Inclusion and LRE

Discuss getting a diagnosis, educational help & electronic devices and apps for autism.

Moderator: ModeratorBill

BlearyEyedAlchemist
Posts: 789
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:54 pm

Inclusion and LRE

Postby BlearyEyedAlchemist » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:05 pm

My kiddo has been included since age 3 in preschool. Now, that he is in 4th grade, I'm getting some "suggestions" that he go into a segregated SE class. I already told them no way! I'm ready to take them to the mat if they push me. My child is sweet, is making progress relative to himself and has no elopement issues. I really don't want to hire an attorney if I don't need to. Anyone else ever been in this same situation before?

Winnie
Posts: 4227
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:48 pm

Re: Inclusion and LRE

Postby Winnie » Tue Mar 01, 2016 11:07 pm

Just a few things to be aware of if mounting an LRE challenge:

1. “Inclusion” is not a term specified in the law.
2. LRE is not a “place” – or an either/or placement – as in either the regular classroom or self-contained classroom.
3. LRE is the environment where the IEP can be implemented/accomplished (child is educated).

There is some wording in the law regarding LRE that parents need to be aware of (from the Wrightslaw site):

LRE means that, to the maximum extent appropriate, school districts must educate students with disabilities in the regular classroom with appropriate aids and supports, referred to as "supplementary aids and services, " along with their nondisabled peers in the school they would attend if not disabled, unless a student's IEP requires some other arrangement. This requires and individualized inquiry into the unique educational needs of each disabled student in determining the possible range of aids and supports that are needed to facilitate the students's placement in the regular educational environment before a more restrictive placement is considered. - See more at: http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/lre.osers.memo.idea.htm#sthash.zSkBUyio.dpuf


The part “to the maximum extent appropriate” is important. A district can (successfully) argue that, based on the student’s needs, even an aide in the regular classroom isn't the appropriate LRE to educate the student, even when his behavior is good (not disruptive/eloping, etc).

It would probably be a good idea to take a look at his IEP goals, and evaluate how these appear in relation to what 4th graders are doing in the regular classroom, and what modifications are being made to the curriculum for your student. You need to know what his day looks like and how these goals are being implemented in the classroom in order to challenge a placement change. As your son ages up through the elementary years and enters middle school and beyond, this issue is likely to crop up even more often.

Just one other thing – make sure that your child is actually being educated in his placement. Some districts appease parents by claiming to practice “inclusion,” though what this looks like in practice may not be what the parent hopes or imagines. If a student spends the day with an aide in a regular classroom coloring and completing worksheets that are not really related to what the other students are doing, or to the child’s IEP goals, this is not the same being educated. It is just being warehoused in the regular ed classroom. Make sure his IEP goals are solid, specific, measureable, and sufficient in number -- then think about what is necessary in terms of placement, supports, and services for him to accomplish these goals.

*And ask for an advance draft copy of his proposed IEP prior to the next IEP meeting (several days before scheduled meeting). This will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of goals proposed and an opportunity to prepare somewhat.

Good luck with it . . .
Winnie
"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember."

BlearyEyedAlchemist
Posts: 789
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:54 pm

Re: Inclusion and LRE

Postby BlearyEyedAlchemist » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:06 am

He is not doing coloring etc. He is getting the 4th grade curriculum modified, but it is rigorous for him. No babysitting here at all.

Winnie
Posts: 4227
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:48 pm

Re: Inclusion and LRE

Postby Winnie » Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:06 am

Since the regular classroom with supports must be considered first as the LRE, it’s on the district to present reasons why your child cannot be educated in that environment, especially since that is his current placement.

In your conversations so far with staff, what did they indicate might be their reasoning for a change? In what grade will he transition to middle school?

It might be a good idea to schedule a conference with his teachers and aide. Ask some questions about his progress and the placement change mentioned. The more you know about what they are thinking and/or planning to present, the better able you will be to craft your points in advance of an IEP meeting.
Winnie
"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember."

FatherOf2
Posts: 1622
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:37 am

Re: Inclusion and LRE

Postby FatherOf2 » Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:04 am

They wanted to "segregate" my son into a low-functioning class at pre-school. I fought against it even though mine had behaviors. It is against FAPE to place disabled kids in a restrictive environment. It might be easier for school to "lock away" misbehaving kids, but it is bad for these kids. Some parents actually wanted their kids to go to this low-functioning class because there were fewer students and more aides. They thought their kids would learn better in such environment. I wanted my son to be among typical kids and model them. I had to hire a lawyer to protect my sons placement. If the school wants to change your son's placement, try to understand the reasons, and if you disagree, use the "stay put" provision of FAPE, which preserves your son's current academic placement until the dispute is resolved. If you decide to hire a lawyer, make sure he/she files for due process under IDEA. When we hired our lawyer, she didn't file for due process, which was a big mistake because if she did, our legal fees including payments to psychologists for independent evaluations would have to be reimbursed by school if we prevailed. We are in CA. Other state laws might be different. Sometimes I think all lawyers are on the school side and just suck your money without really helping much or advising how to get your legal fees back. By the way, you don't need a lawyer to file for due process. If you are knowledgeable enough in law and your rights, you can defend yourself. The school though would have to hire a lawyer. Chances are, you will reach some deal without going to hearing.

