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Transcript of LIVE Q & A with Gary Mayerson

How To Compromise With Your School District Without Compromising Your Child

Navigating the IEP process can be an overwhelming experience. Join nationally renowned attorney Gary Mayerson as he answers live questions from parents and explains what parents can do to secure effective and appropriate programming.

Gary Mayerson is the founder of Mayerson & Associates, a law firm in Manhattan that was formed more than a decade ago as the very first law firm dedicated exclusively to serving people with autism. To date, Mr. Mayerson and other lawyers at his firm have helped more than 1,000 families in more than 30 states, as well as military families stationed abroad. He also is the author of How To Compromise With Your School District Without Compromising Your Child (DRL Books 2005). In addition, Mr. Mayerson is a long-time board member of Autism Speaks and serves as the Director of the Autism Speaks Federal Legal Appeals Project, a pro bono initiative at the federal level.

Hi all……I am going to be answering parents questions……..this is back to school time and there is quite a bit of anxiety as to how this year is going to go…..
Comment From TannersDad Tim 

When A school system decides it can no longer handle your child, how do you evaluate the place they want to send them?

Many parents have good results bringing in a behavior analyst or educational consultant to go into the recommended school
Parents have the right to assess the recommended placement, just as schools have the right to assess the student….this can be initially agreed to at the IEP meeting
Comment From Guest 

My little brother is starting preschool and he has PDD-NOS and we went to orination and he does not want to go. What do we do?

Transition planning is something that comes in handy, to create greater predictability…..but I am a lawyer, not a behavior analyst…..so this is something that really can be plotted out with the assistance of a behavior or educational consultant…
Comment From Guest 

I live in small village, my AS son is failing math and needs a tutor, i understand that the school district can/should help pay expenses, how do i encourage that to happen?

If you live in a small village….your school district is not likely to be unduly burdened with this kind of request. Your first move is an objective assessment to ascertain the extent of the “damage,” and then present the results at an IEP meeting to make the request…..
Comment From Kendalls Mom 

What happens if the school feels your child has no need for an IEP anymore? But you still think they do?

This is a recurring problem…..initially, such a move MUST be based on objective criteria…..and if you disagree and file for due process, “stay put” will protect your child in their current placement until the judge rules otherwise…
Comment From Katy 

I live in Wisconsin, where there’s massive school budget cuts. I’m concerned that it will affect the services my 3rd grader receives. Do we have legal rights to push for the same level of service, or must we accept whatever’s coming?

Budget cuts across the nation are creating fear and apprehension, and there are real budgetary realities that school districts–all districts–must contend with. On the other hand, the district cannot simply slash your IEP services because of budgetary concerns and if any IEP proposes to do so, again, “stay put” comes to the proteection of the parents who have no choice but to move formally to protect their child’s program components
Comment From Carol 

we have a 6 year old child who is not currently diagnosed with autism, but the believes the with the behaviors and patterns that he exhibits that he has aspergers. Who responsibility is it to get the testing done?

You first must REFER your child to the school distrrict for an evaluation to determine eligibility under one or more of the classification categories…and if you do not agree with the districts assessment, you can request an independent eval at district expense
Comment From Karla 

Our son turns three in November and we would like to know whether it is best , from a legal stand point, to send him to a public school first and then try to get him into a private school or not send him at all and fight the school district to send him to a private school?

This really turns on the outcome of the IEP meeting. IF the school district is offering a classroom or program that appears to be an effective to meet the child’s needs, then by all means, sign me up!! On the other hand, if it appears to be clearly inadequate, you would be moving in the other direction.
Comment From Es Mom 

I have a severly autistic son that I wanted to place in a special needs school. I have noticed that there is an extreme push by the public school for him to go there instead. Is there a reason for this? Do I not have a say?

The public school has an obligation to at least try to place your child in a public school placement before looking to private situations. You do have a say, but you need to first consider, in good faith, the public school options that are presented
Comment From Linda 

I would like to know the best way to present the need for a 1:1 aide for your child. My child bolts and is very fast. I have agreed to 2:1

A child who bolts and who is fast is a potential danger that could expose the district to potential liability. This year, we had a case of a student who bolted out of a NYC school, and was found undressing by the East River. It should not have to get that level of danger. How often does your child bolt? Is there a bheavior plan in place? These are all questions to be discussed at the IEP
Comment From Melissa in Michigan 

What is “stay put”?

