While I won't share all of the particulars, the district was found in violation of our rights with regard to providing parents with Procedural Safeguards, time lines for transition, time lines following parental request and consent to an evaluation and time lines following referral for evaluation. While the formal letter of findings only speeds up our transition process by two weeks, our hope is that we have saved countless other parents from having their rights violated in the future. We also sincerely hope that our districts' Special Education Director enjoys the training she has to attend as a result of her failure to follow laws outlined for transitioning families.
While we hope you never encounter the issues we have experienced, some helpful tips when filing a complaint:
- The Department of Education can take up to 60 days to rule on your complaint. As soon as you feel your rights have been violated, file a complaint. Should your district choose to act within the confines of the law, you can withdraw the complaint.
- The Department of Education can only rule on issues they are aware of. I am certain that our school district is in the practice of violating parents' rights, specifically because their standard procedures, as outlined in a letter we received, are outside the letter of the law. If no one ever reports the violations, the DOE knows nothing about these issues, and can therefore not enforce change.
- File all documentation with the Department of Education. Even though the Department of Education will request documentation from the district, it is imperative that you also provide this. In our case, the district failed and refused to submit any of the requested documentation. Had Drew's Dad and I not submitted the information, there would have been no documentation on which to base the letter of findings.
- Maintain a professional relationship with the case worker from the Department of Education. This person is the one that will ultimately write the letter of findings. We did not know this until well into the process, so I was very happy that all of my conversations with this individual were professional and as emotion-free as possible. State the facts of the situation.
- Remember the process is about your child, not the fact that you have been "wronged". As frustrated as I am that this process is not punitive (believe me, someone should, in my opinion, pay for what we have gone through) the important thing is that your child receives the services he/she needs.