Help! My Child’s Rights are Being Violated

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Although I read your newsletter, I am at a loss about how to get my child the services he needs. He is is 9 years old and is diagnosed with ADHD, Tourette Syndrome and Bipolar Depression.

I am fighting a losing battle with the special educators about providing my son with the services he needs and is entitled to. After many confrontations and my persistent insistence, they placed him in a self contained class for emotionally disturbed children for one hour a day. The teacher disagrees that he needs these services.

I have been told by friends that my son’s rights are being violated. I am very frustrated. What can I do?

You need to get out of the loop! (More about this in a minute)

Have your child evaluated by an expert in the private sector who is knowledgeable about neuro-behavioral conditions like ADHD and Tourette Syndrome AND special education. A comprehensive evaluation will give you invaluable information about your child’s unique needs and the educational services he needs.

Ask the evaluator to make recommendations about an appropriate program that will meet your child’s needs. Ask the evaluator to attend the next IEP meeting to explain your son’s needs. (This will help you get ‘out of the loop’).

Relations between you and school personnel are polarized.

You push. The school digs in. You demand. The school places your son in a self contained class for emotionally disturbed children. Conflict increases. No one wins. Your child is caught in the middle. He is the ultimate loser.

Those of you who are “seasoned” advocates have certainly heard this advice before.  But every year, as parents who are relatively new to the system get ready for the new school year, we receive hundreds of emails with cries for help.

Learn How to Advocate

Conflict and disagreements between parents and school staff are normal, predictable events. These problems are not unique to you, your child, special education, or your school district – this is the nature of the parent-school relationship.

You say “I have been told that my child’s rights are being violated.” Without more information, it’s impossible to know if this statement is accurate.

As a parent, you negotiate for services. To be a good negotiator, you need to know the other side’s perceptions and position as well or better than you know your own.

Learn how to persuade others to hear your concerns and want to help.

Complaining that your child’s rights have been violated will not cause the school to provide better services.

Take time to learn to how to be an effective advocate. Your child is young. You have a long road ahead of you. You will find that this is time well-spent.

A Good Starting Point

You need to learn advocacy skills. Visit the Parent Advocacy page – you will find dozens of articles and resources that will help you get started.

Emergency! Crisis! Help! You need to realize that you can damage your child’s case and your child by reacting emotionally, acting impulsively, or believing the school must DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW!

While you are waiting for your appointment with the private sector evaluator, read our articles about creating paper trails and how to write effective letters. Learn how to be Mike Manners, and not Bob Bombastic.

Our book, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy – The Special Education Survival Guide includes a chapter about paper trails (why and how to use logs, calendars, journals) and two chapters on how to write letters. You will also find 16 sample letters that you can use or tailor to your circumstances.

If you are serious about learning how to be an effective advocate for your child, get educated! Wrightslaw training programs are held around the country. If a program is not near you, or you want to learn at your own pace, you can order the Special Education Law & Advocacy Training program.

  1. Oh boy my sons rights are being violated as well. Son has Aspergers and ADHD and Anxiety. School refuses to help and will not monitor the teachers. They won’t follow the IEP because they have other students they care more about. I requested for meetings to discuss my concerns and they ignore me. One time they actually met without me present! His IEP was changed without my consent and they refuse to discuss the changes made with me. I am so tired of fighting with the school. I realize they have other students to worry about about but my son also attends that school and they should act like they care!! What can I do to help my son?

  2. My son is 16 ,he has autism. The office of pupil transportation is refusing to bring him home from the afterschool program. They are saying It will be three drop offs so they are refusing.( going to school in the am 1 first drop off .. going to the after school program which is located at a different site is drop off number two 2. that is it only 2 drop off they will not bring him home . there is no way I will be able to get my son home on public transportation and a taxi is very expensive in NY.( which they may not stop).. my question is if I get this written into his IEP will they accommodate him?

    • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law. It requires that each child who has a disability and qualifies for special education and related services must receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The State Department of Education in each state enforces IDEA. Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) would qualify for these protections.

      If it’s in his IEP yes. Accommodation can be made!

