Special Education help?

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Special Education help?

Post by Guest on Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:28 pm

This is a long shot, I know, but I'm kind of desperate for help in a hurry, and I don't know who to ask. If anyone here knows anything about this, I would love, love, love some advice.

i just moved to a new town which has a lot of elementary schools, which vary really widely in quality (2-9 on the GreatSchools ranking). I specifically targeted the good school, and bought a house close to it.

My son is on an IEP for autism. He's in a mainstream classroom, with around an hour a day in a specialized small group classroom.

I registered him around a month ago for the new school, with plans to start in the fall. I gave them his IEP then.

Thursday, the new school has a cool orientation/meet your classmates event, and my kids were invited -- I'm pulling them out of school for it. I've been getting my son used to the idea of the new school, and he's now super-excited.

Today, I got a call from the school, and over the course of around a dozen emails and phone conversations, it became clear (as in, one person told me explicitly) that they were thinking about moving my son to another school in the district because they worry that the school we're placed for in the town isn't ideally set up to handle him.

This could mean my kids are attending different schools, with widely varied start/end times. It could mean I have to pay for 2 different childcares (losing sibling discounts) because they're run out of the school. Worse, it's another disruption for my son, probably a lower quality school, and a different school from the one all the neighbor kids will be going to, meaning he'll have a much harder time making friends.

I don't know what to do about this. I don't know what my rights are. I'm really furious that I gave them his IEP a MONTH ago, and they let us walk so far down this path to spring a 2-day deadline for placements on me TODAY. And I didn't really sleep last night for work reasons, so I'm frazzled and overreacting anyway. I just don't know what I can do if they come back tomorrow and say, "Yeah, we don't want him, so we're telling the district to send him somewhere else." (All of my communications have been with the school's SPED folks, and nothing with the broader district staff.)

Does anyone know anything about this kind of issue? Does anyone have any advice, or pointers on where to look? I've just kind of been helplessly crying on and off all evening, freaking out over this.

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Re: Special Education help?

Post by readertorider on Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:35 am

Wish I had some info--this sounds awful. My elementary school used to bus kids from other districts in for special programs--music lessons, enrichment, speech therapy--but I feel like the school has to honor your physical location unless you request other arrangements.

I found a list of rights with a quick google, so you probably already know it, but it's there if you want it. It definitely sounds like you and your child have rights and that the school district is required to inform you of them.
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Re: Special Education help?

Post by jcorozza on Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:23 am

Are they trying to send him to a different regular ed school with a more specialized program, or a school that is specifically for special ed/autistic kids? I mean, it doesn't solve them being obnoxious about it, but if it's the first, is it possible to have all of your kids go the new suggested school? I'm pretty sure they have to provide bussing (and possibly childcare) if the school closest to you can't meet your kids' needs. I know that, when I worked after-school, schools would bus kids just for childcare if their siblings were in a different school for special ed/accelerated programs, so that may be an option, too.
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Re: Special Education help?

Post by Guest on Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:51 am

They can't send him to a school specifically for special ed kids, or I will scream bloody murder. Legally, we have the right to him being in a "Least Restrictive Environment," which means they aren't allowed to remove him from regular classes unless he cannot function in the classroom even with supplemental aids and services.
[20 United States Code (U.S.C.) Sec. 1412(a)(5)(A); 34 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Sec. 300.114.]

If they do send him to another school, I might be able to get the other two sent there, but he's the oldest, and when he moves up to middle school, I don't know if that would mean that they'd have to go back and change schools, and it would make the neighborhood isolation issue even worse.

Blah. I found a friend of a friend who's been involved in SPED on the administrative/faculty side, and she recommended being a squeaky wheel today and emailing frequently until I get a resolution. So far, no response at all to my first mail, sent an hour ago, in which I was trying to make them commit to getting me a real answer by 1:30 so I have time to talk to my son before he's off with his dad for the afternoon/evening.

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Re: Special Education help?

Post by jcorozza on Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:46 am

Oh yeah, being a squeaky wheel usually helps with this kind of thing. Even though kids have the right to the LRE, it often doesn't happen if parents aren't on their case about it, especially if it means the school might have to pay more money. Is it possible for you to call or go in to talk to them in person (or, if their dad could? - I hate to say it, but sometimes an angry man is much scarier to school admins and they're more willing to kowtow to them)? I prefer to communicate about things that are frustrating through email. because my thoughts tend to be clearer, but unfortunately it's probably easy for them to ignore a bunch of emails. Who have you talked to in the administration?
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Re: Special Education help?

Post by reboot on Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:50 am

I agree with your friend and jcorozza. Squeak lound and long. Call and email everyone repeatedly and do not wait so long for responses. Show up in person and demand meetings. Be a pain in the ass. Bureaucracy will generally cave if it is too much trouble to continue resisting.
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Re: Special Education help?

Post by Caffeinated on Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:26 pm

I agree with your friend and jcorozza and reboot. Squeaky wheels really do get the grease. And don't rely solely on email, emails are too easy to ignore. Calls and in-person meetings are much harder to ignore. And if you really want to get in their face, even the mention of the big guns (the L-word: lawyers, and the P-word: press) can do wonders.

Good luck to you! Dealing with a recalcitrant bureaucracy is no fun, but you're strong. You can do this.
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Re: Special Education help?

Post by Guest on Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:07 pm

So update: after 2 emails, I got a call back, and have managed to turn that into a meeting in half an hour. It sounds like he'll get to stay in this school, and they apologized for, well, freaking me out, though they didn't put it in those words.

The advantage to emails for me is twofold, 1) I suck on the phone, and in email I don't get flustered and back down, and (more importantly) 2) it let me cc other people. Like everyone I talked to yesterday. And the principal. And the district-wide SPED coordinator. If I'd had to, I could have started including advocates or therapists or people from his current school or lawyers, but it didn't come to that.

Thanks to everyone for the advice and support. It's a scary place when you don't know what you can or should or are allowed to do, especially when your kids' wellbeing is at stake.

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Re: Special Education help?

Post by eselle28 on Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:14 pm

I'm so glad it sounds like it will work out! Hopefully the meeting will be productive and not too stressful.

That being said, I'm going to put my lawyer hat on. The third advantage to email? You now have a record of the conversation, just in case there's a problem next year. It sounds like things will work out just fine, but this sounds like one of those cases where it might be wise to document everything.
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Re: Special Education help?

Post by Caffeinated on Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:18 pm

Yay! I'm glad things are looking up.

I know what you mean about having a harder time on the phone and in person, I'm that way too. What I do is write things down. I write down the points I want to make, the questions I want to ask (and leave space between questions to write notes on the answers), and I take notes throughout the meeting/call. In a meeting, this has the additional effect of demonstrating that I'm serious about things (something about seeing someone take notes seems to make that point to people.)
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Re: Special Education help?

Post by reboot on Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:51 pm

eselle28 wrote:I'm so glad it sounds like it will work out! Hopefully the meeting will be productive and not too stressful.

That being said, I'm going to put my lawyer hat on. The third advantage to email? You now have a record of the conversation, just in case there's a problem next year. It sounds like things will work out just fine, but this sounds like one of those cases where it might be wise to document everything.

My personal goto is to follow every phone call/in person meeting with an email summarizing the discussion with every attendee copied. That way I can get the documentation and be a bigger pain in the ass than with email alone
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Re: Special Education help?

Post by jcorozza on Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:50 pm

Glad things worked out - I also hate talking on the phone (I used to tell my old boss to email me, because I knew she was going to ask me for things I didn't want to do, and I could say "no" more easily through email!)
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