How to say no to an "accommodation" you don't want?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by Rannveig, Sep 15, 2015.

  1. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    I don't have my initial meeting with the school about Odin until next week. But the guidance counselor told me today that I had to be prepared that the accommodation offered might be for him to drop out of his accelerated/honors classes and take "general ed" classes instead. I told her that the problem for Odin isn't the content of his classes but the amount of homework. (His IQ is around 140 unless you figure in his processing speed, which is impaired.) She said the general ed classes give less homework, not just less difficult material, and the teachers of the honors classes might argue he should be there rather than be inconveniencing them by receiving the accommodations recommended by his neuropsychologist (untimed tests and fewer homework problems, e.g.).

    Odin is friendly with the kids in the accelerated classes and I think would find it quite discouraging (even depressing and isolating) to be moved to the general ed classes. He is definitely capable of understanding and assimilating the material in the more advanced classes -- just not, at this stage, of (a) staying awake in the afternoon and (b) routinely finishing (or necessarily starting) his homework.

    I can't afford a professional advocate and am afraid of being railroaded, since it'll be just me against a committee of two teachers, two guidance counselors, and an administrator. Can anyone suggest good arguments I can use without coming off as unrealistic, uncooperative, or ungrateful?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Well, given that the staying awake thing affects the afternoon, can he keep his accelerated classes for the mornings at least? And maybe take fun electives in the afternoon - art, or music, or phys ed, or shop or commercial cooking or... anything that would be interesting. Schools ARE able to hand-pick the schedule for a student, as an accommodation - they did it for us, in a very large school where "everyone's" schedule was generated by computer. They just pulled the schedules for a couple dozen "hand-coded" kids, and made adjustments as necessary including affecting other students, before the schedules went out. They also allowed him into an already-full class when we had to make adjustments after the school year started.

    On the homework thing - no, you won't get accommodations in an accelerated class. But this is a missing skill. Can he use one afternoon period to work with a resource teacher, to learn how to manage the workload, prioritize, etc., and end up with an hour of homework already done at school?
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Advocates are free. Call your Dept. of Public Education in your state. Ask for contact with the advocate in your area. This is the only way we got all the accommodations we wanted. She had taken a few school districts to court and won and our school district did not want a piece of her. Cost us nothing and are in every state. They are not on the side of the school district. They are on your side.

    I'm not sure you couldn't get accelerated class accommodations for your son since he seems to have a medical problem. You could and certainly should try. And my daughter got accommodations on time of all testing. Didn't seem to bother our school that much...then, again, we had an advocate. Never ever walk into an IEP meeting without an advocate. You walk in alone, then you get what the school dishes out to you only. Again, advocates are free to the parent.

    Good luck!!!!
  4. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    Oh my goodness, Somewhere, I didn't realize advocates were free! Think I can get one by Monday? Ack! Thank you for that precious information. Off I go!
  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member


    It seems to me that their argument about convenience to the teachers could be illegal. I would never, ever consent to that. Your son needs to be accommodated in his current situation. Period. If you are located near a big City there will also be disability rights organizations that will help you. Free. They can send an attorney with you to the IEPS. We did that and got non-public school, in another County with a free taxi ride to and from. For 2 years.

    That said, stay strong. The name of their game is intimidation. They gang up and try to overpower and humiliate parents. I was on IEP teams as a professional member. I know how they do it. Don't let them. Your son needs to stay in his gifted program. They placed him there. Do not let them take him out. That is stigmatizing. It is denying him has rights which are Federally mandated. I would never ever consent. I hope you do not.

    Remember. They act like bullies. That is their MO. Do not let them bully you. Stay strong.

    If you are far away from a big city you can call a disability rights organization for disabled children in a place like Los Angeles, or Chicago, or San Francisco or New York or Boston. They will give you referrals. Good luck.
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    Last edited: Sep 27, 2015
  6. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    Thanks so much for your note, Copa. After my last posting I did do some research but couldn't find any free representation at all. I did find a place with a list of referrals, but everyone on the list was a lawyer or educational consultant who would charge for their services. So I put on a business suit, hinted to X he should do the same (he did), and showed up acting strong and confident. Mind you, we had decided only to ask for a 504, not an IEP, thus lowering the stakes for everyone.

    The 504 coordinator started by saying that just because the neuropsychologist had recommended something didn't mean we'd get it. That made me nervous, but from there on in things got better. I actually found it to be a pretty good experience, though I definitely needed to be on my toes. To her credit, the coordinator ended up presenting the situation to the assembled teachers not as, "Will we give Odin accommodations?" but as, "Which accommodations will we give Odin?" And they gave most of what we were asking for in terms of reduced homework and longer test times. They also offered organizational coaching from the school's guidance counselors, which sounds more like a "service" than an accommodation and which I was happy to accept, of course.

    To my surprise and relief, neither the 504 coordinator nor the teachers ended up suggesting that Odin be moved to general ed classes. Some kids at this high school pay a few hundred bucks to take some of the more advanced high school classes for community college credit. We hadn't done that with Odin, and they seemed very relieved that we hadn't. So maybe that's what made the difference? Maybe it's easier to give him accommodations in his existing courses if he's not getting college credit?

    Partly I think we were just very lucky that the teachers seemed quite flexible (except for the history teacher, about whom I've written on the "General" page; but even the history teacher ended up giving a little ground). The one annoying thing was all the times I heard something like, "Well, this is the way we have to do things in our classes, because this is how they're done on the AP exams." [Expletive deleted] the AP exams!

    Oh, okay, and there was one other annoying thing. The 504 coordinator sent everyone the 504 plan the next day. X and I were still supposed to sign, but the teachers all got copies before we signed. I told the coordinator in advance that I was sure to have edits I would request -- not because I didn't think the meeting had gone well but just because I'm very careful about this sort of thing. She sort of dismissed that, and then, sure enough, the plan she sent out had errors in it. I got back to her the next day with my -- polite, mind you -- suggestions and requests, at which point she got to sounding a bit irritated (though she'd been very nice up to then). And I still don't have a corrected version that I'm willing to sign, which is why I hadn't updated here yet. But it was a much better start than I'd expected.

    Thank you again, Copa et al.! I was definitely stronger and more confident in the meeting than I ever could have been without your coaching. I am deeply grateful to everyone here.
  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi R, so glad it went better than expected.

    You are doing perfectly.

    Remember, a 504, does not have the teeth that does an IEP. The beauty of the IEP is that it helps transition to College, too.

    But you did right. They are agreeing to the accommodations with the 504. If there is any trouble down the road, you can insist upon the same accommodations, they have already agreed to, in an IEP. And more. What can they say? They already signed on the dotted line.

    Good for you. You are in charge. You showed it. Good for you.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2015
  8. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    Hah, well, still no revised document today, and I must say I'm feeling a bit dis'ed by the 504 coordinator.

    But I will say, I was pretty psyched that the original draft did say Odin is "disabled." Who ever thought I'd be happy to see my kid labeled "disabled"?! But I gather that's sort of a victory in this context.

    Okay, back to trying to show I'm in charge. My best to you, Copa.