Here we go again

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by jillmbooth, Aug 23, 2009.

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  1. jillmbooth

    jillmbooth Guest

    I'm going to try to give you all 6 yrs of background info condensed. difficult child is currently 11 yrs old and supposed to be entering 6th gr.

    Kinder- diagnosis'ed with adhd school refused to provide sped services despite hiring an advocate and bringing dr in on the ard meetings.

    1st gr- became increasingly anxious, developed tummy aches and behavior became more of a problem. School still refused services so I removed him to homeschool. We tried that for 1.5 yrs.

    2nd gr- I paid for a full battery of tests. Dr. said he was severe ahdh, mood disorder, odd. Re approached a different school and was given services under OHI.

    3rd- had more problems with transitions, talking back, refusing to do work, emotional breakdowns. We made it through though.

    4th- BAD yr. difficult child began to hide instead of going to class, run from teachers when upset and refusal to complete work. School called an ard in Nov and told us this "was not the school for him" that he needed a behavior service class. So we moved on to school #3 in January. Bad idea. He was bullied by the other boys, we never saw any homework or classwork, the teacher would not send behavior reports home despite us begging him to do so. He was suspended multiple times. he moved up to a level 4 by the end of the year.

    5th gr- same ole same ole. Bumped down to a level 1 the first week of school because that was their policy at the beg of each yr. He is getting worse and falling further behind. ARD meetings are worthless. In dec he was restrained by 2 huge male teachers. held to the floor and the school police were called. Because he threw hand sanitizer at the teacher. I was threatened that he would go to juvi the next time it happened. That evening I noticed he was covered in bruises...head to toe. His therapist called CPS on the teacher and school. I kept him at home until our issues were addressed with the school. Meanwhile we had to hospitalize him 2 times. He had his medications adjusted and this was the first time we were asked about having hime tested for Aspbergers/Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). After another ARD (where XISD called in their lawyers) we once again were promised they would follow the IEP. Over the next few weeks he was gradually put back in full time. The school reassesed him and did an FBA. He was observed by Xisd psychologists. I went ahead and scheduled a full battery of tests with a private neuro psychiatric testing center (tests to be done in June). Finished out the year with the IEP not being followed and the school not setting up our end of the year ard to tranistion him to middle school.

    by the end of June I was calling asking about our ard. Was told everyone would be gone till AUG 10 and we would have to do it after that date. Never heard from them until we called and threatened. I am prepared with my private testing that clearly shows, severe attention problems, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified and Learning Disability (LD)'s. Ard meeting scheduled for the 19th (school starts on the 24th)

    We went to the meeting and immediately were told he did not qualify for Learning Disability (LD). Despite his math being at a 1.3 gr level and across the board being at a 4th gr level. Working memory and other scores were simple terrible. There were decrepincies all over the place. They were attempting to get us to sign papers changing him to ED and putting him in the behavior service class in his middle school. Our test results were shown...they disagreed and the arguing insued.

    I refused the BSC class and ED label. They refused our test scores until they had a comittee review them and I informed them he would not be starting school until proper placement is determined. We are trying to get him in a contained Autistic classroom for austistic spectrum disrders. We were told it was full. If that isn't possible I want Xisd to pay for a specialized private school. The ard was tabled until 9-2-09.

    I'm at the end of my rope. I'm not equipped to homeschool him because he is so difficult and we can not afford these private schools. The cheapest I found was $1700 a month WITH financial aid.

    Mt husband says we will go to due process if we have to, but we cant afford a lawyer. Meanwhile my son is the one who is suffering and falling behind even more.

    What can I do from here? Any suggestions for some important things I need to know before the next ard? Anyone know any good Texas advocate or attorneys? All of the attorneys I found on the net seem to work for Xisd.

    Thanks,

    Jill
     
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I just wanted to offer support. I've heard Texas school district's try to write their own rules but I'm not familiar with it. Still, they have to comply with federal laws. It sounds to me that you are going to have to consult with a Special Education attny and probably start the due process. I started down that road once and yes, it is VERY expensive BUT, many times the school district backs down once they find that you are not going to be a door-mat where your child is concerned. I think you'd be wise to consult an attny ASAP before this goes on longer and your son's struggles worsen.

