Mediation with the School District - FamilyEducation
Mediation with the School District
06/25/2011 at 23:21 PM

Hi, any opinions, suggestions, or advice would be greatly appreciated. Here's my situation.

My son is currently in 4th grade and has had an IEP since 1st grade. This has been the year from hell for us, from finally being diagnosed with a Learning Disability and the struggles for him :( , a very tough teacher who was the least understanding and very harsh on our son, to now the school district fighting our request/demand that he be held back another year for the 2011-2012 school year to repeat the 4th grade.

His LD more entails struggles in reading comprehension, speech, & basic math facts and functions. His handwriting is that of a Kindergartner/1st grader, he also receives occupational therapy for his hand dexterity. We have him receiving Biofeedback for the Learning Disability and some emotional issues. He is a very loving and caring child, but is easily upset and angered and often misreads people's intentions, how he interprets situations is usually opposite of what they were. He is 10yrs old, however to my husband and I when we see him with his peers we believe he is not on the same mental and emotional maturity level as the other children his age. He was a very late walker as a baby, he didn't learn how to ride his bike until he was 8, and a few other late milestones occurred.

With all of that said, the struggle of this past year with just his teacher alone for a child with no LD would have been tough, but on top of what our son has been struggling with has been such a tough year on all of us, mostly emotionally.

This is the first year he has recognized his struggle and how he differs from his peers. He often calls himself "stupid" because he needed his special education teacher help him in the regular education classroom, because of this whole "PUSH-IN" push from the school district. He recognizes that he can't get what most of the other students could get so seemingly easier than he. He over the course of this year has really allowed himself to hate school and have a "give up" attitude.

My husband and I have been in 3 seperate IEP meetings alone this year not to mention a meeting where we had to discuss an occurrence where his regular ed. teacher told him in front of her whole class, that his choice of "ramen noodle" for a food to eat was not healthy enough to help his brain grow and that maybe this is why he is having so many difficulties. YES, bringing up one of his favorite foods during a math lesson seemed appropriate to her. Oh and even better, in his IEP we had it stated that POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT and DAILY ENCOURAGING WORDS would benefit his self-esteem and outlook on school in the classroom setting, and she still thought all of this was encouraging to him!!!

SOOO...With all of that in just one year has made us decide that holding him back, WITH A NEW TEACHER, giving him a chance to catch up emotionally and mental maturity wise would be positive enough for his self esteem, not to mention another year of the same material that he struggled with, giving him a fighting chance to actually retain more of what he should know to be successful in 5th grade, has us really believing that grade retention is our only best option. He hasn't made any close friends with any of the children in his grade level b/c the difference in his hobbies and likes, so we aren't too concerned with the peer taunting. We are also not as worried with any peer taunting because in our district the 5th grade is the first year in our middle school, so the kids he would have moved forward with if we don't retain him will be in a whole different building altogether, not even noticing that he was left back. Our son does have a few friends in the 3rd grade that would be his new peers this coming school year if we do retain him.

Our problem, our school district has denied our request of grade retention saying it isn't line with our son's Right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education, that he would be best moving forward with his peers, because according to them, the fact that his special ed and regular ed teacher got him to the "BASIC" level is good enough for moving forward and to become successful in the 5th grade. Nevermind any emotional distress and mental anguish all of the change will have on him, on top of the emotional and mental immaturity he already struggles with. All they seem to care about is the academic level of just basic is all that matters. Our psychologist agrees with us and is writing a letter of his professional recommendation for our son's placement and hopefully that will be enough to get them to agree with us, but I have a feeling it won't be. We are in the process of setting a Mediation date in hopes to get our request granted. However the Supervisor of Student Services for our district called and told us that "Mediation is a good thing, because most parents come in hoping that the district will grant their requests, but come out realizing that what the district is pushing for is actually best for their child and end's up agreeing to go along with the districts recommendation." So with that comment alone, I'm not to positive about what this outcome is looking like. I fear a real fight possibly pushing it to a due process hearing, even possibly causing a delay to the start of our son's 2011-2012 school year, because I refuse to back down!!!

This is MY SON'S education and future!!!

Sorry I can't help you but I'm in Britain and don't know how things like this work in the States. I have a son who has ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome and felt I had to fight every inch of the way to get my son the help he needed. Good luck. Hope you can get him the help he needs.

Thank you...My husband & I are up for the fight and just sad to see my son being the one to suffer through all of it.

The superintendent said "most parents'. That means that he may have had experience with situations where the school district officials come out knowing that what the parents were pushing for was in the best interests of the child. Be up for the discussion, well-armed with data, and don't use your valuable time enumerating the deficiencies of last year's teacher.

OMG! I know exactly what you are dealing with. Wherever you are you need to get a lawyer who has experience with this ( yes there are even pro bono lawyers out there for those that qualify) as far as grade retention- all I have read is that it is never a good idea. You need to push for more help for your child and you might want to consider that the place to get that is a an out-of-district placement. Good luck!