...if academics aren't affected...


New Member
Hello everyone:

I'd like to ask what I'm sure is a basic question, but I don't know the answer to it--or at least I'm not sure I'm getting the right answer from my son's principal.

My son is nine and in fourth grade. His behavior has been an issue since kindergarten, and this year has been hard, maybe because things get more "serious" in fourth grade.

He is an intense kid, doesn't pay attention very well, speaks out of turn, very energetic, easily angered, can be rude. When I read The Explosive Child four years ago, he sounded like a textbook example.

We've had therapists a couple of times--kindergarten and first grade, but no one recently. Both of them felt he was simply "bouncy" and/or "anxious" and neither diagnosed him with anything.

His principal has recommended that we get professional help again, to try to ensure that our son doesn't get a "negative self-concept" (her words) from getting into trouble all the time. (It's usually minor stuff, but pretty constant.) I asked her if the school could provide any help, evaluate him, etc., and she said that he is not eligible for any assistance through the school district because his academics have not been affected (he is working at or above grade level in all subjects).

Is this true? If he only has behavior issues but is doing okay academically, does that mean any intervention must be private and is the parents' responsibility?

Thanks for any insight,


Active Member
No, not true.

My son is at or above grade level but qualified for an IEP because of his behavioral issues. The did a functional behavior assessment as part of his evaluation and found that a lot of his behavioral issues come from sensory or motor skills issues, which weren't and still aren't obvious. However, with their help and the IEP, he's doing much better.

You can request (I'd do it in writing, certified mail) that the school do an evaluation for an IEP. However, if the principal is already saying no, chances are it will be a tough battle.

You'll probably need a psychiatrist or neurologist or other professional give you a diagnosis to take to the school. (A multi-disciplinary evaluation from a children's hospital is the best way to go).



No, you've been given incorrect information. Children can qualify for an IEP based on academic OR behavioral issues.

There is a starter thread in the Sp Ed Archives that is helpful in starting to learn about your's and difficult child's educational rights.

In the interim, you can parent refer your child for a Full and Initial Evaluation under IDEA. This is a sample letter -- very important to send it via Certified Mail.

I'd also specifically request that a FBA be performed. FBA info: http://cecp.air.org/fba/default.asp .
Welcome to the forum :D


For what it is worth, my ex-difficult child always has tested above grade level in all areas-- and way above in math. He also had serious emotional issues that affected EVERYTHING. He had an IEP not a 504.

Your principal is wrong about the law but likely to be right about the effect of being "in trouble" all the time. Plus there is a tendency for these "minor" behavior issues (bouncy?? never heard that one!) to escalate to something very different :( at the onset of puberty/middle school (shudder at the thought of middle school.)



Well-Known Member
I just this minute came back from a meeting at my son's school on this very thing. The principal said, "At his last IEP meeting (a year ago) his grades were not being affected." HA...I asked her if she'd seen his report card this year where there were two D's? Surprise!! Grrrr. They told me that there's not a professional in the school district who does behavioral assessments and that the one who does it is the guidance counselor in their school. IN HOUSTON??? Surely there's someone else who does that. Is everything a fight these days?


Pamela: Seems the answer is often "yes."

Some add'l info on behavior and IEPs.


If a child's behavior impedes his or her own learning or that of others, the IEP team must consider the strategies, including positive behavior intervention, and supports needed to address that behavior. It must be shown in the IEP that inappropriate conduct has been dealt with programmatically, and not just punitively.


New Member
Thank you so much for your very helpful replies. I will follow up with the links provided above.

I'm sort of in a weird place on this. I don't want to make "waves" at school (the principal is a woman I like and very well respected by parents and teachers). I'm also closely involved in the PTO and other school activities, so I see the principal and work with her a lot. When a strong person like this (with-35+ years in the public schools, ten of them as a principal of the district's flagship elementary) tells me "no, any help is your private responsibility," it's really hard to think about gainsaying her.




Of course it is hard. I found it hard, too. I was very active in school too due to easy child being two years ahead of ex-difficult child.

I found I was treated very differently as the parent of a easy child than as the parent of a difficult child.

Your principal may be all you say that she is but in my opinion she is very wrong about your son. She does not have to live with the consequences of her recommending an illegal course of action--your son does and indirectly, so do you.

Just my .02



It's good to keep relationships on an even keel when possible. Good working relationships are helpful.

However, while administrators focus on the District's financial bottom line and percentage ratios of Special Education students, you must set this aside and focus on what's best for your child.

You may need to know that principals typically have a fairly good understanding about IDEA/IEP requirements. Sometimes their training is strictly from the District's perspective however. You may have to get in the habit of asking for written legal citations/documentation from the District to back up their off-hand "this is the way we do it" comments.