    If you haven't done so already, gather ALL documentation to prove what you've written below. Type up a timeline of your efforts and any non-compliance to the law and state DOE regulations and get everything in a professional format. Once I did that and sent a few letters with supporting documents (certified mail with- return receipt) to the central school district office and copied our school board rep, with "cc: XXX, Special Education attny" listed at the bottom, I noticed that the school district started turning things around. Sometimes, it's because the people at the school will say or do whatever they can get you to put up with but when the people at the central school district office start looking into it, they make the principal change things IF they know that you won't accept it otherwise. If they think you are "buying" into it, they'll just back up the principal.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2009
  3. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    If that's the best placement for them, too bad. Services cannot be denied for reasons such as this.

    I have to run out. Will get back with-you later.
     
  4. jillmbooth

    jillmbooth Guest

    I forgot to add that we have been going to WEEKLY therapy at Tx Childrens since difficult child was 6 yrs old. He also sees a psychiatrist bimonthly. Up until the middle of 4th grade we also did weekly occupational therapy at Tx children's for Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) and dysgraphia.

    XISD can't pull the bad/difficult/enabling parents card. I have done my part with my child and they are the ones that have failed him miserably. If they don't know what to do for him it seems they just pass him on to the next school/program and wipe their hands clean of the problem. The BSC class in elementary was such a joke that words fail me. Now they are more than happy to pass him on to junior high and then to highschool, as he becomes more and more frustrated until he becomes another statistic as a highschool dropout. Then, who does XISD blame for that? Themselves? Heck no.
     
  5. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Was he diagnosed with Asperger's? or any form of autism?

    My oldest boy is Aspie and I know many other such kids as a result. None of them is violent or the way you describe your son to be so if he is Aspie, he may have other issues on top of that which should be explored.

    Good luck to you.
     
  6. jillmbooth

    jillmbooth Guest

    First of all, my son is not violent. When he is cornered or pushed beyond his frustration limits, he runs away. In the case where he threw a bottle of hand sanitizer at the teacher, he was cornered in the classroom by the teacher so he wouldn't run away. He became so upset and scared that his first instinct was to get the teacher away from him by throwing something. Is that violent? When he was restraied it was because he was trying to run away from the teacher and was headed for the front door of the school. They stated they restrained him due to safety reasons thinking he was a danger to himself. Somehow, it's justified that two male teachers that stand 6'3 and 6'5 can pin him to the ground and hold him there for 10 minutes while he struggled to get up, and was frightened beyond belief, doesn't do damage to his emotional well being and furthermore causing him bodily injury.

    I stated that he has been diagnosis'ed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified which is a form of autism. It is not plain autism and is not Aspbergers but it falls into the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) category because he fits some characteristics of both types of Autism but not all charcateristis of one specific type to allow a diagnosis of it. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder and not otherwise specified mean Not otherwise specified.

    Thank you for telling me to explore other things but if you had read my post you would have seen that my son has been seen by dr.s since age six and had been through many diagnosis's with many medications tried and there was not much of an improvement which leads them to believe he is in the autistic spectrum (in which many medications do not work) and NOT bipolar, odd. He has many attention problems that interfere with learning.
     
  7. jillmbooth

    jillmbooth Guest

    Just got the ARD notice. XISD is calling in their lawyers for the meeting. Blech!
     
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Then I'd strongly suggest you take a lawyer who specializes in Special Education AND an advocate who's knowledgable in your child's disability.
     
  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Unless I am mistaken about what an ARD is (we don't have anything called that here). They can't. If you don't bring a lawyer, they can't bring theirs.
     
