Subject: dealing w/my son's IEP and first year of middle school
So my son is autistic and his first yr in middle school. We get a letter in the mail stating who his level 4 teachers are, but once we get to the school for open house they have changed his schedule and has put him in level 3 program w/o a para or any notification to us as parents. Principal doesn't see a problem with this and wants us to give it 2 weeks and see how things go. We requested and IEP meeting immediately. Not sure what my options are after this meeting if we can't agree on changes. Does anyone have any ideas?
He has never chagned classes or even had a locker w/combination. Principal did not want to give him a key lock for his locker b/c she thinks that would make him stand out from others. My thinking is him having a meltdown from not being able to open his locker won't make him stand out "right". This is just one of the small issues we are having.
Your posting is a concern to me. Please allow me to explain.
I will presume the facts as you have presented are in fact all true and have taken place as described. With this presumption, I believe that you have been victimized by some rather serious compliance issues.
You had previously consented to an IEP for one level of service and then this has now been changed with no level of knowledge by you or with your consent. How di the school personnel explain this action taken to you?
I am unclear in your state what is the relative difference between a Level 4 service versus that of a Level 3 service. Please clarify this.
I sense that moving from a Level 4 service to a Level 3 service without obtaining parental input, participation, or consent has taken place. If this is the case your procedural safeguards have blatantly been violated. A child with autism requires careful and meticulous planning and it would appear as if the school administrator is leaving much to chance for your son to be successful. I will questiion and take issue with his judgment.
Without question, i would strongly suggest to have this IEP meeting and hear the rationale for the changes. You have the ultimate choice of consent to these changes. The stay put provisions of IDEA will return your child to the Level 4 services he was to have in the first place but you need to be assured of two things during this IEP discussion: 1) Are the changes proosed reasonably determied or calculated for your son to achieve benefit from this new placement and 2) will the changes invoke any :harm" to your son as a result of these changes. Harm in the sense of whether they will create unintentional issues of his inability to adapt to a less structured situation. Saying this, and as part of item 2, what positive supports and accommodations are going to be made available to transition your son to a lesser level than the one you understood to be taking place when you consented to the earlier IEP.
To change a disabled child's placement at the whim of a Principal who feels it is in the best interest of a child is not a sufficient standard within special education law or regulations.
I would just like to add one more idea to Dr. HD's comments. Does your son have any related services? Before your next IEP meeting ask that the school psychologist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and/or any related service providers be present at this meeting. A principal does not have the qualifications, experience, or education to make these decisions on their own.