Please help my tired brain

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by flutterbee, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    A friend has a daughter who has is going into the 8th grade. She has epilepsy that is controlled by medication and has always had an IEP. Her reading and I think it's her math are testing at a 4th grade level. Her mom doesn't know if she has been tested for any Learning Disability (LD)'s, but said there had been no testing since the IEP was implemented (which was either in K or grade 1).

    Am I correct that she can request (via certified mail) to have her daughter reevaluated? Should she state in the letter the reasons why, i.e., her math and reading levels? And if the school district refuses they have to give a reason, correct?

    Next question is, if the school district cannot on their own help this child through pull-out classes (which is what is currently being done - for years - for at least reading and I think math, too) what are the responsibilities of the school district to get this child up to grade level? Do they have such a responsibility? Would paying for one-on-one tutoring be one of those responsibilities?

    Basically, what can be done via the IEP to get this child the services she needs? I'm just not cognitively up to doing all the research. I apologize. So, I'm asking that you let me use your brain and all of your wonderful knowledge?

    by the way, this is the same school district that I had such a hard time getting an IEP in for my own daughter. They keep passing the kids along and then they reach high school and they fail.
  2. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! Yes she should send a certified letter requesting that all evaluations be done via testing. I insist that testing be done at MINIMUM during the triennial review (every 3 years). She is absolutely allowed to specifically request any testing that would help diagnose a learning disability.

    Make sure that she stays "non-specific" in what type of learning disability she suspects. For example, say she suspects dyslexia (remember, just an example) and mentions this in the request. The school district could then "misinterpret" and only test for dyslexia. Tell her to state that she feels that there are "several learning disabilities" that may be involved and wants testing done so that her difficulties can be addressed.

    As you noted, make sure it goes certified because that starts the clock. And remind her: never sign an IEP that she doesn't agree with. Never sign an IEP that they tell her "oh, sign it for now and we'll change it to what you wanted", never sign an IEP that she doesn't feel comfortable with.

    Make sure she knows that she can take a copy home to review (unsigned) and then bring it back later signed OR with a list of changes that she wants.

    Hope this helps!!!

    me (Beth)
  3. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    This school district is way out of compliance if they haven't reevaluated this child in years.

    nvts is correct. Mom can send a CM letter to request the reevaluation. There are sample letters in the archive if she needs them.

    In essence, this child needs a full evaluation -- not just an Learning Disability (LD) evaluation.

    It's a shame a school district would let something like this go for so long. Mom is going to have to learn how to monitor and direct this type of thing.

    If the student is behind because of lack of instruction, the school district would be liable for compensatory education, e.g., generally whatever it takes to get her caught up. (school district will fight against it tooth and nail unless mom has backup documentation.)

    If the student just can't be taught, that would be a different story.

    I'd strongly advise mom to get a private evaluation in addition to the school district's re-evaluation. Why? You can bet their report won't say "we messed up and because of it, the student is 4 years behind academically."

    If mom gets an independent evaluation, tell her to make sure the evaluator knows that she will want written recommendations as to how to get difficult child caught up (if applicable).

    It's hard to ask for appropriate services when one doesn't have a clue what is needed. While the evaluations are underway, mom needs to learn more about advocating for her child. There are some parent guides to the IEP process in the archives that would be a good starting place for her.

    You're a good friend.
  4. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    She said she's going to come over here with a notebook and take notes. She's not computer savvy, so we'll probably look at the info together while she's here.

    What type of evaluation should she have done privately and by what type of specialist?

    I do know that one of the doctors that the school district sent a former co-worker's granddaughter to for evaluation was good. (He determined that the child had a vision problem which is why she couldn't read after years of the school district denying there was a problem...see thread on general.) I could find out who he is and could she then ask that the school district have him evaluate her daughter?

    I'm really not clear on how far the school district has to go on doing the evaluations. With my daughter it was strictly the school psychologist, Occupational Therapist (OT) and speech therapist. No outside testing. At that time I was very ill with undx'd heart disease and didn't have the energy to fight anything. Later, I pulled my daughter from the school district so it became a moot point.

    Thanks for all your help. This mom has a lot of health issues, too, and I'm just trying to help out as with my limited knowledge I already know more than her. Plus, I have this board. :D
  5. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hey Heather! Can you and the Mom list out what she feels is going on? Like what leads her to believe there's a learning disability? Does she see backward letters, illegible handwriting, how many years delayed is she in math and english?

    Does she have a diagnosis such as Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/not otherwise specified, Autism, etc?

    Are there fine motor/gross motor issues? What's the reason listed on her IEP for receiving services?

