Home > Can I Request an Evaluation From My School Distict If My Child is in a Private School?

Can I Request an Evaluation From My School Distict If My Child is in a Private School?

Many parents who have children in a private school don’t know if they can request an full evaluation from the school district if their child is struggling in school. Parents can request a full evaluation from the current school district that their child resides in. They must offer special education and related services to children. Under the 2004 amendments to IDEA, school districts must consult with private schools about whether and how special education and related services will be provided to children whose parents placed them in private school. However, the school district may not provide these services at the private school (although it can choose to do so), nor does it have provide any services different if the child were in public school.

Parents can contact the Special Education Director of the current school district your child resides in by sending a written letter requesting your child have a full evaluation. You can search on the school districts website for the contact information for the name of the administrator and the email and phone number.  Once you have sent the request to the director, the school district will present you with an evaluation plan listing all testing to be done on your child in order for eligibility for special education, or to assess your child’s current status if already in special education. The next step you will have to approve the assessment plan or ask for certain tests or evaluation tools be added or eliminated. Federal Law (IDEA) requires the school district to complete your child’s first evaluation and determine whether your child is eligible for special education within 60 days of receiving your consent to do the evaluation. 60 calendar days, not business or school days, weekends and holidays count toward the 60-day deadline.

What should the evaluation plan include? The evaluation plan should include specifically named tests, a section where you can request additional tests  or other methods of evaluation, and a place for you to provide your written approval or disapproval. IDEA requires that the school district to get your permission before it can evaluate your child. Your consent must be informed which means that you must understand fully what your consenting to.


Home > What is the “least restrictive environment”

What is the “least restrictive environment”

It is important as a parent to be aware of what “the least restrictive environment” is. The least restrictive environment (LRE) is often referred to when placing students who have IEPs into a SPED (Special Education) program. Least restrictive refers to the environment that will allow the student to have the most access to general education to be successful academically. This could mean one or two classes in the general education setting or all classes in the general education setting with some support from a special education teacher who acts as the student’s case manager to consult with the general education teacher to make sure accommodations and students needs are shared.
As a parent, it’s important to be aware of your child’s academic needs so that they can be placed appropriately and receive the support they need. Prior to an IEP meeting, think about what kind of classes you think that your child will benefit from most; for example should they be in a general education math class or be placed in a resource/sped (special education) math class or a math class that is taught by a general education teacher and special education teacher. These are just some of the configurations that currently are being used within the public school system.
As a special education teacher, I’ve tried to create classroom schedules that benefit the students on my caseload so that they can be exposed to the general education curriculum and setting as much as possible while at the same time receiving the support they need.

Home > 5 Essential Tips to Prep Your Child for Back to School

5 Essential Tips to Prep Your Child for Back to School


Some families dread to hear the words “back to school” again. Television ads about back to school remind you constantly that it is time to prepare your kids for school again.

What will you do to prep your children for school? Feeling stressed out? Are your kids anxious to return?

Help your child ease into the new school year by using some of these tips suggested.

Here are 5 tips that will help parents launch their kids into the new school year.

1. Routines. Return to a routine by at least one week ahead before school starts by having your child wake-up the same time you normally follow during the school year. This way when the first day of school starts, you and your child will be ready.

2. Prepare emotionally. Even the most social child may have some anxiety about the beginning of a new school year. The first week can be especially with new teachers, routines, and surroundings. Help your child handle his anxieties and yours by having a good talk about the beginning of the school year. Make sure your child knows that it usually takes a couple of weeks to adjust to everything. Talking through this can lessen uneasiness and will help calm everybody’s nerves.

3. Meditation. A great way to help your child focus and relieve stress is by meditating. A book just released in July called “The Connected Kids Book.” This book helps adults teach meditation to children who have special needs, but this book can be used for all children as well. It is only available in E-format. Website – http://www.teachchildrenmeditation.com.

