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Expert Q&A

Does a child have the right to an accommodation if they transfer to another school to take a particular class?

My son is 15 years old and in the 9th grade. He entered the gifted and talented program in elementary school. Between 4th and 5th grade, I noticed a significant lowering of his standardized test scores, and a difference between what he thinks and what he actually writes down on paper. I requested further testing, and he was found to be eligible for an IEP based on a specific perceptual processing disorder, that interferes with his reading, writing and spelling. He seemed better through the 7th and 8th grade, and was taken off the IEP.

Now he is in 9th grade. He taking Japanese as his foreign language, and he is failing. The exams are oral His teacher reads things out loud, and he has to write the word and meaning. He has trouble hearing the word amongst the sentence. I thought he could retake the course if he failed He thought that if he took it again, he would definitely do better, because the characters, vocabulary, and sentence structure would be familiar.

I was told by the school personnel that he would not be allowed to retake the course, because I have him on an interdistrict transfer specifically so he can take Japanese (it is not offered in our school district). Yet, they would allow their own district students to retake it. In fact, they said that they expect interdistrict transfer students to do well, and that my son would be kicked out of the school if he did not make a C, so he could go to the second year. Is this legal? What can I do? I don’t think he should go to the second year without mastering the 1st. He should have the right to learn the language. Also they said that since I took him off of the IEP at the end of 7th grade, that he no longer has a disability. I don’t agree. I think it can reappear as the subject matter becomes more complex and is unfamiliar.

Your question involves the right to accommodations in relation to a permissive inter-district transfer program. Specifically, you were wondering about the right of accommodations in relation to your child taking Japanese. The key in your situation seems to be that the school will allow accommodations for children who are within the district, but will not allow for accommodations who are an inter-district transfer student.

The nature of the inter-district transfer program complicates matters, as it means that your child is not legally entitled to participate in the program. However, once your child is admitted to the program, there is a good argument that Section 504 would require that they be provided accommodations within the program as they are otherwise qualified to participate. Since the other students were given the same accommodations, it would be difficult for the school to argue that the accommodation itself would represent a fundamental change to the program or an undue burden.

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