IEP & 504 Plans
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IEP & 504 Plans
Editor note: this resource is frequently recommended:
The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF),
Information center funded by the US Department of
Education, serving families of children and young adults from birth
to age 22 with all disabilities: physical, cognitive, emotional, and
learning. Provides parent training and Education Advocates to help with special education
issues for parents in Alameda, Contra Costa or Yolo Counties.
My son is about to enter King Middle School. At the end of 5th grade his
insightful teacher recognized that his spelling scores were way below all his
other subjects. Historically, he always excelled in math, but he was a late
reader. His reading improved after third grade and he is now above grade
in everything but spelling. His teacher initiated testing and that confirmed
her suspicions that my son has a learning disability. We squeezed a 504 plan
into place right at the very end of 5th grade. Now that he is about to start
middle school, I am unclear what is the most helpful way to approach my son's
disability with King. Should I talk to the administration? Wait until he has
classes and discuss it with his teachers? What have other parents done? He
is an all around above grade level kid with this one glaring issue, although
his reading was probably impaired in his earlier years.
Thanks for any help. I am interested in what has and has not worked.
Mom of Middle Schooler
Are you familiar with BSPED? You can find our information at the bottom of the page
here: http://www.berkeleyschools.net/departments/special-education/ but you can also
contact me for more information. We're a group of parents who have children with IEPs and
504s enrolled in BUSD schools and I'm sure there's somebody in our group who can help
I could really use some recommendations and guidance with finding an
appropriate middle school for a child with many challenges. This child
is behind academically, and has an IEP. He is struggling particularly
in math and writing, however, his biggest challenges are behavioral. He
is very disruptive in class and has an extremely difficult time keeping
focused and completing tasks. He has been assessed and an IEP has been
developed, but he will be switching to a middle school next year,
likely within OUSD. I would love to hear other parents' opinions and
experiences with middle schools in OUSD. What school/s do you think
can best assist a child with these needs? What environment? Teachers?
Class size? etc.
We're at Claremont and our child has a 504, so similar issues.
It's been okay, but mostly thanks to his house teachers. They've been
really on board and communicative and accommodating. Literally, from the
first day of school we've had feedback and understanding.
The OUSD psychologist is, well, overstretched (also works at Oakland
Tech) and there are a LOT of kids with serious issues (not only at
Claremont but all OUSD middle schools). She does what she can.
You do have to be on top of things, be the advocate, establish
communication, work as a team. All the things I assume you're doing
Middle school is a difficult transition for all, as I'm sure you've been
told and know yourself, but for kids like ours - it is indeed more so.
Claremont's other plus is that it is smaller, and some class sizes have
been unusually SMALL this year (nice for those lucky kids!)That's going
to change, I'm told. But all the OUSD schools face the same budget issues
and hit and miss on teachers, staff, etc.
No school will be perfect, but keep working with the teachers directly.
They have tough jobs, but if you prove that you are on their side and
want to work with them as best you can, you'll have a better experience.
I just left from my son's iep meeting at King Middle School.
He is an 11 year old twin, with cerebral palsy. Because
Berkeley Unified only has inclusion programs for special ed.
students, it's clear that he needs an i.a. to assist him
throughout the day. I've been informed that the district
will probably deny the request, even though it is his right,
due to budget constraints; however they can do it if I
''fight'' for it. Any suggestions/recommendations? Thanks.
School districts cannot deny necessary support to a child
with an IEP due to budget reasons! Contact us at Berkeley
Special Education Parents Network,
http://www.berkeley.net/index.php?page=bsped we are a
support group for parents who have kids at BUSD with IEPs.
Here are also some good articles to help you learn your
rights in this area:
My first grade son has an IEP related to auditory processing disorder. He's
very bright and in terms of class participation apparently is a teacher's dream
child except for the fact that reading, spelling and anything involving rote
memorization are extremely difficult for him.
Just this month, he's beginning to talk about how easily other kids read, ask
why his spelling test is differently than everyone else's, and call himself stupid
when he can't read at home. I think it's time to talk with him about how his
brain works differently and the methods and tools his teachers, dad and I are
building to allow him to be successful in doing whatever he wishes to do. But
I'm not sure what to say or how much detail to give him. Spoken words are
problematic, too. He learns so well through visual input like DVDs or books
Have you had an IEP talk with your kid? Do you know of resources to make it
visual? What do you do if your kid feels stupid--especially when it's obvious
that he struggles to learn what other kids (who are his friends) absorb without
effort? (From what I see and what the teachers say, he's not being teased or
put down by kids in his class.)
I particularly would appreciate advice from someone who's been through this.
Time to talk
My daughter also started to notice that she was the only
one not learning to read in first grade, that others were
ahead of her academically, and that things came slower to
her than her peers. Second grade was worse. She was in a
1/2 split, even though I requested that the school NOT do
this, and she quickly noticed that the first graders were
learning to read better than she was. She used to cry and
say that she could never become a mom, because she could
My daughter is now in the 6th grade, and is aware that her
brain works differently, and even though she is incredibly
bright and gifted, she takes more time to process than
others do. She still sometimes asks why she is different,
but we talk about it a lot, and I point out her strengths
often (she is an excellent writer, although still spells
most words phonetically), is an amazing artist, and is
beyond kind and gentle. I tend to shrug off her learning
differences, and simply say, ''Your brain works
differently. It is neither good nor bad, just different.''
Check out the following book: All Kinds Of Minds, by Mel
Levine. It is written FOR kids, about learning
differences. A must have for any child with an IEP.
Life Long Learner
My son also has auditory processing disorder, aggravated by
ADD. I think you are right to have a conversation with him
about this; soon after my son's evaluation, we explained to
him that he learned differently from other kids, and also
that he sometimes has difficulty understanding what someone
says the first time (or second or third...) because of a
kind of little glitch in his system, like a filter that
won't let some things through easily. Trying to make it
concrete was helpful -- but what was really helpful in my
son's case was giving him the label, something he could
point to and use to explain to people. Not long after our
conversation, we were traveling and needed to check into a
hotel. My son went up to the desk clerk (he has utterly no
social inhibitions) and wanted to know if our room had a
jacuzzi (Californian kid). She responded, but he didn't get
it. ''Can you say that again slowly? I have an auditory
processing disorder.'' It was funny, but also touching -- he
understood what the problem was and he also had the tools to
help other people understand and fix it. Giving your son
the tools to explain his situation and also the confidence
not to be ashamed of it are invaluable gifts. Point out the
things he can learn well and easily, make sure he
understands that his glitch applies only to certain
situations, and that he can take measures to repair the
problem himself. My son is a gifted musician -- yours has
gifts as well, and these can be highlighted. My son's
ability to understand has actually improved, mostly because
I think he has learned coping mechanisms and allows himself
to be patient with himself. Good luck in growing your son!
can you say that again? slower?
Other parents will have great advice, but I wanted to chime
in with a teacher perspective. As a high-school teacher, I
applaud you for starting to talk to your kid about his IEP
when he's young--many of my 15- and 16-year-olds still don't
know how to discuss their identified learning needs.
My main advice is to help him identify when he feels
confused. Is it when the teacher is talking but there's no
visual component to the instruction? Is it when there are
words scattered all over the board? Is it when students are
supposed to remember and follow a whole string of
instructions? Then talk about what he can ask for in each of
My most successful students with learning differences know
how to politely assert their needs. They will check in with
me privately with requests like, ''Can you please give me my
own copy of the instructions?'' because they get confused
looking at the crowded board at the front of the room, or,
''Can you always call on me second or third so that I have
time to think about the question first?''
