Earlier today I posted on our Special Education Advisor Facebook page that I had written a letter to my son’s School District regarding his upcoming transition meeting. The IEP Team doesn’t feel they have the Authority to consider alternative School sites other than his home school and that the only discussion can be about class type (i.e general education class, resource specialist program, special day class, etc.). My husband and I disagree and we just wanted to make sure the team is aware of our concerns prior to the upcoming meeting. Since posting on Facebook many of you have privately requested a copy of our letter. I have decided to post a sanitized version of the letter below but it is still very specific to my son and the State of California. If you decide to write a similar letter make sure you rework the components of the letter to be specific to your child and State.
March 28, 2012Ms. Assistant Principal __________ Elementary School
Re: ____________ Upcoming Transition IEP Meeting
Dear Ms. ______,
As you are aware our son is graduating from _________ Elementary School this year and transitioning into middle school in the fall of 2012. Based on prior conversations with the IEP Team it was brought to our attention that the School Staff only has the authority to offer our home school, ________ Middle School, as the site location for _________ to attend middle school. Please see the language below from the California Education Code 5 CCR 3042 regarding Placement:
(a) Specific educational placement means that unique combination of facilities, personnel, location or equipment necessary to provide instructional services to an individual with exceptional needs, as specified in the individualized education program, in any one or a combination of public, private, home and hospital, or residential settings.
(b) The individualized education program team shall document its rationale for placement in other than the pupil’s school and classroom in which the pupil would otherwise attend if the pupil were not handicapped. The documentation shall indicate why the pupil’s handicap prevents his or her needs from being met in a less restrictive environment even with the use of supplementary aids and services.
As you can see from above, specific educational placement includes the following language; “that unique combination of facilities, personnel, location or equipment necessary to provide instructional services to an individual with exceptional needs.” This definition should open the door to discuss not only the type of classroom that _______ should be placed into but which School site is most appropriate for his needs.
______’s eligibility for Special Education is a specific learning disability (SLD) but if the school district allowed for a secondary eligibility on their IEP forms he would also qualify for a Language Disorder. On the Social Language Development Test (SLDT-E) administered on ________ in November 2011 his standard score for the total test was <60. This places him in the 0.1% for children his age or another way to state this is 99.9% of children my son’s age scored higher than him on social language/pragmatics. This is a significant delay that impacts many areas of his education and his ability to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). In the report provided by the District’s Speech Language Pathologist she noted:
As _______ transitions into middle school his inappropriate negotiation skills will be considered immature to his peers. _________’s ability to support his peers is vital to maintain healthy friendships.
With this in mind, we have grave concerns about placing _________ at _________ Middle School or any Middle School of that size. ____________ Middle School has over 2000 students and this is not an appropriate “Specific educational placement” for him to attend middle school in order to receive FAPE.
Even with multiple goals written for social language and the services of both the District’s Recreational Therapist and SLP he is struggling to make progress at the elementary school let alone a much larger middle school. During the months of January and February _________ spent almost every lunch and recess alone playing with a hula hoop and didn’t talk to anyone all day except for saying “hi” to a few children. He has since started playing with the kids again only because we have encouraged him to do so.
Goals drive services and placement in an IEP and ________ has two goals regarding social language and social functioning:
- ________ will express age appropriate social skills (conflict resolution and supporting peers) in structured language tasks with 80% accuracy;
- ________ will use presented visual strategies to be able to initiate engagement with a peer or initiate engagement in an activity at least once per day, 4/5 days per week for 6 consecutive weeks with one adult cue or prompt.
We do not feel that a large middle school such as _______ Middle School is conducive to accomplishing these goals and will thus deny my son FAPE. We have done some research and found that the School District will be opening a new K-8 school near us, ___________ Community School. While __________ Community School is not our home school, I would like to discuss this as an option at the upcoming transition IEP meeting. According to the __________ Community School website, “Our school will eventually serve 960 students kindergarten through 8 grade. In our first year, we are anticipating serving K-7th grade with approximately 550 students.”
If the IEP Team has other School Site suggestions, we are open to discussing these at the IEP meeting as well. Otherwise we look forward to discussing all of the viable School site options at the upcoming IEP and not just his home school of ___________.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. If you have any questions or comments feel free to call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx.
Cc: Student Support Services