Getting an IEP

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by ML, Sep 20, 2009.

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  1. ML

    ML Guest

    So manster has had a 504 since 2nd grade and it has worked well.. till now. He just started 5th grade and I'm not sensing the same attitude with this teacher in terms of allowing accommodations. He has, on the books from an evaluation: ADHD, three kind of anxiety and vocal tics. I now know he has AS and the psychiatrist and therapist agree with me but have not done an official evaluation.

    Because he is missing recesses every week for "forgetting" his folders, and the teacher hasn't taken his executive functioning deficits int consideration, it's time to get an IEP, something with more teeth in it. This teacher isn't even responding to my emails.

    I guess I need another evaluation which I will set up. Once I get the results of the evaluation, what is the next step after that and when do I need to get an advocate?
  2. dadside

    dadside New Member

    Before getting to steps for an IEP, are you sure manster needs one, or would a meeting and discussion with the principal - who would then discuss with (and direct) the teacher - be sufficient? If all he needs is a couple of accommodations rather than "special services", that would be the faster and easier way to go.

    If you still want an IEP, remember that prerequisites are a specified disability and because of that disability "a need for special education and related services". Notwithstanding any evaluation you provide, the school is still required to do its own evaluation (to which are expected to agree) in "all areas of suspected disability". So, you should identify all such areas for them, but without limiting yourself or them to just those things.

    If you can get a formal diagnosis in writing from his doctors, without a long new evaluation, do so. Then put in writing your request for a full evaluation of manster by the school for the purpose of eligibility for and development of an IEP. Include in the letter your consent to them doing the evaluation. The letter can be addressed to the principal. I follow the Wright's advice to hand deliver the letter, making notes of to whom, when and where it was delivered - and to exchange a few pleasantries with the recipient. Also your notes on delivery might include what the recipient was wearing or something to reinforce your record of delivery. (This, rather than using certified mail, doesn't raise a flag that you are keeping records "in case", although of course you are.)

    The school then has 60 days (in most if not all states) to complete the evaluation and hold an IEP determination meeting - which meeting will include you.

    You can start to look for an advocate now. It would be easiest for all if you established a level of comfort with them as you get the process started. Some areas have trained volunteer advocates, and there are also some advocates you pay yourself. I'd not go just with someone the district "provides", but the school should tell you where to find help.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    ML, you can write a letter requesting the school district to evaluation him for an IEP. They have to do it. You can provide the evaluation and documentation from the private dr's and the school district has to consider it, but not accept it. However, my position is that if they haven't evaluation'd my son by someone equally or more qualified than the private provider, they have no reason to reject what the private provider says. When they buck that, I ask for an IEE by someone more qualified. That has always brought them around. :) Right now we are going in circles over their stance that "well, even if difficult child has these issues, they aren't effecting him in more ways than we are aware of at school district" and my position is that they don't have anyone there qual'd to understand how these issues are effecting difficult child at school.

    Usually, what happens (according to what I hear) is that the school district will try to convince you that the child doesn't need the IEP, won't qualify, etc., but if you don't agree to let it go, they will evaluation him. Their evaluation will include things like testing his hearing, doing a social report by a school district social worker, and probably a few other misc. things but don't be alarmed- that is all standard, at least around here.
  4. ML

    ML Guest

    Thanks ladies. I'll ponder what the hat you've said. So basically they are obligated to do what the 504 says as much as an IEP?
  5. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    No they are not. I disagree with the previous poster. Do everything in your power to get an IEP. They are much stronger than a 504. Check the archives for info on how to write the initial letters, etc. CERTIFIED MAIL with SIGNATURE REQUIRED is the only way to document timelines!!!
  6. jal

    jal Member


    A 504 does not give you a legal leg to stand on. The school district does not legally have to follow the document. Typically, this is the first step the school district will take to appease a parent. An IEP however, must legally be followed.

    Be advised though, that the IEP is for children who have difficulty learning in the environment they are in. Their disability must impact their learning or impact other students learning in the classroom.

    I would look into an advocate if the school district begins to give you a problem with obtaining services.

