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Extra special education

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2012-10-04


Do you know a youngster who is struggling in school? Does that child receive poor grades despite putting forth effort? Is he getting detentions and write-ups for reasons he has trouble controlling? Are you concerned he might have a mental or physical disability that is interfering with his ability to manage the challenges within the school environment? If so, you might want to make a written request for the school to conduct an evaluation on the child to determine if he is eligible for special education services.

Over the years, Iíve met many parents who donít know where or how to get help for their struggling school-aged child. By the time I meet the parents, itís not unusual for the child to be facing expulsion proceedings and criminal charges. Many parents donít realize that the applicable state and federal laws are likely to be on their side when it comes to special education within the public school systems

Some parents incorrectly assume that their child is struggling due to a lack of effort or bad attitude, while other parents believe that a child who gets passing or even excellent grades wonít be eligible. A child who canít see or hear wonít slip through the cracks. But some disabilities arenít so easily identified. Autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, learning disabilities and cognitive issues, are examples of disabilities that might be eligible for special education services but that might be difficult for a parent to detect.

There is a lot of caring and talented teachers and administrators in our schools. As parents, we rely on our kidsí teachers to let us know when our kids are having a problem within the classroom. Thereís nothing wrong that. But donít wait for the teacher to mention that your child should be evaluated by a school psychologist to determine whether special education services would be warranted. If you have concerns, talk to your childís teacher or health care provider and then make the written request for the evaluation. Within the public school system, the evaluation is provided at public expense. If you disagree with the schoolís testing, you can request an independent evaluation to be paid for by the school.

According to a recent Pew Center report, 16% of Indiana students from kindergarten through 12th grade participate in special education programs. The goal of a childís special education is to implement a plan specifically designed to meet his unique needs. Special education is more expensive than general education. Accordingly, any further increase in the special education school population results in additional costs.
State and federal law also provide special education students with additional protections when it comes to disciplinary matters within the school. For example, a child with a neurological disorder that causes him to be disruptive in class might avoid a suspension or expulsion if his conduct was directly related to his disability. Without that protection, a school could simply expel a student who is in need of special services. Whatís easier and cheaper: keeping a kid with special needs in school and finding that right combination of services to ensure he receives an education, or kicking him out?

To learn more, search on-line. You will be surprised to find out just how much your childís school didnít tell you.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. _This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.

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