NLDline

Name

Address

City, State, Zip

Phone (---)--- ----

email: ------@------.---

Date

Office for Civil Rights, Philadelphia Office

U.S. Department of Education

The Wanamaker Building

100 Penn Square East, Suite 215

Philadelphia, PA 19107

To Whom it May Concern:

Please be advised that I am the parent of a disabled student, ----------- ------- ---------- (hereinafter "------"), who is a student with ----------- County, (state name) Public Schools (hereinafter "--PS"). ----- is  currently thirteen years old and is in the eighth grade.

My son has been discriminated against due to his disability by --PS and, specifically, the staff of ----- Elementary School and ---------- -------Middle School from 1994 to the present. ---------- is a qualified disabled individual eligible for protection. ----------- has a mental impairment as follows: severe emotional disturbance (as labeled by --PS). -------------'s impairment substantially limits his ability to learn. ----------'s ability to learn has been further limited because of the discrimination by ---PS in failing to make a proper diagnosis of the disability, failing to provide appropriate school placements, supports, and accommodations; failing to treat -------- with due respect, and by failing to protect ------- from being bullied and harassed by his peers.

During the time all of the following examples of discrimination occurred, --------- has been a student in --PS, and --PS has at all times been responsible for offering an individualized education in an appropriate program without discrimination. ----------- has been discriminated against due to his disability as follows:

3rd Grade: (1994-1995)

------- was placed in regular education classes, without behavioral supports or other special education accommodations, in the third grade at ----- Elementary School. For three years prior, ----- had been a special education student receiving Level 4 services with mainstreaming for kindergarten, first, and second grades. For third grade, however, he was expected, in the regular education classroom, to perform and behave as a regular education student.

1. Due to the fact that the supports and accommodations that he needed were not offered, -------- began to exhibit behavioral problems in his regular education classroom. Despite the ongoing problems, the school did not provide ---------with the assistance of a special education teacher or instructional assistant while in the regular education classroom, seek an alternative placement, or implement a behavior plan.

2. --------- was told by his teacher,-------, "I have never had to deal with a kid like you before." Miss------- was referring to ---------'s behavioral problems, which he exhibits when the accommodations that he needs are not in place. In my letter to Miss -------, dated April 5, 1995, I reference the many inappropriate, unprofessional, and mean remarks made by ------- Elementary School staff to --------- due to behavior caused by his disability. I was not given a response to this complaint.

3. Instead of implementing a positive behavioral plan, --------- was placed on in-school suspension for eight consecutive days by the ------- Elementary Assistant Principal, -------. He received the suspension for his behavior, which is due to his disability. ------- shamed --------- at great length for his behavioral problems on several occasions during the school year. --------- did not receive instruction during the suspension, nor was a manifestation hearing held.

4. Because school staff did not want to supervise ---------, --------- was told that he was not allowed to arrive at school prior to the starting time of school unless he was willing to assist the Principal in serving breakfast. ------- Elementary School refused --------- the right to participate in recreational free play on the playground prior to the beginning of classes because of his disability, although it was permitted for non-disabled students.

5. Although he exhibited poor academics and behavioral problems while attending ------- Elementary School during third grade, staff failed to diagnose his learning disability. Despite ---------'s behavior, which in and of itself was a cry for help, ------- Elementary School staff neglected to offer --------- the assistance and/or an appropriate alternative placement that --------- needed to be able to learn

6. Due to his inability to read nonverbal social cues, --------- was bullied and harassed by his peers when at school. This is noted in my letter to Mrs. ------- dated April 5, 1995. The children that were bullying --------- were not held accountable for their behavior. I was told to request that --------- ignore the abuse and harassment. Ignoring the harassment, besides being a non-solution to a large problem, is against the directives that have been given on this matter by the U.S. Department of Education.

Fourth Grade: (1995-19965)

1. At the beginning of the school year, --------- was again told that he was not allowed to come to school prior to the start time of classes unless he wanted to assist the Principal in serving breakfast. Again, ------- Elementary School discriminated against --------- due to his disability by depriving him of the recreational activity time that regular education students receive every morning.

2. ---------'s fourth grade teacher, Mr. ------- -------, belittled ---------'s school work and academic deficits in front of the class on many occasions. Mr. -------, in effect, called attention to ---------'s social and learning deficits to his peers. Mr. -------'s poor judgment, of course, gave ---------'s peers the suggestion that it was acceptable to bully ---------, and they did.

