My son is a 7-year old 1st grader attending an on-line charter school. He has an active IEP under the classifications of Autism (primary) and Speech and Language Impairment (secondary). His charter school claims that because he is doing well academically, even though he has gaps in speech, he no longer qualifies for an IEP. Citing outdated assessments, his virtual charter school now wants to switch him to a 504 plan instead. Should I agree to exit him from special education?
No. Just like entering into an IEP, exiting special education is a major decision that could impact your child for years to come. A 504 Plan is not a consolation prize and does not have nearly the services, supports and safeguards guaranteed by an IEP. Make sure you have sufficient information before you agree to exit your son from his IEP and give up important rights. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Your son may be progressing academically, but regressing in behavior, social skills, fine or gross motor skills and speech. School districts and charter schools must complete reassessments in all areas of suspected disability before exiting a child from an IEP.
- Since your charter school can’t or won’t conduct testing, demand full Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs) in all areas of suspected disability. This would include at least a psycho-educational evaluation and a speech and language IEE for your son.
- Demand and review a copy of your child’s complete school records to determine whether there are other areas of need that were omitted from his IEP. These areas may require further testing, or at least consideration by the entire IEP team. Review the recommended 504 Plan accommodations. Are they actually “specially designed instruction” in disguise?
- Speak to his teacher one-on-one. How long has she worked with him? Does she agree that your child no longer requires any specialized instruction or a related service like speech? Remember that any many respects, you are the teacher in a distance-learning setting. What have you observed regarding his progress in all areas of need?
- Some charter and virtual schools have limited ability to meet strict IEP requirements and encourage parents to exit their children from special services. There may be a hidden agenda that is based on money and not on your child’s educational success.
- If the charter school refuses to fund IEEs or insists upon exiting your son even after an IEE shows that he continues to need special education, seek help immediately. You will likely need a highly experienced advocate or attorney to protect your child’s right to continued IEP eligibility.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis and school closures, ADAMS ESQ’s social justice circle is funding academic screenings at no charge to qualifying children with special education needs in California and Nevada. For more information on this program, contact us today at: firstname.lastname@example.org or reach us toll-free at: 1-800-785-6713. You also may want to read and repost our past COVID19-related blogs: “Forget About the Toilet Paper—Grab that IEP!”, “IEP Alerts for Parents” , “Special Education Teaching is Really Hard!”, “The ‘FREE’ in FAPE”, Doubling-Down on Special Education and Look Before You Leap! 5 Things to Know Before Leaving Your Child at School During a Pandemic.