Today’s question comes to us from a parent of an 11-year-old, will call him RK.
Can a school not report out and claim a “computer problem” is the cause? The reporting out is now a few weeks overdue. The interesting piece is that the school is claiming it’s a district wide problem, but others at different schools have received theirs. They are also claiming an email was sent out to inform parents but none of us received it.
Hmm, ok. First, a school can claim whatever they want. It depends on what documentation or “reporting” as you referred to it, that you are waiting for. I have heard that computer problems is the modern day equivalent to “the dog ate my homework.”
A few reminders about timelines:
- If you requested (in writing) an evaluation, the district has 10 days to get you a Permission to Evaluate form, and then 60 days to complete the eval.
- If you requested (in writing) a FERPA request, they have 45 days.
- If you requested (in writing) a Right to Know request, the district has 30 days.
If it’s something else, like progress monitoring, then it should be whatever is in the IEP. Standard language in IEPs is that the school will report to you each marking period. But many times for clients I make sure that weekly, bi-weekly or monthly monitoring reports is written into the IEP.
Now, here’s the unfortunate part–there’s very little recourse and it’s quite burdensome for the parents (I know!). But you do have some options. First, you have to make sure that you have all of your records in writing–whatever you’ve requested or agreed to or asked for, this “reporting” that you speak of. If it was just a verbal “Oh yeah, I’ll email that to you next week” then you need to start over, today, in writing.
If you have requested any of the above items in writing, just start going up the chain of command: teacher—>principal or special ed director—>superintendent or school board. Each time you contact another person (in writing!), personally I would add a “And I would like a written response from you within five business days or I will take further action” on each message. This will hopefully keep things from dragging on too long.
- You can file a Professional Educator Misconduct Complaint with the PA Department of Education.
- You can pursue a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and file a complaint/grievance there. Probably your main complaint would be “denying access to a free and appropriate education by … “
- You can call the PA Disability Rights Network (they prefer for you to call rather than mail/email) and tell them your story, take their advice.
- You can search your district’s website and look for whatever formal grievance procedure they have, and file one. Ask to present it at the next school board meeting if you are comfortable public speaking. Take some folks with you for moral support.
- I would also seek out an advocate’s assistance, contact your state’s disability agency to see if they can help. Every state has one!
- Whatever reporting you are seeking, since the whole situation appears to be sketchy, I would do a FERPA request if you feel comfortable. At the very least, you should get whatever reporting you are due, plus other, within 45 days. Know that many districts view this as a hostile move and it could make your relationship with the district adversarial if it isn’t already.
- Contact an attorney that specializes in Special Education if you feel it’s warranted.
None of the above suggestions is simple to do or a quick fix, unfortunately.
And just my $0.02 about kibbitzing with other parents. I’m all for networking and having a great support system, just make sure it’s all for the best. Knowledge is good to have, but make sure that you make all of your concerns–both written and verbal, about your child and only your child. Nothing positive will come of it if the district feels they are being ganged up on. However, if it’s warranted, there’s nothing wrong with a bunch of families all submitting professional conduct complaints (or similar measures) all at the same time. In fact, that can work to your advantage if OCR receives several complaints all within the same week or two, about the same district. They are more likely to investigate your complaint.
I hope this helps. Feel free to submit another question if I haven’t answered it adequately.
If you would like to submit a question to “Ask an Advocate” email me at Info@ADayinourShoes.com