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No services to work toward GED? In MA



Hello All,

I am in MA, but wanted to get your thoughts on my situation. My son just turned 18, we are in the transitional phase. He was in public school K-6 with IEP starting on 4th for SLD in math. The best the public school could do was pull him out for math and he was in a math class with non-verbal kids with much higher needs and he was not learning at age approprate level, so I pulled him out and put him in private catholic all boys. That was great for about 4yrs. 7-10. He was getting low grades in math but he was fully supported. He completely unwound his Junior year under stress. Now I can see that all of his psych evals stated high anxiety and nothing was ever done to address emotional needs. I feel I should have realized that as well, but I was not seeing it at home until he turned 16.  October 22 was first inpateint 2 week stay for SI. He went back to school but struggled and 3 months later was rehospitalized for SI,  this time he was activated by SSRI and stayed for about 8 wks. He was released and we were refused a  766 placement fought for therepeutic school, worked with advocate -wouldn't wish this on worst enemy, there was no school in the sytem that was the right fit for him. He did not return to school and was not given any support by district, even though we were actively fighting for OOD. His doctors recomended a private music school (he is a very talented musician and it is well documented that he uses music to manage emotions) the district agreed to a ssettleement toward this 70K a year school, but then pulled that out from under us after we let him audition and he was accepted and he started (I was naive). He was a year begind repeating Junior year, struggling with the anxiety of the high cost of this school coupled with the demanding requirements for the performing arts school and then he had SA on school campus. He checked himself out on a 3 day this time. He was on too many meds I was fighting with MD's. he was given a tutor to work with and that worked very well, he recovered credit. We won the OOD placement and he started at a 766 therepeutic school. He had a hard time aclimating and the meds made him rage (nobody believed me that it was the meds.. it was). He had problems and was upset that he could not control emotions and refused to attend after about a month.  Now he is not attending but still enrolled. He is off all meds and I am finally looking at my sweet boy again.. he may need support with anxiety or mood stabilizer but no sign of the behavior the cocktail of meds created. Had the doctors believed me and not threatened me when I said I was taking him off some meds, we would be better off now. Now he doesn't want to be a year behind, he wants to start college classes in the fall so he is pursuing his GED. He still has a SLD and emotional dysregulation but the district is going to take the home and hospitals tutor from him because he is refusing to attend a public school pathway to diploma that will take 2 years to complete. This feels so counter productive to FAPE.  They district has said that he has to be unenrolled to take the GED and that's it, no more services from them. Where are the transitional services till 22 and ADA, etc. Sorry for the long post, I just don't understand why the district won't assist in the education plan of his choice.


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Thank you for this response! MA has several "early college" programs and each district seems to have a different approach. I wish he would do that. There is one program designed for the situation that we are in exactly. It is on Community College campus and targets high school kids who are not succeeding in a traditional HS, are at risk of dropping out, or are so far behind that they would age out in HS. The city needs to support the program and ours does not. Ours has a dual enrollment option available in the high schools. In our district the kids don't step foot on campus, a college professor teaches them via Zoom. I think that defeats the purpose for kids at risk. I asked my son if he would consider a program like on campus (even if we had to move)  but he is taking his own path. He thinks if he has a GED he will get into a traditional 4yr college, he wants to go to a music school.  Likely a commuter. I pray he is successful. 

We did get accomodations for the GED, he takes his first test next week. The district has tried to pressure him into sending a letter of withdrawal, but there seems to be mixed information if he needs to be withdrawn from school to take the GED. The MA DESE states that 16 & 17 yo need a letter stating that they have withdrawn with parental signature but nothing is stated for 18yo. We're going to do it and see what happens! The school still provides the tutor but he is not utilizing her the way he used to because now he's falling back into a depression being off meds. He dropped his long-term psychologist who was amazing, and the prescribing MD (thank goodness) and he still sees IHT and the lived experience mentor provided by DMH. I do feel a small sense of relief (that I was not expecting) now that he is 18 and must take a bigger role in his care, but I also feel dread and anxiety and it feels like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I was working with an advocate but we are on pause at the moment. She suggested that I get a healthcare proxy, power of attorney, and/or legal guardianship. I am not sure I will succeed in getting any of those things. Perhaps the healthcare proxy.  I appreciate the response! If you have any sugggestions I would love to hear.

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He has to be enrolled & following a pathway (their pathway unfortunately) to a diploma from a public school to have school services.  (It's their game & you have to play by their rules.)  He can quit and then he's on his own (no school support) to pursue a GED.  With taking GED classes, he should get ADA accommodations like he'd get at a college.  Pursuing a GED & attending K-12 school are mutually exclusive.

If he's enrolled in a public school, he gets services to age 22.  If he quits school, he doesn't get school services.  Not sure what age where it's his decision to quit.  (I'm pretty sure, in my state, 'parents' make IEP decisions including when a student can quit & pursue another avenue like dropping out or GED.)  Keep in mind, services end when he gets a HS diploma.  The school doesn't want to be paying for IEP services forever so they will want to have him heading to meet their graduation requirements so they can give him a diploma.

A lawyer might be able to get something else for him from the school if he wasn't provided FAPE in the past but I think it's a 2-year look back.

If he needs help understanding math so he can pass the GED, he'll need to pay for a tutor.  The HS will not tutor if he's heading for a GED.  (They get more points when he stays to graduation than if he drops out & gets a GED.)

It's unfortunate for him that the meds were wrong and this was the outcome where he lost 2 years of schooling.  My child stayed for a 5th year of HS but this was on a college campus.  They didn't need to step foot in the HS.  It's too bad they can't do something like this for your son.

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Healthcare POA is really a must for anyone over 18.  They kick in when the adult is incapacitated.  I remember being at a sp ed training on this by an attorney.  He had a POA set up for his sp needs adult child.  The worst happened.  His typical child was skiing in Colorado and had an accident.  W/o a POA, he couldn't even find out how she was doing.  She was OK in the end but, since this experience, he recommends a POA for everyone.  Guardianship has gotten hard to get in my area.



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