Gifted IEP vs. Service agreeemnt. NEED HELP ASAP

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TreemastersMom
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26 Jan 2009, 11:50 am

We hit a small bump in the road with Zach and school and need some help. QUICKLY (he's 16, Asperger's, in all Honors classes, has a Gifted IEP, but nothing else)

We changed his meds at the end of the school year last year - from Strattera to Focalin and it seemed to make a HUGE difference (for the better) for him.

We hadn't seen any issues in school - and we typically saw something by December at the latest. Well... we made it to mid January before any issues arose. He was goofing off in Chemistry and after being asked to stop, the teacher (a sub, according to him, but we haven't had that verified yet) sent him to the Vice Principals office with the discipline note. Well... we had the service agreement in place last year and that said that if he were to be sent to the VP's office, the teacher was to either call the office or get a chaperone for him. Neither happened, and he didn't go to the VP's office - thought he could get away with it - and was suspended for not going.

When I called about why the Service agreement wasn't followed - I was told that it did not carry over - we had to set up a new meeting to get it reinstated for the new school year.

When I spoke to the Spec. Ed director (not a woman I am fond of) She said that instead of having two documents floating around, she's recommending that we put the agreement as part of his Gifted IEP.

Initially, I thought that it would carry more legal weight if it was part of an IEP... but I've been told by one teacher that the Gifted IEP doesn't really hold any legal weight at all (that its just a Pennsylvania thing and not recognized as part of IDEA) and that if we put his agreement in as part of that IEP, it wouldn't hold any legal weight, either. BUT if we kept it as a service agreement, it would hold SOME legal weight.


I'm confused.


I want what ever will hold more legal weight for his protection. He didn't 'qualify' for a standard IEP - and they never did the behavioral evaluation. Not that THAT would help if they do it when he's not showing the behaviors we need to get him the help with. (did that make sense?) They said he did not meet the needs for a 504, either.

BUT again - His guidance counselor told me that a 504 and a Service Agreement are essentially the same.


What should I do? Keep it as a Service Agreement or put it in as part of his Gifted IEP?



TreemastersMom
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26 Jan 2009, 1:51 pm

No one can help?



jat
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26 Jan 2009, 2:10 pm

I'm a bit confused by some of what you've posted - I don't know what you mean by a "service agreement." A 504 should be just as enforceable as an IEP, and a GIEP should also be as enforceable as an IEP. If you put anything into a "GIEP" that is not related to gifted education, it is no longer a "GIEP," it is an "IEP" that includes provisions for both gifted and special education. When a child is twice exceptional, the IEP is consolidated so there is just one IEP that has both the GIEP and the "regular" IEP provisions in the one document.

I would recommend that you try getting in touch with the Disability Rights Network: http://drnpa.org Disability Rights Network. They took over the parent assistance helpline from the Education Law Center last year. The Education Law Center, however, still has lots of useful information, specific to Pennsylvania, on their website, including a manual for parents. Check them out: Education Law Center.

I hope this is somewhat helpful! Try to get the accommodations put in place as soon as possible. If they try to take any action against your son, ask for a manifestation hearing. If his behavior was a manifestation of his disability, they cannot treat him the way they would another child who behaved similarly.



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26 Jan 2009, 2:19 pm

Sorry- but everything you posted is complete greek to me.
IEP?
GIEP?
Service Agreement (like for a refrigerator)?
Have you considered reposting in the Parents discussion group?

From the surface this sounds like young man in question has a problem taking responsibility for his actions (ditching the VPs office). Is this part of having Asperger's?



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26 Jan 2009, 2:58 pm

Being suspended is not the end of the world... if Zach is brought up with the mindset that he won't ever be held accountable for his actions, that attitude might well endure through adulthood and get him into far more trouble than a trip to the vice principal... the more you fight for him to be treated 'special', the more he will rely on this and the worse it will be for him in the end...

did he suffer any consequences for disobeying the teacher? if not, than what incentive does he have to obey the teacher in the future?

and what difference would it make if the teacher was a substitute or not? is a sub's authority something less than a 'real' teacher's?



