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Expert Q&A

What can a parent do when the school refuses to provide services for their child?

My daughter was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder two years ago. I asked the school to test her and they did not so I took her myself and our insurance company paid for it. Since then it has been a nightmare to try and get services for her. They just seem to totally ignore the law. We made a list of accommodations for her, which I have to be sure are followed through with constantly. They are not doing any speech therapy or anything with her to help her learn new strategies to cope with her disability.

A few weeks ago I told them I wanted a 504 IEP to ensure she gets the accommodations she is entitled to and to also receive some help from the Speech Therapist or LD teacher. (They let her take the SOL test in the regular classroom; the accommodation was that she would be in a small, less distracting group – that didn’t happen.) I have heard nothing yet. They told me I would have to go through Child Study again, which is a nightmare in itself. I said whatever. Haven’t heard anything. These people are totally frustrating in that they do not identify anyone as Special Education and do not provide the services needed. I’m not the only parent who is frustrated here. What can we do?

Salem, VA

Dear Sherry,

I am a little unclear from your question whether the school is currently providing a plan under Section 504 or IDEA. In some places, the schools even use IDEA procedures to implement Section 504 plans and services.

A parent may request an IEP or 504 meeting at any time. Schools should honor all reasonable requests for such meetings and should convene a meeting in a timely (undefined) period after the request. When there are problems with implementation, a short term strategy is often to try to build into the plan a series of documentation, communication and review measures designed to keep track of who is providing the service, when it is being provided and what is being done. By having this information communicated among the staff and to the parents, it puts everyone in the position to know whether what has being agreed to is actually being carried out.

It is also sometimes necessary to meet with staff and/or administration to discuss the problems and to seek ways to resolve the problem in a non-adversarial manner. However, where the plan does indicate a need for specific services which are not being provided for a prolonged period of time, there may be a basis for “compensatory education” to make up for the lost time. In most places, compensatory services are only provided in response to a parent’s complaint and/or initiating mediation or due process proceedings.

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