Special Education Law: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Pete Wright is an attorney who represents children with disabilities. His practice is devoted exclusively to helping children with special education needs.

Pam Wright is a psychotherapist specializing in special needs children.

David is the HealthyPlace.com moderator.

The people in blue are audience members.

Conference Transcript

Special Education Law: What Every Parent Needs to Know conference transcript. For parents of ADD, ADHD children.David: Good Evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. We have only been open for 2 weeks. This is our third online conference. Our conference tonight is on "Special Education Law: What Every Parent Needs to Know". We are fortunate because we have two excellent guests on the subject. Attorney Pete Wright and his wife, psychotherapist, Pam Wright. Their site is: Wright's Law.

Pete Wright is an attorney who has represented children with disabilities for more than 20 years. His practice is devoted exclusively to helping children with special education needs. Pam Wright is a psychotherapist. Her training in clinical psychology and clinical social work give her a unique perspective on parent- child - -school dynamics, problems and solutions.

Good evening Pete and Pam, welcome to the HealthyPlace.com site. Pete, I want to start off touching on some legal issues. Why is it so difficult for so many parents of special needs children to get what the law says their child deserves when it comes to the education system?

Pete Wright: Wow, what a question to open with.

It goes back decades, to issues of school culture and power within the system, like medical insurance and HMO's. Schools are like production lines and when something disrupts the flow, all hell breaks loose, and the slowdown in production is blamed on the part and the worker, i.e., the student and the teacher. Appropriate is a word defined by the courts and has resulted in extensive litigation, it started with the Rowley case where Amy was doing better on grades and educational achievement tests than her peers, and some courts said the program needed to maximize, others said not that much, and U.S. Supreme Court said all of the lower courts were basically wrong, that the program had to be individually designed to meet the child's unique needs in a program from which the child would benefit. A basic floor of opportunity, but not the best or optimize or maximizes. Those words are fatal in a report or being used by a parent. The best way to lose your fight for your children in the education is to say "that I want what is best," or to have that written in the report.

Pam Wright: David, there is little agreement about what children are entitled to. The law says children are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education or FAPE. Parents must never ask for what is BEST for their children, only what is "appropriate." So we say "BEST" is a four letter word that parents must avoid.

Pete Wright: Additional response to your opening question is that it all goes back to dollars and costs, short term.

David From letters I've received this afternoon, prior to the conference, I think a lot of parents, Pam, are afraid to go into the school and ask for what their "child is entitled to". Maybe they feel intimated by that. What suggestions do you have for handling that?

Pam Wright: Many parents feel intimidated by schools, period. So its hard to go to an IEP (Indivdualized Education Plan) meeting and deal with all the "experts" on the other side of the table. It helps to have someone go to the IEP meeting with you, and parents should dress up for the meetings like they would to go to church! Because "image' is important, especially in schools which are often pretty old fashioned.

Pete Wright: What is the child entitled to? Entitlement is in the eyes of the beholder. The best education?, a minimal education?, there is no easy answer to that. School staff may say that the entitlement is one hour a week, but a private expert says an hour a day of whatever. We always seek what is best, however though, we clearly are not entitled to that in the eyes of the law.

Pam Wright Parents need to prepare for meetings - this will help keep their nervousness down.

Pete Wright: Image and first impressions have tremendous weight toward helping your child get better services. Too many parents blow it by sending sloppy letters, appearing disorganized. Look and act professional.

Pam Wright: In special education, and in so many things, the key to success lies in preparation.

Pete Wright: A top of the line meal on a mediocre plate vs. a mediocre meal served with all of the fancy trappings, is initially presumed to taste better, even if it does not.

David: Here are some audience questions:

codecan: Hi, my son is in a severe behavior classroom he has adhd and add. The problem is I am fighting the school to give my son either a gym time or recess! They have every excuse going right now. Aren't they in violation of his rights?

Pam Wright: Codecan: Your son is in a behavior class. Is this all the time?

codecan: yes.

Pete Wright: codecan, do other children get gym time or recess? If yes, why doesn't your son? What is the reason given?

codecan: all day long and even eat lunch in the room.

