HELP! school and law problems


Active Member
I've been reading in this forum a few days but this is my first post and I hope someone with similar experiences can offer some advice with a couple of urgent problems.
Brief history: My son (12 now) was a pretty bright kid who was always overly curious and someone active/spirited when younger but gave me no big problem. Teachers complained sometimes but most things didn't seem like that big of a deal with me- 6yo he stayed in bathroom too long, was found playing with soap bubbles, stuff like that. Then, about 18 mos ago., he came to understand that his dad had never been in his life because he had chosen not to be. This clearly devastated him. At the same time, a friend of the family had chemo for breast cancer and they found a spot on mine. Several of us had told him this is curable and it gets treated. The friend then died. Mine turned out to be benign. I could see my son acting differently so I took him to a therapist who said if I got married and we got real involved in a church, the problems would be solved. We left him and saw a psychiatrist. Then my son's behavior kept getting worse- more acute- dangerous to himself and others. Also, he stole a cell phone from a teacher, then a principal, and started physically trying to fight me. I put him in an acute care hospistal, where they said looks like depression. psychiatric testing said depression and disruptive conduct not otherwise specified. After being on prozac about 6 weeks, he seemed to become old self again. We tried two other therapist (1 family, 1 individual) who both seemed to be as ineffective as first, so we stopped. Until Dec., things seemed to be ok- son was making good grades and trying, but still got in some trouble at school- nothing big or repetitive.

Current school problems: He's on an IEP. At manifestation hearing for too many violations of code of conduct (Mar. 19), it was determined that violations were a result of ED. I requested a counselor/specialist/psychiatric- someone be brought in to help because we all saw an escalation of disruptive behavior and I saw signs of depression returning. psychiatrist increased prozac. School agreed because IEP meetings had always just been me, an admin person, and a case manager (no Special Education training) and regular teacher for a few mins each meeting. Then, I find out the same admin person has been "counseling" son and telling him if he gets in trouble once more, he's out. Then, 3 days later (Mar 21??), I get a call from school- they can't handle his disruptive behavior anymore- this is it- come get him. At the next manifestation hearing, They said that behavior was not connected to ED because it was impulsive. I disagreed and said if it has reached impulsive, for him, this means critical and it is a drastice sign of ED. They sent him to a disciplinary hearing officer anyway who suspended him through the end of the school year for being an habitual offender. They put him on homebound. I researched what I can on the law, and since no drugs, weapons, or serious bodily injury were involved, this seems illegal to me, so I wrote my appeal letter. Here's where they are getting me- the hearing officer's decision is to be reviewed with the superintendent and I can find no time limit on that-(they've spent 3 weeks already) so my appeal can't even get in line for the school board until a "formal" decision has been sent to me in writing. In the meantime, he's stuck with this decision. Mind you- I can't work full time under this situation and he's shutting down more every day.

Legal problems: The weekend before the last manifestation meeting, after school said "enough" my son goes on a crime spree in neighborhood and ends up with 7 charges. I want him to get an in-patient evaluation but he can't go in because 2 charges were felonies. (1- he went in an apparently vacant bldg which turned out not to be abandoned; 2- he set a brush fire) He's home with an ankle bracelet and has guardian ad liem appointed to try to help me get him some help. The inpatient evaluation won't accept him because he has felony charges. The GAL says prosecuting attny won't lower arson charge because, even though damage was less than $100, 6 fire trucks were called so a lot of money was spent. Can you believe this? So, I can't get him an inpatient evaluation, can't get him in a school, can't get him anything but outpatient therapists- who so far don't want to give anything other than blame.

Does anyone have any advice on where I can go from here? I only have my income to provide for him and cannot go to work under these circumstances. Also, him being home all the time is making his behavior, depression, etc, worse.

Thanks and sorry I wrote a book.


New Member

I'm so sorry for all this. We have very similar situations and unfortunately, I'm just not savvy with the workings of the school and law, although I've had several dealings with them both.

She is also highly intelligent and displays the same kind of behavior you describe above. However, my daughter became acute shortly after 9/11 when she entered the high school and my divorce was becoming final.

I did seem to have much more support from the school, even though at one point a particularly smarmy VP told me he was going to start incorrigibility charges against my difficult child, which would have not only financially devestated me, but could very well have made her a ward of the state. Thankfully, her school SW stepped in and we had an Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED).

