Anyone familiar with special education services in Florida? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 07-21-2012, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We just moved to Florida a few months ago. DS1 is 8, with suspected Aspergers syndrome. The only official DX so far is ADHD, ODD, and Anxiety disorder. I am trying to get him in with a ped-neuro for a full evaluation. Over the years he has been to ped neuro and mental health docs who suspected ASD, but said he was to young to be diagnosed.

He has been homeschooled mostly due to difficulties with public school.

I contacted the special ed department of the school district we live in a few weeks ago to find out how to go about getting him and IEP and in special ed classes. He is behind considerably in almost every subject despite years of one-on-one home schooling.

Last year I enrolled him in PS and was promised a quick IEP and the help we had been hoping for. At the end of the 90 day time limit I was called in for a meeting just to be told that they had not actually had the time to get to the evals they were required to do, they had not done the Phy eval, the IQ test, or any other test.  I was told that his attendance was poor and that they didn't agree that he needed services.  I was devastated and felt lied to and betrayed, so I pulled him out, and did my best to home school for the rest of the year.

Now I feel like I have failed him. He saw a Psychiatrist about 18 months ago that said his IQ was borderline and that I should not expect anything more from him than to need to be cared for for life.

 

Now for the question part, the local school district told me that it didn't matter how many DX's I brought them from a Dr, that they had to do there own test, and that they were not obligated to give him ANY services or accommodations until they had completed those.

Is that really true? Am I really expected to put him in a class room of kids in 3rd grade when he cannot read or write, or add or subtract. The rest of the class will be reading and writing proficiently and multiplying and dividing, they will be so far advance that he will surely stick out and that is were the problems start. He then gets teased, and he is super sensitive and his feelings are so very fragile. Once he feels belittled and ridiculed he will stop trying and he gets heartbroken because he does not understand peoples ability to be so cruel. And then how do I continue to force him to return everyday to such an emotionally traumatizing environment?

The alternative though seems just as bad, to keep him home and sheltered from the cruelty of the word, and do my best to prepare him to someday join it. Am I coddling him to much? would it be doing whats best for him to just throw him out there and hope he toughens to it? after all I will not be able to protect him forever.

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#2 of 12 Old 07-22-2012, 11:28 AM
 
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I am not in FL, but I am pretty sure that it is the school has to test/evaluate him for services, if you request it in writing.  My understanding is that IDEA applies to all states.  I also think this applies whether or not you are home schooling, but you have to work with the district that you are living in.  They will have 60 days to act on that written request for testing and evaluation.  The schools tests will not be like a dx from the dr.  They instead look for areas where students are drastically behind their peers or are unable to complete tasks.  An IEP might help get services or accommodations  so that a kid can meet goals set by the team that are realistic for the student to achieve in a period of time.  Your kid may still be in the classroom with a regular teacher.  Many students struggle with reading and math to varying degrees, but only those that are extremely behind get the services they need to get them on par with their peers.  

 

Emmerline is very knowledgable on this subject and likely would know where to refer you on the Wrightslaw website.  Hopefully, she will catch this.  Maybe this is one of the areas you can get info from.  

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#3 of 12 Old 07-22-2012, 04:54 PM
 
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Ok....I am in NJ but you need to stare educating yourself on no only the law in FL but also the culture of the school district that you are in....

 

There are timelines involved in different things with the IEP process but you first thing you need to do in WRITING is request the school district evaluate for an IEP and related services.

 

http://www.specialeducationadvisor.com/special-education/what-is-an-iep/

http://www.fldoe.org/ese/ohi.asp

https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=6A-6

http://www2.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html#process

http://www.greatschools.org/special-education/legal-rights/513-what-is-an-iep.gs

 

Many timelines are federal requirements. So learning fed law and timelines are a good thing. First you need to make the request in writing (this starts the clock ticking) When they told you last year that they did not have time to do any testing but they don't think he qualifies you should have asked for what is called Prior written notice which means they have to write down why they think your child is not eligable...But they Legally cannot do that because they did not do evaluation....so you could have filed a state complaint against the district.

 

You need to read up on the law and the procedures. Do not ask the district how they do things there are federal laws in place. You should not go to the district asking them what the law is you need to already know. I am sure there are online boards and group in Florida that deal with special education but also you will gain much information just reading  http://wrightslaw.com/........THEY ARE THE GO TO AUTHORITY...they know what they are talking about. Get some books from your library or amazon.com written by Pete Wright....

 

You can DO THIS you NEED to be your child's advocate.....Best wishes.