    This could help figure out what testing she needs. If she's never had a neuropsychologist done, now might be the time to do it. The reason I bring that up is that I was able to bring some of difficult child's school work and they gave me the ammo to fight for the appropriate accomodations.

    Let me know if I can help!

  6. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I just got off the phone with the mom. She's coming over tomorrow and we're going to get started. I told her we're just going to take it a step at a time, i.e., first send the letter requesting a full evaluation. I asked her to bring all documentation she has so I can go over it with her.

    I'm just trying to be prepared for what is next because I know this school district. However, they seem to count on parents not knowing the law and once they realize the parent has some knowledge it does seem to kick them into gear a bit. Notice I said, a bit. I have offered to go to the IEP meetings with her.

    All I know at this point is that she tested at a 4th grade level in both math and reading (she's entering the 8th grade). They did the exact same thing with her that they did with my daughter....put her into a small group (5 or 6 kids) for math and that class has half the questions on the test and more time to take the test. They go at a slower pace. That is the only difference between the small group and the regular math class. And they put her in a regular Language Arts class except that the Special Education teacher is in the class with the regular teacher. Must be their 'thing' to do because that is EXACTLY what they did with my daughter. And they have completely different issues academically. Mom was told that with reading something along the lines of the child has trouble sequencing. The child has asked the Special Education teacher last year in LA for help and the teacher responded with, "K, I've explained it to you a dozen times. There's nothing else I can do." Yep. I heard that come from my daughter, too.

    To my knowledge, she has no diagnosis other than epilepsy and I do know that she's been experiencing some anxiety and recently had a panic attack. I wouldn't be surprised if she has some executive function issues going on. I did recommend to the mom that she have her own psyco-educational evaluation done. Mom is living on SSDI so her only option may be to wait and see what the school district comes up with and then request an IEE if needed.

    This is why I pulled my daughter out of that school district. I just didn't have the energy to do this with all of my health issues. Ugh.

    Thank you guys so much for your help. I did pull some info off of wrights law last night. There's just so much to learn and I fade pretty fast.
  7. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! During her initial exams, did her IQ come up within normal ranges? It seems to me that she's having sequencing probleims which would speak to issues with her ability to then move over from the written word over into math (you can't get much more sequential than math!) that there could be some major learning disabilities for her.

    Check out this site on non=verbal learning disabilities. Ask the mom to see if she feels that this adequately describes her daughter. If so, it will give her some idea as to what she's looking for.

    But remember: don't let her include anything in the letter giving them diagnostic terms. Just say that she believes that there are some Learning Disability (LD)'s that are impacting her at this juncture.

  8. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Hey! That's my link!!! (That's the link I always give out if I feel it's appropriate. I refer to it often with my kiddo.) Thanks for the reminder, though. I'll have her look at it, too. I don't know the test scores yet. I'll see the documentation tomorrow.

    Good point, too. Usually the NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) shows up in the higher grades and more specifically, in LA and math. school district doesn't test for that I don't believe. How would they find it? (When I had the neuropsychologist testing done for it was 5 months before the 'event' so I'm really fuzzy on what testing was done and my copy of the report got lost. I'll have to get another just to have on hand.) I'm rambling. However, from what the school district told me 2 years ago, they don't recognize NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD).
  9. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Ok. I just got off the phone with my former co-worker who's granddaughter is entering the 7th grade and is testing at 2nd and 3rd grade levels. The school district told her that it's fine because the IEP will follow her into high school and even into college so she'll always be able to take the 'slow' classes. :surprise:


    Here is my very specific question: If a child is capable of learning and a learning disability has been identified, is the school responsible for doing what it takes to bring them to grade level or are they allowed to just keep them in the 'slow' classes and usher them through school? Because I know without a doubt that both of these children in question are capable of learning. It seems like just setting them up for failure as adults.

    And what if a learning disability is not identified? I know from experience that this is school district is famous for saying that it's not 'severe enough' for them to do anything about it. I did read on wrights law last night that the school district is not allowed to say that. Is that correct?

    My head hurts now. I'm sorry to bombard you so much. I am just trying to help and get the services this child needs.

    by the way, I did pass along the wrights law website to the former co-worker.
  10. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Well aren't they just full o' crap! I'm going to go digging in IDEA and few other spots and if I dig up anything specific, I'll pop back. I'm sure Sheila and Marty will be along and will probably know the answers off the top of their heads!

  11. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Do not limit the evaluation in any way. If you mention "Learning Disability (LD)," that's all that will get done.

    IEP = Individual Education Plan

    One purpose of IDEA " to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a [FAPE] that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living." 20 U.S.C. 1400(d)(1)(A).

