IEP/504 in the West Contra Costa School District

Parent Q&A

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  • Last Friday we got a diagnosis that our son has dyslexia and ADD. I suspected in 1st grade that he had both and I was right! We went to a licensed neuro psychologist and had a full evaluation done. Now our challenge is figuring out what to do about school next year. We are in WCCUSD and my son is in 3rd grade. I have requested an IEP since we have diagnosis for two disabilities that are covered under IDEA, but I wanted to know what the experience is like for others who have children with diagnosed disabilities in WCCUSD. I have been told that even if the child has advanced grades and isn't that behind, by law, the school is required to accommodate him since he has two diagnosed disabilities that are covered under IDEA. We have also applied to two private schools, but I was told that they can discriminate against children with disabilities because they often don't have the resources to support them. So parents:

    1) What was your experience like getting an IEP?

    2) Did the IEP address all the suggested recommendations for accommodations?

    3) Did the IEP address multi-sensory education recommended for children with dyslexia?

    4) Did the district reimburse you for any tutoring with an education specialist?

    5) Do you have opinions on private versus public school for children with disabilities? We don't have unlimited funds and would most likely be unable to afford private school tuition without financial aid. 

    6) Are they any support groups for parents with children with ADD and dyslexia? This diagnosis has hit us like a brick and I'd love to be part of a supportive community than can provide guidance. 

    Thanks all. 

    Hi there.  My kid has had 3 assessments and 2 IEPs through WWCUSD. That's a lot of questions.  Please PM me and we can talk.  

    Hi there! My son got the same diagnosis a little earlier. We are in BUSD, so can't give you guidance in your district, but I can say that we followed the advice from DREDF ( and got an IEP meeting right away. The IEP itself was not the greatest (i think they never are) - I find that our school district "experts) have total lack of training in both ADD and dyslexia. But what really helped was:

    1) Contacting DREDF

    2) Getting a private, outside educational therapist (you can ping me to get the info for the one we use - it is kind of hard to find one). This therapist can help your kid w/ literacy, executive functioning, and self advocacy. This is really the best thing we ever did. Our son has seen her for 2-3 times a school week for years. 100% worth it!

    3) Retroactively asking the school district to reimburse us (with a lawyer's help)

    Unless your child is really severely dyslexic, I think the therapeutic schools (like Raskob) may not be a fit. Lots of people suggested Charles Armstrong but it's so far away and super expensive, so we didn't even consider it. 

    I attended one meeting of Decoding Dyslexia and it depressed me -- there were only a few parents and as I remember they were all homeschooling (not an option for me). 

    CHADD is a good organization for ADD. Sometimes there are good lectures at Holy Names - It's really important to look at research rather than other people's opinions about your kid's LD - staying informed is great! Feel free to ping me.

    FYI, it hasn't always been easy but my son is now 12 and in 7th grade and reads at grade level and has excellent reading comprehension skills! ADHD has proven to be more of a liability in school but this year, he's showing a lot of maturity and making friends and communicating well and even starting a club at (public) school. 

    It helps to put a request for an IEP in writing because it will let the district know that you are aware of your child's rights.  I would read Wright's Law website and use one of their sample letters for requesting the meeting.  Be prepared to fight for services for dyslexia if your son is at or above grade level.  School districts often deny services for children who are not showing academic weaknesses compared to their classmates.   It's possible that things will go smoothly but If you have difficulty getting a response from the school district you might want to hire an advocate to assist with the process.  Some school districts provide services for private school students but most do not.  Increasingly, private schools are employing learning specialists to help students with disabilities.  I hope this helps.  

    Our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD at the end of first grade.  We put her on Adderal, which helped tremendously, and go her weekly tutoring.  She continued to have problems, so in sixth grade we had a neuropsych exam at UC that showed elements of LD as well as slow processing.  She was in private school from pre-K through 8th grade, and is now at Berkeley High.

                Private schools are under no requirement to accommodate, and have limited resources to do so.  Even if your child is accepted, he may not get much help.  While I think we did OK at our kid's private school, other parents whose kids have ADHD were deeply dissatisfied.  If you go with public schooling, you can use some of the money saved for tutoring, which has helped us a lot.  On the flip side, private-school small class size and personal attention can be helpful.  It may boil down to which private versus which public school you're looking at.  My kid's public-school teachers are every bit as dedicated and individually supportive as the private-school ones were.  There are private schools focused on kids with learning issues, locally including Raskob (

                Re IEPs: we thought our daughter qualified for an IEP, but we ended up with a 504.  I had also read what various websites said was the law, but Berkeley schools at this point operate under a newer, perfectly legal achievement-based standard, and our kid simply wasn't that far behind even though she was achieving well below her IQ-based capacity.  In an ideal world, smart kids with learning issues would get instruction that addresses both the smarts and the disabilities, but public schools really don't have the resources.  Public schools are required to educate kids with a huge range of profound disabilities, and that sets the level for special ed.  So far we have been fine with a 504, though now that we aren't paying tuition we plan to increase the tutoring.  We haven't gotten any financial support for outside tutoring, and frankly, if your son is not profoundly disabled, he isn't likely to be deemed eligible.

                Applying for an IEP entails doing a new set of tests much like the neuropsych evaluation you have already gotten, though they will use different tests, and will base their decision on the tests they administer.  Our kid looked less disabled based on their tests compared to the neuropsych evaluation.  The IEP meeting will be stacked against you, in that there will be five or six of them and maybe two of you attending the meeting, and they are a lot more experienced at this than you are.  If you go this route, pay attention to the various time-lines and all the other bureaucratic details.

