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smartyjones

504 vs IEP

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ds is actually doing quite well, is definitely healthier than at any point in the past 3 years. has severe separation anxiety with school; at first, was general anxiety with a new place, activiites; now i see, with much advice from dcmom, that it's actually severe anxiety with uncertainty and with difficult tasks and about his own reactions to things, his inability to properly communicate and problem solve. he's recently developed trouble with spelling tests. we did a 504 with lists an intense impairment in communication. in the past 3 weeks, NO accomodations had been enacted for communication-- although we had discussed use of special card, etc. classroom teacher changed some things with writing and idea generation that seemed successful. things were going quite well.

 

Monday morning, he was agitated about the upcoming spelling test. worked through some great problem solving, although didn't have a good solution when we left for school. also, brother was out sick that day, causing anxiety. he got into class fairly okay. we have no 'point person' to tell of troubles. i've been meeting him for lunch on decreasing basis. at lunch, he didn't mention test. left me, went on to class -- remembered test and had extreme fight or flight reaction in the hallway. i expected trouble so i was in lobby, unbeknownst to him. school personnel very upset with this behavior -- running away, tearing a billboard. he couldn't make it back to class and sat with me in a room for rest of day.

 

next day, -- out due to flumist in school.

 

next day in school -- went for morning okay. agitated at lunch b/c we had discussed possibility of losing a home privilege when doesn't follow rules at school. he discussed he didnt' want to lose privileges. couldn't make it down to class. was calmer b/c i was there, but couldn't so much work through problem-solving b/c already agitated. at end of day, told me was concerned b/c has trouble with 'seatwork'.

 

that night, discussed options,etc. he had some great ideas. next morning -- i have NO ONE to share this with. had e-mailed and received a bit of a terse reply from prinicpal that that much info in e-mail on 'day of need' is inappropriate. luckily, school psych available and i disuss that if he does not have appropriate outlet for communication inpairment concerning this task, there's going to be a problem. they institute a 'red card' to put on his desk if he needs extra help or there is trouble with the activitiy; and rating for if he thinks it's a good solution. worked beautifully!! the accomodation that SHOULD have been in place from the 504 and likely would have helped to avoid all this. i have other ideas from anxietybc.com and from our private psych, but no person to share with. . . but classroom teacher, who is interested and helpful, but also has 23 other kids.

 

issue for me is that communication impairment is in 504 but in the past 3 weeks there's been no accomodation and school has no one that would be available as a point person for me to even give a heads up to except classroom teacher who is too busy. we had a problem with spelling 2 weeks ago that b/c i was in the school was handled well.

 

school wants me out of there -- as do i -- but we don't have the right goal. it's like they think we are weaning him off of needing me to him being an independent average 2nd grader. he still has the 2 major impairments documented in the 504 that need to be addressed. classroom teacher has done some great work.

 

we've done some great work in ERP like plans getting him used to school -- this week in the cafeteria -- but with me in the school -- i've expressed to school that it has switched from i am comfort of mom but i am now comfort of problem solver and communicator -- disabiities defined in the 504. there is no one in the role of this except the classroom teacher. but, obviously, because ds has communication impairment -- has trouble alerting her to potential problems.

 

do ALL the accomodations of the 504 fall to the classroom teacher? should i think we need to go for an IEP? i have a pediatrician letter stating pandas and psych letter stating anxiety-NOS. thanks.

 

luckily i have appt next week with educational advocate that works for ARC. odd serendipitous meeting a few weeks ago!

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I would talk to the teacher and ask what she needs in order to be able to implement the accommodations in the 504 plan. Then when you have the meeting, request what she needs w/o telling the staff that she needs it- make it address your child's needs instead. I've been on both sides of this issue- both as a teacher and as a parent. No matter how badly the teacher wants to help your child, if she doesn't have the needed support to make the accommodations, she won't be able to do it. You're choice is to make accommodations that the teacher can manage on her own, or try to force other staff to help, by naming responsible parties in the plan.

 

Basically 504s are for accommodations that do not require funding, IEP's are for things that require intervention from the sped department-therapy, sped teachers, etc. I would think the school would rather work out the 504 problems to avoid the expense of SPED. But, if they really want you out- you're probably going to have a rough time with them no matter what. Some school's are great about following the letter of the law and ignoring the spirit of the law.

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We had a 504 through elementary and didn't change it to an IEP until DS had a really bad exacerbation in junior high and the multiple classes and teachers at that age didn't lend themselves well to clear communication about DS's accommodations or needs.

 

It sounds like your teacher, good as she is, has her hands full; that's a pretty big class for 2nd grade. Peg has a good point, so if you can work with the teacher and get DS well set . . . since at this grade level this is THE class . . . then your 504 will likely work out for this year. Then you'll just have to take it up again with next year's teacher.

 

BUT, given the principal's curt response to your email, it sounds as though perhaps the "pump is getting primed" for a little more intervention, i.e., an IEP. I mean, if she doesn't want you emailing her with potential solutions and suggestions to put into play the next day when the day before didn't go well so you're trying to help them problem solve, then that's likely because she feels as though she's got lots of other stuff on her plate and doesn't want to be expected to be front and center for your DS. Which could mean, in turn, that the idea of an IEP, with which your DS will be assigned an on-site caseworker who's responsibility it is to be your "go-to" person in situations such as those, is an attractive option not just for you, but for the school, too.

