school district evaluation- need help!

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by klmno, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Ok, the school district did their evaluation and it focused all on difficult child's bad behavior from 5th and 6th grade (he's starting 9th grade) which she justified by saying this is what qualified difficult child for an IEP in the first place. I found it to be more of a strong attempt to make sure his high school knows what he's done in the past. This is his triennial evaluation so I thought the report should address how difficult child is doing now- that his behavior at school greatly improved over the past couple of years once the IEP changed from focusing on how to deal with bad behavior to how to give needed supports before bad behavior occurs. Plus, the report had errors in it about many incidences and was just an innaccurate portrayal in many ways.. So I asked for an IEE, then they said they would like to meet with me today to go over my specific concerns and things that need correcting. We met for 2 hours and got half way thru my list. The school district psychiatric who did the report and the Special Education director were the only ones there and they just kept rolling their eyes at each other. And I was asked a couple of times why I was pursuing this if they were in support of difficult child staying on an IEP. Well, because it doesn't address how BiPolar (BP) or a mood disorder of any type or an emotional disturbance can or does impede his learning. They just look at it like the only way it impedes his learning is when he's exhibiting behavior problems.

    Anyway, at the end of the meeting, the school district psychiatric was saying ""well, would you need to pursue an IEE if I change the background info in the concerns about difficult child maladaptive behavior and making sure his future school knows are staying the same and this is based on the way difficult child presented himself during their interview and the slinical impressions won't change much because difficult child told me himself that all his absences from school last fall were due to him running the house and doing what he wanted, so if you'll send me your notes and I look them over and make a few changes to the report, wouldn't you just accept it because what would you expect to gain from an IEE".

    I guess I'm concerned that even though I'm sitting there with documentation from psychiatrist, therapist, and a pediatrician that difficult child was ill part of the fall and unstable almost all of it, she appears to be writing all that off because difficult child presented himself as just doing whatever he wanted last fall to her. Would you accept a school district psychiatric's opinion of this over the mental health prof's who were involved with difficult child at the time? I asked her if she really thought that difficult child fooled me and all of them but she had gotten to the truth. Plus, difficult child was cutting himself during that time and I explained to her that I have no doubt there were periods when difficult child felt he was running the house, but when he's unstable, that means there are also periods of time when he's an emotional basketcase, and really, he's all over the place.

    If the school district psychiatric is going to get into his diagnosis and whether or not difficult child intentionally does these things vs it being mood lability, I was assuming that there would be some review of his mental health records. There was not. She only wants to stick to school records and Department of Juvenile Justice records that don't pertain to mental health or his legal charges. She will include things told by difficult child and me but they are listed like "according to mother" or "difficult child says...".

    She made the comment right before I left that she had to keep the behavior stuff in there because "what if difficult child does something like that at school in the future". So, see, is this supposed to be a report of what the school should look out for because this lady thinks he might have had bad intent in 5th grade when he did something stupid so she's very concerned that he might do it again and worse in the future? Is this what this report is suppiosed to cover? The school district has left things where if I don't send them my 8 pages of notes outlining my concerns about the report, then I haven't given them the opportunity to address them- even though they are rolling their eyes about it. But, if I do send it, it will be used to say they rebviewed and made changes they are comfortable with so why get an IEE. Plus, they will say that they made every effort to work with me but make it look like I'm the unreasonable one.

    If I keep my pursuit of an IEE, will they either review mental health stuff and actually address how that can impede difficult child's learning, or stay away from that topic altogether and only look at performance at school, or will they do the same thing as this lady? What is the norm?

    Really, I am going to pursue the IEE but I just want to know if I should expect something more thorough than this, or less but sticking to school issues only, or the same. It's my understanding that the IEE has to be done by someone qualified to do school district evaluations- can I get someone with more experience? Someone with enough knowledge to understand that mental health effects a person's ability to learn in more ways than just thru behavior?

    What if I write a letter stating that it's up to her if she wants to revise her report, but I'm pursuing an IEE either way because I want a second opinion?
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2009
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Hi, I think Sheila is on vacation, and Martie is tied up with personal business. I'm going to try to help as best I can.

    Here's a link to an article on about IEEs:

    From my reading of your situation, it sounds as if the school district is annoyed that you're questioning the report and they don't want to pay for an IEE. I absolutely would recommend pursuing an IEE, as you have stated you are, because no mental health issues are considered in the current evaluation, and I think they do have an impact on how your difficult child accesses his education (regardless of what your difficult child says in an interview because he is, after all, still young).

    My understanding of an IEE from the Wrightslaw article is that it can be conducted by a professional more qualified than an school district employee, particularly if the school district does not employee someone qualified in the area your difficult child needs the evaluation. It would absolutely be within your rights to request that the evlauator have expertise in mood disorders.

    Just my opinion, but I would advise against meeting with the school district until the IEE is completed. I'm not sure it's going to get you anywhere but more aggravated.

    I hope that helps. Please post again with any questions.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, Smallworld. They made a couple of comments insinuating that they think I've just always jumped in to bail difficult child out of stuff and that she's based all her opinion on how difficult child presented himself to her. That concerns me because he's in a Department of Juvenile Justice facility and is definitely not going to show his sensitive side, so to speak. Also, no matter what he said to her, she should have enough professional knowledge to know that he is not going to be able to recall and recount a period of instability like he had last fall accurrately.
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! Sorry I didn't get a chance to post sooner - it's been bedlam around here!