Best of luck!
my son is in third grade and uses a wheelchair. He has had
an IEP since Kindergarten. I think you have answered your
own question quite well. Tell him a little bit about ''how
his brain works differently and the methods and tools his
teachers, dad and I are building to allow him to be
successful in doing whatever he wishes to do'', in kid terms
of course, and adjusted for whatever his processing issues
are. I think kids KNOW something is up and are much more
comfortable talking about their life than we parents are.
But we love them so much. We have all this baggage that
drives us to protect them but kids are durable. Looking in
at our child with a disability, we see the 'dis-'of that
word so clearly and in a heighten fashion because of the
emotional impact for us personally, but for our kids, this
IS their normal. Just like having a special needs kid is now
Talk as much as he would like. Or if he doesn't want to, let
him know he can come to you anytime with questions. And
truly address the core of the emotional meat for him. He
doesn't need to know about meetings or IEPs per se, but just
to know you and his whole support system are there for him.
Everyone is different, in some way, and we all need help, in
some way. It's important for our kids (and their classmates)
to know that this is what makes us a community.
I have not been through this personally but have worked
with many parents in situations similar to yours as both a
Resource Teacher and a private tutor. I highly recommend
you get Dr. Mel Levine's book All Kinds of Minds. Your son
should be aware of his strengths and his weaknesses and I
think this book will be a great help. Dr. Levine has other
books as well but do start with this one.
My son has an IEP for difficulties with writing, and we had the same problem
in kindergarten (he could clearly see that the other kids could draw and
much better than he could, and had concluded that he was stupid).
First, I sat down and talked with my son about how everyone had some things
that were easy for them, and some things that were hard. I told him that I
found things like climbing hard, and reading easy; his dad found writing
just as he did, but they both found math easy, and so on. We had him talk
about a few of his friends -- what was easy, what was hard for them. We had
talks like this many times. I'm not sure how I would make this visual,
Maybe cut out a bunch of pictures representing things to do (a book, some
numbers, a basketball, a paintbrush, a musical instrument), and sort them
into ''hard'' and ''easy'' for different people? Your school psychologist
have some ideas you could use -- these folks are often amazing.
We didn't worry too much about the resource time; many kids left the
classroom for many reasons, and it never seemed to be a problem. We do
keep in close contact with his teachers, though, to make sure that nothing
about this shifts without us knowing.
I also suggest you read ''A mind at a time'' by Mel Levine. it contained
detail than I needed, but the philosophy was very helpful.
I completely understand some of the complexities of explaining to a
child how he/she is different than his peers. In our situation, our
son was actually relieved to know what it was that made him see the
world differently( Aspergers). He was imagining way worse! We have
worked from a strengths perspective rather than saying that he's
somehow ''deficient'' or defective. He excels at math, science &
computers but not as strong in social pragmatics. Keep it positive.
These are some places to get some good support:Google if I got the
sites wrong (sorry). - PHP- Parents Helping Parents in Santa Clara,
great website with all kids of info. on all kinds of LDs, you can talk
to someone. www.php.org. - PEN- Parents Education Network same as
above but more education oriented. www.parentseducationnetwork.org.
It sounds like you and your son are already having excellent
conversations! I shall be interested in knowing how other parents
respond. My perspective is that of a retired special education teacher
and administrator, and as a doting grandparent of a little boy headed
for his own IEP. First of all, your son should know that his IEP is a
special plan for the way he learns, something all children deserve,
but he has a legal right to it. Everybody's brain works differently,
but he gets to have a program that acknowledges this.(I went into
special ed because it mandated that I teach to the individuality of
each learner. ) It will be very important for you and your son to
have ongoing conversations about what is working and what is not. I
suggest that you encourage your son to use toy figures to role play
what has happened each school day. And when IEP meetings come up, use
toy figures to role play all of the people who will
participate--including him--and how he would like the meeting to
go. Let the IEP participants know beforehand the IEP interactions you
and your son are roleplaying, and ask what else you might anticipate.
I just did a google and found nothing about helping children
understand their IEP! You are breaking ground. Best wishes! I look
forward, as I said, to others' responses, and I especially would
appreciate learning how things are going for you and your son.
My child will be starting kindergarten in BUSD and will need a
504 plan due to a physical disability that requires some
accommodations. I don't really know where to start and how to
actually obtain the 504 and then ensure that the accommodations
are in place...anyone who has been through the process -- can you
give me some info?
thanks so much...
Call the BUSD 504 Coordinator or go to the
1835 Allston Way. You will need to file a request for special education
start the process. After the assessment, BUSD will meet with you to
findings and determine what kind of plan is necessary for your student.
now will ensure that you have a plan in place before your student starts
After you receive the plan, I highly recommend that you provide a copy to
each of your
student's teachers, every year. I copy my daughter's plan on brightly
punched paper, and include a cover memo highlighting the most important
I'm not in the Berkeley district, but I can tell you what I did
for my child. I wasn't sure where to start, so I asked for an
IEP meeting from the special ed department in our district. It
was determined (after all of the evaluations)that my daughter
didn't qualify for an IEP, but she did qualify for a 504 plan.
It was pretty much the same people involved in both. I would
imagine that you could call the special ed office at BUSD and
ask for a 504 evaluaton. Chances are that they will require
your son to have an ''official'' diagnosis from whatever
professional he sees before they will consider a meeting.
Unfortunately, I have had 2 friends in Berkeley with children
who desperately need these services, and both were denied. One
family wasn't even given the evaluation. I have a feeling that
BUSD denies most people, and then you have to fight them. It
might help to send them documentation from any other
professionals or even to have one of them make the request for
you. Good luck.
Sorry my message is late, I am just catching up on reading some
newsletters as I am quite busy with my special needs child too,
although it's getting better, but NOT thanks to BUSD...You have
to be extremely proactive with BUSD, and I've found I've had to
pay for the needed services myself.
Our 7th grade son has had an IEP for dyslexia and
dysgraphia since first grade. Ths school evaluated him for
an upcoming IEP and they are recommending that he
be ''graduated'' to a 504 plan. This is since our son, who
is smart and a superhard worker, has done well in school-
gotten good grades, good STAR testing. Of course, he has
had tons of turoring and help from us in order to do well.
And since resource in the school was lacking and not a
good fit, our son did not get direct services this year. I
feel like it would be a loss to be moved to 504 from IEP.
Like he is being penalized for all his hard work and
sacrifice.Any one else have experience with this? What can
I do if the school refuses to keep him on an IEP- ask for
independant assessment at district's expense?
I would double-check your son's IEP, but if he has
dyslexia he probably falls under the category of ''specific
learning disability.'' This is one of the qualifying
conditions to receive special education services and as
such cannot be taken away unless the school can prove that
your son's diagnosis is no longer valid. One problem with
a 504 is that there is no funding attached. It is also a
different law (ADA) which provides fewer safeguards than
does IDEA. Good sources of info are wrightslaw.com and
also dredf.org. Good luck.
Basically, the 504 gives him all the accommodations he may have had
(reduced penalty for spelling mistakes, extra time on tests, etc), without the
help of a Resource or Special Ed aide or teacher. My son did not use his
Resource help for the last few years of his IEP, so he was graduated to a 504,
and he is very happy about that. He can still take advantage of those
accommodations if he wants to, or not. As he's in High School, we're letting
him make that choice. However, if you feel your son would benefit from
additional help from the school, fight to keep that IEP. It's more cost-
effective for them to have your son on a 504 plan, but if you feel he needs
more time, say so.
