Tomorrow night, November 12th, is the 5th meeting of the IEP Task Force. Lieutenant Governor/future Attorney General Matt Denn has indicated the task force will continue past the drafting of the Governor’s Report, due in January 2015. But there is one major issue this task force has not discussed, and it was brought up in public comment by myself and others.
I wrote the following email to Matt Denn as a plea for the future of the students with disabilities in Delaware abused by this process. Not only is it a Civil Rights violation, it is also against Federal Law.
Congratulations on your victory in the election for Attorney General. I am confident you will do great things in this role.
I had some concerns about the IEP Task Force. My number one problem, and always has been, is the amount of IEP denials that occur. This occurs often in charter schools. I spoke with Mary Ann Mieczkowski last summer about this, and she informed me there is NO protocol for monitoring the amount of denials. No audit takes place to suggest if a denial was warranted or not. What tends to happen is the IEP is denied, and either a 504 plan might be given or nothing happens. The amount of protection offered by a 504 is minimal compared to an IEP for a special needs student. For children with behavior issues who are denied an IEP, they are often “counseled out” by a charter or expelled. Their behavior is the catalyst for these actions, but with no special education accommodations given, these students don’t stand a chance.
I know I am not a member of the task force, but I am asking, no, begging, that this topic is introduced. I’ve brought it up a few times in public comment, but it doesn’t even appear to be an issue amongst the task force. I know charters were brought up at the last meeting, but this particular topic didn’t come up. When a student “switches” to another school, long-term behaviors have become a part of this student’s thinking, and it is very difficult for the next school to get a student back on track.
I am proposing the Delaware Department of Education requires all schools in Delaware under their jurisdiction to have this information reported to them, and audited by them. While the Federal government does not mandate this, there are specific laws written into IDEA that require the schools to do things which should prevent these issues from happening in the first place. This is a major reason why there are so many special education lawsuits in this state.
I know the IEP Task Force may be extended past the Governor’s report in January, but I feel this is the most important issue in the whole IEP process. Every day when something is not done is another day when a Delaware student is suffering because they don’t have the supports in place to help them. This is the ugly part of IEPs that the DOE and legislators don’t want to look at, but it is happening, right now, and parents and students with disabilities are paying the price.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to attending the meeting tomorrow night.
Delaware parents of special needs children. If you have not already given public comment or emailed Matt Denn about your own situation where your child was denied an IEP at any school in the state that you feel was not justified, please attend the meeting tomorrow night in Dover or Wilmington. Let this task force know what happened with your child and what the negative results may have been for them. This is the time to bring this matter under the microscope so it can be eliminated from happening to any child. I know it can be hard speaking in public about your child, but it is the right thing to do. The system can’t change unless more parents speak up.
Many of you have shared your stories with me, whether it was email, talking, or on social media. This is the same thing, but with the ability for great and lasting change. I personally do not want any child in this state to suffer the way my own did, and I feel it is my responsibility and duty as a human being to make sure events like this never happen again.