Monday, February 15, 2010

“We don’t do that here……”

This is probably a familiar story….it goes something like this…

The IEP team is sitting around the table developing the IEP. The parent brings up the fact that their child really needs some pull out type, one on one instruction in reading, or small group instruction with a reading specialist or something similar. The case manager, and even sometimes the person authorized to sign for services who should know better, says “Oh, well, we don’t do that here”.

This comment always makes my jaw hit the floor.

First of all, if a child’s needs indicate that some particular service is appropriate, that particular service should be included in the IEP when the IEP is under development. That is NOT the time for a school to discuss “placement” (think program-by even mentioning that they do not offer that there). IEP development comes first. Once the IEP is agreed upon, then it is the team’s job to look at the needed services and determine the best way to implement those services.

If a school does not have a particular program or service, then they need to do one of two things……find a placement/program that does provide it, or…..create it and provide it at their school.

Many times the school will try to tell you that they don’t offer any pull out services because they are a full inclusion school. They will try to make it seem that full inclusion is the law. But the reality of the matter is that full inclusion is a philosophy. And while admirable, and possibly appropriate for some kids, inclusion is not appropriate for all kids. The law says that a school is to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment. In other words, the school needs to educate students with disabilities with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent APPROPRIATE. It does not say that a child with a disability must be included at all times!

This is why the law provides for a “continuum of alternative learning environments”- everything from a regular classroom to full time residential placement or hospitalization is included in this continuum.

Bottom line…do not let a school try to convince you that a one size fits all approach is what is best for your child. The team needs to look at the INDIVIDUAL child’s needs and create an individualized program to fit those needs.