Pam Wright: Most kids who have behavior problems have other problems which cause the behavior problems - you mentioned ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), but most kids with ADHD also have learning disabilities and frustration. So the question is: is this placement appropriate?

Pete Wright: Have you brought this up in an IEP meeting?




CarlaB: Re: IEP- How will parents be regularly informed of progress? (by such means as periodic report card.) My school district claims that by putting a generic computerized statement on his regular report card, this meets this requirement. The statement reads, "Progress made on IEP goals/obj". Is this legal?

Pete Wright: Doesn't sound legal to me, please read Appendix A about IEPs at our website or in our book. You need to have clear information about whether the goals and objectives are being met, and the goals and objectives should be directly related to the present levels of performance listed on IEP, i.e. scores in various educational achievement tests or other measures.

Pam Wright: So you should get information about the progress your child is making. This will tell you whether the IEP needs to be revised or services increased. Bottom line: is the child learning? How do you know? How do you measure learning? So child's progress needs to be measured objectively and often.

Pete Wright: Progress made. What do they mean by progress made? How did they measure it? With true measures or just subjective feelings and beliefs?

David: One question I have, we all get frustrated and we all know the administrators and other school officials may jerk us around. But getting a lawyer is very expensive and my guess is the school system couldn't care less if you do. How can you best handle a difficult situation and when is it time to get a lawyer?

Pam Wright: The best thing to do is to prevent problems when possible.

Pete Wright: Good question. Real question: how can you get what your child needs without getting a lawyer? Answer: by preparing for a lawsuit.

Pam Wright: You do this by staying organized, keeping child's records organized by date as we discuss in our Tactics Manual. Learn how to measure progress, and about legal rights and responsibilities, and how to write polite letters that create a paper trail. When parents do this, most will never need a lawyer.

Pete Wright: In other words, the best way to avoid litigation is to assume it will happen and prepare for it, and also, parents should assume that they cannot testify at their own special education due process hearing and that they cannot call school witnesses to testify on their behalf. In other words, document by many nice letters and have private sector evaluations and tape record and then TRANSCRIBE the tape recording and follow up meeting with a letter.

Pam Wright: School people know this person has the evidence if it is necessary, so is less likely to draw a line in the sand. One more thing. If parents ask for something, they won't get it so they need to get someone else to recommend it: a private sector psychologist, doctor, etc.

Pete Wright: Schools are like HMO's and are not afraid of you getting a lawyer. Never threaten to get one either, that is counter-productive. We have several articles on our website regarding this. About emotions and crisis situations and about preparing for due process.

Becca: In a previous newsletter, you mentioned education forums that taught techniques to avoid IDEA compliance. Tell me more about this.

Pam Wright: I think you were thinking about seminars by a law company. These are normal ways for each side to get training. Defense lawyers get one kind of training, insurance defense lawyers get training but they don't get the same training!

GAM: I have a child in a private catholic school who is having problems in school and failed a subject and the principal is keeping him off school sports for the marking cycle. I read an article by another lawyer stating a court case which found the refusal to let an adhd child participate in athletics to be in violation of section 504. Is this true? Where can I find the precedent for this particular problem?

Pete Wright: One publishing company had a program about "Building Defensible Programs", i.e., which was interpreted as defending in court. The program was actually quite good and said in essence: provide a good program and you wont get sued.

Pam Wright: I wouldn't fight a big battle over one marking period, but I would try to use the time to help your child get focused on school and if sports are what he loves, this may help him. Pick your battles carefully. Also, get an expert to say your son needs sports.

Pete Wright: Is the child off the team because of a good disability or because of poor grades, that's the issue.

pvx: I'm in South Carolina and have an interest in 504 complaints. My county is about to build a NEW and BETTER segregated facility for about 350 from 7 school districts. I'm about to file an OCR complaint. Any advice?

Pete Wright: pvx, more info, new and better segregated, do you mean a special education school, or one that will not have special education kids?

pvx: Segregated, especially OH and MR (Mental Retardation).

