Q & As from Wrightslaw: LRE – Transition

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(see Topics A – K)

L: LRE / Inclusion

M: Manifestation Determination | Math | Mediation


O: Observation | OT

P: Parent Involvement | Parental Rights | PE and Adapted PE | Placement | Power of Attorney | Preschool / Part C | Prior Written Notice (PWN) | Progress | PT


R: Reading | Related Services | Restraint & Seclusion | Retaliation | Retention | RTI

S: Section 504 | Services | Settlement | Speech | Sports

T: Tape Recording / Video | Teacher Issues | Tests | Training | Transfers & Changing Schools | Transition | Transportation | Truancy / Absence


Even more answers – in this topic listing



Jill:  I have two wonderful differently abled girls, 5y, 7y old. We moved from NH to Mass in Nov. my oldest has always been in an regular class setting. However after only reading her iep the director of special Ed has decided she would fit best in a reverse inclusion. She is now in a resource room with seven boys, she only has a regular class time during gym art and music. My daughter has a hard time expressing herself and I read into her behavior. Since the change she has regressed, before this she was using words and behaving normally. She comes home from school and is destructive , pushing, hitting, hanging on me, whiny etc. I know she is not happy, this is the opposite of how she was . Can I force the school to follow her NH IEP, we haven’t met to do a new one for Mass yet? What are my options and what laws do I need to research?

Morning: I can only surmise from your post that several things are occurring. First, please document to the classroom teacher your concerns. Keep data at home about her behavior when she gets off the school bus. Outline what types of positive behaviors that you noted when she was with typical peers at her former school. The fact that she is in a room with all boys is problematic on many levels. Are the boys behavioral? She may be copying behavior. I have seen this over and over again where just 1-2 girls with needs like your daughter are dumped into classrooms with behavioral kids, mostly boys with severe behaviors. This may not be the case with your daughter but you should ask more questions, keep data and do more research. Have her draw a picture of the kids in her class. It will reveal a lot to you.


Carla: Is there a list of the benefits to a student with autism from a least restrictive environment?

Sophie: Carla, I think you can find a general list by googling, but you’ll want to supplement this with a list of more personal observations related to your child.


Mauri:  My son is in the 9th grade and having trouble keeping up the classroom. He comes home with incomplete classwork and homework on top of that. He is, per his IEP, suppose to get class notes, a weekly/monthly calendar, and help staying on task in class. He has Aspergers and ADHD. He is unable to take medications because they cause tremors. I think he would benefit from having an inclusion teacher. Is the a reasonable request?

Sinclair:  Mauri- I asked the same for my daughter with Down Syndrome in elementary. NISD in TX would love to have that available, but frankly, in the public system- there is no money to pay the wages of an inclusion or adaptive assistant per child. We worked out a scenario where 2-3 of the higher functioning children went with an aid to the back of the room and were given additional assistance. It helped for a time in key subjects. My “normal” high functioning son was terribly disorganized in middle school- we set up many of your “flags” to get work turned in. Added cell phone pics of board assignments, school teacher hotlinks, lunch time counselor check ins, monthly locker clean outs. Hormones are rough! Better in high school-good luck, be positive.

Sophie:  You can also ask for modification of class work and homework, with an emphasis on quality, not quantity. And my son’s 504 plan says that the parent can draw a line on the homework when he hits the fatigue point, and write “stopped here due to fatigue (signature).” A couple more good accommodations: extra time, chunking, and receive assignments earlier to help student with self-pacing.

My son just started going to a homework lab run by a special education teacher. She has about half a dozen children in her room. At our school, this lab is not the same as a resource room. This service is proving quite helpful. Finally, he has someone helping him with organization. He goes once a week because of his music ensembles, but in principle he could go for one period every day. You have to start by finding out what opportunities exist in your school. Ask around about AIS, RTI, etc. Talk to parents, students, guidance counselor, principal, guidance secretary. Sometimes there are hidden opportunities that you don’t get without knowing exactly what to ask for.


Manuel:  Looking for guidance, federal or state, on informal exclusion of SPED students. Thank You.

Chuck:  Manuel, I suggest that you contact the Parent Training, & Information Center for New Mexico. It is Parents Reaching Out. While they are located in Albuquerque, they should have staff through out the state & they can also assist you by phone. Their # is 800-524-5176 They will be familiar with the state & federal law.

Wrightslaw:  Manuel, I agree with Chuck’s advice to you. I had another thought. Pete and I are scheduled to do a special education law and advocacy training program in Albuquerque on March 25, 2014. The program is sponsored by Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs (EPICS). For information about the program, go to http://www.epicsproject.org/

Hope we see you there! Pam Wright


Kristin:  My 10 year old daughter has Down syndrome. She is in an inclusive 5th grade classroom but pulled out for 2.75 hours with 8 other kids into the classroom next-door for reading and math daily. (1 hour with 2 additional kids) She is making good progress, is very social, does not need assistance outside of academics. She will be moving to middle school next year, where there is a community based program, of 6 kids, all of whom are significant delayed and lower functioning than my daughter. This is the program the district will place my daughter. Location of services on IEP at current school says sp.ed, but at new school, I do not want her in that sp. ed setting. They have said they will not change IEP end date to reflect only current year/building. If I sign IEP then she will be in a more restrictive environment next school year. Help.

Jennifer:  Kristin, if there were an argument for the least restrictive placement, you have it. This is clearly stated in the law—-the child must be placed in the least restrictive setting. When they plan your daughter’s school year at the end of the current year, take all of her grades and everything else to show her level of function. Let the school know your concerns up front, beforehand. I would suggest an official conference, requested by yourself, to discuss this up front.


Ebony:  Does a classroom which contains all LD kids in a given grade (i.e. all third graders with LD in same class) constitute the “regular classroom”?

Morning:  Hi Ebony. My LD kid was put in such a classroom with other LD kids in the 6th grade. I only figured if out after she came home told me about the behavioral issues, reading problems, worksheets, etc. After a month of collecting data such as my child’s report, low level worksheets, etc,, I told the administration that the instructional mode was not allowing her to meet her IEP goals. She was pulled out and had a successful year. On the other hand, she has been in a classroom where it was mostly LD kids who needed intensive writing support and it worked because the teacher was trained, had an aide and had great behavioral management skills. She learned a lot that year. Her writing improved significantly.


June:  I am a teacher trying to advocate for students in my classroom. I am trying to advocate for more inclusion time and I am being told by my school that I need to present data that shows they can be in gen ed. Is this true?

Chuck:  Others can give you more information and resources on this, but since the beginning, the federal special ed law has been based on the concept that the general ed classroom is the “default” placement for students with disabilities. So, the school should be presenting data that general ed classes are not appropriate. In many cases it has been ruled that the child should be tried in general ed to show whether or not it can work with the required supports and services required.


Bob: Can a student receive subject instruction in the resource room and self-contained classroom?

Wrightslaw: The federal special ed law (IDEA) includes an “least restrictive environment” (LRE) or or “mainstreaming preference.” With very few exceptions, the law expects schools to educate children with disabilities in regular ed classrooms with their non-disabled peers — and in their neighborhood school (the school they would attend if not disabled). The school must provide the supports and services they need to learn in the LRE.

The reasoning behind the LRE preference is that the best education takes place in regular or general ed classes. If disabled kids are not educated where the best education takes place — well, you can figure that out.

The articles about “LRE / Inclusion” will help you understand these legal requirements: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/lre.index.htm


Jane: Just wondering if this is a new trend that districts are using now to support self-contained placement? They seem to declare it so and it’s not open for discussion. But clearly that was not the intention of the law. What’s a good answer to this roadblock when it is meant to shut down the conversation of LRE?

Chuck: Jane, yes, this is a strategy that school attorneys have begun advising schools to use. Go to the Wrightslaw home page & type in “One to One Aides” to find several articles on this topic.


Carol:  My state DOE is telling districts to tell parents there is a mandate for LRE and inclusion from IDEA and they are just following it. I know this isn’t true, however, parents are misled and intimidated when they hear this. What can be done to fight the DOE’s deception?

JG:  I’m not sure what your state is saying, so I can’t say how accurate it is. That said-

IDEA absolutely does mandate that students be educated in THEIR least restrictive environment. Their LRE is an individual decision based on their needs, as defined in their IEP. This is not, of course, always a general education classroom.

I will go on to say that a more restrictive placement, on paper‚ may be a less restrictive placement in practice. For example, an out of district placement could be less restrictive than an in district program if the quality of learning and supports allows a student to spend more successful time with their peers and in the community.

Carol:  LRE is still not a mandate the way the law is written, rather a strong preference for it:
http://www.parentcenterhub.org/wp-content/uploads/repo_items/IDEA2004regulations.pdf see page 46585, Discussion: The LRE requirements in 300.114 through 300.117 express a strong preference, not a mandate, for educating children with disabilities in regular classes alongside their peers without disabilities.

JG;  You’re right, IDEA does not require that students with disabilities be educated in a general education classroom. But the general education classroom and the least restrictive environment are not synonymous.

IDEA unequivocally mandates that students with disabilities be educated in THEIR least restrictive environment. A student’s LRE is an individual determination based on their individual needs.

For most students with disabilities, their LRE will be the general education environment. For other students, however, the LRE may be another type of environment or combination of environments. To borrow directly from IDEA, LRE as a “continuum” of environments is a nice way to describe this concept.

See 34 CFR § 300.114, 300.115, and 300.116.

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Manifestation Determination: IS MDR REQUIRED WITH A 504 PLAN?

Richard: If a child has a 504 plan and gets suspended for more then 10 days, does federal law require the school to hold a manifestation determination meeting if the child only has a 504?

JG: Richard – Section 504 itself does not offer rules regarding discipline or Manifestation Determinations. The right for MDs for students with 504 plans has, however, been established through case law and OCR guidance.

Under 504, schools must evaluate a student before changing his or her placement. When a student has been suspended for more than 10 days (and that represent a “pattern of exclusion”), this is considered a change of placement. In such instances, schools must conduct a comprehensive evaluation that must include a determination of whether there is a connection between the student’s disability and behavior that resulted in the student’s discipline. This is the Manifestation Determination.

JG: An exception is when the discipline involves the possession of drugs or alcohol. No MD is required in that case under Section 504, unless students without disabilities are offered a hearing in such cases.

Here is an article from way back that outlines discipline protections under 504: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED377623.pdf.

And here is a nice overview of 504 discipline protections that was written for school district personnel: http://saisd.net/admin/curric/504/New%20Documents/discipline_504_student.pdf.

If you have further questions about 504 and discipline, or believe your school is not doing what they should, you can contact your local OCR office: https://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/CFAPPS/OCR/contactus.cfm.

Mari: That’s from April, 1994. We now know that ADHDers self-medicate with drugs. OSERS needs to update, or we need to rewrite Section 504.


Kari:  I have a manifestation determination coming up for my son, and an attorney told me to tell the school that I want this to be held before a hearing officer and on the record. I am unable to find legal authority allowing this, and everything I find regarding a hearing officer is if I want to appeal the decision. Can anyone help clarify this for me?

JG:  Kari – Under IDEA, the child’s school district has the responsibility to hold the manifestation determination. They could theoretically ask a hearing officer to officiate, but you as a parent do not have a right to that. As you noted, you do have a right to appeal the MD to a hearing officer.

Your state special education regulations may provide you/your son with additional protections, so you may want to check with your state’s Dept of Education or local parent center: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.

JG:  To clarify…

During the MD, those participating are tasked with determining if the student’s conduct was caused by or had a relationship to the student’s disability.

The student’s “disability” is their unique constellation of traits and characteristics, as outlined in the documentation within the student’s file (IEPs, evals, etc.), teacher observations, and info provided by the parent.

It should not matter what the student’s actual disability category is, as long as the record indicates a history of those traits and characteristics.


Christy:  At the suggestion of the IEP team, my child was moved from special ed math to regular ed math this year, and now I am being informed she can’t keep up. She is about to finish 4th grade, and up until now her grades were good & everyone said she was doing fine. I already help my child daily, and I feel like it is totally my responsibility at this point to educate her in math! Any advice?

SharonL:  Christy , my son was put into regular math like yours but with a transition plan which included reduced items of the assignment, more time to complete assignments if needed & did not have to participate in word problems right away so as to “ease” him back into the math & allow him to have success. An example of reduced assignment is if the assignment is 50 math problems but the same practice/knowledge can be obtained by doing 25 that is what my son did. When he showed success & could do assignments faster we discussed adding more problems a few at a time. MY son was also able to rework errors on problems with 1/2 credit. We also spent many long nights with him helping with homework. The school is responsible to teach your child & you should not have to feel the way you do. Call an IEP meeting & come up with some items.

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Nancy: After violating an IEP agreement, we had mediation, once that was agreed upon, it took 3 months for them to sign it, after violation the mediation, causing my son to miss 2 weeks of school, now we have had another IEP meeting causing addendums to the mediation agreement, and it’s been a month since that meeting, and I still have nothing from them on what we agreed on in that meeting. They are not following any of the agreed upon special aids for my bi-polar/ADD child. is this legal? If not, where to I go to sue? I don’t have much money for an attorney.

JG: Nancy – If the school is not following a signed IEP or mediation agreement, you have several options for resolving that – local resolution, state complaints, more mediation, hearings. See this article for an overview of each: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/disputes-overview/.

Your state may offer additional options for dispute resolution. I would suggest contacting your local parent center – they can help you understand resolution options in your state, and how to utilize them (http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/). They may also be able to help connect you with a pro bono advocate or attorney.


Myra:  The school district hand picked the mediator they wanted and pushed back mediation dates by a month in order to wait for specific mediator. I filed for mediation and gave the district a heads up I was doing so. The district was understanding and told me to pick some dates for the coming weeks. I filled out the paperwork sent to the district and Dept of Ed. When I called to ask the delay in dates I was told the district is requesting a particular mediator to do the mediation. All legal books and advice columns I read say the mediator is randomly selected and or assigned. Doesn’t seem like it in this case. Is this legal?

Chuck: This depends on your state rules. In TX the parent & school can request a specific mediator, but the other party can veto the request. The idea is that mediators are to be neutral, so it does not matter, if a specific one is requested. It is different for hearing officers, since they are making decisions, while mediators do not.

Sophie: I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to the specific question you posed, Myra, but I can say that going to mediation is a crap shoot. My own experience with mediation was that it was a complete waste of time, and of course it was painful to get our hopes up, for them to be dashed again.

As parents, of course we have to try mediation, just as we try everything else, because sometimes it is helpful! But I do think it’s important not to expect too much from mediation, because results depend greatly on the other side’s willingness to listen and work things out.

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KarenRZ:  In NJ, my 12 yr old son is in 6th grade w/ an IEP (1:1 aide), 1st yr of middle school. He has hi-functioning autism & ADHD. Mid. Sch. has been challenging w/ having to remember numerous things & changing classes. We had a couple of bumps in the road this yr, but may have straightened them out. What concerns us is that NCLB has been waived for NJ & although ADA will protect to some degree, we are wondering if this will affect our son & his IEP where he may lose services?

Sandy: The waivers do not apply to services provided to individual students under IDEA. Nor do they apply to antidiscrimination protections offered under 504/ADA. NCLB waivers apply to allow schools to avoid school-wide sanctions if students do not meet stated NCLB targets on state tests. So there is no direct threat to services under IDEA in this situation. However, it is possible that if NCLB is watered down (through waivers and/or legislative changes or repeal), then the focus on the achievement gap of subgroups (including students with disabilities) might be lessened and thus an indirect negative effect on services may emerge.


Lynn: I think my school hasn’t met AYP for over three years. How do I go about confirming this and then enrolling my child in a neighborhood school if it’s true? Thanks!

JG: You may also be able to find the information on your state’s department of education website.

Note that some states no longer use the AYP system (here in Mass, the Progress & Performance Index is used, along with other measures).

Sophie: One other idea — you could assume your hunch is correct and go ahead and act on it, by writing a letter or calling the central administration to request a change of enrollment. If you want to be polite about it, you could say that it is your impression that the school has not met AYP for three years — to leave room for a graceful apology if your hunch is wrong.

Chuck: If a written request to the district office, does not get a response, you can contact the state education agency.


Alyssa: a special ed student in a gen ed classroom needs modifications in order to gain access to the curriculum. This child is three years at least behind his peers. Ive been told that the team is only allowed to modify the curriculum to a certain level due to NCLB. But no one can tell me what are the curriculum limits. Is this written anywhere?

Wrightslaw: Alyssa, NCLB does not limit classroom modifications. NCLB required states to develop “alternate achievement standards” for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Schools could use “modified achievement standards” to assess students with significant cognitive disabilities. Your child’s IEP team is responsible for making decisions about the classroom modifications and accommodations your child needs to access the curriculum. These decisions should be based on his unique needs.


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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Chuck:  When someone has time, I would like to see a blog item or article on this topic. I believe that the article on this topic on the website needs to be updated. In TX I am seeing & hearing of more schools putting policies & procedures in place to limit parent observations. These procedures include things like limiting the length & number of visits. Some require a request to the principal before a visit & then they confer with the teacher to determine a day & time. In some cases the school will not allow observations during instructional time & in one case it had to be after the students left. The rationale behind the policies is stated as the need to limit disruption to instructional time. Attorneys tell schools that this is easier to defend, since state regs address disruptions.

Wrightslaw:  Hi Chuck. You wrote, “I would like to see a blog item or article on this topic. I believe that the article on this topic on the website needs to be updated.” I agree but where would you start?

I think these “policies” are developed by administrators who want to limit parent contact and parental involvement. I’m not aware of any law that supports them. Parents report that they are not allowed to observe or visit their child’s classroom, or they must agree to stringent limits (e.g. 30 minutes once a month after notice xx weeks in advance). Parents are told that “the law” requires schools to deny parent requests to observe their child’s class because this would violate the rights of other students.

The only law that deals with confidentiality is FERPA. FERPA regulates education records, nothing more. Parents report that paper is taped over glass windows in doors of special ed classes to “protect student privacy.” Parents report that they are not allowed to attend school events (e.g. holiday parties, field trips) because this would violate the privacy rights of other students.

Are the parents of non-disabled kids having the same problems? I don’t think so, but don’t know so.

Bottom line: Courts have held that school children have very few “privacy rights.” Children with disabilities do not have greater privacy rights than nondisabled kids.

From my perspective, these policies are at odds with IDEA’s requirements re: parental participation – or the spirit of the law.

NCLB also includes requirements about increasing parental participation, not discouraging or forbidding it. Since there is no legal justification for these policies, where to start?

Chuck:  Thank you for your response here & in the e-newsletter. TX has a state law that says _ “Sec. 25.083. SCHOOL DAY Interruptions. The board of trustees of each school district
shall adopt and strictly enforce a policy limiting interruptions of classes during the school day for nonacademic activities such as announcements and sales promotions. At a minimum, the policy must limit announcements other than emergency announcements to once during the school day.” Schools use this to justify procedures that limit parent visits & observations.


Miranda:  School says we must give 48 hours notice to observe. We can only observe for 60 minutes and it can only occur 1x per month. An administrator must accompany us on the observation. In addition, they say we must sign an observer agreement before we are taken to our child’s classroom. I’ve read https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/priv.confid.observe.htm Anyone have more advice?

Chuck:  Miranda, if you have not already done so, ask the school for a copy of the district & campus policy/procedures. It is not uncommon for staff to not know what their procedures actually say. If the policy/procedures does list what they have told you, it could be hard to fight this, unless it contradicts state law/regs. Schools argue that these policies are needed to reduce interruptions to instruction.

Miranda:  Thanks, Chuck. The district procedures do say what they told us, but many of the 10 limitations are not supported by state or federal law. Yes, they have argued that the observation limits are in place to reduce disruption and to protect student privacy. And it is not our desire to disrupt. Unfortunately, we have uncovered many violations recently and have significant reason to believe that our child is not being provided an education of any kind for 2/3 of the school day. That is why we need to get in there and observe and that is why they are blocking us.


Patricia:  He has a BIP, and has had “behavioral observations” during assessments as well. I’ve noticed that observations “tampered with”, for instance the school will often fail to follow the plans just prior to or during the observations, and paraprofessionals will make no attempt to redirect the child as they should during observations. I’ve asked that they begin using an observational protocol, to show what the problems are during normal conditions. Must they?

Kasey:  I also have this same situation. My son is on a BIP and an FBA has been conducted. However, the school is not documenting in the incident reports that any of the intervention and PBS protocols were followed when the head administrator determines the consequences. My emails go unanswered. I am being ignored and shut out and my ability to effectively advocate is limited by the school’s refusal to communicate with me. I can’t find anything in the Procedural Safeguards that addresses what my rights are for this type of issue – he has not been suspended for more than 10 days. I am conscientious about keeping my emotions in check in my communications, but am running out of patience. What am I missing and how can I get past this roadblock?


Angela:  Does a parent have the right if they have a special needs student, mainstreamed in public school, to go to the office and ask to go to their classroom, and they are denied. can they enter anyway? there are situations going on and concern that child isnt getting needs met.

SharonL:  Angela, we have gone in and observed our son’s different times through the school years however we could not just walk in to d that. WE always had to make an appointment so they would know about it. We always got to see what we wanted to see whether we go in announced or un-announced. Find out what your school’s policy for observing your children are and then you can observe them.


Katherine:  I live in MN. & work at a church where I work wth the youth. My 7th grade child has an IEP at school. Recently she was allowed to go to an overnight lock-in. Because I work 20 hrs for the church & had completed my hours due a law that says I cannot volunteer where I work my church would not let me attend this event with my child even as a parent observer. I am about to be fired over this & wonder if I have recourse over this & what I do about it? I made arrangements for my friends to keep an eye on her but at the end of the lock in when all others were on the bus they did not see her & had to go look for her. She had fallen asleep waiting for everyone on a bench. while nothing terrible happened. She is a vulnerable child & I am very upset & angry by this. What am I able to do about this?

Morning:  First, I do emphasize with you as I have been in similar positions with my kids and with parents. But, if the adults sponsoring the event feels she can attend without observing her, trust them. If you don’t feel comfortable, keep her home with you. There is no need for you to attend if it is going to cause this much drama. This is not worth you losing your job over or forcing them into a position. Why should there be a recourse?

Morning:  This also may help. My child, through different agencies and schools, was lost for an hour at a vacation bible school at 3 years old, put on the wrong school bus at 5 years old at school and recently at 16 suffered an injury due to his horseplay. In each case, I was angry BUT I knew that the agencies were credible. I collaborated with them to review their risk management assessments, etc. In the end, there were many benefits in the collaboration. My child thrives when I am not around at each event and learns much more and is more relaxed and independent without “mommy” around as he sees me enough at home. If I am ever doubtful of an event or agency, I trust my intuition and my child stays home. There are no easy answers. Each child is unique.

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Dan:  Say a student has OT on thier IEP and they didn’t get services for that year. Would the teacher be to blame? And should that person get fired?

SharonL:  Dan, the teacher will probably not get fired however the school is completely out of compliance. YOu need to get an IEP meeting together to ask what is going on and how they will make up all of that lost time that your son will never get back. I don’t understand how your son was able to go an entire year without anyone knowing about this. There are supposed to be quarterly reports regarding progress that the parents get. Once you did not receive one of those a meeting needed to be put together. The school will need to make up that time either by offering extended school services in the summer with transportation provided.


Linda:  My 6 year old with Downsyndrome can or is starting to read, learning to add and subtract, can talk, but he has Apraxia and can not handwrite. He has very low fine motor skills. I was told he does not have the Cognitive skills to write. I am the one teaching him, but he really needs Occupational Therapy Handwriting bad, it will keep him way behind. Anything I can do?

Chuck:  Research the book Handwriting without Tears. Check with your state parent training & information project. They can provide info on this. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

Sophie:  Your child’s pediatrician or primary care doctor can write an order for occupational therapy. You can get these services through your school district even if your child is homeschooled.
Over the long term, there are multiple ways of dealing with this problem — handwriting training, scribing for your child, teaching your child to type or use some other assistive technology device, and using speech to text software. See if you can get an assistive technology evaluation. It is nice to experiment with more than one approach, and also you can introduce an approach now that you plan to emphasize more later on.
With scribing a child can learn a great deal about planning, writing, and revising.


Cher:  I don’t know if anyone will have an answer for me, but I thought I would try. My child receives clinic based OT once a week as part of his IEP. My child has not yet met all of his goals for the OT. He started getting the therapy in Feb. School started last week and when I called to verify my child’s appt, the clinic told me that their contract with the district was up, and that they had been trying to find out if the district would continue to pay for my child’s therapy. He missed his session last week because of this. The clinic asked if we have ins. or if we will be paying for this out of pocket. As of this morning, the clinic still has no response from the district. They will not return my calls or answer e-mails. They also did the same thing during the summer as he had therapy for ESY. This is very frustrating. Can they do this?

SharonL:  Cher, the school must by law provide the services in the IEP. They don’t have to use the same people they are using now as long as they meet your child’s goals. They cannot just tell you that the OT expired. You need to schedule an IEP team meeting to find out what they will plan to do for you child. Remember they must make up any lost sessions including the sessions lost in the summer. If they refuse they must give you prior written notice so that you will have the official document you will need to take corrective action if necessary


Veronica:  My son has Down syndrome and is nearly 11, in fifth grade. At our last IEP, the OT announced he had “no goals” for my son as he would be losing direct OT services (30 minutes/week) and moving to consultation (on the IEP it says 15 minutes per month of indirect services). My son can barely write his name and scored below the 1% in every category of the Test of Handwriting Skills, Revised (THS-R). The school won’t budge on restoring his direct services. What recourse do I have? How can they deny direct services to someone who is so delayed? Any help or advice would be much appreciated?

Sandy:  Veronica, it sounds like your child SHOULD have OT goals and services. Does the school disagree with your opinion of how poorly he is doing in these skills? If they agree, then they need to draft goals and continue services. If they disagree, I’d suggest you get an outside evaluation and go from there. Hope this helps!


Heather:  When doctors recommend OT and pt how do you get the school to add these?

Sandy:  Heather, you need to request that the school evaluate your child for OT and PT since you suspect these areas of need per your doctor. Your consent to evaluation (put it in writing!!) triggers the timeline the school must follow to evaluate and determine if your child is eligible. So get the ball rolling ASAP!


Baoyi:  My daughter is 5 years old. She has been educated at home for two years. She has Special Ed. for one hour each day, and PT & OT services each week.

Recently, I found that her OT is provided by an Occupational Therapist Assistant, not by an Occupational Therapist.

I read the federal and state law book. Both defined Occupational Therapy as follows: “Occupational Therapy means services provided by a qualified Occupational Therapist.” Does this requirement mean that the district was not in compliance with the law over the past two years?

Several times, I requested that my daughter’s “OT” add a feeding goal to my daughter’s IEP. The OT refused because she said feeding is not an educational goal. Is this true? I really doubt it.

Chuck:  Typically state OT rules allow an OT assistant (COTA, Certified OT Assistant) to do certain activities under the direction of an OT. Review state rules to determine if the COTA did unapproved activities & how often the OT is to observe/work with a child.

