Special Education/Follow up


Hi   I will get the book.  Thanks. Does it offer info on complaining to the state
? Do you think an advocate can help or the school will only feel threatened  by a lawyer?
Can a child be put in special ed just for tics? I feel so badly when my son has low vocal
Tics he cannot control. I think people can usually work through them. Have you ever helped anyone with tourettes?

Dear Sarah,

Yes, I have worked with many children with Tourette's Disorder.  Kids with Tourette's, attention and other anxiety concerns have a complex profile that usually requires training for schools.  Sometimes, I have brought in local and national chapter experts from the Tourette's community.  

Yes, I definitely feel an advocate can make a big difference.  Plus, when you bring in attorneys, there tends to be a much different dynamic,such as less sharing of information directly with you.  This is because the school brings its attorneys to the meetings once you bring yours.  Here is an interesting letter regarding attorneys at IEP meetings.  However, if you had to file a request for a due process hearing, you would need a specialized attorney, in my opinion.  

See letter to Hillary Clinton at this link

My book briefly discusses the dispute options available to a parent including State Complaints.  But to do one correctly, the parent must pull from the state and federal law, alleging that the child was denied a free appropriate public education, and the remedies from the Complaint may or may not take care of the issue.  The letter of findings will rarely in my experience solve placement disputes.  They are for procedural problems and for cases where the child is not receiving what he should, less for whether the IEP is actually appropriate.  

A child cannot be 'put in special ed just for tics', but Tourette's is specifically listed in the federal definition of the disability called "other health impairment (OHI):

"Other health impairment means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that—

(i) Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and

(ii) Adversely affects a child’s educational performance. [§300.8(c)(9)]"

But just because a child is eligible for the IEP under OHI does not automatically mean he would be placed in separate classes out of the general education setting.  That decision is individually determined by the school team.  

If your child has already been placed outside of general education, meaning the IEP has already been changed over your objection, please let me know as you will need to know about 'stay put' or pendency (placement of  a child) during disputes.  The short of it is that the child stays in the most recently agreed upon IEP until a dispute is settled.  But the only way to trigger this is to request a hearing (or mediation sometimes), in which case I would recommend an attorny consult.  I've got some great attorneys to recommend so please let me know if you are interested.  

Thanks so much for your follow up!  I will accept follow ups and wish you all the best advocating for your child!  

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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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