At some point during the confusion of trying to help your child, you may hear someone mention an IEP or a 504 plan.
These instruments were developed by our federal government to ensure that every child is guaranteed the right to an education regardless of a disability.
Because your child is not attending school, you may need accommodations provided by either designation. (link to accommodations below)
There is an overwhelming amount of information about IEP’s and 504s on the internet.
You are dealing with enough right now, so having to read, sift, and absorb all that information could be exhausting.
Below is a clear, simplified and bottom-line description of these laws, all the elements and people involved, and how they can help your child.
Child Study Team
The child study team (sometimes called the student study team or other like terms) is the first place you should go for assistance at your school. I didn’t know this when we first started dealing with my son’s School Refusal. I just assumed that his guidance counselor was the one to help us. In fairness, the guidance counselor often does take on this role of your liaison. They do want to help you get your child back to school and they will continue to be involved as you work to solve this problem. However, the child study team is the ultimate group of school professionals that can provide your child with an IEP or a 504 plan.
The child study team is usually made up of a school psychologist, A social worker and a learning specialist. They will be evaluating and determining if your child meets criteria for special education and therefore and (Individualized Education Plan).
Special education is a broad term used by the law to describe specially designed instruction that needs to be unique needs of a child who has a disability. These services are provided by the school system and are free of charge. Your child may qualify for modification of homework or tests, extended test taking time, extended deadlines, classes that include a special education teacher in addition to regular teacher. Other assistance can be in the form of getting copies of teachers notes, assignments and projects broken down into manageable steps, copies of teacher study guides for tests, access to specialists, learning aids and technology-based assistance. Services can also include instruction at home or in hospitals.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal special education law. IDEA guarantees each child with a disability and in need of special education services, the right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), in the least restrictive environment (LRE).
I know what you are thinking… My child doesn’t need special education. I thought the same thing. Although your child may not need interventions that come to mind when you hear the words special education, under the law special education encompasses more. Definitions of a disability under IDEA also includes children with learning disabilities and children with emotional disorders (disturbances as it is stated in the law). Many school refusal kids suffer from an emotional disorder and/or learning disability.
You may need a special education designation for your child in order to get assistance and accommodations from your school district. These accommodations may help to get You’re a child back to his school or to get an out of district placement at a school that may be more appropriate for your child.