Special Education/Summer

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Question
I have a bit of a complicated question. I'll try to be clear :-)
My son was in a co-teaching class for two years. The school now is recommending a change of placement. We do not agree with it. For two summers my son has been in the summer recreational program. Now the school recommended against that. My son had a rough year. He was fine in the summer program both years, it's not school. The school had nothing in place in the new IEP (which we didn't consent to) to address any of the challenges of the year. They were supposed to do an FBA but didn't. They won't do it. I am not making this up. So I enrolled my son in summer camp two days a week with a young shadow and the other days I go out with him. I asked the school why they recommended against the rec program and the person in charge of special education services said "there are concerns" without any specifics. The teacher said he only recommends classroom and not rec programs. Technically my son was recommended for extended year class services but what happened was the recreational program took up about 75% of it, lunch and services took up another 15% so he was in a class for a half hour a day. He didn't learn anything nothing was ever sent home and I was fine with that. I felt he needed recreational and peer interaction. Now they took that away too without accounting for it and they made sure they did this days before the summer program began. They changed my CSE date to be within a week of when summer began. They took the whole meeting to read the draft IEP which they did without us. They made recommendations at the END of the meeting. I feel very much at a loss. I am fine with not having my son there, I think they are all awful people but they got away with alot. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Answer
Based upon what you have told me here I think that the school is not totally in compliance, but yet probably close enough to get away with it.  First, the IEP needs to be agreed to by a consensus of the IEP Team, which includes the parent. The law does not define what consensus means, so it is typically thought of as a majority or more.  Only if your son is diagnosed with a learning disability does the team have to indicate that they agree with the IEP as written or disagree.  We get signatures to document who was in attendance, not to indicate agreement, except with SLD which requires that documentation.  The practicing field does not understand this and often a parent's signature gets treated as if the parent has to sign or the IEP cannot be implemented, which simply is not supported by any version of the law.  

Now, I also see within what you have said that you as a parent are not being treated as a "real" member of the team.  You ask questions and suggest programming and they totally ignore you, that is not consistent with the intent of the law.  The team makes all decisions and the team creates the IEP.  While we use draft IEPs, once that are drafted they are not final and changes can and should be made during the discussion of the draft.  

Recreation depends upon the complete nature of your son's disability, which I didn't get here.  If he needs it to progress in the general curriculum or meet success in special education, then they must provide it until they can provide evidence that it isn't successful.  It sounds to me that it was simply taken from his program.  

ESY is a program that is very legally defined.  It is intended to keep students from forgetting skills over the long summer break.  A student must lose 75% of what he learned previously during the summer break and not able to recover it within six to nine weeks.  The lack of ESY must result in irreparable damage to the child (not defined clearly).  

You have enough here to say that your son is being denied his Free Appropriate Public Education in that ESY was offered, then taken away without any evidence of it not being successful, in fact, from your point of view it was more successful than the school year services.  You also sound as if you have concerns about the effectiveness of the IEP services...which is also a serious violation of FAPE.

If I were you I would call your State Department of Education, Exceptional Student Services, Dispute Resolution Services and find out about the three levels of dispute resolution.  I think I would start with a State Complaint.  A State employee will investigate your allegations and render a binding decision within six weeks.  Like I said, depending on a lot of information that I don't have, I don't really know what the binding decision would be.  But it is clear to me that the process is not working for you as the law intended.  Perhaps the district will start playing more by the rules if you follow this route.

If you wanted to start at the district level, then call the local school district's Director of Special Education, make an appointment and explain how you see your child's special education programming is failing him.  If that person can't intercede and help, then move on to the complaint process at the state level.  I hate hearing stories of teams basically ignoring the knowledge of a parent in the whole process.  I see that here and am sorry that is what you are getting.  I wish you luck in trying to get it to improve.

Finally, I apologize for the time it took to respond.  I have had need to be driving to Kentucky where I work, hiring a new professor, then return to Florida where I am vacationing, your request happened while I was on the road, then overlooked as I returned.  For that I apologize.

Special Education

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Dr. Norm Bishop

Expertise

I have spent nealy 40 years in the area of Special Education. I have had the pleasure of teaching pre-school, elementary, middle, high school and college levels, as well as, served in school district administration buildings in classroom/legal support positions. I have also spent some time working in a State Department of Education Exceptional Student Services Office and am now currently Division Head and Director of Institutional Research at Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky. I also teach special education classes on campus. I have also taught full time teacher preparation at Northern Arizona University on the Tucson Campus, Seattle Pacific University, and at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. In addition to that I have taught adjunct at Seattle Pacific University, City University in Seattle, Ashford University, and Grand Canyon University.

Experience

I have experienced directly special education legal issues, process and procedure, and have taught at all levels in every special education category except gifted. My major expertise is diagnostic prescriptive teaching, literacy as it relates to disabilities, technology in special education, and Educational Leadership. My greatest passion in the field is building new programs, implementing and doing the research to see how they work. My Dissertation and principle research interest is in the area of inclusive education, primarily co-teaching of students with disabilities in the general education classroom.

Organizations
Council for Exceptional Children, Association for the Supervision of Curriculum, National Reading Council.

Publications
Teaching Exceptional Children, Published computer assisted instruction, titled PAL, Special Education Basics, college Textbook, Teaching with Precision, college Textbook, Various devotionals at the website, Preachitteachit.com.

Education/Credentials
I have a B.A. in Secondary Education, a Masters in Special Education (cross categorical), administrative certification, and a second B.A. in Elementary Education. I completed my doctorate in Educational Leadership at Northern Arizona University.

Awards and Honors
Best Summer Program in the Nation (Honorable Mention, when I was Teaching) Multiple local awards

Past/Present Clients
-Confidential-

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