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Accommodations in IEP for missed school days


Mel
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Hi,

Can we add to our childs IEP about accommodations for missed school days so we don't get a truancy letter and have sent to child welfare automatically based off their computer system?

Background- our child has a neurological disability and has been requiring a lot medical treatments and has been sick a lot this year. She has been missing school as a result, half of the absences are due to the school sending her home or saying she needs to be home based off their sick policy. 

We have multiple calls from the school and emails noting this. Her physicians are aware and have been treating her, and we have been working closely with the school on these absences and her health concerns. Making sure her homework is done,etc. The superintendent says he has to send the letter as he sends one of for everyone, can't allow exceptions (even though the old one did a couple years ago).

All absences have been excused per the school. 

We recently had a conciliation meeting due to a disagreement on medically needed therapy that she does at school. Had her specialists there and private PT to provide education. We had to also involve advocates and address bullying at school that was happening. We ended up having them have to provide more services and continue with the therapy need (which they didn't want to do). Considering we never had issues last year or until now, even though she missed more than their standard policy it feels like retaliation somewhat.

When I asked to add these accommodations and update her health related needs, they said they don't think she needs one. It's standard for all kids to have a letter to child welfare. I disagree with that and said we need to have something in place that addressed her individualized health needs (especially as they are going back on what they said previously at a different IEP meeting that we didn't need to worry about any letters, which is why we didn't have one in place now). 

Am I wrong to ask for this? What should I do?

I'm waiting for a response back from the school but they have not emailed back. 

 

Thanks.

 

 

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In most schools, the School Board is the entity that decides what School Policy is.  This is what gets summarized (or copied verbatim) into the school handbook.  If there is something missing from the policy, you might want to write to the board and tell them that policy says no credit when there are excessive absences applies to Jr HS & HS and admin is saying it also applies to MS but you do not see this in the policy so it seems like admin is making up policy without having the board OK the change.  If this applies to MS, this should be written into the school's policy as well as being reflected in the handbook.  Let the school fix what's wrong.  You need to discuss changes to written policy at a public meeting & have a time for the public to provide input.  This takes 2 months so there is notice and time for public input.

It's possible that it is in policy & the handbook doesn't reflect the policy 100% accurately.  If this is the issue, IMO, admin should issue a correction to the handbook since most parents will rely on that rather than reading the actual policy.

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Your intent and general goal is correct, but you'd have to be very careful on how you ask for this. Odds are, the school is legally required to send the truancy letter and simply don't have the power to not send it. An IEP note on this simply may not be legal in your state. 

Would it be possible to ask to change your daughter's placement? Is there a virtual option or a homebound option that could be implemented part-time as needed?

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I believe they could do it virtual.....They have never offered when we have discussed classes or missed days.

The reason I think they can avoid sending it is because the previous superintendent was able to not send the letter a couple years ago after a surgery she had and had to miss school. Also the way he original replied he mentioned the other superintendent may have a certain way of doing things "due to his leadership style", which he "does too", but not this.  So it is really confusing.. 

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I'd double check with your state laws on just what wiggle room you can potentially have on attendance.

I'd also look into virtual. Homework doesn't always replace working with teachers, and a way to access instruction will support any IEP goals Rather than just being something her health needs affect.

Edited by EmilyM
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In some states, there is no wiggle room.  Their laws do not recognise an 'excused absence'.  It's like a child can never have a chronic condition which isn't realistic.  (It would be good to know what state you're in so we can know the law that applies.)  You also need to know what oficial school policy says.  What can be a good way around things is to write a parent concerns letter that would be copied into the IEP.

Mention in your letter that your child has a chronic condition and you were verbally told that no letter was needed to document this from her doctor to explain her excessive absences.  This way, when 'child welfare' knocks at your door, you can pull out the IEP and show them that you tried to CYA on excessive absences.  (I live in PA & the school has to write a truancy letter after 3 unexcused absences.  They also have to have a meeting.  My district allows 10 days of parent excuses & after that, you need a note from a 'practitioner of the healing arts' to have an absence excused.  The school nurse is a 'practitioner of the healing arts' and can excuse a child - especially if they are the one calling a parent to get their sick child.  If you follow their rules, you don't get the truancy letter.  Not sure if a 'blanket' letter from a doctor is OK.  IMO, this can be an accommodation in an IEP or 504 but the school might not see things this way.)

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I have two articles on this topic. And another on homebound placement if you think you are trending toward that.

https://adayinourshoes.com/shortened-days-week-modified-schedule-iep-504/

 

https://adayinourshoes.com/truancy/

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Thanks for the information. We are in MN. We ended up contacting our states parent advocacy group and they were able to provide us with federal and state statutes that went over the Truancy concern. Since all her absences were excused, it didn't meet the Truancy definition (unexcused habitual school days missed) and we found out also the school hadn't been following their truancy policy (and the states/federal statutes) requiring them  to notify us before it because a Truancy concern (5th and 8th day contact, meeting at 10, etc). They also didn't offer to provide her other alternative options when we addressed our concerns about her missing school as they should have we were told. 

But then they said it wasn't truancy but more credit issues due to their maximum absence rule. Even though the letter stated Truancy. But this wasn't in the elementary handbook, only junior/high school. So doesn't qualify in her situation. When we addressed that also they said it was a mistake that it wasn't in the handbook for middle school kids, but that rule does apply to them. But didn't say if they were going to pursue that course still. So not sure what to do next....

They are refusing to update the IEP to address alternative methods when gone due to her medical concerns or homework modifications. They even said it in one of the emails and ignored the request again on the last email. Their handbook doesn't have anything listed addressing chronic health concerns or accommodations if needed so we feel her IEP really needs to have this addressed. 

Recommendations on this?  I'm thinking that we may end up needing to do they homebound option or modifications/accommodations. Even virtual they haven't offered or wanted to do when that was a possibility for her.

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I have it stated on the first page of the IEP that he will have frequent absences. He has been out so much already this school year between sickness and appointments. I still wait for that letter  😬

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Definitely check out the links Lisa listed. Email your letter of parent concerns and request an IEP meeting. Send the after IEP meeting letter, and then see what the school writes in the PWN. Lisa also has a post on OCR complaints if that's needed later. 

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