Stay put is a simple description of a far more complicated statutory provision which simply means that if you bring a due process and challenge your child’s IEP, you are entitled to “stay put” in the last AGREED placement……
Comment From Jane 

Our high school contracts out for Occupational therapy for my son…what can I do to assure that he gets the service due to him, as I know that they have “skimped” on his IEP mandated time in the past?

You can test the situation by asking for service records or “session notes”….all parents are entitled to their child’s educational records…..and if there is a problem, call an IEP meeting and make sure to invite the questionable provider(s)
Comment From Mitchells Mom 

Can you request that a 504 be terminated and a IEP be initiated, if you feel that a 504 is not the appropriate measure? I don’t won’t to seem too pushy, causing the teachers to be biased towards my student.

Get pushy! Many school districts will try to give a 504 rather than an IEP because they know that it will likely be less burdensome to perform…..there is no dishonor in an IEP…..which often is exactly what the student needs (understanding that many children do just fine with “only” a 504 plan)
Comment From Meg 

What can I do if my child’s IEP is not being followed?

School districts hate having to assemble lots of teachers and administrators for an IEP….if they are not following the IEP, the “cost” is that you will demand a further meeting…eventually, most districts will ensure basic compliance rather than have to deal with your IEP requests
Comment From Melissa in Michigan 

do you have a web page?

Comment From Guest 

if my sons IEP has special instructions on transportation; can tthe school district who has now leased out their bussing to a private company refuse the IEP instructions to drop off and pick up curb to curb and make my child wait at a bus stop?

No….the school district MUST comply with the IEP mandates….and they cannot delegate their legal responsibility for compliance, even if they subcontract with another company
Comment From Andrew 

My daughter gets speech therapy for 30 mins a day in school and everytime that I ask if we can up the therapy, the response I get is, “30 minutes is enough, any more than that would be too much for her to absorb” How do I get them to at least try increasing her therapy time?

Particularly for children with autism who are often highly distractible, a 30 minute session is not adequate. You may need a private evaluation to measure this problem, and to make recomendations you can then present to the district
Comment From Karla 

Do you recommend that we bring a mediator or an attorney to our son’s IEP meeting?

I think that often, this is NOT a good thing to do unless prior statements by the school district alert you to hostility or closemindedness…..I think parents should first TRY to speak openly without attorney or mediator assistance….
Comment From melissa 

can you have a 504 and a iep also

You can technically wear a belt and suspenders too but one of them is not needed
Comment From Brittnii 

ED kids, what can i do to help so my child isnt teased?

Bullying has now become a huge issue for school districts, who are beginning to implement zero tolerance policies. More importantly, we just got a federal court decision this year that confirms that bullying is a big violation under IDEA
Comment From Guest 

Any suggestions to keep the IEP process collaborative rther than confrontational? My daughter sometimes feels overwhelmed by the “experts.”

This may sound silly, but many parents quiet the waters from the outset by bringing in cookies or something else to the meeting. It is difficult to disagree without becoming disagreeable. Peoples egos often get in the way. I also think that if you present an expert report, the dynamic changes from “this is what the parents want” to “this is what an expert is recommending”
Comment From Erika 

My daughter is starting middleschool and has inclass support mainstream, i also am wondering if theres any advice on her bullys, how to prepare teens for staying away from peer pressured things when there so volnerable, is there a book or any advice you can give us on tackling this cause this worrys me.

There is a link on my website, mayerslaw.com, to this year’s landmark bullying decision, which offers a lot of guidance as to what parents and school districts should do
Comment From Shell 

I have the same issue with ‘budget cuts’. My son has lost an excellent autism teacher and I am afraid that he will lose the 1 on 1 that he used to get. Should I address my concerns to the school or go straight to BOE w/ other parents? Thx

I would address it initially with the school and telegraph that such a move would not be acceptable and that if that were to occur, you would take action. You might well get a reassurance, as the squeaky wheel often gets the grease
Comment From Leslie G 

Children in NYS Early Intervention despite their diagnoses are receiving service authorizations that are ridiculous and similar eg. 1X60 every other week or 1X30 every other week. The service authorizations are not individualized. What can families do collectively to fight this?

Under Early Intervention, which goes only to age 3, a parent may get a lot of mileage going straight to mediation……
Comment From guest 

do kids with autism get their ears pierced????

