IDEA, LRE, and why the school district is wrong

by beagooddad on April 11, 2008

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Pookie’s teacher called us in for a meeting to inform us before the IEP that she could not recommend that Pookie be placed in a normal kindergarten classroom and instead be placed in a special education classroom that will be in a different school than the school he would normally attend if he was not in special education.

I flew off the handle a little bit but kept myself under control until I could find legal reasons why they are wrong instead of just logical ones. Who knows. Maybe she secretly disagrees and wanted to make sure we had some time to organize a rebuttal.

So, I just spent literally 5 minutes on the internet and already found a few really nice nuggets of information and since it will help me organize my notes for the big IEP meeting, I thought I would share it with you.

First, people with autism are covered under IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Act which established a ton of rules about what kinds of services, etc. that people with disabilities are guaranteed.

Now forgive me if I get this syntax wrong, but according to Title I/B/612/a/5/A:

In general.–To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

Okay, so let’s look at a couple of our requests that have so far been shot down (prior to the IEP and in no way officially binding yet, but still this is how the district plans to handle the IEP).

  • We want Pookie to attend a non-special ED classroom with the use of a teaching aide. Schools response – no, they feel that it will be a bad crutch
  • We want Pookie to attend school (preferably in a non-special ED classroom) at the same school he will attend if and when he no longer needs special education assistance. Schools response – No. The plan to provide all special education classes in one grade school for the entire district.

So right off the bat, the district is off to a really terrible start. They are not only ignore our requests, but it seems to me they are breaking the law. Plus, Pookie has never been given the opportunity to attend a regular classroom with supplementary aids and services because the district only provides preschool for children with special needs. He can’t possibly have failed to perform satisfactorily in a regular classroom with those aids.

And there’s more. If you never click on another link that I put on this site, I would really love for you to spend ten minutes reading this one about what exactly LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) means and why it is important.

I should have a t-shirt made of this next passage and wear it to the IEP meeting:

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) in Title II (Public Services) states that it is illegal for a qualified individual with a disability, by reason of the disability, to be excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity, which includes public schools. Public services cannot be provided in a segregated fashion simply because it is administratively or fiscally more convenient.

Here is another great, and very short description of LRE.

To hell with your budget, Evil School District, to hell with your convenience. My son deserves to be able to go to the same school that his sisters will go to and all of the other kids in our neighborhood because you are legally forbidden from forbidding him.

Autism and other neurological disorders are one of the new big human rights issues facing this country. Especially with the reported numbers seeming to be rapidly increasing. But think about this for a second. Autism is classified as a disability. Could you imagine a school not letting a kid in a wheel chair attend their neighborhood school with their neighborhood playmates because the building was two stories and they didn’t have the proper ramps, elevators, and door widths to allow the student to get around. So instead they bused all of the kids that can’t climb stairs to one special school designed to allow them to get around?

Not only would that not be allowed, but schools are required to be equipped to deal with those situations whether they currently have anybody attending the school with those disabilities or not.

Get ready neighborhood school. You are going to need to make sure you are equipped to treat one kindergarten child with autism next year.

It’s the law.

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