Ten Signs of Inappropriate Placement

Hello, Parents!  Today I’m writing about appropriate/inappropriate placement.  Students with disabilities are entitled to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) according to Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  From its beginning, this has been a fundamental right that has not changed with amendments or the passage of time, school reform, or bad economy.  For FAPE to occur, a student must be in an appropriate placement.  We parents are not in the classroom every day or even every month, so how can we know if our child’s education is occurring in an appropriate placement?  There are many signs of an inappropriate placement, and here are 10 of them.

1.  Content is presented too fast for your child to learn.  There is never enough time for the drill your child needs to get the content into long term memory as necessary to pass tests.  School staff tell you they can’t slow it down for just one student.

2.  The class is so large that your child can’t keep focus and concentration on learning.  Too much material and/or instructions escape your child’s attention and progress isn’t what your child is capable of.

3.  Your child is being made sick or uncomfortable by the environment of her class.  An old building with a moldy history makes your child’s asthma worse and seems to compromise her entire immune system.  She is too sick or too uncomfortable to learn so much that her education is suffering.

4.  The content of the class is below his abilities and he isn’t being challenged.

5.  The content of the class is beyond his abilities and he can’t keep up.

6. A gifted child with disabilities is placed in regular education because school staff think gifted classes will be too stressful for her.

7.  Your child is in a class with multiple disabilities represented.  The teacher’s training does not include anything to give competency in teaching for your child’s disability.  And it shows.

8.  Your child has behavioral problems that disrupt classes.  The friction with continued inappropriate behaviors without needed behavioral interventions is disastrous.  Your child needs therapeutic help this class or school can’t deliver.

9.  Your child repeatedly cries “sick” to avoid going to school.  Or if she’s old enough, she’s cutting classes.  There are always strong reasons why a child tries to avoid settings where his friends and/or siblings are.  Are there bullies?  A tyrannical teacher who terrorizes her students?  Situations that are overwhelming to your child?

10.  One definition of “inclusion” does NOT require your child be educated to his potential–only that he benefit from placement in the class.  Benefits might be social more than academic.  This might not be appropriate for a child who is bright enough to be college-bound some day.

Parents need to be vigilant concerning a child’s placement in special education classrooms.  If you see these signs in your child, start keeping a daily journal of what signs you see and what your child says is going on.    You should consider your whole child, not just the academics, when thinking of where your child’s education should take place.  Always visit before placing your child anywhere; if the placement has already occurred and needs to be changed, write the school principal and request an IEP meeting to make that change.

When the time for that meeting arrives, take your journal and read a few selections from it that illustrate the problem.  If it’s environmental, as in #3, get a letter from your doctor stating that fact and take it to the IEP meeting along with bills for meds and hospital and doctors  if it comes to that.

Be firm.  There can be no FAPE if there is not first appropriate placement.


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