Placement: SCHOOL REFUSING THEIR OWN PSYCHOLOGIST’S RECOMMENDATIONS

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David:  The school district psychologist evaluated our child and recommended a contracted placement at a special private school because of the level of our child’s disability. The district Special Ed officials are not abiding by their own psychologist’s recommendation. They continue to assert that schools within the District can provide FAPE. Can they ignore their own psychologist’s data and evaluation?

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Amy

Placement decisions are made by the IEP team as a whole–not individuals. How did the placement conversation go at the IEP meeting? Were the district special ed administrators there? If not, you might want to consider asking for ALL parties to sit down in the same place at the same time and work through the placement discussion. That’s how teams are supposed to work.

David

The District psychologist and the SpEd supervisor have both been part of the IEP team meetings. The District psychologist asserts our child needs to be at a school where the faculty is highly trained in Orton-Gillngham methodology. The SpEd supervisor says that the District school will be fine because a few teachers had 16 hours of O-G training over the summer. The District psychologists says that is level of training is insufficient for our child’s needs based on what his evaluation results revealed. We are at an impasse and stuck in the middle of the two District employees disagreeing over what is appropriate for our child. Advice?

Amy

You may have no other choice at this time other than what is recommended by the special ed supervisor. However, I would strongly encourage you to work with the school to develop a plan for monitoring your child’s progress in that placement AND when to meet to review the progress as an IEP team. IEPs do NOT have to be written for a year. The IEP could be written for six months (or whatever amount of time the team decides is appropriate) and at the end of that time the group could reconvene to review progress and decide whether a more restrictive placement at a private school is warranted.

David

Amy, I understand your point, that the IEP is a team decision and the school psychologist is just one member of the team. Yet, doesn’t an IEP and placement decision need to be based on data? And isn’t the psychologist’s evaluation report that data? Our child has been in public school and he has not made academic progress and he has regressed behaviorally, so I am hesitant to keep trying public school just for the sake of monitoring and if the District’s psychologist is recommending something that would better address our child’s learning needs. The issue seems to be that the District will not budge on even considering private placement despite their own data recommending it. Is it time for legal action?

Amy

I agree with Chuck. Decisions are made by the IEP team, with the school psychologist being a single member. It sounds like your son’s IEP team is not using the psychologist’s data/report in the way you hoped they would. The team has an obligation to document (in writing) the various placement options that were considered, why an option was rejected, and provide justification (again–in writing) for their recommended placement. This information should be provided in your son’s evaluation report completed by the school. These three items are required portions of any special education evaluation report. Get a copy of your son’s report and read it thoroughly, if you haven’t already.

Chuck

Despite internal, or external recommendations, decisions are made by the IEP team. They should document the basis of their decision, & be prepared to defend it.