How do I get my Autistic son into an out of district school when the public school continues to ignore a doctor's recommendation?My son is autistic and I have filed due process last year because of an incident that should not have occurred if he had not been moved to a school that did not have an adequate autism program in place. My son cannot ask questions, still points and moans when he is frustrated. He uses echolalia when talking, which is never in a full sentence. He is 8 years old and still has to wear a overnight pamper because he still doesn't fully understand the concept of going to the bathroom. My son needs one on one therapy, with ABA one on one, a behavioralist needs to be seen at school and at home because of his violent tantrums which are dangerous to himself and others. My son gets none of these services and the school continues to try and convince me otherwise. What do I do now? I'm will file again.
This sounds like a very frustrating situation.Navigating the special education system can be difficult.I applaud your determination.
As you certainly now realize, just because your doctor recommends an out-of-district placement for your son doesn't mean the school is required to provide it.
In order to secure this placement you must establish (1) that the current placement is inappropriate AND (2) that the proposed placement is appropriate.
The law defines "appropriate" as a place where your child can make "effective educational progress" in the "least restrictive environment."Each state defines "effective educational progress" differently, so consult your state regulations and case law.Because an out-of-district placement is less inclusive than your son's current placement, you must also prove that the out-of district placement is the least restrictive environment in which your son can make effective educational progress.
How do you prove your case?With evidence - evaluations, classroom observations, and testing over time, for example.I would strongly urge you to consult with a special education attorney before filing a due process request.Good luck! If you are in the Boston area, contact The Law Office of Lillian E. Wong today.
Does your child have a disability on the autism spectrum? Does your child's disability affect social skills development or make your child vulnerable to bullying, harassment, or teasing?
If you answered "yes" to either question, Massachusetts law now requires that your child's IEP team consider and address the skills and proficiencies your child needs to avoid and respond to bullying. Consider bringing this issue up at your next IEP meeting, or request an IEP meeting today if bullying is a particular concern.
Because this law is new, you might need to educate your child's school of these requirements. Remember the ultimate goal of the new law - protecting our children from bullying.
Last month, the Department of Education released its Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan. While Massachusetts' new anti-bullying law requires schools to create anti-bullying plans, it does not require the schools to implement this model. However, for school districts looking for guidance, this is a good place to start. Remember that schools must also consider parents and community input when drafting the plans, so become involved today! The law requires that public schools submit their plans by December 31, 2010.
Just because your child has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD doesn't mean that he or she is not automatically eligible for special education.This article explains the eligibility criteria under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the ADA.
Eligibility Under IDEA In order to qualify under IDEA, your child must need special education.For example, your child may need special education because ADD/ADHD makes her unable to pay attention in class.Another indicator that your child might need special education supports and related services is if your child's ADD/ADHD causes him to act impulsively towards other students, straining social relations and resulting in school discipline.
Even though ADD/ADHD is not specific disabling conditions under IDEA, a child with ADD/ADHD is usually found eligible for special education under “Other Health Impairment” category. The Federal Regulations specifically include ADD and ADHD in their definition of Other Heath Impairment.Alternatively, a child with ADD/ADHD might also be found eligible for special education under the “emotional disturbance” (ED) or “specific learning disability” (SLD) classifications.
Eligibility Under Section 504
If a child who has ADD/ADHD is found ineligible under the IDEA, she might still be eligible for support under Section 504 of the ADA.In order to establish 504 eligibility, you must show that ADD/ADHD interferes with a "major life activity."Section 504 eligibility is often established by showing ADD/ADHD interferes with the major life activity of learning.
Find out more about special education eligibility in Massachusetts here.
To learn more about the difference between a IEP and a 504 plan click here.
To read a parent Q & A about ADD/ADHD and special education click here.
I receive a lot of calls from parents who believe their child qualifies for special education services, but the school disagrees.
What does the law say?
To qualify for special education your child must have a disability AND that disability must adversely affect the child's ability to make effective educational progress.Schools can deny special education where the lack of educational progress is due to limited English proficiency or lack of appropriate instruction.
What is effective educational progress?
The legal definition varies across the country.
Here in Massachusetts, effective educational progress is defined as:
Documented growth in the acquisition of knowledge and skills, including social/emotional development, within the general education program, with or without accommodations, according to chronological age and developmental expectations, the individual educational potential of the students, and the learning standards set forth in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and the curriculum of the district. The general education program includes preschool and early childhood programs offered by the district, academic and non-academic offerings of the district, and vocational programs and activities. 603 CMR 28.02(17).
It is important to note that Massachusetts' definition of educational progress is not limited to traditional academics, but specifically includes social/emotional development.Unfortunately, some school officials do not understand this, and refuse special education services because the child is getting good grades.
If you feel your child was erroneously found ineligible for special education, contact a Massachusetts special education lawyer for advice.
Where: Maureen Collins-Rea Lecture Hall at Billerica Memorial High School, Billerica, Massachusetts
Presenter: Attorney Lillian Wong
Description: Special Education law can be confusing and sometimes dealing with the school system can be frustrating.
This presentation is designed to help parents learn how to effectively advocate for their children within the special education context.Special education eligibility, evaluations, discipline, and dispute resolution options will be examined by discussing real-life scenarios.
Attorney Wong will also provide practical advice about communicating with the school, organizing your child's records, and advocating for new programs and services.
The program is designed to be interactive, so bring your questions!
Question: How do you handle a school district, when you find out that the school attorney is blatantly misrepresenting the law? She has done that very clearly with my son. Attorneys are very expensive, and I am not sure on how to take this further?
Answer: First, keep your child's needs in mind.It is very easy to get in a war of wills with the school attorney.Before you do that ask yourself - how important is this disagreement to my child's education?If it is important, return the discussion to your child's unique needs and away from the attorney's ego.
Second, inform the attorney that going forward, you will only communicate in writing.If the school attorney is misrepresenting the law make her do it in writing.Many people say things they would never put in writing.Why?Because they know what they are saying is wrong.
Third, combat the attorney's inaccuracies with the truth.Support your position with specific statutes, regulations, and case law.Consider any legal basis for the school's attorney's position, and then discredit it.
It has probably been a while since you sat down and reviewed your child's IEP.As an important member of your child's IEP team, it is critical that you understand and agree with your child's individualized educational program. If you don't understand the IEP, how will know if it is being followed or needs to be changed?
Consider New Changes
Is your child moving from elementary school to middle school?Was your child evaluated over the summer?Has your child's diagnosis changed?Is the school switch from a 5-day to 6-day cycle?Is this your child's first year for the MCAS?
These are just a few scenarios where changes for your child might also require changes to the IEP.While IEP meetings occur annually, parents have the right to request an IEP team meeting to discuss how the IEP should be changed to accommodate new situations.
Discuss the IEP with Your Child's Educators
This step is especially important if a new educator did not participate in your child's last IEP meeting.Discussing the IEP ensures that all educators working with your child have read and are familiar with your child's IEP.
Ask questions.For example, who will be providing speach and language services?On what day?How many children will be in your child's social skills group this year?How old are they?The more questions you ask, the more you will understand, what, if anything has changed from last year.
Even if the new educators have read the IEP, it is important that they understand it. The IEP document is only a starting point. As a parent, you probably have many important insights about your child that will help the educators understand and interact with your child.
Start and Keep Good Advocacy Habits
Get in the habit of communicating to the school in writing.This will allow you to keep a better record of the school's communications.But don't just write if there is a problem.Send positive feedback too.And as with all email communication, be cautious about what you say.Don't write when you are emotional.Don't exaggerate.Be polite and courteous even if you think you are being treated unfairly.In the end, this will benefit you and your child.