Pam Wright: The amended IDEA focuses more on LRE which means more inclusion, read Appendix A, and find a way to structure your complaint so it is easy for OCR (Office of Civil Rights) to rule in your favor.

Pete Wright: OH and mental retardation are out, or in the school?

pvx: We have 7 districts that feed the low incidents to the CDC.

Pete Wright: Try to look at other OCR complaints and polish it up so that it is visually very attractive to read. Assuming you mean it is a school for kids with disabilities only, OCR would be very interested in your complaint.

Pam Wright: But you need to present a very polished complaint!

Pete Wright: So often, letters and complaints are not well put together and have a strike against them before even being read. First impression often controls.




junebotto: I live in NY state. My son was referred in Sept of 1998 and we did not have a Children with Special Education meeting until the following Sept. 1999. I would like the Special Department and the school to be penalized for this but according to my Esq. I have no recourse. Do you agree?

Pete Wright: It would all depend on very specific facts. Did you know of timeline being extended and not act on that. Courts uniformly say, one who sleeps on their rights, waives them. Or, in the alternative: what type of penalty were you thinking about? If the delay did not create harm, Courts say, no harm, no foul, thus it is very fact specific, and also, sometimes you may have a good claim, but to exercise it in the end may create damage to the child. And if your attorney handles special education law, then that person may be advising you based on the totality of the situation. What could you really recover has to be the real question.

David: And again, I think it's important to stress here, when something doesn't go the way we like, as a parent and an individual, we'd like to see some sort of punishment. However, I think what Pete and Pam are saying is, you are better off working within the system, than expending emotional and financial energy trying to fight it, if you can. Here are some more questions.

midwestmom: My son's IEP designation is currently "OHI"; our school district has suggested that if we change it to MI my son could qualify for more services. Are some categories/labels more "powerful" than others? Should I care?

Pam Wright: Child should receive what the child needs, regardless of the "label". The revised IDEA says child should get services, even with NO label!, up to a certain age.

Pete Wright: Label does not drive either services or the IEP. The law was changed in 1997 and is very clear about that. Policies within school districts may not have changed however. If your child needs the services and suffers from the new, unknown, wrightslaw syndrome, and a heretofore new disturbing label, should that exclude the child from some services and open door to others?

Pam Wright: I imagine the school has Program A for kids with one "label" and Program B for kids with another, and isn't individualizing the IEPs enough just trying to fit the child into their pre-existing program?

Kerny1: I have a daughter with borderline mental retardation IQ. She is in a regular fourth grade class receiving push-in Special Education services. She is having difficulty mastering the grade level subjects. Can she go to fifth grade and have her program modified to her level even though it is NOT grade 5 level work as the other students? We live in NY.

Pete Wright: To kerny1, issue is acquisition of the basic reading, writing, arithmetic and spelling skills, as primary over all other issues, such as 5th grade vs. 4th grade vs. other curriculum. It is important to master the basic skills, which can be done, but may require more intense services. Children with Down's Syndrome can read on age level. So often expectations are too low. In other words, are you sure you really want work modified, or the total program intensified? That's what I recommend

Pam Wright: Because of the standards movement, and state testing, the issue Kerny brings up will affect many kids.

Pete Wright: What if Helen Keller was in the system today, what would she get to acquire basic reading, writing, arithmetic skills?

Pam Wright: Helen Keller went on to write books, speak, and lead a movement.

David: Pam, as a psychotherapist who has a lot of experience with special needs children, does a child have to get everything from the school system or can tutoring and other special programs work too.

Pam Wright: The most important thing is to ensure that the child gets the services he or she needs. In many cases, its better to get tutoring than to fight a war, if you can do so. The problem is that many people don't have other resources.

David: From the audience, I'd be interested in getting very short responses to this question and then I'll post it for everyone to see. If you've been successful in dealing with your school system, what do you attribute that to? Here are some of the audience responses to my question:

seisen: Success with school system....persistence and information

Dabby: Always dangle the carrot before you bring out the stick! Don't anger them. Try to know more than they do before you go to a meeting. If you feel to close to the situation bring someone with you who can be objective.

brandi valentine: Knowing my rights! Also, having them over a barrel helped a little to :) However, I would never have known they had crossed that line if I hadn't known my rights.

