Revoking consent for special education: A good idea or terrible mistake? Two Case Studies Parents Revoke Consent for IEP
Case Study 1: Suzie and the Bad Advice Advocate
Suzie is a six year old with diagnoses of High Functioning Autism, including Sensory Processing Disorder and academic deficits. She and her family lived in School District A in a state with good special education service options. At the beginning of first grade, Suzie was having serious behavioral challenges at school. Parents and school disagreed on why these behaviors were occurring. Trust broke down and the parent-school relationship was strained. School District A changed Suzie's Individualized Education Program and changed her placement. School District A wanted to send Suzie to a separate school for children with disabilities. School District A filled Suzie's file with documentation of many extreme behaviors, stating that she was removed from the regular classroom up to 5 hours per day due to misbehavior. After some homebound instruction, the parent did try to send Suzie to the special school. It was a disaster.
Parent disagreed with the placement, and believed that Suzie's Least Restrictive Environment should be in the regular classroom with special education and related services supports. The parent could not afford a due process hearing, and School District A filed a due process hearing against the parent trying to force the parent to send Suzie to the separate school.
The parent received some bad advice by a parent advocate. The parent advocate (not me, of course!) told the parent that all she had to do is move to School District B, reasoning that County B has more of an 'inclusive' philosophy. The parent advocate said School District B would put Suzie back in the regular classroom. Why was this bad advice?
When a family moves, the student's IEP is implemented as written by the previous school district, until the new school district evaluates the student and creates a new IEP. In most transfer cases, the new school district will maintain the previous placement, since the new school district does not know the child and relies on the previous district. So, you can guess what happened.
School District B placed Suzie in a full day, special education program for children with emotional disabilities. The parent was in total disagreement. What can the parent do? Her options were:
1-File a due process hearing. 2-Ask for mediation. 3-State Complaint. 4-Revoke Consent.
Option 1 would mean that the parent would have to prove that Suzie's LRE is the regular classroom. Since Suzie had not been in the regular classroom for many months. Option 2 was off the table because the school district refused to mediate. Option 3 wouldn't be effective because the State will not change a placement over an IEP team. So Suzie's parent revoked consent all together, taking her off of her IEP and forcing School District B to educate her in her neighborhood school in the regular classroom. IT WAS A SUCCESS!
Since every child who is eligible for special education with an IEP is also automatically eligible for a 504 Plan, Suzie received a 504 Plan with accommodations and services and is on her way to a successful school experience in the least restrictive environment. Although this case study is about a family who moved to get the child what she needs, parents can revoke the IEP within the school district, and the child is automatically placed in the neighborhood school in the regular classroom. A 504 Plan should be developed along with a behavior intervention plan, as needed.
Case Study 2 Justin, A computer Wiz Who needs Understanding Teachers
Justin is a middle school child with diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Anxiety. Justin is also highly gifted and very capable of learning; he likes computers, coding, and someday would like to go into cyber security or designing video games. He also has a difficult time writing, staying organized, and sometimes he gets frustrated and emotional. He had an IEP for his Other Health Impairment (this list of definitions is in alphabetical order) but he was placed by the school district into a program in a different school from his neighborhood school for children with emotional disabilities. As in most states, Justin lives in a state where the parents do not have to agree or consent to a change in placement. So his parents, disagreeing with the more restrictive placement, had the same options as Suzie's parents.
Parents revoked consent by writing a letter, and Justin remained in his neighborhood school with his friends. The school developed a 504 Plan for his condition of ADHD, provided counseling, and positive behavior supports. Justin is now successful in high school, on his way to a great career and fulfilled life.
Revoking consent for special education: A good idea or terrible mistake?
So revoking consent can be a really good idea and it can also be detrimental and a mistake. Some students will be suspended over and over again. Others will experience academic failure if there is no specialized instruction. Individualization is key, and each parent should seriously consider whether this is a good idea for the child. While the child can still be entitled to a free appropriate public education under a 504 Plan, most school districts will (inappropriately) refuse to provide specialized instruction under the 504. Some states are open to providing related services under the 504. The reality is that both special education and related services can be provided under the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as stated here is this guidance by the US Department of Education,
"The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met."
A quick quiz. True or False? Answers below.
1. When a parent revokes consent for all special education services, the parent has a right to request evaluations which may again lead to eligibility for special education.
2. The school district can take a parent to a due process hearing to require parents to allow the school to do evaluations.
3. After parents revoke consent, and the school does evaluations, the school district can take a parent to a due process hearing to force the parents to put the child back into special education under the 'initial' IEP.
4. There are some states that do not allow a parent to revoke consent.
How did you do?
I hope this has helped parents and educators better understand the parent right to revoke consent. Please comment and discuss! And remember, if you need assistance, ABCs for Life Success is committed to extraordinary service! Contact us today!
Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book: What you can do now to advocate for your exceptional child's education by Michelle Davis