HB 1232 would restore parental rights. It shifts the burden of proof in due process hearings regarding special education placement on the school district or public agency, not the parents. Why is this important?
It is important because currently, about 20% of any given class of students are students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
These students have disabilities but many have disabilities such as dyslexia which should be capable of being overcome. At present, schools are given the status of being experts whether they are or not.
Many schools rely on SAIFs to conduct testing to determine disabilities. SAIFs take a 1-year master’s program which is absolutely nothing compared to what a medical neuropsychologist goes through to get to the level of being able to diagnose disabilities.
A medical neuropsychologist goes through a medical school, a number of residencies, specialization, and dedicate years to being able to make those diagnoses. Many school professionals do not take statistics and therefore fail to recognize statistical anomalies that indicate problems.
I heard one school SAIF argue that the student “passed” one section and even though the student failed another, the average was a “pass.” By comparison, a medical professional from Boston Children’s Hospital testified that was not the case. The school won the argument because, 1. They were designated as experts solely because they were employed by the school and 2. The parents had the burden of proof in the matter because they filed for due process.
What triggers due process?
If the parents don’t agree with an IEP (Individualized education plan), they can disagree which triggers due process. The school doesn’t typically ever file due process because they hardly ever disagree with themselves. So in almost every case, the burden of proof is on the parents who don’t get the designation of being an expert on their child despite the fact that they live with that child 24/7 and coordinate and execute all medical care and care for that child on every level.
Parents are dismissed under a stereotype which labels parents as emotional and ridiculous for wanting an appropriate education for their child and for the school to FOLLOW THE LAW.
Most schools don’t follow the law because they have been advised by their very expensive lawyers (who you as the taxpayer provide funding for) that they only have to show a BARE MINIMUM level of progress. EVERY school attorney cites the ROWLEY case (bare minimum progress) in the first line of every response on due process because schools aren’t REALLY accountable for anything).
Incidentally, the Rowley standard was broken by the Supreme Court last year. But schools and courts still function by the old rules.
Not only is this detrimental to any child, but it is also detrimental to our society.
Failure to get an adequate education is an automatic qualifier for social services from the age of 18 until death. That’s a whole lot of time for workers to be supporting 20% of each yearly graduating class. In fact, it’s completely unsustainable. And the worst part is, it’s completely unnecessary.
Most children have disabilities which, with proper support and services, can be overcome. But they are not being given those levels of services. They’re falling through the cracks.
In our state, 77% of students with IEPs graduate with high school diplomas. But only 19% are proficient in reading and 13% are proficient in math. That is not a marketable skill set. It also degrades the value of the high school diploma.
While the federal government does give $1,980 for each child with an IEP, they do not dictate how that money is spent nor do they tie it to any specific kid. That means that one child with an IEP will receive no or very few services while another child will get significantly more than $1,980 of services. While decisions regarding iEPs are supposed to be made by the IEP team with the parents having the largest amount of input, the reality is that many schools make IEP decisions before getting any parent input at all and they dictate to the parent “what we will do.” This, incidentally, is illegal. But it happens every day.
The parent, therefore, is down on several levels.
- They are not allowed to contribute in any meaningful way to an IEP.
- They are not deemed experts by the law as IDEA grants schools that designation.
- They aren’t allowed access to their child while their child is at school, and they have to prove the school is not meeting the bare minimum standard of progress per the school’s attorney.
Many other states have tried to correct this gross imbalance by passing laws that reinforce that since the schools have “expert” designation despite not having earned that status, they should have the ability to defend their “expert” plan. It makes sense to me. Why should the parents, who have no ability to craft the plan, execute the plan, or enforce the plan then have to prove the plan doesn’t work? It doesn’t make sense.
Vote for parental rights and interests. Support HB 1232.
By Moira Ryan