    FWIW, I'd go for the IEEE. I'd also notify them by certified letter that you don't agree with their plan of action as well as what you want documented. I'd also make sure that they are aware of whatever documentation you want included in the transcripts forwarded to the new school.

    Just a question: is there any way that you can meet with the psychologist/Special Education director at the new school prior to the IEP being completed? If he/she seems reasonable, you may be able to have an unofficial advocate in place. In certain situations, being proactive gets you "in tight" with the newer administration and you're able to be heard without it seeming like you're protecting what this woman seems to feel is the devil incarnate.

    Is there any way that you can get letters of recommendation or verbatims from last years teachers? Again, FWIW, I sat down with my two difficult child's that were in the same school and typed out exactly what was being said and done in their school. I documented everything in their words as to what they or their peers were enduring and it pulled a ton of weight in their IEP placement meetings. So what you may want to do, is "interview" his teachers that he had last year and note what they said about him. This way, you can have documentation as to: how he was in class, how they were able to redirect him in certain situations, how his personality "clicked or didn't click" with his peers, etc. This will go a long way in any type of meeting.

    Now, here's my question: Do they have a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) and a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) in place for him? If not, certified letter requesting one, and if so, when was it last updated. If that's not being covered in the Triannual, interventions won't be documented for the new school which could result in the new school handling thing in the wrong way.

    Gotta go! difficult child 3 just dropped a whole bowl of cereal on the living room rug - she's making me CRAZY!!!! :tongue:

  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I took existing documentation and pointed out some stuff they already had about his level of performance at school the last couple of years, including a letter the principal had written to the judge last year to help difficult child. Some sstuff they had but she didn't iinclude. I think she formed her opinion of difficult child after her talk with him and just included documentaion that supported that- never mind that some of it was from 3 1/2 years ago and she didn't consider contrary evidence that is more recent and consistent.

    As far as the next school- I can't talk with anyone there yet. For one, difficult child will have to "apply" to be allowed back in. They are required by law to provide FAPE, but they aren't required to allow him back in a mainstream school. However, his current teachers and staff are very happy with his current grades and behavior and will advocate for his admittance to a mainstream school and since he will be going to a high school in the same jurisdiction he left from (unless I move), and he was not expelled or even suspended last school year, and his last offense was not from school, everyone tells me he'll have no problem. Still, I can't really go to the school district and say that he will be attending there. Plus, if he's released in Feb., he'll finish 9th grade at one high school but then start 10th grade next year at a school that is currently being built. Those are ultimately the personnel I'm worried about because he would have 10th thru 12th grade there. So, yes, the staff from the mainstream 9th grade will play an important roll in difficult child's transitional period but since the guidance counselor where difficult child is now attending can and does communicate with them, and she likes difficult child, I was going to let her convey those good impressions for a while first.

    FWIW, I also found it interesting that at the IEP meeting we had before I met with the Special Education director and school district psychiatric alone, things were brought up by teachers, the guidance counselor, and someone else who gave a general report about difficult child that were contrary to the stuff written in the report. I was wondering how the school district psychiatric would respond to that since she was also at the IEP meeting. She didn't say anything at that time but at our "private" meeting afterwards, she talked about being so concerned aboout having having things like that in difficult child's IEP and went on and on about difficult child's potential for dangerous behavior in the future. specifically, we are putting difficult child on track to get an advanced diploma. There are a number of reasons for this but we are all in agreement (except school district psychiatric) and we all agree that if he starts struggling or has difficulties or gets too stressed over the demands, he will just switch and go for a standard diploma. school district psychiatric thinks difficult child needs to be told/reminded that he has average intelligence because he "presented cocky and like he thought he was smart" to her but his IQ test was average.. And, she is convinced that some of difficult child's bad behavior is because I have convinced him he is smarter than he really is and pressure him to make grades better than C's and that's what is frustrating him. I won't go into all the things I have to invalidate that opinion.

    Anyway, school district psychiatric brought up some good ideas at the IEP meeting, such as providing a planner and helping difficult child with strategies to help him with time management, etc. But, for whatever reason, she didn't include stuff like that, or even the need for it in her report. This is what makes no sense to me- unless she just was in shock over some of his previous behavior she found. But again, what does a school district psychiatric at a Department of Juvenile Justice school evaluation'ing a kid with a possible BiPolar (BP) diagnosis expect to uncover?
  6. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Go for the IEE, klmno. You have too many unanswered questions to accept their report.

    Past information is very helpful to evaluators. However, preconceived opinions do not help much when you're trying to find out what is going on today, whether there's been progress in areas not clearly visible to the observer, regression, etc. Also, the evaluator should be savy enough to make these Recommendations in his/her report.

    I don't mean to say that brainstorming and working with-school district personnel is a bad thing. But there are clues and some disorders that should have automatically been considered for your child -- like a planner, teaching time management skills.

    Just so you know, your school district has a list of the accommodations that are pretty typical for some students to need. (Our school district list has about 40 listed.) And accommodations your child may need are not necessarily "listed" on a list. And students do not typically need every accommodation imaginable.

    If this evaluator is so inexperienced as to not know about accommodations or know that your child needs them, how can one place validity in the findings?

    They are just trying to appease you and get out of paying for the IEE in my opinion.

    Either way, I'd want an unbiased opinion(s).

    by the way, don't let them limit the IEE to a specific area.