Comments from the NEUROLOGIST,
A 10-year-old, 5th grade girl comes in with her mom because she cannot read at a 5th grade level. Her school gave her a resource room, but her mom sees her falling behind even more. She is not reading any book for pleasure at home. She takes 4 hours to do homework, which is much too long.
She needs thorough testing for dyslexia. I wrote a letter to her principal asking for the specific tests I want at the schools’ expense. The principal said no, because she has not failed a grade yet. But I don’t want her to wait until she fails a grade before the school will give her appropriate help because by then her confidence and interest in schoolwork will be mostly gone.
Comments from the ATTORNEY,
Passing grades should not stop the school from evaluating for special education needs. This is very clearly stated in the federal regulations. “FAPE [free appropriate public education] is available to any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade” (34 C.F.R. § 101(c)).
The State Regulations also specifically state that special education shall be available “even though the student is advancing from grade to grade.” 8 NYCRR § 200.4(c)(5). Some school administrators are under the mistaken impression that passing from grade to grade removes a child from eligibility for special education.
With respect to thorough testing for dyslexia, the state educational agency, or local education agency “shall conduct a full and individual initial evaluation” to determine if the child is a child with a disability within the meaning of the law and is entitled to receive special education. The parent can request such an evaluation. This evaluation must assess the child “in all areas of suspected disability.”
The parent should make sure that the team conducting the evaluation is aware of the parent’s concern – put this in writing. The education agency is required by law to make such an evaluation – at its expense: They do not have any discretion as to whether to evaluate or not (20 U.S.C.§ 1414).