I don;t have a clue. My daughters are the experts in our house about ear piercing
Comment From Katy 

What can you do if you do not want a particular staff member working with your child? (if you have only one example to demonstrate this person’s poor ability to adequately work with your child and you just have a “gut” feeling)

This is the weakest leg, often, that parents have to stand on. Personnel decisions are very much left up to the school district unless you can show true incompetence or worse conduct……
Comment From Guest 

Who is legally required to be at an IEP meeting?

This will differ slightly from state to state, but usually there is at least a district rep, a special education teacher, and evaluators, and if your child is attending or is being considered for regular education participation, a regular education teacher
Comment From Guest 

Good evening Mr. Mayerson. Wanted to stop im just to applaud everything your firm does to promote and protect autistic children. We have moved our 11 year old from public school to a private school that deals exclusively with autistic children through the age of 22. And thanks to the McKay scholarship, it’s free. We were so afraid of him being bullied in middle school.

Thank you for your kind words……and I am glad that your child is now in a good place
Comment From Guest 

If I’m not agree with an IEP meeting decision about related services, should I sign any paperwork?

You always should sign the “attendance” page of an IEP, but if you are not in agreement about related services, you should so indicate and communicate…..otherwise, the inadequate service levels will commence…
Comment From Mia 

When are services required to start under an IEP? I assume on the date the IEP states (the first day of school), but our district always takes a few weeks to get the schedule done and it can take 2-3 weeks until services actually begin. What can a parent do?

Each IEP is required to specifiy the start date and end date….to give parents notice of how to plan
Mia…you should write to the district and request the schedule weeks before the start of school….and I know that I just gave you impractical advice considering the time of year!
Comment From MB 

How can you address behavioral issues in an IEP? My son is currently screaming and yelling which I feel is his current way of stemming, but the teacher feels it isn’t related to Autism?

I am going to stick my neck out, but your child would appear to require a Functional Behavior Assessment to determine the function of his behavior(s). This should not be the subject of conjecture or guesswork
Comment From keli 

what is a Functional Behavior Assessment?

An FBA identifies the target behaviors, tracks and measures the frequency, duration and antecedents of those behaviors, and then, finally, hypothesizes as to the likely function of the target behaviors…and you need to know wjhat the function is before you can develop and design a proper behavior intervention plan
Comment From Maria 

Is it possible on IEP meeting to request bilingual paraprofessional or ESL services for autistic kid?

Seriously, it is not only possible, but often required….depending on the unique needs of the student.
Comment From Melissa 

Thid is my 3rd time writing this but its not going through I assume. I have a problem with my sons teacher. He is 4 and has Autism. She would only speak with me if he had a problem at school. She feels that he needs a behaviorlist which we do not have in our area that knows how to work with Autistic children. What should I do?

Ask the teacher if she feels comfortable shareing that with the district and if so, I would call an IEP and get this problem on the table
Comment From MJ 

I am a special education teacher and have several children with autism that I serve. I am sad to read about parents not feeling like they are getting adequate services or that their schools look at their children as burdens. Not all schools/districts are this way. We welcome parent input and do the very best we can with the resources available to meet each student’s needs.

Thank you for the fine work that you do. Dont be sad. Parents cannot move their children forward having a party that celebrates only all the wonderful things. Parents know that they have to move the mountains that are standing in the way of their chilldren’s progress. This is nothing personal….but a reality that all parents face. We have worked with many fine and honorable school districts that will always do the right thing…..but that is the question all parents must ask. “ARe you a good witch or a bad witch.”??
Comment From Bryce`s Mom 

Going into a IEP meeting is stressful enough but how about when my Son`s Dad brings a girlfriend in with him that has been nothing but hateful toward my son and more than I can say on here but it makes it twice as uncomfortable? …school claims there is nothing they can do? Thank you for any suggestions :}

I hear you. Unfortunately, either parent has the right to bring anyone they wish to the IEP, unless that person becomes disruptive at the meeting. That often helps parenets who bring advocates, experts, but works less well when your ex brings their baggage.
Comment From Guest 

How do the rules change for Autistic students starting college? Do colleges have to provide the student with all of the services that they had while in k-12?