We came up with a plan that when difficult child felt like an outburst was coming on, she would be allowed to remove herself from the class, notify a SW or an adult she trusted, and decompress in the media center or study hall. It worked - until difficult child started to take advantage of the situation. Finally, she was given 5 'passes', which she used economically. She began to get herself under control (she was in therapy and on medications at the time as well), but then turned 16 and dropped out of high school. It took two more alternative ed schools for her to get her diploma, but she made it.

As far as the law is concerned, she spent 5 weeks in juvy and 6 on a tether after a domestic assault charge against me. I truly believe this is what contained her violent tendencies and she has not gotten physical with me since. It was hard to see her in shackles - until she flipped me off in front of the judge - and it was hard to see her in juvy and on a tether, but she just had to go through these consequences. Sometimes, we have to let the legal system take its course, and believe that in the long run, it is the best thing to do.

Perhaps if he gets involved with the legal system he would get more attention where it's needed and get accommodation from the school.

I don't think I've offered you much help, but I really wanted to let you know, you are not alone and we are pulling for you. I know how difficult this is to go through single, without a male spirit to help, and with the rest of the world crashing down. I could also write a book.

But let me leave you with this - although your child may be a challenge right now, if he is smart and has a moral compass, he will get through this. Somedays it may not feel like it, and although I have to continue to be tough on my difficult child (I recently kicked her out of the house because her attitude towards me is disrespectful, disruptive and argumentative. She thinks she owns the house), her behavior has improved, she is no longer cutting, she is not violent, she doesn't steal and she stays clear of the law.

Good luck and God Bless.


You need to get an advocate to work with you on this. Marti may have more insight on this, but I can't imagine it's permissible for the Hearing Officer to get with-the Superintendent prior to releasing his/her findings. Just doesn't pass the "smell test" with-me.

After a cummulative 10-day suspension, kids with-IEPs can be put into an alternative school for up to 45 days. Had difficult child been suspended for 10 days throughout the year?

After the first manifestation hearing, was an FBA ordered?

From the US Dept of Ed:
We believe the Act recognizes that a child
with a disability may display disruptive
behaviors characteristic of the child’s
disability and the child should not be
punished for behaviors that are a result
of the child’s disability. The intent of
Congress in developing section
615(k)(1)(E) was that, in determining
that a child’s conduct was a
manifestation of his or her disability, it
must be determined that ‘‘the conduct
in question was caused by, or had a
direct and substantial relationship to,
the child’s disability, and was not an
attenuated association, such as low selfesteem,
to the child’s disability.’’ (Note
237–245 of the Conf. Rpt., p. 225). The
regulation, which follows the statutory
language, thus accurately reflects the
manner in which the Act describes the
behavior of the child is to be considered
in the manifestation determination.
Further, section 615(k)(1)(F) of the
Act and § 300.530(f) provide that if the
LEA, the parent, and relevant members
of the IEP Team make the determination
that the behavior resulting in the
removal was a manifestation of the
child’s disability, the following actions
must be implemented: (1) the IEP Team
must conduct a functional behavioral
assessment, unless the LEA had
conducted a functional behavioral
assessment before the behavior that
resulted in the change in placement
occurred, and implement a behavioral
intervention plan for the child; (2) or if
a behavioral intervention plan already
has been developed, review the
behavioral intervention plan, and
modify it, as necessary, to address the
behavior; and (3) return the child to the
placement from which the child was
removed (other than a 45-day placement
under § 300.530(g)), unless the parent
and the LEA agree to a change in
placement as part of the modification of
the behavioral intervention plan. [emphasis added]

You'll find more on manifestation hearings and FBA's at

Your State Education Agency is responsible for insuring that your school district follows federal Special Education law (IDEA 2004). In that it is so late into the year and filing formal complaints requires a lot of documentation, time for entities to formally respond, etc., I'd try to shake this loose by sending a letter of inquiry to the SEA and OSEP (cc'd to the Superintendent) about difficult child's status. Send it certified mail.


Active Member
Thanks! I might have overlooked something in the emails, but who is OSEP and exactly where/how do I get an advocate on board?

difficult child had been suspended a few times that totaled 10 days, then he got the 10-day suspension before seeing hearing officer, who suspended him through end of school year ( 2 1/2 mos). A Functional Behavior thing and BIP had been done with the same 3 (me, admin person and case manager), but no one else. when it was apparent this wasn't effective, i asked for a counsepor/specialist to be brought in. they sent him to the hearing officer before that happened. now, they are giving me a meeting with a specialist this wednesday to "discuss my concerns about his placement while on long-term suspension". my grief of course,is that i don't think they had a right to put him on long-term suspension anyway because it was based on being a habitual offender and 2 unqualified people saying the lastt incident was not a manifestation of his ED. i think they know this but are manipulating the law by tying it up until May's school board meeting- 2 1/2 weeks before school gets out.


