Eligibility for special education services is determined by answering the following three questions:
- Does a child have a disability?
- Does that disability prevent the child from making effective progress at school?
- Does the child require specialized services in order to benefit from what is being taught at school?
It certainly sounds like your son’s disability may be affecting his ability to learn and be successful at school.
If your son’s challenges are getting to the level where the solution being suggested is to exclude him from school, I can understand why you are frustrated.
Listed below are some suggestions of what you might do next. Remember you know what is best for your child and the suggestions below may or may not be the direction you want to take. If you need additional support or suggestions please feel free to contact the ACMH office at 888-226-4543.
Once your child is found in-eligible for special education there are a variety of things you can do or steps you can take including:
- Request that the school provide accommodations and supports through a 504 plan or other informal supports which can include a positive behavior plan and supports. To learn more about eligibility under Section 504 under the Rehabilitation Act click here and scroll down to the section regarding 504 plans.
- Discuss your concerns about the decision/determination with the school and ask their help to know what to do next. As a part of a comprehensive evaluation for special education the MET or multidisciplinary evaluation team should have looked at all areas of functioning for your child including behavior. I am wondering if the school may have considered only one category of eligibility or possibly not considered or evaluated his behavior. Perhaps the team would be willing to take another look or conduct a functional behavioral assessment if one was not already conducted. Functional Behavior Assessments are evaluations and observations that seek to understand the child’s behaviors and why they do what they do. They also look at the interaction between a child and their environment. After a series of observations they make an informed hypothesis (or best guess) of why they think the behavior is occurring and then use the information to help create goals and strategies to try to positively change behavior.
- Request an Independent Educational Evaluation or I.E.E. if you disagree with the evaluation or recommendations which found your child ineligible. This is basically like asking for a second opinion. If you are interested in requesting an I.E.E. you have to put your request in writing detailing why you disagree with the evaluation results or recommendations. The written notice you received from the school after your child was found ineligible should have outlined the things that were considered, the testing that was done and the reason the team found your child ineligible. This information will be helpful to you as you write your written request. Once the school receives your request, they either have to approve it and share information about the process for accessing an Independent Educational Evaluation or I.E.E. or they have to request a due process hearing to show why they feel their evaluation results and recommendations are accurate. There is a video called After the Evaluation- Not Eligible -Now What? on the Michigan Alliance for Families website that provides much more detail about this process. You can link to it by clicking here.
- Seek formal help to resolve the disagreement with the school by requesting mediation, filing a state complaint or requesting a due process hearing. When disagreements occur with the school it is always best to try to resolve the problem by speaking with your school team and sharing your concerns. However, if you are unable to work the issues out in this way, there are other more ‘formal’ options for resolving disagreements. The notice you received when your child was found ineligible should have been accompanied by information about procedural safeguards which outline the more ‘formal’ processes/options you can take if you disagree with the school.
Bottom line: Your child has a right to attend school for the entire day and the school has a responsibility to support their needs so they are able to participate in school.
If your child is eligible for special education and/or if your child’s school is aware that he or she has a disability, there are limits to the school’s ability to suspend or exclude your child from school for behavior related to your child’s disability.
For more information regarding eligibility and the special education process, school discipline, suspension, expulsion and safeguards for students with disabilities and those receiving special education, you can click here to visit another area of the ACMH website or visit Michigan Alliance for Families website to get more information by clicking: http://www.michiganallianceforfamilies.org/education/discipline/