Time to get an IEP in place for the fall! Although it is still hot outside, every school child can feel the chill of school approaching. In fact, schools will be back in session in about 3 weeks. The law requires that schools have IEPs in place for eligible individuals at the beginning of the school year. It is not acceptable for schools to tell parents that they must wait 6 weeks before an IEP is drafted because the school staff need to get to know the student. IEP teams must do their best to craft an IEP that will meet the student’s needs. Of course, IEPs can be amended at any time if the student is not making progress, and, in fact, it is the school’s obligation to convene a team meeting and amend an IEP if a student is not making progress toward his goals.
Bullying has been much in the news in recent years and horror stories abound: the massacre at Columbine, said to have been perpetrated by boys who had been isolated by and picked on by their classmates; the terrible murder of a teenage boy in Lincoln-Sudbury High School by ]ohn Odgren, an emotionally disabled young man who had endured years of bullying at school; the suicide of Phoebe Prince in South Hadley after being mercilessly targeted by other students. Read more on bullying in Your Essex Neighbor (Fall 2012) by Kristin Palace.
Can my child get extra time on tests and assignments?
Many students with disabilities require extra time for tests and assignments because the nature of their disability makes it difficult to accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently. If your child has a disability and psychological testing establishes the need for additional time, a school district must accommodate this need.
MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) tests are untimed, and all students are allowed up to one full day to complete each test. If MCAS tests are administered on an early release day, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education advises that schools must make arrangements to have staff stay with those students who have not finished the test until the time that school would end on a regular school day.
Decisions to grant extra time for SAT and AP tests are made by the College Board, the non-profit organization that administers these tests. Applications for extra time (or other accommodations) are made directly to that organization and must be supported by recent testing establishing the need for the accommodation. For more information, visit http://www.collegeboard.com/ssd/student/.
Students in college may also be granted extended time for tests and assignments. College students should inquire with the disability services office at their college. Generally, colleges require that a student submit recent (within the last 3 years) testing to establish the existence of the disability and the need for the accommodation.
Children can have many different kinds of problems in school. A child may struggle with attention or controlling his emotions in the classroom, in the lunchroom, or on the playground. Another may have difficulty learning math or mastering reading. Still other children may be unable to produce a written product without great difficulty.
If you are a parent or a guardian of a child who is struggling in school, chances are you have wondered whether your child might have a disability that is interfering with his learning.
Disabilities come in many different forms. The special education law recognizes many different kinds of disabilities, from conditions that interfere with attention and concentration (such as ADHD), to problems that interfere with reading, writing, and math (dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia), to social or emotional difficulties (which may stem from a variety of conditions including anxiety, depression, or autism spectrum disorders).
If you think that your child may have a disability that is affecting his academic, social or emotional progress in school, you can ask your school district to evaluate your child for eligibility for special education.
You are entitled to this evaluation under federal and state law.
Ask! The special education law allows parents, teachers, administrators, or other caregivers to refer a child for a special education evaluation. If you would like to have your child evaluated by the school district, the best way to begin the process is to request an evaluation in writing. You can send your written request to the principal and the special education administrator for your district. It is always best to explain what has prompted you to seek the evaluation, that way the school district has some idea of what type of an evaluation to administer. Common assessments include psychological, educational, speech and language, physical therapy, and occupational therapy evaluations. Once a school district has received your written request, state law requires the district to send a written notice to you within five school days of the district’s receipt of your letter. That notice will ask for your consent to evaluate your child and will provide you with space to express concerns or provide additional information about your child. The school district must receive your signed consent form before it can begin to evaluate your child for eligibility for special education.