OSEP is the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

It's appears to me they are stalling, and do not want to provide difficult child with FAPE. It's sd's like this that tend to push students out of public school.

You can start looking for an advocate via . There are many national organizations that may be in a position to help you locate an advocate also: nami, FFCMH, COPAA, etc.


Sorry I have been out of town.

This is ABSOLUTELY illegal. Sheila's citation is right on--This is CLEARLY a manifestation of ED. With no drugs or weapons, they need a H.O. to put him in an alternative setting. He is being denied FAPE by being suspended for more than 10 days. You could file for an expedited Due Process Hearing but without representation, I feel like I am sending you (the lamb) to have lunch with the lions--and on the menu is ---MOM

Also, because of the "crime spree," they will probably next say her is "socially maladjusted" because that is an automatic disqualifier for Sp Ed.

YOUR SD CANNOT DO THIS--To be "dismissed" from Sp Ed, a full evaluation must be conducted and the IEP team must agree. You are a full member of the IEP team and an evaluation takes time. During that time, difficult child should not be denied FAPE. The MOST they can do within the law is put him in an interim alternative placement at this point in time.

I do not say this lightly, but you are headed for Due process--I never recommend DP as a good dispute resolution procedure for curricular matters. However, in my opinion your SD wants to eject your son, either to the JJ system or to the streets and they do not care which.

He has an IEP and therefore, has many rights that gen ed students do not have. However, to protect him, you have to know the law VERY well and not make any procedural mistakes. This is a daunting task. Please look for an on-site advocate that can help you and go to meetings with you. This is an emergency situation. If you can afford an attorney, make sure it is one who knows Sp Ed law, just any att'y won't do. If you cannot afford an att'y, look into disability rights organizations or legal aid. If your income falls in between, you will be in the same difficult situation as many people are--too poor and too rich.

We will try to help--but you need more help than it is feasible to supply on-line in my opinion.



Active Member
You guys have been great! This forum is starting to feel like the family support that I've never gotten from my family. Anyway, a few more specific questions- 1) I tried to get an attorney on board but they haven't gotten back to me- where can I look to get a decent, knowledgable one, without going thru the yellow pages- I'm reluctant to pick one just because they advertise as an education related attny; 2) what are the odds of being successful going thru due process?
I'm so frustrated I can't see straight- 1) school- trying to play me for a fool just to get him out and thinking they can walk away without providing him an education some other way, 2) the investigator who made him think he befriended him when there was a TINY brush fire and the investigator came thru the neighborhood buddying up with the kids and handing out his phone #- so my kid calls and leaves a message and the investigator returns the call, leaving a message on our machine specifically for my son, so I call the investigator to try to find out what is going on but he never once called me- until my son went out the next weekend and set the brush fire and he arrested my son. Believe it or not, my difficult child is one who would fall right into that trp and he did- he confessed everything he did to the investigator- the investigator even told me afterwards that he thinks my son has got some major issues going on. DUH!! I think this could have been prevented if the investigator had called me before. Anyway, this is the same one who didn't want charges reduced from a felony, even though there was less than $100 damage, because, 6 fire trucks were called. Also, when he was questioning my difficult child, my difficult child said he thought he should have his mom there and they guy tells him they've been trying to reach me (for 4 hours) but can't find me. LIE!!! I was at the school having the manefestation hearing for 1 1/2 hour, then came home and wondered about my son's whereabouts until around 7:00 pm. Funny how the investigator showed up 5 mins after I left for that school meeting, huh?
And 3) I'm so frustrated with my son I have doubts about how much defense I should provide him. He's been so cocky and abusive toward me the past few days that I would put him back in juvie and off this monitor, except he's 12 and the first thing he said when he was in the car after the judge let him out was " the older boys told me they wanted to *** me and they would get me in the shower". Well, no matter how much I think he needs to be taught a lesson, that won't happen if I have any control over anything. It's really weird to me because as defiant and obnoxious as he is at times, he's so gullible and defenseless in SO MANY ways- he would be minced meat in a minute and I know it. He doesn't know I'm determined not to put him back in juvie, because I didn't him to think he didn't have anything to worry about. On the other hand, how do I punish him when he's home on a monitor going stir-crazy and us seeing way too much of each other?


Parents unrepresented have a VERY poor win rate at DP. With a good att'y, it is better but still a big gamble.

