Retention vs Special Ed Law - FamilyEducation
Retention vs Special Ed Law
03/18/2009 at 11:50 AM

I know this is a huge topic, and it's posed a lot of questions and dilemas for many parents. When a child is in spec ed, the law states: No Child Left Behind. I've gone back and forth w/ this issue. My son is 5 and in kindergarten. He has a summer birthday, therefore, he's one of the youngest in his class. He started school at age 3, right out of early intervention. He's been in a spec ed school since then, w/ the exception of pre-k when he attended both his private school and our public pre-k program. Our PS is now trying to encourage us to send our son to district where they plan on pulling him out for specific core classes. This is all fine, as long as our son's needs are being met and he can adjust to his new environment. My concern still is w/ his age. Why is it if your child is not classified that you have the choice to hold him/her back, but if he/she is classified, you're told it goes against spec ed law to retain him/her?
My thinking is this. My son's been in school since he was 3. If he stays in the private school he's in now, I wld have no problem advancing him to 1st grade. However, once he's in PS, it's a whole new ballpark. From our knowledge of our son's pre-school experience in PS, we found he fell backwards and his needs were not being met. We also didn't get the same feedback that we get from the private school. So, I'm concerned. This yr, we may have no choice but to send our son to PS. Why not make it easier for him by having him repeat grade K again? Honestly, if our son wasn't classified, we probably wld've held him back a yr anyway b/c of his age. It only happened that he entered school early b/c of his needs. Now add these struggles to the mix, and you'll understand my frustration. My younger son is 4, and he has no academic problems. His birthday is right at the cut-off, so we held him back for that reason. He'll be one of the oldest kids in his pre-k class this fall, but so what. I feel confident he'll do well.
Does anyone know enough about the No Child Left Behind Law to know if it's even possible to hold a child back even though he's classified? Maybe it will benefit him, maybe it won't make a difference. We'll never know unless we try. Opinions and advice PLEASE!!

Does your child have an IEP for his specific problem ? Mine was held back in K and then in first grade he was still having difficulty so they tested and found a specific learning disability. It was the best thing for him. He was also young plus he was emotionally younger than the other children. His IEP has been a huge help in catching up with the other children. He is now in the 3rd grade and loving to read. Be sure to use as your resource. It is the best legal advice you can get. It seems like each state/school districts have different rules, but the law is what will protect your child. Best in your decisions GG

Hi GG, Yes my son does have an IEP. He's had one since he entered pre-school at 3 yrs old. He's doing well in his current spec ed school, but next yr we may be forced to put him into PS. The spec ed program there is fairly new, and the teacher has only been teaching these classes for approx 3 yrs. So she's not that experienced, and this worries me. I'm glad my son has an IEP geared towards his needs. I only hope the PS can keep up w/ him. You mentioned your son was held back in kindergarten. So you don't feel this made a difference for him? Are you saying that your son didn't have an IEP at that pt? I'm just trying to determine if it's even worth holding my son back, w/ an IEP in place, to allow him some extra time to mature. I'm not sure if this will benefit him academically, but I'm hoping he will grow both socially and emotionally. As for Wrightslaw, I subscribed to their newsletter. I agree that a lot of good info can be found there. Wrightslaw supports the No Child Left Behind Act, and they don't believe in retention. Then there's the parents who swear that holding their child back was the best thing they ever did. My son's Developmental Pediatrician believes holding our son back won't make a difference. Yet, I'm still stuck on the "what if". It's a difficult call whichever way you look at it.