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Advocacy Stories

Here you can share your advocacy stories and read about other advocates experiences as they share their stories.  Please refrain from using real names or personal information about the school personnel, student, or family.

  • 06 Mar 2011 11:21 AM | Lynne Adams (Administrator)
    This is an email I received from parent on my other website, 

    service: ask the expert
    My son is 5. he was dx w/ asd at 2 and received first steps and nisec ( northwest indiana special ed coop). i have worked w/ him extensively since dx and he is doing well.   in fact, his asd is indescernable to those who do not know his history but.... he still requires taking a break/removing himself from sights, sounds, noises other kids although this is not a frequent issue.  he still is socially awkward and will walk about or watch rather than join in.  since he has been in nisec for last 3 years, he knows the routine and is quite comfortable.  he is also "smart". that said, at his annual iep accomodations were removed and all that remained was a 9 week goal to interact socially w/ adults and peers spontainiously 70% of the time or something like that.  i questioned the other accoms that were removed and they said he was age-appropriate, etc .  they told me he can self-calm.  i said yes, i taught him to but just that week he required removing himself and going to book area to calm down..... the sociologist that was there i had never met before and does not know my son slid the autism qualifying definitions in front of me.  comments made led me to believe that they are going to remove him from any spec ed protections despite two separate dx of asd.  he is managing his autism well because he can take a break, etc.  but because he is smart they want to remove all support via iep/504.  i want to keep my son's iep. i am not asking for an aide or to be pulled out of gen ed. specifically i am asking for my son to be allowed to take a break when needed ( 5min), to get instructions explained/shown to him when complex if needed, to get assistance "joining in" if needed, to get assistance with transitions with novel situations if needed.  they told me teachers do that anyway automatically.  i said that while his present teacher is very good, there are no laws requiring teachers to have spec ed training ( tor often is principal....)!
     and there is no guarantee that they will understand or have the heart
     to care. i want my son's legal rights protected.  he should not be punished b/c he is managing well and the school should not be allowed to wait til my son has "shut down" and has begun to fail at school before they intervene or allow accomodations .  please help!  the twist is too that he will enter kindergarten but in another district so do i take this battle to that district now?  i have called riley's but they can't eval b/4 his reeval is due in june.  i called his old ot to do an eval and his old pschologist from first steps who said to try the ot first.  the school says my son has no ot issues. that is not true.  i keep him home if he is having a bad day and we manage them well with ot techniques, etc.  nothing special necessary in classroom b/c dealt with outside classroom setting..... the school ot dropped his sensory diet i think last year, but perhaps i need the outside ot to make that recoommendation....  i left the iep meeting telling them to wait on testing and !
     that i needed to get an advocate for ethan involved.

    My Response:

    First some questions and then I will tell you what the typical procedure is to remove a child from an IEP and then what your rights are if the district proposes to do so.


       1. Is your child's disability interfering with his progress in the areas of academics, social skills, functional skills, physical ability?
       2. Did the school district conduct evaluations or was this a three year reevaluation to determine eligibility? If so, were the recommendations from the evaluators that your son is no longer eligible because his disability is not interfering with his progress and he no longer requires specialized instruction to make progress?
       3. Was the team meeting that was held to determine eligibility or just an annual review?
       4. When you say the 'dropped sensory diet', did he receive Occupational Therapy for sensory issues and they took that away or was it things they were providing in the classroom to address sensory integration and are no longer doing that?  Was there an OT evaluation that determined there was no longer a need?

