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Rochelle’s Special Education Tips

I’ve Got You Under My Skin or Things That Threw Me for a Loop Last Week

Here are some things that came up at IEP and 504 meetings last week that should not have occurred:

A 504-Child Find meeting was held due to allegations that the child’s classroom performance was impacted by her anxiety. Even though the parent advised she was bringing an attorney, the 504 team did not gather any information from the child’s educators as to how the student was performing in class or whether she was showing any signs of anxiety. An “oy” moment.

It was learned that when a child moved from middle school to the high school, the fact that she has significant gastro-intestinal problems slipped through the cracks during the transition. This did not, but could have had devastating consequences.

A school team rightly believes a student needs a more restricted placement in a regional program due to the student’s escalating, aggressive behaviors, but the parent disagrees. The well-kept data supports the change in placement, but it turns out the IEP is being implemented by a general educator as the school system was short a special educator. As we enter a teacher shortage in hard-to-fill positions, start considering a grow-your-own-program or paying extra monies to new teachers in those areas of need.

A student who was meeting with success in one school was transferred to another school for the current school year as the “better” teacher was at the new school. But the teacher resigned and the new teacher is, guess who, the general educator in the above case. This is what is known as “lose-lose.”

A student with significant aggressive behaviors which are oriented towards students and staff does not have a BIP. The reason: the parent did not want one conducted and the IEP team acquiesced. This is one time when there is no question but that the school system should have filed for a due process hearing instead of throwing in the towel.

An MSDE investigator criticized an IEP team for not refuting, during the meeting, every single statement made by the parent with which the school-based members of the IEP team differed, even though doing so would have created a negative atmosphere which would have hindered the IEP process. Note: If the MSDE decision is to ultimately require a Corrective Action, Tips readers will be advised as this goes beyond the PWN requirements.

Likewise, in a current OCR investigation in which the meeting tape is playing a prominent role, the OCR investigator has said that since he could not “hear” papers being thrown by the advocate at team members, it did not happen. Affidavits have been submitted confirming what occurred, but the OCR investigator continues to refuse to believe that the action occurred. This became a contested matter because the advocate was advised she could no longer participate in the meeting in person, but could only do so by telephone. Maybe it is time to write to the new Secretary of Education.

Rochelle’s Special Education Tips (“Tips”) are designed to be helpful and thought provoking, but should not be considered legal advice as they may not be accurate for use in all situations. Tips are based on my opinions and positions in accordance with federal and Maryland law and my over 35 years of experience in the special education legal field. – Rochelle S. Eisenberg, Esquire
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