the publisher, by describing your son’s needs. It can’t hurt to try.

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Supermommy:  I have a few concerns: 1) the district has their compliance officer (a lawyer) attend the IEP meetings. I have never had a lawyer and feel that her presence is to intimidate the team into not making the proper decisions for my 5 year old w/ ASD. Can they legally have her attend? Can I request her not to be there, and if so, will they comply? 2) It was in the IEP that toileting should have been done in the summer program. It was not. I have not been told why, as no one seems to want to take responsibility. My son was toileted at home in the summer and made progress. He began to lose this skill at school because of no one working with him. After 3 months, they are beginning to work with him, but nothing is in the iEP. His 3 year is in Jan. 2012. Thanks for your help!!!!!

Mindy: Dear Supermommy, I was an aide who worked with kids and toilet traing. First, it takes a 1-1 aide assigned to that student as toilet training may involve, initially, several trips to the bathroom in one day. Also, I, for the documentation requested but the parent, documented the successes and the misses. It took time and my 1-1 focus with that child and not serving as a classroom para. The OT was very helpful. The best approach to this may be is to ask the team how can you support their efforts in consistent toilet training and bring a data sheet to give them guidance for documentation. My focus was to insure the success of the child.

Supermommy: Thanks for your reply, Mindy, very helpful info. I have just met with the super and sped director regarding this and other issues. If anyone can address my other concern re: the lawyer’s presence at IEP meetings, I would sincerely appreciate it.

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Wendy:  I went to my 9 yr. olds school today, to pick her up. I was outside her computer class when i saw her on the floor with her aide standing near her. She was in a time out for throwing her headset instead of placing them on the table. Hayley is cog. impaired, VI and autistic. This floor was hard, DIRTY from kids walking all over it all day. There was carpeting in 3/4 of the classroom, Hayley was put on the hard floor. I watched, didn’t say anything but asked the aide to please wash Hayley’s hands after being on a dirty floor. This is so upsetting. Time outs are listed in her behavioral plan. I have no problem with the time outs, I have a problem with her being degraded to sit on a dirty floor, while the other students were at the computers. Please advise me what I can do to remedy this. Thank you.

Morning:  I would call a PPT and put your request in writing. I would also document your observations to the teacher, principal and special education supervisor. You need to know what time out is and what will it look like for your child? Is she sitting in a desk for time-out? Is she ever put in time-out during lunch –if so what does that look like? The PPT meeting should create better clarification on this matter. What are the laws in your state concerning restraint and seclusion? I would bring someone into that PPT meeting with you as the district needs to explain the parafrofessional’s actions as it creates liability for the district. Since there is a behavioral component, is data being collected to figure out the antecedents to her behavior and a plan for consequences and positive behavior support?


Judith: I have a 7 year old grand-daughter who is not complying with teachers or parent. She seems to be able to learn what she wants, but not what she needs. Songs, shows, yes. Not bookwork, reading writing, math. She acts as if she does not know what is going on. As her grandmother I am very hurt and confused and don’t know what to do or where to turn. The school does not seem to want to help us.

Sophie: Judith, I am going to respond in a human way, not in a legal way.

First, have a conversation with her pediatrician about your concerns.

Second, consider that every child develops in different areas according to his or her own pace. At 7, she might be at the tail end of the bell curve of what is normal. Sometimes schools push their intellectual expectations too aggressively in the early grades, and don’t take an individual’s natural timeline into consideration.

Third, if you can find fun ways of incorporating into your play time with her some of the basic skills she will need to succeed academically, you’ll be laying important groundwork and establishing rapport and trust. Examples: count by three’s while playing a jumping game. Learn fractions in a cooking project.


Susie: Can I have my own private neuropsych go into my child’s classroom to do a formal FBA and BIP? I’m in NY and unfamiliar with the law.

Sophie: Susie, I believe the answer is yes.

You could try calling your SEQA Regional Associate: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/contactseqa.htm


Jean:  My grandson has been diagnosis with PTSD, depression, ADHD, ODD and anxiety. He is on a 504 plan. We were just told that they are going to let him go to the library twice a week for 30 minutes each time. He can get time add if he behaves at the library with ateacher. He has been on medication and seeing a conselor 5 times week. They will not give him a chance in school to see if his behavior is better. They tell tell us t&at behavior comes before education. My grandson is very smart does get good grades. We welcome any advice. Thank you.

JG: Under Section 504, your grandson is entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). If his disability is impacting his ability to receive FAPE, the school needs to provide appropriate supports to remedy that.

I suggest asking the school to complete a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). The FBA is a process that identifies the cause of behaviors and the interventions that will help reduce or prevent them. The FBA process and resulting Behavior Intervention Plan should be updated if interventions prove ineffective or new behaviors arise.

If the level of supports/services the school is willing to offer through the 504 plan proves inadequate to meet his needs, you can request an evaluation for special education eligibility.

Chuck: This appears to be a violation of Section 504 & the Americans with Disabilities Act. The district should have a 504 coordinator who may be able to help get appropriate services provided. If not, a complaint could be made to the Office of Civil Rights who enforce Section 504.


Latisha:  How would you deal with an elementary school that doesn’t want to do a section 504 on a child at the parent(s) request? That school would rather send a child with behavior problems to an alternative school. The school my daughter is in knows she has behavior problems and doesn’t seem to want to help her have a productive year.

Sandy:  Latisha, your child has the right to be educated in the LRE (least restrictive environment). That is usually the home school unless EVEN WITH appropriate supports this cannot be done. Your school must try to help her in the home school first. Request in writing a special education evaluation (under IDEA and 504), include consent for them to begin the evals (complete their consent form ASAP if they require you to), and then the school timeline to evaluate begins (usually 60 days or 60 school days, depending on state). You can learn more about LRE on Wrightslaw or through your state resources – good luck.


Meisha:  Need help with a 5 yr old ADHD child. My son has had several write ups. He has also been put out of school and had in school suspension. He is on medication but he’s still being bad. What else can I do?

Chuck:  If your child is not currently receiving special ed services, you can make a written request for testing. A 5 year old being put out of school & in in-school suspension should be a red flag for the school that they need to be doing more for him. You can request that a functional behavior assessment (FBA) be part of the testing. You can read on this website about FBAs & behavior improvement plans.

Jennifer:  I found the Wrightslaw website by stumbling onto this article. I routinely share it with parents.



Linda:  Can schools say other students are scared of your child and use this as a reason to remove child from school? It’s Middle School, other kids know my child very well since she has always been in Gen Ed. Why are they scared now? We think it an excuse to remove her and try to put her in a special program. Any one deal with this?

JG:  Linda ‚ A student’s IEP Team can determine a more restrictive placement only when the severity of the student’s disability prevents the student from being successful in the general education environment [see  300.114 – 300.117].

If your daughter has always been in general education environment, and she was previously successful in that environment, the school should endeavor to keep her there.

The question for the Team to ask is‚ “are there any services or supports that could help her successfully remain in the general education environment?” If the answer is “yes,” then that service/support should be implemented. If the answer is “don’t know” then the Team should evaluate.

If the Team decides in the end to move her to another environment, you do have options to dispute this. You can request mediation or a due process hearing. Other options may also be available, depending on where you live.

If you live in a state with strong parental consent protections, you may even be able to prevent a change of placement. Connect with your local parent center to find out about dispute resolution options, as well as any rights and protections you may have: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.

I encourage you to discuss this more with the Team. Find out exactly why they think other students are scared. Then ask them to look at other less restrictive options before moving her. If the Team cannot think of any, they should evaluate the perceived problem area (or conduct a functional behavioral assessment, if it’s about behavior).

Make sure that this discussion is documented, including anything the Team is proposing (like a change of placement), the reasons why they are proposing it, what they based the proposal on, and any options that were suggested by you or the Team that were considered but rejected [see 300.503].


Bobbie:  I am transporting my son from school daily because of behaviors on the bus. The school will not provide para support on the bus. They called and asked if my son can ride the bus again because the student he was having problems with is no longer riding the bus. Am I able to continue transporting my son or do I have to put him back on the bus per the schools request?

Morning: I have seen schools mix kids with severe behavioral issues on the same small yellow bus with special education kids who are in wheelchairs, some who are non verbal and some who end up copying the behavior, They do this to save money and I have seen it occur more and more–especially as the kids get older and in bigger cities. But, the schools I know all have paras on those buses to monitor the behaviors. A parent needs to know if there are kids on the bus who may cause harm or have severe tendencies that are problematic. You can always ask a lot of questions and document. In one case, the school district had a bus do an extra route as the mom complained that the kids with severe behavioral issues were a bad example to her child..the school complied and her child had a bus mostly to himself.


Mari: We are requesting an evaluation for an expelled student. Limitations clause says “…pending the results of the evaluation, the child shall remain in the educational placement determined by school authorities.” If he is determined to have a disability, will he then get a manifestation hearing? Is it possible for an IEP team to overturn the one year expulsion placement made by the school board if it is a manifestation? He did not commit one of the Big 5 violations- he made a terroristic threat. We’d like to see him in a behavior intervention class.

helpgrouponline: Mari, when a child that is on an IEP is expelled there is a “change of placement” occurring. The school must write a new IEP. You should NOT sign this IEP. You can refuse. We had this happen to our son. Our attorney recommended that we do not sign this because we took the school to due process. We were told that if we won the school MUST put the child on the “last agreed upon IEP” which is the one that had him place in school. We did prevail in the due process lawsuit & the school immediately changed him from being expelled to going back to school, the last agreed upon placement. My son got 2 hours of tutoring per day while he was expelled. THe school is obligated to teach a student that is expelled when on an IEP. You have to negotiate the time though. They will give the least amount they can get away with.


Alisha:  My son has autism and had a specific VB (verbal behavior) program – a type of applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy written into his official IEP last year. The school failed to implement the VB program and on his new IEP for this year are now saying that he does not need the program – removing all mention of it. My understanding is that if the school fails to implement the program, then the school system is required to pay for the program elsewhere. Am I correct? Any help would be appreciated!

SharonL:  Alisha, DO NOT SIGN THE IEP. If the school cannot provide the services on the IEP they cannot just say “Sorry we don’t have it so we will just eliminate it or tell the parent he is fine now”. The school tried to do this to us. They tried for years to teach my son who has dyslexia to read and then came to us in an IEP meeting & told us they did not know what to do. They gave me the impression he could not be taught. Not the case. We found a reading tutor near us through the IDA web site (International Dyslexic Assoc.) . We proved through testing that the school was failing my son & they agreed to pay this outside tutor. They paid her for 5 years & my son went from pre-primer reading in 8th grade to 10th grade reading when he was 19. Alphabetic phonics was the program that worked.


Denise:  Does the Indiana public school system have to help get your child tested if they are exhibiting signs of a behavioral disorder or autism spectrum?

Sophie:  If there are behavior problems, the school should conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). (I have to warn you, though, just because they’re supposed to, doesn’t necessarily mean they will do so.)

I suggest that you ask that your child be evaluated for special education services, based on some examples of academic, behavioral and/or functional difficulties your child is having.


Anjie: My 7yo son’s principal is recommending that he start only going to school for half days because of his behavior and problems in the classroom…He has been diagnosed with ADHD for about 2 years and I have filed paperwork for IEP/504 testing recently …and am now waiting for things to get in motion..is what he is doing discrimination against my son because of his disability and should I go to the district or go to him first …He wants to start this next week

Sophie:  I’m glad to hear you filed paperwork to request special ed or 504.

The district actually had the responsibility to notice that your child needed more help, either academically or with functioning in school, or both. If a child has special needs, the district is legally responsible for accommodating those needs, or else it can be found to have discriminated against your child. And this is true regardless of whether you have brought your child’s difficulties to their attention.

So if you don’t want the half day, let them know that it is unacceptable.

Now let’s talk about behavior. As you probably know, there are a number of techniques that can improve an ADHD child’s academic performance, and functioning, in school. When a child has behavior problems in school that interfere with his learning, or that of his classmates, then the school should take a close look at the behavior, and the various factors that may be related to the behavior problems, by conducting a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA). Request this right away. When a school does a special ed eligibility study, it is required (at least in my state) to include an FBA as part of the eligibility study.

If you haven’t observed your child in his academic setting recently, I recommend that you do so. You can pick up on a lot by doing this.

If you get stuck with the principal, go up the administrative chain of command.

JG:  IDEA, the federal special education law, has several protections for students with behavioral issues. A key protection is the right to a “manifestation determination. This is a hearing to decide if the behavior was due to their disability. The school cannot exclude an eligible student for more than 10 days without first conducting one. For exclusionary purposes, a half day is considered a full day.

Even though your son’s has not yet been found eligible, he should still have this (and other behavior-related) protections. IDEA states that you may assert these protections if the school had knowledge of your son’s disability before the behavior occurred (at § 300.534). Your requested testing is one way that IDEA defines this knowledge. This means that, if the school is proposing that your son be excluded for half the day for more than 10 days, they may be violating federal law.

Here’s what I suggest for you to do… Read up on IDEA’s full procedural protections regarding discipline, beginning at § 300.534 (http://idea.ed.gov/). Find out what protections exist at the state level regarding discipline, for general and special education students, and your district’s discipline procedures. Connect with your local parent center for help with understanding these (http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/).

Tell the principal that you don’t agree with his proposed exclusion, and that you want to assert your son’s rights under IDEA. Request for the evaluation be expedited, and that it include a functional behavioral assessment. Ask what supports will be put in place, while you wait for the results, that can help keep your son in the classroom. Follow this conversation up with the same requests in writing, and send a copy to the district’s director of special education. I would hold of otherwise going above the principal’s head until you’ve tried to work it out with him first.


Sinclair:  After 10 years in TX public system my Down Syndrome daughter has picked up the agressive mannerisms displayed in ALE class and dropped speech in favor of angry gutteral muttering. TWO CONCERNS: She plays “Special Needs” to get out of work- has picked up negative traits not related to DS; 2.The school district has not provided an environment for mentally disabled children who DO NOT have emotional/social issues. What are our middle school options and beyond to get a fair life skills education WITHOUT the drama?

Morning:  I am answering from the eyes of a parent and former paraprofessional. I do find that depending on the “mix” in the classroom that yes the kids can pick up some very negative behaviors as well as good behaviors. I have noticed it more and more of a problem from the middle-high school years. There are levels of frustration, puberty, acting out and general (in my opinion) misguided curriculums and placements. I want to also note that some of the worst behaviors I have seen in my employment in public schools are from typical peers in regular education classrooms.

Sophie:  Sounds like a good reason to go for an inclusion model! Some good videos showing secondary inclusion at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV31nhg5vN8sCJ1hCpnbVsg

JG:  Sinclair – It sounds like, at the heart of it, you have concerns about the appropriateness of your daughter’s placement. Whenever placement is an issue, I think that evaluation is a good staring point.

I would suggest that you have your daughter re-evaluated. You can ask the school to do so, or have one done privately. If work avoidance and picking up mannerisms/behaviors as two of your main concerns, you would likely want to make sure the evaluation included behavioral and social/emotional components.

With evaluation results in hand, you’ll have an easier time pursuing a more appropriate environment for your daughter.


Cathy:  Need some advice. My 10 year old grandson is ADHD. Got his meds evaluated the day before school started. They are the correct dosage. He also has an IEP. He also sees a therapist on a regular basis. The special ed teacher at school has called me 4 times in the last 4 weeks telling me that my grandson is having issues at school with behavior. She says his hormones are changing and that he has anger that is boiling. However, I do not see this issue at home and neither his therapist or psychiatrist sees this issue. She said his meds need to be upped but his doctor refused and I agree. His grades are great. He does have a problem when he is pushed into doing something and has a safe place to go when he gets frustrated.

JG:  Cathy – If your grandson’s behavior is impacting his education, it’s important to address it asap. I would encourage you/his parent to request a Team meeting to discuss what’s been going on.

You can request that they conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) to get to the bottom of the issues he is having at school. The results of the FBA can be used to create a behavior plan for him, and can be adjusted as his needs change. Here’s more info on FBAs: http://www.pacer.org/parent/php/PHP-c54.pdf.

You may also want to request that the school evaluate his social-emotional needs and possible need for social/pragmatic language skills

If the “being pushed into doing something” is an ongoing issue, the school should be helping him develop age-appropriate skills to counteract or avoid this.

As for the teacher, it’s clearly inappropriate for her to continually suggest medication changes. Bringing this up at the meeting – nicely – may put an end to it. I would suggest that you thank her for her input and her concern, and say that it was discussed with his doctor who thinks a change is not called for at this time. So instead of medication changes, you hope that she and the Team can focus on non-medical strategies and supports.

Sophie:  In addition to JG’s excellent advice, I would say that it’s time for you or parent to go in and observe to find out what’s really going on. One way is to sneak in as a parent volunteer. Another is to ask for an opportunity to observe your grandson in his academic environment. A nice trick for the latter is to say that you are getting ready for a doctor’s appointment to discuss the teacher’s impressions and review the boy’s med plan, and that you’ll find a personal observation in the academic setting very helpful for that discussion with the doctor.


Maria: Hello, Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t mind helping me? I will be enrolling my son back into school in August. He has explosive behavior issues from frustration to being pushed to do something,he doesn’t want to do. He can’t go back to school,without something in place once he starts,else it would end up like it did the first few months last year before I took him back out again. Is there any one that can help me???

Sandy: Hi, Maria! It sounds like you need a special ed advocate or attorney ASAP. I would Google your state’s “parent training information center” and/or “protection & advocacy agency” to get started. They offer free help, and you may also decide to hire someone to help you. Behavior issues can be complex and the stakes are high – good luck to you!


Maria: My son has issues with frustration and taking the time to reasonably figure things out. He usually goes on impulse when highly frustrated. Writing is also a weakness. In his reccommendations it stated to use limited writing assignments and even oral,Dragon software. This was dismissed at IEP meeting last year and I was told,he is in high school he is going to have to write,he just doesn’t want to do it. Forcing my son to do work when he is frustrated made for a lot of preventable behavior problems. Any ideas on how I can prevent the same things occurring this school term?

Texas Mom: If your son has problems writing then he needs to have that addressed in his IEP and the problem address properly.. My son who has dsypraxia, and in honor classes, is able to type anything longer than 3 sentences. He uses a regular laptop that the school provides to all students in his high school. Most the work all the teens do is online or on the computer anyway. Pushing him is not the answer if it affects his behavior and he becomes frustrated due to a disability. I would put my concerns in a letter and cc that to yourself as well as the principal and teachers. I would request an ARD meeting to address this issue. As his advocate, I would offer to buy the program if the school wouldn’t as it would really benefit him at home also.

Janie: My daughter cannot get her work done timely or organize herself unless someone is constantly pushing and guiding her. Her new teacher wants to make her responsible for her work by giving her zeros for assignments not completed on time as punishment thinking this will motivate her to get them done. I believe this is part of my daughter’s disability and not a behavior. Can this be determined by testing and how can we accommodate her if it is a disability? She has known slow processing speed.

Wrightslaw: Janice, if your daughter has not had a comprehensive evaluation of her learning needs, it’s time to do this. You can have a psycho-educational evaluation done by a private evaluator or by the school.

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Sonia:  I just had an IEP for my 8yr daughter that has cone dsytrophy. Her doctor said we should wait (for her next appt.in may) before we look into braille, since we are not sure she will need it. (he wants to see if her vision is getting worse or if its at a stand still. Her VI teacher keeps pushing braille on us. Even though we keep saying no. Can THEY make her take it? Also they want to take her out of a regular class setting and place her in the visually impaired class room? Before we had a name for her vision loss. We took her to a low vision optometrist who said she would benefit from vision therapy but the school keeps saying they don’t cover it.
How can I get them to cover it, the assessment the doctor did is now over 1 yr old.

Sharon:  Sonia, Cone Dystrophy is a disorder that affects structures within the eyes. Vision therapy deals with the muscles of the eyes. There are some funded programs that school districts participate in regarding VT. You can contact your local optimetric school to find out it they participate in such a program and whether they have ever been reimbursed through the school district. I am a big fan of VT, but It is unlikely that VT will help your daughter recover vision given her diagnosis. Has the school ordered large print texts for her? That is an accommodation that she is entitled to under IDEA. It is certainly a step that should be tried before resorting to Braille.
You should also request a desk top magnifier that sits on a stand and can be placed over work. It will help your daughter with printed material that is not available in large print. Sheets that the teacher prepares should be enlarged on a copy machine.

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Roberto:  I am a police officer for the Yuma Police Department. I am a member of the School Safety Unit. I teach the G.R.E.A.T. Program, which is a life skill program for the student. I want to get as much information on Bullying as possible. Thank you

Wrightslaw:  Roberto, more resources for you.

more from the Wrightslaw Way Blog: https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?cat=528


MM:  Our son has experienced bullying throughout his school career. Second semester of junior year we noticed declining mood, lack of homework completion, and in May he disclosed bullying had occurred on a daily basis. We told the school counselor and our son said he did not feel SAFE at school. We meet with the Vice Principal the very next day who said he would call the three boys involved and their parents. Three weeks go by. No word. Then the Principal calls and tell us they will call the boys/parents in the fall when school starts again: 3 MONTHS AFTER FIRST BEING TOLD OF BULLYING. We got our son therapy and he now has PTSD/Depression which therapist told us is the result of years of bullying. No investigation of bullying. No reconvene of IEP. Is this legal?

Chuck:  Every district should have policies & procedures regarding investigating reports of bullying. Parents should find the state & district policies on this to see if the campus followed them. If they did not, then they are in violation of the state law/regulations. This site has lots of good resources on bullying. Also the Office of Civil Rights has issued several letters on bullying & its affect on FAPE for a child with disabilities. This week’s wrightslaw e-newsletter reviews OCR’s Oct letter on bullying.


kevin: My son’s Spanish teacher is always bullying him in class. She said it’s because he isn’t trying hard enough. He is passing the class but she makes him eat lunch in her room. She hovers over him trying to get classmates to react to it, then gives him detention. Can I do anything about this? It’s effecting all his school work.

Chuck: Ask the district or campus for a copy of their bullying policy. Follow the policy for reporting bullying & monitor that the administrators follow the policy regarding investigating & reporting to you. The policy should indicate the rights that you & your son have regarding bullying.


robert: How/When is bullying specifically defined? How/When is bullying not defined as bullying?

Chuck: District policy & procedures on bullying should give you the answers to your questions.

Jennifer: Robert, check the school’s handbook. There should be an extensive definition there.


Nat:  I am currently a high school junior. During the past three years, I have had an uncomfortable experience with one of the teachers that is currently in my school’s language department. This particular teacher and I have gotten into several disagreements and unpleasant situations in the past regarding an extracurricular activity. Since then, I have decided to stop participating in the activity she was supervising. During my sophomore year, she went around and “bad-mouthed” about me to other Spanish teachers in her department and misrepresented my own platforms and opinions to other school employees. This year, I have this teacher as my foreign language teacher. I treat her with utmost respect and work extraordinarily hard in her difficult class, however there still remains an underlying sense of unease. There had been multiple cases in class time when she had made less than polite remarks, publicly degraded me, or treated me with almost little to no respect. She is the only teacher that teaches the Spanish class that I must take next year and I don’t feel comfortable being in her presence. Her predetermined bias against me has been apparent throughout this entire year and I would not like to experience it again. What should I do about this?

Sophie: Is there a guidance counselor or administrator you trust, that you could talk to about this?

Teachers can be bullies too. It sounds like that’s what’s going on. Do you have a peer ally? Or can you cultivate one? If you have to bring this to an administrator that you don’t have an established trusting relationship with, it could be very helpful to have an ally with you, who can share his or her own observations. One person is a crank, two or three are a movement!


Robert: What suggestions (legal and so on) can I request the school provide regarding anti bullying, harassment and so on in an IEP?

What is meant when a OSS is defined as unserved?

Wrightslaw: Robert – I don’t have enough information about the child to give you useful ideas about what to request from the school. But I can help with information.

In Fall 2014, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) published Guidance about school bullying and denial of FAPE. Under Section 504, bullying a student with a disability can result in a denial of FAPE that must be remedied. OCR clarified that schools have an obligation to address conduct that may constitute a disability – based harassment violation and explained that schools must remedy the denial of FAPE that results from disability-based harassment. You may want to print a few copies of this publication and provide copies to school staff: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-bullying-201410.pdf

Wrightslaw created a page of information and resources about bullying and harassment that were selected to answer your questions: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/harassment.index.htm

Good luck!


molly: My daughter is attending a parochial school in Colorado. She has been hurt, including times that have been witnessed, by a special needs child. The former principal at the school told us that the abusive child is low-cognitive. I think that she is autistic as well. We asked the principal last year to separate the abusive child from ours. He refused. And, later calls to teachers to intervene did not get a response. I met with the new principal in August and explained the situation and how fearful our child was. She said to notify her right away about an incident. I did that in the fall and there was no response. More incidents. My husband, who happens to be an attorney, and I met with the school at Christmas. The social worker promised that they could keep the other child away from ours. They have not done that. We agreed to push-in support only from the special needs teacher ( my daughter is apraxic) because she has been one of the root causes of our situation by pulling both students together. We were ignored on that count, too. Our family is discussing whether or not we will return to the school for a third year. What are our rights? Is there an office in diocesan education we can appeal to? Are parochial schools governed by the state department of Education? Can we request a history of disciplinary actions taken with this child and a written safety plan for ours?

Wrightslaw: Do you really want your daughter to continue attending a school where she’s been hurt repeatedly and where the school staff have not protected her?


Re: other questions – this is a private school so your rights and hers are very limited.

molly: Good question. She is surrounded by great kids, girl friends, who have her back. It is the adults who are failing. I am not sure that she will return and she has vote. We are looking at options and I am interested to know what her rights are.

Wrightslaw: Molly, I understand your point that the adults are failing to protect your daughter from being hurt by another child. Regardless of who is at fault, I’m concerned that she is being damaged by the ongoing nature of the abuse.

This morning I read a disturbing study that has implications for your daughter. Adolescents who are bullied by their peers suffer worse long-term mental health effects than children who are mistreated by adults. Link to the study below.

Researchers found that these children are more likely to suffer anxiety, depression and consider self-harm and suicide later in life. The lead researcher felt this was due to the repetitive nature of the bullying AND the fact that a child has to attend school so cannot escape.

The article was on CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/08/health/bullying-mental-health-effects/?

The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry – link here. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(15)00165-0/abstract


Marcy: My child was suspended last week for getting into a fight at school. He is ADHD/Dyslexic. He was being verbally bullied by another kid. The two kids ended up in the bathroom at school at the same time. The other child blocked the door when my child tried to leave. Other child pushed my child and ultimately fight ensued. They were both suspended for 5 days but they are also getting credit taken away for any school work done in that time. My child is already struggling with D’s. This will most likely make him fail his classes. Is there anything I can do? My child went to assistant Principal earlier in year and told him about the verbal bullying but it never stopped.

Sophie: If your child has an IEP or a 504, then his disability is supposed to be taken into account when discipline is done.

I think your bigger issue, though, is the D’s. If he’s in danger of failing his classes, that means the school is failing him, and they need to find supports that will help him be more successful. Do you have some ideas about what those supports might be?

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Matt: Hi, my son has been diagnosed with ADHD. Medications are helping very well but we still have issues. Recently i was told by a parent that my son’s name was brought up by the teacher in another students parent /teacher conference. I have been told this is a breach of his confidentiality rights but my research has failed to yield results. I have formerly requested assistance with either a 504 or IEP but they won’t respond to the email.

Chuck: I suggest taking your written request up the school’s “chain of command”. They are violating their child find responsibility by not responding.


Michelle: Under the Child Find Mandate that includes migrant children – Is the school required to evaluate a child relocated to the US in their native language (psychological testing), knowing that the child recently experienced a traumatic event of life/death and is visibly affected in order to assess, if she is emotionally challenged and unable to access the curriculum? NOTE: A Spanish Professional has been identified and found since the school only has English-speakers.

Chuck: A district’s child find responsibility does not have to be a team decision. The federal Dept. of Ed. has made it clear that the RTI process is not to deny the parent’s right to ask for a sp ed evaluation at anytime. Sometimes, state & district rules allow others to make a referral for evaluation also.

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Mary: Is there a federal IDEA mandate or guideline for class size and staffing ratio for a self-contained or instructional classroom?

Wrightslaw: Mary – No federal mandates. States are free to develop their own teacher- student ratios, class size #s, etc.


Ann:  Gen. Ed Art teacher with 24 severely impaired students under LRE. We have an Art elective class that our principal renamed this summer “Adaptive Art” – the Art teacher now has 24 AI AND EI students in 1 room to teach Art. Students have threatened him, one student pooped in his room, and his Union Rep. is fighting to get paras and help for him in his classroom.

Any one have any ideas on how to make this a better situation?

JG:  I’m glad this teacher is leaning on his union for help – unions are underutilized allies in the fight for appropriate special ed staffing!

A couple of other suggestions…

Check with your state’s Dept of Ed regarding class sizes and staff levels. They may have rules/guidelines, based on students’ level of need.

Involve the students’ IEP Teams. This teacher needs to know about how to best reach/teach each student, and deal with behavior, adls, and other issues that come up. If need be, involve the district’s special ed director.

Pull in parents. Explain that their child is not benefiting from the class as much as they could because of… Ask if they can help advocate for (behavioral support, para support, etc.) for their child.

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Classification: CAPD

Alice:  What is CAPD?

Melissa:  Central Auditory Processing Disorder


Gloria:  How can I get a secondary diagnosis removed from my son’s IEP? My son has the diagnosis of Autism and never had a second diagnosis. Now that he entered high school and had a tri the young pshycologists wants to add (low ID). My son since 2nd grade has been mainstreaming into reg classes with aide support and is able to do the work. ANY HELP GREATLY APPRECIATED.

Marge:  The ID label is based on significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior. The label itself does not remove him from consideration for general education placement. Success with an aid is the mitigating factor, so his disability eligibility is made without considering the aide. Without an aide he would not be successful. His prior success and that data is needed during the placement determination part of the IEP, where general education placement with an aide must be considered -and in high school- for each core subject and each elective.


Melinda: Does a school or school district have the right to change the child’s label on the IEP from “Specific Learning Disability” (across the board) to “Intellectual Disability”? Does this decision have to be made by qualified Medical personnel?

The school told me that child will get the same services listed on the IEP. If that is true, why change the child’s “Label”?

How should I, as a parent, respond to this? I also refused to sign the NEW IEP after the recent 3 year re-evaluation. What happens now??

Melissa: Melinda, they can change the label, and you can disagree. Some, but not all, states require a parent to sign the IEP when it is completed.

Write a letter explaining your disagreement and ask them for Prior Written Notice (more info here on Wrightslaw about PWN). Also, request an independent educational evaluation (IEE) and find a qualified evaluator who specializes in complex children.

Take action now. Call your state’s parent support group (Wrightslaw yellow pages for kids should have them listed) and get their assistance.

My child’s school did the same thing, and I bought their “doesn’t change the needs” story. The change of disability label changed everything, and my child’s education has suffered. We are working to correct their mistake, but it is emotionally and mentally draining. Good luck.


Candy: I’m writing a journal article on labeling in special education and my stance is that a childs specific disability label does not need to be listed in the IEP. My adviser told me that it is against the law not to list the disability. Can someone please advise me so I make sure I do not make a suggestion that is illegal.

JG:  Candy –I want to differentiate a student’s disability category (or label) from the student’s actual disability/diagnosis. For example a student may be placed in the category of Orthopedic Impairment, and their actual diagnosis may be cerebral palsy.

The disability category is not a medical diagnosis, but rather an agreement that the individual student’s profile is consistent with the regulatory definition of the disability category. The disability category is *intended* to be used for reporting purposes, not to determine a student’s services or placement.

As the Dept of Ed wrote in the commentary for IDEA 2004, “special education and related services are based on the identified needs of the child and not on the disability category in which the child is classified.”

Chuck:  Over the years I have heard people take this position. It must be documented that a student has a disability under the IDEA definition. However, unless state rules say that it must be documented in the IEP, federal rules do not say that the decision is made by the IEP team or must be recorded in the IEP. Districts find it easy & convenient to record this in the IEP.

JG:  Again, the disability category info is for reporting purposes. The info is used, along with other student demographics, at the local, state, and federal levels for monitor trends, allocate funds, and other purposes.

The data is essential, though there is no real reason to include it on the IEP. IDEA requires that eligible students be categorized and that this information be reported to the federal Dept of Ed, but does not explicitly require that the info be included on the IEP.

Regarding the student’s actual disability/diagnosis, this absolutely should be included on the IEP. IDEA requires that the IEP include info about how the student’s disability impacts their education. This info, gleamed from evaluations, is how Teams determine what supports and services a student needs.

Marita:  Are you implying that it is better that we keep the child’s specific disability a secret from the professionals who will work with the child for 6 hours per day? As a regular education teacher, I simply can’t understand how that would be beneficial. I recently took over a 7th grade class that had seven students who qualified because they had a specific learning disability. Some were also ADHD – but that info wasn’t included in the IEP. According to IDEA guidelines, it didn’t need to be. I was appalled that I wasn’t given that information, I needed to know.

Wouldn’t we simply be advancing the concept that a disability is something of which a person should be ashamed?

Chuck:  IDEA requires that an IEP identify & address all needs the student has. This is more important & helpful than the diagnosis/label. An evaluation must be “sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child’s sp ed. & related services needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the child has been classified.” 300.304(c)(6)

Marita:  Can you give an example of a situation where it would be beneficial for the diagnosis to be a secret? I suppose it could be because the parents are concerned that the teacher might break confidentiality. That should never happen.

Here’s why I think a teacher should know: I have ADHD, the majority of my students have ADHD (I teach the expelled teens), but none of the sped professionals have ADHD. If I know the diagnosis, I can really be helpful. I can also model that ADHD is nothing of which to be ashamed.

At the very least, teachers could get specific information from a book or website – but only if they know.

JG:  I don’t think a diagnosis should be kept secret, but it’s not the most important info on the IEP.

The IEP must include info on how the child’s disability specifically impacts them. This is very different from how a diagnosis is expected to impact a random child with the diagnosis.

With my own son, we’ve had some doctors who’ve had expectations based on his diagnosis that simply didn’t match up with the real life him. I know parents who’ve had similar experiences with school personnel.

I know most teachers don’t rely only on the diagnosis. But, if removing the diagnosis from the IEP kept the Team from pigeonholing the child based on that and not their actual needs, that would certainly be a situation where leaving it off would be helpful.


Edie: Can an IEP team in NY legally declassify an already identified student (preschooler) with a speech-language disability upon entering kindergarten. The child is already identified, at risk for reading success, and continues to need speech-language services on a daily basis due to severe articulation issues (unintelligible). Can the chair of the meeting suggest declassification and offer “speech improvement” from a certified school SLP under the RTI umbrella? What are the parents legal rights in this situation if they want classification to continue? What would be the benefits of classification over being declassified and given speech improvement or visa versa. Thanks

Francine: Edie, My understanding (I’m not in NY, so speaking generally) is you are legally entitled to continue services until the student no longer qualifies. If they meet requirements but are declassified, disagree then file a complaint that FAPE is not being met.