3. Mrs. -------, a fifth grade teacher, remarked to --------- "You must be mental or something" in front of his peer group. This caused much embarrassment and pain to ---------, and, to this day, he has not forgotten Mrs. -------'s unprofessional, callous, and demeaning remark. ---------'s disability is, in actuality, a problem with mental processes.

4. Again, although behavioral problems and poor academic achievement in school were ongoing with ---------, ------- Elementary School did not offer further testing or evaluation, an appropriate alternative placement, extra supports in the regular education classroom, or a positive behavioral plan, for the entire school year.

Instead of offering additional supports or alternative placements, they berated --------- constantly for his behavior. Staff told him that his problems were due to the bad choices that he was making. In fact, ---------'s behavioral and academic problems were caused by his inappropriate school placement and his specific learning disability.

For example, I wrote a letter in January, 1996 telling school principal ------- that --------- had not written down a single homework assignment since September, despite the fact that staff had promised to previously assist --------- with this problem. I inform her in the same letter that --------- is unable to complete the reports and projects assigned to him, yet no mitigating action was taken. Further, I note that ---------'s class had begun long division when "--------- has not even nearly mastered multiplication". I had previously reported the math problems, which remain a deficit to this day, several times that school year. All of these problems, along with the behavior issues should have alerted staff of ---------'s learning disability.

5. --------- was teased, taunted, bullied, and harassed by his peers the entire school year. ---------'s disability includes an inability to read non-verbal social cues, which makes him a target for bullies. ------- Elementary School advised me that --------- should ignore the abuse. --------- was being abused by his peers due to his disability, and the school staff neglected to assist him, or hold his peers accountable for their behavior.

6. For the entire school year, ---------'s teacher, Mr. -------, marked --------- as on grade level in math and below grade level in reading. In actuality, the opposite was true. I reference the fact that --------- was doing very poorly in mathematics, and was in fact behind the entire class, in my letter from January, 1996 to Mrs. -------, referenced above. This letter was never answered. Mr. -------'s error made it unclear to both me and the school staff what the nature or basis of ---------'s true problems were.

7. ---------, as is typical with his learning disability, suffered high levels of anxiety at school due to his inappropriate placement and lack of supports. --------- had very low self-esteem as a result.

The notes taken during a school meeting on February 7, 1996 state the following:

* --------- was only allowed to tell the principal "positive" things. For a child who is having trouble in school and trying to verbalize this to administration, this in inexcusable. Due to his disability, --------- was denied the opportunity to discuss problems he was having at school with school administration, as was offered to his non-disabled peers.

* --------- cut his long, beautiful eyelashes due to his peers accusing him of wearing makeup. In the official notes of the my meeting with school staff on February 6, 1996, it is stated that a classmate of ---------'s told him that he "has titties like a woman", and that I was concerned about ---------'s trouble with the other children. Bullying and harassment was ongoing and ------- Elementary School did nothing to protect --------- from it.

* --------- reportedly was still misreading nonverbal social cues, which is part of his learning disability that school staff failed to recognize.

8. Toward the end of the school year, I met with school staff in a CARD Meeting. I was informed that the school believed that --------- should now be coded, due to his behavior, as Severely Emotionally Disturbed. The fact that ---------'s IQ tested within the normal range and his academic achievement was poor should have alerted staff to his learning disability, but he was incorrectly coded SED anyway.

9. After the CARD meeting wherein --------- was labeled Severely =

Emotionally Disturbed, Assistant Principal Mrs. ------- suspended --------- =

for three days due to his behavior. --------- was suspended and received =

no instruction for three school days due to his disability, nor was a =

manifestation hearing held.

10. Following the suspension, I talked to Principal Marianna ------- =

about the suspension. I told her that I didn't think that it was fair =

that --------- was suspended for behavior when he was coded for Severe =

Emotional Disturbance. Miss ------- agreed with me. I asked that she =

give me a statement in writing that the suspension would be removed from =

---------'s school records. She agreed to do so, but did not follow =

through on this promise despite my further written request on June 4, =

1996 for this document. =20

Again, although --------- attended two entire school years at ------- =

Elementary School and completed a supposedly thorough battery of=20

testing, staff neglected to diagnose his learning disability, and =

instead labeled and coded him Severely Emotionally Disturbed.