    Typical Procedures:

       1. When a service is removed from an IEP, there should be an evaluation with recommendations that the service is no longer needed.  And still the question that needs to be asked is, "if we take the service away will the child continue to make progress?"  Not, 'he's making progress so we don't need to give it to him anymore'.  Plus the whole team (including the parent) must agree.  If you don't agree, you must reject the district's proposal and then you request the school supply stayput services until the dispute is resolved.
       2. When a child is removed from special education (they take the IEP away), they must evaluate the child and the evaluations must support that decision and again the whole team (including parent) must agree. If you don't agree, you must reject the district's proposal and then you request the school supply stayput services until the dispute is resolved.
       3. You can also reject the finding of no eligibility and stay put would apply.
       4. A 504 accommodation plan is not an IEP.  It is just an accommodation plan.
       5. All accommodations should be written down. (whether the teachers do it or not)  If it is something your child needs to be successful, make sure it is listed.  You could move or get a teacher that doesn't automatically provide those accommodation.  Reject any missing portions that you feel need to be included in the IEP or 504.  Try to have something in writing from a qualified evaluator to support your perspective.

    Your Rights:

       1. If you are not satisfied with the results of the school district's evaluations or you disagree with the findings, you can reject those evaluations and request independent evaluations by a qualified evaluator of your choice, at no cost to you within 16 months of the district's evaluations.
       2. Reject the district's proposed IEP or finding of no eligibility and invoke your child's right to stayput until the dispute is resolved.
       3. Right to request a mediation to attempt to resolve the dispute.
       4. Right to request a due process hearing to resolve the dispute.

    I hope this helps.
  • 07 Dec 2010 3:09 PM | Lynne Adams (Administrator)
    Recently I attended a meeting with parents of an 7 year old boy.  The parents have been pursuing help for their child for 2 years.  In kindergarten, they requested that the school evaluate him because they were concerned about his academics and understanding of the school work.  The school determined that he was a bright boy who was somewhat immature compared to his classmates and that he did not qualify for any special education services.  His parents accepted this because they felt that the school personnel are the experts and they also want to believe that there is nothing wrong with their little boy. 

    In first grade they went through the same process with the same results.  However, their son is following further behind in reading and math. The school department determines him ineligible for special ed because he doesn't have a diagnosis of a disability.

    So the parents go on a quest to have their son diagnosed, thinking that that's the magic word that will get their child the help that he needs.  So they finally get a diagnosis of ADHD.  Everything will be all right now, or so they think.

    They provide the results and the diagnosis to the school and request a meeting. They think that their son's struggle is over. 

    They happen to tell a friend of there's that they are nervous about the meeting and their friend knows me and suggests that they call me for advice. 

    I get the call and listen to their story and ask a few questions to determine what type of meeting it is.  The mom is not sure.  She thinks they're going to write an IEP.  I know that's not always how it works, so they ask that I attend the meeting with them. 

    The meeting is attended by myself, the parents, a school social worker and the classroom teacher.  After introductions, I ask, "What is the purpose of the meeting?" 

    The social worker (who is chairing the meeting) says that they are going to write a 504 and provide the student with accommodations so he can be successful.  I ask about a determination of special education eligibility.  they say the school has already found him not eligible and they are writing an 504 plan because of the disability of ADHD. 

    We discuss how the student is doing and what accommodations will help him to be more successful.  The teacher makes lots of suggestions.  I ask if she is using any of her suggested accommodations and she says that she uses all of them and he is still struggling.  She is modifying his curriculum because he is almost a year behind in reading skills and she gives him individual instruction and has the special ed teacher that comes into the classroom to help other children work with him as well.  I asked about specific reading programs that the school uses and has staff trained in providing.  The classroom teacher is trained in orton-gillingham reading program. 

    I thank them for their time and assistance in putting together the 504 and I let them know that I will be requesting to reconvene the team for a meeting to determine eligibility.  They both look a little nervous, but agree that this is the parent's right. 

    When we leave the meeting, the parents are so grateful that I was there.  They realize that they would have thought the school was doing so much for their son and they would have accepted it and continued to let him fall behind. 

    As I work with parents of older children who wish that they could go back and do things differently because they thought the school was looking out for their child's best interests.  It's nice to be able to help from the beginning of this process.  But parents don't know what they don't know.  And therefore, their child usually doesn't get what they need or are entitled to. 

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