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#4 of 12 Old 07-22-2012, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emilymom View Post

Ok....I am in NJ but you need to stare educating yourself on no only the law in FL but also the culture of the school district that you are in....

 

There are timelines involved in different things with the IEP process but you first thing you need to do in WRITING is request the school district evaluate for an IEP and related services.

 

http://www.specialeducationadvisor.com/special-education/what-is-an-iep/

http://www.fldoe.org/ese/ohi.asp

https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=6A-6

http://www2.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html#process

http://www.greatschools.org/special-education/legal-rights/513-what-is-an-iep.gs

 

Many timelines are federal requirements. So learning fed law and timelines are a good thing. First you need to make the request in writing (this starts the clock ticking) When they told you last year that they did not have time to do any testing but they don't think he qualifies you should have asked for what is called Prior written notice which means they have to write down why they think your child is not eligable...But they Legally cannot do that because they did not do evaluation....so you could have filed a state complaint against the district.

 

You need to read up on the law and the procedures. Do not ask the district how they do things there are federal laws in place. You should not go to the district asking them what the law is you need to already know. I am sure there are online boards and group in Florida that deal with special education but also you will gain much information just reading  http://wrightslaw.com/........THEY ARE THE GO TO AUTHORITY...they know what they are talking about. Get some books from your library or amazon.com written by Pete Wright....

 

You can DO THIS you NEED to be your child's advocate.....Best wishes.

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#5 of 12 Old 07-22-2012, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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opps that didnt work like I had hoped.

 

Last year I requested evaluations and and IEP. They were given 60 days to do it in. At a few days short of the 60 days they held a meeting that they called an IEP meeting. When I got there the principle and a phycologist were present as well as the special ed cordinator at the school. I was told that they had scheduled evals, but that he had been absent on that day, and that they had ran out of time. So they determined (with a five minute convo with they Phy) that he didnt have a learning disablilty, that he had an attendance problem. He didnt qualify for services.

I should have appealed it and fought, but I was crushed. Things were at an all time low at that point.

My ex and I had just separated,  my then 3 year old was starting to have major behavioural issues and the 2 year old was having health problems. I was stressed and alone and I didnt feel like I had any fight left. I had put so much faith in that IEP being what we had been waiting for for the last 4 years since the issues started.

After that let down I just wanted to bring him home again and lock the world out. It felt like the months of making him stick to it while being teased and comming home crying everyday had been for nothing. I felt like a failure, like I had tortured him.

 

I have set up an appointment with Child Find, I contacted the school district and was told that was all I could do over the break becuase noone else was in the office. I am not sure that is true though.  I just dont understand how they can require there own evals, why something from licensed Drs isnt enough to tell them that he needs help. I understand they still need to determine what help he needs and all but it seems like there should be a better way!

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#6 of 12 Old 07-22-2012, 05:16 PM
 
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I'm in FL, my son has an IEP and he was an ESE student for two years in pre-k. He still gets limited services. I understand about the private testing. It doesn't hurt to have it in his IEP file, but the schools insist on doing their own testing as well.

 

There is something called Child Find and FDLRS here. It is basically like early intervention, but for school aged children. See if they offer it in your county (not sure if it's a state thing or a county thing) and have him tested through them. If he is that far behind, they will likely put him in a group of his peers. When my son was in public pre-k, he was in a "varying exceptionalities" class setting. There were kids with hearing impairment, downs syndrome, autism, sensory issues, speech delays and kids who didn't really fit any labels except developmentally delayed.

 

In my county (Polk), there are a few parents who volunteer as "advocates" for the schools who can direct you to all the info you need. They have been there, done that, and have lots of good advice. See if you can find one of these advocates on the website for your county's school board. 

 

Good luck to you!

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#7 of 12 Old 07-22-2012, 07:07 PM
 
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Ok Do not feel bad....this is a long road....You had so much going on so just breathe and take it one step at a time....You have the appt set with Child Find see what they can tell you. Also request in writing to view all school records for your child. You want to make copies of anything in the file (do you have a document scanner you can take? if not borrow one) They should have a file since you requested an evaluation. Basically they did not do any evaluations. They do not have to take any Doctors diagnosis into consideration. You can give that to them but they don't have to accept the findings.

 

You are back homeschooling I think from what you said so write a letter requesting an evaluation in all areas of suspected disablity...

 

I have a daughter with significant disabilities and work from home. I have been involved with IEP's for 8 years and have learned much. It is not perfect, you don't get everything but the work involved was so worth it.,,,It was frustrating, time consuming etc....But I am like a dog with a bone :) especially with knowledge under my belt.

