Weighing pros and cons

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by klmno, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member


    I'm adjusting armour for fight with school district and would like some input from others who have been there done that. The question is which route to take- mediation, state complaint, or straight to due process (is that the same as a state complaint?)

    I have scanned over IDEA and our state doe regs. The first recommendation was to try to deal with higher ups in the school district before moving to the state level. If I want more ground, I need to do something in the next two weeks because I could bring up a couple of violations made last year and there is a 1 year time limit for state complaints. I have a meeting scheduled with a higher up in school district for the 17th, I could still have paper work ready to file right after that meeting if I'm not satisfied with the outcome, and I won't be. Biggest issues are- 1) failing to properly implement IEP, 2) failing to have appropriate qualified personnel conduct FBA and BIP (last year), 3) encouragement by principal to teachers not to make efforts to implement IEP or consider difficult child's disabilities as being out of his control, 4) inconsistent and misleading statements by principal and teachers pertaining to difficult child's behavior, academic performance, and state of mind - which makes it impossible for me and his private treatment team to adjust things outside of school to help them, much less work with them.

    Pros & cons-

    1) mediation- less cost, quicker, great answer if it works to get everyone on the same page and working together, but- from what I have read, there is no repercussion if school doesn't uphold their end of the agreement. If they won't appropriately abide by the IEP, why should I think they would uphold this agreement?

    2) filing a complaint with state- does this do anything? a Special Education attny said the state would investigate, but then I read something that left me thinking that it can cause the retaliation from the school toward me and difficult child without awarding any real beneficial change to difficult child- or is this the road to due process anyway?

    3) due process- very costly, and what happens if school district wins?

    4) Give up and don't do anything- difficult child falls through cracks by having school change his grades to passing grades to keep him moving through, or, they find a way to just get him out of that school (they have been trying this already)

    5) Move to another district- then start all over again because it probably won't be any better.

    Has anyone had any good solutions for their difficult child with any of these options?

  2. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    I had problems with our district of non implemnting IEP, non appropriate personnel and staffing, non credentialed personnel.....among other issues. I filed for due process got a letter from state, was offered a mediation, - I accepted mediation BUT my school district refused mediation.

    I landed in due process...it was ugly. VERY ugly.
    Our hearing officer officially sided with school, but took me aside and said off record our school would continue to retaliate, continue to harrass, continue to be difficult, and it would/could be very harmful to my child and us. Off record she agreed with us 100% about everything brought up in due process, all our complaints. She hinted that even tho there are laws, the school has a long successful history of breaking or ignoreing those laws, and even if she were to order school to correct things, they would drag their feet, make everything miserable and would continue to find ways to harrass my child and possibly my other children- maybe under radar, maybe outside of traditional school issues etc.
    Off the record she highly strongly encouraged me to remove my difficult child from school, which we did.
    DO I resent it? you betchya. Am I bitter? without doubt. The only good thing to come of it is that my difficult child and the whole family has MUCH MUCH reduced stress, far less outbursts, meltdowns, rages, panic attacks, etc. ANd we found in the long run, our child learned so much much more so much more easily outside of traditional public school, it has been incrediible!

    Now, that said, we went to due process BEFORE the more recent changes to IDEA, so we were under the older IDEA.

    ANd in IL at that time, there was no appeal process for due process.
    Also at that time, I had no lawyer with me, becuz I called over 50 lawyers who do due process, and not a single one would go against our school district. They listened to my s tory, said it sounded great, and they were raring to go- UNTIL they asked me what school district it was. And then they refused to take the case.
    I also heard something like 80% of cases where the parent does not have a lawyer are lost, and found on side of school district.
    FWIW, the hearing officer and the school district laywers all complimented me and said I was a remarkable adversary for them. They said I definetly made them earn their living in our hearing.

    May I also say? The hearing officer herself did not honor any of the timeliness regarding how long till we have the hearing etc? - or how long until we get the determination? and I ordered copies of the transcripts of the hearing- and when they came, I was shocked and appalled to find out they did NOT match testimony given- very often they did not even come close to matching at all.
    AT that point I became VERY cynical, and even more afraid. and I lost a lot of my faith in The System.

