Referral to Special Education — Emotional Disturbance


[MUSIC PLAYING] We’re here because Kevin, in
the last week, has been declining, and Mrs. White,
here, has asked for this special education IEP meeting. Mrs. White, although I don’t
know him personally, I have spoken to the team, and we’re
really surprised that you’ve asked for this special
meeting– especially when he’s doing
so great in class. Prior to the most recent issues,
I don’t think anyone, including us, thought
he would need special education services. This is prompted by our recent
concerns, and I’ve written them down because there
have been so many. You should know that education
is not just all about academics or grades. In fact, the Individuals With
Disabilities Education Act has 13 categories of disability. Emotional disturbance
is one of them. So, as you know, Kevin has had a
really tough time this year. Last year he was– we thought it was tough, but
we chalked it up to the transition to high school. I mean, I do see a few failing
grades, but also a few Cs. I mean he’s not failing
everything. I also– when I looked at his
statewide assessments, he’s advance academically. If you suspect that your child
might have an emotional disturbance, you should prepare
yourself for the fact that the school is likely to
bring up things like grades and academics as evidence that
the child may not require special education. However, the federal special
education laws require that a special ed program include
things like functional and adaptive skills, as well
as to consider the behavior of the child. And as you’re about to
learn, this student– his behavior is significantly
impacting his education. Everyone knows he’s smart. In fact, he’s gifted. That’s not why we’re here. We all agree that he’s
bright– very bright. That’s why we’re so surprised
that you’re asking us to consider if he needs to be evaluated for special education. Many students who receive
special education services are, in fact, gifted. There’s nothing in the IDEA that
says intelligence is a sole factor when determining
the need for special education services. Did you know that he’s been so
unsuccessful at school that we informally agreed to an
abbreviated day last week? I recently learned that
from the team. I’d like to hear from the
building administrator, is he suspended a lot? Yes, he’s in the office
quite a bit. He seems very unhappy lately,
and then at some times he’s very angry. But there are other days where
he’s really very charming. It kind of depends on the day. Like most teenagers. I don’t think anything about
Kevin’s behavior is typical of most teenagers. In fact, did you know his
therapist suggests that he might have bipolar disorder? I actually like Kevin, and I do
try cut him some slack on those days where we can tell
he’s just a little off. We do see him struggling, and
that’s why we suggested the abbreviated day. Far too often we hear of a
school district’s response to a student who’s struggling in
school, especially with their behavior, that they
limit the child’s attendance in some way– either having the child start
the day later, or end the day earlier, or both. Really, this is not an
appropriate intervention. If a child’s behavior
is impacting them– their performance in school–
so much that they have to leave school, then really we
should be looking at another intervention. Before we go down the road of
testing, why don’t we see how the abbreviated day works? I brought a letter, that I
received from his therapist this morning, recommending
evaluation. Here’s a tip. If you and your child already
have a professional relationship with a therapist or
psychiatrist, it’s always a great idea to ask that person
to put something in writing that recommends what they
think your child needs. We can’t possibly respond
to something that we’re just now seeing. But it’s only one paragraph. We’re just seeing it, though. Not only does an IEP team that
is considering whether or not a child is eligible for special
education services have to include the parent, but
that team must, by federal law, consider information and
evaluations that the parent shares with the team. I was told you have to
consider outside recommendations. Am I wrong? No. Let me just get a minute
to read it. OK, Kevin’s therapist, Ms.
Garcia Jones, I haven’t heard of her before. She is suggesting
an evaluation. And I’m requesting one also. Let me ask the team. Do you think Kevin needs an evaluation for special education? In my class, when he’s there,
he’s a solid student. I mean he’s only failing because
of missed assignments or failing to turn in work. But when he does turn in the
work, it’s excellent. He’s a very smart kid– above his peers in many
ways, actually. So, no. I don’t think he needs to be
considered for special ed. Just make sure that somebody on
the team documents the fact that they’ve denied your request
for that initial evaluation. I’m requesting that
you evaluate Kevin for special education. Are you denying that request? Well I’m not hearing the
