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BassetMom
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09 Jan 2010, 4:49 pm

Hi Everyone,

I've lurked here for a bit, just registered today. My 15 year old son (a 10th grader) is an Aspie, as is my husband. Our younger son and I are NTs. My son had an IEP from 3rd-5th grades, then he only required 504 services in 6th and 7th grades. In 8th and 9th grades, we were surprised that he did not require any special services at all. In all likelihood this was due to the fact that he was taking accelerated classes and during those particular years, the school district had not realigned itself as it has now, so he had the benefit of smaller classes (as he would usually need an IEP to have that perk.)

Cut to this year: his stellar grades are going down the tubes, he is very depressed, his entire high school experience (which we have done so much social skills training to help him be able to enjoy) is suffering. My husband is a military officer so we have moved quite a bit (we have been here for the past 3 1/2 years and both kids will graduate HS here). This school system is the worst I have encountered with regard to special education services. They are fighting me tooth and nail and essentially saying that I have to do everything very formally or I have no chance in h e double hockey sticks of getting an IEP in place. The special education director refuses to take meetings, she calls families at home to cut them off at the pass. My husband and I went down to her office with my son's guidance counselor in tow and we found her absent; only her devil-may-care, gum-smacking secretaries were to be found. Over the winter break, I have shored up my evidence for special ed services: I had my son reevaluated by a top independent psychologist in the area, so I have a lengthy report with detailed recommendations, I have the report from an entirely different school system back when my son was 9 years old, I have all the old IEPs, so one would think I have a good case, but OMG, these people are about to give me a stroke!

Does anyone have any advice on dealing with a school system such as this? Is there a more strongly worded letter I might send before I sic the lawyers on them? That seems like it would be a headache (and a large bill) too.



jat
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09 Jan 2010, 5:35 pm

You have my sympathies. It sounds like you're doing everything you should be doing. The best advice I can give you is to document, document, document! Make sure that anything that you want to say gets "said" in writing. If you are seething when you write it, you may need to hold onto it for a bit to make sure that it says what you want it to say, and doesn't get inappropriately emotional. A school district like this might be the kind that responds only to lawyers. If possible, try to connect with other parents of kids with special needs, so you can learn "the lay of the land" and get a sense of what you're dealing with. Some districts have groups for parents of kids with special needs - they can be called special ed PTA's, committees for special ed, or almost anything else - and if this district has one, it would be a wonderful group to connect with. If they don't, try to connect informally with other parents to get some information. If you wind up hiring an attorney, make sure you hire one who has experience with this district. It is also important that the attorney's experience not have made him/her a persona non grata - you don't want the attorney's involvement to make things even worse; you want the attorney to help get your child the services he needs.



DW_a_mom
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09 Jan 2010, 6:44 pm

A special ed director who has secretaries? You must not live in bare bones funded CA ;) And, well, I guess that is where they want their extra money to go - administration, and not kids.

What I've seen posted here is something called Wrights Law, and it apparently tells you what your legal rights are. I'm not sure, never needed it, but others here have.

Also consider if you really want your child to stay in that school, in that district. I know its what they want - for you to take your extra expense elsewhere - but sometimes the battle isn't worth it, because time is not on your side. I would investigate options outside this school, as well.

Good luck. I might write more later.


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Mom to an amazing young adult AS son, plus an also amazing non-AS daughter. Most likely part of the "Broader Autism Phenotype" (some traits).


demeus
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09 Jan 2010, 8:34 pm

If they want formal then give them formal.

Write a letter to the Special Education Director, carbon copy it to the Superintendent of the District and school principal, stating that in light of your son's recent performance in school, you are requesting an evaluation and determination under IDEA and that you want it done within either a reasonable time period or within the limits set forth in the state you reside in (some states use the IDEA law which simply says within reasonable time, other states set a strict time limit). Send the letters Certified Mail, Signed Return Receipt.

That is as formal as it gets according to the courts. It the director calls you to try to talk you out of it, simply tell her that the letter is your formal request and nothing more needs to be said until the evaluation is done and the meeting is held. That should put a stop to the delaying.



jat
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09 Jan 2010, 8:50 pm

As DW said, Wrightslaw would help if you have legal questions. It can also help you figure out how to document - they recommend the use of what they call the "letter to a stranger." It's a type of letter that you write when you have an issue that needs to be addressed, and it needs to lay out all the pertinent information and leave out all of the emotional overlay. Another potentially useful aspect is the kids yellow pages - they have a resource guide, by state, of providers. It's a bit clumsy to use, since the guides are state-wide, and some states are quite large, but it can still help find service providers (everything from OT's to attorneys).

The site is large and can be overwhelming, but there is a search engine and a topic list that can help navigate. They have a free e-newsletter that addresses particular topics each issue. They also have addressed some issues specific to military families.



BassetMom
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10 Jan 2010, 12:32 pm

demeus wrote:
that in light of your son's recent performance in school, you are requesting an evaluation and determination under IDEA and that yo.


Would the district need to conduct their own evaluation? In other (more helpful) school districts, the special ed administrators and school psychologists were helpful and, dare I say, happy to do their jobs in testing my son. With this overworked and underfunded district, I haven't seen hide nor hair of a psychologist, and I honestly just realized that I don't even know if I am required to have him evaluated by the school. He has been diagnosed for years now, by M.D.s and Ph.D.s, all documented, and as I mentioned in the initial post I had him reevaluated locally to strengthen our case.

I'm pulling out all my IEP books and info. Can I submit all my info and ask to proceed directly to determination?



jat
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10 Jan 2010, 12:44 pm

BassetMom wrote:
Can I submit all my info and ask to proceed directly to determination?

As I understand it, you would still need to have an "evaluation," but that doesn't necessarily mean that the school district would do the testing. The school district needs to put together an evaluation report, from which the team works in making their determination. It is possible that they can do this on the basis of the materials you provide from previous testing, and that further testing won't be necessary. It is also possible that they will want to do additional testing on their own.



BassetMom
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11 Jan 2010, 9:33 am

jat wrote:
BassetMom wrote:
Can I submit all my info and ask to proceed directly to determination?

As I understand it, you would still need to have an "evaluation," but that doesn't necessarily mean that the school district would do the testing. The school district needs to put together an evaluation report, from which the team works in making their determination. It is possible that they can do this on the basis of the materials you provide from previous testing, and that further testing won't be necessary. It is also possible that they will want to do additional testing on their own.


Thank you all for your input; it is very much appreciated. I am going to go ahead and formally request an evaluation in the same manner I did with past school districts, except I will send the letters certified and cc every pertinent party.