This is a thorny issue but it normally is not an IDEA issue as much as an ADA issue……however, in the last few years, we are seeing many colleges and universities promoting special serrvices supports for students who need extra assistance…..its not the stigma it once was and colleges recognize that 13% of the population will have some form of disability to contend with…..
Comment From Cate Borzi 

How do I get ABA services in a region of Illinois that is still fighting tooth and nail to avoid schools here providing it?

Cate……this is less of a problem now, but obviously still of concern. If I can get ABA to come to a remote stretch of Alaska, you have a shot to import it to Illinoise. Check out the T.H. v. Palatine case, from your jurisdiction, that we won in 1998 and which supports ABA programming
Comment From PB 

Speaking of resources, are there ANY rules, (laws) about case load, number of students and the intensity of each student’s needs?

The IEP ratio limits the number of students, and some professional organizations, such as ASHA (for speech pathologists) publish caseload limits….
Comment From Lisa 

My daughter is 5. Does a school district always offer the bare minimum that is doesn’t remotely address the child’s needs to learn but just warehouses them in a large class with no support? It seems that is all they are willing to do and when I object, they say the environment is “least restrictive” because it is the closest Special needs primary class to our home.

It’s not even the “bare minimum” if the services are inadequate to create meaningful progress. The problem is assessing whether your daughter is meaningfull progressing or not.
Comment From Imelda Donato 

I moved to a different school district while my son’s old IEP was in place. The new district has decrease speech services by 50% and when I told them what was needed according to the IEP, I was told that “that” document is no longer legal. What can I do?

If you moved to another district within the same state, you have “stay put” rights to the services in the old IEP that you can invoke by filing for due process, assuming that the move was very recent.
Comment From Karen 

Can I use meaningful progress in regard to behavior issues or is this relevant only to academic progress?

It is BOTH, particularly if your child has interfering behaviors that, when occurring, are making your child unavailable for learning.
I want to thank everyone for throwing me some very interesting questions….questions that come up time and again. I hope that everyone has a great start for the 2011-2012 school year…..good luck!!
  1. Carla
    August 18, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    well the 2nd day back to school my son autistic with sensory integration the iep is not being followed and my son’s anxiety is up , he got slapped by another sped student last year who is more severe then him and he is scared to death of this girl he has her in every class except 2 today he started to have a break down his sped teacher told him not to start that with her he was in 8th grade now.Well with autism u can’t treat kids like that u have to talk them down and move them to a clam down area this did not happen he went through the whold day upset , nervous, face breaking out just had a breakdown as soon as he hit the car i have been through this for 3 years when we have a meeting they tell us everything we want to hear and then back to the same o i need some direction i have contacted his psycoligist waitin on some feed back . Any suggestions please!!!!

    • Kelley
      August 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      Your state should have a parental advocacy organization, in addition to your local autism organization. The one where I live is called Pro-Parents, which offers a wealth of training and support for parents. You do not have to go through this alone any longer!

    • August 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      Perhaps there’s not enough support in the classroom for your son and the other student; maybe some paraprofessionals need to be added to the scenario to prevent students from “bullying” each other. Parents can push this issue by writing to the special ed director of the district. Many times when parents present the issue as “bullying” then the district responds.

  2. Carla
    August 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I need to know where there is a good social group for teen kid in missouri sensory integration<independenceor north kc would be the closest. thanks Car4la Marrs

    • August 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      Contact Jane St. John at the Missouri Developmental Disability Resource Center at UMKC;
      816 235 1763.

  3. Lydia Fernandez
    August 18, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I just read this whole conversation. I was not able to be apart of it, but it did answers many of the same questions I have. I live in California and have been trying to educate myself in so many ways. It can be overwhelming, but having a child with autism and finding those to are willing to take time to listen to us is a grace from God. Thank you for posting. I hope to learn more and more as I am my child’s advocate. Thank you again.
    Lydia Fernandez

  4. Don Smith
    August 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I finally found a website that addresses school issues for my grandson. I will be a frequent visitor from now on.

