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Old 03-05-12, 09:29 PM
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Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

I posted here a year or so ago when we were having trouble trying to get an IEP for our son. We were denied an evaluation last year, but this fall the school agreed to do an eval, and we have just finally met to get the results.

Quick description of the kid, just to put things in perspective-- Kiddo has had behavior issues since pre-school. He has been suspended several times a year since Kindergarten, but has also been in the gifted program except for half a year in 3rd grade when he was moved out due to poor grades. He hasn't had very good grades for years, maybe ever, usually due to not doing homework and/or being out of class a lot for behavior issues. Even so, he still gets results well above average on the standardized tests, somewhere around the 85-90th percentile depending on the category.

He was diagnosed ADHD in about 2nd grade, and in the couple of years his psychiatrist has said that he meets the criteria for ODD and emotional disorder, but they aren't willing to get any more specific than that.

Back to the present: The school classified him as eligible for an IEP based on emotional disorder, and made no mention of ADHD. I'm not surprised, but I really think the ADHD should have been listed as a qualifier as well. Regardless, they said he's eligible, so we went on to putting the plan together.

The school wants to focus the IEP exclusively on behavior issues. They suggest moving him from the gifted classes he is currently in to a special ed room. Since he's currently failing all but 1 of the core classes anyway, I'm not worried about taking him out of the gifted classes necessarily, but I don't want to completely forget about academic progress to work on behavioral progress. They said that he'll be using a web based "Plato" program for academics in this class. It was described as an adaptive software that modifies the level of the curriculum based on his performance, so if he's doing well, he could advance to a higher level fairly quickly, but if he's struggling, it will dial back to make things a little easier. It sounds good, in theory. I found a few older threads here which mention Plato being a program used for homeschooling and alternative schools, if it's the same thing, I assume it must be pretty decent based on what little I've found so far. Does anyone have recent experience with this plato program?

Also, the IEP they sent home with us today, which we haven't signed off on yet, only included 2 goals, both aimed at working on appropriate interactions with adults and peers. It really feels wrong to me that there's no mention of academics anywhere. I guess what I'd like to have included as a target is to maintain his current levels and progress from there. But does that need to be explicitly stated, if the 'goal' is just to maintain? And if so, how would you say it, especially If he's moving from a classroom / teacher led instruction to computer based learning? Should it just be based on his standardized test scores staying at the same levels? Or based on him continuing to work at about 1 grade level above his grade/age?

Thanks for your feedback,
Aurock
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Old 03-05-12, 10:04 PM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

You are supposed to have input into the IEP, it's not that they get to decide because of course it may not be in the best interests of the child, he should be in the least restrictive environment.
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Old 03-05-12, 10:27 PM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

I know we get to offer input. And we did discuss some stuff at the meeting, but I wasn't really expecting (or not prepared for, anyway) their recommendation that he go fully into the special ed classroom. I probably should have been, and I'm not opposed to it, but it kind of caught me off guard. I was really expecting to be talking about what we're going to do to help kiddo get his homework assignments brought home, done, and turned back in, and how we can deal with discipline issues at school better. Instead, by changing the placement completely, those issues are pretty much eliminated. Again, that kind of makes sense. I think this might be the right direction to go, I just want to make sure it doesn't mean he's left behind academically, and end up going from a year ahead of grade level to a year or more behind.

And maybe I'm worried about nothing. I suppose there is probably still an expectation that students in special ed classes make progress from year to year, and if he continues taking the same standardized tests he has been, then it should show pretty quickly if he isn't maintaining, right?
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Old 03-05-12, 10:36 PM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

I sent you a link with some resources in your area, I strongly recommend talking this over with people who know a lot more, often parents are just too isolated and the child suffers.

It really doesn't sound right to me. That's the problem with being sidelined exclusively into a special education class, the academics can suffer. Please get in touch with resources in your area, see what others have to say.
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Old 03-06-12, 01:18 AM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

Please spend some time at these two sites there is wealth of information there.....
http://www.matrixparents.org/
http://wrightslaw.com/

Last edited by grape_ninja; 03-06-12 at 01:18 AM.. Reason: spelloing
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Old 03-06-12, 10:03 AM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

If he is a bright kid, as you say, I STRONGLY urge you to refuse their proposal. School districts that handle special ed like this also tend to be the kind of school district where once your kid is in that room THEY NEVER LEAVE. That is not what you want!
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Old 03-06-12, 12:53 PM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

Hi and welcome! How old is your boy?
Before you make any decision, can you go in and observe the special ed class?
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Old 03-06-12, 08:40 PM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

I don't understand how a child goes from a gifted class to special ed without stopping at a general education classroom first. That would be the least restrictive environment (LRE). Did they explain why such a drastic step was necessary? It sounds like they just don't want to be bothered with him and want to take the easy way out (IMO).

The purpose of providing the IEP is to enable the student to make academic progress--the student does have to make at least 1 year of progress during the course of the year. Did the school test him so you know where he's starting from? If he can demonstrate the ability to work at or above grade level, what measures are in place to make sure he progresses at least that much when using the Plato program? Ask them how they plan to measure academic progress; there is no reason you can't ask that it be incorporated into the IEP.

