My child has been struggling with reading/writing and concentration since 1st grade. He was retained in 3rd grade unable to pass FCAT. He has a 504 and we have been fighting the school every step of the way and now trying to get an IEP. We requested a complete EVAL, signed permission slip and the 60 days was up on March 8, it is now the 26th and the FCAT is in 2 weeks. I emailed them and they said the results weren’t ready. Please HELP. I am not sure what my next step should be but I am so frustrated and feel so badly for my child.
Ok, first, deep breaths.
First, let’s talk about the FCAT. Because regardless of the results of any evals and any IEP that is agreed upon, that’s not going to make a lick of difference in the next two weeks, right? I’m sure you’ve already probably read and almost memorized that FCAT link, as far as who has to take the test, exemptions and so on. At first glance, I don’t see any religious exemptions, which some states have. I would start pursuing exemptions if you think he is not going to pass. I also would start reading and option-seeking that section about options for those who do not pass.
I would do another (fairly formal) letter to the district, laying out your concerns about your son and in particular this test. So if your worries are focus, reading comprehension, test taking, whatever…..make sure that is known. Since he has a 504, he is already somewhat protected even though the FCAT site only mentions IEPs. I would also look at your son’s strengths–and point out the positives, and why this test shouldn’t be the only measure of his success.
On a reality note…if he fails…how many times are they going to let him fail before they step in and say “yeah, this kid probably needs special instruction” ?!?! I would try to tactfully bring that to their attention too.
Now, on to the 60-day deadline that has now passed. Have you considered taking him to a specialist and perhaps seeing if he qualifies for a medical diagnosis of ADHD or something related? I’m leery to suggest that, because if it happens, it’s then all too often that schools want you to medicate and they don’t want to be bothered with specially designed instruction. But it may help give you more leverage as you advocate for him.
When you get your evaluation reports, you should look at them and say “Yes! This is my child.” If it doesn’t, they missed the mark. So consider seeking out a neuropsychologist or other specialist, and just ask if you can pay a consult fee to have them read the reports. They can often tell you what diagnostics were missed, what should have been done. This will also help make the case if you need to ask for an IEE, if you disagree with the school’s evaluations. Hopefully that won’t happen.
But you haven’t even received your reports yet, and they’ve missed the deadline. That’s really your call, as far as how hard and for how long you will push back and ask politely for these reports and the IEP meeting. I would do any requests for this in writing, and remind them of the timelines. “I signed the permission to evaluate form on March 8, and still have not received anything……” You can call your state’s Disability Rights Network and see what they suggest. You can call disability advocacy groups (try your Arc or NAMI) and see what they suggest. You can go all out and file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, stating that by neglecting these deadlines and failing to construct and implement an IEP, that they are denying him FAPE (his Free and Appropriate Education). You can contact a Special Education Attorney and see if you have a good Due Process and maybe even compensatory education claim.
And you can read about Child Find and your district’s responsibility to find and identify kids with disabilities. It sorta blows my mind, that a kid has a 504, fails a test that means he fails a grade. And no one steps in (except Mom) to see if something more should be done. Who lets kids fail without seeing if they could use help?
Good luck and keep us posted!