The benefit of an IEP is that you are protected by IDEA. You would have to ask them what the benefits of their RTI are – the way RTI works out here, it would not be appropriate for a child who is truly unintelligible (BUT! Services vary). I would also make sure you ask: Does the child meet eligibility requirements for IEP services; If so, why recommend RTI instead; if not, why not (e.g., developmentally appropriate errors); if you agree to RTI, what happens if there isn’t adequate progress; and how do they define adequate progress?


Izzy: Under what IDEA disability would selective mutism be found (Emotional Disturbance or Other Health Impairment)?

Wrightslaw: Izzy, Doesn’t matter. Nothing in IDEA requires a school to put a child in a disability category before they provide special ed services. If a child has a disability that adversely affects educational performance, the school can provide services before deciding on the child’s label.(Sec.1414(a)(3)(B); page 72 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2d ed.) Schools often spend months performing various evaluations before providing any special education services while the child falls even further behind.

Sophie: I recommend you go with Other Health Impairment. Our Tourette Syndrome Association advocate told us that in her experience, the classification drives the services. Also, the ED classification unfortunately often brings a stigma and kind of a giving up on the child attitude, and you don’t want that.

You can in principle get all the supports the child needs with the OHI classification, so even if selective mutism were in a gray area, there’s no harm in choosing OHI.

I hope you can connect with other parents affected by selective mutism. I know one such parent in my district, and she has told me that her child’s disability has been even more misunderstood than mine (Tourette Syndrome). Isolatioin can really wear a parent down.


Candy: I’m writing a journal article on labeling in special education and my stance is that a childs specific disability label does not need to be listed in the IEP.  My adviser told me that it is against the law not to list the disability.  Can someone please advise me so I make sure I do not make a suggestion that is illegal.

IDEA requires that the IEP include a statement of how a child’s disability impacts their education. This goes beyond considering just the disability category, or even the child’s specific disability or diagnosis – the Team must consider the specific impact of the disability on that individual child.

A few side notes… States can have their own disability categories and definitions that generally fall within those provided by IDEA 2004. But a student with xyz profile (or xyz diagnosis) in one state may be put in one category, while another state may put them in a completely different category.

JG: As the Dept of Ed wrote in the commentary for IDEA 2004, “special education and related services are based on the identified needs of the child and not on the disability category in which the child is classified.”

Still the disability category is very useful – it is used at the local, state, and federal levels with other student demographics to determine trends, allocate funds, and similar purposes. Because this info was reported, we can know how likely a student categorized under autism (for example) is to spend time outside the general education environment, to be disciplined, to take alternative assessments, to participate in vocational or gifted education, to be low income, to be non-white, and a host of other information.

JG: Obviously this is very useful information that is very necessary to collect. I would say, though, that there is no overriding need for it to be actually on the IEP. Federal law requires a student be categorized and that the category be reported to the federal government, but does not explicitly have requirement that the disability category to be on the IEP.

The student’s actual disability or diagnosis absolutely needs to be included on the IEP. That, along with information collected from the evaluation, provides the Team with the necessary info to determine needed services and supports.

JG: Also, some states allow a student to be categories in more than one category for state reporting purposes (not federal) – one primary, and one or more secondary (if a student had multiple primary disabilities, they would likely be categories under “multiple disabilities”).

And finally, some states have laws or guidance that explicitly address the needs of students within specific disability categories. Such guidance might provide an incentive for the placement of students in one category over an other.


Ted: Can a school district ever remove the educational diagnosis of autism from a child after they awarded the educational diagnosis of autism to a child?

Chuck: Ted, yes they can. In some cases they say that the child does not meet a current label, but meets another one or two. In other cases they say that the child still has a disability, but no longer has an educational need for special education services. Whether they can defend their position is another issue.


John:  My son started kindergarten in August. According to his teacher he does well with his assignments involving math and reading. He is not disruptive. He follows directions. At home he is highly social, empathetic, has a sense of humor and easy to deal with. Yet, we received a request from his school to meet with the school principal, psychiatrist, counselor, physical therapist and teacher. They claim that they called the meeting because they see a problem with Jaden not interacting with other children during playtime, and struggles with some fine motor skills. We are very concerned that the school may attempt to label our son as a ‘special needs’ child. According to the teacher he is academically where he needs to be. Can he be labeled ‘special needs’ simply for poor ‘play’ skills?

Chuck: Yes, they could propose evaluating him for having a disability & having a need for special ed services. However, they need your consent to do an evaluation & then your consent to provide him with special ed services. So you have 2 opportunities to stop the process.

Morning: I would like to add kudos to the school for possibly seeing a need for further discussions with the parents. Some schools may push such concerns to the side citing, “wait and see” approach. The “wait and see” approach has failed many students. Some parents do not want their children labeled but the process is good for the parents to know. John, educate yourself on your son’s rights. Also, it is sage advice to hear their concerns. A child’s behavior at home may not be fully reflective of behavior at school. If the school has some observations, it may be helpful to hear them out. How is he being compared to other students? When is his birthday compared to others in his classroom? Obtain more details on the demographics in the classroom. Ask questions but hear them out.


aer: My 12 year old daughter has ADHD and has been on a 504 plan since 3rd grade. We tried meds for 4 years to treat her ADHD and none worked. She started having psychotic episodes on the meds and her dr took her off. She is failing school. I went to request sped testing and the diag tried to talk me out of it. I know I can request testing as a parent, so the testing is happening, but the diag and school personnel tried to tell me that nothing different would be available for an ADHD student than is already in place for her with 504. I find it hard to believe that OHI exists under sped for no reason. We can’t continue to do the same thing. Does anyone know what services she could qualify for under sped, in case the testing doesn’t come back with LD? She’ll drop out of school at this rate. Thank you.

Chuck: aer, read on this issue at: https://www.wrightslaw.com/howey/504.idea.htm There is a great deal of difference between the 2. Often 504 is described as requiring accommodations & IDEA as requiring “specially designed instruction”.


Denise: My daughter was hospitalized in February for self harming. Because of the hospitalization the school said they were required by law to do a Re-evaluation for her IEP. They did this In May. She is now in HS and I just received the results. They want to label her as Emotionally disturbed. She is receiving therapy and seeing a doctor outside of school and is making progress. Her diagnosis is Depression. Does the school have this right to label her with this? We do not want her put in a special setting… or pulled out of class all the time. Do we have options?

Chuck: The school has the “right” to use this label, if she meets the IDEA definition for the label. However, regardless of labels, the district is required to address all of the child’s needs. Placement/removal from the LRE is another issue. IDEA & case law require the school to address a number of questions before doing this. ED label = removal from LRE would be a violation of IDEA. The question to the school should be “what additional services will be provided in the proposed setting, & why can’t they be provided in the current setting?”

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Sharebear: Has anyone ever heard of the US DOE losing part of a complaint file? We made a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request and were informed that a huge part of our file was missing and had possibly been shredded! I just thought I would throw that out there to see if anyone else has had this happen to them. Thank you!

4ourchildren: Sharebear, I have not heard about a situation like this, though that does not mean that had not occurred in other occasions to other people. I am deeply sorry for what just happened to you and your family regarding this problem. From the top of my head, there are two things that I think you need at this moment: 1. An attorney with extensive experience in these types of cases (i.e. FOIA requests, complaints, etc.); 2. Write a petition for justice explaining the relevant points in your case, and ask all the people you can to sign this petition (e.g. perhaps setting a goal of collecting 500 signatures) to be sent to your state representative, senators, or any other agency that might handle situations like this. I will be the 1st one signing that petition for your family, though my 1st option will be consulting with a lawyer.


Chris:  My child has Fragile X, AHD, ODD & Speech Delay. Not returning phone calls, saying I don’t understand gravity of the situation my child hit a teacher on her arm no one can clearly say what happen this as never been a problem with my child, he said teacher has a right to seek medical attention my child is 5 & his 1st concern is the safety of his staff I got a special needs advocate 2 referrals were on my child’s public record principal didn’t want them move to confidential recs we stated we would file a complaint & records were moved my child refuses to go to school, school knows, she as late & 6 absentees I got a letter from state attorneys office I called found out it was sent to them by the school. St atty office doesn’t understand why the letter was sent as disabled kids are a no no

David1:  Chris, filing a complaint against the principal will lead to a power struggle at the expense of your child.
I would ask in writing for a copy of any incident report that may have been filed with the Sherrif’s office through the school resource officer.
The report can be amended to include details about your child’s disability. This may seem insignificant but in the event your child is up for expulsion or ends up in court in the future, this information will be valuable to the hearing officer or judge.
It would be to your child’s benefit to request and review a copy of the discipline record that indicates how these incidences are being recorded.


Miranda: Over the course of 6 weeks, we have asked in writing that district personnel provide teacher and para qualifications and received nothing. Who do we file a complaint with?

SharonL:  Miranda, did you send a reminder letter? They may have lost the original letter. You can call the board office to request this information also. There should be no problem getting this information. I complaint may not be necessary yet until you have exhausted all options to get this information.

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Compliance & Implementation:  SCHOOL NOT FOLLOWING IEP

Susan: My daughter has a behavior section in her IEP that the school followed for exactly 4 days, then disregarded. I was told they had the flexibility to make those decisions without involving me. I requested another ARD to try to clarify the language and close the wiggle room. They are not responding. Told me (which I see is the case) there is no time limit for responding to my request for an ARD. So they are just not following the IEP and I cannot get a meeting. Do I have any recourse here?

Chuck: Susan, I assume that you are in TX. New state rules say that when a written request is made for an ARD/IEP meeting the school must respond within 5 school days.


Deb:  I was told my 10th grader couldn’t have ics because they don’t offer that in reg classes, only skills, but he’s tested above average, high so it would be too easy. Yet another mom called to tell me she got ics for the english class. Now I’m getting emails from the school asking to amend his iep for the classes w/o ics. they even have dr.s recommendation for ics. They wont follow IEP and want me to amend. But he needs assistance! Hes stressed out, they are not providing hard copies notes still. Even after email reminder. I’m so frustrated.

Sophie:  When they don’t follow the IEP, your sequence should be, write a letter to the director of special education documenting the specifics, then the superintendent, and then call your state special education quality assurance office. Also note that budget problems such as a lack of personnel to do in-class support are not a reason to deny a service. Make sure to document why he needs it.

Compliance & Implementation: NON-COMPLIANCE/ INTIMIDATION

Carmen:  I recently filed a complaint to the state due to the school not in compliance with IEP. He is autistic and both his general ed teacher and aide are not familiar with autism. I found out during a parent teacher conference that the teacher has had my son sitting in class without doing any class assignments and he had not been giving homework or any thing even at my inquiring about this. I had a revised IEP meeting and had to table it because they unanimously lied during the meeting. I told them that we will reconvene with an advocate which is scheduled next week. They are now trying to go back and change and even falsify documentation pass the current date. Filling out paperwork today and filing it with previous dates. They also emailed me that the CEO of the school will attend the next meeting. Is this to intimidate me?

SharonL: Carmen, Who cares if the CEO of the school comes to the meeting? I always took a digital tape recorder with me to the meetings and I would let them know ahead of time. I use it to remember what is said so I don’t have to listen, take notes, think and answer all at once. The tape recorder takes the notes for me. I have noticed that people are calmer, nicer, and choose what they say more carefully when there is a tape device. This may help you get better cooperation and you will have a record of the meeting.

Mari: Dear Carmen, If they are falsifying documents, they will slip up and be caught. Be sure to get a complete copy of your child’s sped file and CUM asap. Hopefully you have held onto all the IEP documents you received. It’s pretty easy for state investigators to figure out who did the falsifying.

Here is another strategy: check to see if they are properly training all staff members who come in contact with disabled students. Be discreet. Strike up a conversation with a school staffer in one department, perhaps a bus driver, and casually ask: when was the last time you received training concerning disabled students? Then do the same with a cafeteria worker. Make training, which is required, a priority. Other parents of disabled kids with back you up. The CEO will now be on the hot seat.


Debbie: Hello. My son is 10. He is on the Autistic spectrum, ADHD, and OCD. His IQ is extremely high. He is fantastic in Math. My main concern is the trouble he has with writing. His letters are huge, most of the words are spelled incorrectly, and the content is unclear and hard to follow. He struggles with the entire process. He is failing writing in school. He has an IEP with modifications in other subject areas like spelling and reading but the school told me they don’t know how to help him write better. They said he does not qualify for Occupational Therapy. They do not know what “dysgraphia” is and are asking me what do I want them to do about !!!! Help!!!

Wrightslaw: Suggest getting a tutor who is trained to help kids with written language problems. (Many Orton-Gillingham trained tutors have training). The tutor can teach him theses skills, perhaps work with his teacher so the teacher can work with him in the future. The school agrees that he needs help in this area but they can’t help so they need to provide a tutor who is properly trained and pay the cost.


Shilo: My child has an IEP under OHI.

Wrightslaw: My first question is about your evidence that the school isn’t implementing the IEP. My second question is similar – what is your evidence that “gross negligence caused by the teacher”?

How do you define “negligence”?

A court determines whether an individual has been negligent. Most courts have been reluctant to conclude that teachers are guilty of “gross negligence,” especially if you don’t have a boatload of evidence to support this allegation.


Cali: I live in Colorado.1)The district is not implementing and providing services as stated in kid’s IEPs.2) district wants to build a k-12 sped school to house ssn, autism, adhd.3)kids are being taken off IEPs without data supporting it.Can parents unite and file a class action lawsuit? how do I find out if an attorney in CO does probono work?How can the district build a sped school and get around the least restrictive environment law?How,who can I get IEP data about a school district’s IEPs? Do they have to keep such data and can they release it?The local school board has repeatedly demonstrated that they will not listen to parents. Do you have any advice about a class action suit? Is there a statute of limitations on the data/evidence we can use?

Sophie: Cali, you can probably file a state special education complaint, based on IDEA. If you sign the complaint as a group, this would increase the impact. There is no cost to you to do this. You can complain about things that happened during the last 12 months, I believe.

Call the state office that handles such complaints before you write it up, so you know which aspects are mostly likely to succeed.

To get IEP data, you file a FOIL request. Ask for electronic delivery so they don’t charge you for printing. You can submit the request by email. For a successful FOIL, ask for EVERYTHING you might conceivably find useful, and describe what you want in great detail. First, check the state ed website to see what data are already available.

Compliance & Implementation:  NOT FOLLOWING IEP

mshope:  Since September my child has been in a ICT class. My child needs to be in a 12:1:1 – child’s IEP states that’s the right setting. For some reason after the IEP meeting, there is now no room for 12:1:1. What do I do? It states clearly on the IEP that my child is supposed to getting these services.

SharonL: ms hope, You need to request an IEP meeting to discuss the problem. If they do not help you or say they cannot/will not do what the IEP says you may request that they put their refusal in writing as a PRior Written Notice. HOpefully they will want to work with you but if not you have the ability to file a complaint or file due process.

mshope: Thank you Ms. Sharon. My child’s IEP classification was left blank, no classification on it. My child has been in a 12:1:1 classroom since 4th grade. Now in 6th grade, he was placed in an ICT class. The school doctor said they don’t have a 12:1:1 class, but I should not do due process. My son is not doing well or making any progress.

At the IEP meeting, we discussed what setting my child was going to. THE ICT teacher was there. After I denied the ICT program, the school doctor amended my child’s IEP right in front of me. This is the same IEP that stated no classifcation on it. The same IEP that landed my child in the ICT program. Can the doctor do that? I don’t think the doctor should have touched the IEP that stated no classification on it. Should I have my child evaluated for a new IEP?

SharonL: mshope, no one on the team can unilaterally write something on the IEP without the team’s agreement. If they are refusing to work with you ask for a prior written notice. They must provide it or continue to work with you. Do you have a professional that can help? That has helped us in the past. You will probably have to pay for their time though but it is worth it.

Yes you can request another test if it has been longer than one year. Remember you must sign the school’s request form or the time of 60 days does not start for them.

Wrightslaw: mshope, take a look at these two articles below. They will give you two very simple forms to use to keep track of what you proposed / discussed at the IEP meeting and what the school agreed to (or not). Choose one you want to use and follow the directions for using it. Take the form to the IEP meeting, then fill in what happens at the meeting.

How to use a Parent IEP attachment

Prior Written Notice (PWN) is a Powerful Tool When Skillfully Used

If you have access to a computer and printer, you can download the forms.


Or just make your own form like these on a sheet of paper, they are user friendly.


Tammy: I have two children in a public special ed class in Texas. Both are in the medically dependent children program through the state and have nurses that go with them to school. I was recently told that my nurses can not be present in the room during instruction time due to FERPA-that they are violating the privacy of the other students. I thought FERPA only applied to records. Is there something I am missing?

Chuck: Mr. Wright has stated several times & places on the website that FERPA applies to records. Schools take this position regarding nurses for a variety of reasons. In some cases they are afraid that at some point the parents will request that the school pay for the nurse. There are ways that you can address this.
I work for the TX Parent Training & Information Center. Our staff may be able to assist you. You can contact me at: cnoe59@hotmail.com

Wrightslaw: Chuck, you’re right. FERPA regulates education records, nothing more.
Tammy – this article will give you information and resources about the issue of “privacy of the other students.” https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/priv.confid.observe.htm
But, as Chuck says, the school may have other underlying concerns. Remember to always document everything, any information or responses you get from the school and use your effective advocacy skills when discussing problems and concerns. Make use of your PTI – it’s nice to have a specific contact there.

Confidentiality & Privacy: PRIVACY ISSUES WITH IEP

Jill: My son has an IEP for ADHD and needs to move constantly. He is in third grade. HIs primary classroom teacher had a conversation with the Science teacher about my son’s issues and what he is allowed and not allowed in his IEP in front of not only my son, but the entire third grade class. What course of action can we take aside form dealing with this at the local school level?

Sophie: Jill, you can file a FERPA complaint.

Things like that take time. You might want to start with your central administration, letting them know there was a FERPA violation.


Michelle:  My question is can a speech teacher give out my child’s IEP to him at a social skills group with other kids present. All the kids received a copy of their IEP in front of everyone. Speech teacher then proceeded to go over with them the parts of an IEP. I don’t think she mentioned specifics of anyone’s IEP other than it was obvious to everyone in the group that they all had IEPs and to anyone else in the room. My concern is that she embarrassed him (in high school) by letting everyone know he has an IEP. He is not the most organized and his IEP could end up being left somewhere for anyone to see. I thought other students where not supposed to know who has an IEP and who doesn’t. They can guess or assume but school is not suppose to tell him. Am I right or am misunderstanding???

Sophie:  Michelle, this sounds like a FERPA violation, “inappropriate sharing of confidential information”. You can file a FERPA complaint. Here is some guidance: http://www.deltabravo.net/cms/plugins/content/content.php?content.102

Now that you know this, hopefully you can feel empowered in your conversation with the teacher. Sometimes people have good intentions but do not think things through sufficiently.


Trish: FERPA Violation regarding health cards and medication for minor students in a public school. The school never disclosed that medication is given to children by a volunteers. This is against everything I have read in FERPA and the States Medication Policy. I have tried multiple times to have the school district address this. What else can I do?

Wrightslaw: Trish – if your problem relates to medication issues, the law you are concerned about is HIPPA, not FERPA. FERPA includes protections for education records and does not control giving medication to minor students.


Matt: Hi, my son has been diagnosed with ADHD. Medications are helping very well but we still have issues. Recently i was told by a parent that my son’s name was brought up by the teacher in another students parent /teacher conference. I have been told this is a breach of his confidentiality rights but my research has failed to yield results. I have formerly requested assistance with either a 504 or IEP but they won’t respond to the email.

Chuck: I suggest taking your written request up the school’s “chain of command”. They are violating their child find responsibility by not responding.

Confidentiality & Privacy: PRIVACY IN THE CLASSROOM

Kelly: My daughter is has an IEP, & misses a great deal of school do to chronic illness. Several times she has had classmates tell her that that teachers have openly criticized her for either not being in attendance, her progress and/or share their irritation of late work. They’ve used her name & openly talk about her in classes. It is done both out loud to the class in general or to a fellow teacher. Not only does my daughter have physical medical issues she also has mental health issues like ADHD, panic and anxiety disorders and depression, that trigger her physical health. It is hard enough to deal with the scrutiny of peer pressure, bullying and gossip, but worse when faculty starts it up. It is even more shameful for them to speak poorly of a child on an IEP. Are there any specific laws regarding privacy for kids with disabilities?

Chuck:  Kelly, federal rules on confidentiality deal with written records. What you are talking about is covered by your state’s professional standards & ethics for educators. I suggest starting with the principal, since they can & should address this type of behavior. If this is not successful, follow the procedures for appealing your concerns to higher administrators.

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ron: Live in OHIO — daughter can not pass all her OJT tests after trying 8 times. OHIO will not exempt her for her diploma. They said she can graduate–but no diploma. Any Ideas on how to get her exempted from OJT passing tests? ECOT has wrote petitions to OHIO-denied cause she is doing ok job in classes but cant pass OJT thanks!

Chuck: If you have not checked your state education agency regulations on this, you should do so. Also check with the Ohio parent training & information center – http://www.ocecd.org Their staff should be familiar with the state rules on this.


Donna:  I do not know the law about Facebook incidents that happen outside of school. My daughter was expelled for 2 days this week because of an incident that happened on Facebook last weekend. She made some threats against another girl. That girls mom got involved and printed out screen shots of what my daughter said but none of the conversation involving her or her daughter was printed out. She took it to the school and my child got in trouble for it. My question is–can they expel my child for something that happened out side of school? the mom should have called me and let me handle it. I am not planning on fighting it right now. My husband has terminal cancer and i don’t have the time to fight the district at this moment. I took my daughter out of school and i am sending her to her dads to finish the year.

Morning:  Donna, check with your state department of education. I know of many students who have faced actions from school administrators due to comments on social media that threatens, harasses or intimidates another student but it should involve a process. Schools have written policies about such so check the parent/student handbook. Work with the school psychologist and your daughter to have some meaningful conversations about the incident and how to insure that it does not happen again. Your daughter may need a better support system within the school setting such as guidance, etc. For safety reasons, I feel parents should not approach each other about these type of incidents as they should be handled by school administrators or even law enforcement. A threat is a threat.


Connie:  My son has a diagnosis of Aspergers but does not have an IEP. He is an A+ student but was recently suspended. The circumstances were that he brought a knife to school for protection as he was constantly bullied. Never used or intended using it just brought it because it made him feel protected. He has gotten arrested, released, is awaiting his court date and is suspended for one year. As he does not have an IEP because he does not really qualify academically, can he still be suspended this long? He is disabled with a valid diagnosis? Can anyone help? Thanks

Chuck:  If district policy allows this, then they can since he does not have an IEP. However, a student can qualify for an IEP for behavioral or social needs. The district also has an obligation to deal with bullying of any student. To sort out your options, someone with knowledge of sp ed, & state law is needed. Your state parent training & information project can assist you. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/


Carol:  Just found out from my daughter that my 10yr old granddaughter has been kept inside for recess and for lunch period because she is failing her classes. My daughter is quite upset and feels that recess and lunch should not be used as a punishment or to do schoolwork. We live in MASSACHUSETTS. Is there a law against this? My daughter is also upset because the school never told her in advance that they were implementing this arrangement.

Chuck:  There may be something on this in your state’s law or regulations. Federal regs say that students are to have access to nonacademic (includes recess, lunch) to the extent that their peers do. Your state Parent Training & Information should be able to assist you. fcsn.org/ptic

Wrightslaw:  Type “recess” in the search box on the blog for articles, info and documents to support your position. Start here:

Carolyn:  The question is WHY IS SHE FAILING? There is no law per se that discusses this issue but there may be something written in the school/district policies on the steps that the school will take in certain cases. A copy of the student/parent handbook is generally found on the district website. Is your granddaughter currently on an IEP? If not she may be in need of special educations services. Either way their needs to be a meeting to discuss why she is failing.

Sophie:  When my son was given an ADHD diagnosis by a local educational psychologist, the psych who did the work-up gave me a key piece of advice: put explicitly in the 504 plan (or IEP) that the child should never lose any lunch, recess or gym time as a consequence or for making up work.


Ashley:  My ASD son was given an In School Suspension (ISS) for eloping from the school. I need to know if they can keep recess from him. It is in his IEP that he is to receive recess. My son had a meltdown at school today and eloped. The school didn’t inform the sheriff that he was special needs so he got scared of the officer when he came driving at him fast and yelled at him to stop or he would take him to jail. He was outside for an hour with the temperature 7 degrees before they came and got me. I work in the school. Then the principal wanted to suspend him and I said no, so he said a 3 day in school suspension. I don’t agree with that either. What I really need to know is if he can legally keep him from recess since its part of his iep. I plan on fighting the whole thing but I need to know his rights before school begins tomorrow. Thank you.

Sophie: If your son’s IEP specifically states that recess should not be withheld, then there is a clear compliance issue. There are various things you can do about noncompliance but most of them take quite a bit of time — as in 3 or more months. One shortcut that occasionally works is to call your state special ed oversight office and ask some questions and express concern. If you are lucky the associate you speak with will call your district’s director of special education and ask some questions and express some concern, and this may trickle down to your son’s school, and you may see a change of attitude.

Another tack, that unfortunately I don’t know very much about, has to do with the connection between special needs and disciplinary actions.

But frankly, I think that in the short term, there are other things that might be better to focus on, because of the frightening effect the incident had on your son. A situation like this can snowball for a child so easily.

Let’s talk about parental peace of mind. If a child is at risk for leaving school on his own, for whatever reason — this is the sort of thing that can really keep a parent awake at night. Could you brainstorm as many ways of preventing this from happening as possible? for starters, here are a couple of ideas.

Project Lifesaver, http://www.projectlifesaver.org/

Call your local law enforcement department and ask to speak to one of the officers who give community presentations. Often the officers who volunteer for these assignments are the ones who really care. Try to choose an officer that strikes you as a good fit for your child, and make a special appointment for the officer to meet your child, and talk gently with him about some innocuous aspects of law enforcement.
Ask the police to note your child’s name, school and short description for future use.

Get an alert about your child’s elopement risk, along with the recommended elopement procedure to follow, put into your child’s IEP, your child’s health record (that’s often quicker than amending an IEP), AND the school safety plan. In my state, each district and school is supposed to have a safety committee, whose meetings are supposed to be open to the public. (In practice, they rarely meet and rarely exist — but because they are supposed to exist, one can use this as a crowbar to get a foot in the door.)

Comment: I would start all emails and conversations with staff and administration over the coming days with some hypocritical expression of appreciation to everyone for helping you keep your son safe. Say that you want to work with everyone to help prevent a serious incident. (Of course you can follow that with the tough messages, about mistakes made and trauma caused.)

Ashley:  Thank you Sophie. You gave me some great ideas and I really appreciate it. You are right it has been sleepless nights for me and he has had meltdowns today and yesterday at school. He is fine at home but not there. I’m sure that is in some part due to what occurred on Tuesday. The principal told me that the staff working with him have pretty much given up on him which is very sad and was uncalled for. I have been fighting with the school for awhile now over his rights and I told him that he eloped at times but they kept saying it doesn’t happen at school so we aren’t worried about it. Then when it did they put his life in danger being in the dangerously cold temperatures. I work at the school and they could have came and got me but chose to let him stay out there for an hour and finally the sheriff requested me and he didn’t even know I worked there. It was just a horrible scary day and frankly I’m sick of the school violating his rights and getting away with it.

Chuck: I suggest calling the state education agency &/or the state parent training & information project. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/


Stephanie:  All my kiddos go to Public school in Central Texas. What is the truth? Can a field trip be taken away from an ADHD/ED elementary student (served by special ed) due to possible bad behaviors at the field trip?

Chuck:  Stephanie, I believe that most TX school attorneys would tell the school that this would be considered discrimination. Children with disabilities are to have access to activities & trips that other students have.

I would suggest contacting the special ed dept. in writing & verbally. Describe what the campus is doing & say that you believe that this is discrimination. You may or may not want to say that if you need to, you will contact the TX Education Agency &/or the Office of Civil Rights.
 I am with the TX Parent Training & Information center, Partners Resource Network, http://www.partnerstx.org/

I & our staff can assist you more if necessary.
 Chuck Noe – Education Specialist


Shelley:  I have a disabled son who due to his disabillity has problems getting up in the mornings. He has had issues with being tardy ever since kindergarten. He is now a junior in high school and has been harrassed continusely since he started there. I have ask for the IEP to be changed and tried to explain the situation and it just doesnt stop. They even told him that the judge would take him away from me! He keeps being dicipilined and now Im being threatened with court/jail. Is this legal? Thanks, Shelley

MORNING:  I have some experience in this matter. In one case, the mom let the child deal with the consequences of the school for not getting up in the morning and getting to school on time. The pattern of this had started when he was younger and now, in high school, it had to stop as he was being enabled to do such. After a few detentions he figured out to “wake up” and get to school on time. The child was ADHD, etc. and gave the mom a hard time until the school intervened.

The second case, the mom and the school district worked together to teach the girl organizational skills to get to school on time. They used motivators. The mom did not want to blame the medication for the issue but wanted the child to transition to waking up on time.

Discipline: SUSPENSION

Ginny: My grandson, who is on a 504 Plan for ADHD has a five day suspension. The district cannot have the hearing until a week after suspension is served. He can’t go to school then for 9 days instead of 5. Is he eligible for compensatory services (tutoring or help to make up the work)?

Wrightslaw: Don’t know. Much depends on your state’s laws and regs. You need to document this in writing – that the 5 day suspension is becoming a 9 day suspension, that he needs to receive a free, appropriate education (FAPE) while he is not allowed ot attend school.


fran: my daughter has an IEP,and was recently diagnosed with mood disorder, my daughter was kicked out of school because the psychologist says she’s not mentally capable. but my daughter has been doing everything correct, since they kicked my daughter out, do I need to sign the IEP, (I signed one on 4/30/2015) but they made amendments on the new one.

Chuck: Has your daughter been “kicked out” for a specific length of time or permanently? A child can be put out for a few days depending on state rules, but refusing to provide an education is a violation of FAPE, free appropriate public education However, this applies to public not private schools.


Heather: My 7th grade son is the autism spectrum, his diagnosis is PDD-NOS. Due to medications that he is on to address his anxiety and OCD/ADHD tendencies, he is very tired during the school day. We have tried to address these issues with his dr. and advised his school this was why he was “falling asleep” as they say in school. We just found out from our son that multiple teachers make him stand up for the entire class (40 minutes) to keep him from falling asleep. How did we find this out? He was screaming at us that he had a horrible day and his legs hurt. When asked why, he told us and then proceeded to tell us that all his teachers do it and its been about 20 times. This intervention was never discussed at our IEP meetings (literally had one 10 days ago) and does not seem appropriate.

In addition, our son has been found unconscious over the last 18 months at school from passing out from unknown causes. There has been no indication of seizure, but dr feels more likely related to prediabetes. However, making a boy stand during class in front of all his peers who is sleepy from medication and has a history of passing out seems to be against protocol and in violation of his rights!?

Suggestions? Comments?

Kat: Our school has therapy balls and t-stools available for any of the children who benefit from active seating. I wonder if something like that might help him stay awake? Making him stand all day certainly doesn’t seem appropriate.

Jennifer; Heather, I have had same issues with my son, they are suppose to take him for a short walk 10 minutes and bring him back to the classroom and/or if still really tired past schools actually have taken him to the nurses office and allowed him to sleep for 30 up to an hour then return him to class. I will ell you it really depends on the school and how good they are with the IEP. You have to push for it.


Jennifer P: I recently read the “Are We Closing the Suspension Gap” Report. What do you think it means to children with learning or emotional disabilities? Do you see suspension reform on the horizons? How can parents be a voice?

Chuck: Currently this is being dealt with at the state level. Parents of children with & without disabilities can try to educate their legislators on the excessive use of suspension & the problems it causes. Some states have begun addressing suspensions & expulsions.


Concepcion: My child told me of an incident that happened at school today. Apparently all of the students were brought to their counselors and were asked not to mention a situation and to forget about it. This is a grammar school through mid school. The situation involves a group of children that have done something in the lines of child pornography. What steps can I take to not only report but sue the school and department of education? This is serious.

Sophie: This sounds like a topic a local newspaper would be interested in reporting on. Try calling the news desk. Remember, the newspaper is understaffed, so just state the information calmly, and give them your name and contact information. Make sure to say that you don‚Äôt want your name published. If they want to cover it, they’ll assign someone to call you back.


Dawn: Does sending a student home due to behavior problems count toward the 10 day suspension (change of placement rule)? My client has a child with Autism who is non-verbal. He is 8. He has been suspended a total of 4 times this school year. However, several times mother has been contacted to pick the child up during the school day due to his behaviors, tantrums, aggression and SIBs. Do the hours he is at home count toward the time he has been suspended for?

Chuck: Dawn, any time a child is sent home as you describe, it counts as one of the 10 days.


KAREN:  My 8 yr old autistic grandson is being suspended from school, frequently, due to behavior problems that are directly related to his disability. Punishing his parents and possibly threatening their jobs is not going to solve the problem. He needs to learn to communicate the cause of his outbursts with words or gestures. Isn’t there something in the NCLB law that excludes such children from suspension and expulsion?

Sandy:  The law is IDEA, not NCLB. Under IDEA, there are very specific disciplinary safeguards for students with IEPs. There cannot be more than 10 days of suspension without a manifestation determination meeting. This is a complex area of law, so I suggest finding an attorney or advocate to help guide you. The Wrightslaw site (free to use) has information written in parent-friendly language: https://www.wrightslaw.com. Search “suspensions” or “discipline” and learn your child’s rights! Good luck!

Chuck:  Each state has a Parent Training & Information Center funded by the US Dept. of Ed. Staff at your state Center can assist you on this matter. A list of the Centers by state can be found at: http://www.parentcenternetwork.org/national/aboutus.html

Illinoisan:  Parent should also have been provided with a Procedural Safeguards document, which describes process regarding suspensions and such, as well and the rights that IDEA gives parents and students with disabilities. Your state board of ed should have this document posted or call the state board and they would be able to point you to a copy. But Sandy is right; this can get quite technical.

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Discrimination:  DISCRIMINATION

Jennie: There are three special needs children in my sons middle school. These three children and only these three are forced to clean up the lunchroom, carry all lunch trays into the kitchen, load and wash them. They do this while the rest of the students are enjoying lunch, socializing and watching the three students clean tables etc. These three students are kept out of a class every day to do this demeaning work. The school refuses to stop this because the father and I are divorced and he is fine with it. How is it legal to humiliate a child even if you have an ignorant parents permission?

MORNING: I see several issues to consider. First, many students learn some life skills this ways (regardless of special education status or not). It all depends on the IEP. I am not sure if you can call this discrimination. Another issue is when parents disagree. From a personal viewpoint, it puts the staff and the student in a horrible position when parents (regardless of marital) status cannot agree to the benefit of the student. The issues truly is between the divorced parents. Some schools are trying very hard to develop great IEP goals but when divorced parents disagree, it adds a layer that must be resolved. As one who has cleaned cafeteria tables, all students should do this as part of community service to learn skills.


