How NOT to Fight the School's Assessment for Services

I applied for services for my child, then received a letter stating that the school found that his disabilities didn’t warrant giving him services. I think he does need them. What now?

Understand the difference between and IEP and 504 Plan for getting school accommodations for your child.

When a school finds a child ineligible for services, they send a letter to the parents notifying them of their findings. They do not hold a meeting. This decision can take 60 days.

It is hard for parents to receive such a letter after putting in the effort to apply for services. From the time you first realized your child was struggling in school until the moment the school notifies you that your child is ineligible for extra help, you have been on a roller-coaster ride. Your emotions are in high gear. You are worried and scared. You feel alone. You know that accommodations were the answer. With extra help, you know your child would be fine.

Now, all of your hopes have been crushed. No one is going to help. No one is going to do anything. You are angry, upset, and desperate. You want to hold someone accountable, to yell and scream. You want to tell everyone in the room exactly what you think of the decision — and them.

Don’t. It’s important to keep your cool and stay rational. Yelling and screaming isn’t in the best interest of your child. Find solutions to the problems your child is having at school. You need the people in that room on your side. Take a deep breath.

While your child might not be eligible for services and accommodations under IDEA or Section 504, the school may have some resources or informal accommodations available. Talk about your specific concerns and ask what the school may be able to do. Some schools provide free or low-cost tutoring before or after school. Other schools offer programs in which an older student works one-on-one with your child.

Teachers may be willing to provide extra assistance, use signals to keep your child on track, or check to make sure homework assignments are written down properly. Teachers often will e-mail parents without special accommodations, daily or weekly. Talk with your child’s teachers, and find out if they are willing to help even without a formal document.

Ask for a copy of the assessment, and all information, showing that your child is not eligible for services. Your school should be able to provide you with a detailed explanation and documentation to back up their decision. If there is no documentation, request a letter explaining the decision.

Next: An Independent Educational Evaluation

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