Feeding can be considered a functional activity/skill that is covered by IDEA. The IEP team not one person is to make this decision. In my experience, it is not uncommon for school staff to work on feeding skills. I have dealt with consultants who did “feeding studies” & then gave staff a plan to follow for improving feeding skills.

Baoyi:  In California state law, Occupational Therapy services may be provided by Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistant who must be under the supervision of a licensed OT.

In the past two years, there were not any licensed OT show up at my daughter’s OT instruction at home. And I never receive any progress report with the licensed OT’s signature. But I didn’t realize this until this year. I assumed the OT provider should be a qualified Occupational Therapist, but she does not. She is the OTA that I verified her license type on the website of California Board of Occupational Therapist.

In this case, does it mean the district provided the OT service in the past two years illegally? How should I do? The IEP will be held next month.

Chuck:  I suggest focusing on the lack of progress reports & supervision of the COTA. Also on all needs & services that you feel the OT & school should have been providing. The school also needs to justify why your child needs to be in one of the most restrictive environments. This should be addressed at least once a school year. It appears that there are violations in these areas that may make the school more willing to work with you.


Lora: Our daughter is 8 (November birthday) and in 2nd grade. She has “constitutional growth delay”, meaning she is super small for no reason. She is the size of most 5/6 year olds. She also struggles with low muscle tone, and writing is EXHAUSTING for her. She struggles to keep up with a lot of written work for this reason, and she often comes home crying.

We are at a DoDEA school and I can’t find my rights for requesting retention. She is testing middle of the road for reading/math, except when there are lots of worksheets/extended writing assignments then she gets very discouraged and “feels stupid”. We feel her self-esteem is suffering from being so small relative to her peers. We move OFTEN, so the issue of everyone making fun or teasing her forever is not a concern.

Jennifer: If your daughter does not have an IEP, request a comprehensive evaluation ASAP. If writing is that much of an issue, she needs a thorough Occupational Therapy Assessment as well.

There is also a possibility she could qualify for a 504 plan for the writing.

Regarding the small stature, I know a high school student who is in the ninth grade and is the height of a third grader. After some rough years, he is now embraced by most of the student body. I would suggest you get your daughter some qualified counseling, as it sounds like she will be dealing with this for the rest of her life. Maybe the school counselor could help hook her up with some buddies who will help her feel accepted.

Lora: Thank you Jennifer! She is getting an OT assessment now.
She is also in counseling, mostly related to issues with her adopted sister.

The problem is we are a military family who moves every 2-3 years. So finding an accepting group of peers every time she has to move is harder than staying back and giving her some time to catch up growth wise. 🙁

Sophie: Children come in all shapes and sizes. My son is a head taller than his peers — but he’s emotionally young for his age. The adults are more bothered by the height difference than the kids are. So, I would just forget about the height difference — this is a non-issue.

Now, getting exhausted from writing due to low muscle tone — that gets her an IEP or a 504. She should have a scribe. She should be trained to use Speech Recognition software. The software, plus the special microphone, should be provided. (However, if you can afford it, go ahead and buy it; learn to use it yourself, and then teach her to use it.) Her IEP or 504 plan should say that assignments must be shortened for her, and that she can stop when she’s tired. The teachers have to learn to give assignments that focus on quality over quantity. For the short term, train your daughter to recognize when she’s about to hit her limit while she’s at school, and just stop writing. Have her bring the unfinished work home, and scribe for her to help her get it done. You can even scribe for her math work! Now, legally, she should not have to do this extra work at home, BUT my experience with my son was that taking this approach earned us some brownie points.

Draft a letter for the doctor, and have him/her adapt it if desired, and then sign it. In the draft, put the diagnosis, and a list of the supports needed.

See if you can help your daughter learn to touch type. Try BBC Dance Mat Typing. It’s fun, and in about three months, by just playing with this software for half an hour a day, she’ll probably be able to type at the same speed as she writes by hand. I mean touch typing — not hunt and peck!

Pam Wright: Agree with Sophie re: touch typing. When each of our kids turned 11, they had to spend 30 minutes a day learning to touch type. When they hit 30 wpm, they were released.

As their speed and accuracy in touch typing improved, they could put words down on paper almost as fast as they could think. Liberating!

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Parent Involvement: PARENT INVOLVEMENT

Lucinda:  I have triplets in 4th grade who have IEP’s. In class today, a classmate called two of them” Stupid Twins”. Upon arriving at the classroom to pick them up, my daughter informed me of the situation. I am aware of who this young man is and see his mother frequently while volunteering so I asked him “what made him call them stupid twins. The general ed teacher overheard this. She was aware of the situation and told me that it is illegal for me to reprimand a student. I explained I was only asking and not reprimanding. From now on, the teacher told me to pick up my daughter’s outside the classroom One daughter is crying and one thinks the teacher is mean. I want guidance on how I should have handled this (what I did wrong) and is this something that is illegal in Ohio?

Morning: Your concern is valid. However, you approached a 9-10 year old child to question his behavior on school property –that child cannot defend himself without an teacher or his parent present in my opinion. In this case, the teacher quickly became the young man’s advocate and the teacher acted correctly. I know many parents who would involve school authorities or the police if their child was approached by a parent like that. Sounds extreme? It was an innocent question on your part but out of place. Think carefully and advocate for your child using the resources in the school but not by approaching a student who may have felt “scared” and intimidated. I want you to see the bigger picture as some parents have gone “too far.” The teacher is also protecting you from accusations.

Wrightslaw:  Morning’s advice is good, especially about your need to see the big picture. Your goal is to develop positive relationships with the people who teach your children so they WANT to help your kids. If you have concerns about another child, it isn’t your role to investigate or discipline. Discuss the problem with the teacher – she is responsible for dealing with problems in the classroom.

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Joe:  Can a parent waive her rights to attend a triennial meeting for her child? Can the meeting therefore continue without the presence of the parent?

SharonL:  Joe, Yes – on both accounts.


Donna: does a school have the legal right to basically ‘bully’ a parent regarding doctor visits and how the parent presents those visits to her child…such as making the visits an adventure for the child and the school telling the parent not to do that and to not tell the child in advance but to just show up and then to request that the parent hold off until summer break having the child wear a new back brace prescribed by the doctor for the child’s scoliosis?

Sophie: No, Donna, they do not have the right to do that.

You are the parent. You know what will work best for your child. You may have to calmly remind them of that multiple times.

Parental Rights:  ENGLISH ONLY?! (NY STATE)

Sophie:  Parent and advocate/friend of the family held a short caucus-type conversation in Spanish during a school meeting, and the chair required a bilingual paraprofessional who was present (but not invited by the parent) to immediately translate those sentences to English. This made it hard for the parent to think clearly. Can the chair require immediate translation whenever parent and advocate talk to each other in Spanish during the meeting?

JG:  Sophie –  There is no rule under IDEA regarding “immediate translation,” but I encourage you to look at this situation from another angle.

Let’s say that the Team Chair and a teacher spoke Spanish, but you did not, and the Chair and the teacher would periodically have side conversations that you could not understand. What would you think about this?

What if everyone in the room spoke only English? Would you still feel comfortable having your side conversation with the advocate, if everyone could understand it?

You obviously want to reap the benefits of having your advocate present. But it’s also important to do your part to keep the Team meeting amicable and inclusive.

Perhaps you can work out a way with the Team Chair that would allow you to be able to confer with your advocate but remain inclusive during the meeting.

Maybe you or the advocate can provide a brief translation about what is being said (e.g. we’re discussing the benefits of xyz service). Or maybe you could arrange for periodic short breaks during the meeting, so you can have a private conversation with your advocate.

Sophie:  The parent felt overwhelmed. Having a friend there, making a connection with her in her home language, helped center her. If there hadn’t been so much time pressure, we would have caucused in the hall. We just needed to confer with each other briefly.

Note, much of what is said in English in those meetings sounds like so much gobbledygook to her. I wonder if it’s such a bad thing for the monolingual staff to experience that discomfort for a couple of moments.

The funny thing is, there have been times, in my own 504 meetings, when I’ve needed to do a very brief caucus with my husband, and I’ve spoken to him briefly in his native language (German), and that didn’t seem to bother anyone.

JG:  We’re a multi-lingual family (Kikuyu and Swahili, along with English). I understand the need to confer, to explain, or to simply console during the Team meeting – and for that to not always be in English.

And I can definitely empathize with being overwhelmed with the special ed acronyms and jargon being thrown around!!

But I still *strongly* believe that we parents should view helping to maintain Team cohesion as part of our role as Team members!

Speaking another language may not bother some people (like your 504 Team), but it will definitely bother others (like this parent’s IEP Team). So why not *try* to relieve some of that tension before hand?

Parental Rights:  PARENT RIGHTS

Jane:  No wonder Pete needed to write Emotions to Advocacy. The emotional pain is so difficult when your rights and the rights of your child are so clearly violated. Parents and advocates , please don’t do what I did and wait until your student has lost years of educational opportunity. File a state complaint .If you are not satisfied you still have the right to pursue a due process. I lost my sons last one which took 7 8-11 hour days. But I learned tons from Pete’s books and wont be like a lamb in the slaughter this time.

Mari:  Dear Jane, Taxpayers pour so much money into sped programs and get very little return. But money aside, lack of services, from the very people we are counting on, is a national crisis. The main ideas that disabled students learn from schools is that life is tough and few people care. If I hear one more school employee say, “Everyone has a disadvantage they have to deal with. Sped students must cope with the real world,” I may have to kill him or her.

I am a reg ed teacher. I can’t get parents to fight like you do. Granted, parents should not have to fight. I would REALLY like to see Pete take up that cause. Parents put in hours to fight for their child. If they win a judgment, their child gets the services, but the parent is not compensated for all the hours they put in. They should win $$$ per hr.

Morning:  I am a parent of a child in special ed. I have heard the comments you mentioned. I used to spend a lot of time baffled by the behaviors of some staff. I see many frustrated staff members and the tide changed for me when I collaborated in a way that allowed the teachers/administrators to work with me to meet the needs of my child. Is this a perfect solution for all parents? It worked for me. We can do research, collaborate, present data, special ed. regulations, and even network with other parents to meet the needs of our kids. I changed from being frustrated to being an advocate for my child. My child loves school and is making progress. Teachers advocate for my child as I collaborate with them in a positive manner.


Rebecca: My son is being issued a warrant that he is not allowed to go to any school function. My son is the father of a pre-k, 5 grader, Sophomore, Freshman. My question is the situation they are talking about happened at different school campus. My concern is that to me it’s a form of bullying, due to younger children who had nothing to do with situations, the children have nothing to do with the matter. How do you tell a 5 yr old I can’t go or the 11 year or two other children I can’t go see you. Principal never said a word and week or more later he decides to issue a warrant. Bullying comes in many forms and I believe this is the situation.

MORNING: Remember, that school administrators and police officials work together in many ways. If they feel that his past actions would in any way shape or form put students and staff at risks, then your son should be denied going to school functions. The principal, I am sure, would not go to this extreme without consulting school council and even the local police. If the incident at the other school was severe enough to issue such a warrant, it is something that may be justifiable. I do get alarmed and scared when I see parents or anyone “act out” at school towards teachers, coaches, students and even other parents. However, in this day of school violence—principals have hard decisions to make. There should be an appeal process for your son. The students’ safety must come first.


Debbie:  What are the parents rights over educational placement of a child?? my child is in kindergarten diagnosed with autism, the home school says they dont have enough resources (they DO have special ed where he spends 40 % of his time with 4:1) and so they want him to go to a different school where he will be going to a special class for autism. We dont want this to happen under any circumstances and the school is pressuring us in every way saying that the current setting is not working for him, he is getting tired,..the main reason being they dont have resources …what can we do?? can an advocate help??

Sandy:  Debbie, the concept you’re looking for is your child’s right to be educated (FAPE) in the “least restrictive environment” (LRE). Read up on this concept on Wrightslaw site and use it in your advocacy. And, yes, an attorney or advocate in your state can help, as might your state’s “parent training information center” or “protection & advocacy agency.” So investigate these resources – good luck!


Monica:  Why do school districts tell parents at back to school night that we are a critical part of our children’s educational team and strongly encourage us to participate in our children’s education but at the IEP meeting treat parents as outsiders and discourage our participation in our children’s education, especially when the parent tries to actively participate, by making goals, or doing research on the current academic methodologies etc.?

Miranda:  Monica, school districts tend to define terms like active parent participation unconventionally. When you 1st hear personnel speak of parent participation on back to school night, they are defining it unconventionally, but not telling you their definition. It is not until you get into the IEP drafting process that you begin to see that definitions differ. This has to do with money: the cost of service provision > minutes of service provision & that all affects goal drafting. Unfortunately, a district’s tendency to define terms unconventionally (& not to let the parents in on the unconventional defining) indicates that they do not want parents to be equal IEP members so that the district can determine services, hours, and goals unilaterally. They hope parents will believe they are equal IEP decision-makers cause they are according to IDEA.


Sharon:  What are a parents rights to bring a friend or second set of ears to help them at a meeting with the child teacher, and team members. I was told no advocates, no friends, and was denied an educator who could be very helpful and knows my child. I was told the school has a right to make there own rules and would only allow parents to attend. Is this true? Where is it in the law? I found who you can take to a IEP, CSE but not any thing on informal meetings, team meeting progress reports, or parent conferences. Please help.

Jennifer:  I know of no such regulation that restricts a parent from bringing anyone they want to a meeting. Just make sure that the person you bring improves the process and helps bring about concensus between you and the school.

SharonL:  Sharon, there should be no issue to bringing a friend or advocate to the IEP meeting as long as you let them know in advance so they have that person’s name on the list. I have brought advocates, attornies, speech therapists, math tutors, language specialists & reading specialists at different times to the meetings depending on what the discussion was about. I even had some of them on a speaker phone which is allowed by the law. If they do not allow you to bring anyone again make them show you where it is written that you cannot & request that in writing. You can bring a digital recorder to the meeting,also again as long as you let them know. This way you do not have to take notes. Usually people act better when they know they are being taped.

Chuck: The school can develop their own rules about who can attend non-IEP meetings, unless their rules do not follow state rules. It is always good to ask for the school’s policy & procedures on any issue that you are concerned about. You can always ask for an IEP meeting & invite whoever you want.


PreK:  I have worked with a student since the beginning of October who transitioned into my Pre-K class from early intervention. His recommendation at his transition meeting was to place him in Pre-K. His screening score was borderline and he showed many questionable behaviors. We needed to try the least restrictive environment and we were hoping his speech & language would improve b/c he would have the good language models in the Pre-K class. This has not been the case! He does receive speech and language services and I have had the psychologist observe on several occasions and her recommendation is to move this student to ECE b/c his speech is impeding his functioning in the Pre-K classroom. This would be my recommendation as well as I also teach the ECE class. However, mom & dad do not want him labeled as “special ed”. What do I do?

Chuck:  Do the parents understand that he is already labeled “special ed” since he is receiving speech therapy?


Tracy: When scheduling our annual IEP meeting, we requested a 3:00 pm or later start to accommodate our (the parents) work day. The school indicated their latest availability was 2:30 pm. At our annual IEP meeting yesterday, we were told that the reason school personnel were unable to schedule an IEP meeting to start after 2:30 is because the contractual end of the teachers’ work day is 3:45 pm. If it were to be scheduled later, we would run the risk of having to have multiple meetings to finish the discussion. As I understand it, IEP meetings are to be scheduled at a mutually agreed upon time. If we refuse to meet until 3:00 pm, is the school legally able to convene an IEP meeting without us in attendance?

Francine: Tracy, IDEA 34 C.F.R. 300.322 indicates efforts must be made to find a *mutually agreeable* time. It also indicates they must make efforts for you to participate-meaning, they need to offer other options and can’t just hold the meeting without you unless they want to potentially violate IDEA code. My opinion: you’re asking for a time 45 minutes before the end of teacher contract time – reasonable. They won’t at least consider it – not reasonable. It’s a matter of convenience, not legality, to hold 1 vs 2 meetings, so that’s not an excuse. It’s also possible for members to stay a little late sometimes – I’ve had to.

Suggested reading: A gov’t (OSEP) decision regarding a very similar school policy at http://sped.dpi.wi.gov/ideacomplaint_01-019


Jeff: I have a child with autism and as of this morning. .. we were told we can no longer walk him to class… he wont walk with just anyone… Do we have the right to walk him to class?

MORNING: This brings out a lot of discussion. I will say that in every situation like this that I have been in as a para, the experienced staff, therapist, etc. always asserted that parents do not walk the kids to class, regardless. With that being said, the wisest teachers always worked with parents on a transition plan as some students had come from programs very tolerant of allowing parents to walk their kids to class and sit in the classroom for long periods. However, the parents were given a harsh reality check as the kids transition from pre-school to kindergarden and older grades. I don’t know about your case. I do know that it is to the benefit of the child if parents and staff can work together. It does not benefit the child for a parent to walk the kid to class.


Barb: I have an 8 year boy with Down Syndrome. Immediately after his IEP meeting I was told the school wanted to put him in a different school, but same district, because they were changing the programming at his current school. This would take him out of his neighborhood school which he has been attending since kindergarten and also separate him from his brother who is a year behind him in school. We do not agree with this also because the new placement would be in a room with kids who have a lot of behaviors and my son already is in need of quiet one-on-one to learn. Can the school district do this without our consent?

Chuck: The district is taking the position that the 2 classrooms are similar enough that this is just a change of location & not a change of placement. In such cases parent consent is not needed. The state education agency or a hearing officer would have to rule whether the district is correct. You can still challenge the appropriateness of the class, because of your child’s need for a quiet calm environment.


Jenny: Thanks, Francine, for response to my question on timing of IEE.

Another issue with this evaluation process is that, AFTER I had signed consent (which I thought was just a consent for an educational evaluation), the District added a Social Worker to the process. Midway through the “data gathering” process, she said she is here to develop services for our family. I never signed anything asking for counseling services, a parenting assessment, family therapy, etc. With the hostile environment at school, I don’t want them providing services (or monitoring services from outside providers). How do I prevent family services from being forced into the process (I already have services)?


Elisha: If I have a felony, can I still go on my child’s field trip as long as I’m not chaporoning any other kids?

Chuck: This would depend on state & district policy on individuals coming onto a district campus & going on field trips.


Colleen:  At the last IEP meeting, the district’s attorney and special education director told me that it was apparent that I didn’t understand the IEP was the district’s legal document. To which I responded, so what does that mean? We (school personnel) decide what goes into the document, not the parent. Is this true?

Chuck: Federal rules make it clear that parent is part of team that decides what goes into IEP. The parent training & information center in your state should be able to assist you.

JG:  Colleen, This is absolutely not true!! IDEA is built on parent participation, plain and simple.

The IEP is developed by (and placement determined by) the IEP Team (see 34 CFR 300.320 & 300.324). And parents are members of the IEP Team (34 CFR  300.321, 300.322, & 300.327). Doug C. v. Hawaii, a recent case, reaffirmed that parent participation is a priority.

Does your state offer IEP facilitation? This process is a good remedy for anyone who believes in this line of thinking. You could also print out the applicable regulations and send it to the offending parties!


Dale:  Do our children (and parents) have the right to look at any final examination taken by our children? Unfortunately, a teacher refuses to allow anyone to see the graded final with the response they use the same examination each school year. Is there a law that allows students/parents to see final examinations, especially when all other examinations, quizzes, etc. are returned to students. I appreciate anyone’s assistance with this question.

Sophie: I think this would fall under FERPA, family education rights and privacy act. They don’t have to give you a copy of the exam, but they have to make an appointment for you to examine the exam in a district office (of their choice, I suppose).
I would double-check this with your parent center, though.

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Melinda: My son has Mild Cerebral Palsy and is eligible for a OHI but according to the doctor he is not orthopedic impaired. Our son has a problem with activity keeping up with other children in PE. also we are concerned about his safety because he has been coming home with scraps ,cuts ,bruises do to falling when walking or running during PE. He is very clumsy when he runs and walks and also walks and runs on tip toes and needs to take breaks during PE because of his CHD. Would he qualify for adaptive PE services at school? If he does qualify what do I need to do to advocate services for him. Thank you

Chuck: Melinda, the definition of special ed in the IDEA regs includes physical ed (300.39). Your state may also have rules regarding the provision of adaptive PE. Check your state regulations or with your state parent training & information center. Then you can request an IEP meeting to discuss your concerns about PE.

Wrightslaw: Lots of information and resources on the PE and Adapted PE page. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/pe.index.htm

Take a look at this Position Statement: Eligibility Criteria for Adapted Physical Education Services. Position statement (2010) from NASPE and AAPAR aims to help teachers, school administrators, local education agencies (LEA) and parents determine when it’s appropriate to deliver special education services to a child in physical education and to appreciate the continuum of placements and services to consider when providing this instruction. http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/standards/upload/Eligibility-Criteria-for-Adapted-PE.pdf
You may want to print a copy for members of the IEP Team. As Chuck advised, after you have your information together, request an IEP meeting to discuss your concerns and perhaps request an APE assessment. Your son may have unique needs that would qualify him for APE.


Robert: We continue to hear PBIS (positive behavior intervention services) does not apply during recess, while we also learn from research by university professors that PBIS does apply during recess (META Analysis supports utilization of PBIS during recess, especially children diagnosed with autism). Are there any laws that require/support PBIS during recess or not? Thank you!

Chuck: IDEA regs make it clear that the IEP is to identify a child’s needs & to provide supplementary aids & services to help the child “to participate in extracurricular & other nonacademic activities”. 300.320(a)(4)(ii) Recess is included as a nonacademic activity, 300.117

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Kristie:  What kind of law protects my son from getting pulled out of class when he doesn’t want to go? The school psychologist really wants to pull him out in small groups to teach him social skills, but when she has done this these past few months, he misbehaves. He tells me he doesn’t want to leave his class. He doesn’t require curriculum modification; he gets terrific grades. He’s fully included in his classroom, but he gets so mad sometimes that he has to leave the classroom and calm down. I can’t quite talk the school psychologist into trying to deliver the information to him creatively. Can you help me figure it out?

SharonL:  Kristie, is there another alternative during the day for the social skills training like first thing in the morning, after school, 1/2 on the lunch hour or study hall so that your son does not have to get pulled out of class? This could be a start to compromise with the psychologist. You can also opt to request an IEP meeting to discuss this with the team to find a resolution.

Placement: LRE

Elizabeth: My children are in a private therapeutic day school at public expense. I want to bring them back to the district but district says no because I originally agreed to the outside placement. What do I do now?

Sophie:  Have you figured out what is bothering them about your proposal? Do you think they are afraid they would have to pay an arm and a leg to a panoply of service providers in order to satisfy their IEPs? If so, perhaps you could start with the child with the least complex IEP, and meet with the director of special education, and try to convince them that it would be significantly less expense to the district to place the child in-district.

Chuck:  IEP decisions can be reviewed & changed at any point during a school year & at least once a school year.

Cathy: Why do you want to bring them back?


Cindy: My son has autism and behavior issues. In grade school, the school placed him in a private school that has been amazing. Now the High school (AZ) wants to take him out and put him in a school in district that uses seclusion rooms and has a history of abuse. During The first phone call, I was told they observed my son (without my permission) and THEY DECIDED he was going to the other school. Can they do that?

We had a meeting with his current school. The director of special services she didn’t care what we had to say. what now? She said he was going to the room with least supports he needs more not less.help please my other son has autism and he goes next year.

Chuck: A district can do this, if they follow appropriate rules & procedures. An evaluation should be done to determine the child’s current performance levels & needs. Then an IEP team must consider this information, develop an IEP & then determine an appropriate placement to provide the IEP. It sounds like they are predetermining the placement before doing these steps. Predetermination is against state & federal rules. You can challenge this decision through the state dispute resolution processes. The district is to give parents a document that lists these.


Sharen:  My daughter is in grade 10 and has an SLD. She attends a nonpublic school in CA. The district’s representative said that at the next IEP (3 year), in grade 11, we will discuss transitioning her back to the mainstream public school and that the transfer would be after the winter break, mid year! This just seems so disruptive. This same district rep has said the same thing at several of the IEPs at our school. Any suggestions on what to do?

JG:  Sharen – Predetermination of services and placements goes against the parent participation mandate that is at the very heart of IDEA!!

Predetermination of placement is especially sticky because placement decisions are supposed to come AFTER the IEP has been developed, not before.

I would encourage you to send that district representative a nice letter about this conversation. You can thank her/him for thinking so far ahead about your daughter’s needs, specifically with the suggestion of transitioning her back into public school next year. Then ask that this and other considerations about placement be put on the back burner until after the entire IEP Team has met to review her progress, determined her needs, and develop her IEP.

At the least, hopefully, you letter will allow you and other Team members equal participation in placement decisions at that upcoming meeting. With luck, that letter (and your advocacy) will prevent an unnecessary move for your daughter.

If the district does move forward with that transition, and you decide to contest the decision, your letter may be a valuable piece of evidence regarding predetermination.


Cheryl: Can a district force parents of a LD child to sign off their SPED rights if they want to home school when the district does not even offer the appropriate placement of this child? They have regular ed and they have severely handicapped; neither placement is appropriate for him. I know it cant be legal, but need to know what to quote to this district’s SPED director and superintendent. Help?.

Wrightslaw: No, there is no law that requires a parent to “sign off” their child’s rights to special ed or your own rights. You need to write a letter to the Director of Special Ed that describes the dilemma. Your your child needs X and Y. The school offers A and B. The school has not developed a program or placement that meets your child’s needs.

Sadly, your choices are to allow him to be educated in an inappropriate placement or to home school him. You choose to home school until the school offers an appropriate program and placement.


Sabrina: Florida Public schools. I am at a loss. I have advocated for my children and got them their IEP and 504. They have made progress according to the school and the progress monitoring. However in a custody battle, the guardian ad Litem feels the children are not able to get adequate education at a public school, feels it is in the best interest to relocate them with their father in a very expensive private school. I am at a disadvantage financial and have done everything I can. They are making progress at school! Anywhere I can turn or get help? Final hearing over school placement is July 17th.

JG: Sabrina – have you tried contacting the parent centers in your state? They may be able to offer you free advocacy services, or point you to someone who can. They may even be able to help you locate a pro bono attorney.



Michelle: Does change of placement apply to open enrollment. My daughter attended a school last year though open enrollment. We had a IEP meeting in April at school where we discussed my daughter attending their school in the fall. Now I get a letter that she was denied open enrollment. But my question is since it is a valid change of placement under IDEA (I think) wouldn’t we have to have an IEP to discuss change of placement?

Wrightslaw: Michelle, I am not familiar with the concept of “open enrollment” in placements for children who receive special ed services. The federal special ed law (IDEA) requires your child’s IEP team to use her present levels of academic achievement and functional performance to develop the IEP and later to determine an appropriate placement. (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(A)(i))

After the IEP team develops the IEP, the team needs to address this question: “In what setting (placement) can we appropriately put this IEP into action?” If the school does not have an appropriate placement, it must create one.

Suggest that you read “10 Tips About Special Education Placements” by Pat Howey so the sequence of events re: placement decisions is clear in your mind.

Best of luck!