4. Organization. Make sure your child has all the school supplies necessary for all their academic classes. Dedicate an area for homework that is comfortable, tidy, noise-free, and distraction-free. Kids who have AD/HD can benefit from having timers to help them focus on completing homework assignments.
Hang a calendar and lunch menus on the refrigerator and special hooks for backpacks near a door.
There are several organization apps now available for kids to use to help with their organizational skills. To name a few, iStudiez Pro, Picture Planner, Planner Plus and Next Thing.

5. Meet Teachers. Get involved in your child’s classroom. Don’t wait too long to speak with your child’s teacher if something seems to be going wrong at school. Make an appointment to see the teacher and be persistent if you don’t hear from the teacher. Teachers are usually very good about contacting parents to set up a time to meet with you. Adjustments in school homework or seating arrangements can make a big difference for your child to be more successful in school. Sometimes parents need to request a different teacher for their child than the teacher who was originally assigned.
If you need to request for an IEP meeting, don’t wait, it can take weeks for a meeting to be set up.

In the end, the most important thing is to know your own child and if something is not going well in school, don’t wait for them to begin to say they don’t like school.

Home > Understanding Your Child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan).

Understanding Your Child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan).

As a parent it’s important to be educated about your child’s rights under his/her IEP (Individual Education Plan). To fully understand the IEP which is often written in such a way that is complex, seek guidance from a professional if needed. Read through the draft of the IEP prior to attending the meeting and ask for as much time as needed to review the material prior to agreeing to any services.

Additionally, make sure your child has the needed accommodations or modifications written into your child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan). These changes should fit the student’s individual needs. It’s important to include the student, if appropriate, when discussing needed accommodations or modifications.

What is an accommodation? An accommodation allows a student to complete the same assignment or test as other students, but with a change in the timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response and/or presentation. This accommodation does not alter in any significant way what the test or assignment measures. Examples of accommodations include a student who is blind taking a Braille version of a test or a student taking a test alone in a quiet room.

A modification is an adjustment to an assignment or a test that changes the standard or what the test or assignment is supposed to measure. Examples of possible modifications include a student completing work on part of a standard or a student completing an alternate assignment that is more easily achievable than the standard assignment.

By knowing your rights and understanding your child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) completely, your child will have a better chance in succeeding in school and will also increase his/her self-esteem.

Home > 6 Educational Tips From a Mother Who Learned How to Advocate for Her Son.

6 Educational Tips From a Mother Who Learned How to Advocate for Her Son.

My son struggled in school from the very beginning of kindergarten. His teacher suggested that he be retained in kindergarten. She said he was having much difficulty learning his letters and sounds. Since we were going to move to another school, she mentioned that it would not be such a change for him to be in kindergarten for the second time. What did I know about the signs of learning difficulties or disabilities?

He continued to struggle in school and I tried to get him tested for Special Education when he was in the second grade but he did not qualify at that time. It was his 6th grade Language Arts teacher who said that he was struggling and mentioned that he should get tested again for Special Ed. This time around he qualified since he was so far behind academically.

Does this sound so familar to you? Don’t let this happen to your child! Be Proactive! If you see your child struggle in school, don’t wait for a teacher to tell you that your child should be retained in school. Here are some helpful tips to help your child in school.


  • Learn the developmental stages of children.

Children develop and grow at different rates. Their pathways may differ through childhood but most will pass a set of predictable milestones along the way. The University of Michigan has a website on the developmental milestones and delayed development of children. http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/devmile.htm

Another great website is Zero To Three. This website has free brochures and guides that you can download. http://www.zerotothree.org/about-us/areas-of-expertise/free-parent-brochures-and-guides/


  •  Look out for some common signs of learning disabilities.

Learn some of the characteristics that point to a learning disability. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t wait! LD Online has a guide “Taking the First Step” that you can download. http://www.ldonline.org/ldbasics/signs


  • Learn the California Curriculum State Standards for English language arts and Math for kindergarten through high school.

