Difficulty Getting an IEP/504 during Covid

Parent Q&A

School refusal to do real assessment for special education Sep 21, 2020 (7 responses below)
BUSD isn't doing assessments - Private assessment? Sep 7, 2020 (9 responses below)
Albany School District is stonewalling IEP request May 19, 2020 (9 responses below)
  • I requested a special education assessment for my 2nd grader from Alameda Unified and they set up a student study team meeting. We explained all of his many complicated challenges including several specific learning disabilities, and how they impacted his learning in school last year and now are worse with zoom. They kept asking if we had tried X Y Z to help, which we had, and then at the end didn’t even offer to actually assess him. When I insisted, citing IDEA, they responded that during COVID they are doing “robust record review” and “academic tests” instead of actually assessing children. They would not even agree to let my child miss more than 5 minute breaks of the 3 hour long large group zoom sessions, even when we told them he was screaming and crying and biting his own wrists when we tried to get him to participate. I was prepared to advocate for him and for push back, but this is beyond awful. Has anyone had success in getting meaningful assessment done during COVID or any other wisdom to share? I am consulting DREDF’s website and have the DRC guide as well. Thank you. 

    You obviously know that what they are doing is illegal, as you cited IDEA. The LAW HAS NOT CHANGED. You are 100% within your rights to get a thorough assessment of ANY ans ALL suspected disabilities. If the district refuses, you can get one and they will be required to pay for it. I'm glad you have DREDF and DRC information. As an additional resource, go to wrightslaw.com. We all know Covid 19 and distancing is hard on everyone, but your child deserves appropriate accommodations to access their education. Like I said, the laws have not changed!

    I recommend calling education lawyer Deborah Jacobson (https://www.jacobsoneducationlaw.com/). I paid for a couple of hours of her time, and it was the best money I spent throughout the entire saga of trying to get appropriate treatment and education services for my daughter. Her staff may be able to give you some pointers during an initial phone call, and would likely give you an honest assessment of whether it would be worth your while to hire the firm. Can't recommend her enough.

    No advice but replying as I'd like to get other responses too. I have a second grader who we were trying to get assessed via OUSD last year, first his first grade teacher had a heart attack (now recovered, thankfully, but we had 3 months of subs) then the pandemic. We keep getting punted back to SSTs but insisted on at least a 504 this year. The school has done the 504 but says they can't do Special Ed assessment during COVID. I've heard rumors (including on an NPR story) that some EB districts *are* doing assessments but can't figure out how to make this happen nor how pushy to be. Luckily or unluckily we aren't in the same situation in OUSD with the level of requirements you seem to have in AUSD in that my son can dip in and out as he needs to to attendance hasn't been a problem. Happy to connect offline directly as well.

  • We have reached out to the Special Education Department at BUSD to request our 2nd grader get assessed for special ed services—and wanted to thank everyone at BPN who encouraged us to pursue this. It was a big step for our family. 

    Naturally, the District isn’t doing assessments (!) and hasn’t been since March 12, 2020.

    We are feeling the need to do something because our kid is not doing well with distance learning and the school is providing no additional supports to help our kid access instruction. We want to explore having our child assessed privately and are wondering if any BPNers can share any referrals in the Berkeley/Oakland area.

    Thank you in advance.

    Dr Marianna Eraklis, a developmental pediatrician, assessed our child several years ago and has managed the case since.  Very skilled and warm, and insurance even paid for part of it!

    Hi, this community organization is made up of families in Alameda County who have similar experiences I think. I have heard they are a great resource for families. Someone or families there might have a good sense where to look.


    I can't recommend Alan Siegel highly enough -- he gave us an enormous amount of detailed information about our child, and he did it in the gentlest and most encouraging way possible.  We saw him when my child was seven, and again at 14, and at both stages he helped us think through how to prioritize addressing the multiple issues, and gave me very specific advice about how best to support and advocate for my child.  My child is now twenty, and thriving at a very challenging college.  There is no way this would have happened without the guidance Alan gave us.  His website is www.alansiegelphd.com.  

  • We have had our kids in the Albany schools since Kindergarten, and have been reasonably happy with their experience until they entered Albany High School.  After a year and a half of incessant bullying at Albany High, our daughter made a serious suicide attempt and is now in a therapeutic boarding school which combines clinical treatment with special education.  We requested an IEP evaluation shortly after she started treatment, and we have experienced nothing but foot-dragging, stonewalling, and non-communication ever since.  They are now using the Covid-19 shut down as a blanket excuse to not complete the IEP evaluation, even though we signed and returned the evaluation plan on February 13, a full month before the shutdown.  We are in shock that a district we have been a part of for 11 years is washing their hands of our daughter's special education needs.  We are being told that IEP evaluations will not happen until the kids return to school physically, whenever that happens.  So they expect us to send our daughter back into the same environment with no support services in place, and then they will think about evaluating her.  I never thought I would be in a position where I would be contemplating suing my previously beloved AUSD.  My questions (finally) are:   Has anyone had success with working with Albany High to address targeted bullying?  Has anyone successfully negotiated an IEP placement in an outside therapeutic school for mental health issues (like Hogan) with AUSD?  Did it require getting a lawyer?  Does the county play a role in special education when districts fail to provide FAPE?    Would Berkeley High provide better special education services (if we could get a transfer?)  Thank you for any and all input.

    I am so sorry to hear about your difficulties.  Our situation was different but  involved dealing with AHS around getting a 504 plan in place.  My child had a medical diagnosis requiring special accommodations. I consulted with this local non-profit DREDF who have advocates with very useful information.  I realize you are not dealing with a disability, yet they may still provide some information.  Once I knew what language to use, AHS completely changed their tune and we had a meeting in place quickly as well as the 504.  It really pays to be informed and parents do have rights.  I hope you can get this worked out.  Best of luck with it!  Albany parent.

    I am so sorry this is happening. Perhaps consider joining local Facebook groups specifically for parents of children with IEP-related needs.  They are an incredible resource as they have so much combined experience. I've seen them pool ideas on issues just like the one you are facing. Thanks also for going public. It's very important that we all know.

    While I realize this doesn't answer your questions directly, I wanted to let you know that I am a special education teacher is a different district.  Our district is not conducting initial evaluations either during the school closure as there does not (yet?) seem to be a good way to assess students from a distance.