Posted on: 18 December 2015Share
If you have a special-needs student whose school is supposed to be following an individual education plan (IEP) -- but isn't -- you have to do something. Often the first step involves you talking to the school and finding out why this is the case, but that doesn't always get you satisfactory answers. In fact, it can start you down a road of disputes and alienation. When faced with this situation, you have three immediate paths that you can take.
Forcing your child to leave a familiar environment doesn't sound like a great move, but in this case it can be better than forcing them to endure an unsupportive system. However, be absolutely sure that the school you're moving your child to can follow the IEP and offer the ability to adjust the plan as needed. Certainly, if the current school seems like it's chosen your child to be its figurative target, moving your child would be a good idea. But new schools might not have the same access to resources, or the special needs program could be good but crowded enough that your child's IEP could easily suffer. Keep looking for new programs and schools even if you find a couple that seem suitable. That way, if the ones you look at first don't work out, you have more that you can immediately investigate.
It is possible to homeschool a special-needs child, but you might not receive any help from the state to do that. For example, the Home School Legal Defense Association notes that homeschooled children completing a church school program in Alabama aren't automatically eligible for special services provided by the government. However, in Indiana, homeschooling is considered the same as sending your child to a private school, so special education services are available to homeschooled children.
If your state doesn't make special services available for homeschooled children, you may be able to set up a private version of the IEP with state permission. For example, the Home School Legal Defense Association says Oregon does not give homeschooled students access to special services. However, Oregon law does allow homeschooled students to have a "privately developed plan" that is supported by private providers to ensure the student gets the support he or she needs for any special needs.
If homeschooling isn't your thing and moving your child to another school isn't an option, then there's legal advocacy. You can hire a special education lawyer to deal with the school, renegotiate the IEP if needed, and enforce state and federal protections for your child. Be aware that this can make you an unwelcome parent at the school, but that is not your problem. You have to fight for your child's right to a good education that enables him or her to do the best work possible, and simply not being liked by the school shouldn't put you off that.
If you think you need to go the legal route, talk to a special education lawyer, such as those at the Law Office of Mark W Voigt, as soon as you can. Get the ball rolling fast so your child can once again have the good education he or she deserves.