 

I've heard stories about schools being reluctant to grant IEP's because of the costs involved, and I know some districts actually go to great lengths to keep those types of expenditures down. In our case, though, the school actually "fast-tracked" my DS's IEP at the height of an exacerbation. Now, part of that was because we had a couple of great advocates within those walls: a teacher who'd known him pre-exacerbation, couldn't fathom the change in him, and really wanted to see him get help, and a school psychologist who'd also known him pre-exacerbation and knew what he was capable of when he was healthier. But the rest of it was because, frankly, 1) I was relentless and 2) he was so needy.

 

I didn't so much charge after the IEP as I just kept hounding the teachers, the dean, the social worker and the psychologist to make sure the 504 accommodations were being fully implemented, trying to make the school days more bearable for all concerned. Even with a fairly broad scope of 504 accommodations, though, DS continued to struggle. So between his lack of functionality and the "inconvenience" that was causing the school, and my pestering them daily to do right by him, I think they collectively decided that at least with an IEP, there'd be a caseworker between me and the rest of the administration, and a caseworker between DS and his teachers, who's job it would be to coordinate the communication as well as the accommodations, answer to me, answer to DS, and keep us both out of everyone else's way! ;)

 

I have to say, it was the best thing we ever did, and it has made a world of difference in facing each new school year and the challenges it can present. I love the fact that I can just email the caseworker and he can email me . . . about little things, about the big things. And he's the only person I really to take anything up with. He then conveys everything to the other parties involved, or brings their concerns to me and DH, and everybody's on the same page, and DS's days are well-structured so that they're smoother and less anxiety-provoking for him and for us.

 

That's my 2 cents worth! :P

Edited by MomWithOCDSon

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thanks much. peglem -- insights from a teacher's point of view are definitely interesting. nancy -- always so helpful to have your thoughts and experience.

 

one thing i'm confused about is that i hear claims that schools don't want to do IEP because of the expense, but i thought if they had IEP, there was federal funding for it -- ??

 

are there negatives to having a IEP?

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thanks much. peglem -- insights from a teacher's point of view are definitely interesting. nancy -- always so helpful to have your thoughts and experience.

 

one thing i'm confused about is that i hear claims that schools don't want to do IEP because of the expense, but i thought if they had IEP, there was federal funding for it -- ??

 

are there negatives to having a IEP?

 

I believe there is federal funding for an IEP, but in order to qualify for that, there's also a lot more paperwork and red tape involved, which the schools would rather avoid. I also think . . . but I'm not sure . . . that not ALL the funds come from the feds; that some, at least, falls within the district's responsibility, too. Or maybe it's just that for every IEP they're compelled to grant, the resources they have to devote to administrating that and staying on top of all the federal requirements is taxing on the staff, if not the budget itself? Perhaps they're required to have X number of SPED staff, and/or X number of school psychologists on staff for every X number of IEP students, or something like that, and the staffing is done at the district's cost? I'm really not sure. Maybe Peg knows that one.

 

If there's a "negative" to the IEP, I think it might be the following. With an IEP, even if your child is "mainstreamed" into the regular course cirriculum, he's technically classified as a "special ed" student, which might be a stigma some kids would feel very strongly about. Also, usually with an IEP, one of their class periods (20 to 45 minutes daily) is dedicated to a "resource" period where a SPED teacher works with them on some skills that they are uniquely behind on, whether that's organization, prioritization, self-advocacy, etc. That's all well and good in lower grades, but as you get higher up in school, it can become cumbersome because that's one more class every quarter or semester that you can't fit in a basic requirement or an elective you want to take, something we're contending with now in high school.

 

Another thing that, frankly, I'm not 100% clear on is how you "extinguish" an IEP, assuming you get to a place where that's appropriate and/or desired. My understanding of the 504 Plan is that you can extinguish it and remove it entirely from your child's file at any point in time. With an IEP, though, I think extinguishing it requires some agreement by staff, maybe even some retesting to demonstrate that the deficits the IEP was intended to address are no longer at issue for your child? That would be something to look into, especially if you're on the fence about which program is best suited for your child. Frankly, some of the accommodations my DS currently has in his IEP, I don't ever see being ready to set aside entirely based on his performance over the last 2+ years, so I haven't gotten too heavily into this piece of the puzzle for us.

 

Good luck!

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thanks much. peglem -- insights from a teacher's point of view are definitely interesting. nancy -- always so helpful to have your thoughts and experience.

 

one thing i'm confused about is that i hear claims that schools don't want to do IEP because of the expense, but i thought if they had IEP, there was federal funding for it -- ??

 

are there negatives to having a IEP?