Kelly: My 3rd grade daughter in a self contained LLD class was not given the opportunity to participate in a 3rd grade-wide project at her school. My daughter and I found this out on the day of the school event and also discovered that she had not been receiving the 3rd grade Social Studies curriculum in the LLD class. In addition, the SpEd teacher said “there was too much reading; it would have been too hard” because of her dyslexia. The principal took responsibility, but I want to submit a State Complaint. Is this in violation of Section 504 rights or IDEA 2004 – I’m so confused!

Sophie: It’s possible your complaint would fit in both. However, you should choose carefully because the Office for Civil Rights, which handles 504 complaints, doesn’t process complaints that have been presented as a special ed complaint.

In my state, at least, one can sometimes get a feel for how complainable an issue is through state ed under IDEA by calling the state special ed oversight office. You can call with a question, and ask if something you observed was done according to Hoyle. If the associate suspects it was not, he or she may make a quick phone call to your district and that may get you quick results.

Sophie:  In my experience, 504 complaints are most successful when you can cite a specific quote from the IEP or 504 plan that the school has not been in compliance with. OCR feels that this shows that your child was discriminated against by virtue of his or her disability.

A special ed complaint can get more into procedural stuff, such as, did you as a parent have full participation in the decision making process?

Perhaps you could draft your complaint and then run it past your parent center. Make sure to include a Remedy section — explain what you want done to remedy the wrong(s).

JG:  For students without cognition problems, such as those with specific learning disabilities or communication impairments, you’re more likely to see changes only in the methodology and delivery of instruction.

Districts will often use propriety programs with such students. Orton Gillihgham, Wilson, and Lindamood-Bell are three such proprietary programs that usually result in a change of methodology and delivery of instruction from how many schools teach children to read/write. These programs are usually associated with students with dyslexia, but nothing prevents them from being used with non-disabled students. If fact, my local district (and many others I know) uses all three with general education students who are struggling with reading skills as part of their tiered system of supports (e.g. RTI).

Kelly: Thanks! I’ve drafted the complaint and will be consulting with an advocate next week to determine where the complaint should be sent.

Wrightslaw: Kelly, the real problem is that your 3rd grade daughter’s reading skills are so poor that her SpEd teacher won’t allow her to participate in the project and isn’t teaching her Social Studies at grade level because reading is “too hard.” Is the SpEd teacher working with her to improve her reading skills? Is anyone tutoring her?

There is a ‘window of opportunity’ in learning to read – that window will start to close soon.

If your daughter isn’t taught how to read (and kids with dyslexia CAN learn to read), write, spell, and do math by a skilled specialist, she will develop an enormous handicap as she gets older. We’ve seen many HS kids whose reading skills are at the 2nd- 3rd grade level – they are illiterate. With good instruction, they can learn to to read.

You need develop expertise in dyslexia and what can be done to teach her to read. The evaluator who diagnosed her with dyslexia may be a good resource for you.

These sites have useful info about teaching children who have dyslexia:



Most states have Decoding Dyslexia chapters – find your state here: http://www.decodingdyslexia.net/dd-states.html

Kelly:  Thanks. I am well educated on dyslexia and involved with organizations such as Learning Ally as is my daughter. The school must modify the content so that she can participate in the general ed curriculum – she has assistive technology provided by the district. They just don’t know how to apply it to their curriculum!

Kelly: Yes, my daughter is on her 2nd year at the Scottish Rite’s Dyslexia tutoring and also receives Wilson Reading System for 90 minutes per day, although not with the fidelity recommended by the Wilson Training Company. She is ~1.5 years behind in reading and has made a lot of progress in the past 1.5 years.

Sophie:  Kelly, congratulations on the progress she has made.

One more idea — if you have an opportunity to talk to the person who decided to exclude your daughter from the project — I’ve tried lots of different ways of explaining things to teachers and staff, and one that has resonated pretty well, for certain issues, is something that might work well in this situation: “She wants to participate with her peers, and feel like a regular kid.”


Shelley: My daughter has Rett Syndrome & Irritable Bowel Syndrome. She had diarrhea shortly before leaving on a field trip. They cleaned her, changed her, and then left her behind. They called me to pick her up after her class had left. Her IEP states that she may be cleaned and return to school, but I was told I could not return her to school because her 1:1 aide had went on the field trip. Frustrated because she was sad and confused.

Melissa: Shelley, I would file a 504 discrimination complaint.


Tishun: Does a daycare/aftercare facility have the right to deny a child acceptance based on their disability? If so, why might that be?

Does a daycare/aftercare facility have the right to deny a child acceptance to their facility based on the child’s IEP?

I was just wondering because my son’s were denied from two different facilities and I was told that they don’t have trained staff. They are great fun loving kids who I needed 2 hours of aftercare for until I got off from work. Money is not an issue and I just want at a place where they could socialize with their peers.

Now after being denied twice, I wouldn’t consider sending my sons to either facility even if they reconsidered, but I was just wondering, that’s all.

JG: Is the day care directly run by a religious organization that receives no public funding? If yes, then it is legal for the center to deny your child’s admission.

For *all* other public or private child care providers, the ADA applies. If it is a public program or receives any public funding (like vouchers/subsidies or UDSA food assistance), Section 504 also applies. Both serve fundamentally the same purpose here.

Under these laws, child care centers *must* provide children with disabilities reasonable accommodations. They cannot deny entrance simply because of a disability. What is “reasonable” is an individual determination based on your child’s specific needs and the program’s resources. The standard for denying admission is very high.

JG: Here is a simple overview of ADA protections for child care: http://www.pacer.org/publications/adaqa/childcare.asp

Here is a more detailed one from the Justice Department: http://www.ada.gov/childqanda.htm.

This flow chart provides a breakdown of the process that child care providers are supposed to use before denying a child admission: http://www.mass.gov/edu/docs/eec/programs-licensing/special-needs/transition-disabilities-flowchart.pdf. It was created by the Mass Dept of Early Education & Care (who license providers in this state), but the process is universal. If the providers you are inquiring about are licensed by the state, a similar state agency where you live may be a great resource to contact.


Gail: My child is on a IEP He has a TBI and sensory disorders. Our public school will not allow him to attend pre k because he is not potty trained.

Chuck: This is against the law under Section 504 & Americans with Disability Act.


Emily: My son is 11 and has autism. He requires feeding and bathroom assistance as he wears diapers. Our local daycare, who provides services to ages 0-15, told us they could not take him unless we provided an aide to assist him. Is this legal? Isn’t that why we pay a daycare, they are the assistance that our children need?

Chuck: The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) deals with daycares. Info on this issue can be found at: http://www.ada.gov/childq&a.htm


Tina: My special needs child is not allowed to enter school before 8 am. Non-disabled children are allowed to enter as early as 7:30 because the school provides breakfast. We can transport him and drop him off at 7:40, and still make it to work on time at 8:00 a.m. Since he is not allowed in the school until after 8:00 am, he has to ride the bus in order for us to get to our jobs on time. The bus picks him up at 6:15 am and usually arrives at school at around 8:10 so he is on the bus for nearly 2 hours. He is still allowed to have breakfast but we hate that he has to be on the bus so long.

Is there any law that says if non-disabled children can enter the school at 7:30, then my son should have the same right?

Chuck: This would be covered by the anti-discrimination law – Section 504 or the Rehabilitation Act, administered by the Office of Civil Rights.


Sara:  The school refused to remove air fresheners out of classrooms which triggers asthma attacks with several students. My child choked up, had difficulty breathing, had to use rescue inhaler when he entered a classroom that used a plugin or aerosol sprays. Principal said he would take care of it, but did not. Does the school have the right to do this? To discriminate against him by not following health plan even if the child was out of district? School accepted child as full time student, however did not follow health plan. Isn‚Äôt there a state law which prohibits the use of air fresheners in public schools? Don‚Äôt they know they‚Äôre toxic and cause many health issues?

JG: Both the ADA and Section protect students with disabilities from discrimination. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the federal Dept of Education is charged with enforcing these laws.

OCR maintains a complaint process that you may elect to use. You can read about the complaint process, and how to file a complaint, here: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/qa-complaints.html.

Normally I would suggest trying further to resolve this with the school, but it sounds like you may need to involve an outside party to work this through.

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Shari: I am have a difficult time dealing with my son’s school and I have made several requests for specific information with no one willing to address the requests. I’m in the process of contacting them again. I am wondering if I should be sending the request via certified mail or should I attempt to keep emailing but contacting someone higher up. I feel like I am getting no where.

Wrightslaw: Shari – Pete and Pam advise parents not to use certified mail. They explain why and provide a good alternative to using certified mail or email in this article. The Negative Impact of Certified Mail at https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=2687

You’ll find more here about Effective Letter Writing https://www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/11/ss.short.course.htm

SharonL: Shari, I always sent one letter certified mail to the special ed director and a copy to the principal. I always got a response after that.


Joan:  Why should a parent not use certified mail when sending a letter disagreeing with the IEP?

Wrightslaw:  Joan, this article should answer your question. The Negative Impact of Certified Letters at https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=2687

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Mary Pat:  I recently had my daughter’s IEP where do to a new teaching model in Sept 2009, they want to take her para away. It is stated in her IEP that the CST will meet again in May 2009 to discuss her progress and her need for a para in Sept. Do I file for mediation and due process now or wait to see what happens in May? Also, am I able to file in May 2009, if I do not like the decision, or do I file now within the 15 day period from her annual IEP?

Wrightslaw:  Before requesting a due process hearing, you need to consult with an attorney who has expertise in special education litigation. The attorney can provide advice about how and when to proceed.
To prevail, you need experts from the private sector who evaluated your child, observed the program, and can testify about your child’s needs, appropriate educational programs, etc.

There are many issues, obstacles and pitfalls for parents. We filmed a DVD about a special education due process hearing. When you watch the DVD, you’ll have a clearer sense of what a due process hearing is like. You will learn more about the Surviving Due Process DVD here: https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/dvddp/index.htm


Miranda:  If district personnel have mechanically forged parent signatures onto documents and falsified documents, such as consents to IEPs and evaluations, are these acts addressed in due process?

SharonL:  Miranda, yes but you better be sure you can prove this with strong evidence or it could be disastrous.


Urs: If you’re in a Due Process mandatory resolution, why would the school want to have an IEP for the upcoming year? In agreeing to any part of a proposed IEP (goals, placement, change of supports,etc.), wouldn’t that negate the Stay Put of the IEP in place? Second if they don’t agree or come to a resolution, can the school call an IEP meeting and set new goals for the coming year?

Wrightslaw: Sounds like you are dealing with legal issues – i.e., stay put, due process, resolution meeting – that are beyond our ability to answer on this blog. We have no information about the facts in your case. If you are represented by counsel, please bring your questions to him/her. Thanks.

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Laura:  My 7th grade daughter is dyslexic. She writes at a 1st-2nd grade level. In English class, she refuses to fill out writing organizers and wants to write without an organizer.

The note home to me was concerned about her behavior and the fact that three people tried to convince her to write out this organizer and failed.

What should I do to help her organize her writing and defuse this power struggle? We have Inspiration software and many Aps. Thank you!

SharonL:  Laura, my guess is that your daughter cannot fill out the organizer. This happened to my boys (all LD& one dyslexic). Instead we worked with the school personnel to fill out the organizer for our children until they became better writers & could do it themselves. The behavior is coming from frustration most likely. That may only get worse without some assistance.

Morning:  I agree with Sharon. My older child is dyslexic but we tried something different when she was resistant to technology, organizers, etc. We stepped back and did “nothing.” We told the teachers to “step back.” I felt that something more was going on due to the level of resistance. I realized, and the staff, that she wanted to advocate for herself more, have more input and be the captain of her ship as she wants to steer it into college. Did she fail without some of the assistance–yes. However, she gave a lot of input into some new ways she can help herself with other types of organizers, assistive technology, etc. She knew more than we did. It was not a prefect solution but it worked for her specific needs and situation. I did not want anyone forcing her to do anything at her age.


Kimberly:  My child has moderate dyslexia. Issues with spelling and writing- not reading. She makes straight A’s in regular classrooms. I pay a private tutor. The school says she is not using her accommodations and wants to remove the 504. This is 5th grade- it is only going to get harder. What’s it to them if she these accommodations or not? Help?!

Morning:  I can only say it is going to get harder for her to keep up with course content. She may need assistive technology in the future. People misunderstand dyslexia and the school may not see the bigger picture as you are dealing with only the 5th grade. Her grade confidence may change with a harder curriculum and rigor next year and beyond, especially if she moves towards honors courses. Are there other accommodations that she may use? Get your child’s input as she has to use them and feel motivated that such accommodations are helpful.

JG:  Kimberly –The school should reevaluate your daughter’s eligibility before they decide to remove the 504 Plan.

If she’s not using the current accommodations, maybe she simply needs new ones – the reevaluation should help determine what they are. And I agree that your daughter’s input regarding accommodations should absolutely be part of the reevaluation.

Sophie:  Stall for time, to see how things go in middle school. Make sure to document the tutoring. That should help. After they evaluate, if you are not satisfied with their evaluation, you can let them know that you are not satisfied and would like to have an independent evaluation at district expense. Make sure the evaluator you choose will commit to attending the 504 meeting with you.


Adrianne: My 7 yr old was recently diagnosed wth dyslexia, LD in math fluency, and Neurodevelopmental Disorder w/ impairment in visual processing & auditory sequencing. I took the results, attained from a child psychologist, to her school and asked that the OG method be introduced along with a few other modifications such as no time limits, etc. the counselor feels that she just has anxiety issues and there are no real learning disabilities. They feel that based on her test scores and performance in class she is fine and she doesn’t qualify for any accommodations. Isn’t she entitled to an IEP or 504 plan since she was diagnosed with 2 specific learning disabilities, regardless of how the school feels she is doing?

Chuck:Under the school’s child find responsibility they must consider written requests for evaluations for sp ed services. They must respond in a prior written notice saying yes or no. I suggest writing to the principal & the sp ed director. If the district agrees to evaluate, they must consider the evaluation you have, but may want to do their own testing. Then the eligibility decision is made by a group of people. If they refuse to proceed, you have the right to follow the dispute resolution processes that the federal & state rules have put in place for parents.

Adrianne: Thank you for the info. I have made requests, but never in writing, always verbally. I didn’t realize that was necessary. I will write a letter and hopefully get somewhere with that. Thanks again!


Jenny:  My 10 yr old has an IEP for speech articulation and math. Original testing 3 yrs ago in school. We privately had him tested 2 yrs ago, he’s dyslexic, dysgraphic and has dyscalculia. After wrangling with school, they’re going to retest him this year. He started private O-G tutoring in September that’s making a difference already.
What testing should I request now?
And what accommodations are helpful when we meet for IEP meeting?
I want my son to learn to read, write and spell. In the past the math accommodations given by the school further weakened his math ability rather than strengthening it.

Morning:  I am not fully knowledgable of what core testing are required. However, my high schooler who is dyslexic is not a great speller–though his spelling improved significantly with interventions–however, Wilson, OG, etc. did help tremendously. Assistive technology is a huge motivator for our kids to learn and improve skills if they like the type of AT given to them. Through the right interventions, my child now loves to write–especially analytical writing and more spelling has improved. I must say that age appropriate interventions are key. More, an AT evaluation may help–please note that your own research into AT and your son’s interests in AT may motivate your son more to learn to spell, read and write and educate the school on appropriate AT for him.


Lisa:  My son has been with ADHD and dyslexia. The principal of the public school he attended determined he was going to be retained in first grade and flat out said he was NOT going to consider the doctor’s diagnosis or opinions on retention that he made up his mind and that was final. So, we began homeschooling. Now, at 8, he has begun to read, though slowly, yet still suffers from anxiety due to the last year in public school with a sever bullying situation that was never handled by the school, and the teacher repeatedly “yelling” at him while trying to learn to read. Since I have never dealt with dyslexia, I am feeling like I am trying to teach a foreign language that I do not know. We are at a loss as to what services he may be eligible for or how to get any help for anything. ANY ideas or help you may offer would be greatly appreciated.

SharonL:  Lisa, you may request a multifactored evaluation to be completed by the school. Send your request in writing & followup with a call to get together to sign the school’s testing consent form. They are then supposed to get the testing done in 60 days. You can request a DRAFT copy of the results to go over with an advocate or physician so you understand the results of the testing. You will get together with the school to determine if your child qualifies for services. If the determination is made you will write an IEP & can address goals for the dyslexia & ADHD. If you don’t agree with the school you can have an outside eval done & the school had to pay for it. There is an OHI (Other health impaired) IEP you can look into. Ask the school for the paperwork for your doctor to fill out.

Morning:  I have an older dyslexic child, but the school did not remediated him early enough and the window of time for him to learn to read by third grade had been lost even though he was in special ed. After 5th grade we hired an advocate and secured an IEE and he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia which, in his case, also came with some other learning issues. Each child is different and their needs for remeidation will vary depending on the recommendations and test results. In my son’s case, the IEE was the benchmark that gave the school system much needed guidance to help him. He is making gains and will progress but he will never catch-up. Considering the principal’s behaviors, you should contact your state department of education for advice and hire an advocate.

Sonja:  Lisa, school systems can now test for dyslexia and your child can have an IEP. Just as students cannot bully, neither can teachers. I am so sorry for what has happened to your child. You should call your state BOE and ask for a “CHILD ADVOCATE.” This will not erase what has happened, but the advocate will be able to assist you in understanding your parental rights, getting services for your child, and hopefully bring the love of learning back to your child. In the mean time, try color overlays. Often, the child being able to hold the letters in place by placing something on top of them, can help. The overlays come in a rainbow of colors, because every child is different. I hope this helps and I truly hope your cherub finds peace and happiness in the world of education. Regards, Sonja


Kristi: My son is a junior this year. He was diagnosed with dyslexia ~10 years ago. He was re-tested last summer and diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADHD. He received accommodations based on most of the recommendations from the diagnostician. One recommendation was that he take an alternative class like Sign Language as his foreign language credit, but his school only offers Spanish. He had taken Spanish I when tested. Thus, he took Spanish II this year (with much difficulty). He wants to earn the Distinguished Diploma (Texas). It requires advanced measures (which he will meet), but also 3 levels of the same foreign language. Are there other options than Spanish III? If no, seems like he is discriminated against because of his disability.

JG:  Kristi –If the school offered classes in other languages to students without disabilities but not those with disabilities, that would be discriminatory. Simply offering only one foreign language class for all students, on the other hand, would not be discrimination.

You can ask that your son’s disability be accommodated, though. Some options may include getting accommodations for the Spanish class so he is able to complete it (as he has 2 out of 3 already), asking that the requirement be waived, or asking for an alternate arrangement such as your son taking classes privately or at a local college for credit.

Chuck:  Texas law allows ARD/IEP teams to substitute other classes for foreign language credits, but I am not sure how this affects getting a DD. You can write the sp. ed. director, look at district policies on graduation. You should be able to get info at: 855-773-3839. You can contact me @ cnoe59@hotmail.com I work for the TX Parent Training & Information Center

Kristi:  Yes, the school offers the same language options to my son as everyone. Just as a school might have an alternative to regular PE for a student with physical disabilities, it seems there should be an alternative to the foreign language requirement for a dyslexic student with a Distinguished Diploma.

He received accommodations for Spanish I and II (more time and working on tests and quizzes in the Language Lab). He passed with great difficulty, and the grades lowered his GPA. It would not be wise to take Spanish III with the same accommodations just to let his GPA slip further.

He has a 504 written plan and goes to a private school. Under what statute could the foreign language requirement be waived or could he take a class privately?

JG: Kristi –Section 504 and the ADA would apply here. Under both, schools are required to make “reasonable accommodations.” What that would constitute would depend on your son’s specific needs and the school’s ability to provide them. Creating a whole other class may not be considered reasonable, especially within a smaller school, because of cost.

Your best bet would be to ask for a meeting to review the 504 Plan and discuss this issue specifically.

Kristi: Thanks Chuck and JG. Chuck pointed me to the 2013 Texas Legislative changes that allow substitutions for the 2 years of foreign language requirement (under disability) under the new Foundation Plan requirements. While these requirements went into effect for 9th grade students in the 2014-2015 school year, I can request that my son be on the Foundation Plan per state law.I am going to meet with the school to see if they will allow the substitution for the 3rd year of foreign language. If that doesn’t work, I will request that my son change to Foundation Plan, choosing the STEM endorsement, and meeting the Distinguished Achievement High School Program (which is a little less demanding than the Distinguished Diploma in current plan).

Virginia: Some Texas public schools allow ‘credit for acceleration.’ He could take an online class through Texas Tech or UT? Have you looked into that?


Lynn: I am an SC for clients in a very rural area. The School District refuses to test for Dyslexia. They say that this issue is being addressed in the curriculum although there is nothing in the IEP that addresses it specifically. The family believes that this is a serious issue for the child that is NOT being addressed. I am helping the family request this testing in writing. If the SD still continues to refuse to test, what recourse do they have?

Wrightslaw: Lynn, dyslexia is a specific learning disability that affects reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes arithmetic. The parents need to write a letter to request a comprehensive evaluation. They need to give their consent to the evaluation. (Our new book, All About Tests and Assessments, has a sample letter to request an evaluation. There are other sample letters on the Internet – just use Google.)

If the school does not think the child needs to be evaluated, they need to provide the parents with Prior Written Notice that includes specific information about their reasons for refusing to evaluate. Please read “Throwing the Flag – What to Do When the School Says No”. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/pwn.throw.flag.htm

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Marlene:  My 11 yr. old daughter has a diagnosis of ADHD,ASPERGER’S DISORDER,RAD. by a Board Certified in both General Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.My question is does the school psychologist have the right to make the statment that his impression is not that of a child with an autism spectrum disorder and there is no school documentation of any criteria which would indicate an educational diagnosis of Autisum.She was diagnosised in Sept. of 2012.I realyy don’t know what to do.Please help THANK YOU

Hadassah: Marlene, sad to say, this happens around the country. Medical diagnosis does not equal educational diagnosis. Try sending a letter to your school district saying that your child has been medically diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum, that you are concerned about the impact of this diagnosis upon her ability to access the educational opportunities offered by the school district and ask that she be evaluated by the district’s autism expert.

Girls on the Autism Spectrum demonstrate their difficulties differently from boys. They often “fly under the radar” in school and fall apart at home.

Sheree:  Marlene, we went through the same thing with our district for our daughter, who was also 11 and diagnosed with Asperger’s, ADHD Inattentive Type. We asked our district for an IEE because we disagreed with the school psychologist. The district argued with us for two months, but they finally “allowed” us to get an IEE. We got a second ASD diagnosis. ADHD and a new diagnosis of an anxiety disorder because we had been fighting with the district for a year and she not getting the support she needed and had regressed. It wasn’t easy and it took us over a year to get some of the support she needed. Start off by asking for the IEE and put it in writing. Tell them you respectfully disagree with the school psychologist based on the diagnoses made and that you would would like to obtain an IEE. Good luck and don’t give up! Keep us posted!


Melissa:  I had my son tested by a neurophysiologist and test results stated that my son needed an IEP done. Since January the school keep rejecting to do the IEP stating that my son grades are not showing that he need an IEP done. The counselor told me they can do a 504 plan faster because the IEP takes longer and my son will have to show reasons why he need an IEP. Is there other places to get an IEP done besides a public school?

JG:  Melissa – Has the school evaluated your child for special education eligibility? If not, I would suggest that you formally request they do so. Simply requesting the evaluation triggers certain rights.

It’s true that the evaluation will have to show that your son needs an IEP, but this is also true with a 504 plan. The school must also evaluate before putting a 504 plan in place. Both evaluations are required to be comprehensive, so it’s not likely that an evaluation under Section 504 would be any quicker.

If the school conducts the evaluation for special ed and finds your son ineligible, they can then use that testing to put together a 504 plan – no additional testing would be needed.

Chuck:  An IEP is developed by a public school or another agency designated by the state education agency. Your request for special testing & IEP should be in writing to the special ed office. They should answer the request in writing. If they say no, you can make a complaint to the state education agency. The federal regs (IDEA) say that a student can qualify for an IEP, even if they are making passing grades.

Melissa:  Thanks for the answers

Sophie:  Melissa, my advice would be to get started with a 504 plan quickly, if they are willing to do that. You can still be asking for an IEP while proceeding down the 504 track. // Believe it or not, in principle it is possible to get almost all the accommodations and services you would have gotten with an IEP this way. The key to getting a strong 504 plan is for the specialist to make detailed recommendations of services and accommodations that would benefit your son — this works better than if you tell them what accommodations would be helpful for him.

Take a look at things like http://teacherweb.com/NY/ValleyStream13/howellroadpbis/CatalogOfAccomidations.pdf and http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/policy/testaccess/policyguide.htm to get some ideas about what to propose, feed your ideas to the specialist, and collaborate with him or her about the list of services and accommodations to proposed.


Jeannie:  My son suffers from ADHD and odd. he went for treatment so he can better function in school. the principle said he didn’t complete enough work to pass. he’s already two grades behind from being on grade level. what can I do to help him get on grade level.

Chuck: If your son is not served by special ed or Section 504, you should request that he be served by one of these. If he is, the team should discuss this situation & develop a plan to get him on grade level. Find the state’s rules on instruction for students who are behind academically. Since he has been retained, he may meet the state’s criteria for at risk of dropping out & the services the state must be provided to such students. Your state parent training & information project can assist you. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

Sophie:  In addition to Chuck’s great answer — you can ask the principal to arrange for extra help, to start immediately. They do NOT have to wait until a lengthy evaluation process is completed in order to start helping your son. Here are some key words that might help: Academic Intervention Services; Response to Intervention. But mainly you will need to repeat, like a broken record, “I would like you to arrange for my son to get extra help right away.” “What specific types of extra help will be given to my son?” “When will such-and-so begin?” (The correct answer to that would be “tomorrow” or “day after tomorrow”.) Do not accept “extra help during lunch” or “before or after school”. It’s fine if you and your son want to avail yourselves of that type of extra help — but that is not enough. He needs to have specific extra help during the school day, where his basic skills can be improved. Good luck.

Wrightslaw: Jeannie – If your child is two grades behind and has been retained, request that the school evaluate your child for special education and an IEP. Be sure to make this request in writing. When the school receives your letter, a timeline starts – they have to evaluate and decide if he is eligible for help within a specific # of days (# of days varies from state to state) For help writing letters, click this link to our Letters & Paper Trails page: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/ltrs.index.htm


Kari:  What is the significance of an other health impairment eligibility designation versus an autism designation? My son, currently 9, first obtained an IEP in kindergarten under the other health impairment criteria based on ADHD. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with ASD, and the school has declined to change his eligibility criteria to autism or to add this criteria, saying he doesn’t meet the county’s certificate of eligibility for autism. Does it matter what eligibility criteria is listed on his IEP, so long as he has an IEP? We have a manifestation hearing coming up, and I want to be clear on this issue.

Chuck:  It might or might not based on the child’s needs & state regulations. In TX for example, schools have extra responsibilities for students with autism. Federal regs say that schools must address all of a child’s needs regardless of the label(s) given the child.

Sophie:  For now, at least, make sure the new diagnosis is clearly stated in the IEP, even if it doesn’t appear as the eligibility designation.

Marge:  Also, consider needed transition services and life after high school. He will most likely be eligible for more services under autism in high school, and as an adult, but less or none under ADHD. He is protected during manifestation meetings based on the characteristics of his disability, and he may have more characteristics with ASD (impulsive).

To Chuck: I concur.

A student’s disability category is an agreement between the IEP Team that the student’s profile is consistent with the regulatory definition of the disability category.

It is not supposed to determine the content of the IEP. That should be based on his needs, as determined by evaluation.

So, as long as the IEP provides him with the services and supports he needs, the disability category itself shouldn’t have any impact on your son’s education.

That said, as Chuck noted, some states provide additional protections for students within certain categories or with certain diagnoses (MA also provides such for students with autism). If such policies/laws exist in your state, it may benefit your son to be classified with autism.

Some states use the disability category to decide who has these rights, while others impart the protections to all students with the diagnosis regardless of the category.

Definitely check with your local parent center to see what additional responsibilities you state requires, if any: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.


Annette: twice gifted child ADHD/gifted and talented. Good grades and standardized yearly school tests but psychological testing shows executive function defects particularly processing speed, memory showing significant differences, also written expression issues. Possible learning disability (more likely than not). Found ineligible for 504 or IEP in 2012 but school had him on Child Study Intervention Plan since then, is this legal? Isn’t this just supposed to be used during eligibility process, not for years?

Pam Wright: Annette – Interesting question. I’ve done a little searching on the VA DOE site. This is my understanding of your facts. Your child was evaluated by the school in 2012. He was not found eligible for a 504 plan or IEP. The team put him on a “Child Study Intervention Plan.”

Your questions: “Is this legal? Isn’t Child Study supposed to be used during the eligibility process, not for years?” A: In general, yes.

My questions: After he was found not eligible, what was supposed to happen? Did you receive paperwork about the reasons why he was not found eligible? Do you have a copy of the Intervention Plan? What interventions were to be tried? What were the outcomes? When was the team supposed to meet to discuss and possibly revise the Intervention Plan?

Look at these docs:
* Student Intervention Plan at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/virginia_tiered_system_supports/training/cohort/2013/feb/day_1/individual_intervention_plan_template.pdf

* Intervention Plan Checklist at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/virginia_tiered_system_supports/training/cohort/2011/july_19/student_intervention_plan_checklist.pdf

* Intervention Team Plan at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/virginia_tiered_system_supports/training/cohort/2011/july_19/intervention_plan_template%20.pdf

Are they familiar? Have there been meetings to discuss his progress under the 2012 Intervention Plan? Dates? Is he still under a “Child Study Intervention Plan”?

I ask these questions because there is no “child study intervention plan” in the federal law and regs. Virginia created an additional team called “Child Study” or “Problem Solving” whose mission is to identify children who need to be evaluated and develop strategies to help children who are not eligible for special ed services.

Sophie: Try to write down a list of supports you feel your child needs, and another list of ways your child is being harmed by not getting them. Personally I find it easier to do the former than the latter. These two lists will help you make decisions about your game plan, and depending on what game plan you choose, you may end up using these lists as a starting point for various things you may end up writing.


Kirk: My son has multiple medical conditions which cause him to be impulsive and “emotionally exhausted.” We have an IEP eligibility meeting in two weeks. The district staff has already said there are no programs or supports available to address social skills and strongly implied his grades a good enough that he won’t qualify for services.

Educational Performance consists of two components: Academic Progress and Social Competence.

How can I get the school to support my son in learning to regulate his emotions and communicate effectively; to support his Social Competence? It seems like a functional skill to me.

Chuck: On the Wrightslaw homepage click on Eligibility in the lower left. You will find several articles that discuss that eligibility is more than poor grades.

Kirk: Thank you Chuck. I have read all of the articles on eligibility. My problem is the school district doesn’t believe they need to provide social skills support to students unless they are in a self contained, EBD classroom. If the team decides my son qualifies for modifications and services, the district has nothing to offer to remediate his lagging executive function and social skills.

How can I get the school to provide research based support for my son when they don’t have any programs or supports available for him?

Jennifer: SLP here–He can get help for social language under the category speech-language impairment if he has appropriate scores after he is given a language eval with an emphasis in pragmatic language. Speech pathologists are trained for this. The Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language has a stand-alone pragmatic component. There is also the Test of Pragmatic Language which I have used.

Kirk: Thank you Jennifer.

Communication was identified as a problem area, but only when he is upset. He needs strategies such as “I statements” to use. However, he doesn’t have a speech-language impairment. It is a social-emotional impairment. There are no resources to help him.


Marie:  I am a general ed teacher. I have a child who has only been in this country since July. He clearly needs special education and according to his father was receiving help in his school in Mexico. My supervisors tell me that there is nothing they can do because he is a recent immigrant so he will most likely remain in my room. They are telling me to select PRIM interventions to begin a referral without a team to help me to select the most appropriate ones. I just want to do right by this child. what does the law say about a situation like this?

Jan: Did he bring any special Ed documents with him when he moved to the USA.
Did his parent request an IEP?(In writing) to asses his needs. It is not up to the admin. Tell his parents to request one.

JG: Marie ‚ First, good for you for pushing this issue and looking out for the needs of your student!

Second‚ I have so many questions here. Did the parent request an evaluation? Did the school deny the request? What does the school mean when they say there’s nothing they can do?

IDEA’s “child find” provisions require schools to identify students within their districts who have a disability. What the child find process actually looks like, in practice, varies state to state, some require screening, some simply make screening available, some require parent notification, etc. It may help to find out how this process works where you are.

At the *very* least, the school should notify the parent that someone has expressed concern about their child. There is a potential liability on the school’s behalf if they fail to act on your (or others) concerns.

IDEA in no way prevents immigrants from being evaluated for special education eligibility. If there’s questions about this parent’s/student’s legal status, federal law guarantees all children with equal access to public education, this includes IDEA provisions.

Under IDEA, this student’s (presumed) ELL/ESL status and cultural factors MUST be taken into consideration when conducting the evaluation and developing the IEP. But no where does it state that these factors can impede the initial evaluation process.

On a side note, your state may offer additional guidance for evaluating or serving such students. Here is some other helpful resources regarding this: http://www.brycs.org/clearinghouse/Refugee-and-Immigrant-Students-and-Special-Education.cfm.

I agree with Jan, it’s best for the parent to request an initial evaluation in writing. There are certainly steps you could take to further advocate for this child, but the parent’s request will likely have the greatest impact.


Kelly: My son will be a junior; diagnosed with ADHD in first grade, hasn’t required accommodations due to effective meds. Since 9th grade been struggling with school to have him tested, finally done last December. After testing schools says “student has disability but doesn’t need specially designed instruction, and therefore is NOT ELIGIBLE for special education.” However they placed “non-exceptional student plan” in his file. Plan has everything we wanted in a 504 only problem – up to the teachers’ discretion to implement. One did and he went from F’s to C’s/B’s. Since testing he’s developed simple motor tics and had to come off his ADHD meds. How can I get the school to implement a 504?

Virginia: You are an equal participant in the special ed evaluation; did you agree that he doesn’t need specialized instruction? If not, they have to provide you with prior written notice explaining why he is not eligible for an IEP. If you did agree with the school, then they have to look at if accommodations are needed. They provided him accommodations outside of a 504-this is most likely a legal violation. Call your state’s Office for Civil Rights at the Dept. of Education for guidance. You will get to talk with an attorney. They have been so helpful to me.

Kelly: We did agree on the specialized instruction which we knew he was eligible before. Had asked for 504 consideration but they always avoided any talk of it. We felt that something was better than nothing; if it worked then push even harder for 504. Trying to meet w/team now before new school year. Will also contact office you suggested. Thanks.


Eddie: I have a 16 year old daughter who has Asperger’s. She is having a lot of social problems. I need her school’s help. What do I need to do?

Chuck:  Schools are to address a student’s social needs. Let the school know your concern & request an IEP meeting to discuss the need.

Sophie:  Chuck is right on target with his answer. I just wanted to mention, though, that sometimes the informal route gives quicker, better results. Sometimes a chat with the school social worker, guidance counselor or principal can get the child some help more quickly. I would start by asking each of these people if they have any social skills groups your daughter could join. For example, there is often something along the lines of a Lunch Bunch that meets once a week. You can also request a parent teacher conference. Each of her teachers could help with this, if you are able to stimulate their empathy and willingness to help. If your daughter is in therapy, the therapist can reach out to the school social worker.

