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PA has some weird and quirky state regs. Join the PA Parents Club to share resources and make PA specific connections.

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For Parents/Guardians who are PA residents
  1. What's new in this club
  2. If your child has an IEP, PDE will provide a scholarship that covers your hotel & conference registration. Conference is Feb 28 - Mar 1 at Hershey Lodge. Deadline to apply is 1/20. This is the link for more info & to register: https://www.pattan.net/Training/Conferences/Pennsylvania-Department-of-Education-Conference If you have questions, feel free to reply with your questions. Hotel is covered if you live 50+ miles from Hershey. Lots of great info plus a chance to talk to other parents. Good food too.
  3. CBT - cognitive behavioral therapy - seems to be the go to technique for most issues. It can be hard to find a therapist because not a lot of people go into this field (I think people also get burned out from listening to other people's problems too). I'm a big fan of Ross Greene. His protocol is to go upstream, figure out where the problem comes from and solve it. He would say that anxiety is the manifestation of how your child exhibits the frustration they have due to their unsolved problem. This a DIY program and this is a link to more info: When I see a student with school related issues, one of the 1st things I'm going to do is ask what sort of support is the school providing - in other words, is this student getting FAPE via their IEP or 504? (GIEPs are strength based and they might list needs but cannot provide support.) With a 2E student, I've seen where there is denial that an individual can both be gifted and disabled so with one masking the other, the student can come across as a typical student who doesn't need any support. You have not mentioned anything about what the school is doing to help your child who has school-related anxiety. Has the school done an eval? Do they have a 504 or an IEP? What areas of suspected disability were assessed by the school? Does your child have Medicaid? An anxiety diagnosis should be sufficient to qualify under PH-95. This opens up CCBH's network to get treatment for this. I understand if you don't want to have Medicaid for your child. Coordinating benefits can be a PITA. I wouldn't worry too much about reviews on particular providers. My suggestion is to make an appointment and take a therapist for a test drive. You'll know after 3-6 appointments if they are a good match for your child or not. I'm also not sure about medication. There are meds out there that are safe for children and can help with anxiety. A therapist will not be able to prescribe but they might suggest going to your ped or a specialist to look into this option. Sometimes, parents are not open to this but you can often see more progress when therapy and medication are used together. If your child has not been assessed for their issues, Ginny Sutton is who I suggest for an assessment. She does take most insurance. She does see a limited number of clients & I know that she has experience with 2E children. I did weave some questions into my reply so if you want to provide more info about what your child's IEP or 504 has in the way of support or how to get an IEP or 504 to support your child, please feel free to add that info. Knowing how old your child is can also help. With more details, we can provide better resources - things to add to what's there. My child was identified as gifted & had a GIEP & a 504 in 4th grade. It wasn't working. She needed an IEP to get the right support and that didn't happen until 9th grade. The school didn't do her eval within PA's timeline so it wasn't until June that we sat down to write out her IEP even though the school requested permission to do an evaluation in the fall of 8th grade. The school had a perspective: 'she's gifted & will figure this out by herself' but 2E doesn't work this way. You need to give a student the tools so they can help themself.
  4. Hello, Am I allowed to ask for recommendations here? If so, wondering if anyone can recommend a therapist or doctor for a teen with anxiety. If not, maybe give me your thoughts on how to find a good one or common therapy techniques. Student is 2x exceptional and has struggled with school related anxiety. Now it is overflowing into life outside of school and we want to nip it in the bud and provide tools to help manage the anxiety. Locations in Montgomery, Delaware or Chester County would be good. Don't know what to look for or where to turn. We went to the pediatrician who printed out a list of providers. But most were Out of Network for our insurance or I couldn't find reviews on them. I think it's important to find someone that understands the complexity of being a student that is twice exceptional. Thanks in advance for any recommendations or info.