Letter to Office of Civil Rights

October 20, -------

Page Six

 

12. No behavior plan, positive or otherwise, was ever implemented in the =

entire two years that --------- attended, and exhibited behavioral =

problems, at ------- Elementary School. No functional behavioral =

assessment was ever completed.

Fifth Grade: (1996-1997) =20

--------- attended a self-contained SED class with a talented teacher who =

was able to determine what accommodations would help --------- in fifth =

grade. Although his learning disability remained undetected, ---------'s =

fifth grade year was without ma-------r incident, due primarily to the =

teacher's dedication and insight. The teacher, -------, included =

the following comments about --------- with his final report card: "It was =

an absolute pleasure to have --------- in our class! His enthusiasm for =

learning new things is so nice to see!" =20

Sixth Grade: (1997-1998)

--------- attended a self-contained SED class with mainstreaming in sixth =

grade at -------. After the nurturing fifth grade =

experience, --------- was successful enough to mainstream a ma-------rity of the =

day. Although his specific learning disability remained undiagnosed, =

with special education supports in place, ---------'s regular education =

teachers comments included "--------- is a real delight to have in class", =

"--------- was an excellent student in keyboarding", and "--------- has =

adjusted well-he fits in with the rest of the class and seems =

comfortable". ---------'s teacher, -------e-------, performed a Functional =

Behavioral Assessment for --------- in March of the school year. In that =

report, ------- made the following recommendations for the next =

school year: "In order to promote positive and successful school =

behaviors, a comprehensive behavior intervention plan needs to be =

implemented." ------- went on to list dozens of recommendations =

that would assist ---------. As you will see, this teacher's =

recommendations were completely ignored.=20

Seventh Grade (1998--------)

1. On several occasions prior to ---------'s first day of seventh grade I =

left messages for the new supervisor in charge of the=20

Letter to Office of Civil Rights

October 20, -------

Page Seven

 

SED program, -------. Because I know that having --------- =

prepared for new situations always help his anxiety, I was attempting to =

visit the new head prior to the start of school. My phone calls were =

not returned. =20

2. I learned from --------- that he had been placed, absurdly, in an =

Advanced Mathematics class. In light of the visual-spatial deficits =

that --------- suffers from due to his disability, mathematics has always =

been most difficult for ---------. I informed the guidance office at =

------- of this improper placement, and he was moved =

to a regular education mathematics class with no special education =

supports. ---------=20

did very poorly in mathematics and was moved, once again, to an LD =

mathematics class. The LD mathematics class was teaching math skills =

that --------- had already mastered. Due to three inappropriate =

mathematics placements, --------- learned no mathematics in all of his =

entire seventh grade school year, and in fact is now working at a lower =

skill level than at the end of sixth grade.

3. ---------'s IEP called for one inclusion class in an academic subject. =

--------- never received this inclusion class at any time during the =

entire eighth grade year. I was never, as is my right, informed of the =

decision by the school to unilaterally change the IEP, and as far as I =

know, an IEP meeting was never held to implement this change. ------- =

------- Middle School deprived --------- of a classroom arrangement that may =

have assisted him, by failing to implement his IEP. =20

4. Early on in the school year, --------- complained about being harassed =

and bullied at school. I contacted Assistant Principal Lance Dempsey =

about this matter via telephone and was told to ask --------- to ignore the =

abuse. In an effort to cooperate with the school, and because I had no =

other solution, and at that time did not know any better, I complied =

with that request. Although the Office of Civil Rights, the U.S. =

Department of Education and the National Association of Attorneys =

General specifically advise against this non-solution, --------- was =

repeatedly requested to ignore the harassment.

Letter to Office of Civil Rights

October 20, -------

Page Eight

 

 

I made other reports of the abuse that --------- was suffering at the hands =

of his peers as follows:

* On February 8, -------, I met with the entire team of teachers that =

worked with ---------. Bullying was discussed at this meeting, and no =

solutions were offered. I was instructed that --------- contributed to the =

bullying by his reaction to it, and that he should ignore the =

harassment.