One other thought. Sometimes there are community support groups that can be helpful. Try calling your county’s mental health association to see if they have one, or know of one. I am constantly amazed at how many buried resources there are in my mid-sized town that are not well publicized.


Star: I am trying to help a friend. He has a teenage son who is behind in school due living with his mother and her not making him attend. The father has him now but the school will allow him to enroll because he is to far behind. How do I help him. This is very important. Please respond soon. This way I can help him out . He is one of our tribal citizens.

Chuck: Telling the school that the parent will complain to the state education agency might motivate them. If not, the state can make a complaint. Staff at the state Parent Training & Information Center can assist you. A list can be found under topics on this site’s homepage.


Melissa:  My son is in the fifth grade and is 11years old. When he was in the third grade he was diagnosed with Oppressive Defiant Disorder and ADD he is on medication to treat both. My question is since he has been on medication for almost three years is it possible to get an IEP or a 504 plan for him or would it be to late? The school does know about his diagnosis but its an everyday thing to get a phone call about his behavior.

Sandy:  Melissa, as the old saying goes, it’s never too late! Seriously, though, the meds have nothing to do with it. Put a request in writing ASAP asking for a comprehensive special education evaluation (under IDEA and 504) to be conducted, and include in the letter your consent for this evaluation to begin. (They may require you to sign their own form, so do that right away if they need it.) Consent begins the timeline (usually 60 days or 60 school days) for the school to conduct the eval. Good luck!


Michelle:  My son is 7 years old and in the second grade. We have not received all of his test results prior to the eligibility review meeting. I am not comfortable or ready to meet with the team until after I review his test results. Are we required to meet?

Sandy:  Request (in writing!) that the school provide test results 5 days before the meeting so that you have time to review them and thus participate as an informed team member at the meeting. The test results are available as education records under federal FERPA – 45 days – or your state counterpart, which may be shorter, AND they are available before an IEP meeting. If the team fails to provide them, go to the meeting and state that you need to adjourn and why. That you want to reconvene once you’ve received and read the results. That will be inconvenient for them, and they will probably provide the records in advance next time. Good luck!


Carrie:  According to Eval report done by school district for child with high functioning autism transitioning out of EI, she was not eligible for services. Had an assessment done for speech with occupational therapist present whom saw no sensory issues. Was asked to come back for eval in classroom setting and told she participated but we were in a separate room. Received copy of report with two letters and the top says that we are invited to an iep meeting and that our child is eligible for services but eval report says no delay or disability and not eligible. Why do they want us to come in?

Chuck:  Having a meeting whether a student is eligible or not for services is in accordance with federal regulations. A team of people, including the parents, must make the formal decision that a child is not eligible for services. It is important to note that eligibility can be based on social skills & behavioral needs, not just academic needs.

Carrie:  Thanks Chuck, as I was thinking that is what they want but no actual social or behavior assessment has been completed. I understand the difference between the educational diagnosis and medical diagnosis after reading through all the great info. We received the diagnosis three weeks after evaluation after being on wait list for a developmental ped. They told us at the initial evaluation there is no way she would qualify for services they already had their minds made up. Still confused as to why they would put a letter stating she is eligible but the eval says no? Is it a ploy to get us there to sign off so EI and School are in the clear? She turns 3 on Saturday.

Chuck:  I have no idea why the letter says eligible, other than she was eligible under EI. The federal Dept. of Ed. monitors transition from EI programs to public schools so some states & districts worry about handling transitions appropriately. If you feel that a social or behavior assessment is appropriate, you have the right to request these. Since they have done an evaluation, you have the right to access the state dispute resolution process (mediation, state complaint, due process hearing.)


Bill:  Is a physician’s diagnosis of ADHD required for a child to be considered by the PPT for OHI/ADHD? Would appreciate any cite to such a requirement.

Kellie:  Bill, my school psychologist had the teachers and the parents fill out a questionnaire on my daughter for ADHD. The testing came back positive from the teachers and just a little from the parents. I took a copy of this questionnaire and the results to my pediatrician and the doctor said she would have used the same questionnaire and we started my daughter on the meds and I took a letter from my doctor to the school psychologist. Of course the child’s academics must be affected by the ADHD diagnosis to be placed under OHI. We later had her tested for APD which looks just like ADD and that came back positive. Hope this helps.


Fran:  If a child has a diagnosis of Bi-Polar, has 2 to 3 academic classes she is struggling in,(9th grade) can the parent request the school pay for an outside source for another psychological? I disagree with the one they reported with scores showing more than a 19 point split between verbal; and performance and overall score and the special ed. team ignored it. They stated she showed progress with turning in her homework, so there wasn’t a sufficient concern to place her.

Sandy:  Yes – if you disagree with the school’s evaluation for any reason (and you don’t even have to provide the specific reason, though the school may as), you have the right to an IEE (independent educational evaluation). You can read more about IEE’s at Wrightslawhttps://www.wrightslaw.com/info/test.iee.steedman.htm


Beth:  I have a question. I was told by a physician specializing in Selective Mutism that OHI was the most appropriate school based diagnosis. I was told by a School Psychologist that OHI as defined by IDEA, was not an available diagnosis for a student with Selective Mutism. How is OHI determined in the school setting? Is OHI restricted by IDEA?

Sharon L.:  Beth, check with your state special ed department. They may be able to assist with how to request an OHI IEP. We did it by getting the paperwork that was necessary for the doctor to sign and then had our doctor fill it out. Once we got that back to the school we met and put together an IEP that met his needs.


Jennifer: My daughter is 5 and entering kindergarten in the fall. She has been receiving services from the school district through PSSE for speech. She has a severe articulation delay with a 15% intelligibility. She is also receiving OT services for SPD, Auditory Processing, Visual Processing, Vestibular deficiency, Touch Sensitivity as well…to name a few. She was also approved for summer services for both speech and OT. For kindergarten we are only being offered informal services instead of an IEP, which I feel is necessary. I have to meet with the head of Student Services to plead her case. Am I wrong in thinking that she is eligible? Where do I begin?

SharonL: Jennifer, my son also got services prior to kindergarten. Once that was over & he was going to first grade the school did another evaluation to determine if the services were still needed. Once they did the evaluation we met & it was decided to put him on an IEP because he still needed services. You can request in writing to have this done & make sure you sign their consent form as the 60 day requirement to get the testing done does not start until the consent form is signed.


Michele: I wanted to ask if a student can be enrolled in a Special Day class with no IEP or 504 plan. This student may be a harm to other students in the class, as he has behavioral issues the current students do not. The director unilaterally decided to enroll this student in the Special Day class, as their solution to this student’s needs. However, he was assessed, and at the IEP it was decided he does not qualify for special education services.

ASDmom: Sounds like RTI and creative way to deny IEP. Research this, then write letter documenting all.


EC: we just recently had our daughter eligibility conf. we disagree with the classification of mulitiply disabled, she was diagnosed with dypraxia/ DCD, convergence insufficiency . we want classification SLD but district refuses to change because she also has speech delay. why would district push multiply disabled.?Right now she is in reg. ed but district wants placement out of district in public school multi-disablity class. Her reg ed teachers are not supportive of her staying in reg ed. We don’t believe she meets that criteria under IDEA, Dyspraxia is a LD.

Chuck: Check your state education agency’s website for information on the defininition of multiply disabled to see what it says. In this state it sounds like your child would meet our definition for multiply disabled.
In some states certain disabilities or placements earn the school more funds, so that could be an issue in your situation. You can always make a complaint ot the state &/or a request for mediation.

Sharon:  I understand that you are disagreeing with the classification of multiply disabled, but according to the information you have provided in your post, your daughter fits that category. You mention two different diagnoses in your post. You are right in that dyspraxia is a SLD, but convergence insufficiency clouds the issue. CI affects reading because the eyes have difficulty working together. Does your daughter receive vision therapy? That is an essential part of her treatment. You mention a speech delay as well. Children with dyspraxia often present with speech delays, but once again, the CI clouds the issue.
I am wondering whether the multi-disabled class doesn’t address children with visual impairments. If it does, then it is an appropriate placement.

Sharon:  You state that her current general ed teachers are not supportive of her remaining in a general ed class. They must have specific reasons why they feel this is not the appropriate placement for your daughter. Have you spoken with them and asked them to justify their position? Have you gone to observe the class she has been offered? Perhaps you will see that it can offer your daughter more opportunities to maximize the educational benefit she receives in school.
If the proper program is awarded, and the placement proves to be appropriate in order to further your daughter’s education, then the classification should not matter at this time. Remember that classifications can, and are often, changed.
Good luck, and keep an open mind.

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Elianne: My son has LD and attention disorder,(suspect dyslexia) he has an IEP. In the Language Survey I wrote that I speak to him in English and Spanish, but his primary L is English. I communicate with him in English and my husband is american. The spanish he hears is two words if that. Anyway, he has been wrongly placed in ESL. How do I correct that and get him out of that? He faces so many challenges already for in top of that have to deal with that. I asked for him to be removed from ESL but they said that he’s still required to take the ACCESS test. 🙁

Sophie: Elianne, have you already gone to central administration with this?

You are not alone. This problem of “double classification” is a hot topic all over the country now. Here are some things that might help you:




Amber:  please help me find laws and parent resources for ELLs with disabilities

JG:  Your local parent center should be able to help you find this state-specific information: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.

I know of few resources that address the interaction of both categories, but you can check out these:

ELL resources from OCR at the Dept of Ed: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/ellresources.html

Colorin Colorodo: http://www.colorincolorado.org/

JG:  Amber, There is no federal law that exclusively addresses students in both categories. Here is what we do have:

The ADA and Section 504 address the rights of students with disabilities, regardless of ELL status. The ADA prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities. Section 504 entitles qualified students with disabilities to a free and appropriate public education.

IDEA is the federal special education law. It offers a number of rights to eligible students with disabilities, regardless of ELL status. It also offers specific rights to eligible students whose native language is not English. It entitles them to evaluations in their native language and to have their language needs considered when the IEP is developed.
The Civil Rights Act and the Equal Education Opportunities Act address the rights of students with regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, regardless of disability status. The CRA prohibits discrimination against students based on membership in a protected class. The EEOA requires schools to help qualified students overcome barriers to equal participation. These two laws and related case law provide a right to ELL instruction.

These are all federal laws. Your state will have its own special education regulations, as well as regulations regarding ELLs (or ESLs, ESOLs, LEPs, or CLDs – states use different descriptors). Your state may also offer guidance about addressing the needs of students with membership in both classes.

Chuck: A report from the federal Institute of Education Sciences highlights the challenges and lack of research for identifying English-language learners who also have disabilities. The document outlines policies and best practices from 20 states with high populations of ELL students. Education Week Teacher (tiered subscription model http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2015/07/ELL_and_special_education.html

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Jane:  My 11th Grade student has Medical & LD’s which cause her to miss a lot of school. She’s bright. when there, can get work done, retain knowledge, but produces work slowly. IEP gives extended time. thus far, missed over 40 days – prior req. for home tutor due to medical has been ignored. Request for ESY (a transitioning high school-college program) is being denied. School’s view is she’s not eligible for ESY or tutoring bc the issue is she has fallen behind due to absences, not requiring specialized instruction over the summer or possible regression – tried Federal law using ‘emerging skills’ too and denied as well due to absences. Currently at high risk for retention and not graduating w/trade certificate & diploma, as written in vision & transition plan/statement. Help please!

Kathie:  Jane, my daughter too has medical disability but no LD, and she needs extended time. She started with alot of absences. Finally a kind person informed me that I should get her on a 504 and get home tutoring. It wasn’t easy and they dragged it out. This was after about 8 months of falling behind. Then I requested that be put on an IEP. This took another 6 months. Now I am fighting for more hours of home tutoring. The school is refusing.
My daughter’s medical condition prevents her from attending school because she cannot stand or walk far and has extreme fatigue. I provided the school with the doctor’s statement to that effect. Medical papers on medical condition that documents symptoms and support the need for home tutor. Have you done that? Send by certified mail? I’m fighting for ESY services too. Good luck.


Linda:  Hi I need to know how to go about getting an extended school year IEP for my son.

Wrightslaw:  Linda – Use the google search box on any Wrightslaw page. Enter the search term “ESY” – you will get about 1700 results. Or, you can start on this page – Extended School Year Services at https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/esy.index.htm

ESY: Aides for ESY

EL: My daughter has an aide but that person is summer help and doesn’t have a certification. Can they place just anyone as her aide for the summer?

Wrightslaw: El – The educational requirements for an aide are minimal compared to the requirements for a paraprofessional. Why does your daughter have the aide? Does she have an aide during the school year? What are the aide’s responsibilities? Can the aide meet those responsibilities without being certified?

Since your question related to ESY (I presume), you should know that courts in different states and circuits have issued different rulings on ESY. I’m not aware of a ruling on the educational requirements for aides who work in summer programs.


Rocio: I have a couple of autistic patients that their parents are requesting summer school classes for long time. The school says they don’t qualify for that due to they showed some progress toward target goals. Both are nonverbal. Is there any law that parents can use to get services for their children?

Chuck: The answer depends on the state’s rules on summer school & extended year services for students with disabilities.

Rocio: We live in Brownsville,Texas.

Chuck: Rocio, TX law requires that 11 “strategies” be considered for students with Autism, & 1 of these is extended year services. Some TX schools believe that students with Autism must show regression over the summer to qualify for these services. I do not read the law to require regression for students with Autism. I work for the TX Parent Training & Information project, so I am familiar with TX rules & can assist you further, if you contact me at: cnoe59@hotmail.com

Wrightslaw: Go to the website of the Texas department of Education and search for “Extended School Year” or “ESY.” You will find several resources including an article entitled “Extended School Year Services for Students with Disabilities.”

Next, go to Texas Project First at http://www.texasprojectfirst.org/index.html. Search for “Extended School Year.” You will find more useful articles including a FAQs page about ESY. http://www.texasprojectfirst.org/FAQESY.html

After you read these articles, you will have a clearer sense as to who is eligible for ESY services from the school district. If you think your child should receive these services, write a note to request a team meeting. Provide copies of these articles to the child’s team members.

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JeanMarie:  My child has an iep and the school is helping us somewhat.
I had her tested at the beginning of third grade and the school told me she had an auditory processing disorder. I asked for a new set of complete testing and was told no. They did redo some parts of the testing which my child scored higher on. Now they are saying there is No way she has auditory processing disorder. Can I request a complete set of new testing. I really want to know a correct diagnosis so that I can help my child. Does anyone know the next step and if I can ask for further testing.

SharonL:  JeanMarie, you can tell the school in a written letter you do not agree with the test results especially since one time it said your daughter qualified & another time she did not. You can request an outside evaluation from a professional at the school’s expense. The school will give you a list of prof to choose from. YOu do not have to use any of these. You may get a recommendation of who to go to from a physician, advocate, support group, etc. Once you have the outside evaluation done the school has to consider it. This may make things a lot clearer for everyone. AT this point you do not have to sign anything until you see what the results of the outside testing is.


Crystal: My son currently has an IEP with the local school system. He is not currently meeting this IEP and our family has concerns that he may have Autism and that IEP needs to be adjusted to meet is needs. I have asked the school’s Special Education Dept. to test him and they have denied me. What are their obligations as far as my request? If I cannot test him how can I know if he needs additional or different kinds of help?

Chuck: The district should have responded to your written request with a prior written notice of refusal to test. If they did, you need to find help to analyze their reasons & to try to build a stronger case for testing. Schools are required to identify all of the child’s needs. I suggest that you try to get help from your state’s Parent Training & Information Center. You can find info on the Centers & prior written notice in the Topics list on this website’s homepage.


Brigid: I am a teacher and have been repeatedly told by our Special Ed Coordinators to not go forward with the SST or RTI process because the student will not qualify. Where can I find support? I have carried out interventions for over 6 weeks, have baseline and post data, formative data, and observations. I know that a student may not be 2 grade levels behind yet. Isn’t there any way to move forward with the process? Please let me know where I can find help! Thanks!

Chuck: The federal Dept. of Ed. has stated that the RTI process cannot be used to deny a parent’s right to request a sp ed evaluation. Some states have regulations stating this. One intent of IDEA was to encourage schools to move away from the 2 years behind concept & identify children at a younger age. Some states have rules about identifying struggling learners. These can be identified before 3rd grade. Research what your state regs & agency says on this.


Fiona: As parents we wrote to school asking for further formal testing on Nov 3, 2015 after testing at our expense revealed moderate dyslexia for our 10yo who was struggling at school. We have heard nothing, and its now Jan 3 2016. Both older 2 kids have dx processing disorders and one also has ADD. He had to fail completely before we got help offered in form of 504. We are basically being told the same thing for our youngest. If we write and request testing doesn’t the school(district) have to test?We are being told that the 504 is ONLY for the teacher to make classroom accomm which state in the 504, that accommodations happen only at the discretion of the teacher,not consistently.Does the school have further time avail to them? Am I off base?

In the 504 mtg I was told that all state testing now provides all children with time and a half so our child with newly dx moderate dyslexia will not qualifty for extra time….a 504 accomodation that is being inconsistently provided currently. What are our options if any? BTW, we got refused the request this week, this despite percentile scores between 9-18th percentile in math. They took the 18th percentile….

Sophie:  It is not enough to ask them to test your child. You must be quite explicit and idiot-proof your request. You should say in your letter that you would like your child evaluated for an Individualized Educational Program (IEP), and give some reasons why you are concerned about your child’s progress. (Perhaps this is what you already did.) Note, it doesn’t need to be a long letter.

Maybe a 504 plan will be acceptable for you; but you should start out asking for an IEP. Here’s why: once you make this request, you are on the special ed train, and will have protections under IDEA through your state ed department. (If the committee meets and decides that your child is not eligible for an IEP, at that moment you are no longer covered by the IDEA protections.) When you are on the special ed train, there are time limits. Your parent center can give them to you, or there may be something like a “special ed in plain language” pdf you can download in your state, that will give you the time limits.

“In the 504 mtg I was told that all state testing now provides all children with time and a half so our child with newly dx moderate dyslexia will not qualifty for extra time.” This is nonsense, so try to get it in writing. First, ask them to send you their notes from the meeting. Second, write an email or letter with your own notes of the meeting.
Take a look at your state’s testing accommodations manual. Chances are district staff has not bothered to read it. But there you will find out what your state allows.
One thing you might try, if you are having trouble getting something like time and a half for tests put into a 504 plan or IEP, is to ask them to give the accommodation a trial and take data with and without, and come back to another meeting to compare the results in a specified amount of time, for example a month or six weeks.

“We are being told that the 504 is ONLY for the teacher to make classroom accomm which state in the 504, that accommodations happen only at the discretion of the teacher,not consistently.” Again, nonsense. Step one is for you to get as strong a 504 plan as you can. Step two is to try to nudge them into complying with the plan. Step three, which I hope you don’t need to resort to, would be to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, showing the ways the school is not complying with the 504 plan. (I would not mention this to them at this point!)
Regarding your frustration with them having ignored your 11/3/15 request, one thing you could try would be to write again, cite the date of your request, state that you have received no response, and then say, “I would like an immediate response to my request.” (A trick I learned from a special ed lawyer.)


Linda:  I delivered the request to evaluate my child and asked for the permission to evaluate consent form to sign. The school has delayed giving the form to me. How long can they hold it off? I waited for months now. What options do I have to get it done soon?

Sophie:  This is one of the things I have found most unforgivable and frustrating.

I would write: “With this letter, I am hereby providing consent for name-of-district to evaluate my child, name-of-child, for certain-areas. I have been regularly requesting the district form that is used for providing consent since original-date (see attached). It is unconscionable for the district to continue delaying the start of the evaluation process by holding its holy form hostage in this way. Please either accept this consent letter at face value, or send me the ‘official’ consent form immediately.”

Send it to the superintendent and the members of the Board of Education, but don’t make it a mass email. Send separate emails to each one.

If you can get the email address of the special ed oversight office in your state, put it in the cc field of your message to the superintendent. I have sometimes seen this help.

JG:  Linda-IDEA provides a 60-day time limit for the completion of the initial evaluation, from the day the school receives parental consent (at §300.301). Unfortunately, it does not provide a time limit for how long the school can wait to provide you with a consent form once you request it.

Many states do provide a time limit, though, either through state law or IDEA interpretation. So the first thing I would suggest is checking with your local parent center regarding this issue (http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/).

Next I would suggest that you write the school again, reminding them of your request, and send a copy to the district’s director of special education.

If there are any state-set obligations, you can note that in your letter. If your state doesn’t provide guidance, you can refer to guidance provided by OSEP in the commentary to the IDEA regulations at §300.301. They say that the consent form should be provided within a reasonable amount of time, and waiting months to provide it is a potential violation of the school’s “child find” obligation.

If the school still does not respond, you may want to involve outside parties or consider using dispute resolution methods. Some state Depts of Education will intervene informally on parents your behalf, especially in such basic matters. You can consider requesting this. You can also consider filing a state complaint regarding the lack of response, lack of what’s know as “prior written notice,” or failure to fulfill child find obligations. Again, your local parent center should be able to help you navigate these options.


Maggie:  Hello, I have have a family that has had some outside testing done on her son for speech and language. The public school did pay for that one, but the specialist recommended that a Neuro-psych eval be done. The public school denied paying for the Neuro-psych stating that it was only recommended and the team disagreed. She then declined the new IEP, on the bases of not doing the further testing. What steps should she take to get the public school to pay for the outside testing?

Another parent went to an IEP meeting and the same school district requested a Neuro-psych to be done, but told her that she needed to pay for it and then once it was done they would review it and decide the needs of the individual. How should she go about requesting reimbursement for the testing?

Sophie:  I succeeded in getting an educational psych eval at public expense, but failed on the neuropsych. I have a hunch there is some grapevine that district lawyers are on, that has given them the idea that they can get away with this.

Of course, you could contest it with due process, but that can be a prolonged process, and it could pile up lawyer fees.

In my case, I decided to give in on this particular issue, but pushed hard for the services and accommodations my child needed. Because the reason I wanted the neuropsych eval was to support my position.


Donna:  My son is in the 10th grade and his triennial is due in Jan 2016. The school is saying they don’t need to test him any more since they have adequate data on him already. He has been with the school since 1st grade receiving speech and academic resource services. It is up to me, but I was wondering is there a benefit to testing him again this time? My thought is he should be tested for speech at least.

JG:  Donna – If you suspect the school may find your son ineligible for special ed, then absolutely have them formally test every area.

If there’s any area where your son’s been struggling or you suspect the school will propose a big change, it’s probably best to have formal testing in that area.

But if you suspect the school will continue to find your son eligible and not want major changes to the IEP, then I think you can go with your gut regarding additional testing.

You can consider asking the school for a “preview” of the data they have collected, before making your decision. I’d want to know generally what type of info they have, where they collected it from, and how they planned on using it – then make my decision based on that.

If you later find that more info is needed, you can ask for additional testing at that time.

One area I would suggest that you DO ask them to evaluate, is transition-related needs. IDEA requires transition planning to begin by age 16 (many states set a younger age), so it’s likely they’ve never tested this area before.

Is your son 16 now, or will he be 16 during this IEP period? Then the Team is required to discuss his transition-related needs, including goals and services. This discussion should be based on the results of (formal and informal) transition-related assessment.

This handout provides a good overview of transition-related assessment: http://www.nsttac.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdf/NSTTAC-DCDT_Fact_Sheets/AgeAppropriateTransitionAssessment.pdf.

And this link has a lot of basic info about the transition process in general: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/transitionadult/.

I would also encourage you to connect with your local parent center, who will be able to provide you with info about transition planning policies and practices in your state: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.

JG:  I want to add that grades alone are not an indication of whether a student will need an IEP, and the school is acting improperly if they use good grades as a deterrent to evaluation.

IDEA states, “Each state must ensure that FAPE is available to any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade. [§ 300.101(c)].”

In addition, a comprehensive evaluation must assess ALL areas related to the students suspected disability, including social/emotional needs, functional skills, motor abilities, etc. [§ 300.304]. And the IEP must address all identified needs, not just academic.

Sophie:  Thank you, JG, this document is just what I needed in advocating for my son.


Teresa: My granddaughter has Aspergers and math disability diagnosed in 2013. In 2012 I asked for an evaluation after her long time math tutor suggested it. Her math teacher replied with a few after school sessions but on several occasions no one was there. They had another student tutor her and did not do an eval until almost a year later after I contacted the state board of developmental disabilities. Graduation is next week, but she did not get algebra 2 which narrows educational choices. Was the school negligent in the delay of evaluating her and not providing me with IDEA info which I found here so I know how to push them to evaluate her. Is there any remuneration my granddaughter would be entitled to as they delayed any interventions nearly a year after my first requests. I have all my emails with the school system regarding these actions or lack of actions?

Wrightslaw: Teresa, I don’t know if you have a case because the school did not evaluate her when you first asked them for an evaluation. The timeline for parents and guardians to bring legal action varies, depending on the state you live in. Suggest that you contact an attorney in your state, an attorney who has experience in special education law and litigation. After the attorney reviews your granddaughter’s educational file, he or she will be able to review your options.

Be prepared to provide the attorney with a complete copy of your granddaughter’s educational file prior to or at the consultation.


Helle: I was told that I am “entitled to a copy of the psychoeducational report once it is completed”.
I informed the psychologist about the law §300.613 Access rights.

Her response was: “The law that you are quoting is in regards to records that are in existence and as you are aware, the team is in the process of conducting the assessment and do not have a report to provide to you at this time.”

What do I need to do in order to get the reports before my IEP meeting?

Wrightslaw: If the school did not provide evaluations or their proposed IEP goals before the IEP meeting, this is likely to affect your ability to participate in the IEP process. Reschedule the meeting.

The law is clear.

Parents are full participating members of their child’s IEP team. You cannot be a full participating team member if you do not receive key information about your child and his/her needs before the meeting.


Patrick: Question from the school end: We have an 18 year old student in our district whose separated parents have joint custody. Student was declassified several years ago (It was at least two years ago, and my understanding is both parties consented), but one parent has recently requested an initial evaluation. As an 18 year old general education student, is the student able to refuse either testing or the evaluation in its entirety (Colorado age of majority is 18)? I’m not really hoping for one particular outcome, I just want to make sure the student’s rights are upheld.

JG:  Patrick – It looks like the age of majority in Colorado for special education purposes is actually 21 (see https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/ta_agemilestones).

So, there in Colorado, the parent has the right to ask for and give consent for the evaluation. Because the student is transition age (15+ in Colorado), he/she should be highly involved in the evaluation (likewise in any resulting IEP) – but he/she would not have the “right” to outright refuse the evaluation.


Mimi: We signed a Consent for Evaluation for my 1st grader about 2 weeks ago. It lists the various tests and evaluations to be done. One is the Social History Form. Before we signed the Consent for Evaluation the school said we would have to do the Social History Form and have a home visit from the school psychologist and school social worker to go over it. When we refused the home visit they called social services and reported us for Educational Neglect due to absences, but also complained that we wouldn’t sign a HIPAA or do home visit. Now that we signed consent for evaluation they are saying that they can’t do any of the evaluations listed until the Social History is complete. They reported us to the Child Protective Services case worker saying that they can’t do the evaluation because we haven’t turned in the form yet.

Sophie: Mimi, write up your answers to the social history form and send it in with your reiterated request that they begin the evaluations immediately.

My opinion is, don’t worry about CPS. They have real problems to address, on a limited budget.


Alexis: I am a special education resource teacher. In a student service team meeting today addressing whether or not a student who is currently receiving Tier 3 interventions with little to no growth occurred. I personally felt like if after another round of intervention we continued to see the lack of growth that the team should move forward. Our principal was very defensive in the meeting and stated that she would NOT let the team move forward with an IEP in the fall for this student and that maybe by the end of the next year or beginning of his 3rd grade yr it could happen. Can a principal make that decision? I was always under the impression that this was a TEAM decision. I know in IDEA it states that a program and placement are determined by the TEAM but is this true for an initial case study evaluation?

Sophie: Welcome to the real world, Alexis!

Could you gently suggest to the family that THEY make the referral?

And looking at this from a different point of view‚ what are the services and supports you would like to see implemented through an IEP? Do some brainstorming, jot everything down; and then sift through your ideas to see which ones you could introduce under Response to Intervention. Right now, I assume the most important thing is for this child to starting growing?


Kimberly: How much time do the schools need to look over an evaluation before the IEP meeting? Is there a certain amount?

Chuck: Anything on this would come from state regulations or district policy and procedures. Federal regulations just say that these must be considered by the district.

Sophie: I don’t think so, but out of courtesy I would give them at least a week. You want to try to reduce animosity (I know, that’s sometimes easier said than done).


Jennie:  I am wondering if IQ testing can be mandated by the school as part of the 3 year re-evaluation. At this point it has been suggested and not ‘required’. My concern is that a low IQ score would somehow result in a change of diagnosis and a loss of services. Currently there is a 30-40hr/wk ABA program, as well as weekly SLP, OT, PT, and Music Therapy in place. Current diagnosis is Autism. Progress is slow in coming, but it definitely coming.

Chuck:  Jenni, your question is addressed in IDEA regs at: 300.305. The IEP team & other qualified professionals must review existing evaluation data (REED) to identify what additional data, if any, is needed to determine if the child still continues to need sp. ed & related services. In your situation it appears that the answer is yes, but the team could insist on IQ testing over your objection. The regs say that IEP is to address the child’s needs regardless of the disability label given the child. 300.304(c)(6)

Chuck:  A determination of eligibility for sp ed services is to be based on current evaluation. It appears that this was not done. OHI eligibility is to be based on a doctor’s report. You have the right to request an independent educational evaluation (IEE). An IEP is also to address a child’s needs regardless of the disability label used.

helpgrouponline:  Jenni, typically the school does evaluations every 3 years however the team can decide that one is not needed & continue services. The school has every right to do the evaluation if they want to. If they do you will be part of the team that reviews the testing results. You may ask for a copy of the evaluation before the meeting. This will allow you to read it & go over it with a professional if you need to. If you disagree with the results of the test you may request an outside evaluation by a professional at no cost to you. The school must pay for it. This way you will get a second opinion. If you do this the school will give you a list of places to go for the evaluation. You do NOT have to use anyone on the list. Our attorney recommended that you pick your own evaluator.


Suzanna: My kinder daughter’s teacher called me in to discuss her boisterous behavior in class. I asked if she should be assessed, the teacher declined to give an opinion. I later emailed the teacher that we would have her privately assessed. Now the principal and teacher have scheduled a meeting to “to brainstorm and discuss questions about the assessment.” I don’t have any questions, why are they calling this meeting?

Morning:  It seems they are covering their bases. The classroom teacher did not or in some cases “could not” offer you an initial opinion an assessment. You opened the door for them to “do their job.” You may want to get some advice from an advocate or resource center before the meeting. Research how to request an evaluation from the Wrightslaw’s website. There is a saying among some educational professionals, “if a parent does not ask for ” it-” -do not give ” it ” to them.” “It ” could include IEE, AT evaluations, ESY, assessments, FBA, etc. Know what “it” is and how you can advocate for your daughter. Also, I do think it is good that the principal and the teacher are meeting with you. Use it as an opportunity to advocate for your daughter. Know your rights!


Elena:  My 9 y.o. Is in 3d grade. He was diagnosed adhd/combined type last year and found eligible for sped. As I have learned more about ADHD, I do not think his IEP goals are sufficient nor do they address the underlying executive function issues. I am requesting the school do a neuropsych eval to determine more specifically where his executive function deficits lie so we can appropriately tailor his IEP. My question is, if the school refuses can I still request an IEE? I am saving up to pay for a full diagnostic, but we won’t be able to afford it for awhile.

SharonL:  Elena, if you have not had an evaluation for your son in at least one year the school should not refuse to give him another one at your request. Remember to sign the school’s consent form to start the 60 day process. Once you get the results you may request a DRAFT to be sent home to review & discuss with any professionals you have to help you understand the results. If you do not agree with the results you may request an outside evaluation at public expense (school will pay for the outside evaluation) & when that is completed they must consider the test results.


Rita: I have a daughter in Pre-School in Texas. She has a learning disability. The school will not except any outside evaluations. Even doctors notes for extra services. Is this legal? Also is it legal to tape an ARD in the state of Texas without the school knowing? I have heard and read in Texas as long as one person knows in the party that is all that is required.

Chuck: Rita, legally the ARD/IEP committee must “consider” outside evaluations & doctors’ reports. The rule on tape recording does apply to phone calls & I believe it also applies to meetings. I have never heard a TX school attorney say that such tapeing of meetings is illegal. They warn schools to be careful when the parents take a break, since they may have a tape recorder still going.
I work for the TX parent training & information center. I can help you connect with one of our staff in your area, if you want to contact me. cnoe59@hotmail.com


Dorothy: After sending a formal request for a child’s testing in public schools in Pennsylvania, how many days before the school district is required to comply?

Pete Wright: Dorothy, you have to be careful about asking questions of this nature. Often the answer you receive may be wrong! Part of the answer is dependent on whether is it a new eval or re-eval. Learn how to find the answer yourself. Go to our website, left column, scroll down to “Law Library”, then click on IDEA 2004 and look for the law about evaluations. (Easier route – it is in our law book.) You will find it in 20 USC 1414. Then look at timelines in 1414. Then you must google “pennsylvania special education regulations” and download them and look at the corresponding state reg. The timelines vary around the country, from 45 calendar days to 60 school days. Answer the question yourself, then come back and tell us the answer for your state!

Ted: How long does a public school have to complete a child’s 9-10 year old evaluation, once the paperwork to allow the evaluation is signed by involved parties.

Wrightslaw: Ted, someone else asked this question several weeks ago and here’s what Pete advised. Just substitute your state name when you search for your state special education regulations.

From Pete Wright – Dorothy, you have to be careful about asking questions of this nature. Often the answer you receive may be wrong! Part of the answer is dependent on whether is it a new eval or re-eval. Learn how to find the answer yourself. Go to our website, left column, scroll down to “Law Library”, then click on IDEA 2004 and look for the law about evaluations. (Easier route – it is in our law book.) You will find it in 20 USC 1414. Then look at timelines in 1414. Then you must google “pennsylvania special education regulations” and download them and look at the corresponding state reg. The timelines vary around the country, from 45 calendar days to 60 school days. Answer the question yourself, then come back and tell us the answer for your state!


Denise: 16 days ago I registered my daughter for public kindergarten for the fall 2014. At the same time, I hand delivered my child study team referral letter requesting my daughter be evaluated for special education. My daughter is 5.5 years of age and presently in a transitional kindergarten program at a private preschool. We did not enroll her in kindergarten this year based on learning challenges and her august 24th birthday. We have received no formal letter from the school informing us of a evaluation determination meeting within a 20 day period. My husband phoned the school yesterday and was told by the principal that they will

Chuck: It appears that the principal does not understand the district’s IDEA child find obligation. 300.111 You can remind them of this &/or contact the spec. ed office in writing.


