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Do I need an advocate, a lawyer or neither?

April Metoyer


Hello all,

I honestly never thought I would need to ask this question because for the past 13 years things have run relatively smoothly with our district and schools. A couple things to know going into this: 1) I would prefer not to have to bring a lawyer into the mix but if I need to, I will. 2) My son has been attending school in this district since he was 3 and has had an IEP the entire time. 3) The principal is new...she started in September of 2022 and this is her first year as a principal. This is also only her third year with the district. 4) I work for the district as an Instructional Aide.

****After practically writing a book on this I erased it and decided to make it short and sweet****

On Dec. 6 2022 my 11 yr old son was suspended from school for hitting his teacher. I believe 100% that he deserved consequences but this came out of left field for us. I was advised to appeal the suspension (by other employees in the district offices) and we did so for the following reasons:

1. The principal did not seem to know that he had an IEP. She did not pause the proceedings to make sure she was following his IEP nor did she pull up his IEP when I had questions about it.

2. The principal did not give us a completely accurate account of the incident.

3. My son was left in the classroom after the incident for several hours and then sent back to the classroom after speaking with the principal for the remainder of the day. Leading us to believe he was not considered the threat she was making him out to be.

She of course denied the appeal which meant I had the option to take it to the Superintendent. In her denial she claimed that she had a duty to protect and support her teacher (but sent my son back to class) and had taken prior discipline records into account when making her decision. However, the only discipline issues I was aware of were in November of 2019 and she did not list any in her response. When I appealed to the superintendent I gave the same 3 reasons above as well as the following:

1. I was not aware of any discipline issues from this school year and I know that they are not allowed to use instances from past school years. 

2. It had come to my attention that the RSP teacher was NEVER contacted the day of the incident. She had to ask the principal what happened after I emailed requesting an amendment meeting over 24 hours after he was suspended. 

The superintendent also denied the appeal BUT he listed 3 days from this school year in which my son had discipline issues. I was shocked as these incidents had not been made known to me prior to this letter. I immediately sent an email to the principal asking why I had not been made aware of these issues and for a copy of his file. She stated that they do not call parents for tier 1 and tier 2 behaviors but going forward they would make an exception and call me. It turns out that 2 of the incidents were about 2 weeks apart and he had hit another child while playing soccer in both. The third he had been hugging some girls and it made them uncomfortable.

I believe they failed to follow his IEP by not letting us  know what was going on, possibly contributing to him being suspended. I can't help but think that if they had actually communicated with us we could have avoided what happened on Dec 6th. I certainly would have called for an IEP meeting to make changes and add needed behavior goals etc. Another issue that came to light was that they took his recess away as a consequence....it states in his IEP that they are to come up with alternatives to taking his recess away.

So, my question is....should I find an advocate, a lawyer, or just drop it? I have been advised to get an advocate by some and a lawyer by others. As an employee I would prefer to avoid making things ugly, but I will do what is needed for my son. To be honest, I don't have a clue what the next step would be even if I did get one or the other. 


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I would not bring in a lawyer yet, especially since you do not want things to get "ugly."  As far as the suspension goes, for now I would see what your rights are in terms of adding a statement to your son's file about all the items you list above.  Then I would shift gears and take the matter up with the special education department.  Request an IEP meeting to discuss all these recent issues surrounding his IEP - the school's failure to follow it (communication, recess), whether behavioral goals are needed, etc.  Besides sending the request for a meeting and detailing the issues to the entire IEP team, I would also copy the director of special education.  Bringing in an advocate would certainly help and under the circumstances would not appear unreasonable.

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Has the school done an FBA?  What is the antecedent to your child acting out?  Did you file a state complaint that the IEP wasn't followed when they removed recess?

Advocate - yes.  Lawyer - no.

When the school disciplines a child as their in loco parentis, they need to follow up to be sure that the discipline worked.  (To discipline is to teach.  They need to teach him how to not repeat these same mistakes.)  What did the school do to stop his recidivism?  Have you asked them what they did?

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