    As JJJ stated, if you are going to persue make sure you send the request by certified mail. Typically, you can find the request for evaluation form on your school's website. That will start the school district clock ticking.
  7. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    A 504 plan is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is enforceable by filing a lawsuit in federal court. This is a significant barrier to most families and so makes a 504 plan difficult to legally enforce. It is possible to do but much harder than an IEP. If you feel that a 504 plan, when followed, is all your son really needs at this point, you may want to contact your school district's superintendents office and ask to speak to someone there about your difficulty. The school district may have a district wide 504 plan coordinator who can help you at the local school level. But I wouldn't count on it.

    An IEP is created by the IDEA 2004 legislation that mandates help for students with disabilities whose disabilities are negatively affecting their ability to benefit from a free, appropriate public education (better known as FAPE). Issues of eligibility for special education and disagreements between parents and school district's over the IEP are adjudicated through a separate system than the regular courts that is much more accessible to parents. It includes the option for mediation, procedural violation complaints and due process adjudication for eligibility and content disagreements.

    The purpose of a 504 and an IEP are different. A 504 plan is intended to "level the playing field" by removing obstacles to a student's access to the regular curriculum that only occur because of the student's disability. For example, ramping a staircase makes a classroom accessible to a student in a wheelchair. In your son's case it may be that his 504 plan calls for him to take a set of books home or that he get study guides to help compensate for his exec function issues. There is no actual modification of the general curriculum or "special" instruction/services required for him to access and presumably benefit from the typical FAPE.

    An IEP is an individualized educational plan that is created because the students' disabilities make it difficult or impossible for the student to access or benefit from the regular classroom instruction without modifications to the regular curriculum or the addition of related services like speech. Your brief description of your son's issues suggest that he might qualify for an IEP and that he would certainly benefit from a 504 plan. And IEP trumps a 504 plan every time and there is no need to have both. But I would not abandon th 504 plan until a satisfactory IEP is in place.

    It is not unusual for a student to "grow" into their disabilities. In other words, as the child rises through the grades the academic demands grow as well as the expectations for emotional control/maturity. A child who was able to get by before then often seems to suddenly be struggling and it is typical for this to happen during the 4-6th grade years. That's when there is a big shift to reliance on reading, taking notes and being able to learn and function independently (compared to the primary grades).

    It sounds like your son may be experiencing academic decline at this point. Is this correct? Has his teacher told you that he will have poor grades or that he is not performing at grade level? Did he do poorly on last year's state-wide standardized testing? These are not the only markers to look for but are certainly the most obvious.

    Even if he is not "failing" he may qualify for an IEP due to deficits in the social realm or due to behavioral issues like not turning in completed work. If you are providing extensive help with homework at home or paying for tutoring in order to keep him at or close to grade level this can also be considered when the IEP team meets to decide eligility since without that extra help he would probably be failing.

    I would go ahead and request that he be evaluated for special education in writing. There are a variety of ways to do this but my suggestion would be to write a simple letter to the principal, stating that your son has the following diagnoses and you are concerned that, due to his disabilities, he is having trouble at school. For this reason you would like to have him evaluated for Special Education. I would also suggest hand carrying your note to the school principal and delivering it in person (make an appointment). Make some notes about the time/day of the meeting, what he/she was wearing, etc. in case you need to "prove" that the letter was delivered. Or you can send it certified mail in addition to hand delivering.

    At that meeting, if you haven't already talked to the principal, I would let him/her know that your son is losing recess daily as punishment for issues that you feel are disability-related. You might want to bring copies of your e-mails to the teacher showing the date and content to give to the principal to show that this teacher is failing to respond with even the minimum of courtesy to your concerns.

    This may result in some immediate changes in the classroom to adhere more closely to the existing 504 plan. It may not too - depends on the principal.

    Once you send them a written request for evaluation, the school district must respond within 60 days by either sending you a proposed assessment plan or by denying your request and giving you specific reasons why they feel your son does not need special education or related services. The latter is referred to as prior notice.

    Given your son's documented diagnoses, I cannot imagine the school district refusing to assess but it may happen anyway. They are supposed to assess all children when a disability is "suspected". If they deny your request then you will probably have to file due process. If you get a denial, post about it in this forum and you will get suggestions about how to proceed from there.