But....back to my first point; why can't he be in a gen ed class for at least part of the day? My son (3rd grade) also has behavioral issues and he is in the classroom for most of the day. He uses the special ed room when he needs quiet time. Handwriting is frustrating for him so he is also allowed to complete some work on the computers there. Other than that, and time out of the room for OT, he's in the classroom or with his classmates in whatever activities they have. His goals are all behavioral and have to do mostly with peer interaction and also not getting frustrated having to complete non-preferred tasks in the classroom.

I would be very leery about signing this IEP. Do you think the school is acting in your son's best interests? Unless you omitted something from your post it doesn't seem that they are. You may want to contact an advocate to troubleshoot this with you. I found this link for your state: http://illinoisspecialed.com/#IllinoisParentsGroups that might be helpful.

The wrightslaw site grape-ninja cited is also a great resource.
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Old 03-07-12, 01:45 PM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

The move to a special ed class (I think they called it self contained) is primarily for behavior issues. He disrupts his class a lot, and it affects both him and his classmates. I don't think he would be any less disruptive in a gen-ed class. They have been sending him to this other class as an alternative to sending him to the office when he gets in trouble, since november when they agreed to do the iep eval. I don't disagree that he should be moved to this classroom, I just want to make sure we pin down some other details along with it.

And actually, my wife has been speaking with someone a the school this morning, plus I just got more info from a last minute additional eval by the school psychologist, and I think we're making good progress. It sounds like they are addressing my concerns and will be sending a new document, but we're going to continue with the initial change of placement right away.
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Old 03-07-12, 02:03 PM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

i think the most important thing to consider when deciding whether or not to put him in special ed is to find out how HE feels about it. i'd mention it casually to him first, and see what kind of feedback you get. if he is vehemently opposed to the idea, it will be a detrimental move...as from my experience in talking with other parents, kids who feel stigmatized by being in a special ed class are at high risk for developing severe anxiety and depression, and often resort to skipping school, running away, and/or doing drugs as they reach middle school age...and virtually all quit by the time they reach 16.

however, if he's NOT seemingly bothered by the idea, seeing how he does in a special ed class might actually be a very *good* move for all parties -- especially him; as theoretically, he'll no longer be subject to constant ridicule from teachers and possibly even other kids for his behavior...if you decide to go this route, since he's a bright boy, you need to make sure that the IEP stipulates that he will be taught the standard curriculum, be given all associated testing, and that you will be given at least weekly reports on his progress, both academically and behaviorally.

and if the special ed class doesn't work out, you have a HUGE chance of being able to switch him back to a regular classroom...children who are never able to leave special ed classes under such circumstances almost always have parents who are too afraid to argue with the "experts" at IEP meetings -- when in reality, they don't realize that as parents, they virtually always have the final say...

but if they absolutely won't budge, you can demand that he be evaluated by an outside source -- a BONAFIDE expert of your choosing, and then have that expert attend a meeting with you and school personnel to give his/her findings and recommendations, *all at the school's expense*...

(btw, when i wrote BONAFIDE expert, i meant a neuro or behavioral psychologist with a *PhD* -- i didn't even know you could be one without a PhD, but apparently you can, as our school's psychologist doesn't have one! ...and we live in an upscale district. )


i've never heard of even one parent not being successful in getting what they want after having such a meeting. and that's exactly what i did in my son's situation (he had no behavior issues, but severe problems with inattention) -- btw, he was put back in all regular classes (thanks to my expert!), has lots of high caliber friends, a steady girlfriend, and will be graduating from high school in june and attending community college in the fall...

sure, he still has the same problems, but with lots of support from his parents and grandparents, he's learned how to manage them and is very happy in life.
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Old 03-08-12, 01:56 AM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

Quote:
Originally Posted by anticipate View Post
If he is a bright kid, as you say, I STRONGLY urge you to refuse their proposal. School districts that handle special ed like this also tend to be the kind of school district where once your kid is in that room THEY NEVER LEAVE. That is not what you want!
His son can leave the moment he revokes services. Its not a life sentence.

I'm not down with the SPED room. Its all about inclusion these days and they need to articulate why they are restricting his environment.

For ADD, I had 2-3 thoughts:
1. See if your state has dedicated criterion for determining disability, then take a good hard look at ADD, or Physical Disability. Whatever they call it. It doesn't matter what's going on with your son nearly as much as - Does he meet the criteria? That's it and that's all.

2. For ADD, the behavioral skills, socio-emotional regulation, and appropriate peer action can drive academic success. To give you some ideas about ways you can go with behavior goals: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/d...cessSkills.pdf. I love that file and use it alot in looking at where I want my students to go and what they need to be successful when they get there.

Best of luck!
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Old 03-09-12, 12:03 AM
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Re: Finally getting an IEP, but not what I expected

A smaller setting might work better for your child. Plus their might be more adults to offer that positive reinforcement often and consistently, and to ensure homework is kept track of.

The education system in my state is suffering financially in a big way, and is no longer providing teaching assistants to any child who needs an additional adult to help them be more successful in a large class setting. Schools are expected to improve state test scores every year on a limited budget, large class sizes, and are concerned with all students being in an environment where they can learn, and lets face it, our kids might be pretty distracting sometimes. This all inclusive model is a very expensive model and may not work the best for some kids. I think in the end you have the final say, so maybe you could agree on a trial run.
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