 

So do the above in writing 1. request an evaluation be completed 2. Request in writing to see all school records....Do all of your correspondence in writing not over the phone. If they call you and talk with you...Write of letter of understanding about the conversation and send it to them...This starts to become your paper trail on everything they told you....YOU will need that paper trail.

 

This way when they say your son was sick and they couldn't do the evaluation and they decided your child does not qualify for an IEP you put that exact wording in a letter and tell them If you do not agree with any statements please notify me in writing within 10 days....

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#8 of 12 Old 07-23-2012, 08:50 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by StephManietta View Post

 

Last year I requested evaluations and and IEP. They were given 60 days to do it in. At a few days short of the 60 days they held a meeting that they called an IEP meeting. When I got there the principle and a phycologist were present as well as the special ed cordinator at the school. I was told that they had scheduled evals, but that he had been absent on that day, and that they had ran out of time. So they determined (with a five minute convo with they Phy) that he didnt have a learning disablilty, that he had an attendance problem. He didnt qualify for services.

 

At the end of the 90 day time limit I was called in for a meeting just to be told that they had not actually had the time to get to the evals they were required to do, they had not done the Phy eval, the IQ test, or any other test.  I was told that his attendance was poor and that they didn't agree that he needed services.  I was devastated and felt lied to and betrayed, so I pulled him out, and did my best to home school for the rest of the year.

Now I feel like I have failed him. He saw a Psychiatrist about 18 months ago that said his IQ was borderline and that I should not expect anything more from him than to need to be cared for for life.

 

Now for the question part, the local school district told me that it didn't matter how many DX's I brought them from a Dr, that they had to do there own test, and that they were not obligated to give him ANY services or accommodations until they had completed those.

 

Central Florida Parent Center - Ten Mistakes Parents Make During ...

 

They are required to consider outside evaluations but they do not have to accept them in lieu of doing their own, but they actually need to conduct an evaluation with the appropriate tests. They are also required by Federal regulation to give you the evaluation prior to the IEP meeting (with enough time to read it; generally considered 3 days) if you request it; your state law may have additional requirements on this for them. You may also request to reschedule the IEP meeting if you do not feel you have had enough time to prepare and be an "equal participant" of the IEP team.

 

Quote:
Sec. 300.613 Access rights
(a) Each participating agency must permit parents to inspect and review any education records relating to their children that are collected, maintained, or used by the agency under this part. The agency must comply with a request without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding a IEP, or any hearing pursuant to Sec. 300.507 or Sec. 300.530 through 300.532, or resolution session pursuant to Sec. 300.510, and in no case more than 45 days after the request has been made.

 

http://www.fetaweb.com/04/ferpa.rooker.ltr.protocols.htm

The Office for Civil Rights determined that the test protocols used by a psychologist to prepare a report are educational records and must be produced to the parents.

On October 2, 1997, the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U. S. Department of Education issued a memorandum about parental access to test protocols.
http://www.fetaweb.com/04/ferpa.summary.htm


FERPA Memorandum: Access to Test Protocols and Test Answer Sheets

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/library/carrollisd091305.html

 

If you disagree with the school's evaluation you may request an IEE at public expense. The topic of IEEs is addressed by the procedural safeguards booklet on page 4.

 

Independent Education Evaluations: What? How? Why? Who Pays?

Independent Evaluations: Must Parents Select an Evaluator from the School's Approved List?

How Can We Get an Independent Evaluation (IEE) by ...

 

 

Considering the school's disregard for the law and your child, I would confer with a special education advocate before contacting the school/district again.

 

FIU College of Law Educational Advocacy Clinic | FloridaLawHelp ...

 

 

Quote:
Florida Top
Family Network on Disabilities of Florida, Inc.
2735 Whitney Road
Clearwater, FL 33760-1610
Phone: (727) 523-1130
Toll-Free: (800) 825-5736
Toll-Free Restrictions: FL residents only
Fax: (727) 523-8687
Email: fnd@fndfl.org or olena@fndfl.org
Website: http://www.fndfl.org/

Parent to Parent of Miami, Inc. (Florida)
Suite 200
7990 SW 117th Avenue
Miami, FL 33183
Phone: (305) 271-9797
Toll-Free: (800) 527-9552
Fax: (305) 271-6628
Email: info@ptopmiami.org or igarcia@ptopmiami.org
Website: http://www.ptopmiami.org/

 

I also recommended reading (and having your own copies of) "Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy"; the information from the book can be found on their site as well (Table of Contents) and "Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition", and take them with you to meetings. All About IEPs is also a good book to read at the beginning of the processes. "From Emotions to Advocacy" will guide you through the process, telling you how to obtain your child's educational and medical records (with letter examples), and how to set up a master file with this information.