Chuck: Yes. IEPs are to have annual academic goals designed to enable the child to be involved in & make progress in general ed curriculum.

JM: Michelle – by “open enrollment,” do you mean that your child attended a school other than your “neighborhood school” or the school your child would typically be assigned?

Generally speaking, your child’s placement is not a specific classroom but rather a classroom that meets the specific characteristics set out in her IEP. As Wrightslaw noted, placement decisions are an answer to the question “in what setting can we appropriately put this IEP into action?”

So as long as the new classroom at the new school can meet those specific characteristics detailed in the IEP, it would NOT be considered a change of placement.

Your state may have guidance on how open enrollment impacts special ed placements and services, so also try googling that! That said, having an Team meeting to discuss your daughter’s impending transition would still be an excellent idea. Even though it may not be a change of placement, the move will surely bring changes for your daughter and there is no reason to not plan ahead for them with the help of the Team!

You could even ask for personnel from the new school to be present, such as the Team chair, teachers, or service provides. It would be a great opportunity to get to know them, give them a snapshot of your daughter and her strengths and challenges, and share your goals for her for the upcoming school year.

Sophie: In my district, once you are open enrolled, you have the right to continue in that school — the district recognizes that continuity is important. I would point out that this especially important for a special learner. Why don’t you make an appointment with the central administrator who oversees the open enrollment decisions? Bring a letter of support from your child’s doctor.

I’m surprised they’ve sent you that letter already. In my district, these decisions are made in late August, after they see how many last-minute registrations have come in. You could make a request under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) for the open enrollment application and acceptance figures for all the schools in the district, to get an idea what’s behind this nutty decision.


Donna: my son was placed in private placement due to schools inability to serve his special needs, he is thriving in his new school . How can I make sure the school will keep paying for private placement so he can finish out middle school ? They say now they can provide services but just making him deal with another change does not seem fair if I can prove success at current school? please help!! Thank you.

Nadine: Donna, What state are you in? I’m interested since you are sharing that the school couldn’t meet your son’s needs so he was placed in private school & from what I understand the school (public) has paid for it. Is this correct?


Mchelle: Can I make a request for a specific placement option for my child if I don’t agree with the school’s recommendation? How do I go about it? Who would I direct it to? Who is ultimately responsible for making decisions in the district regarding placement? I would love to hear anyone’s experience dealing with placement of their child. The district wants to place him in an out-of district Functional Class. where he doesn’t know anyone (and he is nonverbal). They told me there is an option to put him in the middle school a year early so he doesn’t have to transition again next year, as he is in 5th grade now. I want to know how to request the same accommodations only in our own district, as it would be emotionally better for him. He would be with a teacher that he’s had before and all his friends that he knows. The teacher is willing to teach him Functional skills as well as academic. I just think it would be the ultimate placement. Thanks in advance!

Wrightslaw: Michelle, Your state special education rules are on your State Department of Education page on the Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities. http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com/help/seas.htm

Your PTI will be in this listing: http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com/help/ptis.htm


Sheryl: Looking for outside placement from school. My 8th grade son has recently been hospitalized. Since coming back to school he has been sent home early 66% of the days for anxiety, crying in class, etc. Used to be A student, performer in musicals, soloist. Now can‚Äôt even get to school or look at homework for more than 5 minutes without melting down. Has quit music, band, everything. Want him in Therapeutic Day School, where he can access immediate clinical help when needed. School wants to put him in self-contained class. Need HELP with words on WHY self-contained not right for him> Anyone?? 🙂

Sophie: You need two things: (1) write down in your own words the detrimental effects of current state of affairs. This is painful but necessary. (2) you need a letter from a doctor or therapist supporting your position. This will be much stronger if the person writing the letter is prepared to attend a meeting with you. You should be prepared to pay the person for his/her time. Not all providers are willing to do this ‚so ask up front.


Jean:  When school agrees an outside placement is needed, don’t they have to provide at least 3 choices of where the student can go. Can the school only choose one site. (The cheapest school of course). Can a parent request testing before the 3 year evaluation time?

SharonL:  Jean, it is my understanding that you can request an evaluation once per year. If you want more the team has to approve.


Stan:  Can a placement be changed without rewriting the IEP yet? The school is moving my child to a less restrictive environment but an IEP has not been written. How long can he go without an IEP that reflects his placement?

SharonL:  Stan – Typically 30 days. Schedule a meeting if you don’t get one by then.

Placement:  Request for Specific Placement Option

Michelle: Can I make a request for a specific placement option for my child if I don’t agree with the school’s recommendation? How do I go about it? Who would I direct it to? Who is ultimately responsible for making decisions in the district regarding placement? I would love to hear anyone’s experience dealing with placement of their child. The district wants to place him in an out-of district Functional Class. where he doesn’t know anyone (and he is nonverbal). They told me there is an option to put him in the middle school a year early so he doesn’t have to transition again next year, as he is in 5th grade now. I want to know how to request the same accommodations only in our own district, as it would be emotionally better for him. He would be with a teacher that he’s had before and all his friends that he knows. The teacher is willing to teach him Functional skills as well as academic. I just think it would be the ultimate placement. Thanks in advance!

Chuck: The IEP team is to make the placement decision. The decision is not to be predetermined, based on administrative philosophy or convenience. For moves to more restrictive environments like in this situation, the team must answer specific questions relating to the move, e.g. What will be provided in the proposed setting that are not currently offered & why can they not be provided in the current placement. Help related to your state rules can assist you. You can find this at the Parent Training & Information (PTI) Center that serves your state. A list of these can be found at the bottom left of the website’s home page. This website also has great resources on least restrictive environment (LRE).

Placement:  PLACEMENT/IQ

Stan:  Is it acceptable to place a student from a different state in a special education program based on their previous records and IEP? Why are schools so dependent on IQ scores? Can they be the only assessment used in placement/eligibility?

SharonL:  Stan, if a child moves from one state to another the IEP that is being used will still hold until another one is written. The new school may want to do a re-evaluation but until then they must follow the existing IEP.

Chuck:  Stan, the IDEA regulations require that an evaluation be based on more than one test. Also the evaluators & tests used should vary based on the suspected disabilities (ED, vs, LD, vs OHI). Check the information on this website on evaluations. (On the home page see topics on the bottom left.)


Michelle: I need guidance on a change of placement issue. My son has autism and is at a special school for special needs. The school placed him here a year and a half ago. He is doing great. He was restrained and ran away twice from the public school. The school drafted a new IEP and the transportation was changed and the placement. They wanted me to sign but I wrote not agreeing with change of placement. I filed due process. Now their attorneys for the school are emailing. We have spoke to a mediator. The schools PWN was all lies about the meeting that we were acting up in the meeting. That his provider was coaching me. Do I need a lawyer? They just want us to take the scholarship. He is too scared to return there.

K.Ball: Michele, if you filed for a due process hearing,you should have an attorney. Most states sponsor advocacy programs, you should look one up. In Texas you can use Disability Rights Texas, just search for them.

Melissa: Michelle, Can you explain better? Where do you NOT want him to go? Where is the proposed placement?

If the PWN was incorrect, write a letter stating your point of view.


Rosa:  I need to know if the parents disagree with placement the school decides can the child be moved without parents consent. We have voiced our disagreement but attorney has not put stay orders in because just about the end of school confused

ASDmom:  Unfortunately the school system has the upper hand and can do what they want. Your only recourse is to exercise your rights under the Procedural Safeguards via Due Process to enforce stay put. Word of warning – not all Districts honor and/or DP Hearing Officers make them honor Stay Put. We had 2 seperate DP’s involving removal of an aide – DP filed to force Stay Put. With first DP school system honored stay put, with 2nd they did not (different district) and Hearing Officer didn’t make them. HO said that what constituted as Stay Put and if appropriate were all for him to decide at a hearing. Not right but….


Jodi:  Our daughter has a classification of EBD. She has bipolar disorder and is 13. She has been in a point/level system for 5 years which basically has meant that she has to “earn” her way into regular ed classes and priveleges such as eating lunch with reg ed peers. She is placed in an alternative high school and spends half of her day with other EBD kids, all boys. We want to unilaterally remove her from this placement and place her in a nearby charter school. We will want our home district to pay for transportation. Besides giving 10 day notice, is there anything else we need to do? Thank you.

Morning:  Jodi, is the school district willing to work with you? It seems your daughter is making some progress and hopefully will not have to earn her way so much. Before you make that move–consult an advocate so you will understand her rights and what that may mean legally. Transition for a student in EBD must be carefully planned so then child does not fall apart. Some of my peers who work in EBD or similar programs question mixing boys and girls in such programs especially when they are young. Theynget more concerned about mixing them sexes when they get older. How has that worked out for your daughter over the years? I hope it all works out for you.

Nancy:  Jodi, if the charter school is part of the school district, it should provide the transportation. However the more important question is should you remove your child from a structured program to move into one with less structure? Students with EBD need structure and if it is going to be removed, it should be removed gradually. Make sure the receiving school has the appropriate set up for you child and can implement her behavior intervention plan or there could be problems. Traditionally, charter schools do not deal well with behavior. One reason is that the teachers may not have the training to do this adequately. Also, look at your school’s program and make sure she is getting FAPE, LRE and that her BIP is being implemented. In some states, special ed money is being used to keep class size down in regular ed.


Melissa:  Is there anything in the law about having a kindergarten student in with all 2-5th graders in the special education classroom?

Chuck: IDEA regs do not address this. This may be discussed by your state’s education law and regulations. You may be able to find it on the website of the state education agency or check with your state’s Parent Training & Information Center.


Debbie:  My son is 51/2 and evaluated by the school as having autism. He is in the special ed class 40% of his time and mainstreamed the rest of the time which we think is working well for him. He is very smart academically (reading 3rd grade) but now school says he is not answering in class . we dont have autism program in our school so we need to move him to another school where he will be with other kids on spectrum . We as parents want him to continue this and getting pressured by school as they change what they say to suit their needs. Can the school force us to do this ? they say they dont have resources to help him so can we request for aide for him in mainstream class?? please help me i am really desperate as he is on mild end of spectrum and I want him to be mainstreamed as much as possible ..

Sandy: Debbie, remind them of the law’s LRE (least restrictive environment) provisions. Your child has the right to go to his home school WITH appropriate supports unless that cannot be achieved. So if an aide would help, that is less restrictive than moving him to a different school. You can learn more about LRE at Wrightslaw, and you can also contact your state’s parent training information center (PTI) or protection & advocacy agency (P&A) for more info – good luck!


Kimberly: What is the law regarding a parent changing their mind after signing consent for a change of placement. the parent felt rushed into it without being given hardly any information regarding where the actual school was, and it is far enough away where they are not comfortable sending their child on the bus for that distance. The IEP was this past wednesday and the start date for the change is Tuesday of next week. It’s labor day weekend, so the parent feels they don’t have a choice but to keep their child home from school Tuesday because they were told if they send him on the bus, he WILL be going to the new placement…. even if the mother offers to drive him to his original placement. I thought by law a parent has the right to revoke consent any time and the school has to honor it? They will be holding another meeting Wednesday,

SharonL:  Kimberly, we accidentally signed a change of placement for our son being told he did not qualify for spec ed anymore 7 was essentially “cured” from learning disablity. Can you imagine a school psych telling us that? In order to revoke the IEP that we signed we had to go get an outside evaluation paid for by the school with recommendations from the tester that even though he did not technically meet the discrepency to be in spec ed it would be a great disservice to mainstream him. (the descrepency score was used at the time my son was in grade school). Since my son was still in school the new IEP did not go into effect until the next school year so we had time to do this & we did prove our case & the school change the placement back. Your school will be breaking the law if they don’t honor the new IEP so you will need to work fast.


Anne:  I’ve been told that if a school is incapable of properly educating one of it’s students, then the district is responsible for placing that student in the nearest school with the proper capabilities at their cost, including transportation. Is this true and if so, where do I find the law?

Patricia:  Anne, you are right if a school district can not provide for the childs needs then you can send them to another school on the present schools dime. I would look at the IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It might be where you can find this information.


Dennis:  My wife and I disagree with our son’s placement for the new school year. Our biggest issue is the room size (very small) and location. Our son is classified as SID and wheel chair bound. Can any one give us the ADA requirements for class room size in sq ft per student? Also it is a self contained class so would the restroom need to be handicapped accessible? Also in a special needs class does there have to be more than one emergency exit? This is a newly created class and the school used the old teachers lounge for the new special needs classroom. It is approximately 100′ to the nearest exit, with 4 wheel bound kids and one autistic child and 1 teacher and 3 aids this distance seems excessive?

Kaye:  Dennis, I do not have all the answers to your questions, but I did want to mention something that may help. We created a safety plan for our daughter (with autism) and as part of that safety plan, there is a paragraph that specifically assigns who will take care of her during emergency situations. She has a 1:1 para so that was fairly simple. However, in your case, I would ask what their plans are for moving several children outside and ask whether there is a time where aides are out of the classroom and unable to assist. I would ask that they put a fire/tornado/emergency safety plan IN WRITING and for you to receive a copy of it. Denis:  Thank you Kaye, we had not thought of that, but at our next IEP that will certainly be on the agenda! And, we have found out that in the state of Ga, the minimum classroom size is 38sq. ft. per child with other requirements…if this helps anyone!


John:  What is the maximum class size for self-contained mild and moderate ID students in Virginia? The Regulations state that “no more than 10 students shall be assigned to a single class period when there are varying achievement levels.” However, this falls under the caseload standard section. Are they talking about caseload or class size?

Wrightslaw:  John, it looks like you have already researched the VA regulations. Use this contact information found on the Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids for VA. Email or call and ask for the clarification you need about caseload / class size. When you get an answer, please let us know – we will post it for others.

Virginia Department of Education
P. O. Box 2120
James Monroe Building
101 North 14th Street
Richmond, VA 23218-2120
Phone: (804) 786-9412 or (804) 786-8079
Toll-Free: (800) 292-3820
Toll-Free Restrictions: VA residents only
Fax: (804) 371-2455
Email: charlie.makela | at | doe.virginia.gov
Web: http://www.pen.k12.va.us/
Special Education
State Regs: 8VAC20-81 – Regulations Governing Special Education Programs


SuzyP:  My son has ADHD and has a 504 plan and in 5th grade at our local public elementary school. Next Fall he will begin middle school. We have 3 middle schools in town, 1 of them is a Stem middle school where all kids need to apply and are picked in a lottery. My understanding is that because my son is on a 504 plan, he has the right by law to receive a free, appropriate, public education. So why is it that the Board of Ed and the Stem principal tell me “You can’t pick and choose which middle school he will go to, he has to apply and be in the lottery like everyone else. The other 2 middle schools will accomodate his 504 plan as they do now with other adhd students”. I do not agree with this am I wrong?I told them my son would benefit from the Stem program because it’s hands on learning he is an A student, they are denying him stem education

Jennifer:  From the way I understand the law, it is there to give your son equal access and opportunity to education. If the school were to exempt your son from the lottery and automatically put him in the STEM school, that would be preferential treatment, not equal opportunity.


Peg:  if a district proposes a placement during the annual review (which took place in the summer) and we (the parents) do not agree does the ‚Äústay put‚Äù would the last placement be the summer placement. New York

JG:  The stay put placement (and services) is generally the one described in the last agreed-upon IEP.

I’m not sure what you mean by summer placement. If you mean extended school year (ESY) services (that was intended to last during the summer or other school break), this would be the stay put service in a dispute that involves ESY.

If you mean a placement that was intended to last beyond the summer into the school year, that would be the stay put placement.

Note that stay put protections vary by state. Some states read this right leniently, and parents have stay put protections during ANY special ed dispute. Other states (and it looks like this includes NY) apply the right only if mediation or a due process hearing have been requested.

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Linda:  I have a duly executed Limited Power of Attorney of Educational Decisions, which specifically list IEP evaluations, testing and reviews. I am an attorney (not education law) and thought that the initial evaluation would be conducted on 1/26/12. However, the school refused to do an initial evaluation w/o the parent present. The school stated that they could only go forward if the parent were present. The parent works on AMTRAK is often away. This is my God daughter who often lives with me (goes between both homes). Are there legal grounds to force the school to proceed with IEP evaluations/test w/o the mother being present?

Joe:  Linda, I am an attorney as well and know of no legal requirement under the IDEA for a parent to be present. But there is definitely a legal requirement that the evaluation be conducted. I would provide a ‘consent’ of some sort stating that the evaluation can be conducted without parents present and it might be good to even include some ‘present levels of performance’ (what the child can do now in certain areas). The school cannot delay evaluation – as it appears they are trying to do – because a parent is not in attendance. Sorry, I see that you already have authority via LPOA. Under the ‘child find’ provision of the IDEA, it includes “locating, identifying, AND evaluating” the child. All three are required to comply with ‘child find’ requirements.

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Preschool / Part C:  PART C SERVICES

Jessica:  My 2 year old son has Down Syndrome. He recieves SLP, OT, & PT all for 3x month for 30 minutes and EI 2x month for 30 minutes. At the IFSP meeting yesterday I was told that the therapists are seeing him together for thier services–for example, the SLP and PT are going together each week for 30 minutes. Is this legal? To my way of thinking, if therapists go together, they should spend 60 minutes with my son. What are the guidelines for services in the Part C Program?

Estelle:  Jessica, tell them no. They are abusing the system and double paying. Once In a while is ok but tell them no. They have separate goals that is not fair to the child. If they want to know what everyone is working on that is what the review is for.


Stacy T:  The public developmental preschools in our area require that our son show deficiencies in at least two areas before he can attend. Our son has verbal apraxia and cannot speak, will require years of intensive therapy to learn. He also receives OT for sensory processing and regulatory issues, but the school district does not recognize these issues as disabilities. He does not have gross or fine motor skill issues or social issues, and he is extremely gifted cognitively, at 2 years old tests at a 5 year old level. The school district has programs for kids with apraxia but he can’t access them unless he has something else wrong with him that they “recognize.” Is this legal, and if it is, is there anything I can do or any diagnosis I can receive to circumvent it? Thank you!

Sandy:  In IL (and perhaps other states), speech therapy is considered “specialized education.” Here, a child with verbal apraxia and OT needs does qualify for Early Childhood preschool (my child was exactly like this and attended EC through the district). Sounds like your child should qualify under IDEA’s SLI (speech/language impaired) category – or whatever your state calls it – and then OT and all other needs would be included. Depends on specific state issues – which I can’t address – but this sounds bogus to me. Ask to see the laws/regs/policies IN WRITING that preclude your child from eligibility.


Anne: Must a team developing an IEP for a child transitioning from Part C to Part B consider the services provided and progress in the Part C program when determining goals and services in an IEP? That is, where a child has been receiving Part C services (in a preschool classroom) and has a history of progress (or lack thereof) at a certain level of services, in the same areas identified as a need in an IEP, must the team consider that in determining whether a proposed IEP (in this case containing fewer supports and service hours) is reasonably calculated to provide educational benefit? Team is saying it is entirely irrelevant because Part B is “different.”

JG: Anne –Sounds like you are have issues with transition. First I want to suggest that you get in touch with your local parent center, which can be a great resource: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.

As part of the evaluation process and while developing the IEP, the Team *must* give due consideration to any and all information provided to them by you for that purpose.

Traditionally, districts are asked to give particular deference to Part C info (assessments, IFSPs, etc.). But any info/data that describes your child’s “functional, developmental, and academic” progress should be considered especially relevant. [34 CFR § 300.304, 300.305, 300.324]

But that consider, unfortunately, is the extent of the Team’s obligation.


Jennifer: My daughter is two and a half and has Down syndrome. We are about to graduate from Early On and the only preschool option our district provides is a segregated classroom. Currently our district has no public preschool classrooms into which we could request that she be placed. What can I do to insure that she will be in an inclusive environment during her preschool years?

Chuck: Jennifer, this is such a common situation that in 2012 the federal Dept of Education issued a letter to state education agencies & public schools giving them guidance on dealing with it. You can find info on this letter & issue at: https://www.specialeducationadvisor.com/dear-colleague-least-restrictive-environment-applies-to-preschool/


Discouraged: Can anyone point me in the direction of any case law regarding early intervention? The EI system in NJ is so poor and the professionals so grossly inept, they have cost us years in terms of our son’s development and, ultimately, have created an educational deficit by failing to follow the correct procedures regarding transition to Part B. They conducted an M-CHAT on our son during his initial evaluation and never told us! He failed! Subsequently, we did not know to ask for an autism diagnostic from our developmental pediatrician, so she didn’t do one, and we were delayed a year in getting the proper eval and diagnosis. Further, although all of our providers have subsequently admitted to having suspicions our son was on the spectrum, none told us, because they (EI) “are not a diagnostic model” and, thus, no one felt they needed to tell.

Take Action: Early Intervention Case Law is rare, but this website, http://www.apalnow.com/news/, has two findings relevant to this case. The State of NJ is hiding critical information about Autism from parents during the most critical years of development. Now there is proof.


SC: I am a PA resident. My 4 year old son has an IEP and was diagnosed with unspecified ADHD. He was asked to leave his last preschool because they didn’t have the resources for him and they didn’t want to pay to hire another teacher to help him. He is now in a different preschool (another day care setting) and receives TSS services on a daily basis. However, the school does not find the TSS helpful and advised that they may need to discontinue his enrollment. This will be the 2nd preschool that expels him. Can someone let me know if private day care/preschool settings are supposed to provide?

Sophie:  I would suggest that you take a couple of hours off work one day to make a fly-on-the-wall observation of your son in his current preschool. Some preschools are very, very good at handling ADHD. It’s possible that the current school is simply asking that the TSS services be suspended because they feel they can handle your son’s needs better without those outside services being brought in. Of course, there are many other possibilities, for example, the TSS services provider is very good and gets on the preschool teacher’s nerves. Who knows, without going in to observe.

Note that you may temporarily suspend services without the service having to be removed from the IEP document.

Cathy:  What is TSS? Private preschools are under no mandate to provide services. The school district does, however. They may have a program for him, or be able to provide supports to the private preschool. Depending on your son’s behavior, day care in a home setting might need his needs better.

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Prior Written Notice (PWN): PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE

GGIrl: Does anyone know if there is a specific timeline (30 days, etc.) in providing parents with Prior Written Notice. We did not sign my child’s IEP due to a disagreement over ESY Services and it has been 30 days since the meeting. We have not received a final copy of the IEP the district has signed and implemented, and we have not received Prior Written Notice. All I have is an e-mail from Spec. Ed. Director stating they are compiling educational data and will meet with us again prior to the end of the school year. Based on report card just sent home and the IEP Progress Reports, they are stacking the deck against us and my daughter loses AGAIN! Does anyone know if there is a specific timeline. I have looked everywhere and cannot find the answer. Thank you!

Veronica:  GGirl, I don’t know if there is a timeline, I looked in my Wrightslaw sped law book and didn’t see one. Your state may have some requirements, so check your state spec ed regulations. But this article by Pete Wright says not to wait on the school to provide you with PWN. He explains how to write a sample letter documenting what you requested and the school refused to do. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/pwn.throw.flag.htm Also check this article. We’ve learned never to go to an IEP meeting without this form, it has worked really well for us.

SharonL:  GGirl, we usually received prior written notice within the week of the meeting. Your case sounds critical. YOu can always try one more meeting to get what your children need. If you still believe you are being stonewalled you may have to hire an attorney or advocate to help. Remember each day that goes by is a day lost. I fully understand how you feel. We prevailed in a due process case once and the school never treated us the same. It became impossible to fully get services for our children. We ended up moving to a new school district altogether. Sad but true.


Melody: School has proposed to have someone work with my child but has not given a time when they will begin and when I ask they just say they will let me know. I have requested PWN on that proposal, and I am wondering if they have a certain time in which they must respond, should the PWN be a separate statement from the IEP or is it embedded into the IEP, and does PWN provide a timeframe that a proposal will begin?

JG: Melody –The obligation for the school to provide prior written notice can be tricky to navigate.

Under IDEA, the school must provide parents with written notice whenever they propose or refuse to initiate or change a student’s identification, evaluation, placement, or the “provision of FAPE.” That last part basically means to initiate/change an IEP. You don’t say whether the service they’re proposing is intended to be included in the IEP. If it is not, the school likely has no obligation to provide you with notice.

If it is to be included in the IEP, according to IDEA, the school must provide you with notice with a “reasonable” amount of time. IDEA, unfortunately, does not define what reasonable is.

The notice must include a description of the proposed/refused action, why it is being proposed/refused, what info the Team used to make the decision, other options considered by the Team, and any other factors relevant to the decision.

Although IDEA does not explicitly require that the notice list when a proposed service will start, this information is often included in the description. This information IS required to be included in the IEP.

The commentary to the IDEA 2004 regulations suggest that the IEP *could* be used as the notice, if it contains all the necessary info. In practice, however, I’ve never seen this happen – usually the notice accompanies a copy of the proposed IEP or IEP amendment. Again, if a copy of the IEP is included (or it is used as the notice), that WILL list when the Team proposes for the service to start.

Your state may have it’s own rules regarding prior written notice. Many do set out specific time lines – either through state regulations or guidance that interprets the IDEA regulations. Your local parent center (http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/) can help you understand what applies in your state.

Wrightslaw:  Melody, good questions. PWN is a legal (procedural) safeguard to help parents and kids. It’s intended to prevent schools from doing what you describe – “We’ll let you know . . .” then dragging their feet on providing a needed service, even though they agreed to do this.

You need to write a letter to the team. Describe your child and his difficulties, what you requested, why, when, and what the school agreed to do, what happened next (nothing?) If I understand your comment, the school proposed to have “someone” work with your child. In your letter, you can ask who will help, when will the help start?

Here is a link to an article we wrote about Safeguards and PWN that includes a sample letter that you can tailor to your circumstances: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/pwn.throw.flag.htm

Keep us posted!

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Tiffany:  I recently had a parent-teacher meeting with the gen. ed and co-teacher about my daughter’s IEP progress reports, accommodations, and modifications in the classroom. After being in class for a month and a half she was reported on a P3 which is a good progress and a step away from mastering the objective. I asked the gen. ed teacher how do you start at a P3 within the first six weeks of school and he replied he didn’t know what a P3 was because he doesn’t report for the IEP that is the SPED teacher job. My daughter hasn’t been receiving her services or modifications in this class. The teacher told me they just started doing small group administration a month and a half ago. They told me I can’t go back to the first 6wks because they weren’t modifying her work but reported a P3. I asked for data but didn’t receive it yet. What should I do?

SharonL:  Tiffany, put the request for data in writing. It sounds like they messed up & they need to get back on track. If you get no results request an IEP meeting to discuss. Bring a professional that may help clarify the situation.


Vickie: Hi, I have an 8 year old son. We adopted him at age 4. He has a complicated history and a dx of PTSD due to Child Trauma. He has had an IEP since PreK. He repeated Kindergarten and just finished 1st grade. He has not progressed academically and is below grade level standards with accommodations. He has a high level of anxiety and sensory issues which lead to behaviors such as avoidance, non compliance, outbursts and fight or flight. These behaviors are obstacles to his learning. He is currently in a self contained classroom. 5 students, a spec Ed teacher and two paraprofessionals. I am very worried about his lack of progress. The teachers place all the blame on his behavior. He is not learning because he doesn’t want to learn. I have asked for an updated evaluation but it is not going well due to his inability or unwillingness to answer many of the questions. He learns at home, completes assignments at home. What happens to him if an evaluation for his IEP is discontinued for lack of his compliance? I am so stressed. He cannot continue going to school and not progressing. He is a smart boy. He knows way more than he can show on a test.