Paulette:  I understand as a parent you can ask the school in writing to retest after 12 months. However, I noticed their testing did not include an intelligence test OR a school achievement test (as listed in your “From Emotions to Advocacy” book). They only completed only PART of a screening test for the educational achievement testing (the WRAT-2 Memory & Learning section). The other test, the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (KABC-2) is not listed in your book.
My daughter is already on an IEP, so no need to establish services. School does not think she has dyslexia, but ed. psych. does. Also has suspect auditory processing disorder as per Sensory Profile.
1) Am I allowed to request new testing (vs. retesting what is already done)? If so, what tests? School stated they only have to do so every three years.

Matt:  Yes, schools under IDEA law only have to administer re-evaluations once every three years, BUT if they claim to administer a “comprehensive Psych-Ed Evaluation” and did not do the FULL BATTERY of testing then it does not count as a complete Psych-Ed. The Weschler and Woodcock Johnson tests have several components and schools often try to get away with doing only a few of them. The must to do the full battery of tests under each for it to count as a Psych Ed. Eval. File due process against the district if they tried that one on you.


Susan: Can a school refuse to do an evaluation on a high school student? My nephew has ADHD and several concussions recently from school football. I think he qualifies for IEP on both ADHD and TBI. School says no.

SharonL: Susan, did you put your request for an evaluation in writing? We usually put it in writing, send it certified mail to one of the administrators (spec ed director or principal) and give them 5 working days to respond. This may get some results. If not escalate to the superintendent and go higher until you get an answer. They should be willing to put there denial in writing so you know why and can consult an attorney if need be.

Chuck: The school should have given you prior written notice of their refusal to evaluate. You can find more on this concept/document on this website. You have the right to challenge their decision through a request to the state dept. of education for mediation or a due process hearing or by making a complaint to the state.


Traci: Our daughter had academic testing in 2011 and she had a language based learning disability. School psychological testing was performed in 2012. In 2012 my daughter did not qualify for IEP. Respectfully rejecting the school report, we had an independent evaluation done. The doctor determined that our daughter had Dx of receptive and expressive language disorder with inattentive ADHD. In 2013, she qualified for IEP. Her 3-year re-evaluation is not until 2016. I am wondering if there are any recommended tests that the school can do prior to 2016 showing her academic performance for her age since it will be 5 years since her academic testing and 4 years since her psychological testing were performed. Thank you.

Chuck: The new WrightsLaw book on tests & assessments can provide you with good information. Also on this homepage, click on Evaluations under Topics.


Catherine:  Does a school district have the right to refuse an initial evaluation of my child when I feel he is struggling?

SharonL:  Catherine, did you put the request for initial evaluation in writing & request a meeting to sign their consent form? If so & they have refused they should put the reason in writing. You can always go to the next higher level or to your state dept of ed special ed department for mediation/help. I have never had a school refuse evaluations for any of my 3 sons & I have had many through the years. They need to tell you why.

SharonL:  Catherine, Did you put the request for initial evaluation in writing & request a meeting to sign their consent form? If so & they have refused they should put the reason in writing. You can always go to the next higher level or to your state dept of ed special ed department for mediation/help. I have never had a school refuse evaluations for any of my 3 sons & I have had many through the years. They need to tell you why.

Jennifer:  My advice is not to say this is how you ‘feel’. Provide the school with concrete examples of his struggles–written work, grades, documented examples of his difficulty. If he has regressed, provide evidence.


Erin: We moved to a new school district this year, I brought in my sons testing showing he had a reading disorder at the beginning of the year. Nothing was done, finally pushed the issue, had a meeting yesterday, now they are saying they don’t have time to finish the testing in the 60 days they are legally required to do and want to finish it up next school year. Don’t they still have to finish it up in 60 days regardless?

Chuck: Erin, I suggest that you check your state education agency’s special ed website to see what it says about this timeline. Is the timeline based on calendar or school days & does it allow schools to do what they are trying to do? Some state rules allow this, but it is possible that they would be violating the state rule. If you need further help your state parent training & information project can assist you.


Maria: My sons evals listed a lot of recommendations in working w/him in school.The sped supervisor said there was just too many to list on his IEP,but didn’t list any at all.She said there was just too many to list and if the teachers need them,they can look in his file.What can I do as parent, to get his recommendations added to his IEP?

SharonL:  Maria, I believe there is no such thing as too many recommendations. There is a way to add it to the IEP by adding another IEP page. If these items are not in the IEP they are not considered part of the legal document & no one has to follow them plus they will not be considered for him to meet his goals etc. for FAPE. They must be put in the IEP. There may be a way to consolodate them. We did this on some of our son’s IEP’s.


Gayle:  My son’s IEP meeting is scheduled for next week. He is in the middle of his 3 year re-evaluation, as well as additional assessments and evaluations by outside sources. The school is insisting on getting the IEP done next week. Do I have the right to ask them to hold off the IEP meeting until all assessments are done? I do not want them meeting wihout me

SharonL:  Gayle, I would want all of the assessments done & I would want some time to review a DRAFT copy sent to me a few days before the IEP meeting. They are probably running out of time on the end date of the IEP. Don’t worry the existing IEP will still stand until the new one is written. If they have an IEP meeting without you they are out of compliance since a parent must be part of the team meeting. They should be willing to wait at your request.

ASDmom:  I’m not sure how they can determine FAPE without this information and they are required to have the information to determine FAPE. It’s their problem not yours or your childs if they don’t have the evaluations they deemed necessary done in time for 3 year anniversary date. Our previous district got hung up alot on anniversary dates and having something in place regardless of if they had the info to make decisions. My advice – if they try to proceed before triennial evaluations done just to have something in place and then revisit later (aka – stalling or it will never happen) then file a complaint with your State Office of Education.


Jen: My 10-year-old will be starting 4th grade this year in a new, grade-level building. He has been placed in a gifted and talented classroom. He has been diagnosed as [severely/99.90%] ADHD, he also has diagnoses of OCD, anxiety, and Tourette’s Disorder. His doctor has recommended, among other things, that a parapro be provided for him while he is in class. When I spoke to his new principal about that, I was told, quite flippantly “Oh, we don’t have that ability (to provide a para for him).” I have worked in the district, for the record, and I can tell you that that is a load of crap. My question is: What is the obligation of the school in terms of making that happen? We will be filling out a 504B (I think that’s the form) soon, and I need to know how to proceed if I need to “fight” for this for my son. Thanks!

David1: Jen, If you haven’t already read From Emotion to Advocacy, I highly recommend it. I would never agree to a parent fighting the public school for their child’s education. You never hear of a fight where both participants win and a child’s education is a risky thing to put on the line. My wife and I purchased the book mentioned above as well as The Special Education Law book. We began learning how to advocate for our son when he was in middle school. He currently has a 3.87 GPA in college and is his own advocate these days. It is worthwhile to understand the difference between a 504 and an IEP and the book talks about the importance of SMART goals in an IEP.

Sharon: Jen, I agree that an evaluation should be done but I would not pay for an outside evaluation. You should request an evaluation from the school & then sign their consent form immediately. The 60 day requirement to get the testing done does not start until their consent form is signed. When the test is complete you will sit down with the team & go over. Your son may test into getting reading help. IF you do not like the results of the testing (you can request the results of the test ahead of time before the meeting to review with professionals) you do not have to sign. You can then request an outside evaluation be performed at the school’s expense. The school will give you places to go for the test but you can pick your own tester. This will usually get what you need for your child.

Morning: Sharon, I agree with what you are saying as it is the proper procedure. In most cases, it does work. Some parents with older kids cannot wait for failing schools to act as there is less remediation in the higher grades. For some parents, taking action and control by paying for (if they can afford it) outside evaluations on their own “woke-up” schools systems that would have stalled or not provide the right services. As a parent, I cannot afford to wait as I have an older child. I have, through my experience, been very successful getting her needs met with that strategy and collaboration with the school district. I worked in school systems and see them fail many students who have independent evaluations so I don’t play around. Your advice is sound and my case may be individualized just to my child.

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Flor:  My 6th grade daughter was denied participation in band because she was not able to pass the the academic assessment required for all students to take if they want to participate in any extracurricular activity. Can they make this a requirement? She obviously will never be able to participate in any activity… Is there anything I can do?

Miranda:  Flor, look at ADA regulations and consider your daughter’s diagnosis, evaluations, and IEP. Put something in writing to the district that addresses those three things and require that they put something in writing to you explaining how or why they will deny your daughter access to learning opportunities (because band is a significant learning opportunity) considering her disability (which may or may not be an act of discrimination – I don’t know since I don’t know everything about this situation). If you feel that she is being unfairly limited, you must consider IDEA, ADA, and your daughters needs and diagnoses with regard to her IEP.

Sandy:  If the school requires all students to pass an academic test to participate in extracurriculars – and in effect that would limit participation by kids with intellectual (or other learning) disabilities, then I believe that’s discriminatory under Sec. 504 (interpreted the same as ADA in this context). I would let the district know this and I’m guessing they’ll back down, esp. if you mention that you can file an OCR complaint on behalf of your students AND the other students who are being so limited. Good luck to you!


Ron:  Does my daughter have any rights? – Can a public school refuse to allow my daughter to have extra-curricular activities included in her IEP? The only activity is year book staff in her elementary school. She was not selected despite her artistic talent, straight A’s, etc. Thank you for your time

Chuck:  IDEA regs require schools to make such activities available to students w/ disabilities, 300.042 defines supplementary aids & services as “aids, services, & other supports that are provided in regular education classes, other education-related settings, and in extracurricular & nonacademic settings, to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate”. Also see 300.107 Nonacademic services. Refusal could also be considered discrimination under Section 504.

Veronica:  Chuck – thanks for the references. I looked them up in my Wrightslaw law book and also found more information about Nonacademic settings in 300.117, on p. 208. It looks like the school cannot refuse to put extracurricular activities in an IEP because if the team decides a child needs them, the regulations say they must be included. But I’m confused about the discrimination part – maybe I don’t understand Ron’s question. If all kids are included in the “selection” process for an activity – some are chosen, some are not. It may be discrimination to exclude a child from an activity if the only reason is that she has an IEP. But having an IEP doesn’t ensure selection – right? Wouldn’t that be discrimination against the kids who don’t have IEPs?

Chuck:  Veronica, yes having a disability does not ensure selection if there is criteria for the activity. However, if a child with a disability is kept from applying or is not seriously considered, that could be discrimination. Also some activities, clubs, intramural athletics, etc, should be open to any student.

Jane:  Hi Veronica , Wanted to add my 2 cents. You question if it would be discrimination to allow students who have IEPs to participate if students without IEPs would not be automatically included. Wouldn’t the person who has a IEP typically have a disability that would deny them the right due to their disability. I mean you can’t deny the right to participate based on the disability.


Jacque: My daughter has autism and lately has wanted to participate in some after school activities. I’m afraid she would need help because she doesn’t relate well to kids her age. I’ve asked her teacher for help and they asked for volunteers to buddy with her but no one wanted to. Should I bring this up at the IEP meeting so the school can provide someone to help her? Jacque

Chuck: Yes. Federal regs say a district must provide supplementary aids & services as appropriate, so that a child with disabilities can access nonacademic & extracurricular services & activities.

Wrightslaw: Jacque, read this blog post and the DOE Guidance on extra curricular activities. https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=9271 Use the search box on the blog and any Wrightslaw page to search for information about “extracurricular activities”. Turn to page 48 in your All About IEPs book to learn about Extracurricular and Nonacademic Services in the IEP or read what the Federal Regulations say on page 208 in your Special Education Law book. Time to get up to speed before your IEP review meeting!

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Teresa:  Our daughter just entered 6th and has been on IEP since 1st grade. She reads at 2nd /3rd grade level and has shown very poor progress on test results(performed by school). We are in the midst of retesting &new IEP review in 50 days w school due to our formal request tomschool stating the IEP has failed, Our daughter has dyslexia & school’s not meeting the needs. We have asked for our daughter to miss the first 3 hrs of school to go to specialized Barton reading based school while we waiting for results &agree on remediation plan – we can’t waste another day. We did the program over summer and it has advanced our daughter tremendously. The school has called a meeting and wants write in the IEP that we are denying services (sp. ed. math, lang. arts and reading) to attend the Barton program. I fear this gives up our rights to FAPE. Help!

SharonL:  Teresa, my son did not progress 1/2 a year in one year & is dyslexic based on a multifactored eval that the school did. We sent a certified letter to the school requesting an outside eval at the school’s expense which is our right. The school sent us a list of places to get the eval. We did NOT go to any of those places. We went to a prof in dyslexia based on a recommendation from our attorney. The results of the outside eval were amazing. The recommendations were excellent. BAse on this eval and a threat from us to go due process the school hired an outside tutor that was certified in Wilson reading & Alphetic Phonics. The school proceeded to pay for this tutor for our son for 6 yrs. He went from 1st gr reading to 10th gr reading. We did not pay for any of it as FAPE is the school’s job not ours.


Mary Beth:  A student had to miss a class reward he helped earn because he had to go to his special education reading group. The rest of his class was able to miss instructional time for the reward so I felt he should be able to miss his, too. I am wondering if he is not provided FAPE if he cannot participate in a whole class activity the same way his peers were afforded to attend?

Sophie:  Mary Beth, I see your point. It seems discriminatory to exclude the child from a special event, just because they’re trying to dot their I’s and cross their T’s. On the other hand, as a volunteer tutor, working extremely hard to catch up a fifth grader who was four years behind grade level when we started working together, there are times when I get frustrated when my student gets pulled out of tutoring.

It’s hard to say much more than than without knowing more of the context.


Susan: Does a high school have to provide remedial or fundamental classes in core subjects for struggling disabled students? If so is there a minimal or maximum amount of students allowed?

MORNING: Susan, are you referring to students with learning disabilities, disabled students with low IQs, etc? I have found, at many high schools, that students with learning disabilities are put into COLLEGE PREP courses though some need more of the foundational courses in high school. I researched this because of my LD son. I found out that many high schools, due to budget cuts, have eliminated many of the foundational courses and put LD students in college prep. This is fine for many LD students who can handle the workload but some still need the foundational courses. When I became aware that my own school district had cut those courses due to budget cuts, I was shocked. More, I realized that students were failing classes and dropping out of high school as they needed foundational courses.

Chuck: IDEA requires a school to do this, if needed to provide FAPE (free appropriate public education) to the child. Also if they provide this to nondisabled students, but not to students with disabilities that is discrimination.


Mel: I work in a public school in Texas. One of our special education buses is at least 30 minutes late for school everyday. I have been complaining but nothing changes. Is this legal?

Chuck: Students with a disability are to get the same length day as their peers. If this is happening, then it is only legal, if the ARD/IEP team has oked a shorter day for all of the students on the bus. I work for the TX Parent Training & Information Project & can help if you have further questions.

Mel: Where can I find more information on the Tx Parent Training and Information Project?


Anne:  My child had and IEP at the school where I worked; had gotten in trouble several times. I know confidentiality had been broken against & have seen it 1st hand about others. I have left job because of stress from the gossip & deceit going on. It has had a large impact on me because of what has happened. I also know for a fact that procedures were not followed properly. Can someone guide me to what type of lawyer I need to seek out to sue for damages?

Dawn:  Anne –
1) did your child have a BIP in place?
2) what documentation do you have that support procedures were not in place?
3) if pursuing an attorney, who will ask you the above, you want an attorney that is an educational advocate or who specializes in special education / education. Google “special education attorney in (your state).

Last, before you try to sue for damages, be sure that you have documented evidence of your claim that your child and others were not receiving FAPE.

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Jill:  What are the different ways to measure behavioral goals in an IEP? My school is currently only using teacher feedback, random observations by resource specialists and a daily behavioral chart. I want to see and have them collect data in the forms of numbers and tallies. Hard core data. Is there a proper way to do this type of data collection? A type of measurement system I can ask them them to use. Thanks.

Sharon L.:  Jill, you can request a behavior assessment from the school. You need to send a letter requesting the assessment & then within 5 business days you need to sign their consent form if you have not heard back from them sooner. After you sign the consent form they have 60 days to get the assessment done. After it is done there will be a report & meeting with the team including the person who performed the assessment. You may request a DRAFT of this report to go over ahead of time. You may ask professionals to read it or a physician to determine if you want to add/subtract anything. Once you have the meeting this needs to be added to the IEP & the box for behavior plan needs to be checked. Tthe teachers will need to be informed of the behavior plan & would need to follow it because it is now on the IEP & the IEP is the law.


Marcia:  My son is in 8th grade and reads at 3rd grade level with no progress in the last 2 years. The school wants to change his IEP goal from increasing reading ability to a technology based goal. I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions?

Churck:  Marcia, what is the “technology based goal” that they are suggesting?

Morning:  While “technology based goal” is an interesting term, it could open the door to progress depending on the definition of the term and implementation. If the district is trying to measure the student’s use of assistive technology–I would proced with with two things in mind. Has the students been given an AT evaluation and who is going to monitor the progress? And, the real issue is to fully address the reading deficit. However, assssitive technology can play major role if used properly and monitored carefully. My child’s IEP always focused on increasing reading levels which worked. AT did play a major role as a supplement but the core instruction was 1-1 and small group with a qualified teacher to address encoding and decoding issues, writing, etc.

Marcia:  Son was qualified for assistive technology last year but implementation was horrible. He was given a netbook but the school couldn’t get the netbook to work properly for months due to firewall and not enough memory. The rest of the technology he qualified for was not even tried. He receives only small group instruction no 1-1. When I asked what the technology based goal would look like, the special Ed coordinator said he didn’t really know he would need to look into it before the iep in September. If the goal is changed to technology could the school have a legal right to deny reading instruction to my son?


Buster: The district agrees that my daughter has severe discrepancies between expected ability and performance in the areas of math calculation and written expression. The district has, however, formally denied the requests for goals in these areas stating that my daughter’s needs are being appropriately addressed through accommodations in the regular education program (e.g., use of a calculator). They base their statement on broad category progress in her report card. This same report card, however, shows that grade-level standards are not being met in the specific areas of math calculation and spelling. I have raised the OSEP Ellie/Felton letter with little effect.
Can the school deny writing goals based on the assertion that accommodation are sufficient?

SharonL: Buster, the district can tell you anything they want but they must put it in a document called Prior Written Notice. I am assuming your daughter is on an IEP. I would request an IEP meeting and discuss this again and request that they put goals for math and written expression. If they refuse they must give you a Prior Written Notice or they must work with you to come to an agreement. I usually take a digital tape recorder to my IEP meetings and I tell the school ahead of time I am doing this so they know. Once you get the aggreement or the prior written notice you may then decide to consult with a professional such as an attorney, advocate, math or writing professional. You may also consider requesting an outside evaluation at public expense.


Susan:  Based on the IDEA Laws, Can an IEP include measurable academic annual goals, when the IEP is for ADHD inattentive type, qualifying under Other Health Impairments? My concern is that even with accommodations and modifications, we have no measurable academic goals to monitor academic progress. Just behavioral goals are included on IEP. Thanks!

Wrightslaw:  Susan, the Present Levels in the IEP (required by IDEA) should accurately describe both your child’s academic achievement and functional performance. The IEP team must look at your child’s unique academic, developmental, and functional needs. If your child’s disability is affecting his academic achievement or he has needs or weaknesses in this area, the IEP team should write IEP goals to address these issues. All goals in the IEP, academic or behavioral, should be measurable.

Get up to speed in Chapter 4: Present Levels, Measurable Goals, Services in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.
You’ll find the IDEA requirements for IEPs starting on p. 99 and p. 245 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition.

Wrightslaw:  Susan – if you read the references you see how important present levels are. Present levels are based on data from objective assessments. Has your child had a recent evaluation by an expert in the private sector. Do you have data that shows his strengths and weaknesses and what his needs are?

Accommodations and modifications alone don’t often lead to the acquisition of essential skills. They are not a substitute for specialized instruction that is designed to meet your child’s unique needs. If the present levels are accurate, current, comprehensive, and based on objective test data, you will be able to see your child’s needs clearly and be able to write measurable goals in any area that will address his needs.

Use the search box on any Wrightslaw page using terms like “present levels” “objective text date” “evaluations” or scroll through the topic index for answers to your questions.

SharonL:  Susan, the short answer is yes however we put our son on an OHI IEP because of his ADHD & the school tried to only put behavioral goals, social skills goals on it. I contacted the state of ohio board of education office & was told that an OHI IEP is still an IEP & any and all goals the team believes the child needs can be put on it. We went around & around with the school but was finally able to get all of the goals my son needed including educational goals.


Bernice: Hi, my daughter is in special education and I want to know the difference between an “accommodation and a goal”. She does need extra time on assignments and her teacher has agreed to that and to also provide prior instruction to her before introducing a new topic to the class. Sort of a “pre-teach” and “re-teach” method. They insist on using accommodations rather than goals. She is not in the 504 program. Should I advocate for goals or does it really make a difference? Thank You for reviewing my question.

Jennifer: An accommodation is what the school does to help her learn and have access to learning. The things you listed sound to me like accommodations.

However, her IEP must contain goals as well. Goals are levels of performance that she should reach, or approximate, by the end of the school year or the grading period, in some instances.

By the end of the school year, Johnny will read a first grade level passage at 40 words per minute with at least 80% accuracy.

Goals must be measurable and explain what skill the student will demonstrate by a point in the school year. Get a copy of her IEP. It should have goals.


Caprice: I have twin daughters in the 5th grade M/M special day class. They transferred at the end of last year from a severely handicap class.

1. IEP Goals are the same since 2011
2. Assessments show growth but goals are the same
3. Minimal documentation or lack -documentation exists from 2011
4. My daughters come home distressed- para claps her hands loudly , gets in heir face and tells them to focus( tone of voice is elevated)

I am concerned because their goals have not changed. I don’t feel that they are getting their needs met. My concern is that they will push aside concerns as they have done before. How can I ensure that new goals will be formed and my children will be respected.

SharonL: Caprice, unfortunately schools get stuck using the same goals year after year. This has happened to us. We put together some goals we thought were appropriate to our son & brought them to the IEP meeting to get them incorporated. We brought up the fact that the goals seemed to be unchanged from the previous year. We were able to get the goals updated. The best bet is to get an IEP meeting together & discuss.

ASDmom: write a letter documented all and ask for IEP meeting. Go with ideas for new goals. Go up chain of command if necessary with letters.


Kelly:  My 7yo son with autism and down syndrome has had the same speech, pre-academic, and self-help goals going on his 4th IEP in a row. Is this typical? Several of the OT objectives are several year repeats too.

SharonL:  Kelly, yes it is typical but not appropriate. We had this happen to our sons as well until we discovered that this should not happen. It means that they are either not meeting the goals or not giving new goals. YOu need to find out. If it is the first they are not meeting FAPE. If it is the latter get an advocate or outside tutor/professional to help you at the meeting write appropriate goals so your child can move ahead.


Debbie:  The goals and objectives for Math in my son’s IEP were not taught this year and are not even in the math text book. I have brought it to the IEP teams attention as well as principles with no acknowledgment or response. What can I do?

SharonL:  Debbie, rirst you need to request an IEP meeting & request evidence of progression. You will need evidence before you can prove that they have not taught your child. WE have run into this before. We requested all of the quarterly reports & then hired a tutor/math professional to review the reports & work with our son to see what he does & does not know. We have asked the tutor/professional to come to the IEP meetings (be sure you let the team know if advance & be prepared to pay the professional for their time). This can go far in determing what is going on & what needs to be done to rectify the situation. If after this the school refuses to put in the suggested goals, etc they must put any refusals in writing in a prior written notice letter. Usually they will work with you instead.


Rachel:  I am New to this site. My child has an IEP. It needs to be updated to reflect a new evaluation. I need help identifying appropriate IEP Goals that relate to Executive Functioning issues in the classroom. Are there sample goals posted somewhere?

D:  http://www.smartkidswithld.org/executive-functions-plan-for-the-plan/

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Ann:  I am a special education co teacher at the high school level. My department chair had told us that none of our students should fail. She also indicated that special education students should not be held to the same standard as general education students. And that a modified grade scale should be applied for all students in a co taught setting. I am struggling with this. All students are different hence the individualized word in the iep. Anyone have any thoughts? I have special education students in my class who do better than general education students. Why should I limit their achievements? Sincerely frustrated. Help!

Chuck:  As you say, IEPs are to be individualized. The approach you are dealing with is another approach to setting low expectations for children with disabilities. This violates IDEA & NCLB. I suggest contacting the sp ed director, if you feel that talking more with the chair will not change their position. You must also decide how much the principal should be involved.


Julie: I believe its best to get real grades, not “modified” grades, to know how much my daughter really knows. Will it be a problem for graduation or college if she ends up with all not passing grades- Cs, Ds, and Fs? So far we’ve only done Kinder and she gets all 1s, 1 out of 5. What is better modified grades that look good but aren’t real or real grades that could be very poor? Ideally she’d start getting better grades but not sure if that’s realistic to keep up with grade level material.

Chuck: Your child needs appropriate instruction. Students with disabilities are covered by federal, & state rules on special ed, & general ed. The goal is for all students to meet the general curriculum standards. Modified grades do not indicate what a student has learned. Parents can push for instruction that helps their child “catch up”. Your state parent training & information center can be of assistance to you. A listing is available on the list of topics on this homepage.

Julie: Hi, thanks for your resposne..ideally i agree. But she can’t keep up or catch up that fast. She has down syndrome and working on stamina. again its only kindergarten, but hard to imagine passing curriculum each year…anyone get to high school and experience having c and ds and what happens next?

Chuck: More & more colleges are offering programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. You can see if there are colleges with a program in your area & find out about their criteria. Public schools are to set up postsecondary goals for all students with disabilities & they can serve students to age 21.


Stacey:  My son has a LD in both reading and math, his IEP states accommodation to complete math assignments, i.e., calculator. When he completes his assignment using a calculator his general education teaxher automatically reduces his grade by 20%. Example: he completed 100% of assignments, teacher will give him 80% because of the use of his manipulative (accommodation).

JG:  Stacey, It is improper, and possibly discriminatory and illegal, to lower a student’s grade due to the use of accommodation.

Accommodations are designed to provide students with equal access. Using the accommodation (in this case, a calculator) does not fundamentally alter the standards or expectations he is working towards, so his grade should not be lowered for simply using it.

I encourage you to speak with your IEP Team Chair about this, and ask that he/she speak to the teacher. If the Chair is not amenable, consider contacting the Office for Civil Rights at the federal Department of Education.

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Jane: My son has an IEP as Health Impaired and has unfortunately been sick almost the whole year. The school has finally offered Home Tutoring for 2 hours a week for the last 5 weeks of school. It’s not much, but it is a start since he has not received any instruction, since at least January (today is 6/12/12). How many hours of Home Tutoring are equal to hours of in class instruction? He needs more hours of home tutoring. The school is considering if he needs ESY. He’s in 10th grade. I think a private placement would be best, since he is not receiving FAPE, and has a lot of catching up to do, What are your suggestions? THANKS for your support! Jane

Lisa:  Jane, sorry to hear you are having many of the same struggles we are. I would assume that home tutoring would not be hour for hour equivalent, because of course it is individual instruction. But I have never heard of any set rule about a ratio.
I am jealous you are getting any tutoring-we can’t get ANY. Do you think they will continue to provide it to you after the summer? I have been fighting this fight for years and so far haven’t been able to figure out a single way to keep my daughter up with school. How many days annually does your son usually miss? Mine misses about 30. Do you have anything in your IEP to keep your son up with school that actually works? Have you found any private schools who say that they can keep him up?

Wrightslaw: Issues of homebound are determined in part by state law and state regs, if any, on the subject. IDEA 2004 and the federal regs provide no guidance on this issue. However the IEP controls the services, regardless of where they are delivered – at home or in the public school. The IEP team determines what the child required in order to receive FAPE, i.e., a free appropriate public education.


Sarah:  Can a child receive home instruction and related services all year round? My son is in 2nd grade and due to immune disorder has never stepped a foot into a classroom. School breaks are hard and the beginning of each school year is like starting from scratch all over again.

Chuck:  I believe that it could be provided in any state, if a school wanted to. Typically homebound students get minimal instruction, & fall further behind the longer they receive homebound services. However, a district may not receive state funding for summer service, & they do not like to set precedents that others may start wanting.

Sophie:  I have heard that occasionally a Tourette student’s tics are so disruptive that there are times he can’t be physically in the classroom. In that case, modern technology comes to the rescue. The Tourette student can go to an alternate location and connect by skype to his classroom, muting and unmuting his sound at various points.

I wonder if you could try something similar, with a skype connection to the classroom, small group collaboration, etc.


Cheryl: I am a retired special ed teacher and an advocate (unpaid) for four families of students with special needs in a small, rural community. These students are being underserved – or not at all. Most pressing concern: Can a district force a parent to revoke all rights for their child to receive special ed services if they choose to homeschool – and the District doesn’t offer the services the child needs (based on previous placement and psych. evaluation. Parents are being threatened, intimidated, and now bribed by special ed director to come back to school. Parents have been trying to get work and independent study from the school – they’ve been reported as “truant”, Probation called in – but the school had been instructed not to provide work. Need help with legalities here. (Parent morale and resolve are sinking fast!) Thank you.

Sophie: Cheryl, first, the family has to decide if they’re homeschooling or not. If they are, then they need to provide documentation to the school district to get the truancy people off their back.

It may be a difficult decision to make. If they homeschool, they can get some related services provided in the home, but they’ll be responsible for planning the curriculum.

Let’s say the child is not homeschooled. If he is missing significant amounts of time from school, the family needs to document that this is for health and/or mental health reasons, with a letter from a medical provider.

Now, with regard to the needed services — step one here is to get them put in the 504 or IEP. You may need to get an outside evaluation.

Pam Wright:  Cheryl, If you’ve spent time on the Wrightslaw site, you know we tell parents “If it isn’t in writing, it wasn’t said.” The parents need to document these demands and refusals to provide services in writing. These children have a legal right to a free appropriate education. Parents represent their children’s interests. It is not in the child’s interest to abandon their legal right to an education. The status of home schools varies from state to state. For example, in Virginia, a home school is like a private school. Private schools are not required to provide a FAPE.


K:  My child has medical issues that require her to be schooled at home. She was able to use the home hospital program through the district last year by having her physician fill out a form I delivered to him and then to the district. This year, they will not let me do that and instead are requiring full medical release and consent to directly speak to the dr. Is that legal?

Chuck:  Probably not, but state law or regulations could allow this. Often schools believe or feel that doctors are just signing what parents ask them to. So they say this. Check with your state education agency or parent training & information center.


Vickki:  My son’s Dr. printed a request for Home and Hospital with his electronic signature. The school would not accept his “note” and is requiring me to have the Dr. (who is a specialist) fill out a form that includes a medical diagnosis. How much information do I legally have to provide to the school? In the meantime, time goes by and my son is in limbo…

Wrightslaw: I’m not aware of any law that requires a doctor to provide a medical diagnosis when requesting that a child receive homebound services but this may be covered in your state special ed regulations. Download a copy of your state regs from the State DOE, look for requirements re: homebound. You can also call your State DOE, ask about any requirements for a medical diagnosis and the status of electronic signatures.

Homebound:  IEP QUESTION

Janet: What do you do when you have a IEP for homebound services for the whole year and at beginning of school was told the school wouldn’t let the teacher come, then second month of school being in they want to change it but you keep focusing on the teacher coming. You go ahead and try it their way knowing that it was better for the teacher to come to the house to teach cause of the child getting sick with sore throats, diarrhea, etc very often and has to miss school. Also was afraid that if didn’t sign would be taken to court like previous school years. What to do to get it back to the teacher coming to the home to teach like last year? Was better and was thriving and happy a lot more when teacher came. Thanks and will appreciate any answers as soon as possible.

Sophie: Janet, I don’t have the answers for you, I’m not an expert, but you may want to consider homeschooling your child, with special education and related services provided in your home. The way this works is, it’s as though your home were a private school that is too small to provide services with their own staff, and then the public school district has to send providers there. Try to connect with homeschoolers in your area to find out what their experiences with this have been, before you burn your bridges.


Michelle:  If a child cant attend school with doc note, a teacher is sent to the home by the district. it can only be 3 hours per week and does not need to be a special ed teacher. there also does not need to be any assistive technology special ed programs used, even though there is an iep. does this sound correct? there is also only one retired associate hs principal working with inhome kids as the teacher and we were told there was no other choice. any thoughts?

Sandy:  Michelle, check your state’s laws/regs on homebound. Call your state department of education or a “parent training information center” in your state. In my state (IL), this would not be adequate. I expect that to receive FAPE in homebound placement, a child would need assistive tech (if it’s in the IEP), a sped teacher, etc. depending on the child’s FAPE needs. An artificial time limit of 3 hours a week sounds wrong (in IL it’s 5 hours and it’s a minimum, not a maximum). So please look into this, and good luck!

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Susan:  I’m trying to find out if the special education laws are the same for vocational-technical high schools as they are for other public high schools. My son goes to a vo-tech high school in New Jersey. It’s a public school, and my understanding is that ALL public schools receive government funding, and as such are mandated to adhere to the State and Federal special education laws. The vo-tech school my son attends, however, is NOT his district school, and I think there’s only one vo-tech high school for each county, and any student who doesn’t maintain passing grades is made to leave (in which case, they’d have to return to their district high school). However, my son has an IEP and I’m wondering if there is any part of the special education laws which DON’T apply to a vo-tech school. I heard there is.

Morning:  I checked out vocational schools for my child a few years ago and received the same type of response. The special ed. teacher at the voc. school was honest and pointed out that the work gets harder and they have to “keep up” and that special ed. staff was fewer. She was positive but realistic. I live in a state close to you and with the advice that the special ed. teacher gave me I looked at my child’s interests and we chose other avenues to transition to a career or college. The parent and child must do a lot of research and advocacy but know that some teachers at that level may not accommodate regardless for whatever reason. It is frustrating. Keep advocating. I know kids with LD who are successful at voc. schools.

Chuck:  Since these schools are part of the public school systems, the state & federal special ed laws apply to them. Public schools receive a lot of federal vocational funds (called Perkins funds) & a public school(s) receive federal sp ed funds for the sp ed students attending the vocational schools. Many such schools do not know how to individualize for students, but they are required to. Many parents do not know to push them to do this.

Morning: Chuck, you make excellent points? In a culture like some of the voc schools that are not accustomed to accommodating for LD students, how do parents truly push for the rights in a system steeped with “old school” mentality? I have found teachers very accommodating in elementary and middle school for the most part. High school is a different process though many wonderful teachers do accommodate. It becomes exhausting for a parent to keep “pushing.” Here is one solution. I know many parents who do a lot of research and teach the teacher how to accommodate. It works if the teachers are receptive and many are as it makes their jobs easier. I would not totally depend on a teacher to know everything. My goal is to “make it work” for my child and for the teacher. Any thoughts?

Chuck: Morning, you are correct that HSs tend to have a different culture & attitude toward dealing with student differences. This makes it difficult & exhausting for parents when pushing for their child. I favor doing what you mention. Look for educators who are student advocates or at least open to suggestions. If you can find such people, it makes your efforts more productive & less likely to make staff defensive. If you can find a supportive administrator on the campus or in the district that can be very useful.


Kelly:  I have been told by district personell that special education and Title 1 may not use the same curriculum. I do know that there is no law against double dipping as far as receiving both services. However, I am unsure of any law stating that Title 1 and special education curriculum must be completely separate and never overlap among students. I don’t understand why, if a curriculum works with children is special education that it may not be successful with some Title 1 students.