  3. Nancy, It sounds like you are doing many thing correctly. Remember the school should pay for the outside evaluation. The school does have the right to consider an outside evaluation but does not have to agree with it. If you feel strongly about the outside evaluation. ( We have found the outside evaluations to be far more descriptive than the school evaluations) you may need to consult with an attorney. Remember if the school refuses they must write you a prior written notice as to why. You can use the evaluation & prior written notice in court as evidence if you need to.

  4. My son has Epilepsy, Asperger’s and a high anxiety disorder. The school is not following his IEP for a modified curriculum in his main streamed classes, I had him evaluated outside of the school district for the Asperger’s the school says they do not agree with the evaluation and therefore will not treat as if he does. I have request 4 IEP meetings this year alone and have received 1 IEP and 3 informal meetings. I am not a “smart” individual. I am simply trying my best to get my son the help and resources he needs. I feel like I am failing him as his mother. LOST!

  5. My daughter is autistic and verbally abusive behavior by teachers has escalated this year due to issues they have with me. She has an IEP, they don’t comply because they have to teach to the almighty test. The state DoE backs them up. She comes home and tells me that teachers are mean, they don’t like me, and they make me cry. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I invested in a recorder. How do I combat this? How do I help my daughter receive the free, appropriate public education she is entitled to? I don’t want to send her to school anymore because she is being beaten down by their words. It is as if they think autistic means stupid or deaf. She hears every word and understands them. What do I do?

  6. Michelle, Have you tried to get a meeting together with the principal, teacher, yourself and child? This may be a great first step before filing a formal complaint which takes a long time and may not get what you need quickly. We had a situation at the school where the speech teacher was making it difficult and embarrassing for my son to take speech when he was continuing after he was supposed to be graduated. We felt an IEP meeting was not appropriate but instead a meeting with the principal and us and the teacher and we came up with a great solution. You can always resort to the compaint if you cannot get any cooperation with this approach,

  7. how do I file a complaint against a teacher for harrassing my disabled child and what he spends his money on? This has happened one too many times and now I want to file a complaint.

  8. I’ve read the other comments. My grandson is 6, is exceptional, in the gifted class – which is a joke. I pitty the Teacher, 28 students, 3 gifted, and my grandson, more gifted then the other 2 – that’s like 3 classes in one. In Sept. 2012, we were finally told he qualified for a 504, because of Behavioral/Social/Emotional issues. That was why we started trying to get him into Sp Ed. Now instead of Drafting the 504 in Oct at the end of the meeting, it was decided to change it to an IEP. Now the IEP is done – but there is nothing about Behavioral/Social/Emotional issues in it. The PWN that came to my daughter’s house on the 21st – have REFUSED all over it. We have been documenting, now they’re reasoning is we can’t count the number of times, he has hit, kicked, bit, used foul language.According to the IEP School Team – He’s doing GREAT! !

  9. My child just exited the 8th grade reading at a 2nd grade level despite normal cognative abilities. It didnt matter that my childs rights were being violated. I ended up hurting my child by being the parent that is described in the article. If I had to do it all over again, I would demand that something be done RIGHT NOW. It took a lawsuit to get anywhere.

  10. Benny F. THis happened to my son as he was ADD, LD and dyslexic. He was smart enough to be in all regular classes but his reading & writing disability kept him in the “resource room” which is a catch all place for disabled students. We were able to get him a one on one tutor for reading and writing and he was able to be included in the regular classroom with modifications and accommodations. This made him much happier.

  11. Laura You can now have the school provide you with prior written notice and you need to discuss legal action. That is what I would do and have done.

  12. My daughter has ADHD, dyslexia and dysgraphia. She has a 504 plan but does not qualify for an IEP. Sometimes I feel so helpless as a parent because I know what she’s capable of doing but she has a hard time showing it. She has a great advocate however we still struggle with the school to follow her 504. I feel like she’s being shorted an education that she deserves.

  13. Benny F.–

    If he is in a regular school, request a comprehensive speech-language evaluation with an emphasis in pragmatic language. As a school SLP, I see plenty of high-functioning children who have autistic features but don’t really seem to fit the diagnosis of autism. I’d bet that he will qualify for an IEP with some kind of language impairment. That way he could have access to accommodations in a regular school setting.