Chuck: Schools have a responsibility to deal with behavior issues for students with disabilities. This means positive behavioral supports & teaching them replacement behaviors, not punishment. If the campus administration is not willing to address his behavior & lack of progress, you may need to talk with district sp ed administration.


Anne:  My child’s school says she’s not eligible for an IEP because she’s “making effective progress” making good grades. I’ve had an Independent evaluation done that recommends an IEP, direct specific instruction in several areas, yet the school will only work with a 504 and accommodations that are currently in place. We live in Massachusetts and this is her second school. Her previous school that she attended K-4 took the same position. Now, in 5th grade, at a new school, here we are again. What can I do now? I feel strongly that she may be not retaining information long-term and therefore not really learning.

Sharon:  Anne, it is so discouraging when the school does this. The school should take the outside evaluation into consideration. As children age the discrepency between intelligence and performance usually gets further apart and you are right to help her get services now so she does not continually fall behind. Even though the law no longer requires the use of the discrepency score ask the person who did the evaluation to go over the discrepency scores with you. If there is a descrepency between intelligence and performance you can use that to determine eligibility for services. The school will tell you they don’t have to use this anymore and they are right but they can use it. If they just don’t cooperate get a prior written notice from them as to why and you may have to consider legal action.

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Anne:  My 18 year old son is quadriplegic with severe TBI, so school services are home based. Following a 4 year history of inconsistent PT services, I located my own within a contracted agency this summer. The district wants to place someone else who doesn’t meet my son’s needs. They will not communicate with me directly about this but to tell me who was already assigned. Meanwhile, this is now the 5th week without PT services, including vacation and I fear extreme regression. Has anyone encountered this issue? Do I have a choice? TIA!

Wrightslaw: Anne, Are your son’s PT services well defined in an IEP? If so, the school needs to make up any missed time on items required in your son’s IEP and/or provide a qualified substitute. Does the PT therapist the school chose have the qualifications to meet your son’s needs? Can you document why not? Interrupting or failing to make-up missed services could constitute a denial of FAPE. The school needs to follow the IEP. The school should follow the designated time stated in the IEP or make it up. Parent Advocate Sharon Lutz offers advice about Making Up Missed Therapy Sessions here: https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=5147

Read this article for information, tips, options about how to handle this issue.


Mary:  My grandson was denied PT services which he has always had even though his strength and agility was in the 18th percentile in the Bruininks-Osteretsky Test of Motor Agility. His body coordination was in the 38th percentile. The school says he is able to participate and make use of his education, so he can’t get any more help. He has an autism spectrum disorder and can’t even take a walk with us because his legs start to hurt and his stamina is terrible. Can they deny him this?

Sophie:  Mary –

1) quicker approach (if it works): a letter stating the reasons the child needs PT in order to access his education (including extracurricular activities). You might need to do some observing in school to get more specific info.

2) if that doesn’t work, get an outside PT evaluation. Ideally, the evaluator will (a) observe the child in the school setting as part of the eval, and (b) attend the meeting with you.

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Kim:  Is there a NJ law that states that a specific reading program does not have to written into an IEP? School is offering Wilson but wants me to sign an amendment that only says Supplemental Reading Program. I was told by law they do not have to list program.

SharonL:  Kim, we had problems getting a specific reading program for our son. The school agreed to put the criteria of the specific program in the IEP. It was written so that the only program that would meet this criteria was the Wilson reading program so that worked. After the law changed, the school put the Wilson reading program or Alphabethic Phonics program in the IEP. The only thing they would not do is put a specific teacher’s name in the IEP.

Veronica:  Sharon, how did you get the school to agree to do this? I’m confused about whether or not they are required by law to name the program – but even so, they won’t always agree. We have had no success getting what we want written in the IEP – I think because the school doesn’t have the program we want. They want to use the program they already have.

SharonL:   Veronica, the law now allows for a specific reading program to be included in the IEP and you are right, they don’t have to agree. We used the testing to prove that my son did not receive FAPE. We requested a multifactored evaluation from the school. They performed the test in 60 days. AFter we got the results it was obvious that the reading program they were using was not working and he progressed in reading less than 6 months in the last two years. We had a multifactored evaluation done two years in a row which is allowable by law and it is a document that can be used in court and they know it because it is a standardized test. We found an outside tutor that did an evaluation on my son and after her test we requested that they put her program on the list and they agreed.

Melissa:  Kim and Sharon, I would think that if it is an Orton-Gillingham approach to reading then a specific program name such as Wilson is not necessary. Wilson is a great Orton based program so is Project Read and several others. Are you looking to have Wilson named because it has proven to work with your child? or should the IEP state that a multi-sensory approach based on Orton-Gillingham be listed on the IEP?


Lorie:  My son is in the seventh grade. He was diagnosed with Dyslexia last year. Before his diagnosis he had two years in a reading intervention class. He made very little progress. Last week I used an informal test that showed his reading to be at late third grade., while his teacher found that he is at the sixth grade level. Is there anything else I can do? We are in a rural area with few options.

Morning:  What assessments were used to diagnose him with dyslexia? What recommendations were made with that diagnoses? What assessments are the school using? This is where you do some research on Wrightslaw about reading assessments. Also, I know people who use the web based Lexia home program as they are in school districts with few resources. It is hard to believe that some districts cannot or will not fully service students. I would, after doing research, sit down with the teacher and have a long talk. If she is looking at lexile levels, be careful as other assessments should explored. Many well intentioned teachers mislead parents by only looking at lexile levels. Have they explored assistive technology? What are your son’s goals after high school? I hope this helps.

SharonL:  Lorie, request a copy of the testing that was used on your child so you can see what they are talking about. Have a meeting and get a copy and then take it to a professional who can help you decipher it. I usually do not understand the tests unless someone explains them to me. You can always request a formal reading evaluation in writing from the school. Be sure to sign their request form otherwise they are not required to get done in any amount of time. Once you sign their form they have 60 days. The school should go over the results. If you do not agree with the results you may request an outside evaluation at the school’s expense. The school must consider the outside evaluation. Once you request all of this they will probably become more cooperative.

Lorie:  Sharon L, thank you for your input. I watched the teacher give the test to my son. She reminded him to use his strategies and gave him lots of time to try to figure out the words he struggled with. I asked for and received a copy of the tests she administered. Am I allowed to request another test when it was just a test to check his improvement in a 6-week intervention class, that my husband and I insisted on? It wasn’t a full evaluation and I’m afraid they are going to use the results at his next IEP meeting to determine what he needs next. Thanks, Lorie

SharonL:  Lorie, you stated that the test was “informal”. Requesting a test now would be a “formal” standardized test. This will be the kind of test that could hold up in a court of law if you needed to do this later on. There is a certain protocol for a formal test, etc and yes you are well within your rights to request a test like this. If they ask why you can state that you want a standardized testing process. You also have the right to an outside evaluation by a professional at the school’s expense if you do not agree with their formal test when they do it. IF they refuse anything you need to request that it be put in writing. This is called “prior written notice”. Once you learn some of these terms and how to request tests, deal with the school, etc it will become easier.

Morning:  How can progress be demonstrated after only six weeks? What is the intervention program? I have contacted the publshers of the reading programs that were used with my child to better understand progress monitoring and fidelity checks. In one case, I was able to demonstrate at a PPT meeting that the district’s implementation of a SBRI was wrong for my child and they changed the way they implemented the program. I had called the publisher to inquire and get guidance. The publisher guided me to the consultants and the district had to make changes to insure that my child would make progress. They also use several assessments to monitor reading and fluency.


Susan:  My 8 yr old has been diagnosed with convergence insufficiency. This explains all our struggles with reading. Now I need to get her the needed therapy to correct the problem so she can process and read correctly. The public school in SC she attends has never heard of this disability. Does anyone have any experience with dealing with this problem and what can I expect from the school?

Sandy:  Usually treatment (vision therapy) is handled by a developmental optometrist. I believe there is some case law (out of Florida?) addressing the school’s obligation to provide VT. But it’s a new area of disability/treatment and I’d expect the school to balk at providing such treatment. You may want to consult your state’s parent training information center and/or protection & advocacy agency or hire an attorney/advocate for help. Good luck!


Becky:  My daughter is in the 9th grade, she is dyslexic, and on a 5th grade reading level. What are some good specific reading programs that I could request for her at her next iep meeting. I’ve heard of the Wilson Reading Program but I wasn’t sure if there was a more age appropreiate program available.

Morning:  Becky, you bring up a great point that centers on age approopriate readng programs. I have found that some older kids are very resistant to Wilosn as it seems laborious to them even by the most well trained teachers. In my opinion, monitoring progress is key with a program that is implemented with fidelity. For my child who is dyslexic, Read 180 works well. She is making progress. Wilson would be better, but she is older (high school) and only wanted Read 180 as she did not want to continue Wilson. She is happy and thrilled. She has gained confidence. She wanted something that was age appopriate and not 1-1. Each child is different and many factors must considered for the older child.


Julie: I have a son in 2nd grade with ADHD and Dyslexia who has been receiving spec educ for 1.4 years in reading. In the classroom, he is testing at first Q_1st grade for reading and last Q_Kindergarten for writing. We had a private assessment done which showed he is 1 to 3 SD below the mean for read/writ. They tell us that “he is making progress” and he is a “slow learner”. He has not moved a single reading level in the past 10 months. The school only uses reading mastery as their curric. and refuse to change. We hired a private tutor who uses the wilson method and he has shown a little progress in a short time. This proves to us that the curric is the problem. Any advice on how to get the school to accept they need a new method to teach our child?

SharonL: Julie, We got the school to accept paying for an outside tutor to teach our dyslexic son who was 6 years behind in reading. She used the Wilson method & the Alphabetic PHonics reading method & now he is reading at college level. He is 23 now. At 15 he was reading at first grade. We requested an evaluation from the school that showed that he did not progress in reading over a period of the entire school year with extensive help. Unfortunately my son had to show failure in order to prove he needed a different reading approach. I had the tutor that the school ended up paying for do an assessment & it showed that David could improve by the program. The school agreed to sending my son to her because no one in the school could provide the service & paid for transportation. I think it was cheaper for them to do this than to go to court.


Kristie:  Is this legal? If I request my son be seen by a reading specialist do they have to provide one? They have him in a support class, but teacher has no certifications in reading, just Special Ed. IEP list this support class as the plan for bringing him up to grade. They’ve been working on this same plan for 4 years with little improvement. How do we force them to try new tactics?

Chuck: I suggest contacting your state parent training & information project. They will know your state rules, & be able to assist you. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

JG:  Kristie – You can’t really “force” the district to try something new. Your best bet is to try to convince them with solid evidence.

I suggest that you get a quality independent evaluation to back up your claims about lack of progress. The evaluation should include, if possible, classroom observations, a records review, and teacher input. The evaluation report should contain clearly recommendations on how to best serve your child.

Report in hand, you will be in a better place to convince the district of what your son’s needs are. And if that doesn’t work the report will be of good use to use if you choose to pursue dispute resolution options.

As Chuck suggested, your local parent center could be a good support for you in this.

Sophie:  I’m not knowledgeable enough about requirements — perhaps you could ask your parent center about this.

One small idea I can contribute would be to take a close look at the goals in the IEP. Could you ask around and find a good tutor to evaluate their goals and help you draft some better ones?

Some special ed teachers are better than others. There are also some really good general ed teachers out there. Perhaps you could ask other parents what teachers in your school really know what they’re doing.


Deanna: I asked for reading intervention through special ed in 4th grade, 6th, and 8th. I was denied and have had to struggle with 504 implementation for years. I filed a complaint with district last year and they did nothing. My son is now a sophomore and they have identified him as reading at a sixth grade level. Do I have an recourse whatsoever? My communications are in writing and i have kept detailed records.

Morning: Deanna, I would not wait for the school. I would pay to have an independent evaluation as well as an AT evaluation. Is this the best approach? My concern is focused on the child. If that was my son–my goal is to ensure that no more time is wasted on a school system that has failed him. You can call a local university to get more information on the latest technology for struggling readers. My child attended a transition fair and the local colleges have amazing support for students with disabilities. Hire an advocate and research your rights. The school district has failed but you need guidance through an advocate or an attorney. If your son wants to attend college or have skills after high school, you need to develop a strategy with transition planning. I would hire an advocate.


Karen: Any one know any books about dyslexia? When writing or typing, my son tends to mix the last letters up. Not always, but often. How do you know if he has dyslexia?

Chuck: Karen, check the International Dyslexia Association’s website, http://www.interdys.org/ & the National Center for Learning Disabilities, http://www.ncld.org Also Decoding Dyslexia, http://www.decodingdyslexia.net Also look at the 10/10 & 10/14/13 blogs on dyslexia on Wrightslaw blog.


Marcey: Is the school responsible or is my son “not utilizing the resources being given to him” regarding him being 14 year old and reading at a 4th grade level? My son has had an IEP since Kindergarten, was in 12:1:1 until the 7th, when he was thrown into “integrated” classrooms. His reading has not improved at all since he was last tested over 3 years ago. It was only after I begged that they re-evaluated him after 3 years. My son is to the point to where he feels it is “too late” to catch up. He has claimed the class clown role. this helps divert attention away from his below standard academic level. I have been told pretty much it is that my son is lazy and is not utilizing the resources that the IEP has put in place for him. I beg to differ. I felt we were bullied at the last IEP meeting, and now we have moved to try a different school ??

Chuck: Marcey, your son is not being provided FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education). If the new school does not develop a program to address reading, you have the right to use the state’s “dispute resolution” options. You can also ask for an assistive technology evaluation. Computers can read material to struggling readers, to help them in learning the curriculum.

SharonL: Marcey, I am not sure what “resources” he has not been using & it is the school’s responsibility to teach him to read using whatever method works. My son was 14 before we (parents, not the school) found a tutor through a list from the International Dyslexia Assoc. (IDA). She tested & taught him to read using Wilson and Alphabetic Phonics. He thought he could never learn & that it was too late. We proved that the school did not give FAPE (I think this has happened to your son) & they paid for a 1:1 tutor 1 1/2 hours per day 5 days per week. My son read at 10th grade level when he was 20. He walked with grad class & went 1 additional year to school. He is now in college, a place he thought would be inaccessible. He uses a program that reads to him on computer.

MORNING: My dyslexic child who is now in high school went through a similar experience. I can say, without a doubt, that a motivated student with the appropriate reading intervention and invested teachers/tutors can learn to read. Older students can easily give up. When the adults/ teachers/ parents/tutors, etc. are willing to help, older students can make progress if they are motivated. Work through the process as Chuck suggested. My child is reading at a much higher level and also uses assistive technology. Get the AT eval. Know that smart phones and apps offer many levels of AT that teenagers can relate to. My child uses Kurzweil and some interesting apps when needed. The smart phones and tablets offer a lot of AT options. Apple products offer many options.


Josefina:  My daughter has been diagnosed with PDD-Nos, ADHD, apraxia and dyslexia. I have requested permission from our school district for her to miss a couple of hours a day (in the morning) to attend reading classes. The SD has indicated that this is not possible. We live in TX. Children with autism are allowed to be excused for ABA, OT, and speech services. What can I do in this case?

Catherine:  Josefina in TX, check your state DOE Regs. You can enroll your child for half day or partial day of school. Most states require that your child be engaged in academics for a certain number of hours… even home schooled kids. SO, reregister your child as attending partial day public school and take her to the reading tutoring. Best to write it all up and Petition your school BOARD, not the Principal at your local school. Also, before doing all that make sure the current school has given you a PWN( prior written notice) declining your request to have your daughter go to special reading tutoring. Make it clear whom you expect to be paying for the reading instruction. This may be why the current school is hesitant. They may think you are going to ask for reimbursement. are you?

Chuck:  Josefina, unfortunately as you note, the TX law only allows for excused absences for certain activities for students w/ autism. If the reading does not fall under any of the allowed categories, your basic option is to try to negotiate with the principal and the spec ed director. Schools take attendance for state funding purposes around 10-10:30 am. If you can avoid this time, then taking him out would not lose the school any funding which may be a concern to them. I work for the TX Parent Training & Information Center & we can try to assist you, if you want to contact me.

Chuck:  Catherine & Josefina, unfortunately TX rules only require dual enrollment for 3 and 4 year olds. However, the school could allow this, since they are allowed to develop their rules for excused and unexcused absences. Students come and go from medical visits frequently.

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Danni:  Several parents have expressed to me that:

1. Their child has special needs and falls under the special needs umbrella, with an IEP in place.
2. They have doctors’ orders for speech therapy, OT, music therapy and/or other behavioral-related therapies.
3. While, many of them are on waiting lists to get therapy appointment slots for after school hours, others may be taking time off from work or having other family members pick up their child, take them to therapy and then return them to school.

*Many of these students also receive therapy services at school, in addition to receiving services outside of school, by third-party providers.

They were told that the excuses that they bring back to school are no longer counted as “excused absences” and with enough unexcused absences, they face being reported to social services.

Chuck:  It is important to know how the state education law & regs define excused & unexcused absences. Schools may have a little or a lot of ability to define excused/unexcused absences. TX schools have a lot of freedom. Parents of children with autism were concerned about the therapy issue. A law was passed here that that says if a child with autism goes to therapy during the day, but attends school that day, it is an excused absence.
Learn the state & local rules on absences. It is not uncommon for campus staff to not follow district procedures.


Connie:  have a 5 year old autistic son. He needs communication skills and adaptive skills. Here is my problem the speech therapist will only give him 30 minutes a week for speech and the OT is also doing his time when she does speech. Can I not ask for two 30 minutes session a week. She says she can’t do twice a week. I am having another meeting next week to discuss this…HELP

Marge:  Service needs are based on defining deficits with data and identifying individual goals, not someone’s schedule. How often does the child need therapy and for how long to meet those goals? Caseload is usually the number of students, so one for 15 minutes a week counts the same as one for 30 minutes twice a week-why should agree to more work? Because it’s needed. Sometimes sessions together Speech/Social work, are helpful, but not as a set schedule-especially OT-my opinion.

Sophie:  Definitely ask for whatever you feel your son needs. It may be helpful to get an independent evaluation and have the evaluator come to a meeting and make recommendations.


Whitney: Is it permissible for a related service provider (e.g., SLP, OT, PT) to pull a typical, nondisabled peer out of the general education classroom into a small group for therapy with disabled peers without parent consent? For the student(s) who have IEPs with related services, does this then count as providing service in the general education setting because there is a typical peer (despite being pulled into a separate therapy room)?

MORNING: I have witnessed this many times. My daughter was the “typical” role model for the school psychologist, etc. This was occurring without my permission until i questioned it. Then, it was happening in the classroom as she could “control” the behaviors and she was put in small groups with students who needed ALOT of help. I am not against pulling out with non disabled peers–but my daughter was used way too many times as the “typical” role model. I think it does help and it does give a child not just a typical peer but a possible friend. I think it also promotes a level of empathy. My only concern is that parents should be informed especially if the typical peer is coming home reporting some questionable behaviors that they are exposed to. With supervision, it can work.

Jennifer: I am a school speech therapist, and I use trusted friends of my students for practice with a ‘speech buddy.’ I always obtain permission from the parent of the nondisabled student before doing this.

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Restraint & Seclusion: RESTRAINT IN SCHOOL

Ericka: My son has an iep. He’s been clinically diagnosed with adhd. He gets very aggressive. Sometimes he has to be restrained. The behavioral aid asigned to him was not cpi certified.my son was coming home with bruises. Can I bring suit against the school?

Chuck: Ericka, You would need to check with someone knowledgeable of your state laws. In some states it is very difficult to sue a school district. In some states schools will settle out of court, even though they are protected under state law to avoid the publicity. You could possibly file criminal charges with the police or abuse charges with the appropriate state agency. The staff of your state Parent Training & Information Project should be able to advise you. You can access a list of these in the topics listed on this website’s home page.

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Retaliation:  RETALIATION

Kaye:  Two years ago, we initiated mediation with the school and did quite well. Admin wanted to work with us. The case manager and teacher were upset by it. (They were also criticized by admin for their mis-management of my daughters education). Since then, my daughter’s teachers and those who teach my other kids are wonderful. After mediation, the case manager contacted the teachers/paras/therapists to warn them that I am difficult and my daughter uneducable. (They tell me this). Our kids no longer attend the same school, but she calls other schools to warn them about us. My daughter is bright and is doing great. I am really not difficult. Her bad-mouthing makes it difficult for me to advocate for my child. It also affects my daughter’s education. It takes about two months for everyone to relax each year. Suggestions?

Morning:  This could work to your advantage as it opens the door for you to have meaningful conversations with your child’s new team every school year. I am upfront and tell them to get to know my child and me beyond any rumors or the IEP? Truth wins out in these types of situations. I always ask teachers “what may I do to support their efforts with my child”. I do listen to them as their feedback is valuable, but I put my best foot forward each year any of the past rumors from disgruntled teachers are easily dismissed once the new staff gets to know my child and me. I have made mistakes in years past and did apologize to teachers, but I learned to collaborate and not bulldoze. The case manager will discredit herself in time, if not already.

Retaliation: NEED A LAWYER

D:  We have had to hire a child advocate and pay services for them to help due to the school not following his 504 plan. We also filed with OCR and the school system did comply with helping our child but now is retaliating against us due to both parents work for the school system. We have filed again with OCR but feel we may need a lawyer to help due to retaliation. Please advise us on how to seek a lawyer.

Sophie:  Retaliation is expressly prohibited when a parent files an OCR complaint. The downside of OCR is that it can take a long time for things to move, if your region has a big backlog of complaints. The advantage of filing a complaint with OCR is that they design their processing so that parents don’t need to hire a lawyer. They won’t play games with you, and you can talk to them in layman’s language about what’s going on.

I would start by phoning the senior member of the OCR partnership that processed your complaint.

If you do still want to hire a lawyer, there are a couple other ways to look — googling and asking other parents through some parent organization if one exists in your region. (In addition to JG’s ideas.)

JG:  This is a tough situation.

You could ask with your local parent center (http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/) or check the Yellow Pages (http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com/) for the names of some local lawyers. You could also ask your local bar association.

A “quick and dirty” way to find lawyers who practice specifically in this area is to find out where Section 504 due process hearings are held (often within the IDEA hearing system, sometimes somewhere else). If the hearing decisions are public, the names of lawyers who have represented other families will be available in the published decision.


Ben: Retaliation from school because we advocate for our 2 special needs children. This school year the school made at least 15 unsubstantiated reports to childrens services about our family regarding our nonverbal autistic child because we got him an IPAD to communicate with against their wishes. We had a one on one behavior therapist in our home who the school did not know about. After we informed them about the one on one, allegations stopped. Our other deaf special needs son goes to a behavior school. The behavior school and local district just recently started calling childrens services about our other son because they can’t handle his behavior and don’t want to send him to behavior school for the deaf. In the past 2 months we know of 5 new reports to childrens services that have not been substantiated. We have been advised to file an OCR complaint. What amount is appropriate to ask for a remedy? This has basically consumed our entire year with visits from childrens services and trying to protect and defend ourselves.

Sophie: I have an OCR complaint (for retaliation, but of a different type) on file with OCR (New York office). My complaint sat in someone’s inbox from mid-December until late last week. Now they have read it at least — but there’s still a ways to go before they make a determination. Maybe the OCR office for your state is not as slow moving. Even if it is, my opinion is, you might as well file a complaint. However, I would recommend that you look at some other approaches to try at the same time. For example, could you make an appointment to sit down and have a chat with the director of Children’s Services? Maybe you can work something out with them so that they won’t breathe down your neck every time the school district cries wolf and makes outrageous accusations.


Julie: Just the basics: we (and outside experts) feel my son should be on an IEP for severe Exec.Function problems. MA school doesn’t agree and has lame 504 accommodations. School has delayed, made excuses and now has told his teachers that I have taken legal action against them and they need to be careful and not meet without administrator there. We didn’t hire a lawyer until after we asked for mediation from the state, which didn’t work. Then our lawyer sent a letter asking the school for clarification on their findings and they went dark, no response. The principal has been insulting and intimidating me, saying I was to blame for any barriers with teachers. I’ve always had good communication with the teachers until the lawyer asked for info. Are they discriminating/retaliating with their insults and spreading false info?

Jennifer: Julie, have you asked for a comprehensive evaluation? Did the school respond? Executive function disorder is slowly becoming recognized, but if it is severe, this should show up in his schoolwork and on testing in subject areas. You may not have to go with that diagnosis.

If a lawyer is involved, expect the administration there, as well as the school’s lawyer.

Sophie: In the short term, I recommend trying to strengthen your child’s 504 plan as much as you can. I was once told by a special education lawyer that she had seen 504 plans in my district that were a mile long. That freed me up and gave me the oomph I needed to start requesting ALL the supports I thought my child needed.

Okay, so if step one is to ask for everything you think your child needs… step two is to get those things added to the plan. Easier said than done, I know! I can tell you how I finally achieved that. I found an advocate from the Tourette Syndrome Association (my son has both TS and ADHD), who attended my 504 meeting in person. We went through my agenda point by point and this advocate explained things in practical terms. (She’s a retired teacher.) We didn’t make it through the whole agenda in one meeting, so we continued the following week, and in this way, we were able to wear them down.

You can ask for as many 504 meetings as you need until they start listening. But make sure you bring an assertive expert with you, by Skype if need be.

By the way, you’re not alone. Everything you described has happened to me too. Not being allowed to talk to teachers, getting blamed for the barriers, all of that. I guess they play the same games everywhere.

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Kate:  Can a student with an IEP repeat more than one grade level while in elementary school? North Carolina in particular?

SharonL:  Kate, repeating more than one grade would be degrading to the child in my opinion. We had the opportunity to have 2 of our children repeat a grade & never took it. Instead we opted for extended school year & tutoring to help them catch up. My husband was held back in kindergarten & remembers this to this very day. It is rough on a child to be held back. The goals should be measurable & be set up to be met. If the goals are not being met the school is failing the child.


Cindy: My daughter is not at a kindergarten level by NYS standards and Principal told me that she will not allow retention at all. She wants child to go to second grade and receive more services which will take her out of class more and she will be further behind. My daughter is diagnosed with ADHD and is still learning how to behave in school at this time. How do I force the school to hold her back?

Kat: Retention is rarely beneficial to the child. Our daughter repeated kindergarten and we regret that decision constantly. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/retain.index.htm


Wendy: Are Schools Required to Provide Assistance for a Child Retaking a Failed Class?

Sophie: I think the answer to this is Not directly. However, you have the right to collaborate in planning for your student’s success, and this can include requesting Response to Intervention or an evaluation for special education. If your child already has an IEP or 504 plan, you can call a CSE or 504 meeting to discuss difficulties and your proposals. In the short term, reach out to the principal to ask for informal help. Beat the bushes to find community volunteer tutoring programs and an angel teacher who will put in some time with your student during lunch hour, before school, after school, free period, etc. There may also be peer tutoring at the school. (I’m assuming you can’t afford private tutoring.)

