“Actually, All of Our Kids Have Low Math Scores”

Published on July 13, 2009 by Jennifer Laviano

As a parents’ special education attorney in Connecticut, I hear outrageous statements that parents are told by their school districts on an almost daily basis.  But, sometimes, I am told something that passes the realm of outrageous, and crosses into ridiculous.

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Such statements mislead or misrepresent the school’s legal obligations, and always in a way that benefits the school district.

After hearing so many of them, I decided to add a separate category to my blog just for this purpose, where I will post these ridiculous comments and explain why it likely violates IDEA.  Hopefully, if you’ve heard similar things from your district, next time around you will know better!

Today’s Ridiculous Comment

I recently attended an IEP meeting for a client, who had been struggling in school for years, and whose parents were requesting be identified as eligible for special education and related services under the IDEA based on a language based learning disability.  As part of that process, the school district conducted it’s own evaluation, and the purpose of this meeting was to review the results.  As the school psychologist reviewed the testing, I asked about a particularly low score the student had received in the area of math calculation.

“Oh, don’t worry about that one, all of the kids in our district have really low math scores because we give them all calculators in third grade.”

Sigh.  Seriously, and these people expect me to keep a straight face after that one?  I will say that the only thing that kept me from asking if this was a joke was the pleasure I was taking in the sheer humiliation and terror on the face of the school district’s attorney, followed by the expected “spin” as to what was “really meant” by that pretty clear statement.  That part was fun.

I really wish school district staff in general, and IEP members in particular, would lose the following four words from their vocabulary:  “all of our kids…”

First of all, the entire crux of the IDEA is to focus on the individual, and on the unique needs of the student in question, not on kids in general.  Secondly, as I’ve discussed previously, sub-tests actually really do matter.  And last, telling a parents’ attorney that their client doesn’t have special education needs because the rest of the students in the school district are also failing is probably not the most prudent approach, although I did appreciate the candor.

If a student’s testing reveals significant areas of need, it is not legally acceptable to suggest that there are other kids who are also needy, just to avoid having to provide special education services.

I can’t wait for the next meeting, where I’m told that my client can’t spell because the school’s computers have spell-check.  Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

2 Responses to “Actually, All of Our Kids Have Low Math Scores”

  1. Rochelle Dolim
    July 13th, 2009 | 10:48 pm

    Said while an IEP meeting was being audiotaped, when questioned for details on their substantiation of my child’s capabilities in the expected sucess of the IEP … IDEA DOESN’T REQUIRE US TO ESTABLISH A STUDENT’S CAPABILITIES.

  2. sherry hollis
    August 3rd, 2009 | 8:09 pm

    I made a written request to have my child evaluated for eligibilty of special ed services. I was told by the district sped director – your child does not qualify for this eval because she’s not protected under IDEA law.
    REALLY!!!
    I said ‘so you mean to tell me that a child has to already BE in special education before they can QUALIFY to be in special education?
    You should have seen the look on his face!
    Then he said ‘we can’t do this eval because it’s the same one we did last year’.
    To which I said ‘the one done last year was an SST assement that you tried to pull off as a sped eligiblity eval and I would have not known this if the state dept of education didn’t tell me.’
    There’s been MANY things that the school has said and done over the years but I think this was the best LOL