What does public school 'owe' to special needs kids? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 10-05-2005, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am curious about this because my bean is in a very expensive private school and we are considering homeschool.
I don't think public school is an option.

I know that some of our friends have their kids in public school with well thought and elaborate IEPs, but I am concerned that
1) there is not adequate staff to actually follow the IEP
2) since it won't be followed 100% all the time, my child will get lost in the shuffle

I kind of feel like I couldn't send her to public school unless I knew that she and I could control all aspects of our situations because I just won't feel like I can depend on public school services to look out for my daughter.

Am I wrong in thinking that way?
Should I demand that they do meet all our concerns, even if I know very well the staff is not sufficient to provide her with one on one observation and or help. I just don't see it as being a realistic goal to set for her?
It's like if she goes I can just assume I'm tossing her in the pool, sink or swim.

She would not be in a special needs class (she has overcome most of her symptoms of autism through diet changes).

But the food related exposures are critically important to keeping her off the spectrum and to keeping her healthy. That and she still has setbacks in areas that other kids won't, and advances in areas that most kids don't. That in addition to the fact that she needs to be helped and won't likely ask for it (if she has an accident, for example, or if she doesn't have the proper snack etc).

So I am just very curious about this whole situation with IEPs adn trusting the school system with the special needs of children when they cannot possibly meet the needs of the average children as it is?
(and this is assuming the children are not in a special class, but integrating into regular public school classes).

The private school is very accommodating of all of our requests and they really talk to me and to her and we can work one on one, but it may be too expensive to be a realistic option. I guess if there is a will there is a way.

I'd love to hear from you all and get some feedback on this subject.
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#2 of 18 Old 10-06-2005, 12:08 AM
 
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Sorry I don't have a answer to your questions. I am so glad you started this thread bc I am possibly going to be in your same shoes in a couple of years. I fear that help want be there when I need it for my son.
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#3 of 18 Old 10-06-2005, 07:36 PM
 
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Your child is entitled to a free and appropriate public education regardless of whether the school has the funds or not. If the school cannot provide the services, they are obligated to pay for your child to get them somewhere else. This could be a battle involving court and lawyers. You will have to be VERY proactive w/ her IEP and evaluations. Have you seen this site: wrightslaw.com ?? Check it out.

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So I am just very curious about this whole situation with IEPs adn trusting the school system with the special needs of children when they cannot possibly meet the needs of the average children as it is?
Yes, the school will provide the bare minimim, but they are required by law to provide what the child needs. So YOU arrange private evals, YOU get on the butts to provide, YOU fight.

IMO, if you are in a private school that you can afford and you feel like they are doing a good job and your child is doing well, then it may be worth it to just stay there. However, the laws change when you have your child in a private school and you may not be eligible for services from the public school b/c you choose private. I am not certain how that all works though. Maybe that wrightslaw site has more info on that.

Getting services for special kids is not a walk in the park, so it's important to arm yourself w/ information. Read the law and become familiar w/ it.

HTH~
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#4 of 18 Old 10-06-2005, 07:46 PM
 
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LaLa,

It can vary so much by school system. Not what they have to do, but how they try and do it.

I hang out on www.schwablearning.com which is a site for parents of kids with learning differences.

I hear horror stories, but some people also speak up that it is not so bad where they are. It depends. You would just have to be prepared to be an advocate for your child. And you already are, so it would probably work out.

You need to know what paperwork to file and when. Can be a beauracratic maze...

And pb_and_j is right on. If they didn't have the resources, they would need to get them.

You could put feelers out. Even if your child is in private school, they can provide you with services.
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#5 of 18 Old 10-06-2005, 11:05 PM
 
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to echo a pp - your child is entitled to a free and appropriate public education, as per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. the legal precedent here is Hendrick Hudson School District v. Rowley, in which the Supreme Court decided that evidence of "some educational benefit" was sufficient to meet this standard. the short version of this case is that a rather intelligent little girl also had severe hearing loss. with certain accomodations, she was able to maintain a solid academic average and progress from year to year with her age mates. her parents contended that with certain other accomodations, she would be able to achieve at an even greater level. the court decided that the district was not required to meet the maximum potential of students with disabilities.

this has been somewhat muddled, however, with the passage of No Child Left Behind - which mandates that students are to meet state-established standards and schools are to make adequate yearly progress.