  5. Carla
    August 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Thank u so much!

  6. Carla
    August 20, 2011 at 9:10 am

    wow as i read all these comments it amazes me how we all have some of the same problems! Oh and my son has a para But! this past year she was never around when something went wrong amagine that ! He got slapped by a girl last year had a mark but since they did not see it happen nothing happened. Now the girl who did it was more severe But! this has worried him all summmer and now he has her in 5 classes and a nervous wreck! day by day i will pray for all of our children! Carla

  7. Esther
    August 21, 2011 at 2:03 am

    @ Carla – I’m sorry your son is going through this. In my experience, many students with autism have anxiety – so it’s really important to problem solve. It’s a shame that he wasn’t able to talk through his fears in an empowering environment. There really should be a conversation about what to do if he gets slapped again and how to prevent it from happening. The other student may need more intervention. Depending upon the cognitive level of the student that slapped him, perhaps he/she needs a teacher contract or official school contract drafted by a special ed. teacher, school counselor or administrator. It can be done in a positive way – that if he/she doesn’t slap your son or anyone else, he/she can get rewarded for improved or good behavior. Would switching your son’s classes be an option?

    Does the IEP contain sensory-relieving strategies he can implement throughout the school day? Some of them can be as simple as going for a walk, getting a drink of water, doing schoolwork in another classroom or in the library on days where the class might be rowdy dut to a sub or a teacher that doesn’t have the strongest classroom management. Is there a safe haven that your son can go to when he is upset? Sometimes a bean bag chair or a large fitness ball is nice for students to lie down on… They’re fine in special ed. classrooms, but might take up too much space in a general ed. classroom.

    If your son is in a special ed. setting, perhaps the teacher can embed yoga, qigong, and/or meditation and relaxation exercises throughout the day. Some kids have an aversion to the aforementioned (oftentimes those that need it the most), while others welcome the opportunity to relax and regroup.

    Does your school district have Autism Special Day Programs? LAUSD has them. The Asperger’s Program is similar to being in a resource setting where students go to general education classes all day and have a pull out social skills elective at the middle school and sometimes high school level.

    Sending you lots of good wishes.

  8. leon robinson
    August 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    hi my mane is leon robinson my son sanjay has pdd having problem to have is bath, brush is teeth, konw he will not sleep at night can u please to help have no insurance my cannot keep a job have no one to keep after school my cell # 305)761-2066 please

    August 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm


  10. Carla
    August 25, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Get some melatomin for your son , my son had the same prob he wook up all through the night after he would finally fall out which was hard u can buy this at walmart.ask yor pharmacist how much my son is 13 been on it since he was 7 I hope i could help some! Carla

  11. Carla
    August 25, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Carla :Get some melatomin for your son , my son had the same prob he wook up all through the night after he would finally fall out which was hard u can buy this at walmart.ask yor pharmacist how much my son is 13 been on it since he was 7 I hope i could help some! Carla

    This was to shirlley

    • Carla
      August 25, 2011 at 6:54 am

      I left comment for leon Sorry

  12. Carla
    August 25, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Carla :

    Carla :Get some melatomin for your son , my son had the same prob he wook up all through the night after he would finally fall out which was hard u can buy this at walmart.ask yor pharmacist how much my son is 13 been on it since he was 7 I hope i could help some! Carla

    This was to shirlley

    sorry no leon

  13. Carla
    August 25, 2011 at 6:58 am

    esther thank you yes i have a iep yes i am at the school all the time very involved, the problem is they do no have the right support staff when we have our meetings it always sounds wonderful then it get’s thrown under the rug. I had a meeting with all teachers tue i will not give up BULLYING has to stop ! I work at a high school and let me tell u kids are mean! Teachers better start listening ! and need to be educated!

  14. Sheila Carlton
    August 27, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    We just found out (officially) that my 14 year old step-son has ASD, High Functioning Aspergers, ADHD and a few others. Last year he was teased/bullied on the bus and I wanted to step in, but he didn’t want matters to get worse due to me saying/doing something. I know it causes his anxiety to begin to grow before he even reaches the school and it’s difficult enough. I want to talk to someone at the school and bus company so he doesn’t start every morning that way. Any suggestions to a step-mom who cares so very much about his well-being? There must be some way of a general statement to these kids without fingers being pointed to him. Thank you.

  15. stacy
    October 10, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    We line in Florida. My 4 year old daughter has been in Pre-K ESE since the age of 3 for “speech delay.” She was diagnosed last Thursday by an outside hospital at my request as PDD/High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. I requested an IEP today at her school and when I mentioned that the diagnosing physician recommended my daughter be in a general classroom with ABA services the school response was, “her special ed class has ABA woven throughout the day”. Do they have a legal obligation to provide ABA services if that will allow her to be in a general classroom?

  1. August 22, 2011 at 9:01 am
  2. August 25, 2011 at 9:16 am

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