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Expert Q&A

If a child gets accommodated in a special education classroom, can the school say that they must stay in special education to keep the accommodation?

My 10 year old son has LD in reading, math, & writing. He has spent all his elementary years in a self-contained special education class with limited mainstreaming. He started losing the very limited progress he was making. He reads at about first grade level. Last year he has very depressed over the special education class and wanted to be in a mainstream class. We had a very stressful time over this and had to get extra counseling for him until the school finally, out of the “spirit of compromise,” said he could attend mainstream 5th grade with RSP services for math, reading & writing. They also agreed to a neuropsychologist to test him, but the test gave no strategies or recommendations for reading instruction.

He is now in the mainstream 5th grade and very happy. No behavior problems and has made friends. The problem is I think he could benefit with assisted technology like Learning Ally (formerly Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic) and a computer read out loud program. The special education director informed me that if I call an IEP meeting to address his reading program and assisted technology, she cannot defend his placement in the mainstream class. She will send him back to the special education class. Can the school do this if I request an IEP meeting? I can’t put him back into a class that made him so unhappy where he had limited progress. He has already made progress in math this short time.

Thank you!

Your question essentially raises the issue of whether parent of a child with the potential to be successfully mainstreamed can be forced into an either/or choice of either mainstreaming with no accommodations or support vs. self-contained with accommodations and support.

The clear answer is that the law requires that children with disabilities be mainstreamed to the maximum extent appropriate and that removal from the regular class room occur, only when it is determined that the child cannot be successful in the regular classroom even with the provision of supplementary aides and supports. The types of accommodations you are seeking, books on tape and related assistive technology are standard non-controversial supports for children with learning disabilities in regular classrooms.

It sounds like your special education director may be trying to intimidate you into either accepting the self-contained class to get the supports or the regular ed class with no support. The proper option sounds like the regular education class with proper supports. You might also consider asking the school district to provide an Assistive Technology Evaluation, which should help to establish the types of technology and accommodations which would support your child in regular education classes.

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