What is our next step?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by smallworld, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    difficult child 1 (14-year-old 9th grader) is currently enrolled in a private school in Washington, Difficult Child. Because of emotional shutdown caused by persistent anxiety and depression, we were told a week before Thanksgiving that difficult child 1 would not be allowed back in school until he received further treatment. We went to an educational consultant who recommended a 45- to 60-day residential psychiatric program at a hospital in Wisconsin. We hope to admit difficult child 1 there early next week. In spite of our asking for incompletes for the first trimester, which ended at Thanksgiving, difficult child 1 received his report card today: C- in Latin, D+ in English, D in science, D- in Algebra II and F in history. We had hoped that he could make up some of his missing work from the first trimester while in the Wisconsin program, but school administrators did not seem to want to accommodate difficult child 1.

    The Wisconsin program will look at diagnosis and treatment, provide intensive therapy and make recommendations for educational placement for afterwards. husband and I think it is highly unlikely difficult child 1 will go back to this current school. When he left our school district in Montgomery County, Maryland, at the end of 6th grade, difficult child 1 did not have an IEP (his emotional difficulties were not as evident at that point). There is one appropriate private therapeutic day school in our county that the school district pays for students to attend, but we're told it's harder and harder to get county placement there.

    Which leads me to my questions: Because his current school is in Difficult Child and our home high school is in MD, do we need to enroll him in our home school to start the IEP process with our county? And should we be starting the IEP process as soon as we admit difficult child 1 to the Wisconsin program in the event it is recommended that difficult child 1 attend a therapeutic day school following Wisconsin? I assume since our case is complicated, you would recommend the use of an advocate.

    Thanks for any help you can offer.
  2. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Making sure the facts are correct, the home school district is in MD, difficult child is or until recently was in private school in Difficult Child, and will be shortly enrolled in a Wisconsin program?

    The student doesn’t have to be enrolled in order to be evaluated by the school district.

    The home school district is responsible for evaluating in conjunction with IDEA, however, because of logistics I don’t think it would be perceived as reasonable to expect a MD school district to evaluate a child that is out-of-state and does not have an IEP. I would think the evaluation would have to be done prior to the child leaving or after s/he returns. If difficult child is leaving next week for Wisconsin, “prior to” is a moot point. Additionally, it is the school holiday season.

    Have you discussed this with-your educational consultant? The consultant should be able to give you some direction in this regard.

    Just so you know, the school district has at least 60 days to evaluate (and that is when the student is immediately available to the school district), then an IEP meeting is held to determine whether the student is even eligible for an IEP. If s/he is, the IEP is written and then it can take some time to get it fully implemented.

    If the Wisconsin program writes a report regarding their evaluation and recommendations, the school district can accept it in lieu of doing their own evaluation if it is executed by appropriately credentialed professional(s), but that’s a fairly rare happening -- but it does happen.

    Assuming your son would be deemed “eligible” for an IEP, it’s been my experience that it is also rare the first placement is a therapeutic day school due to least restrictive environment (LRE) issues – even when it is recommended.

    Also, a parent can request that an evaluation be expedited but a school district typically does this only in very extreme cases.

    In your case, before the 1st of the year I’d probably send a parent referral evaluation letter to the school district with notation that difficult child is expected to return home on xyz date and request that they can be geared up and ready to proceed immediately upon his return.

    I hope the Wisconsin program works well for your son, and the school district is willing to work with you on this. The extra time to schedule difficult child into their district workload should make things a little easier for them.
  3. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    I agree with most of what Sheila says, but I would send the evaluation request YESTERDAY by certified mail. It starts the time-line. I would also go register him in your home school district NOW....he is not currently attending due to a medical problem that you are addressing. MAKE HIM THEIRS ASAP. You have complications I did not have, but where the private school is located is irrelevant.

    Here is how I handled a very similar problem for ex-difficult child when he was in EGBS: his triennial evaluation. was overdue by 5 months, and he was in MA. Of course, it was AMA of not one but two psychiatrists to bring him back to IL for an evaluation, so I got a letter from the EGBS allowing the school district to have access to him as long as they were not "disruptive." We were going to DP and I was FINE with the school district going with no data on him since he was 11....I had tons of IEs (which you will have also and the school district MUST consider them and MAY adopt as their own) but the school district figured out that with no current evaluation, they had nothing to stand on, so they flew a three person evaluation team to MA for two days. The H.O. found that we did "make our child available" within the boundaries of medical advice. It was further complicated by the Mental Health Act of IL which require the signature of a child over 12 for both testing AND release of records. I got ex-difficult child to sign, but they never appreciated that. I do not know WHAT would have happened if IL MHA had been in conflict with IDEA. There is NO WAY a judge could have compelled ex-difficult child's signature because his life was being PROTECTED where he was; the only way an evaluation can be done in IL without the minor's signature is by court order that the minor is in danger.