Winnie
Posts: 4227
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:48 pm

Re: Inclusion and LRE

Postby Winnie » Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:27 pm

FatherOf2 wrote:They wanted to "segregate" my son into a low-functioning class at pre-school. I fought against it even though mine had behaviors. It is against FAPE to place disabled kids in a restrictive environment. It might be easier for school to "lock away" misbehaving kids, but it is bad for these kids. Some parents actually wanted their kids to go to this low-functioning class because there were fewer students and more aides. They thought their kids would learn better in such environment. I wanted my son to be among typical kids and model them.

I hear you on the typically-developing language and social models in preschool – my state was (and still is) way behind CA in terms of preschool programs and services. We were fortunate that a local church worked with us in providing an inclusive preschool experience, though we were on our own providing a home program.

That said, just some info addressing points in the thread – of possible interest to someone reading since IEP season is around the corner (***disclaimer – not a professional here – just attended meetings with other parents – including a mediation, but not a due process):

There is (and should be) a continuum of placements available based on the child’s individual needs. A child’s needs, as well as the content, structure, social opportunities, and demands of a regular classroom, may change over time. Example: A parent I know fought to have her child put back in a more restrictive setting after the school (without informing the parent) changed her placement for some classes. An aide accompanied three special needs students to several 4th grade regular classes. While the 4th grade teacher was teaching state history, for instance, the student in question was coloring a picture of the state bird. While this is technically a modification of the 4th grade curriculum (state history), it is a modification to a preschool level, which was not very educationally relevant, or even engaging, for this student. Further, of even greater concern to the parent, was the escalation of this child’s anxiety and agitation in the regular classroom environment, which aside from the distress to the child, led to some challenging behaviors.

All to say that no one placement is always best for every child. The above situation was resolved fairly easily (district quickly backed down), since the district committed a huge procedural violation by changing the placement (among other things), 1) without the parent’s knowledge, and 2) for the purpose of administrative convenience.


Under the law, a placement in a self-contained (or resource room, etc) setting is not necessarily a denial of FAPE -- this depends heavily on what goals are specified on the IEP and how these will be implemented. Hiring an attorney may give the district pause and encourage them to back off their recommendation for a placement change (hopefully this works, as districts very much prefer to avoid due process proceedings), but just because a district relents under these circumstances does not mean the parent would have prevailed in due process proceedings.

In order for “stay put” to come into play, the parent must file for due process. This is not a process to be undertaken lightly (or threatened without a means to back it up), as it can result in a very protracted, bloody battle and potentially leave the parent with tens of thousands of legal debt if they do not prevail. Not to mention the time, stress, and emotional toll extracted. So make sure it is the only chance of resolving the dispute and THE hill you are willing to die on.

Parents may indeed represent themselves in due process proceedings, though unless a parent is somewhat of a legal mind, and has the time to munch through and master federal law, their state administrative code, and case law in their state in a relatively short amount of time, this might not be a good idea IMO. Parents prevail less often than people may realize even with an attorney.

The goal is to obtain what your child needs in the most expedient and least combative way possible. One remedy available to parents in every state is mediation. Though each state may handle this (and due process proceedings) a little differently, mediation is a step available between disagreement and due process. Not only can mediation be scheduled quickly (in comparison), parents often attend (and resolve the issue) without legal counsel. One would need to search info in their respective state for details on mediation procedures there.

The most expedient venue for resolving a dispute is the IEP meeting. And the more knowledgeable the parents are concerning the IEP process, the law, and their child’s needs and goals, the more effective the parent’s position will be in resolving the dispute. It’s a good idea for parents to tackle this learning curve BEFORE there is an urgent need – there are parent-friendly resources available to help. I like the publications available from the Wrightslaw site (one might start with Emotions to Advocacy) for go-to resources -- and think every parent should understand the info in these regardless of relationship with their district -- but I’m sure there are other resources as well. I would also recommend the Wrightslaw conferences/workshops – I attended one many years ago in my city and learned a lot in a little time, and several books were included in the registration fee.

Other resources are those available pertaining to one’s respective state. It’s a good idea to be familiar with the regs and/or administrative code in one’s state, a copy of which is probably available online. Hopefully other info is available concerning state-specific procedures for requesting mediation, filing for due process, etc can be found on your state's website -- something like this guide to due process and mediation found on the CA site here. It is surprising sometimes how little the district staff at the IEP table actually know about the law and this process themselves.

And finally, it would probably be a good idea to locate and read some case law regarding special education decisions in your state, especially if you have similar issues in dispute (I can almost guarantee you will be the only member of the IEP team who has done so). In some states (like mine), this may take some digging, though in other states this is more easily located (as with this handy searchable database in California):
http://www.dgs.ca.gov/oah/SpecialEducation/searchDO.aspx

Hoping everyone has a reasonably smooth ride through the upcoming season of IEP meetings. :)
Winnie
"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember."


Return to “Autism Support/Education/Technology”