team say that they think he needs it. So are we going to decide today
to have the abbreviated day, and you’re denying my
request for the evaluation and his therapist’s recommendation? Well I guess we could
do some testing. You’re the special education
teacher– are there any tests that
you recommend on Kevin? Well, that’s a tough question. As you said, he performed very
well on the state tests. I guess I could do an IQ test
and some achievement testing. The evaluation procedures,
outlined by the federal regulations, specifically state
that a student shall be evaluated in all suspected areas
of disability, including social and emotional status. For students who are suspected
of having an emotional disturbance, be very cautious
and careful that the school district is, in fact, doing
tests and conducting the evaluation that will answer
the question– does this child have an
emotional disability? Which of those will tell us if
he has bipolar disorder? Well, neither of them will. But these are our
standard tests. I guess I could also do a
behavior rating scale. Will those tests for bipolar? They will give us a profile
of his behavior, yes. But I thought a psychologist
or a psychiatrist had to do the evaluation for bipolar. But that would require an
outside evaluation, and that’s just something only Central
Office can approve. In fact, for an IEP team
meeting to be a duly constituted meeting, there must
be a representative from the school district who’s not
only knowledgeable about the resources that the school
district has, but is also able to commit those resources. Well had I known that, I would
have requested someone from Central Office to be here. Can you call and ask? Well, why don’t we get started
with our own testing, and go from there? Well, I guess my biggest concern
is that his therapist thinks he has a disability. I’m sorry, but with those states
scores, there’s no way he has a learning disability. Let’s be cautious here. This student is suspected
of having an emotional disturbance– not a specific learning
disability. Very often parents and school
districts can get confused and go down the road of assessing,
whether or not a student has a specific learning disability,
which is a very common disability, rather than
assessing whether the student has an emotional disturbance. Be very careful that the team
is actually answering the question of whether this student
has an emotional disturbance as defined
by the IDEA. I think she said something about
an emotional disability. I’ll tell you what. I’ll speak to our special ed
director and let you know we says about a psychological
eval. But my guess is that
he’ll want to start with our own testing. Technically, it’s the obligation
of the school district to do the initial
evaluation and to evaluate in all suspected areas
of disability. Sometimes, if those resources
aren’t available within the school district, the school
district can, in fact, retain somebody outside of the
district to do that. It’s still considered their
initial evaluation. And they still must evaluate
in all suspected areas of disability. Give me a moment. I’m going to call over the
Central Office, OK? Excuse me. OK, so you know we don’t have
a psychiatrist on staff. But we have agreed to a
psychiatric evaluation by someone that we use often. We just need your consent. OK. John, will you get me
a consent form, please, in that folder? It should be a green
one, I believe. The IDEA requires that the
school district have your informed consent to evaluate
your child. Let’s make the distinction
here. You’re not giving your informed
consent to receive special education services. That only happens
if your child is actually found eligible. If your child is found eligible
after the evaluation, you’ll have to give
your informed consent for that as well. So can I submit some questions
that I’d like the psychiatrist to answer? As long as it’s educationally
relevant. Well, the psychiatrist will meet
with you to discuss your son, anyway. Great. Can we set up the team’s
next meeting now? Well we don’t know exactly
how long it’ll take. So let us call you and
set up a meeting once the testing is done. The IDEA says that once a parent
has given their consent for an evaluation, the school
district has to complete that evaluation within 60
calendar days. Here’s where it gets tricky. This is one of those areas where
the federal law does allow states to come up with
their own timelines. So if your state has a different
timeline, it may be 60 days, it may be a different
timeline, and you should check with your State Department
of Education. [MUSIC PLAYING]

3 thoughts on “Referral to Special Education — Emotional Disturbance”

  1. Having a label of ED means nothing when it is not impacting Academics in the eye of the School Districts. What services can be given to this student that will provide Educational Benefit if he is already thriving academically?

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