If your child has special needs, or you suspect they might down the line, you do have rights as a public school parent, whether your child is in a general education program, or even a gifted one.
How those rights are handled, however, comes down to a case by case basis. Children who are diagnosed prior to entering Kindergarten with learning, sensory, motor, etc… issues and already have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) are eligible to receive appropriate services at their public school. So are children who are diagnosed after starting Kindergarten.
This is the theory. In practice, I have heard many parents lament that their children are not receiving everything they are eligible for, and that schools who lack the necessary staff to fulfill the IEP simply tell parents to get their IEP changed. Conversely, other parents report that their children are being pulled out of critical classes to receive therapy, instead of during the periods they’d previously agreed on.
And then there is the following case, as a mother with a son in an NYC Specialized High School reports on Kveller.com:
The Special Needs Coordinator pulled up my son’s transcript. There was a pause on the other end of the phone. Finally, she said, “He’s getting all A’s.”
“He’s a hard worker,” I confirmed.
“He’s doing exceptionally well,” she repeated, in case I’d missed her point the first time.
“But it’s been very difficult for him,” I explained. “We have his initial evaluation of an Auditory Processing Disorder. Might it be possible for him to receive the accommodations it recommends? For instance, his Spanish tests are currently all oral. Could he maybe – “
“The Department of Ed would have to do its own evaluation.”
“Sure. How can I arrange for that?”
“Well, first you’d need to put in a request. That should be processed in about 90 business days. Then, we’ll sit in on some of his classes, talk to his teachers.” Another pause. “I don’t see any notes about him being a disciplinary problem.”
“He’s not, as far as I know.”
“So none of his teachers will say he’s causing trouble in class?”
“I don’t think so.”
A sigh. She lowered her voice, “I’m going to be honest with you: The school doesn’t care how hard life might be for your son. All they care about is that he isn’t failing and he isn’t disruptive. I’m going to talk to his teachers, and they’re going to say he’s doing fine. I’m going to present his grades, and it’s obvious he’s doing better than fine. Your request for testing and accommodation will be turned down. I’m sorry.” (She genuinely did sound sorry.)
“But we’ve had him privately tested. Doesn’t that count for anything?”
“You could sue,” she advised. “Hire a lawyer and demand that we re-test him and provide the accommodations he qualifies for. That process should take about a year. But you can only do it once you’ve been turned down by us.”
I did some quick math in my head. “At that rate, even if we win the case, nothing will happen until he’s a Senior!”
“I’m sorry,” she repeated. I genuinely believed that she was.
I gave my son the news: His grades were too good for anyone to believe he was struggling. And even if he was struggling, nobody cared, since he somehow ended up getting his work done, anyway.
“Hey,” he suggested. “Maybe I’m 2E. That’s twice-exceptional. I’ve read about it. It means I’m gifted and learning-disabled at the same time. Like, in the 99th percentile for some subjects, but only average in others.”
“Isn’t that everybody?” I asked, confused. “Aren’t all people good at some things and less good at others? Is anybody great at everything across the board?”
“Let’s hire the lawyer,” he urged. “I want extra-time on tests, like the other kids.”
“No,” I told him. “The process isn’t worth it.”
Do you have a child in an NYC Gifted & Talented program, who also has special needs? How have they been handled? Share your experiences, below!
Read the entire Kveller post at: http://www.kveller.com/what-happened-when-my-sons-school-wouldnt-accommodate-his-auditory-processing-disorder/
For more on Special Needs services, as well as everything else you need to know about NYC public, private, charter, religious and gifted schools, check out the new book, "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten for September 2016!"