JG:  Kelly –Within certain perimeters, districts ARE generally free to use the same materials/programs with general education students as they are with special education students.

In most (all?) states, districts are required to teach to the state’s grade-level curriculum standards. They are required under federal law to, whenever possible, use materials that are back by research. Other than that, districts usually have great leeway in how they teach students.

Special education, by definition, is specially-designed instruction. This means adapting the content, methodology, and/or delivery of instruction.

Students with the most severe needs, particularly those with intellectual/developmental disabilities, may have the content, methodology, and delivery of instruction modified. When you modify the content, that usually means you’re no longer teaching to state standards. So such material is NOT appropriate for general education students.

Wrightslaw: Write a polite letter describing what you were told about special ed and Title 1 – that the curriculum must be separate and may never overlap. Ask for a copy of that law or policy.

Send copies to the district staff, special ed director, principal, superintendent, school board members.

If no response, repeat your request in 10-14 days. Review the chapters about Writing Letters that Get Results in our book “From Emotions to Advocacy.”


Ginger: Do they also have to follow the laws on this website? We are zoned in one.

JG: Yes! Charter schools are considered either public schools that are part of a public school district, or a school district unto themselves. Which ever your charter school is, they must follow IDEA (and the ADA and Section 504).

Here is an excerpt from IDEA regarding charter schools: http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/,root,regs,300,C,300%252E209,.

And here is a brief article that answers some questions about charter schools and IDEA: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/charters/.

And finally here is a “Dear College” letter from OCR about charter schools and federal civil rights laws: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201405-charter.pdf.

Ginger: Thank you so much!


Minotte: If I have a child with autism, is everyone at the school who comes into contact with my daughter such as their homeroom teacher, computer teacher, assistants, fill in assistants, office staff, counselors, occupational therapists, and so on required to have training in autism? What kind of training is considered sufficient? What is there was not training for people in the past, but may have been trained recently? What are my child’s rights if they do not have training in autism? what is considered a sufficient amount of training in autism, especially when a child has an educational diagnosis of autism? Thank you, I still have lots to learn to advocate for my child.

Chuck:  IDEA regulations require IEP teams to consider what “supports school personnel” need to provide the child with FAPE. This would include training. The team determines if any staff needs training & what training. It is always important to check your state sp ed regulations. The state may address training in more detail.

Wrightslaw:  Minotte, the need for training and support applies to all school personnel.

If you have not already read this article, read it now. https://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/support.bardet.htm

Some of these training solutions may be applicable for the school personnel you’ve listed. However, it may not be reasonable for everyone who “comes in contact” with your son to have training (or the same level of training). “How much training” would be based on your son’s individual needs. You may need to request an IEP meeting to discuss what/how supports and training for school staff will enable your son to progress toward his IEP goals and access the general curriculum.

If the team decides support and training for teachers and other school personnel is needed, this training must be written in your child’s IEP.

Be sure you document all your requests and concerns in writing to the school.


Tyia: I seem to remember an inservice day, possibly in 1998-99 when someone spoke to us prior to the release of the official NCLB document. I clearly remember being told that the goal was to ensure that every child, upon graduation, had acquired identified minimum basic skills needed to get a job and be self sufficient. I welcomed NCLB thinking they would be life skills; how to fill out a check, how to choose the best bargain at a grocery store, and basic knowledge of utilities, credit cards, late payments. I and many others were shocked to see problems found on the SATs. Does anyone remember having a similar experience or documentation that would support this?

Wrightslaw: Tyia, Congress reauthorized IDEA in 2004. In the “Purposes” of IDEA 2004 (Section 1400(d)), Congress described what they intend the law to accomplish:

“The purposes of this title are to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.” (Section 1400(d)(1)(A))

When Congress added “further education” to the Purposes of IDEA 2004, they established higher expectations for special education, an expectation that had not been articulated in the law before.

For more tips about how to use IDEA to get better services for children with disabilities, read this article by parent attorney Wayne Steedman: https://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/art/10.tips.steedman.htm

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Daeric:  If a child is attending a public school outside their zoned district because they are on an inter-district transfer to attend where the parent teaches, which district is responsible for testing? The district where they are attending, or where they are zoned to attend? Texas, if it matters.

Chuck: The district where the child is enrolled has the child find responsibility. In some cases schools have decided to revoke the transfer.

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Sara: My daughter had an IEP from Kindergarten. It was reviewed every year, part of it was for a developmental issues. When we moved from CA to OR her 6th grade year, we were told she didn’t qualify for an IEP because the developmental issue didn’t seem to be there anymore, but that was only part not the full reason for the IEP. And the psychologist in OR never even talked to her. They held her back in the 6th grade and now we have moved to NY but were told she is not eligible to be tested due to the paperwork from OR, even after we told them what happened. They won’t look at the paperwork from CA. Yet they tell me to have her checked for ADD which the Dr. says she doesn’t have. How do I get her re-tested?

Wrightslaw: Sara, if I understand your facts, you moved from CA to OR when your daughter was in 6th grade. The receiving district in Oregon decided she was not a child with a disability and did not develop an IEP or provide special ed services.
Later, you moved to NY. Your daughter was no longer a child with a disability. To get special ed services, you have to start the clock again. Before taking that step, get a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation by a psychologist in the private sector who has expertise in her disability. This evaluation should identify her needs and help determine if she is eligible for special education according to the criteria in NY.
As your child’s advocate, you need to become familiar with the NY special ed regs. You can find them on the NY DOE site at http://www.nysed.gov/


Barb: I checked 2 corresponding boxes “Do not agree with the IEP” and “Request Mediation” right above the signature line and then I signed the IEP – MONTHS AGO! However the school already implemented the IEP anyway.
They have stated that we should have another IEP Meeting first before Mediation but they are giving me the run around about getting a “new IEP Meeting” set up. They tentatively schedule the meeting and then they indicate that they have a “conflict” and need to reschedule but the rescheduling is an exercise in insanity because nothing seems to work for the school staff.
What can I do to get them to take “real” action and schedule a firm IEP meeting or IEP Mediation? What can I do to get them to STOP doing some of what they are doing?

Sharon: Barb, once you request mediation everything is supposed to be put on hold. They should not have implemented the changes in the IEP until after mediation. If the school has stated that you should have another IEP meeting prior to mediation, then they should have scheduled it within a specific time frame. The district is probably out of compliance at this time.
Check your local procedural safeguard notice (you should have received one with you notice for an IEP meeting), and find out how many days your LEA allows in which to schedule an IEP meeting. With that information, write to the district chairperson. Use the format in the Letter to a Stranger which can be found in the FETA book.

Chuck: Have you made a complaint to the state education agency & requested mediation? If not go to their website & study the procedures & file a written request for mediation with them. The Procedural Safeguards Document that the school gives you should also give you this information. However, the state website might be a better source.
Good luck.


P ruiz:  Can a parent request to change the date of the annual IEP meeting permanently? We meet every June but would like the annual be every January .

JG:  As you likely know, the IEP must be completely reviewed and revised as needed at least once per year. But the Team can meet early to review the IEP. So you can simply ask for the Team to meet and review the IEP in January. Going forward, the anniversary of that January meeting would be the annual review date.


Elizabeth:  We just moved from MA to NH. Our child had a previous IEP in MA. This was completed at the end of (April) his 8th grade year….now he has begun his 9th grade year in NH and frankly the absolute lie, about what was said during a SPED Meeting they said was a placement meeting, has me concerned. Do they or do they not HAVE TO follow the IEP written in MA?

JG:  Elizabeth – The new district IS required to provide services that are comparable to those found in the IEP, until a new IEP is developed [§300.323(f)].

They new district can also ask to evaluate your child, but still must follow the old IEP until a new IEP is developed.

Marge:  Yes, but we schedule IEP reviews for all move ins. The case manager, admin, and service providers get to meet the parents and student. We review everything- PLAAFP, services, & placement. As a part of the IEP team, parents should question the data the team considered when suggesting any changes. Some high schools have remedial, general, honors, and AP courses for general education options-some don’t. The IEP team can’t write in an honors or AP option, where none exists at the new school. They can say the student needs small class size, special education teacher for core subject(s), integrated core subjects (self-contained program)…


Kris:  I have kept emails and other documentation since 2011 proving that my son’s 504 and now IEP has not always been followed. I have had to request, demand, educate in order for these things to SOMETIMES be followed. Meanwhile, due to these facts, my son who is also HA with IQ of 118 requested to be pulled from HA classes so he could finally get help. I even have a teacher saying, ” I gave up on following the 504!” With an administrator knowing this and nothing was done. Is it worth getting a lawyer? We’ve tried INSOURCE, using his therapist for an advocate and getting behavior consultant on board and they STILL don’t follow it! Help please.

JG:  Kris – It sounds like you’ve tried several formal ways to get the school to follow your child’s IEP and 504 Plan. It may be time to move on to a formal dispute resolution method.

You can file a complaint with your state Dept of Education. State complaints are most helpful for compliance issues – such as whether the IEP is being implemented as written. Here’s more info about this option: http://www.directionservice.org/cadre/pdf/WrittenStateComplaintParentGuideJAN14.pdf.

You could instead choose to file a complaint with the OCR at the federal Dept of Education. They will look at the same issues from a different angle – they view non-compliance of 504s and IEPs as disability discrimination.

Here’s more info about this option: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintprocess.html.

Both of these options are designed to be relatively easy (and can probably be filed without the help of a lawyer). Again, they are most helpful for compliance issues.

If your issues are more involved, you may want to consider a due process hearing. Hearings can also determine compliance issues, but are more typically used when there are disagreements about appropriateness – such as whether the IEP or placement provides FAPE. Here’s more info about this option: http://www.directionservice.org/cadre/pdf/DueProcessParentGuideJAN14.pdf. If you are thinking about requesting a hearing, it may be best to at least consult a lawyer.

Sophie:  Special ed complaints allow you to go back 12 months (in my state, at least). OCR complaints allow you to go back 6 months (or longer if you can prove a continuing pattern — which is hard to do). But look, you don’t have to be able to catch them on every single maddening mistake they’ve ever made. You just need to catch them on at least one significant mistake. Getting their wrists slapped by OCR or your state ed department will result in a change in attitude on their part. Yes, they’ll be more wary with you, but also they’ll think twice before ignoring you. My state has a special ed quality assurance office. A call to them gets quicker results than a formal written complaint. If your state has one, I would start by phoning them. They don’t help students with 504 plans, only students with IEPs.


Desiree:  Many needs‚ I Moved from out of state and now my son will be in high school. They removed the speech and language from his iep in the middle school cause they said the teachers are responsible. But he has language and communication issues. Can I ask for them to give him services? Also, I believe he qualifies for adaptive behavior on his iep, and I’m concerned how I go about this. I have read IDEA for our state, and there is a lot of information. I was just wanting the opinion of you all. Thanks.

JG:  When considering a significant change to the IEP, there should always be supporting data to back it up. School work, progress reports, and similar info is helpful, but evaluations are key, especially in areas that have not been assessed in a while, or have never been assessed.

The evaluation will document the need for the service, as well as pinpoint the specific areas of concern that should be worked on.

So I would suggest asking the school to evaluate these two areas (and any others you may be concerned about – have any transition-related assessments been conducted yet?).

You can also have your son assessed independently, but I like to give the school the first chance (and reserve my right to publicly funded independent evaluations).

Desiree:  The only report or documentation was a Fuch and Fuchs assessment, data graphs, and nothing from the speech and language teacher showing what she did with him. She told me “the previously provided don’t follow the iowa approach to providing receptive and expressive language services in the secondary school program.” I haven’t found evidence for that yet. He hasn’t been assessed for at least 5 years on language.
Thanks for replying I appreciate it.

JG:  Desiree, I would definitely suggest you ask the school to evaluate. It’s not a problem if you or the school cannot find information on what speech services looked like in the past, the evaluation results will focus on where he is now and what needs to be done going forward.

I also want to stress the importance of transition-related assessments!! IDEA requires that transition needs are considered beginning at age 16 (many states say earlier). And transition goals and services should be based on transition assessments! An adaptive behavior assessment could be one piece of this.

See here for more info: http://www.nsttac.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdf/NSTTAC-DCDT_Fact_Sheets/AgeAppropriateTransitionAssessment.pdf

Good luck!


Laura: What are some examples of when to use an addendum to an IEP? I get conflicting answers at my school.

helpgrouponline: Laura, I was told by an attorney that an addendum does not count legally unless it is part of the main IEP. It needs to be included in the regular part of the IEP. If there was a due process hearing, anything that is not in the official IEP would not be looked at.


robert: Is a district’s attorney allowed to be present for any IEP meeting? If a district requests their attorney be present for a meeting if we do not have an attorney present for that meeting? Are there any legal exceptions that allow a schools attorney to be present despite parent’s objection?

Chuck: IDEA regulations allow schools & parents to bring anyone that they feel will be helpful to the IEP process. Unless state rules put some limit on schools having an attorney there, they can do this. They should inform the parent ahead of time.


Jenny: Thank you, Wrightslaw and Community Helpline — this is a first. I actually remembered the section and subsection and paragraph to quote for partial consent. When no one else wanted to include the psychiatrist’s report (“because you son is in the LD category, not ED”), I kept insisting that the report would be useless as page 200 in his cumulative file, and they finally typed in the recommendations, used more inclusion-friendly interventions instead of constant 1:1 from adults. People even backed off from the veiled threat of “due process if you don’t agree.” I was able to respond in a way that was decisive but positive: “I’d welcome that, because the result would be a better IEP.”

Wrightslaw: Jenny, thanks for your note. You made our day!!

IEPs:  “Corrections” to the IEP?

Isabel: We agreed to the IEP, but when I got a copy, changes had been made after the meeting. When I asked the ARD committee, they said these were just “corrections” that needed to be made. Is this right?

Virginia: Did they correct his goals or services? You will need to send them a notice stating that you did not agree to the corrections and will need another meeting. You must be included in those decisions. Also, don’t sign the IEP. You do not have to sign it at all (except for eligibility evaluations).

JG: Isabel – Making true corrections (like updating contact info) are okay. Substantial changes to what was agreed upon during the meeting are *not* okay – changes to the IEP require parent input.

I would suggest putting in writing a list of the areas you believe were changed and what you think was agreed to, along with a request to meet to discuss this – involve other individuals in your district’s chain of command (such as the special ed director) if need be.

If this is not fruitful, consider filing a state complaint. This is a pretty clear IDEA violation, especially if you have notes from the meeting, a change notice (“prior written notice”), a draft IEP, or other proof to back up your claim.

JG: I want to jump in to say that state special education regulations vary considerably!!!

Regarding parent consent to implement IEPs, some follow IDEA closely and require parent consent only to implement the first IEP.

Other states provide parents and students greater protections, and require parent consent (or hearing office decision) to implement *ANY* IEP change. In such states, not signing an IEP means a new IEP will not go into effect. Parents have more “power” by signing the IEP and indicating any (or all) parts they disagree with.

Always check your state regulations, in consultation with the IDEA regs before acting!

Chuck: Excellent point. There are variations on many issues, topics – ESY, IEEs, disagreements, facilitated IEPs, etc.

Chuck: Isabel – These are good suggestions. I work for the TX Parent Training & Information center. I can put you in contact with our staff in your area, if you need help with dealing with TX rules & the school district. cnoe59@hotmail.com


Eva-Marie: The school wants to put my child on an IEP for math and language arts. I decided on a different program for my daughter through e-school. Can a school still insist on and IEP for those subjects if my daughter has dual enrollment and does not take those classes at the school (She is doing eschool for those classes instead)?

Kimberley: Eva Marie – I am pretty certain that you can deny the IEP. Any services that you do not want you do not have to take. Although, an IEP is a legal document that may help your daughter later on when it comes to accommodations or modifications on testing and other school stipulations. She can always be retested later on if you change your mind about services.


Marie: My son is a high functioning autistic with a mood disorder. Because the school does not acknowledge the mood disorder, we were presented with a draft IEP void of 21 emotional/behavior incidents that happened this year at school. Based on the present levels, my son is an angel. What can I do to have the incidents listed in the IEP so there is an accurate picture of him?

Kimberly: Hi Marie, 
I would suggest, if you haven’t already done so to have an FBA done. A functional behavioral analysis will be the baseline for the behaviors, give possible reasons to behaviors, etc. and in turn help the school and yourself develop a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP). The BIP and FBA will become part of the students file. The BIP will be used to carry on procedures for the specific behaviors. Example: If this happens- this is implemented. Update his current levels to include all his behaviors inside and outside the classroom. Document the behavioral incidents once more in the letter you write to request a FBA/BIP. That way they are documented and don’t necessarily have to be in his IEP.


Nadine: My teen has HFA with a high IQ, we applied & qualified for an IEP for the 1st time last year but the IEP team said they couldn’t implement changing from regular to advanced classes which the IEP process showed was needed for passing the classes. They said if the classes weren’t passed & another year in that grade was needed it wouldn’t be a problem to repeat the grade. Can I get an IEP through the county again & use it to help the teachers in a private or homeschool coop setting? Is the county responsible to provide the testing, qualifying? What else would they be responsible for? I was told last year enrollment in a public school was necessary to even apply for an IEP, is this true?

Sophie: Nadine, a homeschooled child can have an IEP.  In terms of guiding the teachers in a private or homeschool co-op setting, it might be more practical to work with the teachers in a more informal way.  You might want to get involved in a homeschooling parent group and compare notes with some homeschooling parents of high functioning children to see how they have handled this.  There is a great deal of variability in both private schools’ and homeschooling co-ops’ ability to handle special needs. (Some do it with ease and flair.)

Sophie: Nadine, if I understood the basic problem correctly, I would suggest politely asserting your teen’s right to take desired advanced classes

JG: Nadine – The rights of students who attend private schools by parent placement or are home-schooled do vary from students who attend public schools.

The evaluation and eligibility processes are generally the same, regardless of setting. Your local education agency (LEA is your local school district or other agency that provides schooling) is responsible for “child find” for all students who may have a disability and may be eligible for special education in their district, regardless of what type of schooling environment they are in. That means that the LEA must identify, evaluate, and determine special ed eligibility for all students whom they have received a referral for, including those who attend private schools or are home-schooled.

JG : Also note that this does not apply to students who are placed in a private school by the public school or LEA per an IEP – these students have the same rights and entitlements as students who attend public schools. And private schools must follow Section 504, so a 504 plan might be an option (religious schools that receive no federal funding are generally exempt).

JG: IDEA is mute on services for students who are home schooled, so you would look to your state law on this. In most states, students are treated the same as students who attend private schools. Others have specific provisions regarding the home schooling of children with disabilities. Here is a break down of laws by states: https://www.hslda.org/strugglinglearner/sn_states.asp.

Please note that this is based on IDEA. Individual states vary *considerably* in how they treat private school students. For example, in Massachusetts, private school students are entitled to an IEP under state law. Make sure to check your state’s regs to be sure. You can also consult your state’s parent center: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/entire-list-of-parent-centers/.

JG: Students who attend private schools, on the other hand, may receive a service plan. This plan contains the services that the LEA intends to provide to the student, based on the availability of resources. Private school students do not have an individual right to services, and service plans are generally not as robust as IEPs. Procedural protections for parents/students are also less robust. This guide from the US Dept of Ed outlines provisions for private school students under IDEA: https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/speced/privateschools/idea.pdf
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JG: So, if you request an evaluation for eligibility for special education and you have reason to believe that your child has a disability and may need special education, the LEA is required to conduct it. The evaluation and eligibility process must be completed under the same timelines as public school students. Do note, for private school students, the LEA responsible for evaluating under Child Find is the one where the school is located, not the one where the parent/student lives.

Once a student is found eligible, there is a *large* difference in how students are serviced. As you know, public school students who are eligible receive an IEP that describes, in detail, the services and supports they will receive.


Melissa: My son’s school already warned me they may place him in the ED category…I’d rather his category be OHI because of his ADHD diagnosis. Any opinions, or suggestions?

JG: Melissa – Here are some thoughts/ideas I have…

ED is a disability category for reporting purposes. It’s intended as a mechanism to count how many students have been designated ED, not to determine services or placement or medical diagnoses.

ADHD is a medical diagnosis that should help determine (with evaluation data) what services and supports your child needs. It should also help place your child into a disability category for reporting purposes.

At least one court has ruled that students don’t have a right to a specific disability category, as long as the IEP duly outlines the child’s strengths, challenges, and needs (sorry, I couldn’t find a link). So it may be tough to file a state complaint or due process hearing on that alone.

JG: Instead here are some questions I might ask the school …

*What is their reasoning for placing him in the ED category? Do they think he has a disability that meets your state’s definition of ED?
(IDEA clearly places ADHD underr OHI: http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cregs%2C300%2CA%2C300%252E8%2C)
*Are there any benefits to placing him in one category or another? Some states have guidelines that apply for students in specific disability categories.
*Is it possible to list your child in two categories, a primary and secondary? This is allowed in some states.

JG: Here are some questions I might ask the school and myself…

*Does the IEP somewhere list your child’s medical diagnosis of ADHD and provide a synopsis of how it can be expected to impact your child?
*Does the IEP list the specific ways, based on evaluation data, that your child’s disability impacts your child – including his individual strengths and challenges?
*Is the IEP designed to meet your child’s needs that result from his disability?
*Is the placement designed to meet your child’s needs that result from his disability, and not chosen simply because it is a placement designed to serve students with ED?

JG: And finally, if I am satisfied with these answers, I would ask myself if I am okay with my son being categorized with ED if it will have no impact on his services and supports?

If, of course, it seems like the Team is basing any decisions on the disability category, then I would fight to have it changed back to OHI.

Sophie: An advocate told us that the classification drives the services. Also, there’s the self esteem aspect. I advise you to resist ED tooth and nail.

I think the “prior notice” rules apply here. I think “prior notice” is a bit of a misnomer. Basically, they have to give you written justification for their position. If their evaluation or evaluator recommends ED, you could say you reject the district’s evaluation, and get an independent evaluation at public expense. But please be prepared to pay out of pocket for your evaluator to attend the meeting (that might not be covered), because your evaluator will be ten times more effective by attending.

Chuck: ADHD is typically placed under OHI. A psychiatrist or qualified psychologist would have to determine that he meets the federal definition for ED. If they do decide to label him ED, you can: request that they pay for an independent educational evaluation (IEE); file a complaint with the state; request mediation, or a due process hearing. Regardless of the label(s) used, the IEP team must identify & address his specific needs.

Wrightslaw: Agree with Chuck re: OHI. I would strongly oppose an ED program – kids in ED programs have the poorest outcomes.


Exasperated Mama: Help! Our school district REFUSES to rewrite our son’s IEP into a 504 before he goes off to college as promised at his last IEP meeting. Help! What do we do? NOTE: I have just learned that our District also has a pattern of refusing to step down a student from an IEP to a 504…if a parent thinks the IEP is no longer necessary the schools say the choice is only between an IEP or nothing. HELP!

JG: With regard to 504 plans in general, strictly speaking, public school/districts are NOT required to offer eligible students “504 Plans.” They ARE required to provide eligible students accommodations under Section 504 (and follow the ADA). Most choose to document the accommodations in 504 Plans, individual health plans, or a similar document.

Although not as straight forward as IDEA, Section 504 does have a process that school district must follow to find someone eligible for accommodations. This article from the Dept of Ed provides an overview of the rights and responsibilities of school districts under Section 504: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html.

JG: If you are requesting that your child be moved from an IEP to a 504 plan solely for college purposes, this is NOT necessary. The college will “honor” neither the 504 nor IEP – though either document, along with other info (such as evaluations), may help your child get college accommodations.

This article from the Dept of Ed provides an overview of the rights and responsibilities under the ADA and Section 504 for students with disabilities transitioning to college: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html.

It is important to speak with colleges about their disability services during the selection process. Most colleges and post-secondary programs must abide by ADA and Section 504, but some beyond basic requirements.

Programs also differ in the amount of documentation they require to approve accommodations. For example, some may accept the most recent special ed/504 evaluations, but some may require more recent testing. These are important things to consider when choosing a post-secondary program.

Instead of fighting to get that 504 plan, you may find it more helpful to concentrate on gathering the documentation required by your child’s college(s) of choice. The school could be a potential ally in this.

Wrightslaw: Don’t know where you live, anything about your child’s disabilities and needs, when child was last evaluated, the evaluator’s findings. You need to document your objections and what you want in a nice “Letter to the Stranger.” You can learn more about this strategy from articles on this page: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/ltrs.index.htm


Melissa:  My child has been receiving OT to support her during the day for dyspraxia and SPD. Last years IEP addressed sensory concerns and she was able to master her sensory goals. I am in agreement that with the supports my daughter has mastered the goals. She receives classroom accommodations such as a slant board and seat wedge pillow to support sensory and fine motor tasks. She also has a sensory diet in place.

Our yearly PPT and IEP review what 9/30. The OT now wants to move to consult 10hrs a year. I am ok with this. How should it be written? Also, the classroom supports have been removed from the IEP because she no longer has those sensory and motor goals. I want them to remain. Can I insist they be added?

Chuck:  Typically an IEP just says that OT will be provided through the consultative model. Check with the state & district for their written definition of this term. Ask that the IEP specify that this will be done by a registered OT, & not an OT assistant (COTA) & the amount of time.
You can request in writing that accommodations be provided & explain the reason that they are still needed. If they are against this, you can request that they be continued for part of the year & then the team can meet to decide if they need to be continued or fazed out. Requesting mediation on this is an option.

Wrightslaw:  Melissa, use the US DOE Model Form for required documentation of services on the IEP. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/modelform-iep.pdf

Doesn’t have to be the exact format, but the IEP should include the frequency, duration, location, and projected dates for the service. 34 C.F.R. 300.320(a)(7)

See p. 246 in your law book, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law or P. 43 in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs for more info.

Be specific. (Don’t use ranges, use # of times per day/week/month, number of minutes/hrs, etc). As Chuck recommends, be specific about who will provide the service. (Do not use a broad term like “staff”).


Liz:  I am a licensed educator who decided to pull my second grade son from school this year and homeschool him. He is a bright boy but struggles with ADHD and some other issues. We were excited when we learned that a school in another district offered a STEM program for homeschoolers. We enrolled right away and went to finish the registration process in person last week. It was then that we learned that he would not be permitted to participate because of his IEP which includes reports of isolated incidents last year. I assured the director and special ed teacher that we understood that they did not offer any special ed services and that we utilize outside therapies which have benefitted him greatly. I also assured them that we would not be pursuing this program if we did not feel he would be successful. Answer is still no. Can they do this?

Morning:  First, I am so impressed that the school district is offering STEM for homeschoolers. That type of outreach and collaboration are not available to most of us how have homeschooled or still homeschool. You mentioned other issues and outside therapists. My concern is that how can your son be successful without the appropriate help and support during the school day? Isolated incidents are not truly “isolated.” If he is experiencing a high level of frustration and even failure that results in certain behaviors, don’t put him in a situation where he may “fail.” I do not know the legal stance of the school. It seems your son needs a specific level of support during the school day and hopefully it can work out for your child.


Lizzy:  My daughter has moderate CP & other medical health issues. She is in a day care 3 miles out of our school district and every day care in the school district is full; the shortest wait list is 1 year. We just had our first IEP & the school district will bus her but only within her district. I’m a single mom & can’t leave work to pick her up and take her back & forth from her therapies (OT, PT & Speech – ea. twice a week). Advice?

Chuck: Lizzy, the answer can depend on your state’s rules on transportation & their interpretation of FAPE. If the state allows this & helps pay for it, that helps your position. In TX the law allows, schools to do this & helps pay. A strong position is that their position takes the “free” out of FAPE. I also suggest contacting your state parent training & Information center & considering a request for mediatiion.


Wanda: It’s my understanding that an IEP goes into full effect the first day of school if one already exists, but my son’s hasn’t & the school is not listening to his problems with executive functioning. What should I do?

Jennifer: First of all, you have to have some documentation that the executive function problem is there. Do you have an evaluation that states this? If not, request one. If so, ask for a conference in writing that reviews the results of this evaluation. Then the school can address it.


Kim: 7 y/o daughter has low muscle tone & it affects writing & PE. Does she need IEP or 504 to have teachers make allowances & not mark down grades because she has trouble running, doing pull ups or with fine motor skills like writing? She is currently in therapy outside of school. We are in Missouri.

Sophie: Kim, I would advise you to try for an IEP, and if not, then get a 504. Reasons: legal protections, both now and in the future; support so school can be as positive an experience as possible; and accommodations and services so your daughter can make as much progress as possible in areas such as improving fine motor skills gradually, in a supportive environment, with the help of personnel with special expertise.

The teachers are supposed to differentiate instruction AND assessments, taking into account your daughter’s different abilities. They have to judge (grade) her according to HER current level and abilities, not according to some preconceived idea about what a 7yo should be able to do. The legal document makes it easier to ensure this in a consistent way, from one year to the next.


Janet: What do you do when you have a IEP for homebound services for the whole year and at beginning of school was told the school wouldn‚Äôt let the teacher come, then second month of school being in they want to change it but you keep focusing on the teacher coming. You go ahead and try it their way knowing that it was better for the teacher to come to the house to teach cause of the child getting sick with sore throats, diarrhea, etc very often and has to miss school. Also was afraid that if didn’t sign would be taken to court like previous school years. What to do to get it back to the teacher coming to the home to teach like last year? Was better and was thriving and happy a lot more when teacher came. Thanks and will appreciate any answers as soon as possible.

Sophie: Janet, I don’t have the answers for you, I’m not an expert, but you may want to consider homeschooling your child, with special education and related services provided in your home. The way this works is, it’s as though your home were a private school that is too small to provide services with their own staff, and then the public school district has to send providers there. Try to connect with homeschoolers in your area to find out what their experiences with this have been, before you burn your bridges.


Jan: If a child has attended a private school for children with and with special needs, has an FIE and IEP with inclusion support does the school district he is transferring into have to accept this information and match services during the transfer period?

Chuck: IDEA rules only address transfers from one public agency/school to another. So different schools handle this situation differently. They may treat this as a new referral. It is important to contact the sp ed dept. as soon as possible.


Can we, as parents, insist that our 15 year old not meet with school administrators alone? The school has continually held meetings with our son without informing us, or including us. The school says that I give my son “too many excuses” for him.

Our son is in 10th grade and has been on an IEP since 3rd grade. I asked the school to update my son’s IEP to reflect new medical information that causes him anxiety. I wanted to get support in place prior to major issues. My written request was ignored. 3 months later he started having anxiety at school. It built up until he started skipping some classes. He would get anxious and leave class.

Because he skipped several classes in 1 day the school gave him in-school suspension, and took him out of the school play after months of practice.They would not consider his disability.

Sophie: Mimi, I have this in my son’s 504 plan. Getting it complied with is another story…. Does your son have a cell phone? He needs a panic button to let you know when you need to head straight down to the school, or phone and have them put you on a speaker phone in the room where they are talking with him.

A student with anxiety needs a go-to person, a trusted adult whom the student can go see at any time in the school day to say, I’m having trouble with something. Try doing some brainstorming with him, without explaining where you’re headed with this, to find out whom he trusts. Talk with secretaries and other parents to find out who the good guys in the building are. Maybe the nurse?

Do role play to help your son learn to say, I need to make a phone call (SOS to you).


Chris: I just found out my 7 year old son is being removed from class to go to a resource room for reading, I never consented to this, was never asked about this is that legal? Don’t you need an IEP to be in a resource room?

Chuck: Yes, if the staff in the room are funded with state &/or federal sp ed funds.


Eileen: Our son has an IEP for his autism and deafness. He has a 1:1 aide throughout the day and this is listed on his IEP. I thought I remember reading on here that the school is required to provide the aide for after school extra curricular activities. Is this correct? If so, what section of SPED Law can I find it in to show this to the school? Thank you for helping me~

Wrightslaw: Eileen, Read these articles. You’ll find the information and the legal resources you need.



Jenny: The meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday, and I was told by the Special Ed. Director that an IEP is all or nothing — You either agree to the whole thing, or you decide you don’t want your child to have special ed. “We can’t just have parents saying, ‘I’ll choose this part, but not that part and picking apart our IEP. Then, there’s no way to evaluate whether our plan is working.” We will likely be on the same page about speech, writing, etc., just can’t reach agreement about the behavioral part. How do I keep SOME special ed. services in place?

Wrightslaw: Jenny, the school may not use your refusal to consent to one service to deny other services, benefits, or activities in your child’s IEP.

Your Special Ed Director may not be familiar with what the Federal Regulations actually say.

(34 C.F.R. § 300.300(d)(3))

(3) A public agency may not use a parent’s refusal to consent to one service or activity under paragraphs (a) or (d)(2) of this section to deny the parent or child any other service, benefit, or activity of the public agency, except as required by this part.

Turn to page 239 in your law book, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition. https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/selaw2/selaw2.htm

or page 24 in your Wrightslaw: All About IEPs for strategies to help solve this problem. https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/aaiep/index.htm


As you prepare for your meeting next week, reread the strategies in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, (https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/feta2/feta2.htm), Chapter 25 and 26 for Meeting Strategies – Taking Control and Maintaining Control. Use the following worksheets to help identify needs, clarify concerns, anticipate problems, and make requests:
Pre-Meeting Worksheet
Parent Agenda
IEP Problem Resolution Worksheet

Always document in writing your issues and concerns and the responses you receive from school staff.


Charlie: My wife and I placed our son in a private program at public expense this past February. Yesterday, we received a notice from the public school that they intend to conduct an annual review for the 2015-16 school year. Is this legal?

Chuck: Since they are paying for the private school, it seems appropriate & may be required by the state or by the agreement that you have with them. This may be part of the IEP review that schools must do yearly.

Pam Wright: Charlie, public schools are responsible for providing a free appropriate education (FAPE) to children with disabilities. This responsibility continues when they are paying for a child’s education in a private program. Courts have held that if a private program does NOT provide a child with FAPE, the public school is responsible for changing his program so it does accomplish that goal.


Dawn: My daughter was to have an IEP meeting 1/26/2015 which is stated on her IEP. I called the school last week and spoke to the director of special ed dept. She told me she sees no date available and told me to speak to someone on the SBST team. I spoke with the psychologist and he also didn’t have a date and mentioned due to me having another evaluation done on my daughter, I have to wait. I requested an evaluation on Feb 28, 2015 and no evaluation has been done yet. She is in 5th grade and will be graduating and she is in the nest program(Autism) and academically regressing. She’s been regressing since the 4th grade and they know it. There were no classes available for her, so I kept her in the NESt Program. Are they out of compliance? What do I need to do?

Sophie: My state has a special education quality assurance office. What they would do for you is answer your questions, and if they see a compliance issue, they would contact the district. I hope you can find an office like that in your state.

There’s a technique I used once to speed things up — maybe this would help. This technique was suggested to me by a special education lawyer. I had referred my child to the committee on special education because I believed an IEP would serve him better than his existing 504, but after waiting three weeks I had heard NOTHING back. So I wrote them again, but this time I said I would like him referred to the committee immediately. I got a phone call the next day!