Sophie: Came across something that might help you: “Research shows that students are typically hurt by simple retention and repetition of a grade in school without remedial and other instructional support services.” quoted from “High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation ( 1999 ) / Executive Summary” (http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6336&page=3)


S.MS:  My child is a 7th grader with a language based learning disability in Florida. we had the most challenging academic year and now the developmental research charter school is mentioned possible retention. the school and I met in January about modifying the current iep because it was not meeting their academic needs. I’ve done lots of research and meditations on this matter, and my conclusion has been not to retained my child because of the learning disability…I’m preparing to write letter to the appropriate individuals at the school. Any thoughts on the most affective position to not retain a child with a learning disability.

Jennifer:  There are tons of studies out there to prove your point. I will tell you as a special education teacher, who has followed retained students, that retention only does any good in kindergarten or first grade, and ONLY if the child needs a year to mature.


Janice:  I need help writing a protest letter for my daughter’s retention in 2nd grade. She is not immature and is one of the oldest in her class. She has been diagnosed with ADD and has just recently been put on meds. She has an IEP and is showing improvement but they want to retain her. I don’t feel this will help and no matter how I put a positive light on it, she is upset.

Wrightslaw:  Janice, we can’t provide a “protest” letter. A story-telling letter is the way to make your case. You’ll find a sample retention letter at this link. This letter describes the parents’ concerns about the proposal to retain their child. The tone of the letter is polite and businesslike. The letter does not blame school personnel or criticize. Instead, the parents describe their concerns about their child’s lack of progress, their concerns about the school’s proposal to retain her, and proposes a solution to the child’s problems. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/retain.letter.htm

SharonL:  Janice, we had been asked to retain our sons different times during their school years. 2 of my son’s have ADD & dyslexia, 1 has ADHD & SLD. We never allowed the school to retain any of them. My husband had been retained & never forgot it his whole life. It is an upsetting thing to the child. All we had to do was tell the school we did not want them to retain our children & that was it. We never had to put anything in writing. We always felt like they wanted to retain our children to make it easier on them to reach the goals instead of doing the work required to have them progress. All of my sons are now grown up & doing well & thank me for not retaining them.


Connie: My school district has created “essential outcomes” for each grade level. The superintendant has determined that if a student doesn’t meet 50% of these outcomes, they should be retained in that grade. Our superintendant feels that this applies to Special Ed students also. If this is the case, I have several elementary SpEd students who could be retained because of this policy. Is this legal? He is requiring that any student that hasn’t met the 50% guideline attend summer school or be retained. Many of these kids are attending the SpEd extended school year. I am very frustrated and not sure how to handle this. Please give me some advice.

Chuck: Connie, unless this plan conflicts with state law or regulations, it is probably legal. The National School Psychologists’ Assoc. has taken the position that retention does not work. The idea of identifying students who are “behind” academically & providing additional instruction is a common & appropriate approach.

However, often the fact is that the initial & remedial instruction is not differentiated & individualized to be effective for the student.
In many states the IEP team decides if a student with a disability should be retained & what instructional strategies & techniques are needed for the summer & next school year. Perhaps the superintendent would be open to checking this approach with the state agency & “curriculum experts”.


Carolyn:  What can be done if a child with an IEP was retained twice (age 12 and in 4th grade)? The student attended a Charter school who based their decision to retain on Iowa testing. At the end of school year there was talk he may be retained again so parent pulled him out and enrolled in public school. Needless to say the student has low self-esteem and is ashamed of being held back. The parent is extremely angry with previous school and wants to hold them accountable. They would like their child to be bumped up a grade although he has never been exposed to the 5th grade curriculum. What would you suggest?

JG:  Carolyn – Without knowing much about this child, I would strongly caution against moving him forward a grade. Although it might give him a temporary esteem boost, it’s likely to cause more damage to him academically – which will impact his self esteem even more.

Academic success will likely give the biggest boost to his self confidence. I would encourage the parent to request that the school re-evaluate the child (or, better yet, get a good outside evaluation). This evaluation should include a focus on his social-emotional needs, as well as academic. This will help to figure out what he needs now in this new environment, to help him make progress and succeed in school.

Carolyn:  Thank you for your reply. The student did have a Neuropsych done and we recently requested some further testing with the new school. Does it make sense to file a complaint against the charter school regarding the retentions to make the DOE aware of what has tranpired? I know it won’t change the current situation but
it may protect against this happening again to another student.

JG;  I get where you’re coming from – I, too, would feel like I needed to “alert” someone.

I don’t think that filing an IDEA state complaint would have an impact. That process usually deals with special ed compliance issues, and it doesn’t sound like any special ed laws were broken here. Some state’s complaint systems look at issues beyond special ed, but still a law/regulation/policy would have to be broken.

Maybe you can simply contact whomever deals with charter schools at your state Dept of Education with you concerns about improper retention. ‘m not sure about where you are, but my state’s Dept of Ed is pretty receptive to parent feedback.


Cecil: My son was diagnosed with ADHD and was having a hard time with his grades. His teachers plan is to put him to smaller group as much as she can and to repeat first grade. His doctor prescribed a medication for his ADHD which I did not start yet. I have him take natural medications and see if it will help him. Also he just evaluated by Speech Therapy for cognitive evaluation. And per ST my son cognitive development is fine and the problem is his focusing. I just want to check all my options before starting him on medications.
My question is do I have the right to contest the plan retention?
Because I know it will not help him. His already telling me he wants to move to another school if he will stay in first grade. Do I have the right to request the school to accommodate him (ex:small group size, tutorial) . Thanks.

Chuck: Yes, you certainly can, but it is important to know what district policy & state rules say about retention. It could be allowed or forbidden in certain situations. A search on this site’s homepage for retention will give you good information. It is important to know that the National Association of School Psychologists does not support retention.

Jennifer: I am not a big supporter of medication, but I have seen it work wonders in some cases. If you give him a couple of weeks on medication, and he starts to improve, then you have a better case for not retaining.

I am an SLP. “Cognitive Evaluation” sounds more like the domain of psychological examiner, i.e., a person giving an IQ test

Sophie: Cecil, they are not legally entitled to pressure you to medicate. Decisions about medication are between you and your child’s doctor. It’s none of their business. Be careful about what sort of consent you sign for the doctor and the school to communicate with each other, so that your child’s doctor isn’t forced to share information with the school that you’d rather he or she didn’t.

It might make it easier for you to decide on a game plan if you visited some of the second grade classrooms in your child’s current school, and some in the school you might potentially put him in. I have found out the hard way that some teachers are good at channeling an ADHD child’s exuberance and some border on sadistic.

If you decide you want to give a medication a try, remember that you don’t have to continue. You can even stop the medication even if you found that it helped! It’s your decision, and unless you need the nurse to give a medication during the school day, you don’t need to tell them anything about medications he’s taking or not taking at home.

Pam Wright:  Cecil, Chuck is right. You need to educate yourself on retention, then you need to educate the folks at your child’s school.

Retention is one of the most powerful predictors of high school dropout, with retained students 2 to 11 times more likely to drop out of high school than promoted students.

I’ve included a link to the Position Paper on Retention from the National Assoc of School Psychs. Make several copies of this document and share generously with members of your child’s team – these support the position that retention is harmful.

See more at: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/retain.index.htm


Lora: Our daughter is 8 (November birthday) and in 2nd grade. She has “constitutional growth delay”, meaning she is super small for no reason. She is the size of most 5/6 year olds. She also struggles with low muscle tone, and writing is EXHAUSTING for her. She struggles to keep up with a lot of written work for this reason, and she often comes home crying.

We are at a DoDEA school and I can’t find my rights for requesting retention. She is testing middle of the road for reading/math, except when there are lots of worksheets/extended writing assignments then she gets very discouraged and “feels stupid”. We feel her self-esteem is suffering from being so small relative to her peers. We move OFTEN, so the issue of everyone making fun or teasing her forever is not a concern.

Jennifer: If your daughter does not have an IEP, request a comprehensive evaluation ASAP. If writing is that much of an issue, she needs a thorough Occupational Therapy Assessment as well.

There is also a possibility she could qualify for a 504 plan for the writing.

Regarding the small stature, I know a high school student who is in the ninth grade and is the height of a third grader. After some rough years, he is now embraced by most of the student body. I would suggest you get your daughter some qualified counseling, as it sounds like she will be dealing with this for the rest of her life. Maybe the school counselor could help hook her up with some buddies who will help her feel accepted.

Lora: Thank you Jennifer! She is getting an OT assessment now.
She is also in counseling, mostly related to issues with her adopted sister.

The problem is we are a military family who moves every 2-3 years. So finding an accepting group of peers every time she has to move is harder than staying back and giving her some time to catch up growth wise. 🙁

Sophie: Children come in all shapes and sizes. My son is a head taller than his peers — but he’s emotionally young for his age. The adults are more bothered by the height difference than the kids are. So, I would just forget about the height difference — this is a non-issue.

Now, getting exhausted from writing due to low muscle tone — that gets her an IEP or a 504. She should have a scribe. She should be trained to use Speech Recognition software. The software, plus the special microphone, should be provided. (However, if you can afford it, go ahead and buy it; learn to use it yourself, and then teach her to use it.) Her IEP or 504 plan should say that assignments must be shortened for her, and that she can stop when she’s tired. The teachers have to learn to give assignments that focus on quality over quantity. For the short term, train your daughter to recognize when she’s about to hit her limit while she’s at school, and just stop writing. Have her bring the unfinished work home, and scribe for her to help her get it done. You can even scribe for her math work! Now, legally, she should not have to do this extra work at home, BUT my experience with my son was that taking this approach earned us some brownie points.

Draft a letter for the doctor, and have him/her adapt it if desired, and then sign it. In the draft, put the diagnosis, and a list of the supports needed.

See if you can help your daughter learn to touch type. Try BBC Dance Mat Typing. It’s fun, and in about three months, by just playing with this software for half an hour a day, she’ll probably be able to type at the same speed as she writes by hand. I mean touch typing — not hunt and peck!

Pam Wright: Agree with Sophie re: touch typing. When each of our kids turned 11, they had to spend 30 minutes a day learning to touch type. When they hit 30 wpm, they were released.

As their speed and accuracy in touch typing improved, they could put words down on paper almost as fast as they could think. Liberating!

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Audrey:  I am an attorney representing a student who was receiving RTI for behavioral problems in the form of counseling. The student has since been expelled, notwithstanding my pointing out to the District that they needed to do a manifestation determination. Their attorney explained that the District give lots of kid RTI and many of them don’t go on to receive special education. Given the type of RTI in this case, I cry bullpucky. But I am left wondering- I know RTI used (a) to determine whether a student should be evaluated under IDEIA; and (b) to design specially designed instruction in the even that the student is evaluated and found eligible. Is it used for anything else!

Chuck:  Audrey, the primary purpose of RTI is to prevent the need for referrals to special ed by providing a child with appropriate instructional strategies & programs to address their needs. However, the federal Dept. of Education has clearly said that parents have the right to request a special ed evaluation, even if the school is trying or wants to try RTI. However, the school can give the parent prior written notice of refusal to do RTI, if they feel that RTI is working or might work.


John:  I provide Tier 3 support in math. After working with students for a while (collecting data) – 5 plus weeks. We meet each month as MTSS and report on student progress or lack of progress. Once I inform the MTSS team that a student is NOT making adequate progress and recommend a case study for that student – Am I required to continue providing Tier 3 support – while the team (Nurse, social worker, special education teacher, regular education teacher, etc.) test and gather information about the student.

Chuck:  The district’s procedure/policy on MTSS should address this issue. If it does not, this should be done asap.


Aida: How to determine if RTI is working?

Wrightslaw:Aida, please read and re-read The Parent’s Guide to RTI at https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/rti.parent.guide.htm

We have a section on Wrightslaw that includes many articles and publications about RTI. Pete made a YouTube video to answer questions about RTI. Go to this page to view the video and read the articles: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/rti.index.htm


Michael: My child was not identified, despite my asking for help, and denied RtI. We changed districts and within a week I was asked for consent to evaluate. He qualified. What are my options at this point for legal action against the district?

Wrightslaw: Michael, I don’t know your options. We can’t give legal advice, off the cuff, without reviewing the child’s educational file or knowing the facts of a case. Recommend that you consult with an attorney in your state who has special ed expertise – after reviewing the facts, this person can help you sort through your options.


Jennifer:  What is the main difference between RTI vs 504 Plan. My 12 yr old ADHD son has a RTI plan and his school feels it would better suit him then 504 Plan. The school is trying to convice us that RTI plan is better.

Please clarify?

Sandy:  Jennifer, an RTI Plan is not legally enforceable the way a 504 Plan or an IEP is. If your child needs accommodations/modifications to state or college standardized testing, they college board will consider an IEP or a 504 Plan as evidence of such need (along with current evaluations) – not an RTI Plan. Legally, I don’t think there actually is such a thing as an “RTI Plan.” So stick with the 504 or even a IEP if your child needs SDS (“specially designed instruction”).

Chuck:  Jennifer, the federal Dept. of Education endorses RTI, because a good plan can benefit struggling learners. Schools are encouraged to try RTI before referral to sp ed. Whether the school’s plan for your child is appropriate is the question. You can get more information by typing “response to intervention” in the search box on the Wrightslaw home page.


Jac: May a sped teacher teach small group with sped resource IEPs and RTI only with similar reading or math needs at the same time, in a non reg ed room

Wrightslaw: Yes — if this is an appropriate program and placement for these children, no reason why she can’t teach students in a non regular ed classroom. See more here, about LRE:

The federal special ed law (IDEA) includes an “least restrictive environment” (LRE) or or “mainstreaming preference.” With very few exceptions, the law expects schools to educate children with disabilities in regular ed classrooms with their non-disabled peers — and in their neighborhood school (the school they would attend if not disabled). The school must provide the supports and services they need to learn in the LRE.

The reasoning behind the LRE preference is that the best education takes place in regular or general ed classes. If disabled kids are not educated where the best education takes place — well, you can figure that out.

The articles about “LRE / Inclusion” will help you understand these legal requirements: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/lre.index.htm

Jac: Do I understand: Sped students & RTI only students can be taught in the same small group? Is this IDEA (CEIS) ? Thank you

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Fatima: My son is graduating GPA2.9759 this year (TX). He was diagnosed with ADHD/ gifted in 2nd grade. Our doctor mention about 504 plan and we asked elementry school counselor to put hm n 504. She said ok but didn’t talk much about help he can get. He struggled all his school life that affects him academically and socially . Because sometimes 504 was not implemented OR with couple of accommodations. He lost confidence in him and low self esteem. He is a bright and intellegent student, took all Pre AP/AP classes and did well even though 504 was not helpful. I came to know about 10 weeks ago that if we help him just a little he can graduate with Honors. Because of un cooperative behavior of school administrators we both lost confidence that he can graduate with Honors. His GPA was 2.93.. Needed 3.0 for Honors. I asked help from school but nobody would help. What can I do?

Debbie: My son is twelve yyears old currantly in 6th grade and failing. His school never informed us of a medical plan for him ,or a 504 plan for him ,until recently. in April they had me bring documentation from our doctor everything they signed all the paperwork on April 28,2013 .Now here’s my dilemma,they want to hold him back still in the sixth grade, Once theyve signed everything doesn’t become a binding contract and they have to abide by it? They tell me no and they can still hold him back. I’m very frustrated Dont know what to do. I had mtg yesterday which I was told it was supposed to be to discuss the 504 plan. they only had bits and pieces ready for him. they told me they didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t believe it. aren’t they the ones as the school that are supposed to know about these things? PLEASE HELP

ASDmom: 504 is not retroactive, If child meets criteria for holding back they can do that. You could use 504 now to show needs not met possibly but not much more.


K:  Hello everyone. I just filed 504 plan for my son high school for his vision condition called nystagmus. (A movement in his eye). I am not from here and I didn’t know this law. I didn’t know until very recently. My school counselor has developed a paper very quickly for my son but the test he took on the day that paper work was sent, he was not provided by the extended time. The letter was given to him after the test. What is my son right? Can he ask to retake? Also, I am new. I didn’t know if attending the training, will it benefit me? I am just a parent. I like to try one in San Jose or Florida.

2016/01/26 at 7:26 pm
Sophie:  I think your son is entitled to retake the test. My logic: the district is responsible for finding students who need accommodations, and for giving them appropriate accommodations, even before an IEP or 504 plan has been written.


Laura:  My 7th-grade son’s IEP committee would like to remove him from special education and accommodate him with a 504 plan.

He has overcome dyslexia, a profound hearing loss in both ears, severe astigmatism, and a milk allergy, and gets straight A’s!

He’s regular classes, except special ed tutoring. I want to keep his tutoring for at least 1-1/2 years, which the 504 won’t provide. Any suggestions?

Sandy:  Laura, ask them for DATA demonstrating that he is no longer eligible under IDEA. Have them show you DATA that he no longer needs the special ed tutoring. How do they know he is not getting A’s BECAUSE of the tutoring? Have them do a full evaluation before exiting him from special education. Hope this helps!


Kim: Hello, my daughter was tested thru our school corporation and does not qualify for any services. I did take her to an outside audiologist and she was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder. The school corporation states she can not have a 504 for that but if the doctor writes on a piece of paper she has ADD she could get a 504. The school audiologist states they have questions if they can legally use APD for 504? Can this be true?

Wrightslaw: Kim, your question probably needs to be revised to: “Is there any law in my state that prohibits a private therapist from seeing a student in a public school setting?” I have never heard of a law that forbids a therapist from seeing a child in the school setting. If there is such a law, it would be a state law. Suggest you contact your state Parent Information and Training Center or your state Disability Rights organization to get a clear sense of the law in your state.


Kristi:  Niece is in 9th grade and has ADD. Parents also suspect LD for many reasons. She was tested for LD last year-results were inconclusive. They will retest by Dec 2015. She makes B’s and C’s because she can correct daily assignments and tests and receive a 70 (passing grade, school policy). They were first told that ADD doesn’t qualify for 504, but my sister was insistent. In 504 meeting, counselor stressed that student had to be “substantially below average” to qualify. Teachers said she was only “below average” because she corrects her work to passing grades. She was denied 504 eligibility but teachers and counselor verbally said she could be given more time on tests. Can they appeal eligibility of not being “substantially below”?

Chuck:  The district should have written policy & procedures regarding 504 plans & eligibility criteria. There should be measurable criteria of what is “substantially below average” & “below average”. Federal guidelines say that the impact of things like accommodations, medication, etc should not be considered when determining eligibility.

JG:  Kristi – Section 504 borrows its definition of disability from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Neither the ADA nor Section 504 provide a standard of “substantially below average,” so it’s possible that the school is using inappropriate eligibility criteria.

You can dispute this. The school must provide you with access to an impartial hearing. The school is required to provide you with information about how you can request this option (as well as other rights you have).

If you have trouble getting this information, you can contact your local office of OCR: https://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/CFAPPS/OCR/contactus.cfm. OCR may also be able to provide you with technical assistance about your rights.


Sherrie: My daughter is still failing a subject. I asked for a Parent Teacher Conference the beginning of January. It was ignored. The school has her on a 504 plan but when I asked for an a special conference with the teacher I was denied in Jan. The school admin and school counselor will not share how they are measuring her plan and they are not following up with me. I have been bullied by school counselors, a teacher, principals, and others in the school system. They have tried to make me look like the problem and they have helped to turn her against me. They started putting her on a bus to her fathers when she was supposed to come back to me. They create other problems and they have been asking for her to advocate for herself when they bullied me more. I am still advocating for her and she is still in high school but she is 18 now. Help!

Sophie: Sherrie- I’ve personally experienced a good part of what you’re describing!

Parent-teacher conference: Take this up with central administration. You may get what you need by just calling a central administrator, or a face to face meeting may be needed. They may require you to go up the “chain of command Get the chain of command in writing. You only have to wait three days at each level in the chain before appealing to the next one up. A non-response (within 3 days), or an unsatisfactory response, is reason to move up the chain. The more you can do teamwork-style advocacy with your ex (if possible) and your daughter, the better. You might need to compromise and let go, to obtain cooperation and a coordinated team approach. Try to prioritize problems, figure out where the three of you agree, where you want to start, and how to work together.

Try to find another parent or social worker from a community agency who can support you in your communications with the school. Keep a paper trail – email is ideal, or keep a log noting major points of phone calls and meetings.


Robin: My question is in regard to special needs transportation. My son is diagnosed with Autism, General Anxiety, Social Phobia and Depression. He is maintaining his grades in school but is emotionally and socially struggling. He has outbursts that include self harm and throwing things. He is on a 504 and has an ILI. The bus company is now saying that because he does not have an IEP he cannot get transported via the special needs bus, which he has had since Kindergarten. He is now in 7th grade. Can this be part of an accommodation on a 504? The special needs coordinator said that they could be fined significant amounts of money because of his lack of an IEP on the bus. Is this true? What can I do?

Chuck: I am not aware of any decisions, but believe this would be an acceptable 504 accommodation. It is possible that the school could be fined for students not on an IEP riding the bus. That would depend on state rules & the contract with the bus company, if there is one. Typically, this can be dealt with by the school revising the contract &/or paying with non-sp ed funds for such students.


Karl: My 17 year old 9th grade son has a 504 Plan/IAP for Asperger’s. He has a high functioning autism diagnosis. In 2013 I signed off on a well-developed IEP transition services doc. Fast-forward to now and we have an IAP plan in place, and the IEP–of which I now have a copy–was somehow “aborted”. The only signatures on the doc are mine and one regular education teacher. The principal left at the end of the first school year, and never signed the doc. We assumed an IEP was in place and were signing off on IAPs for the last year. We have submitted the request for a 1508 eval, but that won’t bear fruit until next school year.

We have a great advocate in an instructor at my son’s ABA therapy center. When she made suggestions based upon listed options on the IAP form during the 504 meeting the principal simply responded “cant do this too expensive…don’t know what that is…” My question is, can the school simply respond too expensive, too much time, can’t spare a teacher etc., and that’s that? I know 504 lacks many protections of IEP, but this is frustrating.

Sophie: They can’t use the “too expensive” argument. (But they may get smart and figure out they need to use the “not needed” argument.)

Wear them down by having as many 504 meetings and continuation of 504 meetings as you need to. But bring along an expert and/or an advocate. You can bring as many people as you wish to your meetings.

Section 504: ADD CHILD WITH 504 PLAN

Brenda: My son was diagnosed with ADD last year the school was very helpful with helping me with accomadations for him,. My son has behavior problems in 3 classes and that caused him low grades. Many detentions and pick up trash at lunch. I had a meeting with teachers, counselor and school psychologist and came up with a 504 plan for him ( this happend towards end of this school year. his behavior has been going on for 2 years, he is on a permit at the school) i received an end of school progress report and a letter from district saying they would not renew his permit to attend his last year of 9th grade. . Can I appeal this process?

Mari: You stated that the school was helpful – but even though they knew his behavior interfered with his education (low grades, many detentions), they didn’t put him on a 504 plan until the end of the year. This violated the Child Find mandate which requires every school, public or private, to evaluate and offer appropriate support for any student suspected of being disabled. Simply offering some unofficial accommodations doesn’t cut it. The wrong accommodations can do more harm than good.

It sounds as though your son is frustrated. Nearly half of ADHDers have a learning disability. Your school MUST give him a thorough evaluation that includes academic testing so you can pinpoint his strengths and weaknesses. Write a gentle but insistent letter to the principal requesting one. Good luck!


Catherine: Can you seek monetary damages from either individual teachers or principal and/or the school system for intentionally violating a 504 plan, then retaliating by attacking the parent who is staff at the same system? We were forced to homeschool our severely anxious daughter with pans because one of retaliation. I had to call in advance to be at the school. They refused to provide answers and threatened my job when I threatened to get a lawyer to find out what the problem was. I still work there. Staff members and their spouses were actually spying on my personal email, facebook and phone because they didn’t believe in my daughter’s disease. Both my husband and I work for the system. Is there a low cost lawyer (we can’t afford one) available for this sort of case? If so where? It’s not worth it if monetary damages are not possible because they would retaliate against me at work again. Now I am trying to get my daughter back into the school, but now they are refusing to let her back. They have caused her permanent emotional harm already and I was actually trying to reverse that, thinking they would follow the 504 this time. Do 504s have any weight at all if you work for a system?

Wrightslaw: Catherine, you seem to have several questions. First, monetary damages are rare. Second, NEVER threaten to get a lawyer when you don’t have one. The school will always call your bluff and you will look foolish.

Consult with a lawyer to get an opinion about the merits of your case. You and your husband work for the school system, can’t afford an attorney, want one who will work for free. Some lawyers who work for state National Disability Rights (formerly Protection & Advocacy) centers represent parents. As you can imagine, they are swamped.

Finally, you write that you are trying to return your daughter to the same school that “has permanently harmed her.” I don’t know why you would want her to return to this school with staff whom you want to sue for damages.

It’s time to move on. New school, fresh start.


Colleen:  My son is a senior in high school. He is on the ASD spectrum but extremely high functioning. As we prep for college, what do we need to ask his school caseworker for? Does he keep his IEP or get a 504?

Chuck: It would have to be a 504 plan. See this article from Wrightslaw – https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=37

Public school staff might be able to help, but it is important to communicate with colleges he is considering.

JG:  Colleen, College students with disabilities may receive protections under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA. Section 504 applies to colleges that receives federal financial support (such as student aid), while Title II applies to all colleges except those run by religious organizations. Both protect eligible students from discrimination and require the provision of reasonable accommodations.

Unlike with grade school, the burden to pursue this protection falls on the student. To receive protections, students must provide the college with documentation of their disability. What documentation is required varies by school, but likely will include the results of recent evaluations.

I would also encourage your son to connect with your state’s vocational rehabilitation agency, if he has not already. This is the agency most likely to provide him with adult disability services.

Colleges often find a student’s high school IEP or 504 plan useful, but there is no need to move from one to the other. The college will not honor either of these documents, but instead will develop their own.

Covered colleges must provide reasonable accommodations, but some provide supports beyond this minimum. As your son looks at colleges, he should be asking about disability services and documentation requirements.

This research is commonly included as a transition-related goal in the IEP, completed with the help of guidance. If your son does not have this or a similar goal or support in the IEP, you may want to ask the Team to reconvene and discuss the need for it.

Here’s a few resources you may want to take a look at:

Preparing for post-secondary education

Services for students

College prep checklist

College planning guide

Autism transition guide

Autism After 16 website


Erica:  My child completes his homework and will not turn it in to his teachers. He is in 5th grade with multiple teachers. When I ask the teachers for support they reply “we are trying to prepare kids for 6th grade”. His homework accounts for 65% of his grade and he is failing most of his classes. Any suggestions? We have a 504 in place. I am beyond frustrated.

JG:  Erica, I encourage you to ask for a meeting with your son’s 504 Team, to discuss his difficulty with homework and you’re difficulty with gaining teacher support.

