Definition of ED, anything I can cite?



Lucky me, I had a manifestation hearing re my 16 yr old and an IEP re my 11 yr old all on the same day last week. Think I've just about de-stressed from that day now. LOL

I'm doing OK so far on the 11 yr old. All teachers agree with me but school admin still fighting to keep him in a non-verbal class just because of numbers. They know I'll fight it and monitor what they're doing in fact because it's often not what's on paper.

Re the 16 yr old. He's been classified SLD since 2nd grade. Current HS he's been in more or less all year (believe it or not!). It's a mainstream HS with easily over 1000 kids. They say he has no behavioral problems. He's had a few incidents that they ignore. Nothing hugely abnormal for a 16 yr old boy I guess. They refuse to look at prior history, they will only look at current behavior. He's failed almost every class he's taken this yr. Some only for lack of attendance. He's been suspended over 30 days this yr already. They decided to give him after school tutoring to help him "catch up" for the end of yr tests instead of suspension again. Thus their conclusion (which they told me they were putting my objection in writing to) was that it's not a function of mental illness. They refuse to look at the fact that he's in a group home and has been in many over the last several years now. "No behaviors in school" so not relevant they say. He's on medication, not relevant. He is chronically absent not because the group home didn't drop him off but because he's always smoking in the parking lot. Hopefully only cigs but he's also been testing positive for pot.... they just haven't caught him with any at school. They say this chronic refusal to go to class is not due to a disability but "normal" for teens. Specific comment was that "we've got dozens like him, they're not disabled." I agreed to forego the 3 yr re-evaluation because they told me they didn't think he'd qualify under SLD anymore and so he'd lose the IEP. But if I agreed to forego it he'd keep the IEP. I said fine. They have, since the first day, refused to provide the service he needs which is to be walked to class from the car, to each class and to the car at the end of the day as has been the case in every school for years now. Alternatively put him in a self-contained class for BED which they don't have. They put all the BED kids in an alternative school which I'm told he won't make it a week in for a variety of reasons. So I refuse to put him in there.

I asked by e-mail for an IEP mtg months ago and got no reply... yes, Sheila, you told me to do the certified mail but I don't have a printer. This time in the hearing I asked for a full IEP evaluation towards a BED classification. They insist this is going to throw him out of IEP. Who cares? He's failing everything anyway because they won't get him to class. My son denies he has any mental illness or that there's anything vaguely unusual about him. So they look at him in every manifestation mtg and he says he did it just because he wanted to denying any other reason and they deem it not a function of the IEP. They say they don't care what a psychiatrist report or psychiatric report says. If he's not had problems in school which they apparently define as fighting, he won't get an ED classification.

Sorry so long and disorganized. I am at a point that I don't know what to do. He'll do the same in summer school and keep doing it until he gets kicked out of this placement. Since he OD'd the mental health people are defining him as a risk and won't be releasing him soon. So despite his hopes he's not coming home soon.

Can't addiction, by DSM definition a mental illness which he is displaying by chronically smoking in the parking lot, be considered ED or OHI? Current psychiatrist will probably say BiPolar (BP), cannibus abuse, ODD, CD. I'd like to see impulse control disorder on there too but don't know if she'll do it. Does any of what she'll put on paper get him an IEP classification by definition?



I'm not an expert on Special Education law, but here is a definition of ED from the CABF website:

Emotional Disturbance - (IDEA definition) - a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and at a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

- an inability to learn that CANNOT be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors;
- an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with others;
- inappropriate behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances;
- general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression;
- tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems;

The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.

The CABF website strongly advocates that students with BiPolar (BP) fall under the OHI category for an IEP.

Not sure if that helps. I'm sure others will be along with more knowledge than I have.


Classification as elgible for Special Education rest on the IEP team, of which the parent is a full member, deciding that
1) the child has a qualifying disability
2) eduction is negatively impacted

Further, the child cannot simply be "socially maladjusted."

Whether or not a child has a DSM diagnosis is really not the controlling factor. Common sense lets us know if a child has six DSM Dxs it is likely that at least SOME of them will overlap with the IDEA categoreis and if there is an educational problem with making "satisfactory" progress in the regular ed curriculum, then the child should be qualified for special education.

Your SD is violating the law. You must send all mail certified. You do not need a printer. You can write it by hand but the time line doesn't start unless you can prove you made the request. Your difficult child is failing and you need to FORCE the SD to evaluate --until this happens, there will be no qualification for special education. Your psychiatrist or therapist can also submit their opinions (and also you have a right to an independent evaluation) but the SD HAS to evaluate. They have no choice. If they do not, they are violating the law. The only exception is if a parent keeps requesting evaluations. "frivolously" then the SD can go to Due Process to show why, since they have already evaluated, they do not need to do so again. This situation is unusual. Normally, if a SD tries to get out in this way, the H.O. will say "evaluate."