You could also try going up the chain. The next person up might be the superintendent — you could ask a friendly secretary about this. Try to just state facts in your letter, without talking about how frustrating it is. Also, don’t show them how impotent you feel. Just pull out the facts you outlined in your post here — make it very dry. Good luck!

Dawn: Thank you for the advice. Just today I received a letter for the IEP meeting for April 30. but i haven’t talk to an advocate as of yet and I don’t feel that date is adequate enough but it two months before school ends. should I take that date or ask for more time?

Sophie: Are you thinking you might like to have your meeting somewhat later, in order to give them time to do the evaluation you requested? Hmm. How about if you have the meeting on that date, see what progress you can make, and when they’re ready to adjourn you say they have to schedule another meeting to discuss the evaluation results.

Let’s say they get the evaluation done in time. In my state, if you don’t like their evaluation — let’s say the evaluator didn’t do a good job in your opinion — then you can have an outside evaluation done at district expense.


Jill:  If we the parents request an IEP meeting, how soon must the school respond and schedule a meeting? We requested an iep meeting a month ago and they have told us it will be mid to late may.

Sophie: Unfortunately, Jill, I don’t think you can do much about this. You could check your state regs and district policy, though, and you could try reaching out to the director of special education, with a letter explaining why you need the meeting sooner. Good luck!


DebraL:  If an IEP includes OT items such as a slant board and OT kit, do they have to use them?
The OT therapist and Special Education Case Manager told me they are there just in case she needs them, but they said she doesn’t so they don’t use them. She has ADHD and Dyspraxia and needs these items.

Wrightslaw:  Yes, educators and related service providers are required to provide the services and supports in the child’s IEP. Do you remember what was said during the IEP meeting about using the slant board and OT kit? What problems does your child have that led the team to write this into the IEP?

We encourage parents to write letters after IEP meetings to document what the school agreed to provide and why. NO ONE WANTS TO WRITE A LETTER so most parents are swamped and don’t write the letter. Later, when you have difficulty getting the school to provide services they agreed to, you see why it’s essential to document these things in writing. As Pete says, “If it isn’t in writing, it was never said.”


Lynn: My son is in 1st grade – in a regular education classroom with related services (OT, PT, Counseling) and a special education consultant teacher (1 hour a day). He entered Kindergarten with an IEP as he has been receiving services since he was 13 months-old. He has made slow progress and is about a year behind. Last year they recommended that he be retained (they mentioned it again, I feel it’s their roundabout way to get students to “grade level”). I was adamantly against this, as I feel this goes against everything that Special Education stands for. Integrated would be perfect as it would give him on-going support throughout the day. How do I request the district to consider this? He does not belong in self-contained, their only other option. How do I also request ESY?

Chuck: Lynn, the National School Psychologists Association has for many taken the position that retention is not appropriate. IDEA requires procedures for removing a child from the general ed classroom. It would help if you can find what your state education agency tells schools about these. Then you can be quote these to the school, if you need to. I suggest that you contact your state’s parent training & information center. (State PTIs under resources on this website’s home page.) You can also find info on ESY there.


Shail: After the IEP meeting, how is the IEP finalized? Is the signature of parents required to get the newer version implemented? If parents are not signing, does it mean that the previous year goals will continue and no changes will be done.

Last year, we had some conflicts as the IEP didn’t seemed to have all the information that was discussed in the meeting. We communicated this but after that we were never contacted until we contacted them back again.

Also, does the paper signed toward the end of meeting for the attendance purpose also means that the IEP goals has been finalized?

Sophie:  Shail, I’m not an expert, but I’d suggest writing a letter in which you clearly state that you do not accept the new IEP the school gave you, and that you want to stick with the previous IEP.

Also, pester when needed.

In my state you can file a special education complaint with the state Quality Assurance office. One can phone them and they help a parent understand the complaint process.

Document dates, who said what, etc., as you go along.


Tony: I have a iep meeting the 29th, we invited his old teacher and friend to come. The school board wants to have a meeting the day before to ask why we want,to bring her. Now they want to move the meeting to a time she can’t be there for. What are my rights??

Veronica: Tony – it’s your right to invite someone. The Wrightslaw All about IEP book, p.12 says “don’t go to meetings alone” – that you can have a friend or support person go with you, and you can invite anyone who you feel knows your child. They give the law for this. 34 CFR 300.321(a)(6)&(c) and 20 USC 1414(d)(1)(B)(vi).

Surely a previous teacher would know a lot about your child and could help you with suggestions – although the school won’t consider her part of the actual team. With all the meetings we already have to attend, don’t know why the school would want ANOTHER meeting just about why you’re inviting someone else. The law doesn’t say you have to explain why.

The IEP book also says the school is supposed to do what they can to make sure parents attend the meeting – not make the times difficult for you. Just tell them you cannot make it at the new time, but will work with them to find a good time for all (remember you catch more flies with honey…and all that).

I just read this on the Wrightslaw FB page https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=8338

Chuck: IDEA regs say that a parent can invite “other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child” to be part of the IEP team. 300.321(a)(6) 300.321(c) says ” The determination of the knowledge or special expertise of any individual described in paragraph (a)(6) of this … must be made by the party .. who invited the individual to be a member of the IEP Team.” If the school persists, you have the right to make a complaint to the state.
This issue is addressed at: https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=8338

Mari:  Tony, that teacher knows something they don’t want her to reveal. Be sure you know exactly what that is. Gently insist on an accommodating time. Do not attend a pre-meeting to discuss her attendance. They are going to tell you that she is “disgruntled” or “bad news.” However, let the Sped Director know that you believe that the district changed the time to avoid her presence, and that you see that as a red flag. The response should be a denial; they should at least pretend they have nothing to hide. (Important: Sped Director and not the principal) Let her/him know that if the teacher is not the issue, then why all the trouble with accommodating your needs? That should produce some cooperation. Good luck. You are obviously dealing with a problematic district. Consider moving.


Sonya: Is the following statement true?

Federal regulations do not require Districts to provide copies of IEPs to teachers so long as IEPs are accessible to teachers and other service providers.

Accessibility of the child’s IEP to teachers and others. 34 C.F.R. 300.323(d)

What is exactly meant by “The child’s IEP is accessible to each regular education teacher…?

Should regular education teachers be given copies (hard copy or electronic) of special education students’ IEPs?

Would telling the regular education teachers that they can review student files as needed or only see the students’ full IEPs with the case manager/special education teacher (because of the safeguard of sensitive information is a major concern for the district) satisfy the requirements of the law as it relates to accessibility?

Wrightslaw: Sonya, although the regulations do not require the school to provide copies of the IEP (only access) to the regular education teacher, there is nothing in the regulations that prevents the school from doing this. Most schools do not. Many cite “confidentiality” concerns. The burden often falls to the parent to ensure teachers have copies of their child’s IEP.

From – Denying Access to IEPs for Regular Ed Teachers at https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=380

Imagine the ramifications if teachers were not allowed to see IEPs and 504 plans because they were “confidential.” And why would the IEP or 504 team create a document that lists the services the school is legally required to provide — if the providers are not allowed to see the document?

When IDEA added the emphasis on involvement and progress in the general curriculum, the role of regular education teachers became increasingly critical (together with special education and related services personnel) in implementing the program of FAPE described in the IEP for most children with disabilities.

Does Your Child’s Teacher See the IEP? at https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=4289

Shouldn’t a Sub Have Access to IEPs? at https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=9294


Ann:  Does a parent have the right to request that their 16 year-old child not attend and/or participate in an IEP meeting?

Sandy:  Ann, at age 16 (or in some states, 14 1/2), the school must invite the child to attend. But if the parent strongly feels the child should not attend, I think you have that right, as the child is still a minor. That said, usually it’s a good thing to have the child of that age attend, even if only for part of the meeting (maybe the very end where decisions are made). Hope this helps!

SharonL:  Ann, yes, you do not have to have your child at the IEP meeting if you do not want it.


Melinda: Does a school district (or school) have the right to change the IEP listing from having a specific Learning Disability ( across the board) to Intellectual disabled? doesn’t a qualified Medical personnel have to do that? The school told me the child will get the same services listed on the IEP so why change the “Label” How do I as a parent respond to this?

Jennifer:  There should always be current data, meaning a battery of formal testing results and curriculum based assessment, to justify the diagnosis. The diagnosis, or handicapping condition (learning disabled, intellectually disabled, etc.) is a COMMITTEE decision, not the school’s decision alone. No, a medical expert is not required. If the school feels that a change in the handicapping condition is warranted, ask to see new testing that backs this up. As a special education teacher, I shudder at the thought of changing a student’s condition to ID without formal, objective data that is current.


Melinda:  My child has documented heart condition and CP with ADHD. He has an IEP. The school is rejecting if not refusing giving my child an Individualized Health Plan (IHP) and Emergency Care Plan (ECP? Is my child protected under the federal disability laws?

Wrightslaw: Melinda, we’ve published several posts about health plans and medical plans on the Wrightslaw Way blog.

Read these posts – I think they will answer your questions:

“Can we include a Health Care Plan in My Child’s IEP?”


“Doing the Work Gets Results: How a parent got the services her child needs, including a medical management plan and treatment plan”


After you read these posts, please let us know if they / we answered your questions. ~ Pam


Vanessa:  I live in Washington State and just recently in my school district certain families have been asked to sign a third party release of information form when they are bringing a support person; advocate; or family member to an IEP meeting.

The attorneys for the district have stated that this a requirement by law because the individuals listed above are considered a third party. The parent is not required to sign one for a IEP team member from the district who has not been to the students IEP in the past. We are confused it has been the understanding under IDEA that a parent can bring someone to the IEP meeting to be support. The parents have had meetings in the past and have not been requested to sign a release form.

Does this issue fall under the FERPA Laws? Please Help

Chuck: Yes this falls under FERPA. You may want to review this topic under the list on the Wrightslaw home page. This is a common practice at meetings & does not prevent you from bringing whom you want to IEP meetings.


Sherry: NEED FEDERAL LAW REFERENCES – we have had several meetings to put in place and implement an IEP, yet we have never come to a consensus. According to IDEA or federal law, who has final say? The LEA?

Wrightslaw: The law doesn’t say who has the final say but the school district (LEA) is responsible for providing a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The parent’s consent is only required for the first IEP under IDEA. As a general rule, since the parent’s consent is not required for subsequent IEPs, I believe most hearing officers / ALJs would find that the school district has the “final say.”


Noel:  My daughter has IEP (SLD) and plays soccer and may become ineligible because of grades, how can I help ensure her success.
Soccer is part of the reason she loves school.

MORNING: Aside from the sports, if there are issues with grades–then a PPT should be held to look at the child’s deficits, accommodations, strengths, progress monitoring, etc. My child has an IEP, loves sports, plays competitively at the high school level, etc. I agree that sports do motivate kids–it motivates my child to keep her grades high to remain eligible. She has to work very hard, use AT and just put in a lot of time to stay on top of her grades. It is not easy for her but she loves the sports. At the high school level, there are eligibility issues. But, if a child is struggling (and I do personally understand your concerns), I would work both with the PPT team to understand the academic difficulties and the coach to help motivate the child. Grades come first and sports second in my home. But, sports are fun!!


Louise:  Principal put a time limit on my 3 year iep meeting. I was told he could not do this, however after reading many articles I can not find anywhere prohibiting a time limit for a meeting. Does anyone know where I can find this info?

Wrightslaw:  There is nothing in the federal law about time limits on IEP meetings. In some cases, more than one meeting is needed.
We don’t encourage parents to request long meetings. When meetings go on for more than an hour or so, they tend to become unproductive. In general, it’s better to have 2-3 short well-organized meetings than a long marathon. ~ Pam


Alexia:  My son has autism and epilepsy and we had a PPT to update his IEP and go over a medical action plan if he has a seizure at school. I recieved the new IEP and found no mention of my son’s medical condition or the action plan for a seizure mentioned or attached to the IEP. Should it in the IEP or is the IEP strickly for educational accomodations/goals and objectives? I would think the IEP would make mention of the medical action plan somewhere?

Wrightslaw:  Alexia – You should be able to include all needed accommodations in your daughter’s IEP. Read this post. https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=7544

Sue Whitney explains how to create a health care plan that can be included in the IEP. Be sure to review the links in the post. Good luck.


Janice R:  Can a parent request an IEP at 3:30 p.m. so that both parents can attend? School ends at 2:27….the reply I received is that the teacher can’t stay after 2:40 p.m.???? I have always been accommodating but I don’t have any personal time left at work. I thought IEP meetings were to be held at the parent’s convenience?

SharonL:  Janice R, there is a document you can sign to allow the regular ed teacher to be exempt from the meeting. The contract that the regular ed teacher has with the school is such that the teacher can refuse to meet after contracted hours if he/she does not want to meet. You can tell the IEP team you will sign him/her out of the IEP meeting. This should allow you to be able to have the meeting. If the regular ed teacher ‘s input is very important could you meet during him/her contracted time and let him/her go first so he/she can leave when the contracted time is done? This should help take care of this situation. Also meetings and be done via conference phone. Perhaps the teacher would be willing to do this.


chrs:  I was reprimanded due to a IEP that wasn’t signed by a Administrator. The Administrator in question, was consistently missing meetings and would sign the IEP after the meeting was held. My Administrators said I could be held liable because the IEP in question went to Due Process. Where in IDEA law/guidelines does it state, who’s at fault? If proper notice was given to the Administrator to attend the meeting and they don’t show up, is not the signature page for those who actually attended the meeting? Is a Admin allowed to sign after the meeting is held when they are not physically present?

Chuck:  Unfortunately, this happens periodically. School attorneys warn schools not to do this. The administrator is the one putting the district at risk in a hearing. A signature is to indicate that the person participated in the meeting & agrees or disagrees with the decisions. If the administrator is not present, one question is who at the meeting had authority to commit district resources.


Jerri:  I need a little guidance on this one. I had a CSE mtg. on 11/25/08, taped of course. In total I spent 12mins saying reschedule due to 200.3(c)(ii) no general ed teacher… Long story filed a state complaint just heard back and although they will remove the IEP from his files they will not do anything about holding the chairperson accountable for the falisified notes( and I mean completely falsified). I just find this unbelievable. Other than filing with the office of professionals and the attorney general I am not sure where to take this. The state said they could not attach the complaint to any regulation about falsifying the IEP and I should be happy they are removing it HA, it should have never happened as no CSE took place… Appreciate any advice. THANKS!!!

Sharon:  If you attend an IEP meeting and disagree with the findings/new IEP, or the teacher of the child has not participated, you must request a new meeting to resolve these issues. Before you leave the room, however, if you know you are going to request a new meeting, state that you want PENDENCY. Do not leave the room until you have this in writing. It is a good idea to go to your IEP meeting with a copy of the letter requesting pendency in hand. If you don’t need it let it stay in your file, but if you do, whip it out, and have the person who led the meeting sign it, make a copy, and return the copy to you. It must be dated and signed by you as well. With this on record, the school will not be able to implement any changes until a new IEP meeting is held. It will probably speed things up as well.

Jerri:  Thanks so much for the advice, unfortunately I did claim pendency in writing etc. They refused to sign. I find it sad that in most professions people are held accountable but not spec. ed. or ed unless the offense is obscene and completely blatant…I don’t know where most bloggers are but I’m in NY downstate. Just very frustated here. I should be use to it by now but it is always an uphill battle I have found( I have 2 neurotypical, mainstream kids as well) without issues of any sort with schools. Very sad as I said. Being an nurse I expect more, sorry just my foolishness, LOL.

Sharon:  Jerri, I am also in NY, NYC in fact. There is an almost foolproof way to get things accomplished. When the team is difficult and refuses to sign, ask them to call in the district chairperson. You are entitled to that. There is a paralegal in the office. The paralegal has to walk a thin line between loyalty to her position in CSE and the law. Usually, she will not jeopardize her credentials as a paralegal.
Put your letter requesting pendency in a sealed envelope. Give the envelope to the receptionist and ask that she sign a receipt (that you prepared and brought with you). The receptionist may be leery about doing this.
Keep a copy of your letter and the signed receipt. If you need to go to mediation or to impartial review, you have documented evidence that you requested pendency and it was denied.  Remember – the law is on your side – use it.

Harry:  We told our school district in writing that we did not agree to the new IEP for our six year old daughter, they instituted all the provisions anyway. A month later we were told they had “lost our letter”. What can we do?

David1:  Harry, it may help to email each member of your child’s IEP team, and include the Director of Special Services at the school District level, with your disapproval letter attached. The email should reference the date that the original was sent and that your email is in response to their report that they lost the previous copy. Ask them to place a copy of the email in your child’s file.  This will advise all members of the IEP team that you do not agree with their decision.


Gjunda: My daughters IEP is coming up & we told the school we cannot commit to their date & they will have to give us a week to give them one that works for us. Her teacher said it could be done no later than November 19th due to state laws. Is this a fact?

Chuck: School staff are told that IDEA requires this or the school will be out of compliance & be in trouble with the state. A 2013 Circuit Court decision addressed this specific situation. Go to https://www.wrightslaw.com/law/art/dougc.hawaii.pwanalysis.htm for Pete Wrights’ analysis of this important decision.


Kurt: My child has been diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic dystrophy. Her pain is very bad, so bad she throws up due to pain. She has been out for 3 weeks with a doctor note. My wife and I are beside our selves. We need to look into homeschooling or IEP. I have no clue what the school system can do for us. If any one has advice please let me know .Thanks

Chuck: Schools should have policies & procedures for serving students with medical needs at school & at home (often called homebound). Ask at the campus or administration building for these policies.


Sarah:  I am a teacher and my son is a kindergarten student with autism in a different school district. At his recent team meeting, I asked about the date and time of his annual IEP. The teacher told me but I told her that I am not available. She told me that she has absolutely no other time to hold the meeting. The school schedules a substitute teacher monthly and they hold all IEP’s for the month on that date. She told me that they would hold the meeting without me and I would have to sign an excusal form and then meet with her later to discuss what had happened.

This doesn’t seem fair or right to me. If i am not available, shouldn’t the school work with me on the date and time (as long as it is before the annual due date)? Does this seem like a dispute that I could take to due process if I can’t get an appropriate resolution with the school?

frustrated mom:  Sarah, parents have to provide consent to the IEP. If parents aren’t involved in developing the IEP as members of the team, how would they give consent?

The law about IEPs is in Section 1414(d). If you have a copy of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, turn to page 101. You’ll see (B) Individualized Education Team midway down the page in bold type. Parents are listed first. The federal regulations about IEPs are on pages 245-251. Required members of the IEP team are listed on pages 246-247. Again, parents are listed first.


frustrated mom:  also for Sarah – What is the parent’s role in the IEP process?

“The parents of a child with a disability are expected to be equal participants along with school personnel, in developing, reviewing, and revising the IEP of their child. This role is an active role in which the parents
(1) provide critical information regarding the strengths of their child and express their concerns for enhancing the education of their child;
(2) participate in discussions about the child’s needs for special education and related services and supplementary aids and services; and
(3) join with the other participants in deciding how the child will be involved and progress in the general curriculum and participate in State and district-wide assessments, and what services the agency will provide to the child and in what setting.


Laurel:  I have 2 sons with autism, my younger son has multiple profound disabilities. My older son has Aspergers syndrome & has been placed in affective needs spec ed classrooms for 6 grades.His schools have always insisted that he’s choosing to misbehave, & they wouldn’t acknowledge his autism. At his IEP in Feb., his label was finally changed to autism and he was to be placed in reg ed with accommodations. Three months later, I still don’t have a copy of his IEP, he is still in the affective needs self contained class but joining the regular ed students for specials. Is there a time limit for the school to give parents a copy of a new, revised IEP? I’ve asked for it multiple times.

SharonL:  Laurel Did you ever have an IEP meeting and then get a signed IEP that you and the school signed? If so they should get you a copy the next day or a few days later. I don’t understand what the situation is. It almost sounds like the IEP has not been signed,etc. Can you go to the school and get the copy yourself? This may be the thing to do.

Laurel:  Hi Sharon L, thanks so much for your response. It’s a strange situation. The school has a draft of the proposed IEP at the meeting and I sign an attendance form and a form that I know my rights. In the past I’ve always received the finished final copy of the IEP a week or two after the actual IEP meeting. I’ve emailed my son’s teacher and asked her in person when I can get a copy of the new IEP from February. They always say the IEP is still in an approval process with the administrative dept maybe, or another department. I’m not sure. It doesn’t make sense to me and I’ve never had to wait more than a couple weeks for the finished/finalized IEP to be sent home. I have no idea what they’re doing that’s taking so long : (

Cher:  Hi Laurel. I am so sorry to hear that you are having so much trouble getting a copy of your child’s IEP. Sharon L. is correct. Either go to the school or go to your Board of Education office to get the copy of the IEP. Over the last ten years we have learned a lot of lessons the hard way in dealing with our local school district. I would NEVER leave an IEP meeting without getting a copy of the IEP that I just signed. I tell the school up front that I need a copy right now. If they need a few minutes to get all the necessary signatures and make the appropriate changes that is alright with me. I have signed IEP’s, left the meeting and a week or two later received a copy of the IEP with changes made to it, changes I did not agree to. When you get your copy, read it carefully. Good Luck!

SharonL:  Laurel, it sounds like the school does not have an official IEP for your child. If you have never signed the IEP and have only looked at DRAFT IEP’s they may be following the last agreed upon IEP. YOu need to write a letter and send it cerfified mail requesting a final copy of the IEP and see if your signature is on it. If not then there is no IEP without your signature. I would not wait another minute. It sounds like something is not right.

Sandy:  A properly constituted IEP Team includes a district member with authority to commit resources. There is no outside approval needed usually (though I’ve heard of something like that in NYC IEPs, I believe). 3 months is absurd – as the others have said, you need to get your copy ASAP!


Aileen: My child qualified under a physical disability not under SLD. Even though my child has LD (as proven by test results and doctors ) and is failing in her academic classes. The IEP team handed me a drafted IEP with four functional area goals and very limited services for these four areas: social, organization, career/transition and speech. No services, no goals for academic or performance or progress goals in this IEP and the school said your child didn’t qualify under LD so we don’t have to provide these services. I said what about she’s failing in her academic classes and this should be part of her IEP goals? The school said no, this is what we are offering you, take it or leave it. What is your advice and how do I incorporate the academic goals into this IEP?

SharonL:  Aileen, first of all if you start taking a digital tape recorder to your meetings they will never say “take it or leave it”. AS this definitely sounds like a “no” they must provide you a prior written notice document documenting why your child does not qualify for LD. They cannot just verbally tell you that. If you want to start the physical services for your child but do not agree with all of the IEP you may sign the IEP on the line that states you agree with the IEP except for the following____ and you list what you do not agree with. AGain they must write you a Prior Written Notice when you do this. AFter they explain why your child does not qualify for LD services you can take action after you get the notice. You can request an outside evaluation at public expense(the school must pay for it).


RainbowMom:  After trying every other avenue, we have had to file for Due Process for placement in a more appropriate educational program for our daughter. Our daughter’s annual review of her IEP is due May9th, but our DP hearing is not until first week of July. The DOE “team” held a conference that we were not able to attend and had given then an alternate date that we could to discuss which evals/assessments etc would need to be performed, so we were not able to give any input. They are pressuring us to hold the IEP meeting April 30th, but we feel strongly that we should not meet until after our DP hearing is heard and a decision made. What would be the repercussions of postponing the meeting until after our DP hearing?

SharonL:  Rainbow Mom, I was always under the impression that when a due process law suit is filed with the school the IEP goes into what is called “stay put”. This means that nothing happens to the IEP until the results of the due process is over. I am unsure as to why they are trying to have an IEP meeting. Discuss with you lawyer to be sure is my best advice and don’t sign anything until you are sure you have everything you want. Very often when a parent wins due process one of the things you sign is that you never sue over that issue again so if you don’t get everything it will be difficult if not impossible to get it later.

SharonL:  Rainbow mom, I am not sure why the school wants another IEP meeting? It is my understanding that when a parent requests a due process law suit that the IEP goes into what is called “stay put” and it stays in effect until the results of the due process law suit is complete. You should consult with your attorney about this to be sure you don’t do something you may regret. Be sure to get everything you want when you prevail on the law suit as the school will normally insist that you cannot sue over this situation again. If you don’t get everything you want it will be difficult if not impossible to get it later.

RainbowMom:  Thank you, Sharon, for your response in regards to doing an annual IEP renewal while in DP litigation! It is confusing to us also why they are pushing the IEP renewal. Our thought is that they want to do several assessments/evaluations in order to gather some “evidence ” for the case as their case is very weak. They also want to go back and repair all of the things that they have refused our daughter and fix in their IEP. We think that the “Stay Put ” will not apply to us as we have our daughter currently enrolled in a private school at our expense and are not even implementing the IEP as we did not accept it. this makes it al lthe more interesting as our child is not even enrolled in the program that they have offered…..


Tina:  Can my 13 year old son who is severely autistic be made to sign his IEP in the state of KY? I was told he had to attend the IEP meeting due to his age now, plus sign the conference summary report along with a transition checklist. My son does not comprehend anything that is going on in the meeting and I am not comfortable having my son sign any type of legal document that he does not comprehend. Makes me wonder if they will be having him sign legal documents without our consent when we are now around.

Miranda:  Tina, your 13 yr. old does NOT HAVE to attend the meeting nor does she HAVE to sign the IEP. ” A child with a disability may attend “if appropriate.’’ (Sec. 300.344(a)(7)). A child with a disability should attend the IEP meeting if the parent decides that it is appropriate for the child to do so.” Read that law. But, according to IDEA 300.347(b), at the age of 16 students must be INVITED to the IEP meeting. However, parents and guardians still have the right to determine the child’s ability to participate and make decisions for themselves. The parents are still the IEP team decision-makers. At the age of 18 in KY, if you do not have guardianship of your child, then he becomes his own decision-maker on the IEP team. YOU “are an equal participant along with school personnel, in developing, reviewing, and revising the IEP for their child.”


Kathy:  My son’s triennial meeting is tomorrow at 1:00 pm and the occupational therapist emailed me saying she has completed the testing however does not have the report ready or may not attend the meeting. She is a stakeholder just like the other teachers that service my 7 year old son. What are my options at the meeting if she is not prepared with a report? I also teach Kindergarten at the school.

SharonL:  Kathy, go to the meeting and discuss what is available and reschedule another meeting when the rest of the testing is complete. SEe if you can get a DRAFT copy of the test results ahead of time and then the 2nd meeting may go quicker. You don’t have to sign anything and you can opt to reschedule the IEP altogether until everything is ready.


Marie:  Do we have a right to request that certain IEP Team members be removed from the team because they are uncollaborative, condescending, disrespectful and bullies to the parent and to the process? Can we, as parents, refuse to work with such people?

ASDmom:  We tried requesting this – it only made school/district more adamant about having that person at our meetings because they knew the person got to us. This was someone that had absolutely nothing to do with our child, did not provide services or work with her but worked at the school and was a bully so they allowed attendance. Be very careful about asking for someone to be removed – perhaps a better approach would be to ask what their role is at the meeting while you are taping. If no good reason other than to badger you then you can mention that you hate to waste their time if it’s not necessary for them to be there. Of course have the tape recorder going. Remember if you ever go to DP you want to make sure that they NOT YOU are the one who was inappropriate.

ASDmom:  Forgot to mention – we pushed hard to have person removed from team that had nothing to do with our child/just made meetings hostile. District told us at one point that the only way not to work with this person in meetings was to revoke consent for Special Ed services all together. We weren’t going to to this – our child needed the help. Again another bullying tactic. Be careful about pushing.

Morning:  Keep the focus on the needs of fhe child not the behavior of a PPT member. ASDmom is right and her experience rings true for some parents. If they know a person gets under your skin, use different strategies to respond or not respond to that person. Learn conflict strategies. They are not being professional but focus on the reason you are in the meeting. I am sorry to hear that a school district would engage in such behavior. I wonder how that person treats teachers who don’t agree with him/her. Sadly, such dynamics are political and out of control. There are many teachers and administrators who love working with students to ensure FAPE.

SharonL:  Marie, yes you have the right to remove team members from the IEP that are not assets to the team. I have done this on occasion and the meetings go much better. I believe it is an intimidation tactic on the school’s part.

SharonL:  ASDmom, if someone gave me a blatent threat regarding not accepting services in order to get someone off off the IEP team I would ask them to put that comment in writing. I never thought I would hear that a district would have the nerve to say that to any parent. I believe you stated you taped the meetings. Usually people act better when that is done. If the person that you are referring to is hostile & causing the meetings to be non-productive you may bring in a witness to see it as well. You can always hire an attorney, advocate if it is bad enough but they should not continue to get away with that.

Wrightslaw:  You can demand, but be careful you don’t set yourself up for a big fall. Read this post from Pam Wright: IEP FAQs: Can Parents Demand a Member of the IEP Team be Excluded? https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=147

ASDmom:  The offer to revoke consent for Special Ed services if we didn’t like working with a certain IEP team member was sent in a letter on District letterhead from the Special Ed Director.

Yes we tape all meetings.

We have 2 children with disabilities. We filed Due Process 3x against this District. The final filing actually went to a hearing last summer. Yes we hired an Attorney to represent us. The Hearing Officer acted in the hearing like he was going to rule in our favor and pushed several times for the District to settle shortly after we rested our case. However, he ruled in their favor 2 months later in the official decision. He said that the child only had to have some benefit at school and that even if regression occurred (we proved this) that FAPE was provided if there was some benefit somewhere. We now drive our children to a specialized charter school in another district – 20 miles away from our home. The commute can be tough especially with storms but it is so worth it.


Lisa:  One of the objectives marked in my daughters IEP, all communication from the parent (me) is to be directed and communicated with the Principal-only. I am not allowed to call or talk to the special education teacher, other teachers, teacher’s aid, and etc… face to face. I am only allowed to talk to the Principal and address any information, issues, and concerns towards her-only directly. Since, I heard legal counsel, my lawyer said this is normal for teachers and other school administers to feel paranoid, fearful and threatened . I disagree with this communication objective/goal. What do you think? If these teachers are educating and teaching my child, don’t I have to call them and talk to them face to face? My attorney agrees with me and this is creating a lot of dis-trust and hostility. Help

Morning:  I am not sure why it has evolved to a point that all contact should be via principal. I am sure that the staff may be uncomfortable with the arrangement. But, the focus is on your child. This is a good time to develop a good collaborative relationship with the principal who can get to know you as a “parent” and “team member” and not an objective. I think if you fight against the principal it will not be a good idea. Go with the flow and focus on your child. How do the other objectives look? Is your child happy and making progress? I hope this helps. I would not sweat the principal only contact just use it to empower and strengthen the relationship between the school and you.

Sandy:  First, that isn’t an “objective” – goals/objectives are for what the STUDENT will achieve, not what the parent will or will not do! Second, this sounds like “retaliation” to me. Ask your lawyer about following up on the retaliation claim. Hope this helps!


Diane:  My 10 yr old is in 4th grade and has had an IEP for 3 years. His reevaluation is taking place now and I requested testing. They did abbreviated testing and said there were no indications that he needed the complete testing. Do they have to provide complete testing if I request it. They now want to “graduate him” from special ed and give him a 504. They say his standard test scores put him in the average range of his 4th grade peers but he is a yr. older than them. Do they have to evaluate him against his age group. Because of his scores they say his ADHD no longer impacts his educational process. I argued that he is successful because of his IEP and accommodations. They want to still change him to a 504 plan. Thank you for any input on this matter.

SharonL:  Diane, I never heard of this. The IEP accommodations and modifications/goals, etc are usually better written & governed by IDEA law that I believe holds more weight than 504. THey need to put in writing why they believe your son does not need an IEP anymore. You can always request another evaluation from the school to review with the team. If you do not agree you can request an outside evaluation at public expense & review it again with the school. Remember that they cannot just take your son out of the IEP program without your permission & you do not have to sign anything. You can always consult with an attorney if you really feel the school is not going to cooperate wtih you at all.


Patty:  My son has a current IEP. They failed to provide his annual review in January, 2012. They finally scheduled a meeting in April 2012 but had to be rescheduled because did not do auditory processing. I also filed a state complaint and won for them not providing the services per his iep. they will provide those hours in march, 2013. My son kept getting further behind and no services were given. I pulled him out and placed him in a private special education school for dyslexia and auditory processing. My question is can I still finish the IEP with school district that was left half way done? School tells me since i pulled him out they do not need to finish the iep. is that correct?

SharonL:  Patty, I believe they are right. You made change of placement without consulting the team. If the team came up with this placement the school would provide it.


Miranda:  The district sent me a FINAL IEP draft – completely drafted unilaterally and eliminated our opportunity to participate in the IEP drafting process, stating that the IEP is completed. They tell me that I must consent within 10 days or my moderately delayed son will be placed in regular ed. In addition, the consent form states that district personnel feel that the IEP provides my son “some educational benefit.”

I need advice. Help!

Sandy:  Miranda, this is called “predetermination” and it is a violation of your IDEA rights to be a full IEP team participant. Let the school know you are going to file a state complaint if they do not allow you to participate. Hopefully that will change their minds. Hope this helps!

Miranda:  Thanks Sandy! Big help!


Michelle:  My son’s school said he no longer qualified for special ed services for his dyslexia. I would like to keep his updated IEP and realize he will not receive services or accommodations. We are military and are here in Texas for a year before we move again, I do not want to start the IEP process over again at our next duty station. Is it within my rights to have his IEP active without having services?

Chuck:  If the district is removing him from special ed services totally, then there is no way to keep his IEP “active” without getting the school to reverse their decision. They should have provided you with a prior written notice explaining their reasons for saying that he no longer qualifies for services. You can work through the dispute resolution process to try to get them to keep providing him with services.

I work with the TX Parent Training & Information Projects. If you contact them through http://www.PartnersTx.org they can connect you with the staff person in your area to assist you.

Michelle:  Thank you Chuck for replying and I will check out the website you provided. I have a friend in KS who’s son is in the same situation as my son. They were able to keep his IEP, he does not receive services and if he starts having problems they can revisit the IEP to see if he needs accommodations or modifications. They are calling this an IEP Consult. So no services or modifications but they are willing to take a look at the IEP if problems arise. I don’t see why the schools would disagree with this situation.

Chuck:  Michelle, states are allowed to add rules that do not cancel IDEA rules. There are also different interpretations of the rules between school districts. The situation in KS is similar to what TX rules call the “mainstream” arrangement, but the child is still considered being served by special ed & the school earns some special ed funds for these students.
TX law also requires schools to have a Dyslexia Program that is separate from special ed. This program falls under Section 504, but students served by special ed can be served by this program.
TX has a chapter of the Decoding Dyslexia organization that is discussed in the Oct 10th Wrightslaw blog item. You can check out their FB page, Decoding Dyslexia- TX to get info on the TX dyslexia program. I can also provide info.

Sandy:  Sometimes the school will keep “consult” services (also called “indirect” services or “monitoring”) for a year after the child no longer needs direct services. Argue your child is at high risk for further issues, so you would like the teachers/therapists to keep an eye out and consult with regular ed teachers (usually once a month for 15 minutes). This is a way to keep the IEP “open” for a year without getting direct services. Hope this helps!