Piece of advice: squelch your desire to "punish" your son. He is ill and his life will be ruined in the JJ system. Mincemeat is exactly correct. He needs Tx not punishment no matter what he is saying to you at the moment.

He should not be at home with you, but he is. You might also want to try your local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) which is a support family group that does a LOT of national lobbying but they also may be able to point you to community resources.



Active Member
check this out- the school called and asked if i could meet with them (iep team) and middle school sp ed specialist this afternoon so i did. they are proposing to send difficult child to a therapeutic day school. does anyone have any thoughts on how successful these are? how well does a difficult child adjust back to mainstream if they go to this type of school for a couple of years? is this a little extreme? wouldn't it be cheaper for the school system to provide another person in the mainstream school to work with the few kids who have similar problems- my son made good grades but was disruptive (started out ok then escalated last couple of months he was there)- he had 18 minor violations of code of conduct from sept-mar 22.- the last 5 happened the last 3 weeks he was in school. my point to them was that discipling him like typical kid contributes to escalation. school members said they didn''t have person on board who had time to stop what they're doing and re-direct him or counsel him when he does these things and with so many kids in school ,they couldn't keep up with what was going on with each one on a daily basis.

thanks everyone for the great insight!!


If a therapeutic school actually offers therapy and structure, it can be helpful, especially for a child the age of your difficult child. If there are very hardened older kids, then an "alternative school" can be as bad as JJ.

Go to the meeting, listen, ask questions and THEN if you like what you hear, go visit the school.

by the way, the INVARIANT legal way is to WRITE THE IEP and then choose the place where it can be implemented delivering both LRE and FAPE.

Don't accept the placement before the IEP is written, or you will lose control of what is happening. Since your difficult child is academically able, look carefully at the level of curriculum being delivered (and the individualization) while you are there.

Don't sign anything without taking at least a day to think about it.



Active Member
we had the iep meeting and they have given me the iep in writing but i have not signed it yyet- i told them i could not sign anything agreeing to a therapuetic day school until i knew more about which one they wanted to send him to. a lady from the jj system told me some of them around here are horrible- that kids are behaving completely out of control and that they don't seem to have any structure and that my difficult child would end up worse because he's not that far out of control (at least at school- we have periodic episodes at home) it looks to me that they are just trying to prove a point by not letting him return to school and provide accommodations there- it would be cheaper for them and better for my son to put a specialist in the school then to do this. i thought they were supposed to have more than a regular guidance counselor at the school, even part time. they told me months ago that he shouldn't be in a Special Education class because he wouldn't be acedemically challenged and wouldn't "fit in". aren't they now trying to send him to a school where kids who don't do well in Special Education classes go? they keep saying they don't have anyone on board at the school who can take the time to redirect him because they are busy with other things- then aren't they supposed to go get someone on board?


I wouldn't take the word of the lady from the jj system. I would look into them myself. We have several board members who have children in therapeutic day school and I have looked into it myself for my difficult child. difficult child's therapist recommended it actually. I guess it depends on the area you are in and local resources.

It's my understanding that if it takes hiring another person in order to provide LRE and FAPE for your child then that is what they have to do. SD's try to say those kinds of things quite often because they count on people not knowing the law.


Active Member
Thanks, all! I left it with them that i would keep an open mind and would check out the places they gave me as "options" but that i would not sign anything without checking it out and determining for myself that it was an appropriate and beneficial school for my difficult child. if i can't find the place(s) acceptable, i figure i'll tell them they will need to get his home school on board- even if it means getting a specialist in there. Funny to me, on the school board's website they have plenty of psychs/specialists listed, but we didn't have one who knew what was going on, much less one on the iep, giving advice or helping my difficult child, until after i sent an appeal letter.

i think i'll also mention that since i'm just a layman mother, i'll need to discuss their proposals with someone more knowledgable than me from now on. i think i lost it for them when at wed's meeting, the principal said she didn't consider the fall a successful time period for my difficult child like i did because, even though he never repeated the same violation again, he did misbehave again 3 or 4 weeks later. that's when i gave my little talk on how unreasonable it is to consider a child a failure if they misbhave in another way after being in trouble for one incident and never repeated the violation they were disciplined for! i probably didn't word that right, but meant, if your child misbehaves and they are punished and never repeat that again, are they a failure if 3-4 weeks later they do somthing different wrong? i told them, and personally believe, our difficult child's are doing well when this is the way things are going. Why do they see this as his failure?


I don't know what violations they are referring to, but...he's a 12 year old boy for crying out loud! difficult child or not, he's going to mess up now and again. It's called growing up.