Advice about IEP & 504 Plans
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Advice about IEP & 504 Plans
IEP = An Individualized Education Plan
documents a child's disability and includes a "plan of
action" as to how the school will provide education as required by IDEA
(Individuals with Disabilities Education Right.) IDEA covers kids with
very specific conditions including mental retardation, emotional
disturbances, hearing impairments, and speech and language
Typically the school provides Special Education services such as aides and tutoring.
504 Plan = Per SECTION 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, this is for kids who don't qualify for an IEP but who have a
physical or mental impairment and require some accommodations, to
satisy Section 504's "right to equal access to education". Typically,
it is a plan that lists "accommodations" such as extended
test-taking time, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
DREDF = the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
DREDF is an information center funded by the US Department of
Education, serving children from birth
to age 22 with all disabilities: physical, cognitive, emotional, and
learning. DREDF provides parent training and Education Advocates to help with special education
I'm looking for information/ advice from parents who have been able to secure an
educational assessment from the Diagnostic Center in Fremont. My son has an IEP and
continues to be academically behind (3 years). I believe the assessment will be helpful
to all involved- especially the school district -to find the best way my child learns
and to get him what he needs to succeed.
I've asked the school district for this assessment but they have denied my request. I
will be having another IEP meeting and will bring this up again. I know some districts
rather do their own assessments, but my experience with these is that they are not very
thorough and are biased. I know I could pay a private practitioner to do one, but I
strongly feel that the school district should provide this since they have not been
successful in figuring out the best way to reach/teach him.
I'd like to hear from parents who have succeeded in gaining an assessment from the
Center via the school district. What did you have to do to get the assessment approved?
What happened when completed and did the school district follow the recommendation? I'd
also like to hear from parents who have gone the private route and paid for an
assessment. How did you present the results to your school district and what was the
result? Did the district provide the services recommended by the private assessment?
Frustrated with school district
I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble with the school district. I'm
surprised that they are denying it since it is no cost to them. We were able
to secure an assessment through the Diagnostic Center in Fremont (whom I
thought was top-notch and incredibly thorough). Although I may not have much
sage advice for you, but here's my experience: We did this immediately
following the school district's assessment before we had an IEP in place (I
don't know if that made a difference or not). I followed up on the school
district assessment with a letter that highlighted some specific portions of
the assessment that I questioned (e.g., a little bit of sloppy - or maybe
just not well trained?-things were done) that I felt put a few of the
assessment's conclusions into question. It helped to do some research here
to back up what I was saying, like using research from sources familiar with
the disability. The assessment didn't jibe with the issues that we had been
describing that were of concern and so we made a strong case for why the
district's assessment was not adequate. We didn't want to be adversarial and
tried to present it as needing some of the questions left by the assessment
further resolved and requested CDE (Diagnostic Center) as the third party -
since that is a right! The school did accept the Center's diagnosis and some
of the recommendations although it was my understanding that they were not
I'm hoping other parents will help me form reasonable
expectations for teacher communications in the context of a
504 plan for a child with learning problems in a public
I'm in the process of seeking a 504 plan for my middle-
schooler, who has been diagnosed with ADD. The ADD
manifests as extreme difficulty with organizing time, paper,
tasks and information.
In a meeting with the classroom teachers, I expressed that
what would be most helpful would be for me to have current
information about upcoming tests and assignments, and to be
told promptly when my child fails to turn in work or is
All the teachers acknowledge that my child's sole problem
seems to be organization, and I've done my best to explain
that despite trying hard, my child often cannot even tell me
what the homework is for the next day, and constantly loses
papers and worksheets despite real effort, making it very
hard for me to help.
The school's position is that I am unreasonable in asking
whether all teachers could post assignments, worksheets, and
a calendar on-line, and that it is highly unreasonable to
ask that individual teachers let me know quickly when work
is not turned in. Meanwhile, this is what would help, and
is the only thing I am asking for.
I myself have taught, and acknowledge that this is a lot of
work (but I did it!).
