difficult child behind in academics - what are his rights?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by butterflydreams, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. Ok, so with all of the inpatient and partial hospitalization that difficult child has had over the past year or so, he has missed ALOT of school. Brief summary for his 6th grade year: went inpatient 3rd day of school, was inpatient and then partial until sometime in October, went back to school but was not really stable and wasn't doing any work. Mid February went back to partial and was in partial and then inpatient until early May. He then was back at school for 3 WEEKS.

    This school year, he started the school year inpatient and then was in partial until November 24th and yes he is in 7th grade.

    The Residential Treatment Center (RTC) where difficult child was in until mid-October has it's own district run school there, but the psychiatric hospital where difficult child was in partial and inpatient before has education through the homebound program with the school district.

    Here is the problem: difficult child is behind. He doesn't know the stuff that he needs in math class. Math has never been his strong suit before, but he did alright. Now, difficult child has no idea how to do the math that is being given to him. He told his teacher that he doesn't know the stuff and her response was "how could you not know how to do it". I worked with him some on the homework last week and last night and with me explaining how to do it he did it, but then we went onto this take home test that he was supposed to do, he was getting really frustrated because he didn't know how to do it. I had him stop, because if I would have pushed he would have lost it. I have set up an parent teacher conference with his counselor and all of his teachers for next Monday morning (the earliest that they can get me in).

    In my opinion, it isn't his fault that he is not where he needs to be academically. I think the school should do whatever they need to do to get him up to speed. difficult child is afraid that the math teacher will fail him. I explained to him last night that the teachers don't know where he has been or what he has been through, all they know is that he entered their class last week.

    What I need to know before the meeting next week is, what are difficult child's rights? Is this where a 504 plan can help? I was told by the school that because difficult child is not Special Education that they can't do an IEP.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  2. luvmyottb

    luvmyottb Guest

    It seems as if he would qualify for pscyh evaluation through the school district because he is so behind.

    My difficult child was behind also and we got the testing. The tests showed her lagging way behind and she qualified for special services under other health impaired.

    I by no means know Special Education law, but he should be able to qualify for some kind of services. I'm sure others know more than me.

    Good luck to you, hope you get what your difficult child needs.
  3. Thanks, its good to know. I will see what others post.
  4. dadside

    dadside New Member

    First, there is no law I've heard of that says a school can't provide help where needed, IEP or not. The principal federal law - IDEA 2004 - says that schools are required to provide needed education services for a child who qualifies. Qualification calls for a specified condition (including ADD, emotional disturbance, depression, and many others) and that because of one or more such conditions is not learning as they should -- roughly, near their intellectual capacity. The IEP is the plan for services provided under IDEA. But again, nothing says they can't provided help - services - either without a formal plan or in contemplation of a formal plan.

    You can request an evaluation for eligibility for services under IDEA. From what you've written, it seems he ought to qualify. However, the determination requires various evaluations and testing, and can take a couple of months, which does nothing for today's issue(s). If you want to pursue it, there are certain steps you should follow carefully to protect your and your son's rights -- not tricky, but important, beginning with how to make the request for evaluation. I can provide links if needed.

    For right now, I suggest waiting until the conference, discussing the situation, including his changing education delivery systems as well as reasons therefor, and see what they say. At this point, being "friendly" may prove easier and more productive, especially in the immediate future. But, if no satisfactory results, or no follow-through on promises, make the formal request for an IEP evaluation.
  5. dadside,

    Thank you very much. I will wait and see how appointment goes on Monday.

  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I don't think that is correct. My son does not have a learning disability, in the traditional sense. I had him test (neuropsychologist) privately and he does have issues pertaining to executive functioning (like organization and planning) and memory. His abilities pertaining to IQ were average, or varied. He does not need remedial help like some children, however, he still needs help and supports. One of the major benefits of the testing is that the report from the tester includes recommendations. In my son's case, and I suspect it would be the same in your son's, it was strongly recommended that my son get an IEP.

    The school can do this testing, if you request it in writing (send it certified mail or hand deliver it), but their's won't be as thorough. The advantage, however, is that they may choose not to accept private tests results- they have to accept their own. Still, most here would probably recommend having it done privately. The other option is to let the school do it and it will be done quicker. Then, still arrange to get it done privately. In any case, I'd suggest getting the ball rolling because your son does need an IEP. The 504 will not offer him as much support or protection.

