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Expert Q&A

My son has been struggling for three years and was held back but does not qualify for services. How can I fight this?

My son’s school has seen him struggling all year long. He failed the Florida state standardized exam. As a result, he is now attending summer school. The school decided to evaluate him at the very end of the year, so there’s nothing that can be done.

Further, I was advised by the school psychologist this week that although my son exhibits ADHD and a learning disability, he scored below average on some tests and a little above average on others, giving the sense that he’s average. Therefore, no help will be provided by the school system next year.

Is there anything I can do to fight this? My son has struggled with school since kindergarten and is now in 3rd grade. He repeated first and may have to repeat third. Thank you.

Dear Maria:

Under the IDEA, school districts are responsible for “Child Find,” which means that they must timely identify all children suspected of having disabilities that reside in their school district, determine if evaluation is needed, conduct needed evaluations with parental consent, and, if the child is determined eligible, assure that the child has an IEP within 30 days after the eligibility decision.

If your child was having problems for a prolonged period of time, it may be that the school violated the Child Find requirements by failing to evaluate your child in a timely way. In addition, it appears that the school may be using overly restrictive standards for assessing whether your child has a disability and/or whether the disability impacted his educational functioning (including non-academic performance).

The schools should not rely on any single test instrument in making its decision and must consider the child’s functional performance, as well as the child’s academic and test performance.

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