Q: Our child is struggling with reading. We suspect dyslexia. Our school administrators say they can’t diagnose dyslexia in children. Is this true?
The school system is REQUIRED by Federal law to provide your child a full and comprehensive evaluation if you notified them you suspect your child has dyslexia. They are violating federal laws by claiming they can’t identify dyslexia in children. If your child has a learning disability in reading, whether or not they choose to call it “dyslexia,” they can evaluate for the learning disability. A refusal to evaluate for dyslexia in children or a specific learning disability in reading is a delay tactic.
You can learn about your child’s rights under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — See http://idea.ed.gov/ ). I would recommend becoming knowledgeable about Federal IDEA laws and trying to stand up for your child’s rights. You will probably find it helpful and necessary to read “Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy – The Special Education Survival Guide.”
There is an online free IEP training course at http://learningabledkids.com/iep_training/welcome.htm. The free course will give you a good overview of the Special Education Process. I’d also recommend checking out http://www.fetaweb.com/ (From Emotions to Advocacy).
You will HAVE to stand up for your child’s rights and educational needs. Unfortunately, your school district is likely to walk all over your child’s rights given they are already refusing to determine if your child has a learning disability in reading. Saying they can’t identify dyslexia in children is either ignorant of them (they don’t even know what dyslexia is.) OR they are purposefully avoiding testing for learning disabilities.
Write your school’s principal a note stating you are requesting an evaluation to determine if your child has a learning disability in reading. You can add that IDEA requires that they provide comprehensive evaluations within 60 days of parental permission to evaluate. Tell them they have permission to evaluate effective with the receipt of your letter. Also include in your note a statement that you will seek a private evaluation at THEIR expense if they do not evaluate your child within the federally required 60 day timeframe. Then, send the letter to them with a delivery confirmation.
Two Choices for Getting Assistance with Schools Which Refuse to Address Dyslexia in Children:
1) You can go to this site: http://www.parentcenternetwork.org/ and click on your state / region to find the agency in your state which may be able to help you with this matter. These are federally funded agencies who are paid for with your tax dollars. They have knowledgeable staff who can help you navigate your local services in order to obtain the services your child needs. The Parent Center Network does not provide legal assistance. They may or may not be effective in helping you get the services your child needs.
2) You can contact an advocacy agency in your state to get help. You can also find local advocates or attorneys through the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. You may have legal grounds to pursue due process with your school if they continue to dismiss dyslexia in children. This is particularly true if your school refuses to evaluate your child for a specific learning disability in reading.
Put ALL of your communications to the school into a written form. Otherwise, they may claim you never requested an evaluation or never said anything about dyslexia in children.
It can be very distressing to suspect or “know” your child has a reading disability and have your child’s school refuse to address dyslexia in children. It happened to us. It happens in schools across America all the time. We could only take so much stress and fighting at the expense of our son’s education. In the end, we gave up on our school and homeschooled to overcome dyslexia. Homeschooling was AWESOME for us! I pray you have a much better outcome with your school than we did!