Are you the parent of a child with autism, learning disability, or a physical disability that has been struggling to get your child an appropriate special education? Do you think that special education personnel come to Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meetings already decided about your child’s placement or needed services? This article will be discussing predetermination, special education, and ways to overcome this.The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that a child has the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Parents have the right to be involved in all decisions made for their child’s education. Special education personnel may bring a draft IEP to the meeting, but only if they are willing to change the IEP to allow parental input.Predetermination is defined as school personnel making unilateral decisions about a child before the IEP meeting, without parental input, and refusing to listen to parental input during the meeting. Or school district personnel presenting a take it or leave it IEP. If a parent brings information that a child needs a particular related or special education service and evidence that the child needs it, school district personnel are required to at least “consider” the input. The problem is that many special education personnel have already decided or predetermined what placement or services will be offered.In a well know predetermination case the court found that a school district had an unofficial policy of denying all requests for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) programs; despite evidence that a child required it. In this case the parents paid for a private ABA program in which the child made tremendous progress. The school district was excited about the child’s progress until the parents asked for reimbursement; then they refused to pay. The court found that the school district would not listen to the parents or their experts, about the child’s need for ABA. This was predetermination and the courts ruled that the parents had the right to reimbursement for the private ABA program.In another predetermination case the court found that despite evidence that a child was making great progress at a private school, and continued to need the services that the private school offered, the school district only placed the child in the private school because they were working on a plan to transition him to a district based placement. They refused to listen to the parent or the parents experts, that the child needed to continue to attend the private school to receive FAPE. The court determined that this was predetermination; and the child was able to continue at the private school at public expense.It is my opinion that predetermination occurs when a school district makes unilateral decisions about a child’s education despite evidence to the contrary, and refuses meaningful parental input. Also when a take it or leave it IEP is presented to parents.How to overcome predetermination:1. Bring documentation of your child’s educational needs to the IEP meeting and share with special education personnel; schools must consider all information brought by parents.2. Parents must be meaningful participants in the IEP process. Relay the court rulings to special education personnel that if a parent is not allowed meaningful participation in the development of their child’s IEP, predetermination and denial of FAPE may be found.3. If special education personnel still refuse to allow you input or only give one option for services or placement, consider a state complaint for violation of IDEA.4. Have an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) performed on your child to determine what related and special education services your child needs. Make sure that the evaluator you pick is not only willing to test your child but to write a comprehensive and concise report that includes recommendations for needed related and special education services.Predetermination is harmful for children with disabilities because it denies children the services that they need to benefit from their education. Keep advocating-your child is worth it!
Are you the parent of a child in high school receiving special education services? Are you concerned that your child with autism is not receiving appropriate transition services to be prepared for life after school? Would you like to have more information about graduation and special education? This article will give you 5 things that you will need to know as a parent as your child heads toward graduation.1. A child with a disability has the right to be educated from the age of 3 until their 22nd birthday. Check your child’s IEP if they are in high school and make sure that the graduation date listed is up until your child’s 22nd birthday not sooner.2. Special education personnel cannot graduate your child just because they have enough credits. The law requires that special education personnel keep other things in mind when determining a graduation date. My son Shaun’s school tried this trick on me and I did not bite, but successfully advocated against graduation, because he still needed services.3. The definition of special education is: individually based education that prepares a student for post school learning, employment, independent living and financial self sufficiency. If a child continues to need functional skills training, more academic learning, help in areas of skill deficits, transition services, job skills and training, and/or related services they are not ready to graduate.4. Many states have developed a certificate of completion instead of giving children a regular high school diploma. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that special education services end when a child receives a regular education diploma. Services do not end if the child receives a certificate of completion and still requires special education services to benefit from their education.5. 26 States in the USA have or are planning to have high stake exit exams. This may affect your child’s ability to attend post school learning. Due to litigation some states have offered waivers to children with disabilities. Check with your states department of education to determine if they have high stake exit exams.Many states do not have enough adult disability services for all of the people that need them. This is the reason that it is critical to have your child stay in school as long as they can. Use this information to help your child receive the transition services they need so that they will be prepared for post school learning, and independent living.