TreemastersMom
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26 Jan 2009, 3:00 pm

Thank you for your replies! I will try to clarify where I can.

jat wrote:
I'm a bit confused by some of what you've posted - I don't know what you mean by a "service agreement."


Zach was evaluated by the school last year to see if he qualified for a 504. I was told by the Special Ed. department that he did not qualify for it due to his gifted academics. They never did the behavioral evaluation (I'm fighting that now). I was also told that there is no such thing as a behavioral IEP. (I have since found out that there CAN be a behavioral element to ANY IEP) In lieu of having the 504, the school agreed to a 'service agreement' - a courtesy to us - and in it, we listed things where Zach was having issues - such as being sent to the VP's office. He will not go alone. It is a manifestation of the Aspergers for him. He has to either have a chaperone or the teacher has to call the VP's office to say he is on his way. Either of these will, obviously, serve as a deterrent for Zach skipping out on the office. One of the other things we had in the agreement was that if he had any big projects or assignments due, the teachers were to inform us either by email, letter (MAILED home) or by phone. The whole 'agreement' were accommodations to be made by the school to help Zach succeed in school - to get around some of his Asperger's issues. We weren't asking for special treatment when he goofs up, just to take certain things into account in how he was handled.

Quote:
a GIEP should also be as enforceable as an IEP.
I have gotten conflicting answers on this from the school and from Zach's behavior counselor. One says that the GIEP is not recognized under the IDEA laws, and therefor, if we put this 'agreement' as part of the GIEP, it is not legally binding, and that we should keep it as an agreement standing alone. The other says that "An IEP is an IEP is an IEP" = basically what you said here
Quote:
One If you put anything into a "GIEP" that is not related to gifted education, it is no longer a "GIEP," it is an "IEP" that includes provisions for both gifted and special education. When a child is twice exceptional, the IEP is consolidated so there is just one IEP that has both the GIEP and the "regular" IEP provisions in the one document.


I will absolutely be getting in touch with the Disability Rights Network: http://drnpa.org Disability Rights Network. Thank you so much!!

I was hoping to have a meeting today or tomorrow, but have heard nothing. I will be making more phone calls today. Again - THANK YOU!!



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26 Jan 2009, 9:35 pm

Personally, you might want to wean him off of these accomodations. Especially since he's in the 'gifted' program.

Sure, he's uncomfortable with not having accomodations, but life doesn't provide these accomodations. If he hopes to continue on to college/university, they will not tolerate goofing off. And they'll just tell you to get out, no trip to the dean's office at all. This applies to ALL students. Regardless of disability status. I would imagine that 'gifted' classes make the assumption that the students are heading to post-secondary, and that they should be prepared for a higher-learning environment. And to the special ed co-ordinator, that probably means less 'special' treatment and more 'equal' treatment. Her assumption may be, that as a 'gifted' student; your son will have higher expectations put on him in just two years time than some of the other special ed students will have put on them for their entire lives.

Post-secondary institutions can accomodate in terms of giving more test time or letting dysgraphic people use computers during exams, but they can't control how students with Asperger's get around without chaperones or finish their assignments on time.



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27 Jan 2009, 6:42 am

I've never heard of a GIEP or a service agreement, so I can't help you there, sorry.

As others have though, I am wondering about the accommodations to make him do his work or go to the VP's office. Usually when a kid needs to have teachers notify parents about assignments, it's because the kid is just incapable of keeping track of them or even remembering to write them down in the first place, not because the kid just doesn't feel like doing them. How is this a manifestation of his Asperger's? It sounds like ordinary kid stuff. Most kids will try to get away with not doing work or getting in trouble, if they can. Has Zack been given the chance to experience serious consequences of not doing his work?

And I agree that if he will be going to college in a couple of years, then developing some internal motivation to get his work done will be essential, because no professor or college will make allowances for someone who just doesn't feel like working. Or are you just trying to get him through high school, and don't care about afterwards? I know this was not what your post was about, but it seems like at least a few of us reacted the same way, unless we are missing something.