    I'm not the expert on this- Sheila, Martie, Smallworld or others can clarify or correct any mis-interpretation I've just given, but the one thing I'm sure of is that if you request it in writing, they have to respond with something more than they have.
  7. thanks, klmno

    I will look into it. I actually did request in writing last spring when difficult child went back to school that he be evaluated for an IEP. At that time, I had received a call from the school psychologist saying that they received it and that it would probably be the beginning of this year. Well, when I brought it up to the school counselor when difficult child was getting ready to go back, she told me about the not Special Education thing. I think I need to contact the school psychologist again. I will ask the psychiatrist about this on Monday too.
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'm hoping someone here with more expertise than me chimes in to help you- but I'm thinking maybe you should be writing higher ups in the sd and letting them know about this. Have you researched IDEA, wrightslaw, and your state's regulations any yet?
  9. Superpsy

    Superpsy New Member

    Hey butterflydreams,

    Let me know if I've got this correct. Your son has emotional/behavioral difficulty that resulted in the need for hospitilization. Because of this he has missed school for a large portion of time. He's now behind because of missing so much time. Does this sound right?

    In response the school said this?

    huh? I think they may have meant that because he isn't Special Education currently he can't have an IEP without going through the evaluation process to see if he's eligible.

    It sounds like what some have said so far will help (requesting an evaluation- certified letter- and meeting with the counselor/principal). It is quite possible the school doesn't know the extent of the situation.

    When I first read your post my initial thoughts were that:
    1. Students who receive special services have to be students with a disability.
    2. There has to be a negative educational impact.
    3. Lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math cannot be the primary problem (for learning disabilities).

    It sounds like this is the perfect situation to get an IEP since:
    1. There deinitely sounds like there is appropriate documentation for a disability. (school district will most likely still do their own evaluation)
    2. I'm pretty sure there is a documented educational impact (there has to be after missing so much school).

    Just a note...and I don't know your situation butterflydreams so please don't take this personally. In retrospect it probably would have been helpful to have contacted/requested from the school when this all began (not sure from your original post if you did...). This is my thought because I have no idea how any reasonable sd after hearing everything could refuse to start an IEP/504 process. :confused: I think Monday may turn out better than you think. I hope.

    An IEP would be more helpful and is more likely to be enforced BUT a 504 can help your son to catch up as well. Hope this helps.
  10. jal

    jal Member

    Butterflydreams - your SD has lied to you. Your difficult child can get an IEP under OHI - other health impairment. My son is diagnosis'd BiPolar (BP) and ADHD and got his IEP in kindergarten. Now we were very upfront about difficult child's diagnosis's and issues from the get go because we knew he would encounter problems. He also had an inpatient psychiatric hospital stay for 3 weeks this past Aug and now is out of district in a therapeutic school. My son is also not Special Education and has no learning disabilitied. If your prepared to give them all the info and what he's been through through OHI at them and you should get the IEP he needs. Good luck!!
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  11. jal

    jal Member

    Aslo don't let them pigeon hole you into a 504 - because with that you don't have a legal foothold to stand on if they do not follow through on what they say they will do. With a 504 you will have to be all over them constantly to make sure they live up to their end of the agreement and legally they do not have to.
  12. Superspy,

    Thanks. You do have it right. I brought up originally the idea of a IEP or 504 AFTER his first hospitalization last year. I of course at that time didn't know the process. His school counselor at the time said oh you don't need that we will work with you. Humph. yeah right, well then difficult child ended up acute again and in the psychiatric hospital and I didn't pursue it again because we were looking at trying to get him in Residential Treatment Center (RTC). When difficult child was discharged last May I sent a certified letter to the school requesting an IEP evaluation. (I got a sample letter from a local resource organization.) Anyway, I received a call from the school psychologist letting me know that he received the request and that since it was the end of the school year (school would be out in 3 weeks) they would be doing it at the beginning of the school year this year. difficult child went into Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in July and didn't start school at his regular school when school started. When I thought difficult child was getting discharged I called the school to talk to the school counselor and she is the one who told me that difficult child wasn't Special Education so he couldn't have an IEP. They could do a 504 plan but she didn't think he needed one because he did fine when he was there (for the 3 weeks at the end of the school year) before. She told me "we don't want to label him unless we have too".

    Tell you what I don't give a cr*p about a label as long as he gets the help that he needs. I think I am going to place a call to the school psychologist tomorrow.