                A good resource regarding legal issues is the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (  Another good resource is WrightsLaw,  I strongly recommend subscribing to Attention Research Update,, which summarizes current ADHD research in clear terms -- free, and no ads.

    Our son had an IEP through WCCUSD for about 3 years for a variety of conditions, including ADHD. He had a 504 before, and "graduated" to an IEP when speech became a bigger challenge in class. He has since graduated out of his IEP and has a 504 again for the ADHD and anxiety accommodations. If you haven't already contacted DREDF, you should for guidance for your specific situation. We were very happy with the speech services my son got, saved us tons of money and helped him greatly; also his speech therapist ended up acting as his "quarterback"/advocate for the ADHD accommodations. It is very helpful to find a champion within the school or district. We never found ourselves in an adversarial position with any of the staff, it was more like his grades were good so they wanted to write less in at the time and "wait until he needed it". (We prevailed in putting in the kitchen sink when it came to accommodations.) In answer to your specific questions based on our recent/current experience in WCCUSD:

    1) Basically fine, we all agreed he needed an IEP for speech. (He was incomprehensible.) The 504 was also easy to get with a letter from an MD.

    2) Yes. The problem is not all staff at the school know about it. For example, my son had an accommodation that he could eat lunch outside instead of in the crowded noisy cafeteria. Well, the janitor came along and yelled at him to go inside.

    3) Don't have any first-hand experience with dyslexia.

    4) No, nor would I think they would. They have specialists for everything in-district in big districts like WCCUSD. Education specialists are not licensed professionals so I wouldn't waste my time asking for that, but hey, maybe DREDF can speak to this more.

    5) Public school has worked out great for our special ed kid. I can't speak to private.

    6) I am aware of CHADD's FB page. I believe Kaiser has some relevant support groups for its members.

  • We are in the process of seeking an IEP from the WCCUSD and would like to find a professional advocate with experience working with this school district. We are also on a tight budget and have found at least one that is prohibitively expensive. Any recommendations of a good advocate, preferably on the west side of the tunnel, would be appreciated. Thank you!

    Try Disability Rights Education and Rights Fund (

    Betsy Brazy - 

    brazylaw [at]

    (510) 224-5146

    She has help me and 4 other people I know in getting the right accommodations and placement for our kids

    in the WCCUSD.  She knows her stuff and is great to work with.

    If you have a neuropsych eval they will often attend iep meetings with you. The advocate Judy True was pretty good. She worked in a way that did not alienate anyone.

    Another route is the cde, if you are having trouble you can reach out to them. (All those calls are recorded and reported to the school.)

    Selpas are trained by the schools legal so you may spin your wheels.

    Dredft in Berkeley may be of help.

    What seems to work for some is talking to the principle, the expense of a due process is steep and can be avoided. S/he can make school specialist available to help after school.

    Scotish rites language lab at lake merrit has services without the rigamerol.

    Its crazy making.

    I am a bit reluctant to share my educational consultant with you because she might get too busy! Just kidding... Theresa Lozac'h has been our educational consultant/advocate since my daughter started K and now she is in fourth grade. Theresa is simply great at assisting families and working with school to meet the needs of the child. I would guess her rates are reasonable compared with some of the astronomical sums being charged by almost all helping professionals these days. On yelp, Theresa is known by the company name Beyond Quality Consultants. Last I checked, every review is a 5. And yes, West CoCo County experience.

    I am in the middle of the process of my child "graduating " from a 504 to an IEP in the WCCUSD, and so far I would characterize all the district professionals involved as helpful, caring, and engaged. You didn't say what point you're at, but I'd say based on my experience there's a possibility you don't need to pay an advocate. There are also parent advocates you can connect with through the district, plus all the amazing resources of

    Adamsesq.Com is excellent legal advocate. They helped me with both of my kids. One they took on and other one they reviews and gave advice. I regretted not taking on special ed lawyer sooner; thought I could do it all. Talk directly related costs. Do they still end up billing district and u get refund?

Archived Q&A and Reviews

IEP - does my 3rd grader qualify? (WCCUSD)

May 2007

Our third grade son was evaluated by his public school (at our request) because he is a struggling reader and seems to need more time than his peers to complete tasks and formulate responses. The assessments found that he is extremely bright, and found only one area of concern (involving visual memory), which is impeeding his learning to read. There was a drastic difference in this score and his other scores.

The upshot is that the school says that he does not qualify for services (reading pull-out help, for example), because he ''tested too high'' and is still at grade level (albeit barely).

Is this the case? He feels very bad about himself as a learner, is struggling to read, and is not making much progress. There is an on-site reading specialist, but he does not qualify to see her. I am not sure what his rights are, or how to even find out! Any insights welcome! WCCSD Mom

I understand your frustration -- my very bright son was in a similar situation with very high test scores despite a disability that was seriously affecting his ability to write. From talking to teachers, this happens A LOT in this district. I'm sure it's a financial issue -- there are so many kids that need help that the district can't afford to help them. We were able to get him services through a combination of things -- he had a teacher who really went to bat for him, and we had him independently evaluated and were able to bring in an outside neuropsychological evaluation that held some weight. Another parent I know went over the head of the principal and school psychologist and involved someone at the district level in her IEP meetings. Don't give up -- if you think your son needs help, he probably does, regardless of how well he is doing in other areas. It really is a case of the squeaky wheel, and it's unfortunate that many kids don't have someone to be a strong advocate for them. Good Luck! WCCUSD IEP Mom