Fighting for your child’s special ed rights

by beagooddad on March 24, 2007

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There is a battle brewing on the horizon for the BeAGoodFamily. The school district put down that Pookie should get an extended school year to prevent regressions during the summer break.

Great.

They only offer 3 1/2 weeks of summer school.

Not great.

The school is getting ready to rewrite Pookie’s IEP for next year. In an effort to make sure we get the services for Pookie that he needs we went to a three hour seminar today. It was a pretty intro level class but got our foot into the door of the Family Resource Center on Disabilities.

We knew a lot of this stuff already but here are some of the things I highlighted during the seminar.

  • Request everything in writing. Ask for answers to everything in writing. If it doesn’t show up on a piece of paper, it was never really said.
  • Extended School Year is not the same thing as summer school.
  • Any transportation/special aids and assistance provided during the normal school year are supposed to be provided during the summer.
  • If your child was not eligible for transportation/special aids and assistance during the normal school year but will need it during the extended year services, you need to have that stated in the IEP.
  • In fact, anything and everything about educational needs for your child needs to be in the IEP.
  • All services provided for your child are supposed to be individual and appropriate. This does not necessarily mean one on one. It means that when requesting services, the school can not say “We do not provide that.” Everything should be evaluated on your specific child’s needs. If the school does not have anything in place to provide those needs, they better start working on figuring it out.
  • In the end, if the school decides to push it and deny services, you can take them to mediation, conflict resolution, then due process hearing. Make it clear from the start that you plan on pushing to the due process hearing if necessary. Due process hearings cost the school a ton of money in legal fees and they will normally try to avoid that. You need to realize that if you really follow through with the threat of a due process hearing, it is going to cost you money, too. The instructor said that you can expect to spend up to $20K for the process.
  • The instructor said to not be afraid to raise a stink at the school board meetings.  The special education director and the other high level school directors will not like to have somebody complaining about their inability to take care of their special needs students especially if you have a prepared speech that you hand out to everybody there including the newspapers that always cover the meetings.
  • Before taking these stands, get some help from an organization like the Family Resource Center on Disabilities.  They are going to help us prepare any letters.

They mentioned a lot of other stuff, but these are the things we really focused on since our next big battle sounds like it is going to be about the Extended School Year.  We are perfectly happy with Pookie’s normal school year program but just want to avoid any regressions as much as possible.

Anybody else have any advice to throw into the mix.

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