Childsvoice: It came from acquiring as much knowledge about our rights as I could get my eyes on! Many thanks to Pete and Pam for their web site and their publications.

CarlaB: Knowing the law, and following the strategies set forth on the Wrightslaw website :-).

bpmom: Only success we've had (too few) were due to being the "squeaky wheel" and knowing the law and knowing how to make "subtle threats".

Mathilda: Our county school system is fully in support of its SED (Special Education) kids; but it is under contract with the local mental health agency, who is less than supportive, to put it mildly.

green9591: I haven't been. Superintendent cares only for saving $ not the kids.

David: I noticed Brandi Valentine is in the audience tonight. Just wanted to recognize her. She's well known on the internet and also has her site in the HeatlhyPlace.com ADD Community.

Pam Wright: I think Brandi had one of the 1st web sites on the internet. Glad to see you. It contains a wealth of information.

Pete Wright: Re Tutoring: So often private sector tutoring after school can be far more valuable. That is what worked for me. Two years, one-on-one, every day, after school. I was no longer considered emotionally disturbed and borderline mentally retarded. (The story is at our wrightslaw.com website.)




David: Here are some more audience questions:

jackie R: My son is in a section 27 class, and will be loosing his placement after June because the school is for kids in residence, and he moved home. :-).

David: What can Jackie do about that?

Pam Wright: Assuming son is 14 or older, he needs a transition plan.

Pete Wright: Jackie, I'm not sure what the question is? Should he be home or at the school? Is there a more appropriate one nearby. Need more info please. The IDEA focuses on the fact that school is a mean to an end so kids need assistance in making transitions.

Pete Wright: PS What is section 27?

Pam Wright: Assuming son still has a disability, son still needs an appropriate education, although he may not need residential placement. BUT placement decision cannot be made until after Individualized Education Plans goals and objectives.

cadkins: What does the IDEA say about Time Out closets in EBD rooms? Is it legal to place children in there for long periods? Can children without IEPs be placed in there?

Pam Wright: Short answer is that school districts are being sued over this. We have 2 cases on our site about this. I think they are abominable and there have been a flurry of $$$$ dollar damage lawsuits because of them?

Pete Wright: Read some of the cases and get some community organization and a lawsuit going.

Pam Wright: The Witte case in Nevada and a recent case in KY or TN.

Pete Wright: There are often very strict state standards for that type of placement in a state mental hospital. Are the standards missing with schools?

Pam Wright: That just came out. If child has a behavior problem, needs to have a functional behavior assessment per IDEA. Another question?

David: Here are some additional responses from the audience to my question about how to deal successfully with the school system.

hsiehfriel: I work closely with the teachers, the school psych and the principal. I met with them even before my child entered first day of class to let them know I was an involved parent, interested in building a team approach.

SED teacher: I am curious about restraints. I have taught in NY, VA, and now FL. This is my first experience with "hands-on". I was trained and continue to use verbal de-escalation and have not used restraint. I am overwhelmed by the frequent application and intensity of hands before words. This is very disturbing personally and professionally. What is my recourse?

Pam Wright: We are getting many questions from special education teachers about things like this, too many children in classes. Can you get help from CEC or a special ed or education group?

Pete Wright: I am amazed by the use of physical force.

Pam Wright: Who can teachers turn to when asked to do things that are illegal or immoral or just plain wrong?

Pete Wright: I worked several years in a juvenile training school as a houseparent and we did not have to use force with rapists, killers, very disturbed children. It was me and 20-25 of them, locked in a cottage ward, or sometimes in an unlocked cottage ward. It seems that some schools are gravitating toward almost a sadistic cruel way of working with children that they do not understand.

Pam Wright: I think special ed teachers are going to have to take a stand against this.

