I am posting this ‘almost there’ correspondence our attorney Suzanne sent to the school board’s attorney for two reasons…
Reason #1 To continue sharing the paperwork involved in a due process hearing.
Reason #2 This particular letter shows how Suzanne “gets it.” SHE UNDERSTOOD what I had been feeling, what I had been saying to the school for almost two years and to be understood by an attorney, with the influence to get the school to listen, meant Teddy was finally going to get the support he needed.
Let me get on my soap box for a moment…
If, for whatever reason, you feel your child is not being properly served at school, you do have rights, there are actions you can take. There are laws to protect your child and there are people you can contact who will listen and help you decide the necessary actions, if any, to take. There is help out there.
Here is one particularly good Special Education legal website – Wright’s Law. It contains volumes of information about almost anything special education related. On their website they have a page where you can find services specific to your state – Wright’s Law Yellow Pages for Kids. You can find out more about due process on their Due Process Hearings page.
May you never need such services but if you do, use them, they are there for you.
End soap box.
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April 10, 2000
From our attorney to the School Board’s attorney
Re: Teddy v. County Board of Education
On March 24 you forwarded a letter to me regarding the actions taken in Teddy’s case. I have met with the parents and we would make the following comments and proposals. I do this in hope of being able to resolve all of the issues in this case and withdraw our request for due process hearing.
We found the draft IEP (read here) to not represent any firm understanding of the behaviors that are going to be changeable and those that are going to have to be accommodated. As Charlotte, Teddy’s mother put it to me, “We need to pick our battles and prioritize efforts on the behavioral front.” It appears to the parents that anger management is the underlying theme of identified behaviors such as “verbal or physical outbursts,” “derogatory statements,” “verbal abuse,” and “physically threatening or abusing others.”
In our opinion, other issues such as interacting with peers, personal space, social conversational skills, turn taking, and making noises are issues that are either symptomatic of the disability (and therefore not going to be changed) or of less magnitude in the greater scheme of things.
We also think that the “functional behavior assessment” model is somewhat difficult to apply to a child whose behaviors are essentially a function of his disability – rather than an attempt to garner self-esteem or other more traditional “functions” of behaviors.
Since there are only eight weeks left in the year, we would like to propose the following: that an IEP be developed that focuses on one or more behaviors relating to anger management. That the teacher identifies how often each of the identified behaviors is occurring (on a daily or weekly basis) and that we use this as the “present level of performance.” We’d like to keep this limited to critical behaviors for the remainder of this year (possibly the “verbal abuse” and “physical threats” identified in the draft document) are the most critical areas if they are continuing in the regular class.
Things like making noises and peer interaction and physical space are a function of the disability and while we think they can be worked on at some point we don’t think efforts need to be focused on them at this time.
We would then propose that the parties talk about how “critical” behaviors are going to be managed and new skills taught. We think that counseling should have been a part of this student’s program from the beginning of the year – particularly as behaviors escalated in the EC class. The parents have secured the services of a psychologist and believe he has sufficient experience with autism to allow him to address the rage issues that are a part of this disability. I believe that counseling on a weekly basis beginning now and continuing until school begins in the fall is an appropriate resolution of this issue. If the system does not have someone with comparable credentials to provide this related service we would propose that the system split the costs not covered by insurance for weekly counseling until the fall. The total cost of each session is $110; the insurance pays half and the other half (i.e. $55) would be split between the school and the parents.
The parents want an IEP done prior to July 1, 2000. If the IEP is done prior to July 1, we can resolve any further differences before school begins. The parents also want a commitment for in-service of the teachers and the principal who will be dealing with Teddy next year. We believe that a minimum of four hours will be required and that it needs to be completed before school begins.
We believe that the school system should commit at this point in time to providing this student with an aide for the first eight weeks of the 2000-2001 school year with the parties to decide at the end of that time to what extent an aide continues to be required. The parents feel, and I agree, that the transition in schools/and or a new structure is going to be extremely difficult for this student. Ideally the current aide could continue to serve since this would provide some sense of continuity.
Of course, the parents also expect to be reimbursed for attorney’s fees and costs incurred in filing this request for due process hearing.
Please review these proposals with your client and advise how you wish to proceed at this point.
Next: The final agreement.