For information and to discuss options, call the Parent
Training & Informatin Center at Disability Rights Education
& Defense Fund (DREDF) in Berkeley (510-644-2555 /
www.dredf.org). Ask to speak with an Education Advocate. You
will be put on a first-come/first-served list for a call
back. -- The DREDF PTI serves Alameda, Contra Costa and Yolo
counties, part of a network funded in part by a grant from
the US Department of Education (DOE) Office of Special
Education Programs (OSEP) under the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to assist families of
school-age children with disabilities, and professionals who
work with students with disabilities, to answer these kinds
of questions and offer training. DREDF also provides
educational advocacy to foster families and foster youth
with disabilities under their Foster Youth Resources for
Education (FYRE) program. DREDF holds 30-minute IEP Clinics
the 1st Tuesday of every month between 10-2. You must call
to schedule an appointment. -- If you disagree with the
school district evaluation(s), you do have the right to ask
for ''an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public
expense.'' Your request must be in writing. The school
district must respond in writing to either grant you the
independent evaluation(s), or file for a Due Process Hearing
to prove to a state administrative law judge that the
district's evaluation was appropriate. Understand also that
any independent evaluations/reports you have paid for on
your own must be considered by your child's IEP team if you
bring them into the discussion. Bring with you anyone you
need to assist you in your advocacy efforts (tutors, etc.)
to speak to your son's needs so the IEP team has all the
information you feel they need to consider. Request that the
district's ''504 Coordinator'' attend your IEP meeting so you
can understand the ramifications and the type of support and
accommodations your son will need formalized in a ''504 Plan''
if you agree with an ''exit'' from special education. IDEA law
is more protective than Section 504, but having a disability
alone does not qualify a child for specialized instruction
under an IEP - eligibility is based upon an evaluation
process. Do not consent to an IEP you are not in agreement
with. It is a legally-binding document. The current IEP in
force allows your child to ''stay put'' until you and the
district can resolve differences. Alternatively, you can
sign to parts of the IEP you agree with and write a note on
the IEP stating what parts you object to and your
expectation the discussion will continue over those matters
with which you do not agree. All IEP decisions are made by
team consensus and you are a full member of the IEP team.
To the parent wondering about 504 vs. IEP, this is
something that is based on identified needs, arrived at by
testing and data, not a choice that one makes in the
abstract. It sounds like the school is trying to ''wean''
your son off services, maintaining that he doesn't really
need them anymore. If this is true, it must show in the
actual data. Have they retested him? His scores must
show that his disability is no longer aversely affecting
his academic progress. If he is doing so well acdemically,
because, as you claim, of all the additional services you
have provided him, then you need to make the case, that
without such support, he would be doing much worse. He
should not be penalized for working so hard. But realize
that he would receive accommodations with a 504.
Just not services. Outside assessments may not turn up
what you are seeking. But you should bring proof of all
the support he has been receiving. Share this with the
school psychologist. She/He needs to make the case that
your son needs the services in order to continue doing
well. Without the necessary services he will just slip
back down academically. That's your best bet.
My daughter, who is dyslexic, had a 504 starting her
freshman year at Berkeley High. She worked very hard to get
good grades and received a lot of tutoring. A year went by
and a different high school counselor decided that she
didn't need the 504 any longer and would not inform her
teachers that she needed more time to complete assignments,
even after I provided eigh years of supporting
documentation, showing a long history of intervention.
Although it wasn't stated clearly, I understood the reason
the school didn't want her to get help was because her
grades were good. I found out that a 504, unlike an IEP, is
based on the discretion of the school and can be taken away
without testing. I contacted the counselor, several vice
principals, etc and wrote many emails, with very few
responses. I offered to have her re-evaluated but was told
the school would do that by getting a counselor and VP
together, and talking to one or several of her teachers. I
cannot understand how dylexia can be evaluated in that
way. She took the PSAT without extra testing time. The SAT
testing board, once they looked over her documentation,
gave her extra testing time (which is not easy to get) and
her score was much higher for that test. Her teachers have
been very accomodating, otherwise it would have been a very
difficult year. I understand from the school's perspective
that they are careful that IEPs and 504s not be abused. But
is their method fair? It sounds like circular thinking--if
the learning disability is being helped, and the student is
doing well, take the help away and let the student do badly
so that there is proof that they still have the disability
so they can get help and do better so it can be taken
away... This kind of treatment can be a real setback for
someone who is already struggling with a learning
disability, especially one like dyslexia which cannot be
It is really hard to give advice here. But I will share
with you a couple of things I learned this year. We
transferred into Berkeley High and were denied an IEP
(funtioning too well in previous, albeit very small schools
with much support for every student, unlike what we knew
BHS would be like). We were given a 504 plan instead. We
were able to negotiate very generous accommodations, but
without a staff advocate for my child (the general academic
counselor, who is the one who supervises the 504 plan, was
over-worked and not trained in any LD issues), getting
teachers to comply was not so easy. What we learned was
that the school is restricted to giving IEPs to only 10% of
the entire student population without incurring penalties
from the state, which is of course unreasonable. Those who
need should get, numbers should not be the deciding
factor. However, what it would seem to mean is that once
you get rejected for an IEP designation or give it up, it
will be next to impossible to get it back even if the kid
is failing because the school will have granted their 10%
without your child. Just thought you should know. I had no
idea the school's hands were so tied.
There is no 10% ''quota'' of students who may be served under
the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) on an
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) per school, or per
school district. In fact, the U.S. average of children
served by IEPs runs about 13-14%, not by any set quota, but
based upon the average number of children in the U.S. with
such specialized needs. Determination of a child's
eligibility and provision of specialized instruction and
related services under an IEP is based upon disability and
comprehensive evaluation and multiple assessment measures.
There is no blanket percentage ''cut-off'' quota, after which
even students who would qualify for special education
services will be turned away, which is what the poster seems
to have been told. This is not consistent with IDEA and
civil rights anti-discrimination laws. Anyone hearing such a
statement might request, in writing, that the person saying
it put it in writing, and/or provide this particular
district or school ''policy.'' Civil rights concerns such as
this should certainly be brought to the attention of the
district administrative powers-that-be and oversight bodies
(hopefully this assertion did not originate there), and if
needed, the CA Department of Education (CDE) Office of
Procedural Safeguards and Referral Services (PSRS), CDE
Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) and Office for Civil
My son is 28 months old and diagnosed with ASD. He is mid - high
functioning, but is just beginning to use words. Although it hasnt
seem like I've had long to appreciate the pre 3 services he's had, I
am looking into being informed for his IEP in the fall. I asked the OT
about it today and she informed me that they will also do a transition
meeting..What I thought to myself, even 9 months away seemed soon! It
really stinks to be in an uninformed place after all the research I
did for pre 3..I really need to gain more knowledge about this process
and also would love advice as to a good parent advocate, if I should
get an independent developmental assessment etc. as I would have to
get on a list now to get in before his transition meeting in June. We
are in the Berkeley School District. I would really appreciate
hearing what others have done to prepare for this. I really don't want
my son to just be given whatever because I havent done the proper leg
Good for you for doing your research, at my first IEP I was given
whatever because I hadn't done the proper leg work ;)
There aren't a whole lot of options here in Berkeley, so my
advice is to just know your son and know what will work for him.
Here are some things for you to ponder:
1. What kind of classroom setting will work for him? You'll have
a choice of entirely special ed, mixed (some percentage) special
ed and head start kids or a ''full inclusion'' model where he's the
only, or one of the only special ed kids in a room full of
regular ed kids.
2. Depending on what kind of classroom placement you get, will he
need an aide?
3. What other services does he need? Speech therapy? Does he have
sensory issues? Does he have physical issues? If so, should he
see the therapist 1:1 or in a group?