    How this is different than what you are facing is that ex-difficult child HAD an IEP that confers rights that you and your son do not currently have. I agree with Sheila that it is unlikely that the school district will agree to a direct therapeutic placement due to LRE despite the recent supreme court 4-4 decision in NYC, and a private 60 day residential evaluation you are providing. The evaluating team for ex-difficult child recommended that the public high school of 4000 could provide a program equivalent to EGBS! In the end, however, I lost at DP due to a time-line technicality.

    Like your son, there is NO WAY after EGBS ex-difficult child was going back to where he had failed once, and he did not. He graduated from a private high school that did not have to take him and with an IEP dating from 8th grade because it was his last valid IEP--that was kept within the public school. I never gave his IEP to the high school he attended for his final two years. I kept ex-difficult child enrolled in my school district until he had a h.s. diploma. Every semester, they UNenrolled him and every semester I sent a CERTIFIED letter saying he was an IEP qualified resident of the district who was "temporarily" in a private school that had no legal duty to educate him, but MY school district had that legal duty. Eventually the school district started to hope (pray) he would graduate and they would never see him again, but I never let them off the hook. I did not seek reimbursement for the conservatory h.s. because it was not a Special Education placement and ex-difficult child was there due to his strengths, not his disability.

    One final note on how strong the school district duty to educate is: ex-difficult child was failing English first semester of his senior year in h.s. I called the public school to notify that if he failed, he would be enrolling in the public h.s. in January because he had PLENTY of Carnegie units to graduate, but IL requires four years of English, so he would need two English classes second semester and nothing else.... the NEW director of Sp Ed who had never met us, but you can bet she had heard lots, offered a TUTOR to keep ex-difficult child in private school (that we were paying for) because he was so talented that it would be a shame to have him not graduate from where he was. Yeah right....they just did not want him for two periods a day. I thought it would be very funny if after all they did, ex-difficult child got diploma from one of the best high schools in the nation by passing two English classes. The law does not provide for everything, and this is an example and so is your situation. I did not WANT ex-difficult child to go to the public h.s. for 2 English classes, but I also did not want him to get a GED and the conservatory h.s. was too small to double up on English the way a huge high school can. What happened is when the private high school realized I was serious that ex-difficult child was going to post secondary education in the fall of 2005 one way or the other, regardless of what happened to his English grade, they "reevaluated" his work and he got a D. I rather think they did not want the only musician they have had (so far) get into Juilliard, to drop out due to an academic grade; and I'm quite sure they pressured the English teacher. Did ex-difficult child deserve to fail? Probably, but by that time, I just wanted him out of h.s. in whatever way would work. The moral is the squeaky wheel always gets the grease and the kids who have parents who can pay for private services and fight the school district at the same time, always get a better deal. It is not fair, but little in life is, but it is very, very true in Special Education. service delivery.

    I am sorry your difficult child is in residential. It is traumatic, especially at this time of year. I hope you get a good evaluation and recommendation out of it. As you know, I feel that EGBS was the best decision I made as a parent but I am not suggesting that every child needs long term residential Tx...but mine did.

    Best to you,


  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Sheila and Martie, thanks for your insight. It's helpful to know that we'll have an uphill battle getting placement at the therapeutic day school in our county. It was my hunch that we needed to get him re-enrolled in our county school district ASAP so I'm glad you confirmed that, Martie. Even though difficult child 1 didn't have an IEP when he left the county school district at the end of 6th grade, the simple facts of deepening emotional difficulties (set off by an intense manic reaction to an SSRI in 7th grade), private neuropsychologist testing from a year ago and the necessity of placing him in the Wisconsin program, we feel, will make our case for the need for an IEP now. And Sheila, the Wisconsin program is run by board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists whose recommendations will be taken very much into consideration (although probably not adopted in full).

    Thanks again for all your help.
  5. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    There's been a recent change in IDEA that it's no longer the home district responsible for evaluation if the student is enrolled in private school. The public school district in which the private school is located within boundaries of (not the parent's district of residence) is totally responsible for assessments. I believe they are also responsible for services.

    Couldn't this potentially become a messy issue if he leaves for residential while still enrolled in the private school and not yet enrolled in home district?

    Might be prudent to formally withdraw from private school and formally enroll him in your home district before he leaves for residential.

  6. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Maybe I read this wrong -- I thought difficult child would be returning to his home district?