i would become very familiar with the procedural safeguards as provided to you by your school district.
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#6 of 18 Old 10-06-2005, 11:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb_and_j
However, the laws change when you have your child in a private school and you may not be eligible for services from the public school b/c you choose private. I am not certain how that all works though. Maybe that wrightslaw site has more info on that.
the school's child find responsibility extends to private schools, and the local school district is required to provide the services and/or accomodations as determined by the evaluation and assessment team -- however, they are not required to provide those services in your choice of location.

the private school is not required to do any of these things, as you have chosen to send your child there. they *may provide accomodations for your child in the classroom, but they are not legally required to.

for example, let's say a child in a private school requires occupational therapy. the public school is required to provide that service, but is not required to provide that service at the private school or to provide transportation to the public school to receive that service. again, they *may, but they are not required to.

another example - let's say a child requires an assistive communication device. the public school may have to pay for it - if it is necessary for the child to attain a free and public education - regardless of where the child uses it.
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#7 of 18 Old 10-06-2005, 11:20 PM
 
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Thanks for that clarification I knew there was *something* different that happened when you went to private school, but I wasn't sure what.
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#8 of 18 Old 10-07-2005, 02:23 PM
 
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#9 of 18 Old 10-07-2005, 03:58 PM
 
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From what I understand you have the right to have reevaluate the IEP as much as needed if for some reason you feel things are not working well. You also have the right to refuse services and disagree with their assessment. We could have declined services and just kept DS in christian preschool, but we wanted to try the public school program and see how things went.

So far we are happy with his class and the services he receives. He is in an integrated classroom, with some special needs and some regular kids. He gets OT once a week in his classroom for his SID. We are starting to see an improvement in his behavior at home. He rides the bus to and from school too and he loves it.

Good luck in whatever you decide.
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#10 of 18 Old 10-07-2005, 04:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been reading the replies and I am just thinking thinking thinking.

Not sure what I think yet.

Some things that bother me are that I just don't trust an IEP.
For example, a friend has on her child's IEP that her son must be watched at outdoor play time (as he may tend to wander off the property).
They don't have a hired person to watch him, but of the two adults outside, one willl be assigned to watch him.

Well, what if they see a fight, or an accident? Are they likely to ignore it so they can keep their focus on the child they are assigned to? Or will they do what any teacher would likely do in the situation and help out.
What if the assigned teacher is sick that day and no one thinks to inform a sub?

I have heard some horror stories about what happens when well intentioned, yet uninformed subs are present.

I understand that it would be within the parents right to pursue any negligence or non appliance to the IEP, but I don't want to be in a position where I need to pursue something. I don't want something to happen in the first place. (back to my own issue of trust and control of the situation).

I'm glad to hear some happy success stories from you guys. I realize a lot of this is my own personal issue of trust. I just don't trust school with my child, yet she wants to be in school and I think she would likely do very well.
But how could i leave her someplace where I don't trust them to care for her?
But then children are not necesarlly "cared for" at school...

Obviously I have to just keep reading and thinking for now.
Keep your stories coming
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#11 of 18 Old 10-07-2005, 04:18 PM
 
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I didn't have time to read all the responses so I hope I don't repeat anything. I'm a public school teacher and the schools are legally bound to follow the IEP. They must also give you information on your legal rights and you are also entitled to an advocate to help you work with the school to best meet the needs of your child. You are rightunfortunately, schools don' t have the resources to meet the needs of the children. Thats why it is essential for teh parents to stay on top of things and be aware of your legal rights. If the school is unable to meet the needs and follow and IEP they are legally respponsible for, they must, legally, find any way possible. Even if it means hiring outside help. An IEP is a legally binding document and if the school does not follow it they are considered out of compliance and can be sued by you.

Geez, I could go on and on. Just know that you have rights and the more you stay on top of things and educate yourself the better off you and your child will be. If you have any other questions, I might be able to help, feel free to pm me.
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#12 of 18 Old 10-07-2005, 04:34 PM
 
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The pp's are right on about your rights and you might have to let the schools know (in as nice a way as possible, of course!) that you are aware of these rights.

SO MUCH depends on the school. I was a public school teacher for 8 years and I can tell you that the staff at our school would bend over backward for each and every child- special needs or not. Unfortunately, not all schools are like that. I'd get to know the principal and teachers at your local school and feel it out from there. I'd hate for you to miss a good opportunity out of fear, but also don't want you to get into a bad situation... Good luck!
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#13 of 18 Old 10-07-2005, 06:59 PM
 
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If you go the public school route, you need to be armed w/ information. The pp said the IEP is a legal document and she was right. If the school is in breach of the IEP then you can sue them. And you would win. The reason why we have such a poor idea of how the public schools run is b/c parents are not informed of the law and are not holding the schools accountable. It is so wrong, but that is the way it is. You may have to fight to get your child the services he or she needs.

