Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Can schools do that? What rights does my child have?

News Flash! Many of the school educators and administrations - who I assumed were qualified to make program decisions - who have said "NO" to services, or didn't offer program options were not being cruel, or difficult they just really didn't know what to offer and they didn't know the law. A large percentage of the school site staff - who work daily with our children - do not have all the information. As parents of children with ASD, we must be open to the notion; people just do not have enough information. So, once again it's  up to us to knowledgeable when it comes to what our kids require and are entitled to. That being the case learning our child's rights and some of the basic legal stuff is essential. 

Learning some basics has helped me to send the important message that "I've done my homework. I am prepared to sit at this table and make decisions with you, a/k/a Imean business". This has translated to getting most of my sons needs negotiated with his school site team and avoiding due process and mediation. This is a good thing because it means; there is no delay in getting my son's needs met, relationships with school personnel stay positive and I don't have to hire an attorney for mediation or due process. It has not always worked, and it's important to know that you can't get all issued resolved at the school level.  Important note: The school district will reimburse you for attorney's fees (100%) if you win your case. However, they do not reimburse for advocates. So talk to your lawyer or advocate to determine who you should hire based on what kind of dispute you have. Here are the legal tidbits that I use the most in the school setting:
  1. An IEP only goes into effect once the parent/ guardian signs it
  2. If I don't agree with his IEP - I don't have to sign it.
  3. Any services he has in place (prior to the IEP in question) may or may not stay in place until an agreement is reached, ask.
  4. I can proceed to "due process" or mediation to challenge any decision made on a school level.
  5. If I have to hire an attorney to defend me, and I win the school district pays the legal fees.
  6. I can call an IEP anytime I feel it is necessary, and I can call as many as I feel are necessary.
  7. I can call an emergency IEP if necessary and the school must schedule within 30 days.
  8. is a great website for advocacy and legal information
Note to self and others: read before every IEP!

Here is a section from the educational code that helps us understand what rights our children are entitled to.

Special Education Code 
56363.  (a) Designated instruction and services as specified in the individualized education program shall be available when the instruction and services are necessary for the pupil to benefit
educationally from his or her instructional program.  The instruction and services shall be provided by the regular class teacher, the special class teacher, or the resource specialist if the teacher or specialist is competent to provide the instruction and services and if the provision of the instruction and services by the teacher or specialist is feasible.  If not, the appropriate designated instruction and services specialist shall provide the instruction and
services.  Designated instruction and services shall meet standards adopted by the board. (b) These services may include, but are not limited to, the
   (1) Language and speech development and remediation.  The language
and speech development and remediation services may be provided by a
speech-language pathology assistant as defined in subdivision (f) of
Section 2530.2 of the Business and Professions Code.
   (2) Audiological services.
   (3) Orientation and mobility instruction.
   (4) Instruction in the home or hospital.
   (5) Adapted physical education.
   (6) Physical and occupational therapy.
   (7) Vision services.
   (8) Specialized driver training instruction.
   (9) Counseling and guidance.
   (10) Psychological services other than assessment and development of the individualized education program.
   (11) Parent counseling and training.
   (12) Health and nursing services.
   (13) Social worker services.
   (14) Specially designed vocational education and career development.
   (15) Recreation services.
   (16) Specialized services for low-incidence disabilities, such as readers, transcribers, and vision and hearing services.
So here it is in black and white.

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