It is hard to get a child this old qualified. The SD is hoping for a drop-out or a push-out. You will have to fight very hard to prevent that from happening.



I think everything else has been addressed except whether drug addiction can be considered a disability.

Under IDEA, drug addiction is not a qualifying disability.


Thanks everyone. Yes, they're trying to push him out but they can't expel him because of other SD issues. Well, OK, specifically, I'm told that the SD is under state mandate NOT to expel children of my son's race as a result of prior statistics. So they want to put him on "long term suspension". Same thing but the latter means that he has to stay out a year and can then come back or can go to any other school in the same SD... another mainstream HS.

Is chronic skipping class to smoke in the parking lot a "behavior" not consistent with the normal course or whatever the wording was? At what point does refusal to go to class become not "normal"?


Am I correct in translating your last post to read that it is the school district's position that these behaviors are typical?


New Member
Do not give up the 3-year reevaluation. The school cannot say he won't qualify but they will keep him on IEP if they don't reassess. Absurd. Insist on a comprehensive evaluation to look at ED. Remember that a child is ED if he fits the federal/state education definition of ED, not if he has certain DSM labels. Therefore a "socially maladjusted" child or conduct disordered child may still fit the definition. Also may of these children have other issues. It is not uncommon to find depression as part of the problem. They need to take a closer look. FYI - A child may be entitled to 504 accommodations if they have gone through treatment for an addiction. They do not qualify under special education regulations. A 504 plan for a child who is or has completed treatment might state that they need an extra set of school books while at treatment, a reduction in assignments he missed while in treatment, time from school to see an addictions counselor for post care, etc. The accommodations need to be reasonable.


Sheila, yes, they're telling me it's typical willful teen behavior that does not justify an IEP or any interventions. Keep in mind that I'm in a state with a graduation rate that is so low it's shocking. And this SD is .... let's just say if you remember that girl named Fantasia on American Idol who later admitted that she graduated but was totally illiterate.... same SD.

Neverku.. thanks for your thoughts. He's actually had the IEP since 2nd grade with the category reading disabled.. SLD. Yes, there are many issues. They're saying none of those currently show up in the classroom... well duh... he's never doing any work in class because he's not there! He's been kicked out of rehab and refuses to even try any rehab program. Currently only a couple hours a week of individual rehab counseling.

Survived the second session of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid's IEP today. EVERYONE in the room agreed he needs to be in multi-disabled self-contained room. That's what IEP says. Still won't promise me multi-disabled room. Told them there will be a mediation paper the next day if they don't.


When a school district feeds me a line like this, I ask for supporting written law, rules, regulations, and/or policy.

You may be able to put the brakes on this by just requesting (in writing) just exactly how they intend on handling Compensatory Education that will be required.

The sd should be able to prove that smoking in the parking lot is typical student behavior in the District. I strongly suspect you could disprove it with photos taken of the parking lot during school hours. Additionally, the Student Code of Conduct Handbook and the School District Policy and Procedures Manual will likely assist you.

Another thing that I jump on with both feet is that while my son is in the care and control of school, they best be taking care of him. I hold them to the same standard that they hold general population students whether he is 6 or 16 – most particularly when they try to avoid doing their job by pointing the finger at my “willful” child.

When they don't, others are notified and involved to the extent that I can compel it. Examples: Superintendent, School Board President, Special Education Director, School Principal, Assistant Principal, School Psychologist, State Board of Educator Certification, Children Protective Services, State Education Agency, State Legislatures, State Director of Juvenile Justice System, President of the United States, OSEP and OCR.

In written correspondence to the School Superintendent ccd to all the aforementioned, I point out the sd personnel’s “willful” violations of Federal and State laws, policy violations, violations of educators Code of Conduct, etc.

Re: attendance. What does your SEA rules and regulations state? How about your truancy regs?

Unfortunately, parents sometimes also have to see to it that rules, regulations, laws, policy, educator Code of Conduct, etc., that are non-specific to Special Education are also enforced.

I’d include the reference in a letter as: COMPLAINT (required to be considered a formal complaint at many of the said agencies) and let it rip.

Wish I could be of more help, but you're pretty Special Education savy. You'd probably do much better with-a Special Education attorney or advocate which you likely cannot afford. Barring that, a complaint/letter writing campaign that holds their feet to the fire is about the best suggestion I can offer.

Keep us updated.


Thanks Sheila. When I have the emotional energy... I often run dry of it during IEP season with 3 IEPs... I'll start on this.

new idea: Instead of worrying about how long this will be to write out to get it sent certified I can e-mail it to the local copy machine place and have them print off copies hopefully at minimal cost.

Thanks again.