In 1997, California adopted its first set of content standards in English language arts and Math. These educational standards provide clear goals for student learning and helped teachers determine the knowledge and skills needed for students to be successful in school and careers. In 2010, California State Board of Education adopted new Common Core Standards (CCS), with California additions in English language arts and Math. This a link  from the California Department of Education for the standards.



  • Request that your school test your child as soon as possible.

You have the right to request that your child get tested by the school they attend. Schools are required to identify and evaluate all children who may have a learning disability under the Child Find Mandate from birth through age 21. This also includes children in private and public schools. Below is a link from Wrightslaw.



  •  Know your legal rights to advocate for your child in school.

It is important for a parent to learn the Special Education laws when your child has been tested.  There are services or resources that are available for your child by being a vigilant advocate you can learn what they are. By preparing yourself prior to the IEP meeting and learning your legal rights, you can be ahead of the game. As parents, you have the right to be an active participant in the IEP decision making process. The Special Education process can be very overwhelming and the better prepared you are; the better your outcome will be. You can request to have an IEP meeting at any time if you are concerned about your child’s progress in school. Wrightslaw is a very good website from two parent lawyers who advocated for their children. I also have on my website an excellent book that I recommend to read.  The Complete IEP Guide:How to Avocate for your Special Ed Child.


  • IEE – What is an IEE?

An independent education evaluation (IEE) is defined by federal law “as an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the child in question.” 34 C.F.R. 300.503.

If you are not satisfied with the test results of your child from the school your child attends you can obtain an independent evaluation. Generally, parents are responsible for the costs of an IEE. However, in some circumstances the school district may be financially responsible.










Home > What is an Educational Therapist?

What is an Educational Therapist?

Many people confuse the difference between what an educational therapist and a tutor does. So what’s the difference? A tutor generally focuses on teaching a specific subject matter, an educational therapist’s focus is broader.

An educational therapist collaborate with all the significant people concerned with the student’s learning. They focus on remediation, but also underlying learning skills to help clients become more self-aware, self-reliant, efficient learners. An educational therapist training is much more extensive than a tutor. For example, their training involves extensive training and experience in learning disabilities and intervention strategies specific to learning differences.

A tutor’s background does not necessarily include training in learning disabilities, specific syndromes, assessments, appropriate interventions, or case management. Tutors are generally skilled in a specific subject matter. Educational Therapists typically work in a private practice, reading clinics or in private schools with a small group of students and on an one-to-one basis with a student. They are also know as an Learning Specialist or Learning Coach.

Educational Therapists have specialized training in the following areas: administering formal and informal assessments, providing skill development and remediation, facilitating communication and coordinating services on behalf of clients, supporting collaboration among the members of the client’s learning community.

Educational therapists address academic, psycho-educational and socio-emotional aspects of learning. Academic areas include reading, writing, math, study skills, and critical thinking skills. Psycho-educational skills include strategic learning, analysis and problem solving, and self understanding.

The educational therapist fosters the development of self-advocacy skills in order to help clients succeed in multiple settings. An educational therapist addresses the interrelationship of emotions and learning by providing a safe environment in which the client may explore elements of the learning context. In addition, an educational therapist goals and strategies differ from a tutor by setting goals and developing an intervention plan that addresses not only academic difficulties but also psycho-educational and socio-emotional aspects of like-long learning through an eclectic combination of individualized intervention strategies. Referrals are made to specialists when needed.

A tutor frequently focuses on improving grades and commonly uses traditional teaching methods to reach academic goals. The services that an educational therapist provide are formal and informal assessments, utilizes specific, and when appropriate, alternative teaching strategies. Also, and ET provides case management by coordinating with the student’s team of teachers, parents, and allied professionals. A tutor provides individual assistance with homework or instruction in a specific subject matter.

What I have not mentioned in my website is that I was born and raised in Martinez, CA and have lived here for over 44 years. I’m familiar with all the schools in Martinez and in Contra Costa County.