    Let me also add, I spent hundreds of hoours studying case law, precedant, etc...at state websites, wrightslaw, law libraries, in conference with lawyers, advocates, neurologists, psychiatrists, NAMI, Special Education schools etc. And a note? my child was not violent, not aggressive, not dangerous to anyone, - we started due rocess becuz our school district wanted to remove our difficult child from our home, transfer her quite far away, residential, where the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) would also choose her docs etc...becuz they did not want to honor her "escape pass" mostly.
    and retaliation continued on down to my son....7 years younger with no mental health diagnosis at all, but with cp and blindness in one eye. Retaliation to the degree of school harrassing him daily for "pink eye" accusing us of non medical care yet trying to call his doctor visits "truancy" even when they had docs notes about everything about his eye, and confirmation of every doctor appointment related to his eye (those were his only absences) and the school calling his inability to see a "willful misbheavior" ALL kinds of weird stuff.
    No, our school district was NOT happy we took them to due process. and they could not be reasoned with or appeased until I took my son out of school, too.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Wow, Dreamer. That's horrible news- for you and me both.

    You know, I can't prove the connection, but difficult child has had major issues between holiday period and spring break for 3 years in a row. The other months he seems pretty typical and manageable. I had been telling the school for the past 2 weeks that the way they are (or should I say AREN'T) handling things, could trigger something in difficult child and that I couldn't stress enough to them that I was more than a little concerned. Last night he was arrested (sent home but still..). He had been good since last March's arrest- which happened right after school district put him on long term suspension (I know- can't do on IEP, but they did) for failing to abide by BIP- which was- I swear- a contract that said "one more violation and I (he)will be put out of school", which I refused to sign and told difficult child not to sign. And, I had requested a specialist (hadn't seen one at school district in over a year) but they said one wasn't available yet. Now, is this some bogus *** or what? Furthermore, the judge is an x-school teacher, so what are the odds of anyone ever straightening this mess out in a way that really abides by the law and gives difficult child an FAPE?
  4. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    Due Process is stressful and expensive. Try to do something else first because IT MIGHT WORK and if it doesn't, at least you tried, and that will be in the record.

    I did a study on this site in which 9 (of 23) parents who have been to Due Process (not including me of course--so there are 24) and I hope to have the results posted soon. Dreamer's account is a little worse than some, but not by much.

    I went to DP in IL WITH an attorney which is interesting because I am an advocate, and still there was a high level of perjury, verbal abuse of me at the hearing, violation of the law, and the H.O. was openly hostile because ex-difficult child didn't "fit the mold" (How could he be in Sp Ed and need German and AP math?--very inconvenient.) I was appalled because I was also a H.O. in IL for 10 years but quit in disgust.

    We lost on a very narrow technicality with the H.O. noting that (due to time line violations) the whole case was history, and we had already sought and gotten private services so what was the problem? Check the cost of EGBS and you will know....

    Here is the most important issue to think about in my opinion: in going to DP, I KNEW I would never return my ex-difficult child to public school and did not. He graduated from a private conservatory high school...It is very different to be dependent on the school district after losing at DP. I got a taste of this because I was ordered to attend an IEP meeting to "return" ex-difficult child to public school, because that was "ordered"...The meeting took 3 hours because I held them to EVERY legal requirement including, at that time, that all members be present all the time (no longer required.) In the end, I refused to agree to the placement because it was INAPPROPRIATE. However, this was pre IDEA 2004, so they did no need my signature. At the time, ex-difficult child was 15-7 and I suggested that the director of SP ED who was not nice (psychiatric diagnosis I've heard all over the professional community could be supplied but I won't) call DCFS and see how they will treat the "truancy" of a kid this close to 16 whose mother is a certified EBD teacher in IL. HOWEVER, I also never withdrew difficult child from the school district and every time they tried to do that, I sent a certified letter reminding them that if his father and I so chose, he could be their student again the next DAY, so just leave it be... The following year, there was a new director of Sp ED and she did all she could to KEEP ex-difficult child in his private school including offering tutoring when he was failing English...