  14. Our son is too high functioning to be included in a school for autistic school, and does not fit into a regular classroom. In essense we have not been able to find anywhere he fits. He appears to be in the middle. The school for autistic children dropped us and we lost our IEP becaause the austistic school said our child is ready for regular school. It turned out the private school would no longer take him because he did not fit in based on his ability to listen and was disruptive. The public school states there is no place for him in regular school, and ABA Austistic groups he will slide back in. Thoughts?

  15. Ok – so then what is a parent supposed to do after you have paid for an independent evaluation, the Neuro-psychologist attends the PPT meeting with you to discuss the findings and stresses the importance of additional services added to the childs program – and the school STILL disagrees and refuses to provide the services recommended by the neuro-psych??

  16. Our child’s rights are being violated for three years now and no one cares or will help us with this.
    Cps removed our child three years ago for missed school days and ever since then they have been violating his rights in every way as well as our parental rights. He has Autism and is completely non verbal and he has no way to communicate his feelings, needs, wants, etc. If he could speak he would be telling everyone that he wants to come home and that he loves us and we love him and that we are wonderful parents. CPS and the court is violating his rights by taking advantage of the fact that he cannot speak or communicate. He is also a teenager now, 15, and they are still keeping him away from his loving home and family because of school. It is an outrage and no one will help not even lawyers.

  17. My Daughter has DYSLEXIA. Although Dyslexia is a Clinical Diagnosis, the DOE does not recoginize it is as a diagnosis in terms of the IEP or related services available for a DYSLEXIC learner. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS IN TERMS OF SPECIAL EDUCATION!???? Thank You Very Much!

  18. Paula This is a tough one because it would seem reasonable that the school would do something right away with a medical letter in hand. You could ask for an answer in writing or suggest a phone conference with the doctor. You can also request to meet with the superintendent to discuss this with your letter in hand.

  19. Getting an outside professional evaluation is a great idea. Please remember that you can have the school pay for this if he or she is on an IEP.

  20. Patricia – My son was being harassed on the bus by 3 boys. The first time we told the principal and she spoke to them. The harassment stopped for a few days and started up again. We again told the principal and she again spoke to the boys and the harassment stopped again for awhile. The third time my husband called to tell her we were going to file a complaint against the school for harassment and get the police involved and we sent a letter accordingly. The principal then took serious action and told the boys she would get the parents involved and it stopped. The boys told my son “they were only joking” which was a lie but it did stop. All students must be protected against harassment not just the disabled but the disabled seem to get the brunt of it.

  21. My daughter is allergic to her teachers perfume. She had been having asthma episodes since the first week of school in Aug. By Sept 16th her peak flows were down 50-79%. I took a signed document stating she was allergic to perfume to the Principal & asked to have her classrm changed. Principal refused stating some procedures for classrm change had to be followed which would make my daughter stay in that classrm for more than another week. I refused to leave her at school. I ask -did the school district discriminate against my daughter by not changing her classrm out of medical necessity? The principal even refused to accept the letter by the allergy dr. stating she didnt believe me or the Dr. I guess thats why, when i went to the teacher and principal with my letter, they didn’t take my daughters allergy seriously.

  22. I have an autistic 6 year old son who attends elementary school but is in a special education class.
    Since Sept. 20th he has been assaulted 8 times, including today at school, by another student. I have emailed the teacher, principal, assistant principal, autism coordinator, and the special education director for the county. I have written a letter identifying my concerns regarding this matter but still no meeting. What can I do to resolve the matter? Today he was hit in the chest and his teacher continues to tell me that he didn’t seem visibly upset. My son does not communicate at all unless it is with the use of his springboard.

  23. Our son, who is 15 years old, who is deafblind, with multiple disabilities, and CHARGE Association attending first year in high school, is placed with a teacher who is not credentialed to teach moderate to severe. Has no idea how to structure a program that is appropriate to meet my son’s needs. We did not meet or visit this teacher or her classroom. Our son was bumped out of a class and teacher that we decided on before school started, that we can work with. The teacher has rules that we find not acceptable. Tell other aide to not allow drop off or pick up our son inside the classroom, will not allow us to volunteer in class to work alongside my son so we can teach him at home. Having a child that is non-verbal, with out communication with the teacher and seeing whats happening in class is not acceptable to us. Anyone have idea of what to do?