Does the 504 Plan already have homework accommodations? If not, the Team needs to get on this asap! No student should be failing simply because he fails to turn in completed homework. That’s simply absurd.

If there’re homework accommodations in place already but they’re not working, the Team should brainstorm new accommodations to help him succeed.

And if the issue is simply teachers refusing to implement accommodations, the 504 administrator for the school/district needs to get involved.

IMO it’s the parent’s job to press the 504 Team and administrator to act appropriately, but it’s the administrator’s job to get the teachers to act appropriately.

Two handouts you may want to pass on:

Possible Objections To Accommodation (for more pedestrian teacher gripes)

Potential Steps To Decrease Teacher Resistance To Implementing Accommodations
(for ingrained/systemic issues)
technical assistance and information.

Lois:  My ASD sons had similar issues. What worked in middle school for them was a sticker contract for each day which looked like a table. Ours required an initial from the teacher and the teacher to give them a N/A if there wasn’t homework, 0 if there was and it didn’t get turned in, and a 2 if the objective was met. Our kids got immediate feedback, and then could take ownership to correct it. We would give positive reinforcement for points earned. We had the accommodation of extra time on homework as a safety net for them not to be penalized. We also had the accommodation that they could submit the homework electronically (scan and email to teacher).


Javier: My daughter suffers from allergies which cause her to get sinus infections. She has missed a lot of school and I have doctor’s notes for the majority of her absences but the school is telling me that I need to take my daughter to a specialist and I can’t afford to go. I requested a 504 meeting but I am not sure what are my rights and I don’t want my daughter to be harassed. Please help.

Sarai:  To Javier, in two districts I’ve worked in, students who frequently miss due to medical issues are usually homebound. That means they come to school if and when they can. Their homeroom teacher provides the missed work, and a teacher who is part of the homebound program meets with the child on a regular, agreed on schedule outside of school hours to teach them. That teacher may or may not be the homeroom teacher. This way the child doesn’t miss out on skill development and learning. I’ve had two students who were part of such a program. In both cases the students successfully maintained good academic standing throughout the year. Homebound is managed through SPED. Something like this may be more successful for your daughter, because it will prevent her from falling behind in the first place. A 504 will not address the issue of attendance.


Susan: My dyslexic son began high school this year (TX). Before the year started, we had a face-to-face meeting with the HS counselor and she assured us that his 504 accommodations would not be a problem. Now, the 504 Coordinator and Administrator (AP) has told me it’s the “prerogative of the teacher if they want to give his accommodations in the classroom.” They tell me they don’t give accommodations in pre-AP classes, and suggested that I move him to general ed. He is an A/B student. I have never heard that pre-AP was exempt from the 504 plan. What is my course of action for a dyslexic student that is doing well in his classes, but still needs his accommodations. To top it off, I just realized that his new 504 plan that was to address these issues was back-dated to last semester. Please advise.

MORNING: My question would be directed to the student in terms of what are his needs and goals. Can he work with the teacher directly concerning the accommodations? I have heard it and experienced it many times— some teachers (especially in high school and even middle school) are more and more refusing to implement 504s and IEPs. This may be a good time to teach self-adovacy skills. Some teachers, in the upper level courses, have never fully experienced the gifts that a dyslexic student can bring into he classroom discussion, academic environment, etc. It is the culture of many schools to exclude such students from higher level courses such as AP, etc. You child may be able to, on many levels, advocate for himself. If not, this is a good beginning.

Chuck: Susan, the TX education agency (TEA) has recently updated the Dyslexia Handbook. It reinforces that accommodations are to be followed. This document can be found at: http://www.region10.org/dyslexia/index/ There is also an item there on serving twice exceptional students.
Suggesting that you take him out of pre-AP classes is a violation of 504. Every district is to have a 504 coordinator for the district. I suggest that you contact this person. Hopefully they realized that the campus position is wrong. If not, you can contact TEA about this.

Section 504:  SON ON 504 NEEDS MORE HELP

Maria:  I would like some advice on how to approach the school on getting additional help for my ADD son and sensory processing disorder. He has a 504 plan which does basically outlines giving him more time. He has a hard time completing work in class because he just gets tired (sleeping problems as well) and just can’t concentrate. He is below in reading and does not have extra help in class and I wonder if resource room might help. Please advice.

Sophie:  Maria, you can do the following:
– write a letter to the director of special education, asking for OT services. Mention the diagnosis and the sorts of sensory difficulties your child experiences. Explain in your own words how you think OT services would help. You can make some classroom observations and then cite specifics if you like.
– write to your CSE/504 chair asking for a 504 meeting. Share with him/her ahead of time your proposals for additional supports. Do not hesitate to propose a lot of supports. Be motivated by the sample 504 plans for diabetic students, which are really long and detailed.

Good luck!


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


Alice: Our school district granted my son a temporary 504 because he is in a wheelchair following breaking his femur this summer (he’s not allowed any weight on his foot). The 504 calls for transportation to our house after school.

So in essence the district is saying that his need for accommodations is expected to last 6 months or more and the nature of the disability is not minor.

The transportation department is saying they don’t have to transport him because it’s a temporary disability. Do they have the ability to refuse an accommodation in an IEP?

helgrouponline: Alice, I have never heard of a “temporary” 504. Your son either has one or does not. If they are not following what is on it my guess is that your son may not really be on a 504 otherwise they are legally obligated to following it like an IEP.

Section 504: AMENDING A 504 PLAN

Cari: How long does a school have to respond to a parent’s request to amend a current 504 plan?

Is the school allowed to deny a parents request for a reasonable accomodation ex: use of an electronic planner for homework tracking and reminders, without meeting with the parent?

One last question- who has to be in attendance to a 504 meeting from the school, and do both parents have to attend?
I haven’t been able to find any documentation in IDEA or 504 to back it.

Wrightslaw: Cari – Section 504 does not require the school to invite the parents to 504 meetings. Section 504 does require schools to develop a system of procedural safeguards. Request in writing a copy of your school’s procedures. You need to learn more. Start here:


You will find more about Section 504 here. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/sec504.index.htm


Patty:  Last September I had my son’s 504 meeting. The counselor took the notes and changes on the previous year’s 504. She said that she would re-type it and send it to me. My mistake, I agreed. I sent 3 emails to her requesting the 504 with no response. My son is starts high school this week. I met with the high school counselor to walk the building and requested a copy of he 504. She only had his 7th grade 504 and the 8th grade 504 would be coming. Today I received the high school counselor forwarded the copy from the middle school counselor. She sent the 7th grade 504 again, I am beginning to believe the most recent 504 has been lost. Where should I go from here?


You could ask the counselor one last time for the Plan developed at the last meeting. If it doesn’t appear, all you really can do is ask for a new one to be developed.

I would suggest that you request that the 504 Team meet again asap, to develop a Plan for the 8th grade. Ask that both the counselor from the middle school (who presumably knows your son best) and the high school (who knows the program there best) participate. And ask them to photo copy the notes/draft Plan before you leave the meeting!

The 7th grade Plan should suffice until the new plan is developed.

To top


Dawn: I have a student that I have been desperately trying to help. The student is extremely behind in Language Arts and struggles with math concepts as well. The student’s already on an IEP, but for speech only. I feel it isn’t just a speech problem it’s a learning disability.Am I correct that all we need to do is re-open the IEP and get an evaluation for academics?

Chuck: Dawn, yes you are. A school’s childfind responsibility includes identifing all disabilities/needs that a child has.


Jen:  My daughter (9 years now) has been getting special services since she was three and is currently receiving services for Speech and Math. Her academics and progress have been excellent and she had another re-evaluation before Christmas. Just got back from a meeting to discuss the results of the re-evaluation and the ARD committee is recommending and stating that she no longer needs special services. If services are discontinued, does this mean she no longer has or needs an IEP and does she no longer fall under IDEA?? I have an annual ARD scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Wrightslaw:  Jen – I think the answer to your question is “yes.” It sounds like the school wants to discontinue your daughter’s services, her IEP, and her eligibility under IDEA. You should ask some questions before that happens. This article is about a child with a reading disability – but it advises what to consider before you agree to terminate services. https://www.wrightslaw.com/heath/elig.eval.read.htm Do you know what was tested? Did you understand the evaluation data/results? Did the evaluator provide clear recommendations for your daughter? Discontinuing services doesn’t necessarily mean your daughter “no longer needs an IEP.” Has she met all her IEP goals? Does her disability no longer impact her ability to learn and make progress in the general curriculum? Before you allow the school to terminate eligibility, you want to make sure that you are convinced she is functioning well, will continue to do so, and will be prepared for further education, employment, and independent living.


Donna:  Need help!! My 14 year old ADHD daughter classified as OHI. Her MD ? L D but the school said her acheivement & IQ are too high. “She does not qualify for anymore services” She has resource room 4 days a week co teacher in 2 classes ( math and english) My concern is that she has a very hard time with completing homework or making up low grades ( she does not see the need to ) She is in 9th grade but reading at 5th grade level. I feel this is a big portion of her problem if she cant understand how can she be expected to do it and get good grades. She is failing many classes, isnt there a reason she has this IEP? Shouldnt they be doing more? I am not looking for a easy way out for her but I dont want her to QUIT. Am I being unreasonable ??? I would appreciate any input/ideas from anyone

SharonL:  Donna, My ADHD son was on an OHI IEP & he had accommodations and modifications for educational goals as well as behavioral goals. I asked the dept of special ed in state of ohio where I live & was informed that an OHI IEP is an IEP & any goal that the IEP team believes the child needs can be put on the IEP. When was the last time your daughter was evaluated? Now may be a good time to have her re-evaluated. Be sure to sign the school’s consent form so that they do the eval in 60 days. If you do not agree with the results of the eval you may have one done by an outside professional at the school’s expense. You do not have to sign anything. If the school refuses anything for your daughter they must give prior written notice.


Chris:  In response to my escalating issues, requesting a meeting with Superintendent and select members of my son’s IEP team Superintendent replied, “Under state and federal special education laws and regulations, matters having to do with a student’s special education services including but not limited to the development and implementation of an IEP, evaluation and placement issues must be addressed by the student’s IEP Team.Therefore, I cannot legally grant your request to meet with you to discuss your son’s special education services outside of the Team process.What is he talking about?! This is the same as saying there can be no escalation at all on special ed matters. Am I missing something? This sounds like more stonewalling. To what reg could he be referring? TY!

Jag: Did you request the superintendent’s presence at an IEP meeting, or a separate meeting? I’ve heard more often the opposite concern–superintendents or other administrators making decisions outside of the IEP development process where those decisions are typically not based on an individual’s needs. You say select members. Are there specific members who seem to be dissenting opinions to the rest of the team? Does your district have a special educator director who is already involved?

Chuck:  His statement is based on the fact that the IEP does have these functions, & decisions must be made by the team. It sounds like it was written by an attorney. However, it ignores the fact that there are many issues that can be addressed outside of an IEP meeting. If laws/rules are not being followed, parts of the IEP not being implemented, therapists not providing the required services or amount of time, etc., these are appropriate topics to bring to an administrator. Your state parent training & information project should be able to assist you. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

JG: Chris –The Superintendent is partially correct. As you likely know, decisions regarding an student’s IEP must be made within his/her IEP Team – he is right about this part.

But sometimes the Team can’t find agreement. In recognition that such times may occur, IDEA requires states to offer four types of dispute resolution processes – mediation, hearings, resolution sessions, and state complaints.

But nothing prevents states, districts, and other entities from offering other options – and many do. These are often referred to as “alternative dispute resolution” options. Any options that are offered simply cannot subject a parent’s rights under state and federal law.

Some common alternative dispute resolution options include facilitated IEP meetings, ombuds, and case managers. They are offered by state agencies, local districts, parent centers, and other entities, depending on locality.

The most common form of alternative dispute resolution is “local resolution.” In layman’s terms, this is simply meeting again with the Team or other district representative to work disputes out. Districts offer this option – and usually prefer it over other options – because it saves time, money, and relationships. It’s not “illegal” for this to occur of for the Superintendent to be part of it, as long as the parent is a voluntary participant.

I doubt that you, yourself, will change the Superintendent’s mind. But you can point him to the website of the National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE). It spotlights alternative processes being used across the country – http://www.directionservice.org/cadre/continuumnava.cfm.

Sophie: Good answers already! I will add: if you think you really might make some progress by meeting with the superintendent, then ask for a meeting to talk about your concerns regarding … (fill in the blank). For example, “My son’s curriculum has not been aligned with the Common Core (examples).” Or “I am concerned about discriminatory behavior on the part of certain members of staff.” Etc. Etc. Just find something to be concerned about, and write that reason for wanting to meet with him or her.

I will say, though, that in my district, a meeting with the superintendent is generally a waste of time.


Stephanie:  My 4th grade son is on an iep for writing only. Because of scheduling, he has been going to his iep class during regular reading instructional time, therefore getting lower & lower in a subject he doesn’t qualify for. Does he have rights to other subject areas? I had a meeting last week with his school & now they want to pull him during science/soc studies. Any suggestions?

Sophie:  Stephanie, I recommend that you take a close look at his schedule, and figure out the time blocks you think would be ideal for the pull-out, and suggest they consider one of those. Alternatively, you could request a more inclusive approach, if you think that would work well for your son. In addition, don’t neglect assistive tech, occupational therapy and specific accommodations that you think would be helpful for him.


Lori:  Are resource teachers supposed to track the time that they spend with students on an IEP? I have a client that we think that many Rsp minutes were not covered….but have no way to confirm….

Chuck:  They should, but how this is to be done could vary between states & districts. Check on any guidelines your state has on this. Your state parent training & information project can assist you. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/


Suzanne:  My child has an IEP. We are at a new school this year because of a move. The school is saying that her seventh (last) hour of the day (study hall/directive study) is her IEP hours. How ever this time is used to complete homework, is a regular size class and only gets help if she asks. There is no guidance as far as going over school work, organizing what needs to be done at home. From what I viewed it was more of a social hour at the end of the day. Is this legal that they count study hall as hours used for her special needs time? They consider it five hours a week towards special needs.

Sophie:  Is there a special ed or reading teacher working in that room? If not, then this seems like a slam-dunk lack of compliance. Also, look carefully at the ratios (certified teacher, teacher aides, students). If yes, then perhaps in a parent teacher conference you could explain what has been helpful for your child in the past.

Could you send a thank-you email to the special ed teacher in the previous school, and ask him or her to describe the help that allowed your child to be successful? (And share with new school?)

Some schools have their own lingo for what they call the sort of supportive room you are looking for. Try to talk to other special ed parents in this school to see what it calls the room where you’re trying to get your daughter placed. (Resource room?)

Once you’ve got the phrase you need, perhaps you could meet with the school’s special ed coordinator. Chuck’s idea is viable but a bit of a sledgehammer. I hope a flyswatter could be used at this stage.

Chuck:  I do not see how a school could defend this to a judge or hearing officer that it is addressing the student’s needs, & IEP goals, & objectives. This is not instruction. A state complaint is one option. Your state parent training & information project can assist you. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/


EAyer: Can a parent refuse some of the services on an IEP. Can a district say “we don’t do a la carte service. Its all or none.?”

Wrightslaw: This article should help answer your questions. https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=11537

The school may not use your refusal to consent to one service to deny other services, benefits, or activities in your child’s IEP. (34 C.F.R. § 300.300(d)(3))


J: School has proposed decreasing and/or eliminating services on current IEP for the next academic year. If one parent accepts, and 1 parent rejects (both have legal rights, but divorce agreement states all educational decisions must be made collaboratively) does “Stay Put” still apply? Or can school go ahead and NOT provide thee services that 1 parent agrees to until a hearing takes place.
Thanks in advance.

Chuck:  J, I have heard school attorneys say that the position that the school is taking is the proper approach when one parent agrees with the school & one does not.


char: We have twin 6th grade girls both with an IEP. This is their first year in Middle school and they receive double periods of Math and Language Arts. Because they receive these double periods they are excluded from taking any elective courses. My husband and I have spoken with elective teachers, counselors etc. hoping for some kind of offering that the girls can do at home or before or after school so that they can feel included and participate in learning more about highly interesting subjects to them. We have little to no response. Is this legal to exclude sp. ed students from participating in elective courses? What course of action do you recommend taking?

Chuck: It appears that the school believes that your children need additional instruction in math & LA. While this may be appropriate, IDEA say that all students should have access to the general ed curriculum. While schools can offer services beyond school hours, they do not like to do this. You may want to contact the sp ed office or the central administration.

MORNING: My son went through this. Did I like it? No. Did he like it? No. Services beyond school hours were not realistic. Why? My son has a life after school such as competitive sports, youth group, friends, etc. With that being said, we moved to a different school district and the new school district was very creative in meeting his academic needs and allowing him to participate in some electives BUT, we had to compromise and collaborate with the school. It was not a perfect situation but my son was happy, making progress and advocating for himself. Middle school is a tough time. I wanted a balanced school day for my child not one only focused with academics. Few middle school students want to extend their school day with academics. They need balance.


Kera:  I have been pulling my 4th grade daughter out of school twice a week for 90 minutes each day to receive ABA therapy at home. I was told we would have a 90-day trial period and evaluate to see if it affects her school performance. It has actually been really great and she has progressed academically more than ever before. However, the trial period is almost over, and they are telling me they will no longer excuse the time she misses for therapy at home because they have to go by FAPE and do the full day of school. Is it possible for the district to provide ABA therapy at school? I was told that they only did that for kids who are disruptive in class, and she is not. Or is it possible for her to continue missing the hours of school? I want to know who is telling the truth! Thanks.

Chuck: Kera, Yes a school can, & many do, provide ABA therapy at school. Services are to be provided based on a child’s needs, & determined on an individual basis, not on rules like “We only provide it in these situations”. If you can provide documentation from an Autism specialist that your child has made academic progress due to ABA training that can strengthen your case for ABA services at school.


Brett: Who can decide the type of training a teacher or parent can receive under the “Supplemental Services and Accommodations” section of an IEP?

It is clear that one cannot request the “Cadilac” of training, but one would assume it needs to be based upon the unique needs of the student, teacher, school and parent.

Specific school staff, and the parent, need additional training on working with the specific, unique needs of a child and it would seem that the IEP team would make such decisions as to the type of training needed to support a student. Currently I am using the legal definition of who MUST be included in the IEP and how the IEP is developed, via the IEP team.

Chuck: Brett, the IEP team can and should do this. However, this is also an administrative issue that administrators should be staying on top of. There are draft letters to administrators on some websites that request specific training for teachers. I have at least one. I suggest checking with your state Parent Training & Information Center(PTI). A list of these can be found on this home page under Resources (State PTIs).


ms hope:  Can a school take away your child services off your child’s iep?

SharonL:  ms hope, they should have an IEP meeting to discuss progress and get input from the whole team before removing any services. If they do it without telling you they need to provide prior written notice. Changing services without proper notice or team approval is not allowed. If the school has done this you have every right to request an IEP meeting to discuss.


Erica:  Is Special Education money earmarked? In other words, are school systems allowed to take money from special education and put it in the general fund therefore CUTTING special education services?

Chuck: Federal & state funds typically come marked as special ed. However, state rules may allow the district to use some of the money for “over-head costs”, e.g., business office, custodial costs & utilities. Recently TX raised the % of funds that schools can use for these purposes. Federal rules allow schools, in some cases, to use federal funds for response to intervention type activities.


Stephanie: Can they stop speech services because they don’t feel a child is making progress?

Cali: Stephanie, the school can not stop services because the student isn’t making progress. No progress means they need to up the intensity or tweak the intervention to start seeing progress. Ideally, the adjustments in the intervention provided should be based on student data and scientific research. If the service is in the IEP they can’t just stop — have to have another IEP meeting to discuss the intensity and adjustment to intervention.

Chuck: Typically when a school says this they are taking the position that the service is not assisting the child to benefit from special education.


So Tired:  I have a significant problem. We have multiple children with IEPs in three different schools in the same district. The Dir. of Spec. Ed and the school staff for each school have all formed into a tight cohesive group and they all work together to ensure my kids do not get their services. They claim they get services, but I have proof they do not. We have multiple ongoing disagreements. I have tried everything. I am polite, bring cookies to meetings, send Thank You notes, but because I am not afraid to file complaints (and we win) now they are doing nothing and dragging everything out. IEPs are written, but services are not provided. I document everything. Nothing is working. My kids are the ones suffering. I am losing the will to keep fighting. Any advice?

SharonL:  So Tired, don’t give up. Instead find a way to get what you need even if you have to hire an attorney. If you have filed complaints and won this should help you win again if the school is out of compliance. I had 3 children on IEP’s throughout their school years and it was very difficult at times. Unfortunately we did have to hire attorneys on several occasions, we hired professionals (speech therapists, tutors, advocates) to come to meetings with us. We used standardized testing that the school provided to prove the things we needed. There were days when I wanted to give up but if you give up no one will help your children. Some day it will be over and you will be happy you did what you are doing.


Mary: My daughter attends half day kindergarten. I want them to use the “other half” of the day to provide her IEP specified services – speech, sped, etc. They are claiming “they do not have the time in their schedules” and therefore pull her out of her gen ed K class for an hour a day causing her to miss story time and math. Shes already behind in math concepts – how can I approach this and get them to readdress their schedules??

Sandy: In my school, they always offer the parents the choice of bringing their child in for sped services during the other 1/2 of the day. So this is odd to me. In any event, I would argue that this arrangement is inappropriate for your child because she is being pulled out and missing too much of the gen ed curriculum. I think if you push them, they will back down on this. Just my experience.


Tracy:  My middle school son is in the process of getting an IEP at a charter school. He has dyslexia, dyscalculia, executive functioning issues, and ADD. I currently pay for a private tutor to come into school 3 days/wk to teach him the math done in his class privately. Thankfully the principal agreed to this. The principal stated to me in private that if he needs extra help/services determined by his IEP psycho ed. evaluation that they could not provide he would need to be reassigned to another middle school bc they did not have the resources. I don’t want this. Is the charter school obligated to keep him and provide him what he needs or can they transfer him?

Chuck:  Very likely they are, but it could depend on what type of charter they are (private, associated with public school) & the state rules. Research charter schools on your state’s education agency website or check with your state Parent Training & Information Center.


Lori:  My daughter is 19 and a “senior”. She has an IEP and I would like to keep her in school until 21/22, but school district is telling me that there is no longer an “educational need” for her to there, that she has earned her credits to graduate, and since there will be a 5 yr age difference in the kids in the MH class next year it is time for her to graduate with her diploma. Can they do this? What can I do to keep her in the school system? I do believe she still has an educational need as she still has trouble with basic math (subtracting) and is only reading on a 6th grade level. Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Chuck:  Lori, the IDEA regulations say that special ed is help prepare students “for further education, employment, and independent living”. So you can reply that she still has needs in the area of preparation for employment and independent living skills. Study your state’s rules and requirements for schools in regards to transition. You should be able to use these to build a case that she still has needs that need to be addressed.


Tina: Hello out there. My name is Tina and I am a Special Education co-teacher. We were recently informed that the district has decided to reorganize the way we deliver services to students with special needs who are included in general education classrooms and receiving co-teaching services. Without considering the desires of the students we service, asking for the permission of parents, or involving them, teachers or administrators in the process, the district made a unilateral decision to re-assign all of the students receiving co-teaching services to various schools throughout the district based on their grade levels and subject to the process of transitioning to a new school every two years until the graduate. Teachers have not been given the reason for these changes and were informed after the fact by their building administrators. Parents were sent a form letter that did not include an option to dispute the decision. Can this be legal? Before I begin to inspect the IDEA legislation I thought I would ask you all.

Chuck: If the students are receiving the same services in the same setting, this is not considered a change of placement, & parent consent & an IEP meeting are not required. While this may not be illegal, it seems poorly handled.


Cammy: School principal promised special ed resources and monitoring in response to my long-time concerns my kid might have an LD, instead of us “jumping to have her tested.” I agreed to that, not more tried/failed interventions. Now G.counselor told my daughter, ‘your mother could’ve had you tested anytime’. Now I see how they persuaded me from insisting on it. Can they really get away with that?

Wrightslaw: Cammy, you ask “Can they really get away with that?” Sounds like they did.

In the future, if you receive a promise or agreement from a school employee, document the promise / agreement in a nice “thank you” note to the person who made the promise.

If you didn’t document what the principal promised in a conversation (verbally), you have no evidence to support your contention that the principal promised resources and monitoring but failed to deliver. If you need to resolve a problem like this in a legal forum, it is your word against that of another person – you have no good evidence.

Now you’ve learned that you can request an evaluation at any time. If you decide to go forward on the request for a comprehensive evaluation, you will need to gather info about your child and her history to help the evaluator(s). Include a list of questions you would like answered. Chapters 1 and 2 in our newest book, “Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments” include useful information about how to prepare for an evaluation, how to select an evaluator, and more. Good luck!


Kayt: A non-public school that serves our students is offering families a free “summer camp” between ESY and the new school year. It is not an educational program. Since it is not during the regular school year or ESY, our position is that the school district is not obligated to pay for supports required by the IEP. An advocate disagrees, stating that because the program offered is free and and available to all students, the school district must provide supports. I would love to give our students the world, but we just can’t. Thoughts?

JG: Generally speaking, the non-public school would be required to make reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities. What this would like like would depend on both the school and individuals requesting accommodations. If the camp is taking place on school district property, some of this responsibility might fall to the district.

But the school district would not be required to pay for supports, such as those outlined in a student’s IEP available during the school year/ESY, unless an individual student’s Team decided it was necessary for FAPE and included it in his or her IEP.

Services / Terminating Services: BEHAVIOR /ADHD QUALIFYING DISABILITY FOR IEP or 504?

Maria: I just had my 5yo re-eval and determination of disability. He has behavioral issues, OT and Speech and difficulty staying on task. At the meeting they decided to give him a 504 and take away his IEP. He has BIP in place. What can I do I feel railroaded. I have already requested for Independent eval and filed for mediation.

Wrightslaw: If the team wants to take your son off the IEP, they have to take specific steps before they can do this. They are required to evaluate a child before changing his eligibility for special ed. See “Evaluations Before Change in Eligibility. (20 USC 1414(c)(5); see page 98 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law)

* Did they re-evaluate him before they decided to terminate his eligibility for special ed?
* Did you give your written consent to the evaluation?
* Did the evaluation meet the requirements for evaluations in the IDEA?
* What did the evaluation show?

When the school proposes to change, or refuses to change, your child’s status as a “child with a disability” and an IEP, the school must provide you with Prior Written Notice (PWN) that describes what they plan to do, the data that supports their decision, what you can do to contest their decision, etc. (20 USC 1415(c)(1). For the requirements for the Content of Prior Written Notice, see page 109 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law)

You need to study and understand the Procedural Safeguards section (Section 1415) of the special ed law – this section is intended to protect your child’s rights and your parental rights.

Make it clear – in writing – that you do not agree with the team’s decision to discontinue his special ed services and IEP and you are requesting that they provide Prior Written Notice.

Read these articles: Discontinuing Services? Not So Fast! https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=12513

This article describes Prior Written Notice and includes a sample letter than you can tailor to your circumstances: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/pwn.throw.flag.htm

You have your work cut out for you this summer!