  5. District of residence is based on where a student sleeps. If they are sleeping at a RTF or hospital, the district the RTF or hospital is in is the LEA. When they sleep at home, the district you pay taxes to is the LEA. (I've not seen this written but I used to meet regularly w/ my Pupil Services Director. We have a RTF in my district & she explained how things work.) Not a red flag bad vibe in my eyes because I've seen it before. (Most districts have policies where a student can live/sleep in a district their parents don't live in and they can go to the other district's schools. It's also how foreign exchange students get to go to US schools. If you sleep in the district, you can go to school there.) Not sure if this applies but a students needs to be available for evals. 'In the hospital' is not available.
  6. I just got an email from the LEA representative stating that "only took on Local Educational Agency (“LEA”) status when (child)was discharged from her inpatient hospitalization", which was several weeks after registration (registration on September 25th, discharge occurred October 18th). I can't find any information on when a school district takes on as the LEA other than when a student transfers, and it doesn't have provisions for hospitalizations. Part of me thinks she's just posturing in a weird way that doesn't matter, but I'm still getting red flag vibes.
  7. We do have an IEP meeting scheduled for Wednesday. I've sent a new parental concerns letter last week, and this morning sent a request for agenda and any draft IEP they have created. The hospital did provide a mix of what they called homebound instruction (at the residential setting) and their private academy, but the short amount of time they were involved did not generate any progress reports or report cards. I have provided the school with this information, and they are still demanding access to the medical records. I know most of this IEP is going to be them talking and me listening and making notes. I've spend the whole weekend going through this weekend and toolkit to get ready. We'll hit 28 missed school days as of the date of the meeting, and my primary focus is rectifying that. I'll keep you updated, thanks again for your help!
  8. So you're saying his teachers need training in how kids with autism mask & it's exhausting for them to keep it up the whole day at school. I'm hoping he's got a medical ASD diagnosis in case the school says he doesn't qualify under ASD on his IEP.
  9. I think there may be a change in level but also he’s masking. I don’t think the concept of masking is understood by his teachers.
  10. PA has a system of APS - approved private schools. Districts seem to like these because PDE helps with extra funding. They might not be looking at discharge paperwork that's separate from the IEP. IMO, you need a meeting (and I think you'll want to ask if you can record it) so you can get more details from the school on this. If he's not in a building, the district shouldn't be ignoring him. Education in the home might be something to ask for so he has access to an education. If you are in SE PA, this might help: https://adayinourshoes.com/iep-private-school-placement-list-chester-county/ BTW, when a student is hospitalized, home/hospital should kick in. The thing is that he's residing at the hospital so their school district needs to provide the education and this might not be the one you live in. It is a messy situation & I'm glad the state has this on their radar. My district is emailing IEP related documentation to parents. Be sure to be checking Spam in case your IEP invite ends up there. I've also seen where a parent didn't get an invite & the IEP meeting was held w/o them. (In this case, the school was unable to show that it was sent. Parents are divorced & neither got it.) I was thinking about suggesting a charter public school but it might cause further delays in figuring out what his IEP needs to look like.
  11. I'm also wondering why they are redoing an autism eval. Isn't it a life-long disability? Has there been improvement where the level changed? Teacher training can be an IEP service. An autism inservice for this teacher would benefit your child & others like him.
  12. I'm sorry, I should have clarified. The discharge paperwork from the RTF (included with the IEP) says they are ready for a less restrictive environment.
  13. The new school has to follow the old IEP. The old school messed up if they didn't have an IEP meeting to change the placement following release from the RTF. "They felt my child was ready for a less restrictive environment" but failed to document this so the new school district knew this. Schools (teachers and subs) should not be expected to be omniscient and magically figure out how the other school felt. Without documentation, this appears to have been the expectation. There is a saying in education: If it's not in writing, it didn't happen. To facilitate moving forward, you might want to email the KS school and tell them the 'New school is having difficulty following the plan to move to a less restrictive placement following discharge from the RTF. Can you please show me where this was documented in the IEP? Was there a letter or email that stated this? If there is no documentation showing that this was the plan, can you please create it? New school is attempting to follow the old IEP and cannot find a similar RTF with an empty bed to place XX in. Meanwhile, XX doesn't have a school placement to go to. Help!' Not sure if a no-meet revision to the old IEP is appropriate since it doesn't seem to say that a self contained classroom within the public school following discharge from the RTF is where he needs to be.
