Make Your Case – Don’t Get Mad

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When you hear recommendations from your school district for your child’s education that are inadequate, don’t get mad! Instead, put anger aside and find the holes in their recommendations. You will find them, and when you do, you can obtain a good program for your child.

An example:

A parent who had homeschooled her child due to disagreements with the school, allowed the school district to do a triennial evaluation on the child after the three years of homeschooling.  The evaluation was done during an eight week in-school diagnostic period.

Once the diagnostic period was completed, and the school reported its results, the parents believed the results of the evaluation were insufficient to create an appropriate IEP for the child.

A major deficiency was the fact that the school evaluation team had failed to assess and determine the child’s ability to walk in school. The student used a wheelchair, but could walk fairly well in her walker. The parents, rightly, expected the school to provide opportunities for the student to walk with her peers for part of the school day. But the school team developed an IEP that failed to have any walking as part of her school day.

This was a major oversight on the part of the school evaluators. When the parents questioned this, the school team indicated that it was unrealistic and inefficient for the child to walk in school.

At the PPT, the parent (who was furious) asked the school physical therapist, who was responsible for gross motor activities (like walking) if she (the physical therapist) had observed the student walking in school at all. The physical therapist answered truthfully “no”. On behalf of the parent I asked “do you think it would have given you important information if you had allowed the child to try to walk in school a few times?” The Physical therapist got defensive and said that she did not think the child should walk in school as it would be too onerous, difficult, time consuming and all that. The parent was frustrated and angry.

But we remembered that before the parents had taken the child out of school to homeschool the student walking in school every morning. She walked several hundred feet every day – and IT WAS DOCUMENTED ON HER IEPs. The physical therapist had said in her evaluation report that she had observed and assessed the child in school as well as examined her prior school records. At the PPT we asked what the physical therapist remembered reading in the prior school records? She couldn’t answer. Do you recall that the child was walking in school?” She said feebly, “Well I will have to review the records”.

We pulled out the last IEPs of the child which stated clearly that the child had walked every day in school.

Walking became part of the child’s IEP.

When parents get angry and frustrated with the school, they often overlook strong evidence to support their requests for their child. As an advocate, I was able to step back and look dispassionately for evidence to support the parent’s case.

 

 

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