Reply To: Beating the good grade excuse

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Penny Williams

Unfortunately, this is a barrier of ignorance all too many parents have to fight. Grades cannot be the only measure of eligibility for services and an IEP!!! Eligibility determination should be based on behavior, academic performance, ability to follow school rules, emotional health at school, etc…

Here are some insights from professionals:

Dear ADDitude: Why Has My Child’s IEP Been Denied?

Wrights Law writes about this a lot too, because it’s such a huge problem:

Is Child with Passing Grades Eligible for Special Ed Under IDEA?

It’s absolutely NOT ok for him to be doing 4-8 hours of homework a night. NO WAY! He should only spend as much time on homework as his peers. If he cannot finish in that time, he should have reduced assignments or modified assignments accommodations. To have him spend exponentially more time on homework than his peers is punishing him for having a disability. That is inexcusable.

A this point, it sounds like you’ve fought hard and gained no traction, so I’d escalate it. You can go to your Board’s Special Ed Director and ask for their help. If that doesn’t work, you can call your state’s Dept of Ed Special Services Director and let them know they have a city/county that is not following federal law.

What often seems to be the most effective, is to start threatening to file a civil rights violation. Because, your son having so many unaddressed hurdles to his learning is a violation of his rights as an individual with a disability. I hate using that, but it has worked for me a couple times when nothing else would. No school or educator wants to go through a civil rights complaint. Here’s more on this:

If it were me, I’d start by emailing (gotta get everything in writing) all of his classroom teachers, the principal, and any other staff you’ve interacted with about this. I’d cc your Board’s Director of Special Ed. I’d be very clear about the fact that it violates the US Federal Law IDEA to prevent a child with a disability from special services based solely on grades. I’d let them know in no uncertain terms that your next step is to notify the state department of ed to file a state complaint and to begin the process of filing a US Civil Rights complaint if they don’t begin the process of a new and thorough evaluation.

Yes, you catch more flies with honey. And that’s exactly what I teach parents starting out. But, there comes a point where the gloves have to come off because your child’s wellbeing is at stake. I had to do it just this school year, but, I’ll tell you what, everyone sat up at attention and are now implementing the IEP fully and allowing assistive technology. I asked kindly, begged, and pleaded for too many years. My son goes to high school next year and it felt like now or never with getting him the help he truly needs and deserves.

Keep in touch and let us know how it goes.

ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism