Same Circumstances – Different Outcomes: Is Money the Key?

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When parents have money, you probably won’t have as many issues with the school.  These parents can hire an attorney, fight back, or pull their children out of public school.

In smaller rural areas, where the poverty rate is high, you will find more IEP issues. Schools are pushing Special Ed Diplomas, misleading parents, and retaliating against others.

The key is parents who educate themselves and are willing to learn advocacy skills.

While having money helps if a family decides to withdraw their child from public education, having money doesn’t give them an easy ride if school leadership is corrupt or believes they must fight parents on everything.

We’ve trained tens of thousands of parents on their rights but, more important, in advocacy skills – how to create paper trails, how to measure their child’s progress objectively, etc.

Many / most of these parents don’t have deep pockets but they succeeded in getting good quality special ed services for their kids.

School leadership and Culture

A big factor, often overlooked, is school leadership and school culture.

Many large affluent school districts that have a greater than average percentage of highly educated, high income parents draw lines in the sand, won’t negotiate on anything, and spend huge amounts of money on attorneys fees to fight the smallest request.

We live in a rural county, population about 10,000, about 1,000 kids attend three schools. About 1/3 of these kids get free or reduced lunch, parent education level and income is below the state average.

Yet, kids who attend the three county schools consistently score higher on the “high stakes” tests than kids who attend school in the high income counties. The cost to educate each child is lower and teacher salaries are lower, but the kids are getting a better education.

So much depends on the attitude of the administrators, their willingness to educate teachers, and the belief that we have a responsibility to educate our kids, as best we can.

  1. I am so happy to have discovered your wonderful site and blog. I have a question that is not really a comment on this blog post, but a self-standing issue. I did not see a place to post it on this site.

    My child is neuro-typical and is in first-grade with an extremely disruptive child. The parent refuses to consent to an IEP. The school admin seems to fear litigation from this parent. The teacher is doing her best, but instruction for all the other kids is suffering.

    After reviewing the relevant laws, I see the importance of parental consent. Now I’d like suggestions on what to ask for to make this situation work. How can I support the teacher? How can I lobby for an aide in the classroom? What specifically should I request or demand that the school provide, so that these first-graders get the instruction they deserve? Thank you.

  2. I have been there and done that. I live in an affluent school district. It seems that they pride themselves on how much they can fight parents. They sued me for due process when I asked for an IEE for my child. When my attorney and I did not accept their mediation offer I found my car vandalized the next day. I won the due process but when it came to giving the contract to the provider the Director wrote a letter to the judge challenging our choice. This action delayed the whole process. It seems that feeding her ego was more important than my child’s needs Now my child attends a charter school outside the district.

  3. Not necessarily. I find many rural schools have limited knowledge of educational law and dig their heals in as they haven’t the money. They completely refuse to recognize the law out of ignorance of the law as much as if not more than being adversarial. They JUST DON’T KNOW. You can’t apply legal leverage if it isn’t recognized. The more affluent school districts know the laws better. A well formed request or argument goes farther. You can’t beat a dead horse. If it’s dead it don’t feel it. If the schools don’t know they are breaking the law they have a deaf ear. They also know they have time to correct if Due Process becomes evident. It is a waiting game for those districts. This is where the people with money for attorneys come in. It has been my experience that rural schools are the hardest to “educate”.

  4. I’ve had nothing but horrible experiences with CSEs and directors of special ed. But I lived in two different school districts in two different states, but rather affluent suburban communities. Both times it seemed obvious that the special ed director’s main purpose was to keep expenditures low. However, now I’m in a poor run down city and the CSE just breaks the law and doesn’t even schedule meetings, because most parents in this district don’t even realize what’s going on. Is there any place where it works the way it should?

  5. Sorry to hear so many people are having such difficulties with the IEP process. Everyone should be willing to have an honest open discussion on how to make a child succeed. Listen to all that attend and move forward. The only position anyone should take is that of the child. Put all else aside and work together.

  6. I am getting many calls from parents telling me things that school district have said to them that is completley inacurrate, I will provide them with the right information and tell them….just because it was said does not mean it’s true.
    parents start out trusting the school system and realize they have to do the legwork and uncover what the law really says to protect the rights of their children.

  7. OK, I live in a large school district where the bottom line (money) triumphs over the other bottom line (kid’s scores). It is so large that it takes an hour to drive from one end to the other. I read in this blog that the leadership attitude is key. But with a District this large like no one listens to parents.

    So how do parents go about changing this? I’d gladly give up the fight and our lawyer if that would get my kids educated, but the district decided to be hard nosed before my kids came along. I can read reports that predate my kids about how they seek to provide “cheap legally defensible in-house alternatives to private placements”.

    We have decide that the only thing we can do is to move. Somewhere near the private schools that my kids need and the jobs that could pay for them. Anything else is tilting windmills.

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