  10. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    1. Have you met directly with the director of Special Education for your school district? If not - call and get an appointment tomorrow. You need to go up the food chain. Take someone with you along with every piece of paper you have about your child's education/IEP's/assessments all put into 2 or 3 huge binders. If you don't get a positive response there, go to the SELPA for help. If your district is large enough it will be it's own SELPA so you need to go up to the Texas Education Agency Regional Centers and ask for help or go to #2

    2. Contact your regional office of Advocacy Inc. and ask for help. Be sure to begin with the incident where your child was forcibly restrained. Their #1 education cassework priorty is Discipline and they may very well be willing to provide you with professional advocacy (i.e. lawyers) to help. Be ready when you call them in case they want you to fax/bring them all your documents the same or next day. So be organized and prepared BEFORE you call. And know it may not happen that fast too. Here's a link to the map of their regional offices and list of contacts. If they find that your case doesn't meet their casework priority plan (don't take it personally, they have very limited resources) ask them if they can suggest what you should do next. Otherwise consider #3
    http://www.disabilityrightstx.org/

    3. All else fails, see the link about mediation - generally a much better option than going directly to due process in most cases, especially if you have good private assessments supporting you. Do NOT do due process without an attorney - you will lose. If your case is good enough you are likely to be able to get an experienced Special Education attorney to charge you a basic retainer up front with plans to get the school district to pay their fee on settlement. Lots of procedural violations can pretty much guarantee them they will get their $$. Finally for more advice about conflict with school district's see #4
    https://web.archive.org/web/20121116201300/http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=2147497560

    4. See the Wrights' Law website for lots of technical info on procedural rights and due process www.wrightslaw.com

    Texas Education Agency links that may be helpful:

    Community Parent Resource Centers
    https://web.archive.org/web/2013062...ea.state.tx.us/special.ed/explansaf/cprc.html

    Dispute Resolution processes - specifically look at the Complaint section - this is not Due Process - it is used to complain about procedural violations like not holding the IEP meeting within the required time frames, failure to implement signed IEP, etc. Due process is for disagreements between parents and school; Complaints are for factual violations of federal or state law governing special education. Based on your description there have been many procedural violations. You have one year to file complaint - does not require an attorney, doesn't involve going to court but it will get the State to investigate the school district and, if they are found in violation, the State will enforce corrections and may choose to audit ALL of the school's IEPs for compliance.

    You may also want to consider requesting mediation - info on the same page

    Resources within the Texas State Dept. of Ed regarding use of confinement, restraint, etc. - nothing says you can't call the regional center yourself and ask some questions about what's been going on at the school and whether they have reported the use of physical restraint as required.
    https://web.archive.org/web/2012092...a.state.tx.us/special.ed/forms/restraint.html

    Links to federal and state rules and regulations governing Special Education. You need to read this and figure out which sections apply to your situation and whether a procedural complaint is in order. If so, file ASAP - hit them with a blizzard of complaints.
    https://web.archive.org/web/20110808023431/http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/special.ed/rules/

    Texas Behavior Support Initiative list of Regional Education Service Center Contact Information with specific persons to contact about behavior issues
    https://web.archive.org/web/20070815083445/http://www.txbsi.org/default.aspx?name=escLinks

    Terrific resource I wish our state had - a table that specifies what state regulations match which federal regulations by code #
    https://web.archive.org/web/2011122...tea.state.tx.us/special.ed/eligdoc/index.html

    Since you have a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) diagnosis you need to network with Autism advocacy groups. This link gives you names of people to call at each of the Texas Regional Education Centers and a map to help you figure out which one you live in. Call these people - go higher up the food chain whenever possible.
    https://web.archive.org/web/20111125071111/http://autism.esc2.net/consult.asp

    Texas Project FIRST may provide some additional helpful resources
    http://www.texasprojectfirst.org/
     
  11. jillmbooth

    jillmbooth Guest

    Thank you. I have contacted Advocay Inc and they took my info and will be doing intake on the 8th. i will hear from a lawyer after that.

    The ARD was a NIGHTMARE. Personal attacks on our parenting and told that we are confrontational by the school district psychologist. The lawyer made it clear they would come after us for truancy because I wont put my child in a placement that is harmful to his emotional and physical well being.

    They offer is on the table and my IEE was regected. They are wanting to change him from OHI to ED, keep him in a Behavior Service classroom (away from the general population) and refused the Learning Disability (LD) lable even though he is (according to their scores) at a 3rd grade level. They stated that his low level was due to his behavioral problems interfereing with school work and because my husband and I removed him from school last year when he was improperly restrained, during the CPS investigation.