4. Do you want a home program in addition to his classroom? Are
you doing ABA? Do you have an agency you want to work with?
Lots of questions, I know, but just some things to keep in mind.
Feel free to contact me directly if you want.
Anyone out there who has gone through an IEP with Oakland? Our
child really needs help with stimming and other social skills
(he is probably high functioning autism/asperger's - and will
be starting Kindergarten in the fall), but they are saying they
don't do this sort of thing, but this will interrupt his and
classmates' ability to learn. He received these services in
another state last year. Anyone have luck getting this type of
therapy through the district?
Would also love to talk to someone who could help us with the
IEP language and goals. Any suggestions for novice or
professionals on this front would be great.
Call the OUSD Diagnostic Center at 879-3070 and request an
evaluation. Mention your concerns about stimming, socialization,
I am sorry you are already getting the run around from the OUSD and your
not even started Kindergarten.
Perhaps the District is telling you this since your child is not yet
enrolled. Not sure.
However, you can request that your child be assessed by the school
district by a
psychologists and an Occupational Therapist. The psychologist could
child with Aspergers if warranted since you suspect it and an OT can
Another alternative is to have your child assessed privately or through
Center of the East Bay (510) 383-1200. You can also check out their
Based on what you said, an occupational therapist sounds like what you
therapist can address the stimming issues and provide you with strategies
help curb the stimming or at least reduce it so that your child can learn.
therapist would write goals for and consult with the classroom teacher.
There are many pediatric OT's in the area. Also, you can pick up this
book at Nolo
Press in Berkeley, A Parents Guide to an IEP.
Hi my Asperger son has been in the OUSD system since age 3.5 yrs so I have
familiarity with the system. It sounds like you want to send your child
to your local
school in a general ed Kindergarten (with support) which should be
possible. Is this
what you want? What has the district offered as a placement?
I ended up sending my son to an integrated Kindergarten at Tilden
then to the inclusion program at Carl B Munck (where he is currently in
The thing is that Munck is our neighborhood school anyway. I think it is
considered a valid position to want your child to attend your local school
district would prefer to group kids at schools so there is more support
available. I suspect you will get many responses to your post.
I've cut this message to the bone to make the 2000 char limit.
OUSD relevant website resources (not much) are at
Brief summary of the process:
1. You request an assessment, through the assessment team at
Programs for Exceptional Children - call 879.3070 to ask for a
2. The assessment intake person will do a phone screening with
you to hear what's going on.
3. Assuming that they agree there are issues - and it does help
to have a referral from a doctor, a preschool teacher, or
someone else - they will schedule a meeting with you for more
detail to figure out what kind of testing to do. You have to
sign to test permission form in order for them to do anything.
4. They test your child in the areas agreed.
5. They set up an IEP meeting to review the test results with
you. Based on the results, they will recommend a school
placement and course of action. It may be your local school
with support, or it may be a specialized placement depending on
what they think your child needs to be able to learn the
Confusing? Sure. Horrible? No. Once you learn the process, it's
no worse than open enrollment when you want to change health
Please come to the Oakland CAC meetings. The Community Advisory
Council is the Oakland Unified's special ed parent group. There
you will have direct access to staff, including the Director,
from the special ed dept. You will also meet many parents from
the district who have become proficient in advocating for their
It's held the 1st Monday of every month at 314 E 10th St. from
7 to 9pm. You can also join the CAC mailing list by emailing
OUSD is required to assess your child within 60 days of a
written request. It looks like you have an excellent case for
an OT assessment for possible sensory integration issues that
will impact your child's ability to learn based on his
stimming. If Oakland does not honor your request for an
assessment it becomes a due process issue. For more
information, you can contact parent advocacy groups like the
Community Advisory Council (firstname.lastname@example.org) which meets
with the director of spec. ed. the first Monday of every month,
DREDF(www.dredf.org) or the Family Resource Network
(http://www.frnoakland.org). Good luck!
We have been through the IEP process with the OUSD--it's an
uphill battle. Please don't give up, document everything, follow
up phone conversations with e-mails (so you have it in writing).
I can't speak to your specific issues, but for the IEP process
here are two great resources: (book) ''Nolo's IEP Guide: Learning
Disabilities'', and (online) www.pai-ca.org--look for their
''Special Education Rights and Responsibilities (SERR)'' manual. If
your child qualifies for an IEP or a 504 plan, the kinds of
services provided should match the needs of the child. Good luck!
Our 5-year-old son has gross and fine motor skill delays. He has
been receiving OT and speech through our school district. In
addition, he attends the district's special day preschool 2
days/week, and a mainstream preschool 3 days/wk. Last week we
held an IEP meeting to discuss kindergarten. The district seems
to have 2 possible options - 1)mainstream him in a regular
kindergarten, with no accommodation for his motor skill problems,
or 2) keep him in special ed, and try to mainstream him over the
course of the year. Neither seem like good options to us - he
needs something in between. What do other district do/offer, or
how do I find out? I have no idea what is really out there, but
I do know that our district is not great at innovative solutions! Also, is there some kind of a forum like BPN for parents of
special needs kids? Thanks!
You don't say what district your child is in, so it's difficult
to answer your questions appropriately.
There is a solution in Oakland for kids with speech/language
issues, and if the child also needs OT for fine motor delays, he
will receive it on a ''pull out'' basis.
Perhaps the district is considering that kindergarten is not
really a time of intense fine motor work. There's writing, and
art, and fine motor play. But it may be that they think your
child will do well socially and will be motivated to work himself
on his fine motor projects.
If he's not very motivated in this area, you need to press on the
issue and request additional OT, if that's what you think he
needs. I'd be more concerned about whether he needs support in
the speech area myself; depending on your district and school,
kindergarten can be a highly verbal year. You don't want him to
get frustrated because he doesn't understand what's expected of
him and everyone else ''gets it''. That's where behavior starts to
crop up as a problem.
Go back to the IEP table and ask for additional services if
that's what you want. If he's more capable than the most capable
child in the special day class, you will not want to place him
there. Most important - visit each class so you can observe, take
notes and visualize how you think he would fit in.
hope that's a little help.
It isn't legal for the district to refuse needed support services
if your child is in a regular classroom. The law regulating
special education states that a child should be in the ''least
restrictive environment'' that meets his needs. Our child is in
special ed in BUSD and, like most special ed elementary school
students in this district, is in a regular classroom with
supports. Different districts have different programs available,
but if your child can function well in a regular classroom but
needs therapy services, the district can't deny you that option.
You can contact Disability Rights Education Foundation (DREDF)
for help with IEPs, they're in the phonebook. A yahoo group you
might want to look into is specialneedsnetwork. Good luck to you!
Our third grade son was evaluated by his public school (at our request)
is a struggling reader and seems to need more time than his peers to
tasks and formulate responses. The assessments found that he is
and found only one area of concern (involving visual memory), which is
his learning to read. There was a drastic difference in this score and
The upshot is that the school says that he does not qualify for
pull-out help, for example), because he ''tested too high'' and is
still at grade level
Is this the case? He feels very bad about himself as a learner, is
struggling to read,
and is not making much progress. There is an on-site reading
specialist, but he
does not qualify to see her. I am not sure what his rights are, or how
to even find
Any insights welcome!
I understand your frustration -- my very bright son was in a
similar situation with very high test scores despite a
disability that was seriously affecting his ability to write.
From talking to teachers, this happens A LOT in this district.