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27 Jan 2009, 8:54 am

I am not familiar with IEP stuff, but I know that the school gets money to handle any extra accomodations through IDEA if they have your child listed for that. In which case, through IDEA, you would have a legal standing because they are getting government money for it. I'm sure that money, like any other type of gov't grant, has stipulations on how it is used, and in most audits in that case, they look at management type behaviors with the money (not just accounting). In other words, if they aren't providing the accomodations for which they receive the funds, then there's a problem with them receiving the funds. That is very illegal. i'm sure they are still getting their money even if they didn't renew a contract with you, in which case, there is a contract somewhere that says they will give your child accomodations.

I also would assume something through the government already in place would be better organized; however, the service agreement sounds like an actual contract between you and the school, and that would have more of a legal binding than something already in place by the government; however, you would be looking at court for that. For instance, in this case, maybe I'm wrong, but all I can see you could do with a service agreement is take them to small claims court, in which case, you have no monetary loss. Something through the government might have more enforcement than the court system would have. To be honest, one of the best things you could do is become friends with the superintendant. I'm not sure what side of PA you are on, but if you are close to Pittsburg, then politics do matter. Never really been anywhere else in PA, but will say GO STEELER'S!! !!

On the subject everyone keeps saying whether or not special accomodations help or hurt...well I look at it like this. A job is not going to have any special accomodation; however, good grades in school is something that will help your child be on the right track to getting that good job, and you kinda want to make sure he succeeds (duh :) ). So, I say go for it, but I would (and plan on doing for my children) do the following in your situation.

What Chemistry is he in? High School Chem means nothing unless he's planning Harvard or something like that. Go for anything that offers college credit. He'd be better off taking some easy classes and signing up for some real night school online or at the local university. You'd have to have a letter explaining why he doesn't have his HS diploma yet, but if he scores high enough on the SAT or ACT, he should be able to start college sooner while still completing high school. Many high schools now are offering college credit for classes outside of technical courses now. Either way, I say this because I did Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, etc. in high school expecting it to go towards my college somehow, and it didn't. They really didn't care. The guidance counselors kept pushing it, but then would tell me my 3.5 GPA in all these honor's classes wasn't enough for scholarships, so I was on my own for searching that. Then, I got offered an academic scholarship at a really good school, but even with that, I still couldn't afford it. So I went to a university on the other side of the state, and then screwed up because I was popular all the sudden and being Aspie, didn't know how to handle it. (I got caught with weed, and it wasn't mine because I don't smoke it, but because I was making friends and wanted to keep them, I didn't really think for myself too well, and then I was stupid enough to tell the wrong person who told the RA who hated me from high school about it, and she snitched). So, then I came home with intentions on going back until my dad got cancer and I ended up at the local university branch. I could have had a whole year done with college in high school.

I also don't suggest sending him away anywhere for college until you've taught him survival people skills. You'd really have to take him to a bar/club and teach him what fights look like before they happen, how even men can be slipped a mickey in his drink to get mugged, the difference between a lady and a ho, etc. I don't know PA laws, but once he's 18, you can bring him down to WV, and many of our bars allow them in at that age. But also, he will probably need to learn stuff NT's need like drinking tolerance, etc. (Puerto Rico is a great place to teach drinking skills). I don't know what you do with this, but I thought it was worth bringing up, the academics, he's got that. He doesn't need too much help in that. His people skills need to be taught no different than algebra, grammar, etc. They don't have a social 101 class in high school, so you are the only one who can teach him those things. I promise you, sending him away without those skills will make failure more probable. Yeah it's a little weird, but that's an Aspie for ya. Though, the military taught me a lot of people skills and survival skills and wise decisions, responsibility, accountability, etc. I went Air Force. They even have a nice Air Force Academy in Colorado.

Oh, I bet it was a sub. Aspies seem to be more apt to misbehave for them. I think it's a new anxiety that makes us a little bit more hyper. Plus, the regular teacher wouldn't have known that the agreement was up. I'm sure it wasn't sent out as a memo.



