Reply To: School Wants to Downgrade from IEP to 504

#112017
susanrichardson
Participant

I am a school counselor and have been for 21 years. Our school does FBA’s and BIP’s and do our best to write an appropriate IEP or 504 to accommodate a student’s needs. We are a Pre-K thru 5th elementary school. We have helped many students but there are a few we seem unable to identify appropriate accommodations. We offer mental health services at school for any student. Our principal has a heart for those children who struggle academically and with social/emotional issues. I say all that so you know we do our very best by students like the one mentioned in this post.

There is another side to this. Think of the other students. We have two students currently and have had others in the past whose behavior and refusal to leave the classroom have required us to remove the other students for anywhere from a few minutes to as long as 30 minutes or more. This hurts all students academic progress. With an IEP he can be educated in a classroom with fewer classmates and a more controlled environment. With 504 it states “reasonable” accommodations.

I honestly don’t know the answer for your son. I wish I had one. When it comes to threats or physical violence of any kind it is difficult to find the right intervention in a regular classroom.

Here is my two cents worth. A student who need social skills training should not be allowed to refuse to attend. Also, I have learned that students know already they are different. Personally, it took years for me to teach my daughter to embrace her difference and advocate for herself (violence was not part of her ADHD or Dyslexia) to get her needs met. Other students would tease her for spelling and would make comments like, “Did you take your meds today?” Initially she would become angry and let them know. She eventually learned to let it go. She would say often that she liked herself off the meds but I knew others didn’t. She could never see it. I often felt I had failed her. She is now 32, has a master’s degree, and is married with two beautiful boys. I can already see her oldest has her ADHD but he has the violence. When he goes to school it will be interesting although he does well at daycare in spite of a rough start – hitting, biting, pushing. We are still working with his tantrums at home.

I hope something I have said will be of use to you. I say all this so perhaps you will not be offended by this next statement. If the school has attempted all interventions they can provide; in the end, a school is an academic institution not a mental health facility. Life is tough and requires self control from all of us. This is what your child needs to understand. Once my grandson and you son reach 18, the courts will not care about their diagnoses. The younger they learn their behavior is their responsibility, the better their life will be.