I'm sure it's a financial issue -- there are so many kids that
need help that the district can't afford to help them. We were
able to get him services through a combination of things -- he
had a teacher who really went to bat for him, and we had him
independently evaluated and were able to bring in an outside
neuropsychological evaluation that held some weight. Another
parent I know went over the head of the principal and school
psychologist and involved someone at the district level in her
IEP meetings. Don't give up -- if you think your son needs
help, he probably does, regardless of how well he is doing in
other areas. It really is a case of the squeaky wheel, and it's
unfortunate that many kids don't have someone to be a strong
advocate for them. Good Luck!
WCCUSD IEP Mom
Has anyone had experience with an IEP when their child has
issues that cross many categories but doesn't really qualify
under one particular category (i.e. speech, emotional
My son is in kindergarten. He has ADHD and speech delays and
currently has an aide. His school is in the process of
assessing him & it looks like the category that most clearly
fits him (by the school's rules) is ''emotional disturbance''.
This shocks me since in all our years of doctors & assessments
this has never been mentioned. But, looking at the schools
definition of ''emotional disturbance'' he does seem to qualify.
I guess I'm wondering if there are any issues with having him
qualify for resources based on the category of ''emotional
disturbance''. With all his other issues I never saw these
behaviors as a problem, I thought they were just a result of
him being immature & hopefully would eventually resolve
themselves - it's a shock to learn differently.
I've always been comfortable with him qualifying for an IEP
under speech & just want to understand if anything changes or
gets limited by us changing categories. The problem really is
that althought it's acknowledged that he has serious issues &
needs support no one has been able to successfully determine a
solution for all his issues.
Thanks for the help.
Upset & Confused
I don't live where you live, but I do live with a special education
teacher, and from what I understand you should be looking at the
additional resources that are available to you under that
classification. I know it is difficult to think of your child having an
''emotional disturbance'' but so much of these labels are based on
somewhat gross generalizations. Having this label attached to your kid
is not going to change your relationship to him or his behavior, but it
may give you access to more support that he might actually need like
behavior therapy to help him find ways moderate his actions in a
positive way. I would ask your teacher what the benefits are of
switching his IEP and what the costs are, and then make a decision. You
are in charge, ultimately, so if it really doesn't sit well with you,
demand that he not be changed over to that grouping. Also, see if you
can connect with any other parents in your school/district to get advice
on resource follow through.
just a thought
The short answer is that a child who qualifies should receive
intervention in all areas of need, though qualifying for speech alone
probably has the most limitations. The school may be considering mental
health services from the county in its recommendation for ED. Your
situation sounds too complicated to answer here in a general way -
please feel free to contact me with more information and we can talk
about what your child's options might be.
Negotiating the Maze
Special Education Advocacy, Research, Support www.negotiatingthemaze.org
1) What school district are you?
2)I don't know if there is a downside, other than not receiving
services. If you need/want psych services as part of the IEP services,
then I think SED is a good fit. We were in the same boat that you were
at the end of kindergarten, and the team wavered between SED and OHI.
They ended up going with OHI (Other Health Impaired) which is so vague
that is could cover anything.
Have a look at the rewrite of the Oakland forms if you are in Oakland;
they were revised last summer, and there is explanatory material.
(I searched ''serious emotional disturbance iep services oakland''
to find that one. No quotes when you do the search, though.)
Remember that your child is so young that it may be hard for anyone to
diagnose authoritatively. Our son went from PDD-NOS to NVLD over the
course of 4 years as therapies helped and he aged and grew into his
brain and body. You may have one handicapping condition this year and a
new one at the next triannual.
So if you want the psych services, be open to it. But as I have
said: I don't know if there is a downside. Let's see if there is another
answer out there in BPN land.
I used to work with kids with special needs in a Bay Area school
district -- consider hiring an advocate. Sure, it's not cheap, but it's
been my experience that the district will give you more of what you want
when you have outside help on your side. It doesn't have to be
confrontational... ask around for good advocates.
Hi! My understanding that as a teacher and parent of two special ed kids
is that they have to qualify for one of the 13 categories in order to
have an IEP and receive services. It sounds like the school is trying to
help you keep the services you have, which is good. I played up my
youngest son's issues in order to receive the services he desperately
needed, as he was borderline and would have been an easy target to deny.
It feels totally unnatural as a parent, but yields the result you want
in the end.
ADHD alone generally only means a Sec. 504, but not special ed, and
therefore, no IEP.
Emotionally Disturbed is such a charged category, that unless your child
really fits that medical (not school) profile, avoid it. It depends on
your school district, but there's a tendency to segregate such children
into a special day classroom rather than providing support to learn in a
A child can qualify under multiple categories as well as OHI --
Otherwise Health Impaired. It would be very helpful to consult a
special education advocate who understands the process.
At this point, the smart thing to do is to get your child a private,
professional neuropsych evaluation. It is money will spent to
understand exactly what his disabilities are, how they mask his
intelligence, and a roadmap for helping him grow.
Children don't grow out of behavior; they learn with the help of parents
& teachers, and when needed, therapists.
-- Been There
My kid does not have ADHD, so I can't help with specific advice, but
this website might be of interest and help:
You could also sign up for the specialneedsnetwork[at]yahoogroups, and post
I have a son who had an IEP with no clear cut 'diagnosis' but issues
that went across the spectrum. I would be careful about relying on the
school's testing and assessment as much as you are. If you haven't I
would highly recommend getting a private neuropsych assessment done. It
will cost you $3,500 but if you go to the right person it will be the
best money you ever spent. Make sure they are a true neuropsych like
Kristin Gross or Carina Grandison in Oakland. You will have all the
answers you need including what he needs from his IEP.
I teach at a non-public school for children with special needs. I know
the term emotional disturbance is very unsavory and some may feel a
stigma attached to it.
However, do not despair! I have several points to make: 1. Emotional
(ED) is an educational term and not from the DSM-IV, the manual which
psychiatrists use. 2. It is not necessarily a permanent label. I have
had students whose ''qualifying condition'' for special education has
changed even if the services haven't. 3. the most important thing is
getting the right services for your son and support for your family. The
ED label may get you more intensive services which may be what is needed
at this time. Honestly, I do not think of my students as their labels
but as the individuals they are. A good program and teacher will too.
4. Finally as a parent of a student in special education you have alot
Contact CASE, an advocacy group to educate yourself and get support at
future IEPs and with services and placement decisions. I hope this
a Special Ed teacher
Obviously each diagnosis carries with it a certain bias toward certain
kinds of support and away from others. For instance, a child with a
physical disability wouldn't be offered speech therapy if his/her speech
were unaffected. But in principle, the IEP is just that: an
INDIVIDUALIZED education plan, which thus offers your child whatever
services are required to meet the goals set in the IEP, regardless of
which box is checked as the qualifying diagnosis. The only thing I'd
say about a speech qualification is that it is contingent on the opinon
of speech therapists who may, in theory, one day decide your child no
longer needs services. Other diagnoses, such as autism, are life-long
diagnoses, so there's no danger of the special ed designation being
pulled by the district. The labels are always disturbing at first, but
I learned pretty fast that they are fairly irrelevent, since no child is
a textbook case of anything. I no longer see my child's label as a
curse, but rather as a means to an end: by accepting the label, I
entitle my child to the help and support he needs to be successful in
school. I have no interest in showing the district all the ways my son
does not conform to the symptoms of his label--I see it as a tool that
helps, rather than hurts us. As for the label affecting his social
situation or how he is treated by the teacher, my feeling has been that
people were going to know my child was different whether he came with a
label or not, so there wasn't much harm in putting a name on how he was
different, esp. because teachers are often too overworked to even read
IEP's (not that that's a good thing), and no one else--not other
students or other teachers--is allowed to see anything about your child
or his or her diagnosis. I guess I'm saying that I wouldn't worry so
much about whether or not your child really looks like the ''typical''
version of any particular label, but rather ask yourself what will get
your child the most support and services that he/she needs for the
period of time you think he'll need it. By the way, among my friends
with children with special needs, the common opinion is that the label
you want least is actually that of ADHD, since it's probably the one the
teacher has heard of, and about which the teacher probably already has a
bunch of preconceived notions, which affects how he/she approaches and
deals with your child. I've yet to meet a teacher who knew the first
thing about Aspergers, for instance, so seeing that on an IEP doesn't
really prejudice them, since they have no idea what it looks like.
