Q: My first-second-third grader doesn’t seem to be reading as well as I would expect. The school tells me it’s not time to evaluate/test her and that we should wait another six months or a year. Is this true?
A: NO. Early intervention is the best intervention! If you wait until third or fourth grade, your child will already be so frustrated that it may become more difficult to teacher her and you will have missed an opportunity, developmentally. Sometimes schools say a child is “too young” to evaluate. This is false. 5, 6 and 7 year olds can be tested for all kinds of disabilities.
Q: My child has an IEP, but I don’t think he is making progress. The school says he is doing fine. How do I know what’s really going on?
A: Progress monitoring starts with good IEP goals. Do you understand how data will be collected on each of your child’s IEP goals? If not, it’s not you, it’s THEM! Schools are obligated to provide you with DATA to show whether your child is making progress or not, and they are required to provide this FOUR times per year. If you don’t understand the data, or if there isn’t any data, it’s not you, it’s THEM!
Q: I told the principal/teacher/IEP chairperson that I think my child might have a disability. She told me in the hall that we don’t need to have a meeting because my child won’t qualify for special education because he is too smart/too young/getting ok grades. Is this right?
A: NO. When a parent believes that their child MIGHT have a disability and asks the school to consider this concern, the school is obligated to bring a team of people together to consider whether the child needs to be evaluated formally. No one (or two or three) people can decide this outside of a formal IEP meeting.
Q: My child has a disability that sometimes affects his behavior. Can he be suspended for this?
A: Yes and No. Children with disabilities can be suspended for behaviors that are related to their disability up to a certain point, but it is not good practice, it indicates that something is not quite right with the program, and it’s usually not fair or helpful for the child. A child with a disability can NOT be suspended more than 10 days (in a school year) for behaviors that are a "manifestation" of their disability, and a meeting must be held to determine "manifestation." If your child is suspended for behaviors related to his disability, you should be concerned. The IEP team should meet to discuss what needs to change, including the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). Don’t have a BIP? That’s a problem.