  14. The old IEP has the placement at a special needs day school in Kansas. Current supports and services are: transition services, life skills, adaptive physical education, special education services, health services, extended time to complete assignments, multiple, individual breaks, modified work load, headphones, questions read out loud, assist in understanding prompts, fidgets, calculator. I've met with the supervisor and she only continually repeats that the school is not an appropriate placement, not why, despite saying they can provide comparable services but won't (because it's not an appropriate placement). I have written parental concerns letter almost weekly, usually also using it to summarize a phone call the supervisor wanted instead of continuing the conversation via email. I have pointed out the regression (although the supervisor says the hospital stay is why they couldn't do anything). I have asked what needs to happen, she only responds that my child cannot attend the school. She said she was going to set an IEP meeting, and I believe she even mentioned a date, but has not sent out any notice of meeting as of now. I have spoken with the ConsultLine (this morning), who has just now sent a letter on my behalf to the supervisor, the person for monitoring and improvement, and the person for the bureau of special education. She also provided me with a complaint form. I'll look into the facilitated IEP meetings, thank you for that! I never dreamed it would be so difficult to even get my child through the front door of the school.
  15. I think the school is outsourcing the evaluation. I will ask. It was on a list of tests in the notice they are asking me to sign
  16. Let's start at the beginning. What does the old IEP say is the placement? What are the supports & services? This is what the new school needs to do. Ask to meet with the sp ed supervisor and go over what's in the IEP that's holding your child up from attending. Write a parental concerns letter outlining that your child graduated from an RTF and was looking forward to the move and consistency of being back in the neighborhood school. Meanwhile, she regressed because she has no structure with being out of school. Ask them what needs to happen so she can start attending. PA has facilitated IEP meetings, I think you might want to ask for that.
  17. Does the person doing the current reeval have experience w/ the ADOS? If they don't, the results won't be accurate & you don't want it done by them. I'd ask which teachers will be doing the GARS. The homeroom teacher might be one of 3.
  18. As part of my son’s three-year evaluation (and just before high school next year) his school is proposing reevaluating autism using GARS. I asked them to use ADOS because that was what was used to initially diagnose. I was told the point of reevaluating autism is to see how he “changed over time.” My underlying concern is that his homeroom teacher really does not understand autism and thinks my son is not “really autistic.” This results in harsher treatment for behavior and not enough support for behavior. I’m also concerned about further discussion of levels of autism because our understanding of autism spectrum is not linear, which is what mainstream educators see it as. Any insight on reevaluating autism in 8th grade would be appreciated
  19. We recently moved here from Kansas, and my child has an existing IEP. They were discharged from a residential facility prior to our moving because 1)we were moving to PA and 2) they felt my child was ready for a less restrictive environment. The current district has had the IEP since August 30th. We moved here on September 16th. As of today, my child still has not attended school or been provided with any educational opportunities. We have not had an IEP meeting, there have been no evaluations, the school personnel have never met my child, and as of this morning the person most heavily involved in refusing to allow my child to attend school had yet to read the IEP. I have been emailing them regularly trying to get updated information and they either don't respond or give excuses as to why they can't move forward. They referred us to an outside placement, but that facility determined my child was not a good fit. The school has made additional suggestions for placement that also do not seem appropriate. Basically, what do I do now? My child not attending school has resulted in a 2 week stay at a hospital and I don't feel like we're any closer to a resolution than when I first began this process. Any help or insight is appreciated!
  20. I don't find this surprising - what the para did - your son is a great self-advocate. Paras don't have access to read the IEP. They only know what the teachers tell them. If the teacher doesn't tell them or the para forgets what's in it, you'll have an IEP that's not being followed. (In my district, they rotate paras and I'm not sure how the paras keep all the IEPs straight.)
