School Has “No Retention” Policy, but Teacher Insists We Retain

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My son struggles to learn in school.  In the past, he was behind but the school “moved him on.”

His teacher says she sees success this year and believes my son is making progress, but says moving him to middle school just when he is beginning to make progress is a mistake. The teacher insists on retaining him and wants me to request retention.

The school has a “no retention” policy. What should I do?

The answer is in the basics.

Special education means to provide specially designed instruction and the specially designed instruction needs to be at a level that it will “ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that he or she can meet the educational standards within the jurisdiction of the public agency that apply to all children.”

Is it clear that your son is meeting state standards for 5th grade?

You say the school just “moved him on”. It seems you think that the school has not met your son’s needs in the past.

If the school has not provided the services or programming your son needs, doing more of the same is unlikely to work.

Grade retention is neither –

  • a research based method of instruction
  • nor is it specialized instruction

Retention is not an alternative to specialized instruction and an appropriate placement.

There is no research to support the theory that grade retention results in academic gains.

Unless a private sector evaluator has recommended grade retention, there is no reason to assume that grade retention is appropriate.

You need to focus instead on getting an appropriate IEP for the next year.

Meet with the IEP Team to look at alternatives to the regular public middle school in order to meet his needs. This would be the “other settings” under the definition of special education.

See page 202 in your law book – Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition.

§300.39 Special education.

(a) General.

(1)Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child
with a disability, including–

(i) Instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings; and…

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