Last edited by Tantybi on 27 Jan 2009, 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Tantybi
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27 Jan 2009, 10:04 am

Now that I researched some rather than ask people, this is my take. The GIEP seems to be more of a PA thing to me as well, and I don't think it's federally related according what I gathered from the PAGE website (links below). You'd have to decide if your state gives it enough legal weight for you to go that route. For an IEP, your child has to have a disability and have problems with education because of it. Also, PDD is something at the school's discretion, so you are at the mercy of the school for that. But, if they are getting funds from IDEA to give your child his special education, then you would need a normal IEP as defined by IDEA, not the state of PA (this would be in addition to the GIEP). I really think your son qualifies more for IEP under IDEA than he would a 504 because his problems are not serious, but the 504 is more concerned with civil rights which is what we are really dealing with here. The school did screw up by not giving him a behavior assessment as that would be law for them to do that. Really read through below on that because you want to make sure as you fight for this assessment that they do it right.

Me personally, I would probably go with the service agreement because it sounds more catered to your situation. Your child isn't disabled in the sense he can't function without help. However, because of I'm assuming Aspergers, your child needs to be handled a little different than an NT child, and it sounds like you are going to get that more out of the service agreement. It also sounds like it's an extra. You already got him in the GIEP, so you got that protection. To make the service agreement part of that would forfeit the extra nature of the service agreement. It doesn't sound like a combination of the two as much as getting rid of the one. In addition, the GIEP is law anyway, and it's because he's gifted. The service agreement is separate because that's a separate issue...his psychological profile and medication type thing. Either way, the main thing is the money. If the school is getting extra funds for any of these programs because of your child's participation in them, you got to find out where that money is coming from. That then decides what legal bearing is going on. MY ADVICE...FOLLOW THE MONEY.


ON IDEA AND IEP

http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html ... -000-.html

And from, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individual ... on_Program

Quote:
In the United States an Individualized Education Plan, commonly referred to as an IEP, is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).


Quote:
In the US, the IDEA requires public schools to develop an IEP for every student with a disability who is found to meet the federal and state requirements for special education. [1]


Quote:
Before an IEP is written for a child with a disability, the school must first determine whether the child qualifies for special education services. To qualify, the child's disability must have an adverse effect on the child's educational progress. Merely having a disability is not sufficient for eligibility.


from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_ed ... ted_States
Quote:
The law requires a comprehensive school evaluation involving all areas of suspected disability. Testing must be in the native language of the child (if feasible). It must be administered by a team of professionals, which must include at least general education teacher, one special education teacher, and a specialist who is knowledgeable in the area of the child's disability. Testing must be administered one-to-one, not in a group. Any tests or other evaluation materials used must be administered by professionals trained and qualified to administer them; i.e., psychological testing must be conducted by a psychologist trained to administer the specific tests utilized. In addition to testing, an observation of the child either in school or in a comparable situation is required for an initial evaluation, and often at later stages as well. It is through the observation that the child can be assessed while interacting with his peers and teachers. To insure objectivity and cross-referencing, this observation must be conducted by a person other than the child's classroom teacher. The observation need not be done exclusively in the child's classroom, especially when the child's suspected area of disability may become manifest in larger settings, such as the lunchroom, hallways or gym. For children over twelve years of age, vocational testing is required. This requirement is in keeping with the spirit of the IDEA 1997 Amendments that encourage preparation of children for useful employment. The vocational testing should identify areas of interest and skills needed to attain employment after graduation from school. During the testing process, the parent is free to provide any privately obtained evaluative material and reports. Although sometimes costly, private evaluations can be very valuable in providing the Special Education Committee with the expertise of specialists trained in the area of the child's disability who may have a more objective view than school system personnel. Experts may include professionals such as psychotherapists, psychiatrists, neurologists, pediatricians, medical personnel, and tutors. Professionals who have been working with the child over time can often provide the district with a long-term view of the child's needs.[5]


Quote:
The IDEA allows, but does not require, school districts to add the classifications of Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) at their discretion.[6]



From http://www.help4adhd.org/en/education/rights/504

Quote:
Section 504
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law designed to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Section 504 guarantees certain rights to individuals with disabilities, including the right to full participation and access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.




