Respond or not to the Special Education coordinator


New Member

I have been waging a struggle to get my youngest services. They refused to give him an IEP (depsite having a diagnosis of BiPolar (BP)), neuropsychologist testing that indicated probable Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), and some learning disabilities (notably slow processing speeds) and increasing difficulties mastering content. The neuropsychologist (who otherwise did a fine job on the report) didn't help our case with the school too much because of her use of the word probably which seemed appropriate to us at the time given the difficulties of making firm diagnoses in these areas.

We decided that since they were willing to give us services that we would have sought under an IEP (title 1 reading) and some more individualized attention in math primarily, it wasn't worth pursuing legal channels at this point to get an IEP.

When we got the final 504 plan a few days ago(6 weeks after our 4th meeting on it), we wrote a letter stating that we were disappointed that it took so long to get a plan, appreciated the steps they had already taken to provide services and brought their attention to a few points we had discussed six weeks earlier that they ignored. WE also copied it to the superintendent whom we know somewhat(its a very small district) because we thought the kind of time delay was unacceptable.

So today we get a response back to our letter from director of Special Education (whom we know fairly well) with this as a closing para:

"One thing we should all probably address as a team is our expectation levels. We are to provide reasonable and appropriate services for the access and opportunity for students to be educated. We also strive for high expectations for all students. However, when there are disabilities we are not charged with “cures” or prevention of all failures or mistakes; but reasonable accommodations, modifications to remediate as we can. Also, there is clear research to suggest that we should identify strengths, talents and improvements rather than focusing on disabilities and deficiencies. We need to stretch and develop talents, provide coping strategies and reasonable remediation for areas of deficit or disability."

I guess that the most politic thing would be just to ignore this paragraph. But I feel that there is an implied criticism--that we are asking for too much.

Anyway, the paragraph really annoys me. I am thinking about writing back and saying good point on the stengths etc and what is your plan to develop them, since that was missing in the 504. Moreover, the only strength they noted on the 504 was high degree of parental involvement. So how do they intend to build on that (LOL).

Now we are not asking for miracles or whatever--just some focused support in reading and math so that our difficult child remains on grade level. I would happy if he gets a passing grade on his chapter math assessments, which according to his intelligence tests is not too much to expect he achieve, provided he is given sufficient opportunity to absorb and practice what he learns so that he fully internalizes it.

Anyway, help me do what is in my best long-range interest here. Anything I can do to strengthen my case down the road for an IEP if we need one is a key objective. That and not alienating the staff that we have to deal with. Maybe the best response is no response.

What do you guys think?



New Member
:mad: Sorry, my first instinct would be to shove this letter up their nose.

Guess after that comment you don't need any advice from me,

What does Sheila say?




The paragraph (except for the last sentence about strengths) is straight out of Rowley--the first Supreme Court decision of what is "reasonable" to provide for a child.

The kicker is that IF they are going to an RTI model, and many SDs are starting to say that they are, then not only are they supposed to focus on strengths to build on them, they are committing themselves to more or less continuous data collection –which, of course, we know that the average SD is not capable of doing.

Last week and this, I have students in one of my classes role playing "BEST PRACTICE" RTI or IEP meetings. For the IEP meetings, they plan to revisit the goals in 6 months (yearly is required but BEST PRACTICE suggests more often. The RTI role play went off "by the book" and those teachers are measuring DAILY and the school psychologists are charting weekly and sending the results home, etc.

SD have no idea what BEST PRACTICES in RTI obligate them to do. They think they are going to get off easy (and , of course, cheaply) but not so; done correctly, RTI can be effective, especially for isolated academic problems such as your difficult child 2 seems to have in reading. However, the burden on teachers is immense, and of course, more than 30 years of special education experience lets us know what happens in the schools is never close to BEST PRACTICE.

The premise of RTI is theoretically sound and is an idea that I have taught for years, namely, that for a child to close any gap with peers (to become at grade level from below) the child must learn at a faster than average rate. For some kids this may be realistic, for others it is not. This is why "closing the gap" is a OSFA goal that I find unacceptable. Children should learn as much as possible as quickly as possible, but if they cannot learn at a faster than average rate with “intensive intervention,” then they will not close the gap. It’s like an algebra equation that’s just true. “If Car A is traveling at X mph and leaves at 6:00 AM, and Car B is traveling at (X + 2) mph leaving at 10:00 AM, assuming the cars do not stop and maintain speed, at what time will Car B overtake Car A?” However, children are not algebra equations AND what if the gain is dependent upon the intensive intervention? The Assumption of RTI is that once caught up, the child can join the gen ed program and not again fall behind. Hmmm…..some of us might see a problem with that reasoning (which is not an algebra problem; it’s an ASSUMPTION.)

