NJ School for SPD, APD, Gifted

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dtanger
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2016 3:42 pm

NJ School for SPD, APD, Gifted

Postby dtanger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 3:50 pm

My 8 year old has SPD but a very high IQ and no issues impacting his education; has been denied IEP 3 years in a row in NYC and NY state. We are in process of relocating to Monmouth County NJ and working with several specialsts - OT, Audiologist, Optometrist, Social Worker and Behaviorist. I don't think he will ever qualify for services in public schools - I'm looking for a private school which supports SPD, APD, etc and is academically challenging. Art is also important as he is very creative and talented with sculpture, drawing, etc. I'm finding a lot of seemingly general private schools and then several schools which address learning disabilities, but finding it challenging to find one for sensory and gifted. He needs a smaller, quieter environment where he can receive services in a school setting and be challenged to excel at his own pace. Thank you!

DC1346
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:35 am

Re: NJ School for SPD, APD, Gifted

Postby DC1346 » Sat Aug 06, 2016 9:06 pm

I am due to start my 27th year of teaching once school resumes in two weeks. I hold certifications as both an elementary teacher as well as a Culinary Arts teacher and have 8 years of experience as a teacher working abroad and will soon be in my 19th year of instruction as a public school teacher. Although I do not have a special education background, I have a good grounding in school law partially because I teach in Nevada (which requires all general educators to have coursework in school law) but also because I myself am autistic.

I am confused by some of the information you regarded concerning your son.

You said that your son was denied an IEP for 3 years running. IEPs are only given to students who are in a special education program, so first question: Is your child already in a special education program? The context of your information would suggest not, which would then suggest that the use of the term IEP is invalid.

This leads me to my 2nd question. If your child is NOT currently in a special education program, did you formally request that he be screened? If so, was this request submitted via writing? Under Federal Law - IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act), it is your legal right as a parent to request that your child be screened for special education services.

According to IDEA:
"A State educational agency, other State agency, or local educational agency [school district] shall conduct a full and individual initial evaluation ... either the parent of a child, or a State education agency, other State agency, or local educational agency may initiate a request for an initial evaluation to determine if the child is a child with a disability." 20 USC 1414(a)(1) - See more at: http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/test.for ... QSnxc.dpuf

"All children with disabilities residing in the state, including children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated . . ." (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3))


In the (hopefully unlikely) event that you were told that screening wasn't necessary because teacher assessments and interventions did not meet the criteria needed to justify screening or if you were told that services weren't required after you gave a copy of the SPD diagnosis to your district, you should be aware that this is a violation of Federal law. Under IDEA, "the screening of a student by teacher or specialist to determine appropriate instructional strategies ... shall not be considered to be an evaluation .." (20 U.S.C. 1414(a)(1)(E)) - See more at: http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/test.for ... QSnxc.dpuf

Based upon what you have shared, I would think that your child should at least qualify for a 504 plan. A 504 plan is NOT an IEP. An IEP entitles a child to special education and related services when a child has a disability that impedes his or her educational performance. Given your child's IQ and your use of the word "gifted," I would surmise that a 504 Plan might be more appropriate. A 504 Plan provides accommodations to students with a disability that impedes a major life activity when the child requires special accommodations in order to access his education. As you already know, SPDcan interfere with a child's ability to listen and follow directions so some accommodation is required.

In short it sounds as though you have grounds for a due process complaint process.

If you were staying in New York, these are your options:

1) IDEA says that the district must offer you a resolution session as an opportunity for you to air your concerns to the district.

2) If you or the district have already held a resolution session and/or if either of you don't want to participate in a resolution session, you may request mediation through an impartial third party observer who will listen to both sides prior to making a ruling. If a resolution is agreed that both parties agree to, both sides will have to sign a legally binding agreement regarding the services that will be offered to your child.

3) If no agreement can be reached, you have the right to convene an impartial due process hearing. You have the right to be represented by an attorney (should YOU choose to hire one). You also have the responsibility to subpoena witnesses, present evidence, and cross examine witnesses put forth by the district. If you've ever watched Judge Judy, think about the successful cases that have appeared before her. No judge will ever accept hearsay evidence. For example, if you were told by your child's 1st grade teacher that your son was doing well and did not need special education screening, you will actually need to have that teacher subpoenaed to be at the hearing to testify as to what he or she actually said.

You may at this point wish to consult with an attorney. Most attorneys provide a free initial consultation, though you should always confirm this ahead of time otherwise you could be later slapped with a bill for $250 or more per hour. The exact process for filing a complaint through IDEA varies depending upon where you live. Some states require that copies of the complaint be given to the school district as well as the state education agency. Since I have never taught in New York, I do not know what the requirements are.

It is a sad reality that public school districts throughout the United States spend more tax payer dollars on student athletic programs than they do on core academic classes. They also spend more for core academic classes than for special education services.

This doesn't make what has happened to you and your child right, but special education services have always been the "poor baby" of education. Prior to the enactment of Public Law 94-142. a lot of disabled students fell through gaping cracks in our education system. Those with severe disabilities often wound up institutionalized for mental retardation or mental illnesses and many of these settings were often just dumping grounds for "problem children" where the staff provided minimal needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Those children who remained in their public schools were often "accommodated" according to teacher discretion without the benefit of having had a formal evaluation.

Parents were forced to advocate for their children and some of these parents began grass roots lobbying that eventually led to the establishment of specialized teacher training programs, Federal grants to provide educational assistance, and IDEA.

Even now many districts only give lip service to special education services. I once worked for a district that was sued for an IDEA violation. The special education teacher had committed an egregious error. To be fair, he was under a lot of emotional stress. His wife had cancer and some of his own children had either physical or mental disabilities.

To save time, he standardized his responses to a child's IEP so that ALL IEPs were the same. All students were literally given identical accommodations i.e. they had to sit up front in the classroom. They had to have extra time to do their work. Tests had to be given orally either by the classroom teacher or by an aide in the special education classroom etc.

Since parents talk and since there was a local support group for disabled children, eventually this ruse was discovered. Not only did the parents of one child file a complaint under IDEA but they also brought a civil suit against the teacher and the district.

The district made an out of court settlement for something like a half million dollars. The teacher lost his job and he may have lost his certification as well.

I wish I could have been more encouraging with this response but it sounds as though your district in New York really dropped the proverbial ball.

Since you are moving to New Jersey you have a choice. You may choose to let this go. At this point you have grounds for a punitive civil suit, though you should verify this through an attorney. If you are moving, any complaint against your former district would also be punitive since your child won't be in New York and your child's former school will have no opportunity to rectify what happened.

I would recommend that you take this opportunity to learn about your rights under the law. Google parental rights under IDEA so that when you enroll your child in a school in New Jersey, you are ready to advocate for your child.

Best wishes,

David


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