Special Education/siblings school


Thanks so much for the very informative reply.
I just want to let you know that we are not in the city. We are on the Island not in a charter school area. At least in NYC they have a space issue which is why siblings can be separated. Here no reason has been provided other than it's the policy by the people who actually set the policy. Our letters to the board have gone unanswered. That's an elected board. The superintendent supports the policy and doesn't feel any reason is merited. I am not making this up.
Our hardship considerations don't seem to have been given consideration.
We don't have a doctor. Our general doctor gives checkups. We did see one psychologist who was sheepish and unhelpful though pleasant enough. His response was to offer a referral and to say that if that doctor wrote a note, he would support it. It was annoying to us he would say this because it's basically not committing unless somebody else commits first and we feel it's a black and white issue. As of now, we have no one in our corner. We don't expect the school psychologist to advocate on our behalf because whatever she may think, it'd be a detriment to her.
How can we ever expect a school person to go against the school or be perceived as doing such?
Someone did advocate on our behalf from the school because they are in a high position but not high enough.
Understand we received no reason and from the highest person, the superintendent, the reasons given were that the policy has been in place so why change it (that was cited as a reason) and what if school placements change down the line. That really makes no sense because obviously we are dealing with now, and if its a bad thing to have siblings separated down the line, why is it okay to separate them up front.  We consider it a horrid policy, unjustifiable because it puts no burden on them, no onus, no anything. They don't have slot considerations as in NYC. Again, we wouldn't be in the situation if they didn't force a bad program on us.  The whole situation is bizarre. The superintendent not offering any reason, the board not replying, the policy in general (again, these are in district schools)
Maybe the hearing officer can shed light. We are wondering if there is a state board we can tap or politicians even.
Thanks much in advance again for the very thoughtful answer.
I do want to reiterate that making our older son change schools would be very hard on him. It would cut him off from almost all the people he knows not to mention the work we've put it in working with staff that would continually be there.

Hi Jess,  I work with families all the time who try to get resolution for individual situations by the Board or Superintendent's offices.  Usually, it just results in more frustration, as I think you are expressing.  

Here are the state regulations, as I could find them, for student services.  

Do you have a copy of the 'policy' you are referencing in your question?  If so and you can post it or email, I could comment if I see anything there.

From my experience, the schools don't have to adjust the placement for a child who does not have any special needs, but schools do have to provide accommodations and adjustments for children with disabilities.  So if your older child needs his sibling at the school to make progress or to receive benefit from the special education program, then I think you should explore that as justification for hardship.  

I don't know for sure if this link will help, but it is an appeal that is formal, and should get a response.  http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/appeals/instruction.htm

My husband was the president of the pupil services staff before he retired and there were many times that we discussed reasons for the school rejecting a transfer request.  But I am not aware of any legal requirements for the school to justify the rejection.  

I am aware of requirements for decision making for your older son.  You seem to feel that the placement of the children in the same school is the most imperative issue.  If this is the case, and you would like to explore whether the older child should be or could be moved to the younger child's neighborhood school, let me know as I feel you could accomplish this.  But I also heard you tell me how hard you worked to try to get the older child settled and a change may hamper the progress you have made.  

It may not hurt to contact politicians, but my experience is that parents must follow already established complaint and dispute procedures.  If the politician contacts the superintendent, then the superintendent contacts the principal, you are back where you started.  

A consult with an attorney is also advised.  You can find one in your area at COPAA.org.  

Thanks again for your question and please don't hesitate to write if I can do anything else to help.  I am sorry this is so frustrating for you but encourage you to keep advocating for what's good for your kids!

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Michelle R. Davis, M. Ed.


I can answer questions about disability definitions and criteria for services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, No Child Left Behind, 504 plans, how to craft an IEP that drives the appropriate services, school placement, dispute options, and least restrictive environment. I worked in the public school system as a special educator and am now in private consulting practice where we assist parents as they navigate the special education process. I have expertise in all educational disabilities except blind/visual impairments and deaf/hard of hearing. This includes ADHD and other health impairments, medical conditions, dyslexia and learning disabilities, Autism, emotional disabilities, language processing problems, and interfering behaviors.


10 years as special educator and administrator in public school system; Director of ABCs for Life Success since 1998; Expert services such as analysis and testimony; Author: Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book: What you can do now to advocate for your exceptional child's education; Special Needs Advocacy Training Institute; internet radio show Teach Your Children Well: Hot Topics in Education; author School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders released March 2010 (Prufrock Press).

Masters in Special Education with Emphasis on Inclusive Education (Johns Hopkins University); B.S.in Special Education (James Madison University); Conduct training for Universities, public and private schools, parent groups. Adjunct professor current George Washington University and prior George Mason University.

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