Pete Wright: But the question is, what is your recourse? All I can offer is for you to see if you can get literature and perhaps try to set up some training programs for staff and administrators regarding behavior control without use of force and timeout locked closets. It is done out there and the alternative may be a very large $$$ damage lawsuit. That fear of litigation can be a powerful motivator to change behavior when all else fails.

Shar: I cannot get the CSE Committee to understand the relationship between NVLD and anxiety and that children with learning disabilities can achieve excellent grades while overcompensating. Any suggestions with limited resources in rural USA?

Pam Wright: If you are on a special education teacher list, you may get some help from others. You will need to get a psychologist or evaluator to write recommendations as to what child needs. As a parent, you have little or no credibility when you are dealing with school people so you need someone else to make the recommendations.

Pete Wright: You are a parent, they will not hear you. Bring books, videos, etc, they will gather dust. Have someone else, private sector psych or whatever, be the lightning rod and catalyst for change. Have that person write a letter and send material and advise that they will do a follow up call to see if the info is helpful, for starters.

Julie C: Under the Special Education laws, are children with learning disabilities entitled to a tutor paid at the school districts expense if the child is in need of more educational instruction?

Pete Wright: Re Tutoring: So often private sector tutoring after school can be far more valuable. That is what worked for me. Two years, one-on-one, every day, after school. I was no longer considered emotionally disturbed and borderline mentally retarded. (The story is at our wrightslaw.com website.)

Pam Wright: BTW: Mel Levine's work is excellent in this area. He is in NC.

Pete Wright: Nothing prohibits payment of private tutor, except tradition, policies, never done it before, this is the way we always do it, and other such reasons.

Pam Wright: Some public school supervisors will believe you have insulted their staff, who are of course, the best!

Pete Wright: Gerry Spence's book How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday, at our website talks about how to change perceptions.

Pam Wright: It's How to Argue and Win Every Time and it's about persuasion, not argument.




David: Here's a question that I'm sure concerns many parents:

cambridge: Can the "system" force a child to take medications against the will of the parents?

Pete Wright: Meds - I don't think so, get a doctor to advise against it and have it in writing and ask school whose advice should you follow, theirs or the doctor?

Pam Wright: Again, you are getting an outside person to be the lightening rod.

Pete Wright: Meds - follow up, ritatin and dex, etc, I have taken them from time-to-time and found them helpful, was on dexedrine during middle school years.

David: Here's a question about Individualized Education Plans (IEP):

AnnaB: Is it part of the law that parents receive proposals prior to an IEP meeting when requested in writing?

Pam Wright: You request to receive proposals before the IEP meeting? The reality is that people are pulling stuff together at the last minute.

Pete Wright: Proposed IEP, does not have to be furnished in advance, Evaluations, I don't believe they have to be furnished in advance, but good practice is to provide them, otherwise how can parent offer meaningful input into IEP or even be expected to sign documents at that time.

Pam Wright: Like at midnight the night before. So yes, you should be able to ask but they may not be able to provide what you want. You can always ask for another meeting.

David: One thing I also want to ask and I think this is a legitimate concern among many parents. They go to the school, try and work within the system, but things aren't going well. They may or may not stand up for their child because they are afraid of being a "lightening rod" for retaliation against their child by the teachers or administrators. Can you elaborate on that a bit and make some positive suggestions on how best to deal with this train of thought?

Pam Wright: First, develop a businesslike relationship. One of the participants talked about meeting people before her child started school. It's often helpful to get someone to come to these meetings - this person can validate what happened. The best way to prevent problems is to prepare for them, so get your child's file organized, learn about how to measure progress, get a book about how to write letters. But you will always be somewhat afraid because this is YOUR child.

Pete Wright: Parents often generate staff anger toward them because staff views them as not being appreciative of their efforts. Parents have anger toward staff because they see child falling further-and-further behind. This becomes a catch 22. I hope this stops. Parent must become more professional than the staff, aka Ms. Manners, with thank you letters that are later evidence if necessary. Become calm cool collected tactics and strategy mindset. We have a lot about that in our Tactics Manual.