If you truly do not feel your public school will be able to meet your child's needs, and your child is in a private school, and you can afford it, and your child is getting ALL the services she needs, then this may be a battle you do not want to fight. There ARE good services available from public schools. They are required to give you these services (and if their evals do not show your child needing them, you have a right to get your own private evals done and if the private evals show the need, the public school HAS to give them to you) and if they don't have them available, then they need to train ppl or hire ppl or pay for your child to get them somewhere else.

In your friend's situation, she has every right to request an adult to be assigned exclusively to her child. That is a situation where the school would argue that he is ok w/ the supervision he is getting, but if the parent feels different, they have to take that into account. The parent would have to prove that that child is in danger and the school is not complying though before the school would "give in" to that request. The opinion of the parent carries as much weight as any other person at an IEP. You just need to get the evals to back you up b/c the evals done by the school most likely will NOT get you all of the services you want for your child.

Anyway, I am rambling.
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#14 of 18 Old 10-07-2005, 10:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for that additional input. That kind of shifts the way I was looking at all of this a bit.

We have had our own private OT and Behavior MD for Bean becasue when we first went the route of the school (AEA) they were so heartbreakingly mean to me on the phone and told me that they didn't deal with children "like mine" there (this was when fecal play was a major issue).

Well, I have since learned that the person who told me that was not only mean, but flat out wrong. They do indeed and I further found a woman within the AEA who was very kind and supportive, but I found the people I hired privately to be much more interested in helping my daughter and in helping me to educate myself too. The AEA, while well intentioned, was not used to her case and kind of floundering to help us when we did get into it.

Anyway, my point is I would prefer sticking with our private sources and not the public school. It is expensive, but if it brings us all happiness and peace of mind on a daily basis. If it prevents the "fight"...well then we just need to find a way and make it work.

I think that this is confirming for me the choices we have already made, but start to question when time goes by.
Here I have wonderful OT and a behavior MD my dd loves. Both kind and helpful. We have implemented a diet that has turned her around 100%! We have put her in a private school that bends over backward to meet her needs in any way I ask.
When time goes by I forget why we chose these things. Because of that, I look at the price tag and start to think... maybe I should just scrap all of this and toss her in public school...after all, she is doing so much better and look how many children are in public school and doing great....

But then when I remember why we are where we are and how great she is doing...well then I feel silly for thinking about trying to save money on this area of our lives.

And dh wants me to homeschool her, but everyone I have ever talked to (MDs, Behavior, OT, Pyscologists, you name it) has always stood firm that social interaction on a regular basis was so important for my dd in particular to keep her from withdrawing again or more.

To teach her the daily skills of interacting in a kind environment.
And while I am babbeling, I have to share this story (about kind environment).
Last year my daughter still had accidents fairly often at school. She would have bms in her clothing and would be embarassed, not want to tell anyone. Now the children in the class were ALWAYS kind to her and never once made fun of her for smelling funny, or having to be helped to get cleaned up or anything else. The kids are so nice in that school, and it has been such a blessing.
I remember that child in school who had accidents and was excluded, made fun of, emotionally tortured. There is no way I would send my bean through that even once.

I ramble. This is all difficult for me to feel like I know what is best all the time.
Thank you for sharing your stories and opinions. It really helps. I will talk to our local schools (public) as well and see if I can get a feel (but I know their classes have about 10 children more per teacher, so that off the bat makes me hesitant).

Thank you mamas
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#15 of 18 Old 10-08-2005, 01:38 PM
 
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LaLa, if you can prove that the public school cannot provide the things your dd needs, they have to pay for you to get services elsewhere. So the potential is there for them to pay for the private school where your dd is now.

There is a family in my town who fought the school and won (!) and now the school pays for their autistic son to attend a special school for autistic children in the next "big" town west... about a 45 min drive. The school pays them for their travel, for the tuition AND for speech therapy in LA (plus travel to LA too) once a week too.

