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Q: My school does not cooperate: I was told at school that my child does not qualify for the Learning Disabled classification you gave her, because she has never been exposed to education. What can I do to obtain services for her under these circumstances?

I am in the process of working on special education services for Galina. The district has been a little slow in getting the process started but finally the school psychologist met with Galina’s teachers to discuss her. The psychologist reported back to me that they did not think that Galina would qualify for a Learning Disabled classification because she has never been exposed to education. They said LD students have an inability to learn, not just lack of exposure. I explained that she couldn’t perform many of your simple testing tasks but they said it's because she’d never seen them before. Does this sound right? Didn’t you test some basic processing functions that don’t require previous knowledge?

They also said she won’t qualify for Speech and Language service either since she doesn’t know the language. They acknowledge that she is a special child with special needs and they want to give her special services, but it doesn’t sound like they are going to classify her which makes me nervous. I don’t know if I am being backed into a corner here. What can I do to obtain services for her under these circumstances?

A: Your school’s arguments are well known and are the same wrong reading of the IDEA (the law that regulates special education services). My report presents your major arguments why Galina must be classified now:
  • Galina’s past exposure to severe deprivation, neglect, and institutionalization leads to the same educational handicapping conditions as organic impairment of the central nervous system.
  • Galina’s lack of age-appropriate cognitive skills may result in poor response to instruction in a mainstream educational setting.
  • Galina’s significant deficiencies in her native language may negatively affect her mastering the English language, particular in the cognitive/academic domain.
  • Galina’s substantial limitations in age-appropriate academic skills render her unfit for mainstream instruction beyond kindergarten.

No remedial placement and supportive services for your child are available at school without proper classification. When you receive the classification for your child, you become protected by the law and do not depend any more on good will of your school administration. I suggest the following plan to work with the school in order to obtain the classification and services:

  • Contact the local FRUA and ask for consultation with parents in neighboring school districts.
  • Contact a parent-advocate group or organization, e.g.: Student Advocacy, Inc. and tell them you may need their help.
  • Read my report thoroughly and stick to the argumentation in the report. For every school's argument cite the report and your own observations.
  • Let the school know that you have FRUA with its huge cumulative experience, and Dr. Gindis, who is a nation-wide known expert (I am not boasting, this is the fact), and research on the IA children on your side.
  • Let the school know that you feel strongly about Galina’s remediation and do not allow the school to continue the same educational neglect Galina had been exposed in her motherland.
  • Let the school know that you are going to hire a lawyer to deal with this case.
  • Do not agree on anything less than IEP. Request a formal meeting with the head of special education and tell them that you are going to be accompanied by your legal representative at this meeting.


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