Chris: What, other than begin Due Process Proceedings, can we do now that the District has decided to terminate services and change our son’s placement without our consent and against our expressed wishes? (Specifically, move from a collaborative class to a 12:1+1, eliminate the behavior plan, change testing modifications, etc.)

Mari:I hate to ask the obvious, but have you requested another IEP? That request should be honored. Be sure you know the law! Get both books from this site and read them from cover to cover: From Emotion to Advocacy and Special Education Law. Put in labeled sticky notes and highlight pertaining passages so you can assess them quickly at the meeting.

Prominently displaying Pete Wright’s book is nearly as good as bringing along a special education lawyer. (I’ve read about 50 books concerning disability law and those two books are by far the best.) Of course If you can bring a lawyer along, it will have a big impact.

Next step: Due process. I hate to sound like a commercial, but this site sells a great DVD that show you exactly what to expect- and you do need to know what to expect. If you understand the process, and you know the law, you won’t need a lawyer.

I have to say, this school district sounds bad. Do you have other options?

Services / Terminating Services:  REVOKED IEP FOR MISREAD DATA

Alyson: My son’s school stopped his IEP last year after having it 5 years and I didn’t realize I had any rights!

Wrightslaw: Alyson, you need to get up to speed on your and your son’s rights. Here’s an easy self-study course from Wrightslaw. https://www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/14/ss.parent.rights.htm

Hundreds of pages of information on the Wrightslaw site. Start here:

Get a copy of Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy and Wrightslaw: All About IEPs. If you want your own copy of the law, IDEA 2004, get a copy of Wrightsaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition. (Book returns in excellent condition are available at steep discounts if you call Harbor House Law Press, 877-529-4332).

Services / Terminating Services: SCHOOL WANTS TO GET RID OF MY SONS PARA

Sheila: My son has a one-one para in school,full day, goes to a public school 4th gr. He has autism and problems with easily distracted, hard time staying on task,and learns social skill at counseling. School firmly told me, they are taking away his para since he has no severe behaviors. Principal said his para was a crisis management para. I told her the issue was not his severe mental behavior but his sustainability during class work,lesson,etc. I will be having my IEP meeting soon and I feel he still needs this para. Does the school have the legal right to just delete this from his IEP? I need some advice,pls help me.

Wrightslaw: Sheila, documentation and data! Be prepared when you have your IEP meeting. You are an essential part of the IEP team that reviews and revises your son’s IEP, (not just what the principal says).

Is there documentation that your son’s para is only for “crisis management”?
Is there documentation and data (in the Present Levels) about your son’s needs, weaknesses, why he needs a para?
For the annual IEP review, will the updated, accurate, and current Present Levels document strengths that indicate your son no longer needs a para?
Does the school have documentation and data that shows your son is meeting his goals, is progressing in the general curriculum in a way that demonstrates he no longer needs a para?
Do YOU have documentation and data that shows your son needs a para to progress?
Are you documenting everything the school is saying to you and using polite letters to the school to create a paper trail?

Use the search box on any Wrightslaw page to learn more about these search terms: revising the IEP, aides, paraprofessionals, progress, measuring progress, parental rights, documentation

Services / Terminating Services: WITHDRAWING FROM SPECIAL ED?

Michele: Can an 18 year old in the District of Columbia withdraw from special education services?

JG:  Michele- Are you asking if the 18 year old can withdraw themselves? The answer is yes, in most cases.

Under IDEA, a parent/guardian may revoke consent for special education at any time [34 CFR § 300.300(b)(4)].

Also under IDEA, all procedural rights and protections transfer from the parent/guardian to the student upon the age of majority [34 CFR 300.502]. In D.C. (and most states), the age of majority is 18. So a student would be able to withdraw themselves from special education at that time.

An exception to this is where the parent or another individual is court-ordered to make decisions for that student, such as under guardianship.

See here for more info: http://dcps.dc.gov/page/transfer-rights

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Mary:  What is “specific misrepresentation” as it applies to the due process timeline? A DP hearing request was withdrawn pursuant to a settlement agreement, then a breach of the agreement occured, the federal court dismissed the claim due to failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Now the district claims the statute of limitations has been exceeded. during the pendency of the federal case. Is the settlement agreement a “specific misrepresentation” which should result in an exception to the timeline?

Wrightslaw:  Terri, your questions require opinions by an attorney who is familiar with special ed law AND the facts in your case. Are you represented by an attorney? If so, you need to put these questions to him/her. I would be reluctant to give up your rights and your child’s rights in exchange for a private school placement that may or may not be appropriate. Public schools are responsible for ensuring that children with disabilities receive FAPE. This responsibility continues when the school district places a child in a private placement. If you give up your rights to bring action against the district, what can you do if the private school cannot or does not provide your child with FAPE? You have several important decisions to make. Please consult with an attorney who has expertise in special education law in your state and the issues in your child’s case.


MD:  Prior to a due process hearing, the school system and parents entered into a settlement agreement. The hearing was subsequently dismissed. The settlement agreement, among other things indicated that the student would enter (return) during the 2014-2015 school as a sophomore and then the 2015-2016 school year as a Junior. The school placed the student in the 9th grade for the 2015-2016 school year, and subsequently placed the student back in 9th grade (lowering the standards). They retained the student back 2 years. FYI. The student has an average IQ, SLD/dyslexia.

JG: MD, In some states, the state Dept of Education or special education hearing officers will review compliance with a settlement agreement. I would suggest contacting the agency that conducts hearings in your state to inquire about this.

Otherwise, settlement agreements are considered a contract and compliance can be reviewed in state or federal court.

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Tina:  My non-communicative autistic son will be going into high school next year and at his iep they are telling me that his speech therapy could be reduced because they do not have an onsite speech therapist at the school. He has been in te school system for 11 years and they have not yet taught him to communicate his needs. I have tried to push using an ipad with speech apps but have met much resistance. Now they tell me there is not enough staff and the therapist they have is only there 2 days a week with a lot of students to see during that time. I thought they had to provide related services based on the child’s unique needs rather than the services available. Please advise. Thanks!

Sandy:  Tina, you are correct about the school having to provide for your child’s unique needs, not what their staffing permits. They can hire additional therapists, can contract out, or can pay for your own private therapist. Ask them about those options. Otherwise, I’d provide them with a 10 business day written notice that you are planning to obtain private speech services to meet your child’s needs due to their failure to provide FAPE, and then present them with the bill. If they don’t pay, you could then pursue legal recourse (state complaint, mediation, due process). Good luck!


Michelle:  My son just mainstreamed this past school year. He is hearing impaired. He has been successful, but has worked really hard to be where he is at. In Dec. his IEP was changed to take away weekly group speech and move speech to consult only. Now we are at the end of the year and doing his IEP for the following school year. They want to take out speech completely and I absolutely DO NOT want to take away the consult speech away from his IEP. I feel he is doing well and doesn’t need speech weekly, but more for maintenance. Maybe speech once a month. I have noticed he is starting to be inconsistent with certain sounds, etc. Well, now they are telling me that even with consult only that they don’t have to give him speech unless it is affecting him academically. That is NOT what they impressed upon me during his last IEP meeting in Dec.

SharonL:  Michelle, don’t sign the IEP & if the school implements it anyway they must provide you with a document that is called “prior written notice” to explain why they are going against what you think is best. Remember you can request evidence from them to prove he no longer needs speech. The school cannot discontinue services for academic reasons only. You can always request a speech evaluation from the school and sign their consent form. They then have 60 days to perform the evaluation. You can then get the scores & discuss with a professional what they mean. If you don’t agree with the results you can get an outside evaluation & the school has to pay for it. YOu do NOT have to sign the IEP & it will stay in effect until the new IEP is signed no matter what they may try to tell you.


Jaunita:  My son has a speech & language IEP. I have requested a re-evaluation to modify his IEP to more accurately reflect his disability of Autism/ADD assist him with reading, writing, social, organization, etc) not just speech. In August he was 2 yrs behind in writing and 1 in reading, and in the 2 months he’s been in school, he’s no longer behind and is performing at grade level. Thus their denial for a re-evaluation or testing. Yet, they want to offer me a 504 to address his medical diagnosis of Autism / ADD. I’ve requested a prior notice and they’ve never given me one. Is there anything else I can do?

JG:  Here’s general info about state complaints: http://www.directionservice.org/cadre/pdf/WrittenStateComplaintParentGuideJAN14.pdf.

Another route to consider is an independent evaluation. You can have an independent eval conducted at your expense at any time, and the Team must consider the results. There are also circumstances when the district must pay for a independent eval, generally after their own evaluation.

Your local parent center can help you understand your rights regarding independent evaluations under state and federal law.

And, at any time, you may request a due process hearing to dispute the school’s proposals. Here’s more info on that: http://www.directionservice.org/cadre/pdf/DueProcessParentGuideJAN14.pdf.

If the school is proposing to move your son from a 504 Plan to an IEP, they MUST evaluate him first. IDEA requires an evaluation before a change in a student’s special ed eligibility status:  see  300.305(e).

I suggest asking the school to evaluate your son again, remind them of their obligation to evaluate before a change in eligibility. If they refuse to evaluate but still move forward with the change of status (i.e. moving him from an IEP to 504), you may consider filing a state complaint.

You can also consider filing a complaint about the lack of prior notice, but this is stickier. IDEA requires that the notice be provided within a reasonable amount of time, and that is subjective (your state may have a specific time line).


Kaye: The following wording is being written in my daughter’s IEP about her speech sessions:
“Student will receive speech/language therapy by a SLP (etc etc)…on these days with the exception of school cancellations, student/SLP absences, special classroom activities/field trips, state/district testing and/or screenings/registrations, SLP testing/meetings, and any other duty required by the district.” This past year, my daughter did not accomplish her speech goals and had 46% of the scheduled therapy sessions. Most sessions missed were not my daughter’s fault. I was told that the above statement was written and approved by our State Dept.
If the state dept has approved this, how do I dispute this? It’s a violation of FAPE for my daughter and (in my opinion) every child in our district.

SharonL:  Kaye, this happened to us. The only recourse we had was to see if these items were different from what the regular ed students were receiving. In other words, when there are field trips, etc, are regular ed students making up work? If so, you can make a statement about discrimination.
 The other thing you can do is wait to see if your daughter is consistently NOT meeting the goals, and you can request testing to see if she is making progress to determine if she is receiving FAPE. You can ask for outside testing at the school’s expense if you feel that their testing is inaccurate or incomplete. You can indicate on the IEP that you disagree with a service or how it is provided. This way the school can continue services, give you a prior written notice that states why they want to continue as is, or they can meet with you to negotiate a different solution.

Kaye:  Sharon, thanks. My daughter accomplished all of her goals this year, except for speech. She receives speech 4x a week, but has only been seen 6 times this month, and 3 times in March. The SLP is being pulled to help with testing (non-SLP required) because the school is short-staffed. The new wording allows these sessions to be missed and there is no obligation for the school to make them up.
The school is claiming the Rowley decision as the basis for this being allowed (along with the state dept approval – although the state hasn’t told me yet that they did approve it). I’m still disputing this as a denial of FAPE and “good faith” effort – I guess we’ll see what happens. Thanks again.

Follow Up –
Kaye:  I spoke with the state dept and they emphatically denied writing and approving the wording. So, it’s being pulled out of all the IEP’s in the district (which is good). I guess the lesson here is if a district says that the state has told them to do something, it never hurts to double-check.


Sarrie:  Can a speech pathologist and a resource teacher work together with 2 students at the same time (one does not receive resource) for a 30 minute block and that count as 30 minutes of speech and 30 minutes of resource?

Wrightslaw:  Sarrie, Like many situations, the devil is in the details. Have you observed at any time during these sessions to see if / how this works for your child? Once the IEP team determines exactly what your child needs, it should be explicitly written in the IEP so that it is clear what should happen in the class and what services your child should receive.

As NH Advocate Sue Whitney says, “If 2 Children are Entitled to a Complete Apple, You Need 2 Apples”


JG:  Regarding sharing the time between two students, this is okay as long as neither student‚Äôs IEP specifies otherwise.

On a side note‚ IDEA requires that the IEP list the frequency and duration of services, but does not actually require that the grouping size be listed (some states may). This is one of the greatest failings of the IEP form, in my opinion. Parents often assume a service is one-on-one when, more often than not, it’s not.

Regarding the provider time overlapping, I’m not 100% sure. If one of the services was listed as a consultation to the other provider, then it might be okay. But if both are listed as direct services to the student, my hunch is that it‚Äôs not okay. I would suggest contacting your state Dept of Ed to be sure.

Chuck:  This is a question for the state education agency special ed department.

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Mary: My son was deemed ineligible to play for his highschool team due to an F on his report card. Has anyone had success including a provision in their child’s IEP that their grades should not affect their eligiblity for playing on a school team? Vicki: Most grade requirements (at least at the high school level) are set by the state. I don’t know if there’s an option to get a waiver, but every state I’ve lived/worked in (about 8 of them) requires a minimum of a C

Mindy: Hi Mary, this is my situation with the sports–..my child is a competitive athlete. He has made some teams and has not made others. If his grades are failing or does not meet standards–he does not play. I do not press for any accommodations on his IEP pertaining to sports as he has LD. Still, some of his sports clubs have autistic students and everyone, regardless of IEPS, are held accountable for their grades, etc. Grades should affect eligibility. I can only speak from my experience with my son and his LD as the. Coaches and the sports teams motivate him to maintain high grades but it come from within him. Also, the issues at FSU with athletes with 1st grade reading levels–instilled a passion in me that my child will not be giving preference to play sports. My child has to earn that right with had work and good grades.


Dawn: If my son has been determined ineligible per IHSA rules for Football because of his grades, but his IEP allows him extra time to turn assignments in can I use that to make him eligible? He has the extra time but when he does turn them in the teachers are not updating the grades regularly so he was made ineligible 3 weeks ago and appears will be for the rest of the season because the assignments are marked as 0 points.

MORNING: I think there are some underlying issues that must be addressed. Is he having academic difficulty? Is the case manager as well as your son working with the teachers to ensure that his accommodations are clearly outlined? I think the “Ineligible for sports” may be a moot point. There should be proactive measures put in place so your son and his teachers understand the accommodations and expectations. I would not try to use my child’s IEP to make him eligible for sports. I would use the IEP to examine goals and progress monitor. Sports at the high school level and eligibility are serious matters but my son’s academic progress is more important than eligibility. However, participation in competitive high school sports do motivate my child to do well and stay eligible.

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Daisy:  My niece has an IEP. She gets all her tests read aloud,extended time and small-group setting. She took a test last week and had no accommodations. A student teacher administered the test. My niece overheard the regular teacher tell the student teacher to note in her log that my niece received the accommodations. The school district has not been providing services, but continue to tell parents that they are providing them. My niece has told the parents she is not receiving services. This comes down to he said, she said. My niece is also being verbally abused by teachers. The teachers talk openly to each other in front of students about my niece. I want to send my niece to school with a digital voice recorder or hidden camera to start recording these incidents. Is this legal?

I would like to know what the law says about a student taking a digital recorder with them to school to record exchanges between the student and a bully. The bully is a teacher. No one from the district believes this is happening.  I have spoken to the principal, guidance counselor and special education director. They all say my child is lying. The teacher yells at my child, calls her lazy, says she is a liar after we complain. During a recent parent-teacher conference, the teacher was sarcastic and obviously angry. When my daughter tried to speak, the teacher cut her off in mid-sentence. I had to intervene three times so she could finish her thoughts. The situation is unacceptable. Does anyone know about recording devices and recording someone without consent?

Wrightslaw:  Gigi, please don’t send your child to school with a device to secretly record an abusive teacher.  You wrote: “I have spoken to the principal, guidance counselor and special education director. They all say my child is lying.” Have you put your concerns in writing? After you talk with people, you need to follow up with a letter that describes what happened, who said what, etc. If you write letters when incidents happen, they are evidence that the school knew about the teacher’s behavior, took no steps to protect your child. If you don’t write letters, it’s your word against another person’s word. You lose. Write a letter about the parent-tchr meeting. You’ll find sample letters here: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/ltrs.index.htm

Mom from Texas:  Daisy, I think you need to rethink your role as advocate. How will this help your niece in the end? It won’t get her an education and it won’t make the teachers like you or want to help. I have had some very difficult times with school officials and let me tell you once I changed my approach and stepped up things got much better. First, have you/parents put all your concerns in writing to the principal and teachers? If not then you should look up letter to a stranger on this site. Your job is to not make enemies but to make these people want to help your niece. Sometimes we have to change how we react in order to get what we want for our children and letting the teachers and schools save face. Remember to keep copies of all emails and letters in the child’s school folder in case you need them later.

SharonL:  Daisy, having your niece take a hidden tape recorder would put a lot of stress on her. I think it would be better to schedule an IEP & ask your niece to come to the meeting with you and discuss the issues. It is difficult for people to lie when they are all facing each other. At that time you may inform the team that you will be bringing a digital recorder so you can have a record of the meeting. It allows you to focus and not have to worry about taking notes. You can also discuss the verbal abuse at that time. Please note that we have had a situation like this and have discovered that my son caused some of the issues as well. This allows everyone to come clean and come up with a resolution.

Morning:  You may want to consider getting training as well as the parents in IEPs, accomodations, etc. Call your state department of education. You are very concerned as you should be. The parents can call a team meeting or a PPT To discuss the concerns and discuss some changes, etc.. The parents must be fully aware and understand how to truly advocate for your niece and that takes knowledge, reading and researching. Hidden recorders are not the answer and can cause legal issues. You don’t want to put her in a situation like that with a hidden recording as she can get in a lot of legal trouble. Focus on learning the law, educating the parents and understanding how advocacy works. Kudos to you–your niece has someone who listens to her.

Tape Recording / Video: CAMERAS IN CLASSROOM – LEGAL?

Kathy:  Is it legal to have cameras in the classrooms in Tennessee

Wrightslaw: Kathy, the issue of cameras in the classroom is governed by state law. The federal special ed law does not address this issue.


Barbara: Does federal law prohibit photographing or videotaping students with special needs for a teacher’s professional portfolio? I’m a graduate student in education, and one of my spring courses focuses on portfolio development. Our text says we should be “sensitive” about children with SNs and not include them by name or photo; it also says federal law prohibits videotaping children with SNs. Is this true? If so, why? I understand we should obtain parents’ permission and should not identify kids by full names. But if teachers are supposed to demonstrate their ability to work with diverse populations, how can we show that without including these children in our portfolio?

Wrightslaw:  Barbara, Pete and I discussed your question. We are not aware of any law that prohibits videotaping children with special needs. The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that public school students have very limited privacy rights. Public school students with disabilities do not have greater privacy rights. Perhaps you can ask your professor about this law – we’re interested in what you learn.

Rob: We want our district to grant us permission to videotape our daughter in class, on the playground and during therapy sessions. We know she is not making the progress they claim. We know this from her actions outside of school and from observing her in the classroom. The administration, district teacher and paraprofessionals attempt to discourage us from visiting our daughter at school. They claim we are a disruption and distraction when we do so (they do this to other special needs parents we know in the district). Is it possible to get permission to only videotape our child? What laws allow us to videotape her so we can work with her at home?

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Shawn:  I Live in Ma. And I’m wondering if we have the right to request proof of our son’s special education teachers certifications. The school claims she is Wilson and Orton Gillingham trained but will not provide any documentation to back this up. They are telling us their word is enough proof.

Wrightslaw:  Shawn – Of course you may request your son’s teacher’s qualifications. But this is no guarantee the school will provide them. Kind of makes you wonder – right?
Here are two articles that may be helpful. They address concerns similar to yours. Teacher Credentials: Can I Request Them Without Insulting a Teacher? https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=258 and
How Can I Know if My Child’s Teacher is Highly Qualified? https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=135

At the very least, put your polite request in writing to the school. If no response, follow up with a second request.


Michele:  My son’s IEP states that he be placed in the resource room for math and lanquage arts. The school asked me to sign an amendment changing his IEP to read “Special Math” because the teacher is not special ed certified but is “highly qualified” in math. I haven’t agreed and had a meeting with the superivsor of special services to see what other options they woudl provide and none involved what his IEP states. There are 11 children in the math resource room with an aide. Do I have to go to mediation or is there another direction I can go?

Jennifer:  The first question I would ask is: Is your son making progress in math? If he is, go with the ‘highly qualified’ teacher and don’t sweat the certification issue.


Zack: School gave me a caseload of high school students to manage. I only have my certification in elementary/middle school. I was told that I would need an emergency license then SPED director told me that I didn’t and that she “would take care of it on her end.” Is this legal? If I get an emergency license, does the school have to pay for it?

Chuck: Zack, the answer to your first question depends on your state regulations. I suggest that you check that this is handled properly. The answer to the second question depends on district policy or procedures.


Tom: does a non-certified sub in a special needs class go against the IEP

Sophie: I have seen this happen quite a bit in my district. (Occasionally the non-certified sub is an improvement!)

I am not an expert on this, but I think that if the non-certified sub is filling in regularly for the teacher (as opposed to the assistant), and is not doing a good job, I think it is worth asking some questions and expressing some concern.

Chuck:  Probably not, but depends on your state policy & rules.


Jen: Is there a teacher:student ratio for sped. classes outlined in the law? I have a resource class with 11 enrolled students and no para. (That’s only one example.)

Chuck: There is no federal rule on this, but a state may establish ratios. You can check on the state agency’s sp ed website or with the state’s parent training & information project.


Sylvia: if an ard mtg is held for cerebral palsy student and general educ teacher is absent, how do you proceed?

Chuck: Unless the parent agrees to the meeting continuing, the meeting should be rescheduled.


Lisa: The Director of Special Education cancelled my daughter’s transition ARC from Middle School to High School and her secretary stated “She has already met the teacher’s so there is no reason for a meeting. I disagree. Is there anything I can do?

Wrightslaw: If the purpose of the cancelled meeting was to develop a transition plan, it was essentially the same as an IEP meeting with specific participants required – you, a reg ed teacher, a special ed teacher, an administrator, an individual who can assess and explain test scores. I encourage you to read Chapter 9 about Transition in our book, All about IEPs at https://www.wrightslaw.com/store/aaieps.html

cynthia: dont sign it! i would make the changes you want need to have, then make another iep meeting appt. take new iep have them sign it.


Edith: My son is in 4 grade he has ADHD and Autism. In his IEP he has to have 1 hour every day with the Special ED teacher, but she is not going to pull him out of his class for his one hr with her one on one. Also she wants him to lie about it. She told me on Friday that she had talk to my son about using the computer during the Math STARR test. But my son told me in front of her that she never got to see him that day. She try to convince him she has pick him up about 11 a.m. I just getting frustrated with not getting my son’s accommodations being provided. Please help. I don’t know what to do next.

Chuck: I suggest putting your concerns about this situation in writing to the principal & the sp ed director. If you have already done so, you can do so again & can consider making a state complaint or requesting mediation. You can also get help/support from your state parent training & information center. You can find a listing of these under topics on the home webpage.

Teacher Issues: TEACHER RIGHTS

Angel: Does a paraprofessional have the right to take a student to the Child Study Team without consulting the special education teacher first? What can a paraprofessional do with special education students in a self-contained setting? By law, what are the limitations of the paraprofessional when it includes the special education students? I am looking for a resource that will help me to clearly define the law that governs the special education teacher and paraprofessionals duties, roles in the classroom.

Chuck: Angel, This issue is addressed on this website at: https://www.wrightslaw.com/heath/parapro.qual.htm


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.


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


Lewis:  I am in California and my child’s school just told me that there is a new Special Ed teacher and that, she holds a multiple subject teaching credential, and will be working on her special education credential.  Shouldn’t the teacher actually have completed a Spec. Ed certification and not be in the process of/working on obtaining the certification? I thought that this role needs to be undertaken by someone who is highly qualified.

Chuck:  The CA dept. of Education would have to answer this. It is not uncommon for states to allow certified teachers to have a special ed permit while they complete training fort this certificate.

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Sylvia:  My daughter’s has an IEP for SLD and ADD is mentioned in her IEP.I looked into ESY and was told that this was not for her it was for kids who needed help with dressing, grooming, social skills. No mention of that in the application of ESY.I called the director of the ESY who confirmed it would be tailored to my child’s individual needs.Then I was hit with the need to show regression for her to qualify and she would not get any math help because it was not in the IEP. I insisted something else was going on with her disability, then I was told if they’re to test her she would likely no longer qualify for any services,adamant about that, but if I wanted them to they would test her it was my choice.I chose to get my own testing.$949.The meeting was postponed til my results come back.She still qualifies, shouldn’t they pay me back?

SharonL:  Sylvia, yes the school must pay for the outside testing. Call the director and ask who the bill should be sent to. I have done this with 2 of my children through the years when I did not agree with the test results of the school. They will pay you. It is a law.


Nadia:  Can someone please help. The school is forcing us to give our child an IQ test and they told us that he needs to take one in order to be on Portfolio, which is the year end testing for special needs students. If we don’t do it, he will have to have TCAP testing, we live in Tennessee. Can someone please help me. I don’t know the law. I’m not going to IQ test him. I don’t want him labeled intellectually disabled. He is not that. He has a seizure disorder. Please help me. Thank you very much.

Jennifer:  Nadia, for most disability categories in special education, an IQ test is part of the required battery to identify students and place them in the program. Check out the Tennessee Special Education website to verify this. If your son is having seizures and this truly is his handicapping condition, there is the possibility that the committee will decide he fits in the Other Health Impaired category. You say you ‘don’t know the law.’ The sooner you get to know the law, the better equipped you will be to make decisions about your son.


Becky:  Daughter is struggling with some of her high school exit exams in Writing, Math, and Social Studies. The school’s remediation plan is to put her in a Study Skills class with a Computer Teacher and have her sit and answer questions on a website. She is a Sp Ed student with an IEP. I think she needs to receive individualized instruction from a teacher instead of trying to remediate herself through a website that has already been shown to be ineffective for her. After countless hours on the website her scores actually declined. What does the law say about remediation?

Wendy: Becky, I would request an IEP Meeting to discuss your concerns with remediation. I would suggest making sure that when they ask for parent concerns that you address your issues and make sure they are added to the IEP document. I would have specifics and documentation of why the current remediation does not work for your child. I would also go in with a proposed plan that you think will work for your child. Make sure you schedule a follow up IEP meeting to re-evaluate the changes that are made and make sure the new plan is working. Remember a parent can request an IEP meeting at any time to discuss concerns. Yearly is just a minimum. Hope this helps.


sue: My daughters school has her diagnosed as Specific Learning disabilities. She is below in all academics and going into 6th grade next year. What questions should i ask the school to get a better diagnosis? She has autism. I want to get my child tested for cognitive impaired. What test should i ask the school to do ? This is for my 12 yr old.

Chuck: It would help to know your state’s definition of cognitive or intellectual impairment/disability. IDEA still uses the term “mental retardation”. Typically the state definition will address “sub average intellectual functioning” & deficits in adaptive behavior. So tests would need to measure intellectual functioning & the level of adaptive behavior. There are a number of tests designed to test these. Districts usually have 1 or 2 tests of each type that I like.