Karen: My Aspie son is in 9th grade. At this high school (in Ohio), they currently divide the intervention specialist’s time for each class period between 2 classrooms. Each class is 40 minutes long, so the specialist is only working on his behalf in each of the core classes for only 20 minutes. Some of the intervention specialists will spend only 2 or 3 days a week in each class to try and divide their time effectively. Any way you look at it, I feel that my son and other kids like him are not getting the full benefit of the help outlined in their IEPs. Does the school district have full discretion on deciding this kind of schedule or are they required to provide a certain amount of time in each class? When I asked, i was told that this was done because they don’t have the amount of special needs kids to warrant full classroom period of help.

Wrightslaw: Karen, what does the IEP say – how are the services outlined? Services are not based on “what the school has” but on your child’s individual needs. IDEA requires specific information about the frequency, duration, location, and projected dates for services be included in the IEP. The frequency and duration of related services should be specific, not state as a range. Turn to Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs for answers to questions like yours about IDEA requirements for statement of specific services in the IEP.

From Chapter 5 – Refer to Appendix A from IDEA 1997, Question #35. “The amount of services to be provided must be stated in the IEP, so that the level of the agency’s commitment of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP team members.” “A range may not be used because of personnel shortages or uncertainty regarding the availability of staff.”


Anderson: Can students with IEPs be failed – quarter after quarter – when they have not been receiving the appropriate accommodations as documented in their IEP?

ASDmom:  Accomodations should help child be successful. Either accomodations have not been honored and/or they are not appropriate and regardless this could be considered a denial of FAPE. I’d call an IEP meeting right away to discuss.

FYI – Be careful – sometimes they clean up the mess on paper but problem not resolved. In our case our child hasn’t been required to complete work, extra credit is pushed instead (easier work) and full credit is given for incomplete work. This was admitted by teacher and seemed to be easier solution than providing accomodations/help. You don’t want this – trust me

SharonL:  Anderson, It does not sound logical to me. Either the goals are too high or incorrect. The child should be able to meet the goals and feel success.


Irene:  As a service provider, I attended an annual review and there was disagreement between the school district and the student’s parents regarding the student’s placement level of services. The term, reaching a “consensus,” was brought up. I asked for a definition of “consensus” but no one responded. What is the definition of “consensus” in relation to an IEP and program placement. The student lives in NY. Thanks

ASDmom:  In my opinion it means that there are more votes on the school side to support the change. While parents have a vote, there are usually more school votes because they have more people present. Consensus means bulk of people (ie: normally school people) are in agreement. I’ve never seen a vote from a parent outweigh the school system

Renee:  Procedural safeguards exist so that the school will not always just “win” by having more “votes”. If a parent does not agree with the school, they do not have to sign the IEP. If they disagree in writing to some or all of the IEP within 10 days, the safeguards apply (at least in my state). Parents can write polite letters to explain their disagreement, request an additional IEP meeting, request a facilitated IEP meeting, request mediation, or file due process. Hopefully, an agreement can be reached without having to go through all those steps, though! In a practical sense, there are two “sides” and the first step in negotiating an agreement is to determine what both do agree on.
Then go from there.


Sue:  My son was in early steps from age 18 months and then at age 3 transitioned to public schools with an iep. Yesterday I went to attend his iep meeting (he is 6 and will attend 1st grade next year) and they wanted me to sign a service plan not an iep. I didn’t sign because I was concerned lack if an iep would affect his right to things such as the McKay scholarship should he need that in the future (Florida). I don’t one to the goals or service level just was very concerned about the non-iep form. He attends private school but has always received his services at the public school and will continue to do so.

Sandy:  Sue, I’m in IL, so maybe it’s different in FL. But my understanding is that if a child attends private school (at the parent’s option, NOT placed by the school in order to receive FAPE), then the child is only entitled to an ISP (individual services plan), NOT an IEP. An ISP is not individually enforceable through due process the way an IEP is. Private students have no individual right to services other than what’s in the plan. So I think that might be what’s happening. Hope this helps!

Chuck:  Sue, Sandy is correct. IDEA regulations at 300.132(b) discusses “services plans”. Your state should also have rules on these plans and students at private schools. You can find a Question & Answer document on private schools from the federal department of education at http://idea.ed.gov/explore/home Click on Q & A documents listed on the lower left side of the page.

SharonL:  Sue, I would not sign a service plan either. They would then be off the hook to service your son without an IEP. I never heard of a service plan. You can always discuss this with an advocate or attorney.

Sandy:  For children placed by their parents in private school unilaterally (i.e., NOT by the IEP Team for FAPE reasons), the child is not entitled to an IEP. Instead, the child can receive an Individual Services Plan (ISP). ISPs are not enforceable the way IEPs are, and there’s no guarantee at all that the services will be comparable. That’s the law when parents choose to send their kids to private school for personal (vs. FAPE) reasons.


HELPME: I attended an IEP meeting today and the Special Education Director very abruptly started taking out goals and services for my child. Goals and services that were recommended by the Intervention Specialist, teachers and therapists and was part of the draft IEP they presented to us. We objected repeatedly, tried to present our arguments and they just kept cutting us off and refused to listen. They also changed the IEP effective dates, making the IEP effective for only 6 months. They did not listen to us and said they could do whatever they wanted. Has this ever happened to anyone else? I have not been able to find anything in my Wrightslaw Special Education Law book stating that the effective dates can be anything other than one year. Any advice?

Miranda: Help Me, this has happened to many of us. Write a polite letter stating what occurred during the meeting. Try to state just the facts in chronological order. Do not let emotion dominate the letter tone. In a week or two (or maybe at the start of the new yr) ask them to schedule an IEP meeting. Once the meeting is scheduled & you know who will attend, inform them that you will be audio recording all IEP meetings. 10 days before the mtg. provide the district with your agenda to be added to theirs. Before the start of the meeting, inform everyone that you will be audio recording & that you are happy to provide them a copy of the audio recording or they can record the meeting as well. If you can find an advocate to accompany you, do so. This person serves as someone who can speak calmly to your child’s needs as well as a witness..

SharonL: HELPME, I agree with you. I believe the effective dates for an IEP are one year. One time we had an IEP meeting in December after a requested evaluation and the effective dates ended up being from December to December which they are usually September to June. Remember you do not have to sign the IEP or you can put on the IEP that you disagree with items on it. Once you do this the school must provide you with Prior Written Notice letter. You can take a copy of the IEP home, mark it up & reschedule a new IEP meeting & bring a professional with you (ie speech, OT, physician, psychologist, etc) or an attorney if this gets that bad although I always wait until there is no other options before I hire an attorney. Stick to your guns. YOu have a say so & and they cannot bully you.

ASDmom: Unilateral decisions violated IDEA. You are to be part of team/decision. Hope you tape recorded and didn’t sign IEP otherwise he said/she said situation.


Renee:  My teenage son who has Down Syndrome has been newly diagnosed with autism by a pediatric neurologist.

But the school still refuses to include autism on his IEP. The school psychologist is now conducting his own investigation, reviewing papers and questionnaires we had to fill out. If he doesn’t come to the conclusion that my son has autism (and I have no confidence that he will – this is someone who has never even introduced himself to us), they will not address his needs no matter what our neurologist says.

How is this possible? I just finished reading on this site how private evaluations can serve as a solution dealing with a school psychologist beholden to the school instead of having the interest of the child at heart. But apparently, having our own expert makes no difference after all. We are still powerless.

Parent1:  Renee, Sometimes when adovocating for your exceptional child, you have very specific in what you ask for. The process can feel as if you are working with a special needs child who doesn’t seem to understand what you are requesting.

Some parents are able to get an Autism classification for their child by simply sending a letter to the Director of Special Services, copying the IEP team members. The letter is made up a polite greeting, an expressed interest in having the ADOS administered for you child, and a phrase that indicates that as of Date: this letter serves as my consent or permission to evaluate Child’s name.

Some schools buy/waste time getting you the permission to evaluate form. Check with your State Department of Education to learn how many calendar days the school has once they recieve permission to evaluate.


Michele: If a student is receiving speech services only; and now, one year later, is being assessed by the psychologist and RSP teacher, is this new IEP an initial IEP, or a triennial since he already receives some special education services?

Wrightslaw: Is he being assessed because the parent or teacher said he needed more services than speech? Assuming this is the case, this is simple a revised or updated IEP.

“Triennial” refers to the requirement that new evaluations be conducted every three years, at a minimum.


Jill: Hello, My daughter’s Individual Health Care Plan is attached to IEP. Is it now a legal contract as it is mentioned and referenced in the IEP document? Also, if my daughter experienced a major healthcare change (off of all seizure medications), how long does the school district have to update the IHP and implement Seizure Action Plans outlined by the Neurologist?

Wrightslaw: Jill, There is nothing in the IDEA (the federal special education law) or implementing regulations about Individual Health Care Plans. If your daughter experiences a major change in her health, you need to notify the school IN WRITING and provide them with updated info from the neurologist ASAP. View your role as your daughter’s case manager.

We’ve published several posts about health plans and medical plans on the Wrightslaw Way blog. I think they will answer your questions:

“Can we include a Health Care Plan in My Child’s IEP?”

“Doing the Work Gets Results: How a parent got the services her child needs, including a medical management plan and treatment plan”


Danielle: At a recent IEP meeting, my son has been exited from special education due to his ability to out preform his goals. Originally, he qualified under speech and language impairment, but when assessment by SLP his ability to speak is above average for his age range. What happens when parent does not agree with school district?

Wrightslaw: Not sure I know what you meant about your son being “exited” from special ed. Did the school tell you that your son was no longer eligible for special ed?

Before the school determined that your child was eligible for special education, they were required to do a comprehensive evaluation and assess all areas of suspected disability.

Before the school can determine that your son is not eligible for special education, they are required to do a comprehensive evaluation and assess all areas of suspected disability.

You need to educate yourself about how the special ed process works.
Read “Can the School Terminate My Child’s Eligibility for Special Ed?” at https://www.wrightslaw.com/heath/elig.eval.read.htm


Tracey: My child’s school frequently only allows 50 minutes for an IEP meeting. They will rush through or don’t finish addressing all the issues, usually because a teacher only has a sub for one period. Is the school allowed to limit meetings to a set time frame due to staffing issues?

Wrightslaw: IDEA, the federal special ed law, does not provide direction re: length of IEP meetings because this will depend on factors like the complexity of the child’s needs. It may be necessary to meet more than once to develop an IEP that meets all your child’s needs.

From a practical perspective, a 50 minute meeting is as long – or longer – than many people can tolerate. When people have to sit and listen to others, they get tired, bored, their attention wanders. This is another reason why two or three shorter IEP meetings may be more productive.


Hala: I have an 8 year old in second grade in Public Schools in Michigan. On Tuesday May 14, 2013 my son was removed his IEP the district stated that his physical disability no longer affects him in his educational performance therefore he was removed. I requested an IEE and I am currently waiting for a response on that if it will be approved or not. I am unsure what to do after the IEE.

His physical impairment is that after 80 different corrective surgeries he now can walk around. He has popliteal pterygium syndrome so his knees are in a contracted position looks like legs are bent. His left leg is much shorter than the right, causing him to be extremely tired when he walks for a long period of time. He also has a cleft plate and cleft lip so his speech can be difficult to understand.

Any ideas?

SharonL:  Hala, first of all the school cannot make a change of placement without the entire team agreeing to it. Did you sign the IEP? You don’t have to. You can disagree & they need to provide you with a prior written notice letter as to why they want to do this. Did you request the evaluation in writing & sign the consent form so they have to perform the evaluation in 60 days? You can also get documentation from your physicians that help your cause. That can go far.

ASDmom:  Fatigue and speech seem to impact education. Write a letter to Special Ed Director and/or school board. If no results file State Complaint or Due Process. Regarding IEE – I don’t think they have to honor if request came after IEP removed. If you asked before removal then they had obligation and should have waited for results before removing. However we asked for IEE before removal and they granted IEE but it took several months and they removed IEP before it was done. Child now attends a special charter school and has an IEP.


Adam:  My daughter is in pre-school and has an IEP for Speech, PT and now OT. Is the public school required to offer her pre-school in addition to services or are they allow to just treat the 3 items mentioned in the IEP. If she is offered pre-school is there a certain amount of time that the school is allowed to pull her from the class room environment to work on the services such as PT or should they work on these areas after school hours. My concern is that the school is saying they will offer my daughter pre-school but they have the right to pull her for services which will equal to about 2.5 hours out of a 5 hour week. It feels like she is being punished and will miss out on classroom activities because of her disabilities.

ASDmom:  Pull outs are part of school day. You can try to extended school year where pullouts can be done before/after school but this is hard to obtain. You have to be able to show missing academics is causing a problem – I don’t think missing activities would be considered impacting education.


Robin:  I am working with a family who’s preschooler was evaluated and deemed ineligible for services. I was able to see the evals after the parents already signed off and it is pretty obvious he should have qualified!!! The parents asked in writing to reconvene even though they already signed off that he was ineligible-they were told in writing the district does not have to reconvene for 6 mos. we do not want to reval, just reconsider previous findings. Where can I find written information re laws that state that the committee must reconvene whenever the parent request in writing!! thanks

Wrightslaw:  Robin, this is a tough one. If I understand the facts, the school evaluated the child, had a meeting with the parents, determined that the child was not eligible. You say the parents “signed off” then changed their minds.
What did the parents sign? Did they indicate they agreed with the decision? The parents can ask the school to reconsider but I’m not optimistic about the school convening another meeting soon when the parents agreed with the original decision.

Sophie: Here are some ideas for you to consider:

1. Meet with the principal and ask for some extra help in the specific areas you think would be most helpful. A surprising amount of help can be given through, for example, Response to Intervention, without the child having to be classified.

2. Ask for a 504 Accommodation Plan. Services can in principle be provided through a 504 plan.

3. File for due process. This will re-open the conversation. In the letter requesting a hearing, you should list at least one serious irregularity in what was done in the committee, list parent concerns about child’s lack of progress in specific areas, and list some accommodations and services that are needed to help the child access a free and appropriate public education.

4. Get a doctor involved. S/he can write a letter requesting specific services, such as occupational therapy.

5. Try to get Early Intervention if the child is not too old for that. I am not an expert in this area.

JG:  Robin –IDEA, federal special education law, contains NO requirement that IEP Teams MUST meet whenever parents asks. Your state special education law may offer some guidance on this issue, though, so I suggest that you check that. Your local parent center can help you with this (http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/).

(On a side note: IDEA does say that Teams should meet to review the IEP whenever the needs of an eligible child changes, so the district’s policy of waiting 6 months to reconvene is such cases is likely a violation – at § 300.324)

As asking the district to reconsider doesn’t seem to be working, I suggest that the parent move on to a strategy that would force the district to reconsider – independent evaluation. Parents have a right to request an independent evaluation at public expense, if they disagree with the results of the district’s one. Once completed, the district would be required to consider the results of the evaluation.

Once again, your local parent center can help you/the parents understand the intricacies of this right, as well as any rules that may apply in your state.

The parent may also want to consider requesting a due process hearing, as others have suggested. With this, a neutral third person – the hearing officer – would consider the merits of the evaluation results.

Deciding to request a hearing is a big deal, and the parents may want to consult a lawyer before doing so. But, when a hearing is requested, the district is required to meet again with the parent (unless the parent waives this) – and issues often can be worked out through this resolution session before the hearing commences.


Joyce:  If I miss a triennial component meeting, can the school have the meeting anyway without me present or are they supposed to reschedule? I sent response that I would be there, but had the date wrong.

JG: The school *can* have the meeting without you present. That said, they *should* make reasonable attempts to reschedule for you. So do ask! IDEA emphasizes parent involvement, and states that meetings should be held at a mutually agreed upon time and place. It does not say how last-minute changes should be handled, nor whose needs (parents vs. school personnel) should be prioritized. That’s left to states to deal with. Most states do push school districts to be flexible, and recent caselaw backs this up (https://www.wrightslaw.com/law/art/dougc.hawaii.pwanalysis.htm). But it’s hard to say how accommodating individual school districts (or even individual IEP Teams within a district) will be. If the school does decide to have the meeting without you, perhaps think of other ways you can participate .

Most states do push school districts to be flexible, and recent caselaw backs this up (https://www.wrightslaw.com/law/art/dougc.hawaii.pwanalysis.htm). But it’s hard to say how accommodating individual school districts (or even individual IEP Teams within a district) will be.

If the school does decide to have the meeting without you, perhaps think of other ways you can participate – providing your thoughts in writing beforehand, calling in to the meeting, meeting with teachers/therapists afterward, asking for a second meeting to review your concerns, etc.


larry: Hi I am being told that even though my child has adhd, visual disorders, below average reading skills and CAD that the wilson program he Is receive cannot be approved because it is illegal to put it on an IEP. Is this true?

Wrightslaw: Larry, it is not illegal to list a particular educational program in the child’s IEP if that’s what the child needs. In most cases, schools don’t want to list a particular program in the IEP because that commits them to providing that program.


Mira: I teach Wilson reading. I will tell you how you get around putting the words “Wilson” into the IEP but you accomplish the same thing as long as there are Wilson trained people in the school. If your child had been in Wilson, go back to the Wilson teacher you were working with and ask them to create a “phonics goal” along with short term phonics objectives that follows either the Orton Gillingham Approach to reading (from which Wilson was based) or Wilson. The reason I believe that they do not want to put “Wilson” into the IEP is because fewer and fewer special education teachers are being trained to teach Wilson phonics. There are also three different Wilson options in school, and elementary version (Fundations), the standard Wilson program, and then a new 1 year short program called Just Words. Teacher training for the Just Words is cheap compared to training for the standard Wilson program which is $1,000 per teacher, and training is a year long. I know in our training, we had to have 10 teachers sign up to be trained to get a trainer to come to our division from the Wilson home office. The trainer came back 4 times over the course of the year to evaluate us. Just Words is a 2 day 250.00 program.

Now, certified Wilson teachers are harder to find and in tutoring they charge upwards of 40-60 dollars per hour (and a minimum of 2 days per week is required). I doubt it is illegal to put the word Wilson in the IEP-that’s Pete’s department, but I do know that they are looking to protect themselves. Just having the goal written with the phonics skills that will be taught will require that the information is taught-but not necessarily using the Wilson program materials. I might also assume that by writing “Wilson” into the IEP, if they had no one trained, then they would have to hire someone (big bucks) or train someone-and the training takes quite a while, that would be an impossibility. The most important thing is to insure that the school has trained Wilson personnel. If not, then look in the district to see if another school has a Wilson trained person and request your child attend that school to get the services. These are reasonable requests because in my book, reading is the key to success in life.

Wrightslaw: Hi Mira, Yes, you were put in an impossible position and were at risk if something went wrong in either class. You need to document the ongoing problem in a letter to your supervisor, principal, special ed director, superintendent (or all of them) – you’ll have a better idea about who needs to be on notice of a big problem.

Since we are at the end of the school year, you could write an “end of the year wrap up” letter describing the problem and making it clear that you do not want to be put in the same position again.

I don’t know if your teacher’s union can help – this usually depends on the state you live in and how much power the union has. I would send the union a copy of your letter, again as a way to protect yourself in the future. Many teachers are like employees in other fields – afraid to complain or report a problem because they fear losing their jobs. If you keep your letter factual and describe the potential liability issues you AND the school administrators face, it may work out ok.

Please keep us posted!


Elizabeth:  As a parent and part of the IEP team, can a school refuse a parents request to amend an accommodation without a IEP meeting that includes the parent?

Wrightslaw:  ELizabeth -Check your Special Ed Law book for the statute and regulations for changing the IEP by amendment – pages 104 and 250. Or read the section on Revising the IEP by Agreement in Chapter 11, Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.


Mandy:  We received our IEP for this year in Sept. after having to request a copy multiple times. We are not happy with the IEP b/c it does not include what was discussed in the April IEP meeting. The reevaluation was done in Sept. but we only received a phone call to invite us the day of. They changed her school. We have requested an IEP meeting IN WRITING several times for review/ revise. The teacher told us she did not have to have one until The annual IEP meeting in April. The district is not being very helpful and we now fear our nonverbal child will be abused b/c the teacher is upset with our constant requests for a meeting. Where do we begin to resolve this?

Chuck:   Check the state education agency’s sp ed website or with the state parent training & information center to find what the rules say about the school responding to a written request for an IEP meeting. You may need to contact the district’s sp ed director or the state agency to try to get a meeting set.

Sophie:  Mandy, write to the director of special education, not the teacher, requesting an immediate response to your request for an IEP meeting, and stating that you are not in agreement with the recent IEP. You need proof they received it. You could hand-deliver it and have them give you a photocopy of the letter with their “received on ” stamp.

Contact the special ed compliance office in your state ed dept to find out how to file a special ed complaint, and what the maximum amount of time is that may elapse once the clock starts running, before the meeting takes place.

It is illegal for any staff person to retaliate against your child because you have been a strong advocate.

If you suspect your child has been bullied by a peer or by staff, see http://tinyurl.com/p6dnbcx

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Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): WHO PAYS FOR IEE?

Sue:  Dear Wrightslaw, I have been searching your site for the answer to this question. It appears that parents can ask for an IEE. If the school district refuses, the school can request due process hearing. The parents must justify why they feel they need an IEE. The parent may pick an evaluator who is not on the the school district’s approved list, but must be able to justify it, too. Is all this correct? If all this is correct, is it more time effficient to go ahead and pay for it yourself? What is the likelihood that the school will accept the opinion of an IEE that the parents paid for? I am a single parent, and at the point that the burden of attending so many IEP meetings on top of time off caring for my child when he is ill or for well child visits/dentist is impacting my job security.

SharonL:  Sue, the school pays for an independent educational evaluation. You do NOT have to use any of the people who are on the school’s “suggested list.” Request a copy of the policy that the school uses regarding the IEP. Our school has a booklet called ” Who’s IDEA is this?” that explains what parents can do and what the school can do, etc. The school policy will discuss IEE’s if a parent does not agree with the results of the school’s testing. If you have not requested an evaluation by the school, you must do that first. That will give you something to go by. You may or may not agree with it. If the school evaluates and you do not agree with the results, you can get at IEE at the school’s expense. Yes, the school has a right to file a due process hearing about your request for an IEE but I haven’t seen this happen. If you get an IEE or an evaluation by a psychologist in the private sector, the school must consider the test results but they are not obligated to implement the recommendations.

Chuck:  You need to study your state guidelines. In TX the regs say that if the school refuses to pay for an IEE, they must ask for a due process & they must defend why their evaluation is appropriate & an IEE is not needed. The burden is on them.
Because of the loss of staff time and the cost of school attorneys, schools would spend much more to defend their testing than the IEE would cost. So in TX most schools agree to pay for IEE’s.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs):  INDEPENDENT EVALUATIONS

Linda: If I said I was satisfied with my child’s evaluation at the time of her reevaluation meeting can I change my mind after a month or so and ask for and expect to get an independent evaluation?

Sandy:  Linda, you should be able to request an independent educational evaluation under these circumstances. A month is not an unreasonable time to change your mind. (MA regs, for instance, give you this right for 16 months, and under IDEA, the time might even be longer depending on the situation.) So I say go for it – good luck!

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): REQUEST IEE WHEN TEAM USED EXISTING DATA?

Anne: Where a school system used existing data (in this case Part C evaluations) to make an eligibility decision for Part B services and to develop an IEP, and did no formal evaluations of their own, may a parent request IEEs for the areas “evaluated”?

JG: IDEA is mute on this specific issue. Here is what it does say…

The district must complete a comprehensive evaluation to determine eligibility for special ed. As part of the eval, they must review existing data (including Part C assessments). They may decide to use this data to “cover” some or all areas being evaluated. The product of this review and any additional assessments conducted would constitute the evaluation (fyi, you can also request they conduct assessments in additional areas). [34 CFR § 300.301 & 300.305]

Nothing in IDEA states that, by using (some or only) existing data, that parents lose the right to IEEs. But the district also retains the right to request a hearing to deny parents the IEE. [34 CFR § 300.502]

Chuck: Under 300.305(d)(ii) the district must test the child if the parent requests.


Suzanne:  The district will not provide this with the Speech Pathologist I chose because “I won’t be able to do an independent evaluation at district expense. Even if the district approves doing one, we can’t reach agreement around an insurance-related requirement of their contracts. They require that outside providers be willing to list the district as an additional insured on the provider’s liability insurance. That is a must. Well… on the other side, the family-owned corporation that owns the clinic (as well as some other businesses) won’t agree to this.” Is this legal for a district to require?

JG:  Suzanne – It may be best to contact your state Dept of Education for help on this issue. It’s hard to say if this is okay or not. If it’s not okay, this is a problem for all parents/students requesting independent evaluations. Your state DOE can likely help wade through the contracting issue.

Sophie:  In addition to JG’s excellent advice — you could call a veteran independent educational psychologist in some major population center in your state, who does a lot of independent evaluations, to ask how they deal with this situation.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs):  CAN I ASK FOR AN OUTSIDE EVAL?

Marlene: My 11 yr. daughter has a IEP that makes no sense to me, she is failing social studies and science, does fair in math with modified work. The other teachers are not doing this even though it is in the IEP. Because of what the school psychologist put in his report, I don’t feel like she is being treated fairly. She is on 5 different meds. The problem is he doesn’t like me. I tried to get her help last year and had no luck. I was told I could ask for a outside psychological exam at the school expense. is this true? If so how do I find an agency to do this?

Wrightslaw:  Marlene, take some time to read the articles on Wrightslaw about evaluations. Start with this one: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/test.iee.steedman.htm. Then go to the Evaluations page and read through those articles. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/test.index.htm

You’ll find many results if you enter the term [ Independent Educational Exam or IEE ] in the search box on any Wrightslaw page.

To find help in your state, you can use the Yellow Pages for Kids at http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com/help/states.htm.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs):  PRIVATE EVALUATIONS IN PARENT REFERRAL

Fonda:  If the parent has provided the school with a two psychological evaluations and an occupational therapy evaluation on their child and the school does not do their own testing in the those same areas in a parent referral for special education, would the school use the evaluations the parent provided as their own?

SharonL:  Fonda, the schools are obligated to review the evaluations but do not have to use them. They can use them but do not have to. Did you request to have the school do the evaluations in writing? Did you sign their consent form? If you have done this they should complete the evaluation within 60 days or provide you with prior written notice if they refuse.

Fonda:  The schools have stated they are going to evaluate but they do not feel that they should evaluate in all the suspected areas of disabilities I listed in the letter because they would be duplicating testing. That is why I asked would that mean they are using the evaluations I have provided.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): TIME LIMIT TO REQUEST IEE AT PUBLIC EXPENSE

JillC:  My son was evaluated in 2/2013 and the CSE meeting was 4/30/2013 in which he was denied an IEP. I have since learned more about the process and have recently requested an IEE at public expense. The district replied that I am out of the time frame (90 days) to disagree with the results. I have reviewed IDEA 500.302 but I have not been successful in finding anything that would allow me to respond to the school that they can not limit the time frame to disagree with the results. Is it too late for me to get an IEE at public expense? Any help would be appreciated. If it makes a difference we are located in NY state.

Sandy:  Federal law does not state a specific timeframe, though perhaps your state law does. Even if it does, 90 days would probably not be it. In my experience courts consider a year reasonable, 18 months to 2 years maybe (that’s where it gets dicey). Ask them to show you where in writing it states the 90 day timeframe – they won’t be able to!

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): NOT REALLY “INDEPENDENT”

Lisa: What is the recourse if we disagree with an IEE? Provider was recommended by our advocate and on our district’s list. Testing went well, relations were friendly. But the report’s recommendations are no more than what school has already done. My 10 yr old son has ADHD and ASD and medication is not an option as we discussed and evaluator agreed to not consider; however, this was listed as the first recommendation in the IEE report. Evaluator refused to meet with us to explain or discuss any part of the report citing the need to get report to the school since they are paying for it. Is this still ‘independent’? Can school force medication? With little progress, can they support their methods are effective because we are not medicating? Recourse against evaluator? Where to go to determine what programs/therapies he really needs? Thank you!!

Chuck: Lisa, see 300.174 of the IDEA regs on Prohibition on mandatory medication. Congress was concerned about schools mandating certain medications. “Little progress” is the key issue for you to push on. Check with your state parent training & information project or parent support groups on resources on programs & therapies.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): TIMING FOR IEE

Jenny: I’m in the middle of a very adversarial process in which the school personnel attribute my son’s behaviors to bad parenting (even though I adopted after 7 years of abuse/neglect (including prenatal alcohol exposure) and foster placements). The social worker who was loaded into this process without any warning to me has told me that, “What you want won’t be in the Behavior Plan won’t be in there.” So, a couple weeks before the meeting, they’ve predetermined the results. Once I get the evaluation, do I have to wait for the actual IEP meeting to ask for IEE, or can I request as soon as I see the report?

Francine: Jenny, You can request any time after results are reviewed. Reports sent home prior to the meeting are considered drafts, which are subject to change, therefore I’d suggest you wait until it’s official.

I’m confused – are you determining eligibility and then holding an IEP? Or is this information being collected for the IEP? Either way, sounds like you have two issues (not agreeing with the evaluation, and predetermination of services). Again, I’d wait until after the eligibility meeting to request an IEE if you still don’t agree. Then, at the IEP and development of the BIP, bring up the concerns you want included, see what they have to say, and if they’re unwilling to even consider your views, file a complaint that indicates they did not allow you to participate in the decision-making process. That’s your right.


Patty: My son will be in 7th grade next year and according to his most recent ARD he is reading at a 1st grade level. He has made no progress. He was diagnosed in 2011 with a specific learning disability from an IEE. It was recommended in this evaluation that the school provide my son with a multi-sensory reading program. Fast forward three years later and he is still reading at a 1st grade level (as per reevaluation). My son was never provided with a reading program. His reevaluation was done last year and he continues to qualify but no recommendations were written into the evaluation. The eval basically consists of test scores and IEPs which also do not contain anything about teaching him how to read. Can I ask for a reading program to help my son learn to read based on the fact he has made no progress?

Chuck: I work for the TX Parent Training & Information Center. We can assist you. Email me at cnoe59@hotmail.com

JG: Hi Patty – That sounds very frustrating! If you want a reading program for your son, your best bet is to get an evaluation to back up your request.

Regarding the most recent re-evaluation by the school, it sounds like you did not agree with the results (and that it was a pretty flimsy eval report).

Here are some ways you may consider to get an assessment that specifically addresses the area of reading?

1. Ask the school to specifically conduct an reading assessment (if they did not do so last time around). You can request an area be assessed even if it has been less than 3 years since the last re-evaluation.

2. If a reading assessment was completed by the school, did you request an independent evaluation at that time? If not, consider asking for one now. Here are the IDEA guidelines regarding IEEs : http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cregs%2C300%2CE%2C300%252E502%2C (your state may have additional guidelines).

3. Consider getting an IEE at your own expense. This can give you more flexibility regarding the quality of evaluators. If you get a referral from you pediatrician, you may be able to get your health insurance to cover some or all of the cost.

Virginia: You should ask for an IEP meeting to request intensive remediation to close the 6 year gap. If the school is really saying that he has made no progress in the last 4 years, then they are admitting that they haven’t provided him with FAPE! I would get some work samples from his English teacher: how is he progressing in the curriculum? Build your documentation in case they won’t give him the level of help that he needs.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): PARENT RESPONSIBILITY TO PURSUE

Jody: My question is specific to a parent’s responsibility to ensure they pursue an evaluation of their child after an IEE is proposed and agreed upon by the District.

In this case, the District offered an IEE for completion of the student’s three-year reevaluation. The parent agreed; however, has not initiated contact with the Independent Agencies proposed by the District nor have they proposed a different Agency.

What is the District’s responsibility (if any) to ensure the IEE is completed? Since the District cannot control whether the parent is actively pursuing the IEE, what are the District’s next steps in terms of compliance with timelines as the student’s three-year reevaluation will expire in June 2014.

Must the District propose a new proposal to conduct the evaluation by the District?

Wrightslaw: Jody, I’m not sure I understand your question correctly but I’d try to answer. If a child needs a triennial evaluation, the school is responsible for ensuring that this evaluation is completed. The school cannot give this legal responsibility to the child’s parents.

An Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) is very different. Assume the school evaluates a child. The parent disagrees with the evaluation findings or recommendations. The parent can request an IEE – this is a procedural safeguard. Go to the Wrightslaw site at https://www.wrightslaw.com Type IEE in the search box on the top right. You will find many articles about IEEs.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): IEE FOR CHILD WITH 504 PLAN

Jennifer:  I wonder if a student with a 504 is able to request an IEE? I have seen on nlcd.org that only a student on an IEP is able to request one. Is this true? My daughter has a 504 due to learning issues that stem from a neurological disease. We would like an additional evaluation (MLAT) to determine if she “has a disability that adversely affects her ability to learn a foreign language.” Outside of school she has been “diagnosed” with dyslexia and auditory processing difficulties as part of a larger neurological diagnosis of Neurofibromatosis type 1. This information is listed on her 504. She is very bright, yet has significant difficulties in the areas of spanish and math. We want to determine if she should be exempt from spanish. Thank you, Jennfier

Wrightslaw:  Given your daughter’s neurological and learning issues – dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, and Neurofibromatosis, I’m surprised that she was not found eligible for special education and an IEP that provides her with a free, appropriate education. There are significant differences between IDEA and Section 504.

Section 504 is a civil rights law that is intended to prevent individuals from discrimination due to a disability. Section 504 is not an educational law and does not provide the same rights and protections as IDEA, including the right to an IEE. Please consider requesting that the school evaluate her for special education eligibility.

Jennifer:  Our daughter has a 504 because that’s where we started. We wanted the least restrictive program for her. Didn’t push an IEP because we didn’t think she needed special ed. She did well in elem school with ALOT of help from us. Once she entered 7th grade she started having more difficulty and we started a 504 plan. Now in 9th grade she is continuing to have alot of difficulty in 2 areas (math and spanish). We asked for an IEE to see an outside psych (ours is not qualified to give this particular test, the MLAT) to determine if her disabilities extend into the range of learning a foreign language. So are we really asking for an IEE or simply for a test to determine a disability that our school psych isn’t qualified to give?? We do not dispute the results of her intial testing years ago, however the MLAT was not part of her intial testing.

Jennifer:  Thank you for your reply. I really appreciate it. I have asked for a meeting with school to discuss everything we know and may want to proceed with an IEP. We just wanted our daughter to be as independent as possible, and thought accommodations might just be able to do it without adding specific special education. Aside from Spanish and math her other grades are in the 90′s. So we are trying to muddle through this. Thank you for your reply! I really appreciate it.  Thanks, Jennifer

Wrightslaw:  Jennifer, I understand and hope you know I was not criticizing you. We are going through a similar situation with a grandchild who has reading comprehension and severe written language problems. The school strongly “encouraged” the parents to accept a 504 plan.

The school social worker actually said, “You don’t want him to be labeled – do you?” Our grandchild piped up, “My granddaddy has dyslexia and dysgraphia too!” Out of the mouths of babes.

The hard part is getting the school to provide the services he needs. The elephant in the room is the fact that most educators don’t know how to remediate these problems. Their solutions are to provide accommodations, lower expectations, and socially promote kids who are not prepared.

Off my soapbox now.

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