I have a demanding job with long hours, and other children
and family members to attend to, so really need the school's
cooperation to effectively support my child's sincere effort
to stay on top of things.
Is up-to-date, on-line, access to a current list of
homework assignments and upcoming tests, and prompt notice
(within two days, say) when a child fails to hand in work
too much to ask for in a 504 plan?
Sincere thanks for sharing your experiences and
I'm sorry that I don't have clear advice, but I've been
banging my head against a wall dealing with a private school
with this issue. Most of the teachers seem utterly
incapable of timely posting assignments and it is like
pulling teeth to get info/status from them. My daughter has
the exact same issues (she is a few years older).
That being said, my understanding is that you have greater
rights in public schools for accommodations. And there are
plenty of schools where teachers are able to post
assignments and provide timely updates to parents about
missing assignments, etc. There are computer programs that
I've seen implemented for both public and private schools,
although they may not be used until middle school. (At my
daughter's prior school, the teachers managed to post
accurate assignment AND communicate with me if about missing
homework. It CAN be done.)
If your child is 9, I assume she has one primary teacher.
If she has an assignment book, have the teacher review it
every day, initial the assignments for the next day, and
note any missing homework. This is not an outrageous
request. (If your daughter does not have an assignment
book, she needs one.)
I'm looking forward to hearing other posters' input. In the
meantime, best of luck. I feel your pain!
Yes it is unreasonable because most of the teachers probably
don't organize the work that way. You need to talk to
them/email them as individuals (maybe choosing the most
problematic subjects) and find out how they organize the
work, and how you can get feedback on how your son is doing.
For example, I hand out a chapter homework sheet, and
parents can look at the sheet each day, and check that their
child has done the homework. I also make arrangements for
types of notebooks for children with organizational troubles
to help them organize their work, and me to find that work.
My main suggestion is that you (or someone else -- your
partner, a tutor) sit down with your child every day,
supervise the homework, and help him put it in the
notebook/folder for the next day. There are tutors that
specialize in teaching students how to organize their work.
Remember about 6 hours a day is spent in direct contact with
students, and meetings (like 504s). Then another couple of
hours are spent preparing materials for the next day. The
paperwork part of teaching comes after all the rest of the
work, so by asking teachers to add more paperwork to their
days you are going to make it more difficult for them to do
what is needed to help your child and the other children learn.
I think you are demanding WAY WAY too much of your child's
teachers. I would never even consider asking so much of a
teacher. Never. Your child is one of over a hundred kids
(if this is a typical middle-school) that each of these
teachers is responsible for educating. Your unreasonable
request will impact the amount of attention the teacher can
equitably give to all the students that deserve his/her
time. Please - no one child is so ''special'' as to deserve
so much particular attention. You clearly have resources
and time to spare. I believe it is incumbent upon YOU to
make sure that your child is learning. I totally support
your school administration and teachers in refusing your
request. Perhaps your family is better suited for a private
my two cents
Yes. Its alot. You are not taking into account how many
students these teachers have, and as PROFESSIONALS all the
other things they have to do, it is ALOT to ask.
BUT I do think sending you a quick email about if work was
turned in or not is appropriate.that's something that could
maybe happen every day.
been teaching for 11 years
What may be new information for you is that the job of teaching has
become much more demanding over the last five years. I rather suspect
that what you want from teacher's may be more than they can reasonably
do. So I was wondering how you could accomplish your goal without
daily teacher feedback. Am wondering if you could create a structure
for your son using pictures of each step he is to follow to get the
homework home. That might take feedback from the individual teacher
of how and when their homework is assigned. Perhaps checking to see
that each teacher has a routine or is willing to establish one would
work? I rather suspect the routines are in place. This might shift
the focus from more work for teachers, who are probably overwhelmed
already, to helping your child learn to function better in the world.
In addition, have seen changes to a child's diet and organic
supplements make a huge difference in a child's attention span. I
would always know the day the routine hadn't been followed from the
child's behavior. Also, know from first hand experience, that there
are patches and meds available to help with the problem that may be
very beneficial without side effects.
