I’m mad. I hate illogical, bureaucratic double-speak, and disrespect. Today I dealt with all of those packed into one IEP eligibility meeting.
I’ve written about this earlier: we think the Engineer has auditory processing disorder (APD) and it’s hindering his reading abilities, among other things. We think he needs speech therapy. So we started the IEP evaluation process again (denied the first time too) armed with a list of official diagnoses and ready to advocate. I didn’t even get the chance.
Here’s the brief version:
IEP Team: He doesn’t have APD.
Me: Are you qualified to test for it?
IEP Team: No …. only the phonological kind (there are 5 types.)
Me: Then how can you definitively say he doesn’t have APD, especially when he’s more than a grade behind in reading?
IEP Team: We are not qualified to diagnose him (but we think the reason is that you’re not teaching him correctly.)
Me: Ok. So if I have him evaluated by someone else and get a medical diagnosis, would that change his eligibility status?
IEP Team: No. Homeschoolers don’t qualify for therapies if they have a medical diagnosis. Only learning disabilities diagnosed by our evaluation are eligible.
Me: …. So you can’t effectively evaluate him but you won’t accept the diagnosis from someone who can?
IEP Team: That’s correct. Sign here please.
Here’s the snippet that matters
In our base public school the Engineer would be eligible for special education services because he meets the medical diagnosis disability criteria. But because he’s homeschooled, he’s not eligible. As they cheerfully pointed out, that includes children with autism and ADHD as well as the APD that we’re looking into.
Sounds like discrimination to me.
But homeschoolers don’t need the same services!
True. We don’t. Sometimes we need modified services, sometimes we need assistance, and sometimes we need therapies. If a public schooled child is pulled for homeschooling, then they obviously won’t need classroom accommodations in their IEP. They might still need testing accommodations for those states that require standardized testing. They don’t magically need less therapies just because they left public school, which is the most common change among local homeschoolers I’ve talked to. One family went from 3 therapy sessions a week to 1 simply because they decided to homeschool. How is that even legal?
But homeschoolers opted out of any rights to services, right?
That depends on your state. Our state of Virginia says homeschoolers are eligible for “some” services. “Some” is undefined. In Maryland you literally sign your rights away in order to homeschool.
I still pay the same school taxes as everyone else. We pay for all our schooling materials (it’s not tax-deductible or anything.) In fact, if my kiddo was actually in public school, it would cost them MORE than a measly few sessions of speech therapies because of his (multiple) medical diagnoses. So keeping him home actually saves the school money.
It’s not about what’s best for the kids
The IEP team wasn’t “on my side” anyway for this meeting. I kicked up a fuss about getting access to the reports ahead of time (they still left one out. I made them sit and wait while I reviewed it.) I politely and firmly stood my ground the ENTIRE meeting and requested that they use my name instead of calling me “mom.” The vice principal even typed “mom” into the final document!
Worse, I told them that 2e students are legally entitled to an appropriate education instead of an average education (they stated that gifted students could not receive special education services – it had to be one or the other.) That did NOT go over well at all. They eventually back pedaled and said that IF the student qualified under learning disability criteria then they MIGHT get therapies.
I am so sorry for those of you who are stuck in the public school system. I didn’t realize it was that broken – after all, we have “good” schools in this area. It’s really not about the kids, is it? It’s about getting by with as little as they have to. Sad.
Unfortunately, this is not a homeschool issue. My daughter is in the same boat with EFD and dysgraphia and the public school will not test a student unless they are 2 years behind…period….In order to get help, she has to have a medical diagnosis from an outside source, but outside sources say that she has to have diagnosis through the school to qualify for the full testing she needs. It’s not limited to homeschooling children at all, the system is flawed all around. And, with her going to school all day now, there isn’t enough time in the day for me to provide her with the care she needs. She has accommodating teachers, but that isn’t going to help her learn how to deal with her issues, it will just help her to be able to have an environment that is more suitable for her needs.
I agree, the system is so flawed. Homeschoolers are often viewed as a threat to the system, so in our situation there was extra hostility. Even though we homeschool, I sincerely want all kids to get the education and services they need – especially those in public school who might not have the option to leave. I hope your daughter finds the help she needs!