Pam Wright: There is no way to eliminate this fear because it is sometimes based on reality.

David: Here are a few audience comments regarding this last question:

Donna1: Administrators, or should I say "this" administrator is always willing to work with parents, but don't come in ready to knock the door down when you (as a parent) haven't given me a chance.

shine84: I have a son who is being tested for ADHD . He has already been suspended from kindergarden twice for inappropriate conduct . Also while on a field trip one of my friends saw my son and went up to him to talk and the teacher had such a tight grip on his hand he could not go anywhere, but the other kids where running around and playing. Is this fair and appropriate?

Pete Wright: For the administrator, often the parent was there once before, but as the child or adolescent that was suffering school failure and abuse, and old emotions come to the surface.

Pam Wright: First issue: is it appropriate to suspend a kindergarten child? I'd say "No!" But the teachers often don't have any training in how to deal with the children, so that becomes an issue that parent need to address. Get schools to do more training for the teachers so the teachers can do a better job.

Pete Wright: Bizarre, suspending a kindergarden child. You need a comprehensive private sector series of evaluations and look carefully not just at ADD behavior, but mastery of the 3R's and written language. That is too often overlooked with the ADD child exhibiting difficult behaviors.

David: What about the idea of getting a "child advocate"? Can you explain what that is, give us any idea of what that costs, and what the positives and negatives of that are?

Pam Wright: Child advocate? There are currently no standards so I can be one, Pete is one, many parents are advocates. This is an important question and not enough time to answer.

Costs: Usually an hourly rate, fairly reasonable.

Biggest issue: is training of the advocate!

Pete Wright: Advocate come in all sizes and shapes. Some very qualified, others put gasoline on fires truly believing they are using a fire extinguisher. Word of mouth is the best referral source. There is no national law or standard regarding advocate. One of the best in the country is Pat Howey. There is an organization COPAA, Council of Attorneys and Advocates at www.copaa.net that we are members of, and a good source to locate an advocate.

David: Here's a child advocate suggestion from an audience member, thank you:

kimdyqzn: Sheri Taylor-Mearhoff is in the audience. She runs a not-for-profit advocacy organization called Amicus for Children. She helped me a LOT even though she's in PA and I'm in KS

Pam Wright: We just learned about this group a few weeks ago.

Pete Wright: Hi Sherry, your organization is doing a great job, love your case summaries.

Pam Wright: Sheri can speak to the issues of advocates, and what to look for.




Mathilda: What do you do when the local behavioral health dept. is breaking the law regarding its obligation to Special Education Disorder kids in a self-contained classroom?

Pete Wright: More specifics?

Pam Wright: There is no law that requires any type of child to be in a self contained class.

Mathilda: CA has a law -- AB3632 -- that allows group home placement of special education disorder kids if it will help them get the most out of their education. LMHA is refusing 3632 referrals from the schools.

Pete Wright: Sounds like state agency heads need to battle it out. How about CA Protect and Advocacy assisting.

Pam Wright: One interesting side effect from alternative schools is that for many kids, they are making excellent progress because the schools are small and the education is more individualized. So this can be a good thing for some kids.

Kodiak: Do parents have a say in determining what's appropriate?

Pam Wright: Absolutely, that's the law, input at the individualized education plans meeting.

Pam Wright: According to IDEA, parents are equal participants in the IEP process but in reality, many schools do not operate this way!

Pam Wright: However, whatever the parent asserts as appropriate, often damns it, have your private sector expert say it is appropriate.

David: Here's a related question for Pam:

Luvmyson: Pam; what is the difference between what is best and what is appropriate? I have always used term appropriate.

Pam Wright: GOOD FOR YOU! Never use the word "best" - it is fatal! The law says your child is entitled to a Chevrolet (appropriate), not a Cadillac (best)! School people will use the word "best" but parents should always use appropriate.

Pam Wright: Luvmyson, good for you, never use the word BEST, it is a 4 letter word, because, by law, your child is clearly not entitled to it. Never let it sneak into a private sector report either!