    Thanks! I have been very upfront with them regarding difficult child's diagnosis and everything. They know he has been inpatient and even where he has been inpatient. I had to provide a copy of difficult child's discharge papers every time he was discharged to go back to school.

    Thanks again, everyone.
  13. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    It sounds to me like they are putting you off- they are trying to side track giving him an iep (or going through the evaluation for it) and doing it in such a way that you won't notice, because they are being so nice. They're trying to make you feel lucky if he gets the 504. That's just my opinion, but it wouldn't be the first time this has happened.

    I think you should make sure they do give him the evaluation process for an IEP. Particularly when we have kids who have already been in a psychiatric hospital and dealing with mood cycling and the host of issues that will most certainly effect his behavior and ability to function acedemicly from time to time for years, at least. The IEP puts in certain requirements regarding suspensions from school, school placement, requirements for supports and accountability from the school.

    Gather up some armour and prepare to be a warrior mom on Monday- prepare yourself and asks questions here on the board between now and then. Just don't settle for anything less than the iep process and be aware that they are trying to dodge it, in my humble opinion. He definitely does qualify for it and he definitely needs it. My son's classification is listed as Emotional Disturbance rather than Other Health Impairment (OHI) but that isn't the biggest issue. Getting him on an iep where he has protection from getting kicked out over too many issues or he gets left behind or falls through the cracks are the biggest issues.

    You might need to fight for it, but you can do it. If you have any paper that says his diagnosis on it from a psychiatrist or psychiatric hospital, I'd take it to the meeting with you on Monday and don't settle for less than a commitment to start the process.
  14. dadside

    dadside New Member

    Butterflydreams, I'd urge you to get an education advocate with training in IDEA and the Special Education/IEP process. Let him or her work with you to get your son what the law says he is entitled to. Don't call the school psychologist before Monday's meeting, or agree to anything at the meeting other than initiating the IEP process and any offered and appropriate interim services so long as it is clear any agreement on services is a temporary measure pending a full evaluation. I'm not suggesting hiding anything from them. It's more a matter of not complicating things for you and your son in the future.

    Advocates can be found easily enough. Some charge for their services, while others do it on a volunteer basis. The latter may be found through the local resource organization which provided the sample letter you used last May.

    From what has been written, the local school surely hasn't been diligent in providing help. From the time they receive a properly completed request for evaluation, I believe they have 60 days to complete evaluations etc and convene a committee meeting. And, you are part of the committee deciding on your son's IEP. They might argue that your son wasn't available for testing/evaluation in the relevant time following last May's request, and/or that the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) admission effectively removed him from their responsibility. I don't know whether or not that would hold up, and it would waste nore time pursuing that right now, but do get the clock running at least from Monday.

    There are enough issues here to make some kind of third-party help for you reasonable. Even without them, the IDEA/IEP process has enough points that it takes time to learn and get right. And it seems that you really want to get it all right with your schools. That is what a good advocate can do for you.
  15. Superpsy

    Superpsy New Member

    butterflydreams, I take back what I said! It sounds like you were more than on the ball about this. For some reason school folks are generally hung-up about "the label." To "school folk" we don't like labels to follow kids from school to school and class to class....for parents, that's the point! =)

    Personally (and it's probably because I work in schools) I wouldn't go for an advocate as yet. I would wait until after the meeting on Monday.

    I definitely agree with this. It seems like the time has passed for working with the school on this without an official process.

    As always, a word of caution, be business-like about the meeting. Be rational, not emotional. It may be helpful to focus on what the school can do now, NOT how they screwed this one up (although it should be mentioned- not in these terms though). "School folk" can become pretty defensive and close ranks pretty quickly if you insult them or rail at them (although they might deserve it!). It may be helpful to read THIS before the meeting. Best of luck!
  16. Thank you everyone! I really appreciate the insight to this process. I will take all the advice I can get! I will wait to call the advocate and the school psychologist until after the meeting on Monday. I am going to go into the meeting requesting that they do the evaluation and start the IEP process as per my letter. I spoke with difficult child's therapist about it last night. She said look at it this way, I submitted the letter at the end of school year, with 3 weeks left, difficult child wasn't available until 2 weeks ago, so count that as 5 weeks into the 60 days they have to process the request.

    difficult child mentioned the meeting to his math teacher and she informed him that she wouldn't be in attendance at the meeting because she has an early bird class. Well, I am going to request that the counselor meet with her and fill her in because she needs to be informed as well.

    Oh boy, time to put on the armor.