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Back in 2002, my son was in the 1st grade at a Private school in the Bronx, NY. I requested that my son be evaluated for dyslexia and speech and language development.

After the evaluation the school told me that my son was too young to be tested for dyslexia, that he did not have any speech/language developmental issues, and that his IQ was normal. Therefore, they said, he did not need any services. They felt he was just a very young first grader. They suggested that he be held back a year, removed from his private school, and placed in a public school in a collaborative learning class. So I did so.

After 2 years in the first grade, and then being promoted to the second grade, I noticed that my son still couldn’t read. I asked for my son to be evaluated again. This time they found that he did have speech/ language impairment, some sort of reading disability. They said his IQ was just above mental retardation. I was outraged, IQ’s normally don’t drop that quickly unless there has been some brain damage.

Since then he has had about 3 psychoeducational evaluations. I have asked at least 3 times for my son to be evaluated and tested for dyslexia. I have been denied each and every time. My son’s IEP says he is supposed to have speech therapy. He hasn’t had it all year long. No one notified me until last week that they didn’t have a speech therapist on staff. My son can barely read. He will be promoted to the fourth grade in September, 2006. What steps would you take next? I feel my son is slipping through the cracks. My son has told me that he is stressed out in school and I am frustrated for him.

Thank you,

Dear Karen,
Your question raises a variety of concerns with respect to your child being inappropriately denied services several years ago, denied appropriate services in the meantime, and denied an independent evaluation which you requested. Your school apparently also took the position that dyslexia is not a learning disability covered by the law.

It appears that the school district may have violated your rights in a number of ways. Certainly, dyslexia is one of the specific conditions identified as a subset of the disability category of learning disability within the federal law. Thus, for the school district to assert that dyslexia is not covered would be improper.

Although it is difficult for children to be diagnosed with learning disabilities when they are younger, this is not impossible and occurs with some frequency. If your child did not receive appropriate services for the past several years, this could well have contributed to a drop in your child’s IQ scores. When a child is denied an appropriate education, the child may be entitled to receive compensatory educational services. However, typically a parent has to pursue a request for a due process hearing before a school will consider or be ordered to provide such compensatory services. In addition, when a parent requests an independent educational evaluation at school district expense in writing, the school district is obligated to either provide the independent evaluation at school district expense or request a due process hearing to prove that the school district evaluation was appropriate.

From your question, it seems that the school district did not follow this procedure. Under the circumstances, you have a variety of complaints which would provide the basis for further action against the school district. You may wish to consider a consultation with a knowledgeable advocacy group or special education attorney to establish an appropriate course of action.

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