    I don't know what to do. We have no money for a lawyer or for a private school placement. I can't in good concious put him in the BSC class. So they come after us as being neglectful parents? I requested another IEE on their tab but was told that they only had to CONSIDER those results. They don't have to accept them. basically they told me, in so many words, that the IEE will be only worth the paper it's printed on. I am going to file a formal complaint with the TEA. We refused to sign anything. After the meeting they all stayed in the room to have a pow wow with the lawyer about us and the situation. I did get very angry in the meeting and didn't do a great job of holding my tounge but I am at the end of my rope. I broke down in tears b4 the meeting was over.

    We are asking for an APPROPIRIATE placement in the LRE along with an autism label and an Learning Disability (LD) label. Is this unreasonable? Why are they fighting this so hardcore?

    Advice on the truancy thing will help me the most right now. Advocacy Inc told me that they would not help me if I was breaking the law by keeping him out of school and if I say that I am homeschooling him, it clears XISD of everything so it's a catch 22.
     
  12. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    So Jill. Here's the deal. As others may have said to you in the past, you are in a marriage from which you cannot get a divorce without moving to a new place. Are you able to move to a new place? If not, then say hello to your spouse for the next 9 years minimum - the school district.

    I am pretty sure you are not going to want to hear this, but you are going to have to send your son to school (based on his last signed IEP) unless you can get his psychiatrist to give you a home-hospital order. That is likely to be the only stop-gap measure you can get to give Advocacy Inc. time to talk with you and look over your papers without running up against truancy laws.

    If your psychiatrist will do it, then get that home-hospital letter tomorrow and fax it to the school district followed by a copy sent certified mail. If not, you need to know why your doctor isn't backing you up on this one. If he/she agrees with you, then you need to get a letter outlining their opinion to pass on to the school district in addition to the home-hospital one.

    A letter from an M.D. carries a lot of weight in a due process hearing and school district's usually accept most , if not all, of the recommendations made by an M.D. as long as the recommendations fall reasonably within the scope of the doctor's area of expertise/practice. No one would expect the school district to accept recommendations from your child's dermatologist about learning disabilities or mood disorder accommodations but they would expect the school district to accept the recommendations of his neuropsychologist or psychiatrist since that is their area of expertise.

    After you have figured out the short term situation, you must turn to the long term clean up problem you are facing. In trying to get what you believe to be an appropriate placement and label for your child you may have painted yourself into a corner with lots of red paint. I suspect that you have left yourself with no way out except to walk through the red paint.

    I sympathize having done much the same thing in the past. I am currently trying to move forward after having won in mediation against a school district I had been fighting with for several years. So I "get" what's going on in a very real way. And no, winning in mediation didn't "fix" everything - if anything it made some things harder. But my kids didn't go away and we couldn't move so here I am doing my best to take the approach I will suggest to you. So far it is working but it's early days yet. But it's advice I got elsewhere from other seasoned pro's and I'm basically just passing it on, personalized slightly for you.

    Anyway, this ARD meeting should have brought two things clearly into focus for you.

    1. The school district has lots of resources like lawyers - you have few in comparison.
    2. What you have tried recently has not worked - as far as I can tell.

    I applaud your active involvement in your son's education. I applaud the passion you are bringing to the task. I especially applaud your persistence because believe me a lot of folks would have given up by now.

    But losing it at IEP meetings will not help you win your case should it go to due process. On the contrary it will support any and all claims (true or not) the school district will make about your family's instability blah blah blah.

