Can sp. ed kids be discriminated against in gen ed?
My son is being placed in the same gen ed classroom with all of the other sp. ed students in the same grade level (7 of them). There are many classes within the building teaching the same grade level with very competent teachers. All classrooms are on the same exact schedule. Why should all of these kids be "dumped" into one room? It's not an inclusion room where there will be an additional teacher. Maybe it's not technically sp. ed, but it's just sp. ed within the gen. ed.
First, I would ask that you sit down with the building coordinator or case manager for special education for your son. Have this person explain to you 1) The level of service your son is receiving (Are there other non-identified special education children in the classroom or is the room comprised of all special needs children who are receiving instruction with only special education teachers for main subjects, but are mainstreamed for physical education, music, art, etc.?) 2) Have this person explain to you who is in the classroom with your child. Is the teacher a general education teacher and there is a supporting special education teacher? Perhaps all the educators are trained in special education? Maybe there is one teacher and a support assistant? 3) Of these teachers, who will have the main responsibility for instructing your child? If this is a cooperative teaching mode where two teachers "team teach" how much time will be spent with each teacher for your son? (This may be the case if all the special needs children appear in one room. Team teaching often helps smaller schools to give a program the most services) 4) Are there other professionals giving support to this classroom on a regular basis. Does a speech and language teacher visit once a week for a group session? Will a counselor be meeting with the students for peer groups? Find out exactly what services will be offered and how much time your child will be involved with each service provider, if this is the case. His IEP should have services and time for each service spelled out. Have this reviewed with you. Many times IEPs are difficult to decipher.
Please don't feel that your child is "dumped". Becoming informed can be very empowering for you. Your child needs to have his parents support his education to have a positive outlook himself. If you feel that he is not progressing or the program is not working, then you are entitled to convene the team members that are involved with special education and review his progress and program.
You may just find out that this program has many supportive elements to help your son to succeed and is the just the right fit.
As you can imagine, it is illegal to discriminate again individuals with disabilities. The American Disabilities Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act assure that. However, there are many gray areas (hence, the need for parent advocates and occasionally, special education lawyers, to help clarify the law).
Now, how does this impact your son? I wonder if your son's school is shifting classrooms to cope with budget constraints? Or, maybe the school has given you another reason for these changes? Regardless, this is frustrating and concerning.
I would ask a number of questions about how the school administration plans to accommodate the special education students in the new classroom. How many staff will be available in the classroom? How will lesson plans be devised given that each student has so many unique needs? And, most important, how will your son's IEP be addressed in the context of the new classroom?
If you are unsatisfied with the answers to these questions, I recommend you communicate with the parents of other children in special education and contact the Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) in your state to learn more about your options: http://www.taalliance.org/ptidirectory/pclist.asp
L. Compian, Ph.D.
Hi, Although I know you're very concerned about your son's treatment, you should try to remember that he has some special needs that others don't have. It may seem unfair for him to be placed in a class with only the sp ed kids. But it would be even more unfair for him to be placed in a classroom where he couldn't keep up, or the other kids looked down on him in and torment him. Your concerns as a parent are valid, for we all only want the best for our children. Having worked with many sp ed kids I can tell you that no matter how competent the teachers are not all teachers are qualified to meet the needs of the sp ed child or children. If you feel that your son is being treated unfairly it is best for you to go to his school and directly address the matter with the principal. I hope that in even a small way this will help you. Smile and remember you are never alone.
dmillerteach,Child Professional, School Administrator, Teacherwrites:
It seems from your description that your son is in a self-contained classroom, where there are only special ed. students. Usually special ed. needs are diagnosed on what is called a "continuum of services" and school boards are supposed to aim for the "least restrictive" setting, meaning that the goal for every child is to be integrated into a general ed class if possible unless there is need for him/her to be moved to a setting with more teacher attention based on his/her disability. Having worked as a student advocate for many years, I have heard the concern many times about discrimination from the rest of the school. This is a very difficult balancing act. If you feel like your son has been misdiagnosed/unfairly placed, discuss with the administrators why he has been put in this setting. If you are still unsatisfied, you can get him evaluated outside (often for free, reduced prices) and integrate these findings into his IEP (note: wait lists can be long at diagnosis centers). You also have the right to refuse services at any time or dispute any findings on his IEP. I would advise not jumping to this step, however, and opening your mind to the possibility that special ed is a GOOD THING! These services are designed to give extra intervention when children need them most! I have attached a resource guide from education.com that further explains everything you need to know about special ed- the section on The ABCs of Advocacy for Children With Special Needs will be of particular interest to you as you go forward. It is also good to check your state's Department of Education website, as well as to find out if there are any advocacy groups in your area for children with special needs. Feel free to contact me with any other questions. I hope you and your child have a very successful school year!