How it all began

15 years ago, I welcomed an amazing little boy into this world.
 
2 years later, another little boy popped into our family.
 
9 years ago, I was told the oldest had visual processing issues but schools didn’t recognize that and so there was nothing the school could do, plus he was smart.
 
2 years later, the youngest entered kindergarten. He was diagnosed with ADHD after an in-school suspension and I was told that was a medical issue not a school issue. We took him to the pediatric psychiatrist.
 
7 years ago, the oldest started having issues in school with transitioning, socializing, emotional regulation. We were told he was too smart for anything but a behavior plan. That same year emails show I had asked for my younger son to have either an IEP or 504 multiple times because of his ADHD. I was never given the special education handbook, never filled out paperwork, and had no prior written notice. He wasn’t failing, so I was told he didn’t qualify for anything in school.
 
5 years ago, my oldest started having behavior issues in school and not completing work. I asked for an evaluation and was denied. There was no paperwork given nor formal notice of the meeting. I took him to the psychiatrist my younger son and I saw for our ADHD. She determined he had at least ADHD and referred him for testing to rule out other issues. Later that year, the same school that refused to evaluate for a 504 or IEP removed him for obsessive behaviors and OCD until his behaviors were under control and he was released from psychiatric care. He was not referred to the special education department for an evaluation.
 
That same year the younger child was sent to the office for threatening to eat another student and we spent the next night in Randolph Behavioral Health for an emergency psych. evaluation due to suicidal statements made to the school counselor. No one at the school referred him to special services for an psycho educational evaluation, even though he had weekly issues with completing his written work and took medication at school. During end of grade testing, he had a meltdown and had to be removed to a special setting. He was unable to even begin with the test and it took him all day to complete it. I requested an evaluation for the 5 time since kindergarten. Instead the principal, guidance counselor and psychologist told me they had to do Response to Intervention and it would begin the next school year.
 
4 years ago, after the neuropsychologist determined my oldest had ADHD, Anxiety, nonverbal learning disorder and need for further testing to rule out autism spectrum disorder. I went to the school to request a meeting. I was told by the school should have done the test and had some idea that something was not right. This time, when I was told his grades were too high for an evaluation by the district’s head psychologist, my reply was “if you don’t do it and I do it and find out you should have done it- I will sue you.” They did the testing but decided to not give him an IEP because he was too smart, even though they agreed he met the DSM-IV diagnosis for Asperger’s Disorder. They also told me because he was so smart and had no academic issues he didn’t qualify for an official 504 but that they would work with him if he needed it. In fact, they were so determined to help us and him, they would make those bad grades and pesky discipline referrals disappear from his record. BUT that was all they could do. They recommended we should find a good therapist for family counseling and social skills. They even decided that the phone call made to me in May saying they were placing a note of In School Suspension for kicking, screaming and throwing things was a mistake and would be removed.
 
That same year my younger son was sent to school armed with his accommodations in writing. He refused to write and told the teacher his mom said he had a 504 she needed to follow it. The staff had “forgotten” about the RTI plan and forwarded it along later that week. 18 weeks in and he began his usual school behaviors- refusing to write, losing paperwork, hitting, talking back etc. This time I knew enough to write to the school psychologist asking for an evaluation and force them to do one. They did one and decided his deficits were related to his ADHD and he was so smart he didnt need an IEP but maybe a 504 with graphic organizers was finally needed.
 
3 years ago, I spoke to a woman named Susan Bruce about my children and what we had been dealing with. She pointed me to Wrighslaw.com and told me to look up twice exceptional. Then she signed me up for a conference with Pete Wright in Sept. On Aug 13, 2015 my husband I entered the school and requested a psycho educational evaluation as per the law. The psychologist told us he was too smart for an IEP, but they would give him a 504. School began and 3 days in, my child with a social disability made a joke which violated school policies. The school did nothing. My husband and I were proactive and demanded a new meeting with district level personnel. On Aug 26, we entered the school with the BCBA to discuss my son’s high functioning autism and his need for services such as social skills, OT and counseling. We were told that his emotional issues weren’t educational issues and in SC only kids who were one to two years behind in academics qualify for IEPs. I looked at the school staff and district special education director and said but what about this letter from the US Dept of Education? They agreed to reevaluate him 9 months after his first evaluation.
 
Two weeks later, I attended the Pete Wright conference sponsored by PRO- Parents. I got all 4 of his books Emotions to Advocacy, All about IEPS, Test and Assessments, and Special Education Law. Within two hours, I called my husband and told him we had to find help because we had been lied to for years and our kids had been denied a free appropriate public education.
 
3 weeks later, my child had his second nervous breakdown.
 
Nov 15, 2015, we filed our first state complaint for denial of FAPE and child find violations.
 
Dec 9, 2015, we filed our second state complaint for denial of FAPE and child find violations.
 
We won.
 
Nov 2016, we filed due process for reimbursement of expenses for failure to provide services.
 
Jan 2017, we won.
 
We filed three more complaints in 2017, all of which required corrective action by the state.
 
Then 4 more families filed during the 2016-2017 school year. They were found to have 19 violations. We also found out they had admitted to the state that they had violated child find with 7 other children, one of whom they owed compensatory education and has never returned to the public school.
 
We decided then we would do everything in our power to help families like ours to prevent this from happening again. That meant going into meetings with parents, connecting with families and helping people searching for answers. Beckye Barnes Advocacy and Consulting was created.

Leave a Reply