26 April 2009

My BIQ Talk

Last week, I gave a talk at BIQ Boston, on 2E kids in Public Schools. Though there weren't too many people attending (it was at 9:00 a.m. Sunday, a bit early), it was well received, and several people have asked that I post my handouts. So, here's the outline of the talk, with a few side comments.

For those who are new to my blog, Hello! I started this blog to post all sorts of thoughts, but I am not a blogger at heart — not surprising, as I could never keep a diary when I was little, either. Most of the posts here are related to our in-progress remodel.

2E in Public Schools — The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Liz Cademy Pfeffer & Carolyn K
BIQ Boston, April 2009

Liz (That's me)
Carolyn K www.hoagiesgifted.org

Definition of 2E
Gifted with some sort of disability
Often, but not always a Learning Disability
Special services &/or accommodations are necessary in school

(Here, Carolyn and I tell the stories of our 2E daughters, Chetah and Ocelot, and how the public schools did a good job with Ocelot and a phenomenally bad job with Cheetah)

The Law
All children have the right to an evaluation by the school
High IQ or good grades can not be used to avoid a necessary IEP
The Lillie/Felton Letter (This is case law specifying that kids can not be denied a special education evaluation because they are not failing school.)
Every state has laws that schools must follow
Parents are full members of the team
Most actions require parental consent in writing

The Special Education Process
1. “Child Study” Meetings
2. School Evaluation (or optional private evaluation)
3. Qualification Meeting
4. Write the Plan
5. Implement the Plan – Measurable Goals
6. Review Plan annually
7. Re-evaluate every 3 years

Using the Law
Document, document, document!
The Wright's Law website
Your state's special education website
Your school district's policies
How to Ask for an Evaluation
In writing, on paper
Facts only, no emotions

When to Give Up, and What to Do Afterwards, Part 1
Some schools are good, some are bad, and some are just clueless
Some schools are good, but don't have the money to do a good job
By law, lack of money does not allow the school to refuse services

When to Give Up, and What to Do Afterwards, Part 2
Warning Signs You May Have a Bad School
Staff does not know the law, and doesn't care
Staff tries to delay the process
Staff continually “loses” paperwork
Staff agrees verbally, nothing gets done
Or …

When to Give Up, and What to Do Afterwards
What To Do If You Have a Bad School
Give up (listed for completeness only)
Home School
Pay for alternate education
Fight school, student stays at school
Fight for alternate placement


  1. Hi Liz, it's Melisa from TAGFAM. Thanks for posting this. I especially like the "warning signs" because I feel like we have been going through this for the past three years. Right now we are in the "fight school" stage, trying to get private testing this summer. I've paid for alternate education in the form of EPGY math before they accellerated DS, and now we may be looking at it again next year - the accelleration has worked well this year because of a great teacher, but the pace is still too slow and contains too much drill and practice. I don't have confidence that our district will produce another excellent teacher for him next year, although I'm trying to keep an open mind about it. I would really like a mentor for my son - I had one when I was a kid - but things in this district seem to be circa 1960 as far as gifted ed goes. We will likely move in a couple of years to avoid middle school here. We are trying to get all testing in order before that point so that we don't have to start from square one. Even testing is proving difficult, since no one here is experienced with 2-E (ADHD). Thanks for all the info!

  2. Just FYI, people should also read up on RtI (response to intervention) because this is the latest (and not-so-greatest) wave in the system (it's part of the most recent reauthorization of the law, so articles written before that may be misleading). Basically, the idea is reasonable -- if someone wasn't really LD, but just wasn't getting good quality teaching, then they shouldn't qualify for special education, so they try stuff that ought to work unless the kid is actually LD, and if it works, then great, it worked, and they didn't need to go through the whole special education process. In practicality, what I am seeing myself and hearing from others is that it can easily become a set of delaying tactics. Parents need to learn what the law is so that (1) they don't get freaked out and think that the schools are breaking the law when they're not (2) they know how to keep the focus on time-limited interventions with measurable outcome measures, so that if there is a need to progress to special education, that can happen in a reasonably prompt fashion.