Things went just as expected. The school district approved our request for an FM system but denied us the opportunity to take it home, based solely on the fact that we homeschool. WRONG answer! Try again…
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA of 2004) CLEARLY states in part B, section 300.105 (b) that “the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a child's home or in other settings is required if the child's IEP Team determines that the child needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE.” (FAPE is Free Appropriate Public Education) . His IEP team determined that this child needs access to the device to receive FAPE, yet they denied the request, in part because he is not a student of the district.
Yes, we homeschool. But Washington State Administrative Code equally clear on the use of assistive technology in the home (WAC 392-172A-02015(2)) and the Revised Code of Washington allows homeschooling (RCW 28A.225.010(4)) and defines homeschooled students who access courses or ancillary services from the school district (allowed in this state by law—RCW 28A.150.350) as ‘part time students.’ In addition, the school district is reimbursed for the courses and/or ancillary services they provide to Logan according to the portion of the day/week he attends school. So they get money for providing his services.
Our school district does not have an audiologist as part of their staff. Instead, they contract for services with another school district, or they can choose to pay for a private evaluation by a pediatric audiologist should the family ask. (This is the 4th largest school district in the state! But they don’t provide audiology services…) We’ve not asked them to provide a private evaluation, and, as a matter of fact, we have shared his reports from his evaluations freely as they clearly demonstrate his need for assistive technology. In addition, we have a letter from his pediatric audiologist directly stating that 1) Logan needs assistive technology in the form of an FM system, as hearing aids do not help him; and 2) he needs access to the FM system for FULL ACADEMIC USE. Excuse me? A school district without an audiologist is going to blow off the recommendation of a specialist in the field on the (flimsy and irrelevant) grounds that we homeschool? I don’t think so! Logan NEEDS the FM system at home—he has difficulty accessing language without help! His construction and syntax lag far behind, due in large part to his inability to clearly hear spoken language. When he asks a question, it frequently comes out “Where that is?” or “How old Nick is?” or “What doing?” He struggles with the basics of math because he cannot distinguish between similar words like “forty” and “fourteen” or “fifty” and “fifteen.” He has difficulty with phonics—“b” and “p” sound very similar; as a result he has trouble telling whether the word is ‘cap’ or ‘cab.’ He can’t tell whether I said ‘ban’ or ‘pan,’ doesn’t hear the ‘z’ sound used to make words plural (like in ‘houses’), and can’t distinguish between the past tense endings on words because he doesn’t hear the difference between the ‘t” sound (in "’dropped’) and the ‘ed’ sound in ‘played'.’ There are probably hundreds of other word pairs he struggles with, but those examples are sufficient. The child does NOT have full access to language!! And the school district seems to think that the provision of an FM system for use at school—45 minutes a week—constitutes full access to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)? I just don’t think so!! How exactly does denying him access to language in his approximately 5,835 waking minutes per week and providing it 45 waking minutes per week work in his favor? His IEP is almost exclusively language based—the articulation (pronounciation, which he also struggles with) is taken care of by his private speech therapist. She has specialized training in working with cleft kids and in patients with apraxia, both of which are issues for Logan.
Ugh. Can you tell I’m a bit torqued?? There WILL be a letter addressed to the school district, written today. It will cover all these points. And it may ask a very awkward question. The goal of our school district, published prominently under their name in their logo, states “Successfully Prepare All Students For Their Future.” The question? “Should your goal more appropriately read ‘successfully prepare some/selected/chosen students for their future’ since you are clearly not interested in helping prepare OUR student as you are required to by law?”
Prayers welcomed. :)