It also said,
Quote:
In order to receive services under Section 504, a child must first be determined to have a disability that substantially limits one or more major life functions, including education, learning, and behavior.

So I can see how that would be a tough one to get.

ON PA GIEP
http://www.cmu.edu/cmites/giep.html

and
ON ACTUAL CH.16
http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/022/c ... 16.32.html

a good page for the GIEP meeting
http://www.pagiftededucation.info/pdf/G ... atAnno.pdf

A good site all together...
http://www.penngifted.org/donotsign.cfm

Quote:
Chapter 16 is Special Education in Pennsylvania Law. If a district tells you that gifted education is no longer special education, they should contact the PDE (Pennsylvania Department of Education) for clarification. Gifted education has never been mandated under federal law, but it is mandated under Pennsylvania law. Learning the terminology is one of the biggest challenges to parents.

Do not sign a NORA (Notice of Recommended Assignment) that removes your child from the protection of gifted education law.


They also have a legal info section. and competitions for your child...http://www.penngifted.org/org-competition.cfm


OH YEAH...Don't forget to schedule the annual GIEP meeting... (if you go service agreement, that would be in addition to it).



TreemastersMom
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27 Jan 2009, 12:42 pm

Thank you, Tantybi! You've been extremely helpful!

He does want to 'go away' to college - for Pharmacy tech, but the college he wants to go to is less than an hour away, so he can commute.

He's got a behavioral specialist working with him (twice weekly) to help with the social stuff.

I will definitely look at all the links you posted. I spent quite a bit of time at Wrighstlaw last night, but came up fairly empty handed.



Most of his issues have to do with impulse control, or lack there of. Reading social cues... This year is FAR better than past years, but he still needs help. (Obviously) He is on anti anxiety meds, and they do help take the edge off, but when there is a change (like continual subs) they don't do much.

Again, Thanks!!



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27 Jan 2009, 2:29 pm

TreemastersMom wrote:
He does want to 'go away' to college - for Pharmacy tech, but the college he wants to go to is less than an hour away, so he can commute.


Here are a few thoughts on the Pharm Tech thing:
PTs are a dime-a-dozen.
The really good Pharm Tech jobs (the ones in hospitals) are scarce and are slowly being replaced by automated mixer/distributor machines as they were in the hopsital I worked in. In fact JCoH is supporting the replacement of almost all PTs in the hospitals affiliated with them.
The rest of the PT jobs are in Rite Aids and corner drug stores where the average wage begins at $10/hour (pretty pathetic for a 2-year degree IMHO).



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27 Jan 2009, 2:37 pm

Do not sign anything until you speak with a child advocate in your area. If you sign anything, you might be signing off on something you can't easily undo.

The plans you mention are not covered under IDEA. However, IEPs are not that great at all. I couldn't get the school to follow my son's IEP without a legal fight and I didn't have the $$$ for that.



Tantybi
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27 Jan 2009, 2:56 pm

TreemastersMom wrote:
Thank you, Tantybi! You've been extremely helpful!

He does want to 'go away' to college - for Pharmacy tech, but the college he wants to go to is less than an hour away, so he can commute.

He's got a behavioral specialist working with him (twice weekly) to help with the social stuff.

I will definitely look at all the links you posted. I spent quite a bit of time at Wrighstlaw last night, but came up fairly empty handed.



Most of his issues have to do with impulse control, or lack there of. Reading social cues... This year is FAR better than past years, but he still needs help. (Obviously) He is on anti anxiety meds, and they do help take the edge off, but when there is a change (like continual subs) they don't do much.

Again, Thanks!!


Yeah, the more I think about it, unless they are getting funds from IDEA, then the GIEP is only PA law. I couldn't find anything in PA law about if they send any funding to the schools to support that. The PAGE website had a number on it and they may be able to answer that.