    An IEP is not a cookie-cutter document. It is not the action of transferring a student from one pre-designed education curriculum to another. An 'appropriate IEP' has been defined by the United States Supreme Court as one that is 'individualized,' 'tailored,' 'personalized,' and 'specially designed' to meet the unique needs of the individual child who is the subject of the educational plan and at no cost to the parent.

    There are many, many children in the same situation as this child. Too

    many school districts will do just enough to get by. Parents have to stay on top of the child's progress. Having meaningful progress reports in increments of 6 - 9 weeks written into the IEP. Learn how to read and understand test measurements. Measure progress objectively by requesting normed testing at least annually.

    I swear people think I'm kidding when I say that I am parenting my child even when he's at school. lol But it's almost another full time job to stay on top of this stuff.
  12. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    by the way, if I found that this student had been left to just drift along and I was her parent, I'd be going after ESY and compensatory education.

    If they needed to hire a tutor specifically for her, that's what I'd ask for. If they "can't", then they'd have to be hauling her to some place like Sylvan's.

    Whatever she needed to catch up and is capable of doing, I'd go for it.

    You need to teach mom how to document, document, document! You've got to have that when the going gets tough. (emails, letters of understanding, CM, etc.) Then trust, but verify.
  13. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Thank you so much! This will get us started. This is gonna be a battle, I'm sure.

    by the way, what is ESY?
  14. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    ESY = Extended School Year. It's typically utilized for children that regress academically during the summer. However, it can be for summer school to catch a student up -- and at no cost to the parent.

    Compensatory Education - one example could be summer school at no cost to the parents.

    This is a good link for compensatory education. [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Failure to Provide a FAPE, Unilateral Graduation & Compensatory Education:
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Kevin T. v. Elmhurst Comm. School District No. 205 @ .

  15. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sheila and Beth. I'm sure I'll be back with more as we go through this process.

    I'm so disgusted with this school district. They've passed 4 levies in the last 3 years and this is the best they can do.

    Mom has a tendency to become over-emotional so I have offered to go with her to the IEP meetings - and I plan on taking notes. If I remember correctly, that is allowed as I know the child and the situation and as long as we notify the school district. If I'm not correct, please let me know.

    Thank you, ladies, so much. :flowers:
  16. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    I've brought my sister AND gone with other parents to IEP's etc. not only for support, but to ask the questions that our foggy brains may forget!

    I've got to tell you, my kids are ALL on 12 month school years and it's the best thing that I could have ever asked for! They're advanced in all of their classes, but the social skills issues never end up seriously regressing (except for difficult child 1 who I had in a totally unacceptable environment).

    Heather: If you and the mom want, you guys can try and PM me while the two of you are meeting. I don't have the knowledge or background that Sheila and Marty have, but I'm willing to dig around while you guys go through her records.

    Suggestion: make sure that you guys set her files up in an orderly fashion so that when you're both at the IEP you can put your hands on ANYTHING at a moments notice! Fumbling around usually makes you frustrated and you don't make the points that you want to!

  17. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Thank you, Beth.

    We didn't get together today. She called to say she was sick and easy child answered the phone because I was sleeping. Not a good day for either one of us. We will probably get together either Wednesday or Thursday.
  18. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    As a courtesy, I'd let the school district know someone would be accompanying me. If I'm going to take anyone with me, I usually write it in on the "Invitation to IEP meeting" document from the school district and fax it back to them.

    The parent has the same rights to invite people/professionals to the meeting as the school district.

    Discussion: Section 614(d)(1)(B)(vi) of
    the Act allows other individuals who
    have knowledge or special expertise
    regarding the child to be included on a
    child’s IEP Team. Section 300.321(c)
    provides that the determination of the
    knowledge or special expertise of these
    individuals must be made by the party
    (parents or public agency) who invited
    the individual to be a member of the IEP
    Team. We continue to believe that this
    determination is best left to parents and
    the public agency. We also believe that
    it would be inappropriate to regulate on
    the specific knowledge and expertise
    that an individual must have to be
    included on an IEP Team because it
    would be burdensome for both parents
    and public agencies.

    Additionally, nothing in the Act
    prevents parents from consenting to
    have an observer who is not a member
    of the IEP Team present at the meeting,
    as the parent can consent to the sharing
    of confidential information about the
    child. With that exception, it should be
    emphasized that a person who does not
    have knowledge and special expertise
    regarding the child and who is not
    requested to be present at the IEP Team
    meeting by the parent or public agency
    would not be permitted to be a member
    of the IEP Team or be permitted to
    attend the IEP Team meeting as an