Just food for thought, not sure if you're up for a battle of that degree (I'm not sure many ppl are). It sounds like your dd is in a really great school right now. I wish we had that option!
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#16 of 18 Old 10-09-2005, 08:25 PM
 
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I teach in a public school-- in an Asperger's inclusion program. There ARE amazing public school programs, and there are also crappy ones. Because there are so many more kids coming to public schools with ASDs, there is a huge demand for specialized programs.

There are a million and one different scenerios as to what would happen if you had her evaluated at a public school. She could be put into a general ed classroom with minor modifications (not my favorite approach). She could be in an incusion team teaching classroom (2 teachers, about 1/3 special ed kids 2/3 general ed kids). I really love everything about team teaching. Every kid in the room benefits. She could be put into a self-contained special ed classroom. (Doesn't sound like that's what she needs)

In addition, she could get OT and other services push-in or pull-out. I would just look into what the schools around you offer, just to see. I would argue that the program I teach in is better than anything offered in private schools, but I'm a tad biased. And I'm not silly enough to think that just b/c my school does it well, any public school would provide services you'd be happy with.
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#17 of 18 Old 10-09-2005, 09:55 PM
 
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PP have stated that public schools, by federal law, are to provide a free and appropriate education to every child, and have elaborated on what this entails. One thing I have not heard mentioned is a child needs to be placed in the least restrictive environmnet possible. A child with mild problems can not be placed in a special ed room with more severly affected children.

LaLa, what are you basing your mistrust of your local school district? Have you talked to them and discussed what options are available to your Bean? Have you visited potential classrooms? have you tried to network with parent support groups in your area and state that could give you more insight into your district? We hear of stories all the time of families having to fight for services, but there are good ones out there too. You will never know what is available to your family unless you check it out. mabey you would find out it would not be worth the hassel of moving your Bean and you wold feel more comfortable paying for the tuition at a place she is thriving in. PS as far as the homeschool thing, what happpens to Bean over the summer? Does she retreat some? There is a great list, but high volume on homeschooling ASD children-AUT-2B-HOME.

My son is diagnosed with PDD-NOS and in an excelent public school program. It is called Communication Interaction Program. He has two classes. His spec ed room has 7 kids one teacher and two aids full time. He also gets speech, OT, adaptive PE, social skills classes multiple times a week (most of this is done buy professionalls coming into the room). He gets multiple sensory breaks during the day. they use Edmark reading, Hand Writing Without Tears for him, as well as a alphasmart to help his writing. He has a regualr class he is with several times throughout the day for read aloud, and specials (art, music, pe, library) with an aid. The kids have been great in his mainstreamed class. Aside from asking for the HWOT, I have not had to ask for any of this. I get daily feedback from his teacher. We came from CA and had a great teacher there for him, but this program is phenomenal and the best thing we could have done for him. Every time I hear of struggles other families go through I am so grateful for this program. At the first IEP meeting in MN, to set up the school year based on his CA IEP and testing and discuss what further testing would be needed to meet MN standards, I just came away really feeling like each adult in the meeting genuinely wanted to help Aric achieve his best. A year later I still do. Unlike CA where I always felt kind of defensive in an IEP.

So yes there are great programs out there, you never know unless you research what is available to you.
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#18 of 18 Old 10-09-2005, 10:58 PM
 
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It's true that all children are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE)in the least restrictive environment (LRE). My ds also has autism and is currently in the self contained autism preschool (at my request-he could have gone to the self contained or integrated, but I liked the better ratios of the self contained class to start).

I just went through an IEP meeting to get integration started. It was a bit stressful, but it's important to remmeber an IEP is a legally binding document and if the school doesn't want to follow it, it's too bad. I said what I wanted and was looking for, everyone was pretty much in agreement and we're in the process of writing a new IEP that better addresses his issues. (The original IEP was based on the initial eval done by the school, when Jake had just turned 3 and hadn't started any other therapies.)

Some districts are better than others and I'm told I'm in one of the best. I've got a great support coordinator through DDD (state program that pays for additional therapies) who was at my meeting and said we've got a great team. I've been told by many people that my coordinator is one of the best, so I feel very fortunate.

If you are happy with the private school and can continue to pay for it, I'd keep her there. If public school becomes a necessity, just educate yourself best as you can and go forward. It's definitely scary- but I found a great local support group that helps show me the ropes.

Having a high functioning autistic child in an integrated classroom is very quickly becoming the norm instead of locking these kids in a separate classroom.

Michelle -mom to Katlyn 4/00 , Jake 3/02, and Seth 5/04
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