  24. luzandrea – I can’t imagine any teacher screaming at an 11 year old. You need to get you child on a behavior plan and if it takes getting her on an IEP you will need to do that first. REquest an evaluation for special ed via a written letter and then go in and sign their consent form. The 60 days does not start until you sign the school’s consent form. Make sure a behavior assessment is part of the evaluation. Once it is complete you will meet and discuss. You can request a DRAFT result of the testing results to go over with any professionals you have so you are prepared and you do not have to sign anything you don’t agree with. If you do not agree with the tests you can have an outside evaulation done at the school’s expense and they must consider the results of that testing.

  25. Our school filed for due process, I must have accommodations to be able to deal with it.
    They refuse to provide simple electronic communications. Thus the case moves on
    I have no idea what’s going on.
    Flied a complaint with OCR, by the time they do something the case will be over.
    Are there any cases out there in regards to parents rights for accommodations?

  26. I have a 11 year old on an active 504 who is a boarder line personality disorder. The teachers last year agreed to uphold a contract where she would not scream at my child yet she continually did. This year she has started again, she throws out of the class when my child is only asking a question the teacher throw her out of class. The “educators” are not complying with the 504, what can I do as a parent to address this.

  27. Thanks for the encouragement! We did have a re-assessment done, including w/o and with meds. The district does not even read the re-assessment. ACT will not release/acknowledge # of items completed – only a ‘score.’ Other parents with 2e children are being told the same thing. It is a policy by the district.- kids must be failing or close to it, or have more ‘overt’ disabilities – to get any accommodations. Its either disabled or gifted but not both.

    We have secured a tutor for math, and are talking with an advocate and the expert who did the re-assessment about going to the next meeting.

    However, legal action may be the only real path, apart from moving or changing to a private school. Litigation has yet more implications, and will be held against our child and us, including more subtle push-back.

    Again, thanks !

  28. Ron…recommend you get an advocate…there appear to be a number of issues for you to sort out. Suggest you get independent testing, without ADHD meds, to show the difference. Ask your doctor(s). AP courses do not require a “test” to get in….only a “test” at the end. Some are on-line. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

  29. Like GB’s situation…But our child no longer has an IEP or 504. The district/school say she no longer needs either – or accommodations. We have colleagues/friends with 2e kids who are being told the same thing. Other friends & colleagues with 2e kids living in nearby school districts do not seem to have this issue, or at least not to the extent we’re experiencing. As on this website and cites, our child’s ADHD meds, self-and-family accommodations, and giftedness mask her disability – the district twists logic to deny any help.

    Unabated, the outcome is that she will not even qualify for AP/IB because she will not get any accommodations on high-stakes timed tests – ACT, PSAT – & required scores. Her grades will likely fall from boredom: hopes & dreams will fade away – due to the district’s systemic tactics.

    What, then, to do?

  30. GB…if you have documentation you might consider making an OCR complaint. It sounds like the school is trying to scare you. Also, consider another approach, our child’s college has approved the use of “technology” (SMARTPEN, computer, etc.)……look at what he/she might use there. Technology is less expensive than a person and they may be more flexible if you think outside the box and show application to the college environment. Suggestion: To get CollegeBoard accommodations, you need to have the accommodation in the IEP at least four months before the SAT or AP test (that was our direction at the time), so look at what your child would need to take that test and what the CollegeBoard offers. Use that as a benchmark to get started. Good luck.

  31. TS Mom – How did the Dear Colleague letter from OCR help you? I am just curious. Our district refuses to provide the services of an intervention specialist in the classroom of college prep courses. Our child needs a scribe, class notes, extended time, directions read and clarified. Even with the letter from OCR we have gotten nowhere. We were told by the district that no court in the US would back us up. The state department of education is also backing the district. My child does not receive the special education services that are listed in the IEP in the CP classroom at all. How do you change the system?