    If they agree to assess him, they should send you some kind of written assessment plan for your approval. I would request assessment in every single area of potential disability including speech, Occupational Therapist (OT), behavioral, academic - the whole shebang. A lot of districts have a form where you check boxes to indicate the areas of assessment. Check any that the school district hasn't checked that you even remotely suspect might apply. You are allowed to do so - don't let the school district tell you you can't.

    On the form or letter write in that you require that copies of all reports and findings be provided to you at least 5 working days prior to any meeting to determine eligibility. Make a copy for your records.

    When you return the signed permission to assess I would also send them copies of all the reports you have to date from his doctors/specialists so that they have them for his records.

    I would not be surprised if your son has speech deficits that rise to the level of qualifying him as a speech/language impaired student. Once a student qualifies for special education under any one classification then related disabilities should also be addressed by the IEP team.

    Good luck
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009
  8. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    Go for the IEP...sounds like Manster should qualify. There are several different categories under which an IEP can be granted. With a diagnosis of AS, he should easily qualify under the "autistic like behaviors" category.

    Even if you do your own evaluations, the school district will still want to do their own. However, they are legally obligated to take into account outside evaluations. In our case, we even took the neuropsychologist to our IEP meeting (not cheap, however).

    Also, if you are getting an outside evaluation, the school psychiatric probably will need to know what tests are being done independently before starting any of their own testing. Some tests should not be repeated within a certain time frame, so you will want to make sure your independent experts do their evaluation first and let the school psychiatric know what has already been done. If you are lucky, the school might decide to accept your outside results and do only a cursory evaluation themselves.

    The explanation of 504s and IEPs from rlsnights was fabulous.
  9. ML

    ML Guest

    Thank you soo much for the great information. This will help so much. My first step is explaining this to manster so he knows what's going on and he will be upset that I want to ask for Special Education. BUT, I do have a great t-doctor and will have her help me with this part. I truly belive rsl that you get it. How did you know he might need speech t? He says is r's funny even now. And how did you know I pay someone to help/tutor him with homework? You're are pretty smart!

    I will seek an evaluation for IEP from school district. Am I right that if they turn him down they have to pay for me to have a second opinion? I think this is the year he will need the extra help because the expectations are getting unreasonable (for him).

    thank you thank you thank you. I appreciate your all taking the time to guide me with this process.

    Funny we just got that CSEAP results and he passed all areas except descriptive writing and that's one area I think he does well in. I was very suprised he didn't fail math like he did last year.


  10. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    1) I could predict these things in part based on your son's diagnoses. AS is almost always associated with pragmatic language deficits. I don't mean actual speech (you gave the example of pronunciation problems) although that counts too. I mean his use of language at a more sophisticated level. He probably has difficulty with non-literal language (metaphors, similes), abstract concepts, taking another person's perspective. Speech pathologists "treat" these speech delays/deficits as well as the obvious issues of speech production.

    I am not actually surprised that his writing scores on standardized tests are declining. This makes perfect sense since the higher you go in school the greater the demand for non-literal language, abstract concepts and the ability to take the reader's perspective when writing. Without intervention you are likely to see his grades in this area plummet over the next 2 or 3 years.

    2) If you have not done so already, you need to document the tutoring you are paying for with receipts that show the number of hours, amount paid, etc.

    3) There are two steps to this process.
    A. Determine whether to assess for Special Education. You may request an IEE from the district if they refuse to assess but you are very likely to have to take it to due process if "informal" talks don't result in the district agreeing to assess.

    B. If the school district agrees to assess, after the assessment is complete there is a meeting to determine Manster's eligibility for Special Education based on the assessment results. A determination that he is not eligible for services at this stage can result in your requesting an IEE and/or your going to due process.
    Here is a link to a very helpful and brief definition of an IEE.

    Many people including Wright's Law recommend that, if possible, you get your own thorough independent evaluation prior to asking the school district to assess your child. If you have the financial resources to do this then I would do so. If you don't then you can start with the school district and see how it goes.
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