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.
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
Recently I was talking with a parent who had been expressing concerns to her school district about her child’s anxiety. He was apparently anxious enough, frequently enough, that it was interfering with all aspects of his life, including school. As a result, she asked her school district to evaluate him, to ascertain whether he might have an anxiety disorder or some other diagnosis which might entitle him to special education and related services.
The response she received to her request was “if you think your child is anxious now, just see how he responds to a bunch of testing.”
Wow. Talk about a chilling effect.. This comment is obviously designed to dissuade the parent to exercise her legal right under the IDEA to request evaluations by her school district. School districts are required to assess a student in all areas of suspected disability when considering eligibility for special education and related services. Instead, this parent was basically told not to have her concerns investigated.
What is most insidious about this comment is that it plays upon the parent’s desire to help her child, by telling her that finding out what might be wrong with him will hurt him.
It is not always the case, but far more often than not, when a parent has an instinct that there is something wrong with their child, they are right. For the school district not only discredit this instinct to avoid testing this child, but to suggest doing so would be harmful to him, is incredibly unfair. Not to mention a violation of the school district’s obligations to properly and timely evaluate the child.
Who, it turned out, did in fact have a disability requiring special education and related services.