 

I believe there is federal funding for an IEP, but in order to qualify for that, there's also a lot more paperwork and red tape involved, which the schools would rather avoid. I also think . . . but I'm not sure . . . that not ALL the funds come from the feds; that some, at least, falls within the district's responsibility, too. Or maybe it's just that for every IEP they're compelled to grant, the resources they have to devote to administrating that and staying on top of all the federal requirements is taxing on the staff, if not the budget itself? Perhaps they're required to have X number of SPED staff, and/or X number of school psychologists on staff for every X number of IEP students, or something like that, and the staffing is done at the district's cost? I'm really not sure. Maybe Peg knows that one.

 

If there's a "negative" to the IEP, I think it might be the following. With an IEP, even if your child is "mainstreamed" into the regular course cirriculum, he's technically classified as a "special ed" student, which might be a stigma some kids would feel very strongly about. Also, usually with an IEP, one of their class periods (20 to 45 minutes daily) is dedicated to a "resource" period where a SPED teacher works with them on some skills that they are uniquely behind on, whether that's organization, prioritization, self-advocacy, etc. That's all well and good in lower grades, but as you get higher up in school, it can become cumbersome because that's one more class every quarter or semester that you can't fit in a basic requirement or an elective you want to take, something we're contending with now in high school.

 

Another thing that, frankly, I'm not 100% clear on is how you "extinguish" an IEP, assuming you get to a place where that's appropriate and/or desired. My understanding of the 504 Plan is that you can extinguish it and remove it entirely from your child's file at any point in time. With an IEP, though, I think extinguishing it requires some agreement by staff, maybe even some retesting to demonstrate that the deficits the IEP was intended to address are no longer at issue for your child? That would be something to look into, especially if you're on the fence about which program is best suited for your child. Frankly, some of the accommodations my DS currently has in his IEP, I don't ever see being ready to set aside entirely based on his performance over the last 2+ years, so I haven't gotten too heavily into this piece of the puzzle for us.

 

Good luck!

The place to find out all the legalities and funding issues is http://www.wrightslaw.com/

 

Unless the law has been changed in the last few years, IEP's and special education records must be kept in a separate file from the regular education records and it is completely confidential. The sped file is not automatically sent with other records when transferring to a new school and can only be sent by request from new school w/ parental permission. Services granted/implemented on an IEP can be changed/suspended/phased out/discontinued by agreement of the child's support team (named differently by different states/districts)which almost always includes the parents.

 

I know the school's do receive federal funding for sped, but I don't think it is fully funded by feds and usually requires matching funding from the states or districts.

 

My own daughter has had an IEP and been in self contained sped classrooms since age 3. She's been in private sped school's since kindergarten, but there is no way she could manage/participate in regular classrooms at all.

 

My experience as a regular classroom teacher is that IEPs/504s can be very difficult to implement, especially if you have a large class w/ multiple kids on plans. The teacher's level of experience and willingness to help also comes into play as, frankly, it is very easy to make it look like you are following a plan on paper for accountability purposes without actually following the plan.

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To have an IEP, the child must have either mental retardation, hearing impairments, speech or language impairments, visual impairments, serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, or other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities (in one of 8 areas); and by reason thereof requires special education and related services.

 

It is this “requirement of special education” that is the difference between the 504 and the IEP. If the child has a disability but doesn’t require special education/instruction, the child isn’t eligible for an IEP.

 

Some children with tics or OCD or Tourettes are on an IEP with Other Health Impairment. An OHI specification requires two things [34 CFR 300.8 (9)]:

  1. A limited alertness with respect to the educational environment (i.e., distracted due to fear or tics or …)
  2. and Adversely affects the child’s educational performance

The schools seem to choose that “adversely affects” means is greater than 1 standard deviation below the bottom of the average of all kids in the US. I could go on and on here, but that’s typically the fight. Again, if there isn’t special education required, then the child isn’t eligible for an IEP.

 

There’s lots we could discuss about eligibility. But what you might be asking is “suppose my child is eligible, is there a good reason to stay with a 504 vs an IEP?

 

The usual bias is about the procedural safeguards. The IEP puts in place certain procedural safeguards that prevent certain disciplinary actions (like expulsion) without due process. These safeguards are not in place for the 504.

 

The 504 is about “access to the curriculum” through accommodations. It does not have provisions that the child gets special education or that the education is making “meaningful progress.”

 

One of the painful realities we’ve learned is that the school board seems to have a very low objective of teaching children with special education. In our conversations, they almost always quote the Rowley federal case as being why they only have to show “progress” and not actually help close the gap between ability and production (what is referred to as a severe discrepancy in the specific learning disability rules). I could say a ton here, but it seems like the teachers and the schools where we live are more suited to helping kids with 504 plans than they are at helping kids who have specific learning disabilities. I wish this weren’t true, but it seems that they “hand” kids with special education off to others rather than taking effort to adjust their curriculums to help the child approach the material.

 

Finally, good or bad, there is a stigma associated with Special Education. In one of our IEP meetings the coordinator said “well, she is likely going to be embarrassed to be pulled out” (which is true) and I asked what program they had in place to help reduce this stigma (I got blank looks), but the reality is being different is just tough at this age group.

 

Bottom line, if you need special education, then you need an IEP. If you only need accomodations then either could work and in our case, the 504 became more appropriate as we got escalations under control.

 

Best regards,

 

Buster

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