    So you asked a very good question - why are they fighting you so hard? There are many possible answers to that question. More than I could possibly guess. Here are a couple things that may be pertinent to your question for you to consider:

    1. The SCHOOL is responsible for ensuring FAPE. Not you. This means that you (or your child) or others on behalf of your child can come back and sue the school district in the future if they fail to provide FAPE. This is important for 2 reasons:

    A. As long as they are providing or offering what THEY believe to be a reasonable offer of FAPE the school district is not really too worried about you filing due process because, frankly, the system is generally weighted in their favor. They are presumed to be the experts on FAPE for all kinds of children. The "appearance" of FAPE may be sufficient to win in due process especially against a family who is keeping their kid home from school and loses it at IEP meetings. (I know that's not how it looks to you but you have to remember how it may look to an adjudicator who knows nothing but what's in the papers in front of him - and assume that the school district will lie, exaggerate, mislead, twist and leave out any information that would make you look the 3 R's: Reasonable, Responsible and RIGHT). So they have little motivation to give you what you want if it differs much from what they believe is good enough.

    B. They have a huge legal stake in being able to show that they did in fact provide FAPE given the information they had at the time. That's why they make such a big deal about you signing the papers. When you sign you are agreeing with them and pretty much releasing them from liability.
    So they are going to do a lot to "prove" that they have provided or tried to provide FAPE that may have absolutely nothing to do with actually providing an appropriate individualized education to your child.

    2. Once the fight has reached this stage, both sides have become intensely invested in winning and have usually lost the ability to listen to any information that contradicts their point of view or understanding of the situation. They are not hearing you - and you are not hearing them.

    I cannot tell you what to do. I can make some suggestions (made most of them already in my first post). But I think that the first thing you are going to have to do is find a way to back out of the corner you are in. You need some maneuvering room - and so does the school district. If you push them far enough, you may find them being proactive and filing due process AGAINST you.

    If I were you I would do whatever you can to immediately get into mediation. Check it out first, but here you can still file due process if mediation fails. Mediation (in the hands of well-qualified, independent mediators) is the most likely to get you what you want (within reason) and help you to understand the school district's position so you do not have to end up here again.

    Like many of our kids, we as parents may discover that we have
    • misread signals
    • came at things the wrong way (given the situation)
    • held expectations we thought were appropriate but that others thought were not and
    • generally thought we understood what was going on (making assumptions) without explicitly checking out our assumptions.
    I don't know if this is part of what has happened in your situation, but I KNOW it happened in mine. Regardless, as parents, we need to be careful not to "draw a line in the sand" when dealing with school district's - mostly because when you draw a line in the sand you are pretty much asking the other side to cross it unless you have a big enough stick to keep them on the other side and they know it.

    I understand that this has been going on for several years. I think that you need to find a way to start from where you are. I can't be sure but it looks like you had an OK working relationship with the school district in the past but that it fell apart along the way. If this is true, then try to remember that at one time you were able to work with them in your child's best interests. Wouldn't hurt to remind them of the same thing, especially during mediation.

    And, from now on, you must follow up on everything right away in a neutral, even-handed way that does not presume you are right and they are wrong. You are no longer allowed to be relaxed where IEP deadlines and other school issues are concerned.

    If they miss a specific meeting deadline (and you probably will have to have everything set up this way for a long time to rebuild trust), you put it in writing to them with a reminder and a deadline of your own for how soon the meeting must be held. If you think the teacher isn't following the IEP, first you observe in class. Then you schedule a short meeting with the teacher to ask what's up? again assuming nothing. Maybe there's a good reason for what the teacher's doing. Hard to say without asking. If they don't want to let you observe, ask if there is a master teacher or other teaching mentor who could come with you to observe so there are two sources of information. If you feel the intent of the IEP is being violated after that, put it in writing to the teacher, cc the principal and the master teacher. Then decide how important this issue is and decide whether to call an IEP meeting to address the problem. I'm not talking about every little detail - I'm talking about following the intent of the IEP. Whenever possible, handle things informally with follow up letters confirming your understanding.

    You have to pick your battles. And you may have to be willing to try a placement for a while before you reject it as unsuitable. Try to look at it from the school district's point of view. How can you KNOW that any given placement won't work from the start? You can't for sure and by rejecting everything they offer out of hand you are simultaneously letting them off the hook and not getting anything that you want. The really nice thing about this argument is that it has boomerang potential! How can they know that a placement won't help your child if they haven't given it a trial? "Since we tried this placement (school district's plan) and that didn't work out, maybe we need to reconsider (said oh so nicely) some other options (do NOT say that they are your ideas) for a placement?"

