Special Education/assessment

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Question
Hello
My son had a difficult year in school and experienced tremendous regression. The reason he was able to pass his subjects is from my assistance. I don't like the position I was put in as a parent because I can't prove that the school didn't educate him (though I did save all the work I did and the work sent home was largely incomplete). I wonder if other parents are in my shoes. Do you or don't you help your own child? The school agreed to conduct an functional assessment with behavior plan and it would've been warranted had they not agreed. They did do the assessment but never sent it to us. They said our son was too variable for an assessment. They said the various strategies they were implementing were sufficient. The fact that his IEP specified the assessment and plan didn't seem to matter to them and their position was that what they were doing amounted to a plan, even though it failed. I did call the state but they didn't seem too interested and told me I could file a compliance complaint if I wanted to. Does filing a compliance complaint actually do anything? I feel like the school will stick to its position they did all they could and implemented all these strategies (failed) that they excluded parents from (and excluded themselves from review as well). Naturally their "solution" is to move my son to another school. I do not understand the legalities surrounding the assessment and plan, why have it in a contract if the school can then turn around and do it, not give it to you and say it's not appropriate anymore because the behaviors are too variable and the strategies they've in place are a de facto plan and sufficient. I spoke to an advocate who said this was madness but that doesn't really help me. Obviously I wish I was dealing with better people. They hold me in low regard and the feeling is mutual but I know I am not the only person in this position. When you complain, suddenly the school speaks with "one voice" even if individual people tell you different things in private about what would work better. I actually had a situation where my son's speech therapist very hotly criticized the school and then at a meeting said she didn't say any of that stuff. I was very angry and I acted a little inappropriately but it was shocking at the time. Now I know I really cannot trust people whose jobs are on the line. Do you have any advice? I've read your page and you seem to be very knowledgeable. I hope I have been clear. An assessment was done, it was not given to us until the year was over. The reason cited was that it was not good because our son's behavior and performance had changed and was quite variable. As for the behavior plan, they said the strategies they had in place were a behavior plan. The assessment and plan were in his IEP as slated to be done for the past school year. The choices they've left me are a self contained class that I do not think is appropriate and an alternative ADHD school placement which may not be bad but I feel it's too far away for consideration. My son is a terrible sleeper and terrible at getting up for school as it is (chronic lateness was a problem).  If I didn't believe he could succeed I wouldn't be writing you. He never had much in the way of smart accommodations, access to technology and an evaluation/plan that I think could be adjusted as the situation changes. I do not understand this process and feel the school is running over me.

Answer
Sandra,
The IDEA (federal law) says that when an assessment is requested by the parents, the school has 15 days to prepare and submit to the parents an assessment plan. Once the parents sign the assessment plan accepting the proposed assessments, the school has 60 days to conduct the assessment(s) and report their findings in an IEP. Note: this applies to both students having IEPs and those the parents want assessed for special education. Also these day counts stop for summer school and longer breaks in the school year (i.e winter and spring breaks). The school also has the responsibility to implement everything in and IEP.

Typically, ADD/ADHD kids need many accommodations such as preferential seating (near the teacher), frequent breaks, taking tests in quiet environment, checking to make sure student has homework  and testing assignments entered correctly in their planner, checking to make sure they turn in the homework they have completed, extra time on assignments, fidgets (provided by OT) to give them something to do while in class, the list goes on and on depending on the needs of the student. In severe cases, one to one aides are needed to keep the student on task. This is the hardest to get because it cost the district a lot.

If your son's school did not follow the rules of an assessment and/or are not follow the services and placements listed in his IEP, then you can file a Compliance Complaint with your state's department of education. The forms are available online at their website. The Parents Rights published by your school district and handed out at IEPs, or at least once per year, lists who to contact. But it's all online at the state's web site. Once you file this complaint the state has 60 days to conduct an assessment and determine what to order the district to do. They ask in the complaint for proposed remedies and I usually include the request to have the district conduct district-wide training seminars for their staff.

Before they can change your son's placement (either to a self contained class or a different school, they have to have to sign the IEP stating you are in agreement. If you do not agree, you can sign the IEP for the aspects you do agree with and state what you are not agreeing with. This keeps the last signed IEP in place (called Stay-put). If they transfer him to a different school, they have to provide transportation.  

Special Education

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Tim Runner

Expertise

Questions concerning special education: IEP, assessments, Due Process, mediation, resolution conference, federal law, state law, qualifying for services, residential treatment, special day classes, resource specialists, procedures, having your child assessed, adaptive PE, speech & language, non-public school, FAPE, and tuition reimbursement.

Experience

I have been an education advocate representing students and parents for six years. My experience includes: representing my clients in IEPs, SSTs, Due Process, review assessment results for my clients, and mediations. I have represented clients with learning disabilities, autism, Downs Syndrome, cognitively challenged, emotional problems, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and physical disabilities. I have also represented clients to County Mental Health Departments and Regional Centers. My clients range from pre-school to college students in many states.

Education/Credentials
I have a degree in Mathematics from the University of California with minors in Psychology and Physics. I also studied applied statistics in psychology at the graduate level. I have taught college classes, conducted seminars, written articles for various publications, and testified as an expert witness.

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