  21. I just wanted to share that for the last year or so my son has attended his IEP meetings. yesterday my son (14, 8th grade) had an encounter with a new para who watched him take out his cell phone (essentially a iPod because it is my old phone and no cell number).We have it spelled out in the IEP that he uses music to self regulate. At one point when the school decided to ban phones they offered that he could use a school laptop to listen to music - which was cumbersome and not useful in all situations. With some push back from us He was able to keep the device. He knew the para was watching him, which is something that makes him uncomfortable and frustrated because he rightly worries that he is getting singled out for being in trouble. The para confronted him about not putting it in the “ cell phone box” as kids are supposed to. As if he was sneakily breaking rules. He said,” Have you read my IEP?” by his account, the para looked surprised and walked away. so much is wrong with what happened by my son did the right thing and I’m proud of him
  22. What Judi said is spot on.....I'd add the caveat that, is this trip necessary for his education? Or is it an "extra" or "fun thing" to do? If it's the latter, and not required content...you may run into some hurdles. And $3000? How are they affording this for all the kids? It seems to me that unless significant fundraising occurred, there are many families who cannot do this.
  23. Lawyers will provide a free 15 minute consult. It might be worth having one look at the wording in the IEP. It's not FAPE if he has to have a parent on the trip and that accommodation is going to cost you $1500. FAPE should be free to families. If he needed a paraprofessional to go on the trip, the school would pick up their tab. You're saving them money because you are providing your time at no cost. I'd ask them what costs will be covered. If you don't ask, I'm positive they won't offer to help with the added cost of him needing a 1:1 chaperone. PA Consult Line is another place to ask what financial help the school should provide so his accommodation can happen. https://odr-pa.org/consultline-contact/ I'd put it in writing if you ask for financial help: XX has on his IEP that a parent must attend field trips so he has access to them given his disability. This year, the trip is to NYC and the added cost for a parent to attend with him is around $1500. Since schools are required to provide FAPE to students with IEPs, how does XX School District cover this? Should I pay my way and then send receipts so I can be reimbursed or will XXSD pay directly for XX's accommodation of having a parent attend? What costs will the school cover? I'm assuming I will need to pay for my own meals but the school will cover transportation, lodging and admission fees. Please let me know so I can figure out my finances. Thanks. My wording is inspired by Lisa's recent article on not being soft with parent correspondence with the school.
  24. It might come down to a matter of semantics. If the IEP states, as you do above, that the parent is "permitted" to attend all field trips, you may be out of luck. "Permitted" does not necessarily imply that the school will pay for it. However, if a parent attending a field trip is listed under accommodations as something that is necessary for the student to be able to attend field trips with his peers, then that accommodation (as any other would be) would have to be paid for by the school. If this is not the exact wording in the IEP document, I would get that changed. Because it does sound like this is a necessary accommodation.
  25. My son is in HS and attends a public performing arts school. They are taking an overnight trip. They did a similar trip last year. Per his IEP a parent is permitted to attend all field trips. The bottom line is that his anxiety and PTSD are so bad that he could never attend without a parent even given his age. Last year I had to fight to attend the trip and pay extra for us to have a double occupancy room. The total cost last year for both of us was around $1000. The staff saw how my son needed me to help with his anxiety and admitted to being wrong to fight me. This year the trip for both of us is going to be over $3000. This is a lot of money. Being a teacher I know that most times chaperones go complementary for these trips per the travel agencies. I also know that most museums/tourist attractions will not charge personal caregivers entrance fees. Since my attendance is listed in his IEP and necessary for his participation, I was wondering if there was any president for some or if all of the additional cost for me to attend could be waived. I appreciate any advice. (Bottom line I will do whatever is necessary for my son to attend this trip but I am attempting to avoid unnecessary debt.)
  26. The school needs to follow the IEP/PBSP. If they are following it and something like this happens, the PBSP might need to be tweaked. If they are not following the IEP/PBSP then they are out of compliance with the IEP. The school can't just 'try their best'. They have to follow the IEP. I remember my sp ed director saying there were no excuses for an IEP not being followed. I agree with this 100%.
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