* February 18, -------: I wrote a letter to ---------'s case manager, ------- =

------- regarding the unacceptable conduct of another student, -------=

-------, who harassed and physically assaulted --------- on more than one =

occasion. No official report of the assaults were ever made, the proper =

authorities were not contacted, and ------- was not even so much =

as suspended for his anti-social, violent behavior. Again, I was told =

by administration at this time that ---------'s reactions to the harassment =

were the cause of the abuse. In effect, ---------, who was a target for =

bullies due to his disability, was blamed for the bullying by his peers!

* On February 26, -------, I wrote another letter to ---------'s case manager, =

Ms. -------. I reference that --------- is being bullied and assaulted at =

school and request action be taken to correct this problem. No action =

was taken.

* On April 21, -------, I wrote a letter to Assistant Principal  =

--------- regarding bullying that --------- was receiving ongoing by another =

student, -------. ------- took the bullying to another level; =

he showed up at our home to harass --------- after school on several =

occasions. ------- physically assaulted --------- at the time, which I made =

------- aware of. I received a phone call from ------- =

regarding the letter and was told that --------- was lucky that ------- =

hadn't beat him up sooner due to ---------'s loud responses to -------' =

teasing. --------- was, once again, blamed for the anti-social behavior of =

his peers, due to his disability. =20

* At every other meeting that I called with ------- =

during this school year, of which there were=20

Letter to Office of Civil Rights

October 20, -------

Page Nine

 

several, bullying was discussed. On each occasion, ---------'s reactions =

to the bullying and ---------'s inability to ignore the bullying, were =

blamed for the bullying. By this time, the "Protecting Students from 

Harrassment and Hate Crime" guide for schools had been published by the =

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, and National =

Association of Attorneys General. This guide specifically recommends =

against ignoring harassment, blaming the victim, and failing to =

investigate and take action. The guide specifically suggests resolving =

complaints promptly, strong, immediate responses by school staff to =

complaints of harassment, and developing written policies that prohibit =

unlawful harassment. =20

* At the annual review held for --------- on May 5, -------, I provided school =

staff and administration with multiple copies of the an article that =

appeared in the May 2, ------- edition of the Washington Post entitled "An =

Education in Taunting: Schools Learning Dangers of Letting Bullies Go =

Unchecked". I made it very clear at that time that bullying was =

seriously compromising ---------'s ability to learn and, in any case, was =

dangerous. No action to change the policy or protect --------- was taken =

by ------- staff.

* I sent a letter to Principal ------- on July 27, -------, which =

detailed my dissatisfaction with ---------'s school placement at ------- =

------- Middle School, along with the bullying. ------- has not =

responded to this letter.

* I sent a letter to the ------- County Public School Office of =

Special Education on August 19, -------, requesting Mediation/Due Process =

for ---------'s school placement, which detailed the bullying that --------- =

had been subjected to due to his disability. At no time has the =

bullying issue been addressed by this office. =20

* I sent a detailed nine-page letter on bullying to Superintendent of =

------- County Public Schools, -----------, along with three =

bibliographies for further information, via certified mail on August 21, =

-------. To date, this letter has not been acknowledged by ------ or =

Superintendent -------.

Letter to Office of Civil Rights

October 20, -------

Page Eleven

 

 

* In a Mediation session hearing that was held on September 9, -------, I =

discussed ---------'s problems with bullying at -------. =

At no time during the Mediation did the school staff or representatives =

from ------ address my complaints.

* In a meeting on September 16, ------- with the head of Special Education =

for ------, -------, I described the abuse that --------- had been =

expected to tolerate due to his disability. ------- did not respond =

to the bullying issue at all. =20

5. As referenced in my letter dated February 26, ------- to English teacher =

-------, --------- was excluded from a team field trip to the =

Holocaust Museum due to his impulsivity, which is a symptom of his =

disability. The school never informed me that --------- was not allowed to =

go on the trip, they informed ---------. My letter regarding this matter =

remains unanswered. --------- was denied the opportunity to participate in =

an educational experience offered to his peers due to his disability.

6. ---------'s physical education teacher, -------, referred to --------- =

as a "dysfunctional student" in her report for a meeting. This remark, =

which is very upsetting, was withdrawn from the record. Administration =

informed me that the teacher is old and set in her ways, which is no =

excuse. Again, --------- was the target of abuse by school staff due to =

his disability.