Jo:  My child has in her IEP that she will get pulled out and have extended time on State and other Standardized testing, but the school and school district has refused to provide this. Based on the information that it’s not documented that she needs to have extended time on each and every assignment and test that she has taken and that it must be documeneted by th teacher in each case, since this is not the case,I did not know about this policy beforehand, and she has some tests and assignments that she needed extra time and others not, the school and the state refuses to provide the accomadations as written in her IEP. Any suggestions on how to fight this? Thanks in advance.

Sharon:  Jo, we had this problem and we requested an IEP meeting to put this accommodation on the IEP for all items our son needed. At the time we did IEP’s there was a specific place to put modifications & accommodations for standardized testing on the IEP. I agree with the school. If the accommodations are not specifically not spelled out in the IEP than the school does not legally have to provide it. I feel bad for parents who get talked into signing IEP’s that are very general & not specific because it gives the school greater leeway to not follow the law. If you need help with the IEP contact a local group of the learning disability association or some other advocate group. They may have someone to help you with how to get these items on the IEP.


Karen: My son has a speed processing issue and in his elementary school they give him as much time as he needs to complete quizzes and tests, including national standardized tests. Next year when he is in 8th grade, he will be taking a placement test for the high school in our community. The high school only allows for 1 1/2 times the regular allotted time to take tests which they administer. I know from a relative who lives in another school system in our metropolitan area, that her son in high school gets as much time as he needs to complete his quizzes and tests. Why do school systems put arbitrary restrictions on time for tests when dealing with a student who has speed processing issues? It’s like putting a size 6 shoe onto a person who wears a size 8 shoe. How do I get unlimited time for my son when he is in high school?

Chuck:  Karen, the school is using a “one size fits all” model for testing students with disabilities. If reminding them that this is not allowed under IDEA & Section 504 does not change their opinion, you can appeal this to the sp ed director. If this does not work, you can make a complaint to the state ed agency or Office of Civil Rights.


Carrie:  I am a graduate student working with a parent concerning using the I-Pad on the NYS Regents Exams. Currently the district the child attends states that use of the I-Pad on NYS exams is prohibited. I am writing to see if there are any known instances/documentations in NYS where students have been allowed to use a tablet or I-Pad device as a word processor on these exams.

Sharon:  Carrie, my son attends college right now & was on an IEP in high school. He gets testing accommodations with the use of a computer & Kurzweil to read the test to him. They will not allow any student to use their own computer/Ipad, etc because they could have a file with the answers & cheat. If this child qualifies for accommodations/modifications then the school will need to provide accommodations like this college is doing. When my son was in high school he received a person who read the test to him & scribed the answers if they were long word answers. My son has dyslexia and disgraphia & it takes him time to read & write & even though he is allowed more time to complete the test these accommodations help him be on a level playing field like the regular ed students.


Jen:  My 2nd grader is supposed to have testing accommodations. His IEP says he can respond in the test booklet or have a scribe. He has had a scribe in the instructional setting as needed. I was stunned when he mentioned that he had no scribe for last week’s standardized testing (over multiple days) and completed a bubble answer sheet. Last week he was a disaster emotionally and behaviorally as a result of the stress of test taking. I had no idea that the stress was worsened by the lack of accommodations. They are in complete violation of his IEP and I feel his test scores are invalid. I’m trying to stay on positive terms with the school so I’d like to be non-confrontational when I bring it to their attention and give them a chance to fix the situation. However, how can they really fix it? Retesting would be stressful.

SharonL:  Jen, having accommodations for tests in the classroom on the IEP will not normally automatically mean the same for standardized tests. There is usually a separate sheet on the IEP for this. Check that first to see if you accidentally did allow for what they are doing. If so convene an IEP meeting to discuss to get this added. I don’t think you can go backward & have the test retaken but you can be sure it is done in the future. If the accommodation is on the IEP for standardized tests than it is your call on how they should correct the problem. You will have to bring it to their attention.


Linda:  He made NO progress, actually dropped. Now he’s going into middle school with 4th grade math & reading. He is diagnosed with ADHD and Aspbergers. He is behind in most subjects but last year his school seemed to want him to succeed. Test scores all went up 10 points that year. This year he was moved to another school where they DONT follow the IEP. I’ve requested several IEP meetings and they claim they will do things like send him to resource daily, but don’t. At one point they took him off an individualized math program saying he’s “keeping up with his class”, yet his report card says he doesn’t understand the basics. I’ve tried to see they follow the IEP but its evident they don’t. I’m sick and angry, but what can I do now?

SharonL:  Linda , if you can prove that your son did not improve & in fact dropped you may have a case where the school is not providing FAPE( Free& appropriate education). You need to get standardized test scores for this year as soon as possible to compare with the test scores from his last evaluation. By law you can request an evaluation once a year. Do it. ONce you get the results you can compare & then meet with the school to discuss. Take a professional with you if you can to help.


Melissa: I could use some help interpreting results from a speech eval for my 8 y/o. The school isn’t very helpful. He scored 45th percentile for the “total test” but only 20th percentile for interpersonal negotiation. The SLP summarized that he is consistent with his peers and is appropriate and in line with his peers. We’ve had a lot of resistance from the school and I’d like some outside input. The score and summary don’t add up in my opinion.

JG:  Melissa –FERPA, the federal law regarding student records, provides you with access the your child’s educational records – including evaluation results. FERPA also requires a school to “respond to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations” of student records.

I suggest that you first exercise this right. Ask for a meeting with the therapist to have her explain the ins and outs of the evaluation results and how she arrived at them.

If you are not satisfied with the conclusions that she reached or the quality of the testing, I next suggest that you exercise your right under IDEA to request an independent evaluation at public expense.

Sophie:  To me, these numbers mean that overall he’s in the average range, but in the bottom fifth for interpersonal negotiation.

Judging from the SLP’s difficulties communicating clearly with you, it sounds as though she herself might score a bit low on interpersonal negotiation! Or maybe it’s just statistics that are her weak suit.

Before you decide whether to get an independent evaluation, which can take some time to bring to fruition, perhaps you could call an independent SLP and ask her to help you interpret the school’s evaluation. Then you would feel on more solid ground in your conversations with the school.

I think that if the independent SLP wants your business, he or she will not mind taking a quick look at the district testing and taking 5 or 10 minutes to go over their results with you.

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Bonnie:  where in Wright’s law 2nd edition will I find information about continuing training for parents, teachers and students, using their dynamic communication devices. My students are non-verbal autistic emerging communicators who will have a new teacher next year–she/he will need training, as well as the parents to address their child’s goals.

Wrightslaw:  Bonnie – In Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd edition, use the index for “parent training” or “parent counseling.” If you have the PDF format for your computer, you can search for any term in the text. https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/selaw2/selaw2.htm#formats Another place to find answers: just enter a term in the search box on any Wrightslaw page. If you enter “parent training,” this article is the first result. Support for School Personnel and Parent Training. https://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/support.bardet.htm Don’t hesitate to use the Search box or category check on the Wrightslaw Way Blog when you are searching for information. In fact, I think the answer to this question is archived on the Community Helpline. https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?page_id=6763


Niki: Are there any regulations or requirements for training employees who work with special needs children at camp? If so, what?

El: I posted the same question! They assigned a counselor to her for ESY/Camp and it’s a girl that just graduated high school. Can they do this?

Wrightslaw: Niki – good question and one with no clear answer in federal law. Your question relates to the education and training of people who work with kids at summer camp. In general, education and training is governed by state law, not federal law.

An example is the educational requirements for paraprofessionals under NCLB and IDEA. One-on-one and classroom aides are not required to meet these requirements, regardless of what students they work with. Are the employees who work with special needs children viewed / described as paraprofessionals or aides?

An exception might occur if the people who work with non-disabled children are required to meet higher standards than people who work with kids with disabilities – then you may be able to make a case for discrimination. I don’t think I’d hang my hat on that argument in most Courts.


Bonnie:  I am an EC teacher of non-verbal autistic students. This year my students have been able to get their own dynamic devices, and we , my students, parents, paraprofessionals and myself are learning together, However, there are many glitches in this process because I am not fluent with the devices. My need for myself and my students is to get on going training so as to maximize their success. How do I write it in an IEP? A parent did request more training–but it will be 2 hours total, not on an as need basis? Help

Wrightslaw:  Bonnie, use your Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd edition. Turn to p. 100, 201, 246. Read the sections in the statute and regulations about program modifications or supports for school personnel and parent counseling and training. https://www.wrightslaw.com/store/selaw2.html These subsections envision “services that are provided to the parents or teachers of a child with a disability to help them to more effectively work with the child.” I see nothing in these sections that requires this support and training to be restricted or limited to two hours or a one-time training rather than on-going training as needed. Rather than using “maximize” your students’ success, you might want to use the words from the Commentary about training: “it would normally be targeted directly on assisting the teacher to meet a unique and specific need of the child.” This article will help: Support for School Personnel and Parent Training: Often Overlooked Keys to Success by Susan Bardet. https://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/support.bardet.htm

Bonnie:  My parent was requesting that the training is on going for next year, and for the new teacher, as I am retiring this June.

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Transfers & Changing Schools: CHANGING DISTRICTS

Linda:  My house was sold, technically my district has changed. Does the first district I have been in continue to provide services? Move date May 30.

SharonL:  Linda, the new district will implement the IEP from the old district. When we moved I got a copy of the latest IEP and set up a meeting with the new director to introduce myself and go over the IEP.


Cat: Friend has a son with spastic quadroplegia, requires G-tube feeding. He has an IEP; just moved into a new district and tried to enroll son in school. Being told that they have to have an IEP meeting to determine placement before they can let him attend. I always understood that they were supposed to take a new child in if there was an existent IEP, and do a meeting later if they wanted changes. This kid (for very questionable reasons) has been prevented from being in school at another district for over 6 months. What are the parent’s options–wait until they decide where they want him placed, or can they push for immediate attendance?

Chuck:  They can certainly push the school on this, and can also make a complaint to the state education agency. What you are describing is a violation of the federal law & rules.

Wrightslaw:  Cat – the law is very clear about this. When a child with a disability moves to a new / different school district – in the same state or a different state – the new school district must provide services that are comparable to the services in the previous IEP.

We wrote “Changing Schools and IEPs” to describe the school’s obligations when a child transfers to a new school in the same state and in a different state: https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=3237

Transfers & Changing Schools: MOVE OUT OF SCHOOL DISTRICT

guio: Our son is a special education student 9th grade. He has an IEP (OHI) I would like to write an effective letter to the school principal asking to allow him finish school year. Please help me

Chuck: Sometimes district procedures/policies address this situation. If you can find out if this is the case with your district, that can be the basis on which you build your letter. Otherwise, you can talk about the benefits to your son to stay now & make the transition at the beginning of next school year. Say how he will get to school. Since they are already serving him, this is not increasing their workload.

Transfers & Changing Schools: TRANSFERRING SCHOOLS

Brandy: When a Child transfers to a new school, whether in state or not, and they have an IEP that is not expired, does that IEP follow them and the new school must implement it?

Wrightslaw: Brandy – please read Changing Schools and IEPs – https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/iep.change.schools.htm


Ricki:  Child transfers schools after completing the year and begins the new school at the beginning of October of the same calendar year. The IEP had expired just prior to the child enrolling in the new

Sophie:  Yes.  Please don’t hesitate to contact your state parent center, and/or your state special ed oversight office, if you have any trouble with this.

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alice: School district says that my child is not eligible for child find until October since we moved her to new school in January and that she can not have a service plan in place until 2016-2017 school year and that she does not need a 504 plan. “just because you are requesting a 504 Plan does not mean she is entitled to one” How do I ensure that my daughter’s rights are protected and what specific paper trail do I need to create. The private school receives title I funding, but they argued that “why do you want to have a 504 plan in place? there is no reason to provide this, your daughter is doing well here.” I argued with questions: What happens when she outgrows the private school and transitions back to the public school system without any documentation? What happens when a substitute teacher does not know that my child has a disability, how can we ensure that the accommodations that regular teacher has in place are offered or utilized” They said just because she has a IEP and you have chosen private school does not mean she entitled to a 504. Please help.

Sue: Do I understand correctly that your child already has an IEP? If so, ask for an IEP review meeting and ask that the modifications &/or accomodations that your child needs be put in place into the existing IEP.

Susan: Did she transition with a plan in place from her previous school?


Amy: I need help legally justifying Transition Services (a transition program) once a student has met HS graduation requirements. A school district is claiming that once graduation requirements have been met, they are not obligated to provide additional transition education (at their expense). Help!

Wrightslaw: Is your child still eligible for special education and related services? How old is he? Did he graduate with a regular HS diploma?

If he graduated with a regular HS diploma or “aged out,” the school is not responsible for continuing to educate him.


Anne: Must a team developing an IEP for a child transitioning from Part C to Part B consider the services provided and progress in the Part C program when determining goals and services in an IEP? That is, where a child has been receiving Part C services (in a preschool classroom) and has a history of progress (or lack thereof) at a certain level of services, in the same areas identified as a need in an IEP, must the team consider that in determining whether a proposed IEP (in this case containing fewer supports and service hours) is reasonably calculated to provide educational benefit? Team is saying it is entirely irrelevant because Part B is “different.”

JG: Anne –Sounds like you are have issues with transition. First I want to suggest that you get in touch with your local parent center, which can be a great resource: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.

As part of the evaluation process and while developing the IEP, the Team *must* give due consideration to any and all information provided to them by you for that purpose.

Traditionally, districts are asked to give particular deference to Part C info (assessments, IFSPs, etc.). But any info/data that describes your child’s “functional, developmental, and academic” progress should be considered especially relevant. [34 CFR § 300.304, 300.305, 300.324]

But that consider, unfortunately, is the extent of the Team’s obligation.


Gayle:  When a student is transferring from Middle School to High School is a representative from the High school required at the exit ARD?

Chuck:  “Exit ARD” = ? If you mean, starting at the HS with special ed services, it is good practice, but not required.

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Sue:  My daughter was denied her regular transportation today after having a seizure right before entering onto the bus. I called the superintendent and she wants me to put in writing that it is ok for her to still ride the bus is she has had a seizure. I find this offensive and unnecessary. I am unsure how to address the school administration about this though. My daughter should not be penalized for one of the many disabilities she has which happens to be a seizure disorder and will not harm anyone. Any suggestions?

Wrightslaw:  Sue, if my understanding is correct, your daughter had a seizure as she was about to board the school bus. The school wants your assurance that it’s safe for her to ride the bus. You are offended.  Change facts. Assume that I’m a school administrator. I am not a neurologist so my knowledge of seizures is limited. As a school administrator, I want a letter from her doctor about whether riding the bus is safe for her, what the bus driver should do/not do if she has a seizure on the bus, and the possible emotional impact on other students.

Transportation: BUS QUESTION

Eileen: My son is on the bus for 90 minutes or more one way, 2 times a day. Any suggestions on how I should handle this. I understand that if he has behaviors that I might get someone to listen. My problem is we are meeting the bus in town so we can get him to activities. I would like him to have a little down time between bus and activities we plan for him after school. 90 minutes (or more) feels too long. What do you suggest.

Sophie: I have been able to get some improvements by talking directly to the director of transportation, and explaining my child’s special needs and how they relate to but transportation. A lot depends on what sort of person it is.

Chuck: You can also check if state regulations address the length of transportation. Your state parent training & information center. You can find a list under topics on this homepage.


Bernae:  9th grade son (ASD IEP) with related service transportation in IEP. School agrees special services transportation is required for FAPE & provides door to door van transportation to & from school. He is interested in participating in after school extracurricular clubs two days a week & he has joined the clubs. School agrees clubs are appropriate for him. They claim they have no obligation to provide his IEP related service transportation because he CAN ACCESS the club by just walking down the hall. It amounts to a one way, stranded at school situation. Is their definition of access plausible?

Chuck:  I feel that the school is violating 300.107 that addresses nonacademic services as part of the FAPE requirements. Contacting the sp ed office might get them to change their position on this. If not, making a complaint to the state education agency &/or a request for mediation can be considered.

Bernae:  Thank you Chuck. It may yet come to that, I’m not sure at this point. At a meeting we discussed the possible outcomes of a complaint I might make to the state education agency, and the district said if I were to prevail, they still would refuse to provide transportation to him, and not appeal either, they would just cancel all the extracurricular clubs instead, asserting “clubs would go away”. School play too! They also raised a cost issue. A parent may find their doomsday scenario to be coercive, as I do. Nevertheless, we may be able to work it out. They suggest approaching the school board to formally change the length of the “school day”. That may be a resolution.

Sophie:  Have you tried writing a letter to the Board of Education? Might be worth a try.

I believe I have read something by Pete about it not generally being a good idea to say or intimate that you will or that you might make a complaint or go to due process, etc.

In my state, you can contact Special Education Quality Assurance, and they will give “guidance” to your district. You don’t need to submit a formal complaint for this to happen. Hopefully there is something similar in your state.

JG:  This is a great suggestion! We have a similar office here in Massachusetts (Program Quality Assurance Services – PQA). This office does handle IDEA complaints, but also conducts program reviews and offers technical assistance.

Here, the state complaint system can actually be used for an issue regarding any state or federal education law (special ed, Section 504, FERPA, etc.). When an individual calls PQA with a complaint, they first offer to help the individual work it out informally. And individuals can call them any time with questions about the law, though it helps if the questions are more technical in nature.

For any state that has a similar office, it can be a great (often little-known) resource for parents!

Marge:  Really? …to and from school doesn’t mean their school day, it’s HIS school day which includes his after school activity- and all other activities. Scroll down to E http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/,root,dynamic,QaCorner,12,

Sophie:  Have you tried reaching out to the director of transportation directly?

Bernae:  Thank you Sophie – Our school contracts with an outside provider for special services transportation and has an EA (para) in the position of transportation coordinator, so these sorts of questions fall to the special services director. She has indicated she has “drawn a line in the sand” (her words at a team meeting) and says they will not provide this related service in his IEP for his access to extracurricular clubs (after school at school) because she sees no district obligation here.

Bernae:  Thank you Marge. I agree the district is likely incorrect in their view of “school day”. The school also thinks they get some traction by asserting “clubs are not required.” They feel supported in these views by two consultations they have had with their attorney team.


Julie:  I moved and my son started a new school now that he started this new school they wont provide him with bus transportation.my son was never absent from school before. I don’t have a vehicle and the school is 4 miles away.what can I do about this. Getting my son transportation.

Sophie:  Not sure how to respond to this one, because I don’t know why he’s in a new school this year. Perhaps a phone call to the director of transportation might help you work something out. Don’t waste your time talking to the office staff. If they push you to say what you’re calling about, stand your ground and don’t tell them anything beyond “I have some concerns about my child’s transportation to school” or something like that.


Allen:  my 6 year old son was forced to get off the school bus by the bus driver. it was his 3rd day at the school and his 1st day EVER riding the school bus. His mother waited for 4 hours at the stop he was suppose to get off at, my son was at a crack and heroin infested park where nothing but needles on the ground for 3 hours. I panicked, and cried out, ran red lights and all other things associated with anger and worry. my son is traumatized. has nightmares.he had a orange and 3 quarters to buy stickers, someone took it from him. im lost for words.

Marge:  I assume you called his boss, then call the superintendent and president of the Board. That may be a State/local law violation.

Sophie:  Um, not to lessen the seriousness of what happened, but… four hours? Why didn’t she call Transportation? My rule of thumb is, wait 15 minutes, if no sign of child, call and ask, calmly, if there is a delay, because I’m getting worried.


Lori:  My son is 20 years old and has Autism. He recently lost his license to drive. I asked the school for transportation, which will help him in his transition to adulthood. They offer the “yellow school bus”. I am asking for transportation that meets his individual needs, including his age. Normal 20 year olds do not use school buses, but other modes of transportation. This is the only thing they are offering. Does transportation have to meet his needs, and also meet the requirement for transition to adulthood services?

Renee:  Lori, is your 20 yo son going to school (as opposed to work site)? What other options are available in your community? Is there a city bus that has a route from your home to/near school or worksite? Would a paid city bus pass be appropriate for him in that case? Our area has small buses (not yellow) that can be used by anyone for door to door service, but are mostly used by the elderly or individuals with disabilities. They are expensive for repeated use, though. School buses in general are an efficient way to get a large group of students to school. (Sure they have problems, too!) Do other older students ride the bus? I can see how you might describe how your son is not with his peers on a school bus. In these type of cases, I make sure to present many ideas to the district, rather than wait for their one offer.

SharonL:  Lori, I think it is appalling that the school wants your 20 year old to take a yellow school bus however they legally can offer you that and nothing else if they want to. You offering alternatives is a good idea. One thing you can try is since your son was driving I am assuming that you were getting mileage reimbursement from the school in lieu of transporation services. When my son was seeing an outside tutor for specialized reading for his dyslexia the school paid for his mileage to and from the tutor since they were paying her to teach him. If they have not been doing this for your son they should have and technically owe you the money. Perhaps you can bargain with this for public transportation in your community rather than paying you back all of the money they owe you. It is worth a try.

Transportation: SPECIAL ED BUS?

Beth: We have adopted nine special needs children and 5 of them have ridden a special bus that brings them to our door. (We also have 2 transported by car to other placements). All are on IEPs and all are in self contained classes though they have various disabilities. All have traumatic backgrounds and behavioral issues. This year we are suddenly being told they no longer qualify for the special bus and must ride the regular bus. We feel this would be a danger to them and others but dont know where to go for help. Any Recommendations or advice?

Chuck:  This decision is to be made by the IEP team. Ask in writing when an IEP meeting will be held to discuss this. Send to campus & special ed dept.

Sophie: In addition, you could try giving the transportation director a call. Best case scenario, it’s a reasonable person, who will show empathy once you explain why the regular bus wouldn’t work well for them.

I’m afraid the transp. director may be taking orders from special ed or the superintendent. Hopefully through a chat with him/her, you’ll be able to pick up some information or at least vibes, to try to understand why the sudden change.

Transportation: SUSPENDED FROM BUS

Lynn: My son was suspended from the bus for the second time due to behaviors that are addressed in his IEP. Is this appropriate?

Sophie:  Lynn, discipline of a special learner is supposed to take the child’s disability into account. Do you think this is a cut-and-dried case of the IEP not being implemented, or not being implemented correctly? Or do you think it’s time to do a Functional Behavioral Analysis and create a Positive Behavioral Intervention Plan?

Buses are notorious places for lousy (non-positive) behavioral management. It is sometimes helpful to meet with the driver and the transportation director to do some collective brainstorming.

You may want to consider requesting a bus aide or a separate bus — one of the small ones dedicated to special needs. The main idea here is that your son needs to be able to get to school safely and comfortably in order to access his education


Danielle: My 7year old was left alone by a bus driver with out a supervised guardian at drop off. School was notified in advance that the parent will be late and there was nobody there waiting for him,the door that he enters everyday was locked, so he walked home and called 911. He is now scared to go on the bus and the driver was intimidating him.

Sophie: There are special buses for children who can’t handle the regular bus. This is what your son needs. Good luck.


Lily: District is somewhat baffled as to how to transport child who uses a walker. All other students receive transportation so something needs to be decided. Child can get himself on/off the bus without assistance–issue is who would get walker on/off bus for him. According to district, bus driver may not leave their seat to assist with walker, even if transportation is a regular car/minivan. Of course I can assist upon drop off but on an occasion when I may not be home, what then? What is normally done in these situations?

Chuck: Since the school is required to provide transportation, they must figure out how to handle this. If you are dealing with a private bus provider, they may not understand federal regulations. I suggest that you work with the sp ed department directly.
Sometimes this is handled by placing an aide on the bus.


Gracie: My son goes to a school that is not in our school “zone” for where we live, but is within the same school district. Our ISD has an “Open Enrollment” policy whereby we can request transfers subject to approval by the transfer school’s principal. The application for transfer tells us that bus transportation for a student will not be provided if transfer request is approved. It does not differentiate for reg ed or sp ed, only that transportation will not be provided. As per IDEA, would a sp ed student be exempt from this policy? Wld the transfer school be legally bound to provide bus transp for my son even if we’re not within the school zone? TY.

Sophie:  Gracie, I don’t know the legal answer to your question, but I have been in a similar situation, and I have a suggestion. Contact your director of transportation, and try to make a human connection with him or her. You may be able to get a quicker solution by working something out informally.

You can probably find out about the legal situation by calling your state department of education. My state (NY) has offices that answers questions like these. Good luck.


Jasmine: I have a 10 Yr old son with Autism. He occasional has an outburst where he will stand up on the bus, or yell. His school has agreed that he would do better with 1 on 1aide on the bus to help him through his anxiety issues, and outbursts. The bus trans dept, feel that they cannot hire someone for that. They are now refusing him transportation unless he is in a harness/vest. He is more high functioning, and his dad and I diagree. HELP

Sophie:  Jasmine, transportation is a special education service just like speech services or classroom services. The IEP determines If transportation is needed, it is FAPE. Sounds like the transportation system is separate from the school district. Bottom line, it is the district’s responsibility and they have the ultimate responsibility to provide it. If the company they contract with refuses to follow the IEP the district has to find an alternative method to meet the IEP.

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Angela: Hello. My son ,who is 5 years old, has Autism. We live in California. Is state Law between 6- 18 considered a habitual truancy. My son is in kindergarten. He gets really sick easily, about once every two weeks. I have doctor notes each time, and from when I bring him to the emergency room. When he is home and he feels like doing home work we do. He is very smart anyways. I call the school every time he is sick. Now on the 17th I have a sst meeting for his absences. I have had nothing but problems with the school. My son is only 5 and often sick. Why do I have A truancy for a sick child? Please help me. Angela

Sophie:  Angela, they are trying to wear you down. I think you need a letter from a doctor that describes the big picture — in addition to the notes related to the individual illnesses. Also, sign a permission slip so that the doctor and the school staff can talk to each other. Then, have the doctor talk to someone, such as the principal, on the phone. If you can find an ally in the school, such as the school nurse, that would be great.

The bottom line is that you have to let all this wash over you like water off a duck’s back. Just don’t let them get to you.


Mimi: Our school district reported us to Social Services for Educational Neglect because my 1st grader had 20 absences over a period of 5 months. He is frequently sick and had also a broken hand. All of his absences were considered excused, and there was only 1 absence of more than 3 consecutive days. He had a doctor’s note already for some of the absences, and we were never asked to document the other absences. We had started discussing a 504 or IEP for him but the school said we couldn’t do the evaluation for either without a doctor’s diagnosis, symptom list, treatment plan, and accommodations list. They also said we needed to sign a HIPAA release so the school could talk to his doctors. I had told them we didn’t have a diagnosis yet. The school also reported us to SS for not signing the HIPAA. Is this legal?

Sophie: Mimi, you don’t have to sign for them to talk to the doctor if you don’t want to.

Write a letter requesting an initial evaluation for special education, both IEP and 504, since you don’t know exactly where you’re headed. Do a google search for a sample parent letter (referral for special ed) for your state.

For the accusation of neglect, please see my response to Angela.

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