Also, it's not that easy to get an IEP for ADHD--you are often offered
the accomodation route instead (I think it's called a 504). Good luck!
I have lots of IEP experience but no answer for your specific question.
I just wanted to write in case nobody else on BPN
knows- and even if you do get other answers, I wouldn't trust most
internet posters for accuracy on such a vital question for your son's
Maybe you could get a legal advocate, or even consult with an attorney
about this question. Also, you can learn a lot at wrightslaw.org or
maybe call Protection and Advocacy (PAI) 510-267-1200 good luck
I've been advised that I should advocate for an IEP (individual
education plan) for my fifth grader, who has been out of school
for more than three weeks now with psychiatric issues. She is
currently doing independent study using work from her teacher
Has anyone from BPN gone through the process of getting an IEP
for mental health issues? I'm particularly interested in
knowing how long the process might take. We're near the end of
March now, and come June, she'll be done with her school for
good(they stop at fifth grade). We might get the IEP too late
to really do anything at this current school, if it takes a
while to get.
I don't have experience with this exact issue but I do have
experience with IEP's. It seems to me you should be forming
now the IEP team she will have at her new school, in 6th
grade. I recommend meeting with the program specialist &
psychologist soon before this school term ends. They will need
to review her reports and with you, formulate her plan. I
assume you would have her personal psychiatrist involved in
those meetings as well. Depending on her issues, it might be
nice for her to start touring the school, meeting some of her
teachers, or what not. If you wait until next fall you may not
be able to meet until October, then changes don't get
implemented until November, and you've lost 2 or 3 months.
Plus I think if is possible her problems may flare up during
school hours, there needs to be some teacher education about
her issues and also a specific plan for what to do when this
happens. Good luck, stay aggressive in advocating for your
daughter. You have the legal right to have an enviroment for
her that works.
You can definitely get an IEP for a child based on
emotional/psychiatric issues. Many districts have classes for
children who are SED/ED (severely emotionally disturbed or
Emotionally Disturbed. What you need to do is write a formal
letter asking that your daughter be assessed. If she has a
diagnosis from a pyschiatrist I would also include this
information in the letter as well. Tell them you are concerned
that she is missing school due to these issues and that you
would like her to be evaluated for special education services.
This is a good site to reference and you can call them for help
as well. http://www.pai-ca.org/pubs/Index.htm
I saw your post on the IEP process and I am SPED teacher at a
school that deals with Emotionally Disturbed students of all
ages. Although I primarily work with the middle and high
schoolers. As far as the timing of the IEP process, if you have
not had any prior assessments done (usually by the
school/district) then it could be somewhat lengthy. However,
the process is supposed to be as quick as possible legally and
you can push for immediacy. With most distrcits, ou get what
you ask for and I recommend asking for everything you think
would help your child. First of all, based on the info you
gave, it sound like your child may be eligible for placement in
a therapeutically intesive school setting such as a non public
school (an NPS) as opposed to being secluded at home with no
direct educational teaching forma teacher. MY recommendation is
to intervene as early as possible so that your fifth grader can
get the services and the help that he/she needs to get back to
his/her life in a mainstream public school environment.
Additionally, as far as your concern about the end of the
academic year coming to a close quite quickly, you might
consider that should your child be eligble for a NPS placement,
most of them are year round schools and your child could be
getting individual. group and art therapy during the summer as
Both my chidren have had problems attending school, they
have 504 plans, the next step would be a IEP. It depends on
how severe your problem is and how long your child will be out
of school. The IEP is a more formal process. For instance if
your child may be able to attend school for long periods and be
out of school for for only weeks at a time, I recommend the 504
plan as being more flexible. The IEP is, in my opinion, for
long term issues of High frequency. When you ask for an IEP do
it in writing. The school is obligated to reply to your
request in two weeks to a month after evaluation and a plan
must be put in place. Schools do not like the IEP due to the
restrictive nature and the councilers may try to persuade you
that this is not the way to go. That could be possible but
check out all the options. I always opted for the 504 plan over
the IEP. I heald the IEP as an incentive for the teaching
staff to comply with whatever program we had in place.
The Curves Lady
I was told by my son's Pediatrician that I need to get my son
an IEP pronto. I am looking for help in creating and tracking
of same. Does anyone know if there is software or an
interactive website that would be beneficial?
The best book I've seen on this - esp. for the first-time IEP
writer - is Lawrence Siegel's book ''The Complete IEP Guide''
which was last updated I believe in March 2001. I used this
before my 1st IEP and have used it for reference since. It's a
great workbook approach and has a ton of sample letters,
documents etc. for correspondence - all very useful. It's a Nolo
press book, so you can check at their outlet and other stores;
it's also carried at major chains and Amazon.
And we got precisely what we needed at the IEP, so I think the
track record supports the book.
Besides the Nolo Press book already recommended (''The Complete
IEP Guide''), you might give FRN (Family Resource Network 510-547-
7322) a call. They have a newsletter and workshops on IEPs from
time to time. Good luck.
Many IEPs Later
An excellent source of information about IEPs can be found at a
website called Wrightslaw.com. They have publications for sale
about special education issues and send out an online newsletter
every couple weeks with updates about seminars, training classes,
etc. They have a book titled, ''Special Education Law: from
Emotion to Advocacy'', that was extremely useful. Another source
of information here in Berkeley is a group called
DREDF(Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund). They put on
training seminars and can provide one-on-one assistance with
preparing for IEPs etc. They are very busy so don't expect a
call back the next day. Hang in there. Don't be afraid to
insist on what your child needs.
Is this an oxymoron, or can an IEP be established for a student
in a private school as a way to obtain government-funded
services for the child in-school or out? Who does one go to?
What is the impact on the child's academic record?
Every school-aged child in California is entitled to an IEP,
whether in public or private school. However, you should be
aware that the district will most likely require that testing
happen during school hours, at their location, not your child's,
and that any services provided also happen during school hours,
at their location. In our district (Piedmont), the testing team
kept in contact with the private school teacher (who had asked
for the assessment), and would have included her in the IEP
meeting had our daughter qualified for services. Even though
she didn't qualify, it was worth having gone through the
process, because we brought her back to public school in middle
school and they already had a record of her academic issues.
Every child should have a right to an IEP, and it's been
decentralized, so you could start with the principal of the
local school that your child would go to if he or she were not
in a private school. If that doesn't work, I would suggest
calling the school district and seeing if they can point you in
the right direction.
My understanding is that local school districts are more or
less required to offer testing and other assessment of kids
with learning differences, but that they get to decide whether
and to what extent they will offer IEP assistance and other
assistance for kids with learning differences. In
Oakland, the school system apparently will test but not offer
actual assistance and support beyond testing. This is a very
sore point for my family and in the community of the independent
school our son attends because we do pay taxes to support the
public school system but have no access to the public services we
need to address our son's learning differences. It is a real
strain on many families to pay directly for the support
services needed for kids with learning differences. My
understanding is that there is a substantial wait time in many
districts to get access to testing and services. Our impression
of Oakland was that you essentially need to imply you are putting
your child in the Oakland public schools in order to get access
even to testing. Good luck! Maybe you are in a city that is
more open with its public services for kids with learning
I am a teacher in a public school and I understand that you are
eligible to seek services through the public school district
that your child would go to had you not opted to send him/her to
a private one. I would call the district office for your area
and get in touch with the Special Services department.