7. ---------, who was participating in the after-school Homework Club, was =

thrown out of the Homework Club because he rolled his eyes at teacher =

-------. ------- stated to me that she "does not tolerate =

disrespect." ---------'s behavior was caused by his inappropriate school =

placement and his disability, not by any character flaw or lack of =

proper manners. Due to his disability, --------- was denied the =

opportunity to participate in an after-school activity that was offered =

to his peers.

8. ---------, who for a time wrote for the school newspaper, stopped =

attending this after-school program because he was being=20

Letter to Office of Civil Rights

October 20, -------

Page Twelve

teased and harassed by other students at the program. ---------, yet =

again, was denied the opportunity to participate, due to the school's =

failure to protect him from bullies, in an after-school activity that =

was offered to his peers, due to his disability.

9. In a conversation with -------, counselor at ------- Middle =

School, regarding two D's that --------- received on his report card, Ms. =

------- told me "don't worry about it, it is only two D's". Further, =

late in the school year, --------- was placed in an LD reading class due to =

his poor performance and behavioral problems in the regular education =

reading class. The LD reading class was far behind ---------'s reading =

skill level. As previously mentioned herein, this change was made in =

mathematics as well. The school's expectations for ---------, who in the =

previous year had been an honor roll student, were reduced due to his =

disability.

10. --------- was to have received, as part of the triennial testing =

procedures, a complete psychological evaluation in the 1998-------- school =

year. Despite the ongoing problems that --------- was having in school and =

his poor grades, the school did not perform this testing. As a result, =

I had the testing completed privately by an independent psychologist, in =

July, -------. --------- was denied the testing services that are statutorily =

required for special education students. =20

--------- was diagnosed as having Nonverbal Learning Disorder, a specific =

learning disability, due to the independent testing that I had completed =

privately in July, -------. --------- is not Severely Emotionally Disturbed, =

as labeled by ------. =20

Children with Nonverbal Learning Disorder typically have excellent =

verbal skills, word recognition, and reading skills, giving them an =

"illusion of competency." In actuality, these individuals have a defect =

in the right area of their brain. Although typically average to =

above-average in I.Q., these children tend to have, like ---------, a =

significant difference in their Verbal I.Q. score and their Performance =

I.Q. scores. As students, these children have visual-spatial deficits =

(mathematics in=20

particular), difficulty learning new concepts, deficits in adaptability =

and organization, sensitivity to busy, noisy environments, problems with =

Letter to Office of Civil Rights

October 20, -------

Page Thirteen

anxiety, difficulty in following multi-step directions, problems with =

fine motor skills including handwriting. This information has been =

obtained from The Source for Nonverbal Learning Disorders, Sue Thompson, =

Linguisystems, 1997. Unfortunately, the above description fits --------- =

nicely.

Due to ------' failure to properly diagnose ---------'s learning disability, =

--------- did not receive the special accommodations and supports necessary =

to ensure the free, appropriate public education that he is, by law, =

entitled to. By failing to protect him from the harassment, bullying, =

and physical abuse by his peers, and from the inappropriate remarks made =

to him by school staff, they reduced his self-esteem substantially and =

significantly. =20

As a result, --------- wrote the following poem in his LD English class on =

April 30, -------:=09

=09

I Am a Dog

I am a dog who jumped on a log

Then I ate a pog

And I ripped a catalog.

I chewed a sock

Then a bird mocked.

Then I Barked.

And ate a piece of bark.

Then I got sick

I trotted over to get a stick.

Then I cried=20

Then I layed down to cry.

Then I had a funeral.

My owner had to cry.

She thought it was best=20

For me to lay to rest.

Letter to Office of Civil Rights

October 20, -------

Page Fourteen

 

 

Yes, --------- was depressed and apparently contemplating suicide at the =

end of seventh grade due to his inappropriate school placement, ------' =

failure to diagnose his specific learning disability, ------' failure to =

protect him from the bullying that he suffered at the hands of his peers =

due to his disability, the wildly inappropriate remarks made by ------ =

school staff to him, and his overall miserable school experience. This =

poem, which I found extremely alarming, was not brought to my attention =

by the school. In fact, I learned from --------- that he received an "A" =

for this project and that the poem had been displayed on a classroom =

bulletin board!