    Another idea is that you might think about agreeing to a trial placement without changing his IEP category. He stays OHI and goes to the Behavior Service Class with clearly operationalized and agreed upon baselines and goals in the IEP. The team agrees to meet again in 3 months or sooner if needed. If the school district says they have to change his IEP category because there's a rule about which IEP category he has to be in in order to be in a particular class you politely ask - who do we have to talk to about making an exception in this particular case? Why is that rule there - funding sources or what? If it's just for the convenience of the bean counters (all the ED kids go to the ED classes and only the ED classes) then it is the perfect place for you to politely insist on mutual compromise. I agree to 3 month placement, you agree to leave him OHI.

    I sure hope this is helpful to you. If you are not in therapy, I would strongly suggest you find a really good experienced therapist, preferably one who also works with adolescents. You need a sounding board who you trust close at hand and who has no direct investment in the outcome.

    Peace,
     
  13. jillmbooth

    jillmbooth Guest

    Update. We told the school district that we were enrolling difficult child in a private school and we expected XISD to reimburse our expenses (per the procedural safeguards we are required to say this in order for XISD to not get off the hook on this one). I have contacted a VERY good private placement school specializing in his diagnosis's and have a meeting with them scheduled for WED. My parents are going to help us until I can find a job. WITH financial aid, this school is a little over 1500 a month. I have applied for SS benefits for my son and believe it will help out some with school expenses. The school district can't touch us as long as he is enrolled. We plan on continuing the fight for placement with XISD.

    A couple of other things... I know I sound combative and frusrated but really we have been very together up until this point. (Four schools in 6 years? All their idea.) Never letting them see us sweat so to speak. The placement they are reccomending for him is the SAME one he has been in for the last yr and a half. So we feel that we have given it a good try and are not willing to let him regress further from this placement. I'm not as concerned with the label. If they want to come after us, I actually invite them to do so. They have nothing and will find nothing other than two parents who have done everything to help their child from weekly dr appts to occupational therapy to testing to bringing his dr in on the ard meetings to you name it. If the WORST thing I did was keep my child out of school during a CPS investigation on my son's teacher then there it is. Call me neglectful...combative...confrontational. Someone has to be the one to put their foot down to say NO MORE.

    Patricia, thanks for evrything. I know you are right but I am sure there is a happy medium that can be agreed apon. I haven't drawn my line in the sand...I just want to see something...anything from the district showing they have my son's best intrests at heart and all I have seen is lies, excuses and intimidation. It won't work anymore. I will look at all offers on the table but so far I have nothing. Just more of the same.
     
  14. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    I hear your frustration and truly understand it. I took both my kids out for 2 years and homeschooled when I had reached the end of my rope. In our case it was the right thing to do but your situation is different.

    I wish you all the best and hope you didn't perceive my comments as critical. It's hard in this medium to convey the emotional content you intend very well.

    It sure sounds like you've done everything they asked of you and then some. I hope the new school really helps and it's great that you have the support of family to fall back on during tough times.
     
  15. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hey Jill, I'm running out the door but for some of the legal info try

    the COPAA website. They have an email chain that reaches all over the country. You may get a Texas lawyer on there that can tell you what's what.

    Just an idea!

    Your guy sounds like a mix of my difficult child 1 and 2.

    Good luck hon, I've got prayers headed your way! ;)
    Beth
     
  16. jillmbooth

    jillmbooth Guest

    Well, we toured the private specialized school. This place is perfect for him. However, after tution, fees, books etc we are looking at 30,000 a year and that is just not something we can pull off. I don't want to take from my parents what they will need later in life. So we are down to 2 options...homeschool or put him back in XISD. It saddens me to think of the thousands of difficult child's that fall through the cracks because their parents don't have the money or resources to hire a lawyer or put them in a private school setting. I feel like a failure as a parent because I can't afford the 30,000 tab for what I KNOW will help him.

    I guess we will have to make a decision soon or I will have the law after me. I have been looking for homeschool curriculums specifically made for ADHD/Austistic kids with little luck. If anyone has any info on this please lmk.

    Jill
     
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