Further, not only does RTI encompass these ideas, but there are sophisticated STATISTICAL PROGRAMS that are needed to analyze the trend lines to figure out that if the child continues to gain at the current rate, how long will the services have to remain in place before the lines converge!!!! This data analysis is called HLM (Hierarchical Linear Modeling)--and I have a doctoral student who is an intern and all excited about analyzing her SD's RTI data to figure out where services need to be increased (slope of line is too flat) and where there is a good chance the lines will converge. Isn't this fascinating? I'm pretty sure this will be the topic of her dissertation but how many SD do you think are prepared to do this?

in my opinion what is going to happen is SD will say , "we use RTI" in the same way they used to say, "here is what we do for Learning Disability (LD) kids..." Take it or leave it. OSFA comes in many guises.



Sometimes it is best to remain silent. I confess that that is not necessarily my strong suit -- try as I might....

Only you know the climate at your district. Take all, part or nothing of the following:

Dear Ms. Sp Ed Director:

We received your letter dated xxxxx regarding our son’s, difficult child, 504 Plan.

We are relieved to learn that XISD is cognizant of the fact that research suggests difficult child’s that strengths and talents and should be identified and built upon. Our copy of the 504 Plan does not depict how XISD educators will address this. Can you send me the missing page(s) of the Plan?

We were also relieved to learn that XISD realizes that there are no cures for difficult child’s disorders but that remediation, related services, and accommodations are tools available to XISD educators.

The US Department of Education’s website speaks of remediation often. I have looked for a definition of “reasonable remediation” on their website to no avail. Could you also forward a copy of the US Department of Education’s “reasonable remediation” definition to me?

Our expectations are derived in part from OCR’s published document entitled “FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: REQUIREMENTS UNDER SECTION 504 OF THE REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973” located at

The section on “HOW IS AN APPROPRIATE EDUCATION DEFINED?” seems very clear to us, but perhaps the “reasonable remediation” definition will shed more light.




New Member
Hi guys,

Martie, what you wrote was fascinating. I wish my school district was at that level of sophistication... I think you seriously overestimate them, but if not, I'm ready. Relieved to know that not for nothing did I major in math for a while....

you've given me some good ideas. That's kind of along the lines of what I was thinking of writing (albeit I was going to be a bit snottier, but will rein in that tendency)

Seriously, I went to the website you referred to. While I read it quickly, it doesn't seem to say anything about the level of remediation. I guess my contention has been that they have a responsibility to provide services that enable him to master grade level material, since that is about where he began the year and what his intelligence tests would seem to indicate he is capable of all, all be it with focused interventions to make sure he is getting the material. Maybe this is more along the lines of no child left behind? Am I missing something here?

What is a reasonable level of service?

thanks again (and again and again...)




I absolutely DO NOT think your SD will do what I described unless they hire Laura (my doctor student.)

Sheila your letter sounds so nice but is WAY BAD, you naughty girl :D



What is "reasonable?" A word that has triggered more than one disagreement between sds and parents.

Accommodation and remediation are not the same things.

"Remediation" is not a term used in the Section 504 reg. See . The terminology of "regular or special education and related aids and services" covers remediation.

104.33 Free appropriate public education

...(b) Appropriate education. (1) For the purpose of this subpart, the provision of an appropriate education is the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that (i) are designed to meet individual educational needs of handicapped persons as adequately as the needs of nonhandicapped persons are met and (ii) are based upon adherence to procedures that satisfy the requirements of 104.34, 104.35, and 104.36.

(2) Implementation of an Individualized Education Program developed in accordance with the Education of the Handicapped Act is one means of meeting the standard established in paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section.

(3) A recipient may place a handicapped person or refer such a person for aid, benefits, or services other than those that it operates or provides as its means of carrying out the requirements of this subpart. If so, the recipient remains responsible for ensuring that the requirements of this subpart are met with respect to any handicapped person so placed or referred.
Under the Section 504 regulation, a recipient that operates a public elementary or secondary a education program has a number of responsibilities toward qualified handicapped persons in its jurisdiction. These recipients must:
...Provide a"free appropriate public education" to each student with handicaps, regardless of the nature or severity of the handicap. This means providing regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the individual educational needs of handicapped persons as adequately as the needs of nonhandicapped persons are met; ....

"Reasonable accommodation" is defined in Section 504. Additionally, US Dept of Ed at provides additional info. "Reasonable accommodation: a term used in the employment context to refer to modifications or adjustments employers make to a job application process, the work environment, the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, or that enable a covered entity's employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment; this term is sometimes used incorrectly to refer to related aids and services in the elementary and secondary school context or to refer to academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services in the postsecondary school context>

Re: NCLB . It provides for use of "scientifically-based" practices and interventions to help all students learn. Use it to difficult child's advantange.

I guess my contention has been that they have a responsibility to provide services that enable him to master grade level material, since that is about where he began the year and what his intelligence tests would seem to indicate he is capable of all,

Your expectations are reasonable in my opinion. The only caveat I can see is that during periods when difficult child is unstable (if applicable), he may not be able to receive benefit of learning opportunities presented -- but I know you are aware of this. This may account for some of the Sp Ed Director's letter.