I wrote a letter to -------, Principal of ------- Middle =

School on July 27, ------- detailing ---------'s terrible school experience. =

In this letter, I informed ------- that I was very upset with the =

staff's failure to implement ---------'s IEP, with the ongoing bullying =

problem at the school, his poor academic and social performance, and his =

"I Am a Dog" poem. In this letter, I requested a CARD meeting to be =

held as soon as possible to discuss the problems. I called the school =

several times in an effort to speak with ------- after I sent this =

letter, to no avail. Finally, an assistant principal returned my call =

and advised me that ------- said that I should go to Due Process. =

 

The only correspondence that I have ever received from ------- was =

a registered letter stating that --------- should report back to --------  and to follow his old IEP in September. I wrote back =

to -------, telling him that "Aside from the fact that the IEP =

from last year does not address ---------'s needs, I would sooner feed him =

to the wolves than send him back to his bullies at -------". I home =

schooled --------- in the interim.

On August 25, -------, I sent a registered letter to -------, =

Superintendent of ------ requesting that his school system recognize =

Nonverbal Learning Disorder and give children that are afflicted with it =

the special supports that they need. On October 4, -------, I received a =

response to this letter. Dr. ------- states "The information you provided =

regarding research in the area of nonverbal learning=20

Letter to Office of Civil Rights

October 20, -------

Page Fifteen

 

disorders is very interesting, and I am forwarding it to the appropriate =

staff in the ------ Department of Special Education." I take this=20

statement as an admission that ------ is uninformed regarding this =

specific learning disability. Dr. ------- does not reference the problem =

with bullying and harassment in his response.

At our Mediation Session on September 9, -------, the representative from =

------ offered a transfer only, to another middle school, without =

transportation. I am a single parent with two children and a full-time =

-------b. Although FAPE guarantees disabled students transportation as a =

related service and part of FAPE, ------ would not budge from this =

position. For the record, ------ came to the mediation prepared to offer =

this one proposed placement without transportation. This placement, =

however, came with no promise that any of the necessary supports and =

accommodations, or even a teacher that is familiar with Nonverbal =

Learning Disorder, would be available to ---------. Further it was only at =

the last minute that ------ advised the administrative law judge mediating =

the case and myself that they refused to provide the transportation. =

The ------ position derailed a compromise settlement that the mediator had =

helped to develop.

In a meeting arranged by my attorney with -------, Director of =

Special Education for ------, on September 16, -------, ------ decided that =

--------- could receive Special Education services at -------, =

with transportation. This LD program, however, has not in any way been =

individualized to meet ---------'s needs, and I have no reason to believe =

that the teaching staff has the sufficient knowledge base of Nonverbal =

Learning Disorder necessary to provide the accommodations and supports =

that --------- needs. Although I have received a letter from ------- =

requesting my signature to sign away my rights to have ------ pay for my =

legal expenses, there has been no follow-up by ------- or the Office =

of Special Education regarding ---------'s placement, and I have concerns =

about the appropriateness of the program. My concerns are based upon my =

understanding of incidents that have occurred, and some of ---------'s =

homework assignments.

I am seeking a thorough investigation by the Office of Civil Rights of =

these matters. I am also seeking payment of the expenses that I have =

incurred as a result, including psychology and psychiatry bills, legal=20

Letter to Office of Civil Rights

October 20, -------

Page Sixteen

 

 

fees, educational consulting fees, books, paper, ink, educational =

software, assistive technology, etc. I think it only fair that --------- =

receive remedial educational services due to his improper school =

placements in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade, and math tutoring =

ongoing. I believe that ------ should be required, to protect the civil =

rights of its students, to enforce a bully-proof policy for all students =

with particular safeguards for Special Education students. ------ staff =

members should be held accountable for their errors in judgment, their =

inappropriate, hurtful remarks made to --------- and other disabled =

students, their failure to diagnose ---------'s specific learning =

disability, and their failure to implement ---------'s IEP. I want a =

school placement for --------- that will address the compensations, =

accommodations, modifications, and strategies that will address ---------'s =

Nonverbal Learning Disorder specifically.

I have enclosed copies of all documents and correspondence referenced in =

the body of this letter.

Please feel free to contact me at any time regarding this matter. =

Thanking you in advance, I remain,

Sincerely yours,

 

-------

 

 

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