    "Comment: Many comments were
    received regarding the parentally-placed
    private school children with disabilities
    requirements in §§ 300.130 through
    300.144. Many commenters supported
    the changes to the regulations and
    believed the regulations simplify the
    processes for both private schools and
    public schools. Numerous commenters,
    however, expressed concern regarding
    the implementation of the private
    school requirements.
    Many of the commenters expressed
    concern with the requirement that the
    LEAs where private elementary schools
    and secondary schools are located are
    now responsible for child find,
    individual evaluations, and the
    provision of services for children with
    disabilities enrolled by their parents in
    private schools located in the LEA.
    These commenters described the private
    school provisions in the Act and the
    NPRM as burdensome and difficult to
    Discussion: The revisions to the Act
    in 2004 significantly changed the
    obligation of States and LEAs to
    children with disabilities enrolled by
    their parents in private elementary
    schools and secondary schools. Section
    612(a)(10)(A) of the Act now requires
    LEAs in which the private schools are
    located, rather than the LEAs in which
    the parents of such children reside, to
    conduct child find and provide
    equitable services to parentally-placed
    private school children with disabilities."

    This is a new provision in IDEA and there may be some caveats that I'm not aware of.
  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I only have a heads up on this because I helped a friend last year whose son was enrolled in a private school that physically was located within the boundaries of a different public school district from which they resided.

    I know very little about this but my concern here would be that if he left for residential while still enrolled in the private school and the request to evaluate happens now (as it probably should to get the clock rolling), the home public school may try and push the request to evaluate onto the public school which services that particular private school since he isn't home district's responsibility. While enrolled in the private school he's the responsibility of a totally different district, not home district. That's why I think it might be prudent to formally withdraw from the private school, request records transfer, and enroll in home district public school before he leaves home. Follow that all up with request to evaluate.

    If she waits until he returns home to drop him from private school, enrolls, and requests evaluation it wouldn't be a problem since he would then officially be the home school's responsibility based on residency.

    Clear as mud, no?

    Sorry to add your troubles, Smallworld. I'm sure this is just what you need to deal with on top of sending your guy off.
  8. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    SRL is correct and I should have remembered the change in the law. It is hard for me to get through my head because, as you can see by my LONG example, all the leverage I had vs my own district would hardly have helped in Chicago, where ex-difficult child's private school was located.

    Here is what I believe to be reasonably accurate, but I am not an attorney:

    If I were you, I would withdraw difficult child from private school and enroll him in the school district of your residence (because you are not moving.) Then let the school district know that difficult child is in WI for a MEDICAL evaluation (as well as IEE) conducted by a board certified psychiatrist....45 to 60 days is so long that it qualifies as medical Tx, and the school district is not required to pay for medical Tx (but is required to pay for medical evaluation that an IEP team has found to be necessary.) IF anyone in the school district knows the law, he/she will be delighted that you are not seeking to have a psychiatric evaluation at school district expense. I seriously doubt that the new provision of IDEA applies because difficult child is not enrolled in a private SCHOOL in WI; however, you might want to run this by a school law attorney, especially if your school district is litigious.



    Child Find and Evaluation now are the responsibility of the school district where the private school is located. However, if the difficult child "falls out" of a private school placement as yours did, then the duty to provide FAPE belongs to the school district of your residence.
  9. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Thanks, everyone, for all your good advice.

    I called our county school district today. The woman I spoke with (in the Office of Placement) told me that federal law requires Difficult Child (where difficult child's private school is) to conduct the screening to see if he is eligible for Special Education services AS LONG AS difficult child 1 is enrolled in his private school. If we pull difficult child 1 out of his private school and enroll him in our home high school, our county school district would do the screening. I think this info jives with what SRL and Martie posted.

    We ended up not sending difficult child 1 to the Wisconsin program because he was petrified about being away from home. We instead placed him in a day treatment program at a psychiatric hospital in Virginia (it's really complicated when you live in the Difficult Child metro area). We're waiting about a week to see how difficult child 1 is doing and what the day treatment program might recommend for afterwards. We're not ready to pull him out of his private school yet in the event we want to keep it as an option. So I'm thinking we should start the screening process in Difficult Child. But I'm going to talk with an advocate first because the situation is so complicated.

    Thanks again for all your advice.
  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Yep, that's the deal.

    You are no doubt aware of this, but the evaluation by a school district of a private school student should be similarly thorough but I believe they don't have to by law offer nearly as much in the way of services. And there may be other roadblocks too: ironically for the friend I helped in a similar private school in nonresident district, the evaluating public school district would have been willing to go further/offer some support services but the private school was only willing to do very limited accomodations.

    It sounds like a good idea to talk to an advocate just so you don't come up with any surprises.