 

Print out the "Florida Procedural Safeguards..." and put it in a 3-ring binder that you will use to keep similar information for your reference.

 

Florida Notice of Procedural Safeguards For Children With Disabilities

 

Florida DOE Exceptional Education and Student Services

 

Exceptional Education and Student Services - Florida Department of ...


"It should be a rule in all prophylactic work that no harm should ever be unnecessarily inflicted on a healthy person (Sir Graham Wilson, The Hazards of Immunization, 1967)."
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#9 of 12 Old 07-24-2012, 07:19 PM
 
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I am so sorry you are going through this...and he is in 3rd Grade where he gets to take the FCAT.  As the previous poster indicated, you should definitely contact Family Network on Disabilities.  Their website has an FND University that you can register with and it provides information about IEPs and his rights.

 

From the schools perspective, they are determining if his disability prevents him from obtaining his free and appropriate education as required by IDEA.  SO they can tell you that he may not qualify for services even though he has a diagnosis from a doctor.  However, at the end of the day, they are required to provide him access to education.  If he performs poorly academically because he does not have the access and support of services, then you have a great argument.  Also keep in mind that after their eval, you can request a second eval by someone outside of the school.  I definitely think there is a concern about them violating the procedural safeguards.  Also remember that if he is performing well academically and they refuse IEP, you can look into obtaining a 504 plan.

 

Something to keep in mind is Florida has the McKay scholarship for students with disabilities.  Basically any student at least 4yrs old in Florida who has been enrolled in public school for 1 year with an IEP or 504 plan is eligible to take the McKay scholarship and send their child to a private school. 

 

(((HUGS)))
 

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#10 of 12 Old 07-25-2012, 08:29 AM
 
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I just want to clarify that grades are not the determining factor in qualifying for an IEP.

Quote:

Is Child with Passing Grades Eligible for Special Ed ... - Wrightslaw

 

Eligibility: Questions to Answer

In determining if a child is eligible for special education and related services, the team that includes the child’s parent needs to answer these questions:

Does the child have a disability? Yes ___No ____

Does the disability affect the child’s educational performance? Yes ___No ____

Does the child need special education and related services. Yes ___No ____

 

.


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#11 of 12 Old 07-31-2012, 08:44 AM
 
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Hi, I don't know where you live in FL, but we moved from Orlando a year ago.  Both of our kids (adopted) have significant special needs.  We we were zoned for the "best" school in Orlando, and they refused to test for an IEP, even when I cited them the statues in the law that said they had to. In fact, they tried to get us to go to another school, refused to communicate with us, I could talk all day about incredible things they tried to pull with us.  Orange County Public School (OCPS) system apparently has a reputation as being the worst among the special needs advocates - the school superintendent (and the schools) don't believe they need to comply with the law.  The only thing that got them to pay somewhat attention was that we contacted the Center for Adults and Children with Disabilities, explained our case, got an advocate for free...who couldn't believe what we were being told (all via email so it was all documented).  The lawyer ultimately sent a letter to the Board of Ed in Tallahassee, which OCPS did NOT like.  After dragging their feet as much as they could, they ultimately did the 'testing' but then decided our kids didn't 'need' IEPs, and silenced the teachers on saying anything.  I have family/friends who are educators in the Northeast (NJ mostly) who couldn't believe what we were going through.  Fortunately for us, we moved back to the Northeast - it took one email to the principal of my kids school to get a PPT meeting set up for the testing we fought for a year in Orlando, and within two months in school, both my kids had been evaluated, tested and with IEPs.  Things aren't perfect here, but it made me see how backward the FL (Orange County) public school system is.  I'm sorry to say your best bet may be to get yourself a special needs advocate to fight for services for your son. Good luck.

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#12 of 12 Old 08-22-2012, 03:30 PM
 
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I'm a special education parent attorney here in Florida.  As you are finding out for yourself, some districts are definitely easier to work with than others in the state.  It certainly sounds like your district has let you down.  I would suggest that you find an advocate or even an attorney to help you navigate the system and get what your child is entitled to.   The district can and will provide you with the support and services that will give your son his best chance for success.  Don't give up; he's counting on you.  Good luck.

 

Katie Kelly, Ph.D., Esq.

www.katiekellylaw.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Katie-Kelly-Law/354498077946507?ref=hl

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