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Maryann:  I live in Pennsylvania. My son was away in Florida for a year in a traumatic situation. When he returned, I registered him In local public school and principal suggested he start in 7th grade to finish for the remaining four months and start fresh the next year for 8th. The vice principal picked him out and basically bullied him every day. He came home every day with a story and every day I called them. I was told the kids that made friends with him are not good kids and he should make better choices. I made an appt for a meeting and was again told he needs to make better choices with friends. About two weeks later I was notified that he was being moved up to 8th grade because he was on the 8th grade level and academically ready. PSSA scores showed him below grade level in everything and I was never told it was a social promotion. They just wanted him out.

He is now failing two subjects, English and math, and being labeled as a space cadet who does not put forth any effort. These two teachers are very wrong about him. He is so anxious he is having chest pain and palpitations and had to be rushed to the emergency room twice and pediatricians also. He was denied testing for IEP and this poor child now is depressed. What can I do?

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Maryann – lots of good advice here. In your letter to request a special ed eval, give several clear examples of learning issue and/or behavior that support your belief that your child may have a disability and need special education and related services.

I’m including a link to a Summer School course we offered about effective letter writing and how to write letters for different purposes.

Our book, From Emotions to Advocacy, includes two chapters about writing letters and over a dozen sample letters that parents can use as templates. And we also have sample letters on the Wrightslaw site.


Administrators look at new kids with watchful eyes. He is the “easy” one to move around as to not disrupt their system with the kids that are already established in the school. Most of those other kids may already have behavioral plans, IEPS, etc. In other words, they are more “protected” by a system that already knows them well. They don’t know your son. Note that some kids who come into new districts do not transition well and “hang” with the “wrong” crowd to “fit in: and get labeled. I have seen this–even with the best of kids. Get him involved in an extracurricular so he will find a peer group and positive adult. Extracurriculars are the keys for kids who transition in middle school years from other districts. Consult with the school counselors.


You need help from someone familiar with your state. Your state parent training & information center can assist you.


“He was denied testing for IEP”–It is unlawful for a school to refuse a parent’s request to evaluate for special education. I suggest you send a letter to your district’s director of special education stating why you believe your son has a disability and needs specialized instruction. Make sure to state that you are requesting a special education evaluation. Follow up with a phone call or visit if you do no receive a return contact within several days.