As a parent of a child with a learning disability I have
been in your shoes, and this is what I learned, the hard
way... it doesn't matter how reasonable your demands are
or how well they will help your child, when teachers don't
agree to making an accommodation they aren't going to make
it. Even if they are legally required to accommodate they
will not really do it and it is very hard to prove that
they haven't. Meanwhile your child is the one who suffers.
Eventually I realized that it was more important for my
child's self esteem to be in a setting that was supportive
and where his needs would be met than it was to fight for
his right to stay in a traditional setting with teachers
who were narrow minded and judgemental. Maybe you will get
further with your son's school than I did with mine... I
hope you do. I found it better for my family to bite the
bullet and pay for a private school that specialized in
learning disabilities so that I wouldn't have to fight for
my son to receive the mediocre/half-hearted accommodations
that were the best I could hope for from a resistant
in a better place now
Hi! I am a middle school teacher at a school east of the
tunnel. I'll share with you our school/district policies
At our school we currently use an online forum
(schoolnotes) to post homework and assignments. I post the
assignments there daily. Others have a calendar for the
month. We have an online grading program in our district
and we are expected to update our gradebook at least every
two weeks. Most at our school update weekly. Two days for
an assignment seems like very quick turnaround (especially
for more in-depth assignments that require greater time to
analyze and grade, such as essays or lab reports). It
seems reasonable to ask if your child turned in a lab
report (via a quick email on your part, ''Just checking
that Johnny turned in his Plant lab!'') but that wouldn't
be practical for a daily math homework assignment. Without
knowing more about the school set-up and teachers/subject
matter that is a particular problem , I can't comment more
on this. I can tell you, though, that if you have a
specific question about the status of an assignment, your
best bet is to send a quick, friendly email.
We don't have any policy on posting worksheets online.
Many new textbook adoptions have an online component and
students can log in and access the student worksheets
there. I, personally, post directions to projects online,
but not teacher created worksheets for each day. That
could be a problem for many teachers due to scanning and
I hope that your son is able to work with a resource
teacher or academic counselor at school to help find an
organizational system that works for him. One strategy
that works well with (most) of our 6th graders is to have
ONE special folder for all homework/notes home (not by
subject matter). Completed work comes back in the same
folder. (Theoretically this folder does not accumulate
papers). Best of luck!
You have my empathy. I'm a middle school teacher who has
dealt both personally and professionally with ADHD and I
know how frustrating it can be. Kudos to you for getting
the 504 and for trying to work with the school.
My own perspective is that while it may technically sound
reasonable to ask teachers for up-to-the minute, daily
updates about homework or work completion, it is extremely
difficult for most teachers to provide this. Given that
many middle (and high school) teachers have up to 100
students (and therefore papers) per day, the grading and
data entry hours alone are enormous. You are thinking of
one child and his papers, but the teacher is seeing 30+
students at a time, choreographing activities, presenting
information, dealing with passing periods and collecting
papers, often all at the same time.
As for future tests and plans, this, too, is difficult.
I've been teaching for over 10 years, and I plan week to
week, and sometimes I must review/reteach or alter lesson
plans from day to day. Some activities end up taking
longer than others, and some material must be retaught.
This is why it is very difficult to provide long-term
input to parents.
What *can* you ask for? Ask for your child to carry an
organizer or daily planner and to use it for daily
communication with the teacher. Your child needs to ask
the teacher for his/her signature. Have your child stop by
after school for a two-minute check in, to review the
homework or to show him/her your child's binder. Have your
child pair up with a friend to do homework with after
Also, is there an academic support class available? Some
schools offer study skills or other classes for students
to do homework or to work on organizational skills, but
I'm not sure this would apply to your child. Can your
child be placed in a collaborative class where there are
assistants available to help him with organization?
Find someone - perhaps another parent or a sympathetic
staff member - who can offer some out-of-the-box
alternatives. It's not easy, but it can be done. Good luck
and best wishes to you.
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.
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
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!
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