How Can I Get Help For My Child At School?

Children can receive help at school when they are having difficulty learning. The most common types of help is for reading and math. Some schools will have a certified reading teacher who will serve identified children. Most of these services fall under a federal program called Title I. This program requires that the children served are 2 or years behind others in their class on a very short and simple assessment that is not a diagnostic process. It the school is a Title I school, every student in the school is assessed in the fall, mid-year and at the end of the school year; parent permission is not required for assessment (because the entire school is tested) but is required to receive Title I services. Title I services are routinely recommended by teachers.A more intensive way to receive extra help is through special education services. The most common services are for speech (in some areas for speech and language), reading, math, written language. For children with greater needs, services may include help with: behavior, life skills, physical and/or occupational therapy, adaptive physical education. Entry into special education services is through a complex process that can be started by either the school personnel or parents. Once a request for special education evaluation and services has begun, there is a timeline controlling each step. At any point in the assessment and/or delivery of services, the parent may file a complaint with the state department of education and guidelines for doing this may be found on the state’s website.PlacementThere is a procedure that must be followed, and usually school districts are meticulous about meeting the requirements. When it is not followed, the school district is out of compliance (which can cause some difficulties with the state department of education) with the law unless the non-compliance has been caused by the parent/guardian (which will not cause the district problems with the state department of education).1. Typically, the school begins the process by requesting a meeting with the parent to discuss the possibility of the child’s needs for special education services. If the parent/guardian is requesting the process to begin, the parent/guardian must send a letter to the school district special education department requesting assessment of the child “in all areas of suspected disability.”2. Within 15 (school) days, the school must either deny the request in writing (which the parent/guardian can appeal in a separate process) or provide an assessment plan (this is usually done during a pre-evaluation meeting with the parent/guardian, school administrator, special education teacher and general education teacher (all of these are required by law to be physically present or represented by a written statement if it is acceptable to the parent/guardian).3. The parent/guardian must sign this plan within 15 (school) days; if the parent does not sign (agreement), the child will not be evaluated.4. Within 60 (school) days of the parent/guardian signing the assessment plan, the school district must complete the assessment process and hold an eligibility meeting. If the child is eligible (according to the state guidelines) for special education services, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) must be created and signed (approved) by the parent/guardian. If the parent/guardian does not agree with the results, (s)he may request an independent evaluation (at district expense) through a different process; results will rarely differ. Usually for simplicity sake, the IEP is done at the eligibility meeting. The IEP must define:· what services the child will receive,· goals and objectives for those services,· who will deliver those services,· where those services will be delivered,· frequency (times/week) of services, and· duration of services (minutes/day or week and the starting and ending dates)· modifications and/or accommodations that may be needed for the student to learn and/or demonstrate skills proficiency. This includes assistive technology.Once Identified And PlacedWhen a child has been identified and placed in special education, there are compliance requirements. The most important of these is that the child’s IEP must be re-evaluated every year. The child must be re-evaluated academically every year to monitor progress which is discussed with the parent at a meeting before the expiration of his/her previous IEP. The people attending this meeting (unless absence is approved in writing by the parent) are: general and special education teachers, administrator, and other services providers (as defined by the eligibility for services and initial placement meeting). This meeting, if services are to continue, must develop a new IEP for the child to continue receiving services.Exiting Special EducationThere are two ways to terminate special education services for a child. The least common way is for the parent/guardian to request a meeting to remove the child from special education. The most common way is for a child’s progress to be commensurate with his/her level of expectation performance (based on the initial evaluation results) in the areas for which (s)he receives services. Sometimes children will be removed from services for one or two subjects/services at a time. No matter how the child is removed from services, the parent and district personnel (general and special education teachers, administrator, other services providers) must meet and sign a change of placement form allowing the change of placement. Any one of the IEP team members may disagree (including the parent) with the team’s decision(s). If the child remains eligible for services but the parent/guardian wants to remove him/her, the parent’s/guardian’s choice prevails, but the school district personnel may dissent.