Also known as I’m supposed to do WHAT now?
It has come to my attention that the more I know – the more I need to know. While that may sound trite to many, it’s absolutely true. I find myself wishing there was a class (or three) that I could take to learn more about Special Education law and Education law in general. I mean, seriously, have you ever wondered whether the information you’re working from is correct? It seems to come up a lot for me. For instance, I recently learned
that while an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is an IDEA issue – a 504 is an Office of Civil Rights issue. A 504 is a life-long document (and employers have to honor it too), not an education document; where an IEP ends at age 21. I’ve known for a long time that a student can’t have both…but did you know that if a student qualifies for an IEP and the parents refuse the student cannot legally have a 504? Did you know that 504s do not have to be reviewed annually?
Did you know that just because a student has a diagnosis of ADHD or Autism doesn’t automatically qualify them for an IEP? Do you think about these things when you’re at your meetings or discussing them with staff? It seems to be coming up more and more.
There are many things that periodically come up (please note: these do not have to do with MY school necessarily – but are common concerns from SLPs I’ve talked to):
1) demographics…are there too many, not so, of a certain demographic identified in my school? What happens to those students who can’t be identified because of skewed demographics but still need the help? When did we get so concerned with numbers we forgot about the people?
2) Can a school psych diagnose ADHD or just identify possible “markers” for ADHD? Same for anxiety…and…if a school psych says “he has markers for anxiety” does that mean the school has to pay for a psych exam or what? What good does “he has markers for…” do us? It’s not a diagnosis…it’s not a treatment plan…it’s not a behavioral plan.
3) What exactly counts as “educational autism?”
4) What constitutes a parent referral? Does it have to be in writing or is a verbal request enough? While teachers are not supposed to lead parents down the road of requesting testing – is it ethical to try to convince them not to request testing? Is it the “leading” that’s unethical – or what?
5) When a student has challenging behavior what’s the best way to identify it – and how do we know if it’s an emotional disability or just being a brat? (okay that one might not be a legal issue – but it’s an issue!) Also, I’d like to know why some behaviors qualify a student for an IEP and others don’t. If the behavior interrupts a child’s learning – shouldn’t it be IEP worthy regardless of whether it’s ODD or something else?
6) What do you do when your teachers will NOT do RTI in a meaningful way or have lost track of what differentiated instruction is (you know, instruction done differently)? Do we really have to punish the students by not giving them the help they need? Isn’t there something in place to protect the one’s we’re supposed to be helping?
These are just a few of the questions that come up fairly often. I know these issues vary state-to-state, but there should be general guidelines…right?
My biggest problem, is that this year there are so many questions that keep coming up in my school. Many of them have never come up before and I find myself having to ask my coordinator about them…who in turn has to ask her team. While I appreciate her willingness to help – and I really do, she is wonderful… I’d really like to just know the answers (you know, by osmosis or something).
So…how do you get these issues resolved? Do you have someone you can go to for legal questions? Have these issues ever come up before? Let me know…
Until then…Adventure on!