    It was extremely aversive, and I would never have returned ex-difficult child to these folks: if private school had not been an option, we would have had to move. It was also not good because I had another child in this high school doing very well and she feared retaliation. I do not think that happened, but just the fear is stressful and one more way a easy child pays a price for a difficult child sib.

    Whatever you do, you have my sympathy that you are in this situation. It is such a poor way for SDs to spend public money.

  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, Martie. Is it as disastrous for difficult child if I pursue mediation? Is that a waste of time?
  6. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    towards the end of my difficult children time in school- they were very obviously TRYING hard to provoke my difficult child into exhibiting aggressive violent behavior- they would grab her, shake her, swear at her.....yes, I did catch them myself. In the act.
    They NEEDED "proof" of her being violent to be able to move her out of their school. ALas, my difficult child NEVER lashed out, she simply would drop to floor, fetal position, and cry.
    My difficult child did NOT have ANY substance abuse problem AT ALL.....but- we were warned by someone, if all else failed, she might be framed with illegal substances-- to get her out.

    We also had illegal suspensions---and school would not notify us....another time, a dean chased difficult child out of the bldg, to parking lot where I was waiting in my car (school nurse had called me to come get her) and the dean started pounding on my car window telling me NEVER to bring her back EVER. I came home, called schol, asked what the story was....I had to leave my question on voicemail. I called several times over the next 3 days, with no return call. Nothing came in mail. 2 MONTHS later----I got a letter backdated a month, giveing dates of her "suspension being dates school was not even in session! She was denied my request for appeal of her suspension to school board, denied manifestation determination hearing on her suspension, missed finals due to suspension..and denied make up of finals. When brought up in due process, the school district lawyers said "well, so you have a letter, with typographical errors on it, and an envelope with a postmark, BUT how do we know YOU did not alter the envelope or the letter inside?"
    All those things happened AFTER we filed to have due process. Once we filed to go to due process, school refused difficult child admittance to school AT ALL. She never did go back, not even one day.

    Ironically, her last day of school- she was awake all nite the nite before- a boy in another town, from psychiatric hospital- called her numerous times, with death threats to her. she called 9-1-1 and police came and they heard the death threats by phone. they actually went to the next town and arrested him, after police took difficult children phone and tried to talk to this boy. He was released to parents by 5 am, and at 8 am, when difficult child went to school, THAT boy was sitting in HER school next to her in class! and she started to cry. Her teacher told her to stop being rude and welcome the new boy to the school. difficult child said no, she couldn;t and asked to use her escape pass to go to nurse. Teacher grabbed difficult child by her arms and hollered at her, difficult child fell to floor, got free of teacher and ran to office. Dean told her to stop crying and knock it off and go back to class, difficult child ran to nurse, who called me. I got there in time for dean to chase difficult child out to parking lot.

    Seems the boy had been transfered from his school to difficult children school.
    Dureing due process school continued to refuse to permit difficult child to go to school- difficult children psychiatrist requested homebound. school refused to do homebound, and asked due process hearing officer to decide. Hearing officer agreed to homebound, BUT school said they could not find a teacher- for 6 MONTHS. Then school decided to question psychiatrists credentials. SO psychiatrist wound up at due process. Defending her credentials.
    Schol was finally also ordered to provide homebound. They did- homebound instructor wanted hours to be sat mornings 6 am till 8 am, on saturdays only. thru sumer.
    I resisted becuz difficult child had an order from psychiatrist for late start school days.
    Eventually we gave in, did a whole summer of homebound- and turned in the work, to find out homebound teacher had given difficult child work difficult child had already been given credit for the year before.
    COntinued with new material- and turned a semesters worth of work in for that- and well, homebound teacher turned it in, but school said nope, homebound teacher never was in any contact with school. <sigh> No credit given.

    Fast forward to son post surgery while we were at Ronald McDonald House. School ordered homebound becuz son could not attend school. Homebound could not come 5 hours to RMH. Then homebound could not accomodate a blind child.

    The only good thing I can say? I KNOW our experience is NOT typical. My school district is simply very extreme.