In order to have an IEP, you would have to contact the school
nearest your home or your school district special education
department and write a letter requesting a special education
assessment to see if your child qualifies for services. If
he/she does, then they would have to go to the nearest public
school to recieve the service. To my knowledge, they do not
provide service at private schools.
Just a few more thoughts to add: put everything in writing,
definitely your request for an IEP once you find the correct
contact. You will have to prove that your public district cannot
properly serve your child's needs; start gathering as much
information, in writing, as you can about her/his issues and
needs to support that. You could also contact the Family
Resource Network (510-547-7322) and Nolo Press for some
pamphlets or books about the IEP process. Good luck to you in
this arduous process!!
Private schools have no duty to accomodate students--an IEP in a
private school is indeed an oxymoron. Some private schools will
do informal accomodations, which you would work out through
teacher(s) or the principal, or both. Some are very good at this.
Some won't do it at all.
There are certainly specialized private schools who take public
school students with IEP's, but that is because they contract
with public schools and are essentially ''in the business'' of
supplying services to them. Usually these schools have nothing
BUT referred public school students, who are generally severely
disabled. These students, however, start out through the public
In some states, IEPs are written for gifted children as well as
for children with disabilities. It doesn't seem to be standard
practice in California, however. Has any of you done this, or
investigated it, as a means of getting a more appropriate
education for a gifted child. If so, what happened? What did
Parent of very bored, good kid
You're right, there is no mandate for gifted IEPs in California.
Districts decide individually whether to take money for gifted
education at all and how to use it. Though it is supposed to
serve gifted kids in a different way than non-gifted kids, it
doesn't always operate that way, because there's an attitude
that addressing gifted kids' needs is somehow elitist or
undemocratic. Unless you find a class or school that serves
gifted kids specifically (I think there's at least one in LA or
San Diego), you can forget your kid being served by the public
school system in any systematic way. You may occasionally find a
teacher willing to work with you, but who may still need
educating; in that case, I recommend Susan Winebrenner's
Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom. The rest is up to
you to find outside of school - Stanford's EPGY program,
Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth (though I think they've
changed the name), Berkeley's ATDP - all very expensive, though
there are scholarships. We moved from a place with a very good
gifted pull-out class where most kids were pretty anti-
intellectual to one where learning is respected, so our
experience with public school is to live where your kid will go
to school with other kids who want to learn and will challenge,
support, and compete with your kid.
Last year our son was totally bored in kindergarten. He had
started public school after two years in Montessori preschool
and was reading at a 5th grade level, doing simple
multiplication, playing tournament chess and asking his dad to
explain WWII. Not your typical public school kindergartener. We
wanted to skip him to 2nd grade and opened a can of worms,
starting the IEP process. The teacher and principal were very
supportive. Academics-wise, the conclusion was that he could
easily go into 2nd grade. A psychologist assessed his behavior
on the playground and suggested he enter 1st grade. Result: he
is now terminally bored in 1st grade, won't do his homework and
his teacher recommends we get him out of public school and into
the best private school we can find. Even if a child is ''gifted''
in the lower grades, there really isn't much the teacher can do
to vary the lesson among 20+ kids. He is doing SRA reading and
math at his own pace, but that's about it. Don't know if this
helps shed some light on your situation. Good luck getting a
good education for your child. I guess I would just say be
In the Berkely Unified School District, you can request a Student
Study Team review of your child's needs. Most people think of
SST as only being for ''problem kids'' but they should serve all
parents/teachers/students needing support. SST includes the
child's teacher and sometimes past teacher, a teacher from a
higher grade, someone from Special Ed., and anyone else can be
invited who may have input (GATE teacher, psychologist, etc.) The
goal is to brainstorm ideas that will better help the child
succeed. Some things to think about: time in a higher grade for a
subject area the child excells in, like math; grade accelleration
(consider lots of testing before going here) outside
activities/support, etc. Ask how GATE is administered in your
school. You can reqest an accounting of how differentiated
instruction is being applied to your child if he/she is in the
GATE program (GATE in Berekely begins in 4th grade.) Follow-up
SSTs will also be scheduled to see how things are working out. Be
aware that some schools have SSTs every week, but they are often
booked months in advance and other schools only schedule on an
as-needed basis. SSTs are more problem-solving and do not have
the binding capacity of IEP
IEP's are for students who are in Special Education. Being GATE
doesn't qualify as Special Ed. I doubt that your friends'
children really have IEPs since Federal laws about serving
students with special needs are what determine who qualifies as
special ed. The students you know may have a 504 plan in place.
These are individualized plans for students who have needs that
don't qualify for Special Ed. Usually these are for kids who
have needs, but can still function in a regular classroom but
need modifications. (Students with ADD, ODD, low vision,
I haven't heard of these for students who are GATE though. Plus,
I don't think that 504 or an IEP can really address your
child's issue. If the teacher is boring, there isn't a whole lot
that the plan for your child can do about it. The teacher would
probably just give her extra work to do or tell her to bring a
book to class and read once the regular class work is completed.
(In the teacher's defence, if your child is in an average
heterogeneous classroom here in the bay area, chances are there
are 35 kids in the room and at least 4 of them are functionally
illiterate, and one third to half the class is below grade
level. Add to that kids with behavior problems, and then the
regular work that goes into the job - preparing lessons from the
text, creating new lessons, making photocopies, grading,
decorating classrooms, organizing/cleaning a classroom, meeting
with parents, involvement in extra curricular activities,
etc. ... well kids who are smart and capable of doing the work
and bored are probably not the highest priority. That is not to
say that your child doesn't have needs that should be met, just
that the demands on that teacher are overwhelming and so not
every child's personal needs can be met.)
Has your child been tested and designated GATE? If so then the
school is receiving money from the state to provide enrichment,
and you should ask the school what that is. At some schools it
is special feild trips, or books that can be checked out, or a
classroom computer, at others it is a separate class. What ever
it is, they need to provide services to the students for whom
they receive funds. Usually there is a committee at the school
that involves parents of GATE kids to determine how that money
should be spent also, get involved in it so that it is being
spent in a way that will benefit the kids most.
I am wondering if other parents in the Oakland Public Schools have
suggestions for how to gain compliance with a 504 plan. I have a third
grader who has been diagnosed with a mild learning disability called
dysgraphia. We had a meeting with the school (his teacher, the resource
specialist, the principal and the occupational therapist) and came up with
a plan back in December. Part of the plan was for the child to receive OT
through the district which he is, but other parts of the plan are not being
met. What is the procedure for gaining compliance? I've talked briefly with
the Resource Specialist, and she seemed surprised that it wasn't getting
taken more seriously.
Does anyone know of a good approach to take?
I hate to say it, but after working in several school districts as a support
professional, I know that the ''squeaky wheel'' gets the grease. The biggest
fear that a school district has is having to go to court over a
non-compliance issue. First of all, they know that they will lose; secondly,
it costs the district more to even PREPARE to go to court than it does to
appease a parent who is trying to enforce their child's IEP plan. You don't
have to be ugly about it, but just letting them know that court is not your
first choice in order to get things implemented will get your message across
loud and clear -- good luck!
