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Special Education IEP

Let me give you a case in point. My own son's, naturally. Having moved house from one city to another, and therefore from one school district to another, we encountered unusual difficulties with the changeover. Unusual, that is, in terms of my past experience with our school district. My son's placement was not changing - he was attending a school outside both school districts on a residential basis. In other words, he lived there. Only the SD was going to change and, therefore, the party paying the school.

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Our new SELPA rep showed up for the IEP and first went to observe my son in his current classroom setting. He had never seen him before. Needless to say, my son was behaving himself in anticipation of the IEP and looked and acted no differently than the average child. The rep spent less than 15 minutes in his class observing him and spoke with him briefly. Then, in the IEP, he staunchly stated that my son's best placement would be in the local high school and not even under any Special Education program!!!!

This man had not even reviewed his double thick file of past IEP's and progress reports. He also firmly reminded me that it was the IEP team that would decide his placement, not I. Well, I was having none of that! I knew my rights and knew, moreover, that *I* was my son's final authority, not this bureaucrat to end all bureaucrats!

My son, thankfully, remained in that placement until I and my husband chose to move him. As it was, we chose to move him to a day attendance private school, similar to the one he was currently attending but less strict. Hardest again for the SD was the fact that this new school was ALSO not within SD boundaries, but was even in another county. Again, and again, at every IEP for two years, this SELPA person tried to persuade us to transfer our son to the local high school setting. I did not need to know (but eventually found out) that the high school was already beyond capacity and that the student-teacher ratio was probably 30 to 1. It was enough that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my son's needs would not be improved by an abrupt matriculation back into normal high school.

I was lucky, perhaps, in that the schools, counselors, and mental health reps all sided with me and upheld my rights as the ultimate decision maker in this process. I also learned that, if it came to a court battle between the school district and myself, I would almost assuredly win.

So don't hesitate to stand up for yourself! You are not acting on your own behalf here, but for the child you have responsibility for. Whether your responsibility comes from God because you birthed or sired this child, or whether from Man's Law because you have become his guardian, you still have the right to decide what's best for his future as long as he remains under your care. Cooperate with the authorities, to the limits of your capabilities and theirs, but if push comes to shove, never forget...


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