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Expert Q&A

What do you do if your child is removed from special education and then does not do well?

My son is a junior in high school. He has received special education services under an IEP throughout his academic career due to a combination of learning disabilities. Each year, he is assigned a case worker who helps us choose his classes and monitor his progress. Up until now, decisions about which classes Josh should take have been left entirely to his case worker and me.

This year, however, when Josh passed the CAHSEE tests, he was removed from 83% of the special education classes in which he was enrolled and put into mainstream classes that he is now failing miserably. At first, I supported the decision to move him because I think it’s important that he work to his full potential. Once it became obvious that he needed to move back to special education classes or risk failing and not having enough credits to graduate on time (he is currently down 20 credits and has no room for failure whatsoever), I have met with school counselors and administrators at least five times to voice my strong opposition to this path “mainstreaming” that he is being forced into.

Although his case worker agrees with my position, administration has repeatedly refused to put him back into special education classes. He will not meet graduation requirements if he is made to stay in these regular classes. His performance reflects his lack of understanding since they moved him, but they insist he is not working to his full potential. Is there anything I can do? Thank you for your time and attention.


Dear Kimberly,

You are concerned that your district moved your son from primarily special education classes to mostly regular education classes in his junior year, that he is now failing, and that the district is unwilling to return him to special education classes. First, although you indicate that you have met with administrators five times, your question is unclear as to whether those meetings were formal IEP meetings. If not, it would be advisable to request one.

Second, if there is a dispute as to why your son is failing in regular education, you may want to either request that the school conduct an updated evaluation of him to determine the cause of his failure, rather than assuming he is simply not working to his potential, or seek an outside psycho-educational evaluation at your expense to see if the clinician can help you to demonstrate why he is having difficulty and the need for special education. If you disagree with his placement, you always have the right to request a due process hearing to challenge the school’s decision.

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