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I have a 15-year-old son diagnosed with auditory processing disorder and bipolar disease. I was recently “asked” to put him on home study and receive five hours a week of instruction. I have him under regular care of a psychiatrist and am deeply concerned that five hours a week isn’t sufficient for a freshman in high school. The teaching staff is complaining that he is sleeping in school and is defiant (only at times) to his main resource teacher. They have basically kicked us out of school at this point. What can I do?


Dear Jeanette,

Your question concerns the school districts request that you place your child on five hours per week home study due to problems functioning at school which you believe result from your son’s central auditory processing disorder and bipolar disorder. First, the decision to place a student on home study is a change of placement which must be determined by the IEP team, of which you are a member.

If you disagree with the recommendation of the IEP team, you have a right to request a special education due process hearing to challenge the proposal. If you request a hearing within the time period provided by your state for challenging a proposed change of placement before it becomes effective, your child must remain in the last agreed upon placement until the due process hearing is resolved.

In addition, although states typically have rules about the minimum level of services a child is entitled to if a child is placed in home study, the requirement is that they continue to receive a free appropriate public education. The services offered would constitute a minimum obligation, rather than the extent of services to which they are necessarily entitled. If you felt that home study was advisable, you could seek additional hours of service and/or related services from the school district beyond those that they are currently offering.

In addition, if you feel that your child should remain at school but is having difficulty by virtue of their disability, you can challenge the school district recommendation for home study and suggest that more intensive or different services be provided to your child at school in order to address the problems they are having which is leading the school to seek the home study option.

Generally, it would be important for you to have support from outside professionals and/or school staff for the provision of different and/or more intensive services within the school. If the school refuses to provide your desired services within school, this could also be the basis for a due process hearing.

Finally, your question suggests that the school is in effect “kicking out” your child. If the school district is refusing to allow your child to attend school, this would constitute a constructive suspension or expulsion even if the school has not officially initiated suspension or expulsion proceedings. Suspensions in excess of ten school days constitute a change of placement which requires the convening of a special manifestation meeting to determine if the behavior relating to the exclusion is related to the disability, as well as the initiation or review of existing functional behavioral analysis and behavioral intervention plans to address the behavior that is leading to the proposed exclusion.

Again, you would have the option of requesting a due process hearing if you feel that your child is being improperly excluded from school. Even if you’re the decision to exclude them from school would ultimately be upheld, your child retains the right to receive continuing services to allow them to make progress on their goals and objectives, have access to the general curriculum, and to address the behaviors that are leading to the exclusion.

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