Pam Wright: Of course, when we say "appropriate", we are talking about a good program for the child.

hsiehfriel: I have always been careful to use the term 'appropriate,' but the district and I still don't always agree on what's "appropriate." How can parents get past that hurdle?

Pam Wright: Good question and hard to answer here. Your private sector expert should say that XYZ is what the child needs, at a minimum, for an appropriate education.

Pete Wright: That is the hurdle. Read our Understanding Tests and Measurements article at wrightslaw, read it over and over and over, master it, then make charts with power point, take them in to the meeting, visuals are powerful, focus on persuasive skills, ala Spence, that's a start.

DBillin168: Pam and Pete, I have your book and really enjoyed it. My problem is my district ONLY has inclusion, no other continuum of service. My district is saying it can send my child to another district because it does not offer self contained classes (which I feel my child needs) is this true?

Pam Wright: No! The school is required by law to offer a continuum of placements. Inclusion or mainstreaming is the first thing that must be considered, not the only thing.

Pete Wright: They have to offer a continuum, but necessarily within their own district, dependent upon realities and case law. They may have to pay money for the other program.

Pam Wright: Think about it. If the school only offers inclusion, then they aren't individualizing the program to the unique needs of this child.

green9591: If in your individualized education plan for 2000-2001 school year, no mention was made that your child will be attending another program, do you have to send your child to this program even if the existing program may be discontinued?

Pam Wright: The IEP should describe in detail the services the district will provide . . you should read Appendix A which talks about this.

David: Earlier, we were talking about Child Advocates. Here's an answer from one of our audience members:

sheritm: In reference to the question on advocates, the mission of www.amicusforchildren.org is to help parents be the children's first & best advocate by providing them with information that we research for them - based on their individual service requests. Sometimes the situations are so extreme that advocates and/or attorneys are needed. You can look for an advocate through agencies that are specific to your child's disability. And COPAA is a great resource, some state Parent Resource Centers.

Pete Wright: If the program is discontinued where will the child go. The case law replacement and program often waffles about it being the xyz placement at 123 school, and it could be the xyz placement at the 789 school, or the abc placement at the 123 school and schools will often present a change that way and it sells to the court.

Pam Wright: The individualized education plan should specify the child's program, including placement, in detail. You should not sign an IEP if you are uncertain about what your child will receive.




taj gilligan: I have a question regarding the SAT. My daughter has ADD and apart from extended time accommodations, is there anything else I should ask for?

Pete Wright: Whoever in private sector tested your child will have the best answer as to what type of modifications and/or accommodations your child may need. So often written language disability is overlooked with ADD child.

suebell: In a very small, rural school district how do we "politely" request/demand that school staff (including aide) be specifically trained on how to teach and deal with the only autistic child in the district?

Pam Wright: Your school district should be getting help from the state department of education in this area because teacher training and preparation are extremely important and are discussed at length in IDEA. Also essential that aids be trained, and not just be babysitters.

Pete Wright: You try to have them see it thru your eyes. If they view your request as a demand, you will have a long battle and struggle. Their issue with autism is frequently economics. If you are seeking an ABA Lovaas type of program, videos may be helpful. It involves salesmanship, again, a la Gerry Spence.

David: It is getting very late and the Wright's have been here for 2 hours. I really appreciate that and I hope that everyone got something beneficial out of tonight's conference. I also want to thank everyone in the audience for not only coming, but also participating. We can all learn from each other. Pete and Pam Wright's site is www.wrightslaw.com.

Pam Wright: We'd like to thank David for his help on this!

David: To order their book call 877-LAW-IDEA , that's 877-529-4332.

Pete Wright: David, this has been an enjoyable experience. You have done a great job and healthyplace is off to a great start. We thank you.

Pam Wright: I second that! Bye.

David: Thank you again Pete and Pam. Everyone, we will be holding many more ADD related conferences and I hope you will register on our community list so you can be notified of what's going on.

Good night everyone.

We frequently hold topical mental health chat conferences. The schedule for upcoming conferences, and transcripts from previous chats, are here.



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Last Updated: 31 March 2017

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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