  32. Ron..USDOE, OCR, “Dear Colleague” letter (December 26, 2007) refers to getting special ed services/accommodations in advanced classes (i.e., A.P., IB)…Has been helpful to us. Also, in reference to tourettes…the hard part about testing is that tourettes can be episodic and will give a false reading if the child is not tic-ing at the time of the test…notes of observed tics made a part of the medical record and video has been helpful to some….remember meds and when those meds wear off can affect homework which, if graded, should be accommodated as well.

  33. Don’t forget if you are concerned about your child’s IEP not being upheld or followed then you most likely can go and see it for yourself. Many states have enacted legislation regarding observations at school by either a student’s parent or outside service providers, evaluators, and related professionals. Inquire with your local school district regarding a parent observation. Be aware any policies will generally have a protection to ask the observer to leave if their presence interferes with instruction or staff, but that is not an excuse for a district to refuse an observation request.

    Just remember it would not be acceptable to record audio or video without consent for other students’ privacy. Also don’t be intimidated if a staff member accompanies you and also observes your child, this is a protection for inter-rater agreement.

  34. Thanks so much ! This is great information, and we will pursue, even though we expect Atlanta Public Schools (APS) will dismiss an IEP out of hand. That is why we were seeking a 504. We would expect APS to vigorously defend its position to the mat, as it did in the Draper (?) case – despite common sense.

    The other reference in the DOE letter appears interesting also’…Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) sent an electronic mail (e-mail) response to you on December 8, 2008, regarding concerns you raised with that office about protections and services under Section 504 and the ADA for students who have disabilities and high cognition.’ Might this email [text] be available somewhere?

    Thanks again !


  35. Our daughter has ADHD (on meds) and is gifted. She had an IEP w/accommodations for extra time from 3-6th grade, at when he Middle School took it away because she makes straight A’s (only through extraordinary studying often until midnight & beyond (which is not sustainable).

    She started high school and we had an expert re-assessment done which documents the need for extra time, particularly for rigorous/high-stakes timed testing. We thought the H.S. would take an objective review for a 504 but we keep getting told no. They didn’t even read the assessment. She took the ACT for Duke TIP but was only able to complete half the questions, so her scores are not a true indicator of what she knows or is capable of. The school board/system cannot/does not have proper programs for disabled AND gifted kids.

    What can we do now?

    • Ron – many parents who have gifted children with disabilities struggle with the schools. We gathered some of the best resources on the web and created a page for 2e children that includes articles, resources, book recommendations, free publications, and a short list of information and support groups about twice exceptional children.

      On that page you will also find the US Dept of Education, OSEP Policy Document, 01/13/10 regarding twice exceptional students, students who have high cognition and who have a disability and may need an IEP that says:

      “The IDEA is silent regarding “twice exceptional” or “gifted” students. It remains the Department’s position that students who have high cognition, have disabilities and require special education and related services are protected under the IDEA and its implementing regulations.”

  36. Patience is a key to getting the results you need. Being emotional is a set back for your son. Paper trails will make your life easier down the road. File all those papers by dates so the last information is first. Yes by all means do all the homework you can to educate yourself for when your case comes up.

  37. Recently, (okay it was last schoolyear) our School District began implementing the “Florida Board of Education Statutes”.~ Graduating from high school in Andover, MA & being married to a Chelsmford, MA graduate; I was always told that Florida as a state (among other states) has some of the worst schooling in the country. Trying not to be prejudicial; but being concerned for my own children (& those I’ve helped over the years through tutoring) I have been concerned about the education or lack thereof that my growing boys are now receiving. In other words, why is New Hampshire now following the standards set in Florida?? Does Florida offer a better education than New Hampshire, or my school district today??? Thank you for your prompt response! Chriss

  38. Our son’s rights are also being violated. The school is not following the IEP, refuses to listen to any professionals we have brought to the table (psychiatrists, therapists,etc.), will not accept any disproving evidence that our son did not conduct himself the way they have reported, and have ignored persistent communications from us about abusive behavior from adults at the school. I wish I had any suggestions, but I am also at a loss!

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