We just met with the representatives from the Oakland school district
to get the results of my 11 year old daughter's IEP testing. We were
told that she does not qualify for services, although her test scores
range from 3% to 55% with most below 25%. They don't see the "point
spread" that would qualify her for services as a learning disabled
student. They offered to do assessment to qualify her for services as a
Severely Emotionally Disturbed child, which would qualify her for
counseling as well as educational support. They said it was an
educational diagnosis, not a psychological one. Understandably, we do
not want to go this route, because it is not true in her case and we do
not want her to be stigmatized this way. She does have social
problems with other kids because she does not read social cues, which
we feel is part of her nonverbal learning disability, and she does get
frustrated and angry when dealing with homework, but she is not
severely emotionally disturbed. Her teacher, who also attended the
meeting, afterward said to us, "This is bull...." She is in a private
school now, which is really hurting us financially, but to receive any
services from the district, she would have to transfer to a public
middle school. With all the learning and social problems she has, I am
very dubious about her ability to adjust and cope in a large, public
school. We are in the process of deciding on our response and course of
action. We have an appointment with CASE, an advocacy organization for
special ed., we are contacting the psychologist who led her social
skills group, and the tutor she has been working with for the last two
months. Does anyone have any other ideas or successful strategies they
have used with the school district?
There is a company called "The Regional Center of the East Bay" located
in Oakland on Hegenberger Rd. This center is devoted to helping people
who have disabilities ranging from ADHD to extreme behavior disorders or
physically challenging disabilities. Call them and tell them of your
daughter's diagnosis and see if she qualifies to have a case worker
assigned to her from their company. They have a trememdous amount of
resources available and are even able to pay for services (if you
qualify). They work in tandem with the school district and your case
worker should then be able to coordinate services for your child.
As I'm sure you have already noticed, you must do a great deal of
advocating for your child. The services are available but you must seek
them out even when you are dealing with someone who is supposedly
providing the service to you. You can e-mail me personally if you have
further questions, I work at a center for people with disabilities and
can hopefully help you find some shortcuts in the system.
Mike and Linda
In response to the parents who were having difficulty securing
services for their child, please contact the Learning Disabilities
Association, located in San Leandro, California. They can most
likely hook you up with the support you might be seeking. In
addition, you might want to ask them about how to join their
organization and can visit their website as well at
i have a son in berkeley unified who recieves special ed assistance.
he is learning disabled, but has another (very real) diagnosis as
well, and we've been able to get him what he needs because of that
other diagnosis. it's an absolute disgrace that parents so often
have to fight for what is rightfully theirs, but at times we do.
CASE is a great resourse. another might be dr. brad berman. he's
been very helpful to our son as far as treatment, as he's been a
tremendous support to me as i've worked my way through the various
challenges that present themselves to me. he's a
developmental/behavioral pediatrician, previously associated with
children's hospital, currently in private practice in walnut creek -
925-279-3480. he attended our kindergarten iep and was impressive as
hell. not a guy most school personnel want to take on. hope he can
The Regional Center of the East Bay was recommended for assistance
with obtaining special education services, but regional centers only
serve people with developmental disabilities, such as mental
retardation, cerebral palsy, and autism. (A system of private
nonprofit regional centers serves the whole state of California, in
case anyone outsisde the East Bay is interested.)
I recommend contacting a special education lawyer. There are several
in the area, because they are so badly needed. One of the best is
Sarah Clarke, who has an office in San Francisco.
Do not allow your daughter to be put in the SED program (severely
emotionally disturbed). I had a grandson who we put into that
program simply because we thought it would give him better assistance
as the classes are very small and since he had come from a group home
prior to living with us they could use that to get him to qualify
even though they said he was not SED. Once labeled SED it is on
their record for all the rest of school. They are sent to special
schools which cost the district $120.00 per day and they do nothing
but simply baby sit these students who are SED and can't make it in
regular classes. We did home schooling with him in which they
reviewed the work and gave him his grades. They did nothing. Our
grandson also does not get social cues - his problem is from auto-ped
brain injury accident. Did your therapist/counselor seem to have any
success in the area of teaching them any social cues. If so would
you please let me know specifically who it is so I might contact
them. I realize that a private school is very expensive in some
cases. We subsequently put our grandson in a private school which
has full day classes as well as a home school program which they
supervise etc. The full day school runs around $350.00 per month I
believe, and the home school (where they go two days a week) is about
half of that. They each work at their own speed and the classroom
setting is very quiet which really seemed to help. The teachers are
very caring to children with special problems.
Thank you to all who responded to my request for advice on Special Ed
and the SED label. We have been following up on all the leads, but
are still stymied. CASE has told us we do not have a case with the
school district based on learning disabilities, Although her
deficits are significant, they do not meet the state standard for
services. According to CASE, our only avenue for services would be a
504 plan, which I am sure would not provide her enough assistance to
cope in a public middle school. We meet next week with the district
about the SED qualification, which we still do not want, nor does it
seem to come with appropriate services. Most schools now have the
learning specialists go into the class rooms, but because of her ADHD
she is very distractible and needs to be in a quieter setting,
especially when acquiring new information. Only one middle school in
our area of Oakland has the pull out classes she needs, and that is
Edna Brewer. We are very leery of sending her there, but wanted to
know if anyone has any information about the school. We will
probably have to keep her in the private school she currently attends
and borrow against our retirement to get her the counseling and
supplemental tutoring she requires. One person mentioned sending a
grandchild to a private day school that also has a home school
component. I would be very interested in knowing which school that
is and where it is.
This is for the person who said CASE advised her that her daughter
would not qualify for special ed. Although CASE does great things for
many parents with special ed issues with school districts, in my
personal experience I have found them to be quite conservative and
unnecessarily pesimistic. They told me I did not have a chance of
winning a dispute with my school district, but I went ahead with a
due process hearing and won everything I asked for. I think that two
organizations that take a more assertive approach are Parents Helping
Parents (the San Jose office) and Protection and Advocacy, Inc. in
Oakland (PAI generally only helps developmentally delayed clients,
but they have *great* literature that anyone can buy about special ed
rights). So don't give up yet- contact these two organizations. You
also might try Family Resource Network at Bananas in Oakland.
Finally, you can get *a lot* under section 504. I recently attended a
seminar put on by the San Jose Parents Helping Parents on section 504
(I forget the speaker's name), but he told us all kinds of things you
can get under that statute. He has a website and answers questions
from parents. Call them to get his name. Good luck.
The private school which also has a home schooling program is Calvary
Christian Center, 4892 San Pablo Dam Road, El Sobrante, Calif.,
510-222-1700. Each child works at their own speed. Each subject has
workbooks which are at the appropriate level for the student (which
has been determined by testing). If the child is behind their grade
level in any subject they are given the workbooks which go back and
fill in any gaps they might have and bring them up to appropriate
grade level. The classes are small and QUIET which many students
need in order to concentrate and do their best. My other grandson
is attending this year as a full time student (he was a home
schooling student at first) and he lives in Vallejo and commutes as
do many of the other students. He was near failing at the middle
school in Vallejo but since he has transferred to this school is
making A's and B's and just loves the school. His sister is
insisting that she be allowed to go there next year as she does not
want to go to the middle school in Vallejo. We have seen this
grandchild's self-esteem boosted back up since he is so happy in
For the person requesting special education. This is a very difficult
thing to get. Our youngest son is autistic and we had to have a
hearing to get him special education. We used a lawyer named
Katherine Doble (sp?) who is famous for working with special
education cases and we got what we wanted, but it was very difficult
and when our other son was diagnosed with a learning disability we
just created a program ourselves and paid for it ourselves. It is tax
deductible. It sounds like the advice you got is probably right, but
you might want to check with Katherine because she has a very good
sense of what it is possible to get from the district so that you
don't waste your time. I am sorry that I can't be more optimistic.
this page was last updated: Oct 14, 2012
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