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Expert Q&A

How can I prevent my five year old from being removed from special education services that began at age three?

My son was born with a brain disorder, where many areas of the brain did not develop. Therefore, he has had global developmental delays. He was classified at age three and has made great progress and achievements ever since then. He is now turning five and the school wants to declassify him and send him to Kindergarten. I agree he could probably handle a Kindergarten curriculum, however I don’t want him declassified. I don’t feel he is ready to be set out on his own.

The disorder he has predisposes him to further developmental problem areas. I was instructed by his neurologist that as he reaches new milestones, he will probably need therapy, some areas more intensively than others. Is there anything I can do legally before this becomes final? I need to ensure his education will not become impacted. I feel strongly that this decision is being prematurely made. I don’t trust the school to re-evaluate him later if he runs in to problems in the future. I know how the system works. It could take years of regression before they make a decision. Help! I’m ready to fight for his rights. I would love to hear some advice.

You seek information about what rights you have in the fact of your school district’s apparent desire to remove your child from special education at age 5, based on the progress he has made in Early Childhood, despite your concerns about his continuing developmental needs. At the outset, the IEP team may decide that a child is not eligible for special education, but that decision should be preceded by an evaluation to assess whether the child still has a disability which adversely affects his educational performance and requires special education.

Assuming the district decides to declassify your child, your legal remedy is to immediately request a due process hearing to object to the school’s decision. While the due process proceeding is pending, the child must continue to be provided with special education services. Although schools are not required to provide special education based on the potential for problems in the future – as the prior answer references, the school must assess the child’s needs, based not only on their academic progress, but their developmental and functional progress as well. Thus, even given your child’s progress, there may well still be areas of school functioning where your child still demonstrates delays that require continuing intervention.

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