August 29, 2017 - Bill, a loving and devoted father raising his son Landon with the help of his mother, sought the help of our Educational Advocacy Project attorneys after he was called to Landon’s school dozens of times to pick him up because the school staff could not control or handle him. This caused Bill to miss hours of work each week and to use sick time, almost losing his job.
Landon, then in 3rd grade, receives special education services in Palm Beach County Schools. He has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. He has difficulties with verbal communication and expressing himself, which can lead him to engage in injurious behaviors to both himself and others. The behaviors Landon was expressing at school were not occurring at home. However, Bill kept getting called to pick up Landon because of his behavior; the school staff told him that if he did not pick Landon up he would be expelled.
One day Bill became fearful for Landon’s safety when the school called multiple times for him to pick up Landon and when he arrived to pick him up, he had a black eye and a scratch on his face. The school could not explain the injuries. Bill kept him home for several days worrying about his wellbeing upon his return to school.
Once the Educational Advocacy attorneys received the case they requested Landon’s education and medical records. It was discovered that his Individual Education Plan (IEP) in place at school lacked the critical services he needed to progress, and his behavior plan had not been updated or reviewed despite the child’s ability, causing his injurious behaviors. Rather than the one-on-one aide to assist him in class and provide him with the supports he required under the law, the school sent him home repeatedly, depriving him of a meaningful education. The school also failed to keep him safe and free from harm. It also caused Bill hours of worry and missed work.
The Project attorneys sent a demand letter to the Palm Beach County School District requesting several remedies, including convening a school meeting, having Landon re-evaluated, reviewing and amending his IEP and behavior plan to provide him with the supports he needed, and changing schools to a placement which could accommodate his needs. They also requested to receive compensatory education, which means additional tutoring for Landon outside of what he was receiving during the day, for all the hours of education he lost when the school sent him home during the school year.
Project attorney, Rayni Bienenfeld, held several school meetings to help the child and family obtain the services he required, in addition to the compensatory education, to which he was entitled to under the law. Now Landon is in a new school with a one-on-one aide in the class and progressing. His behavior will always be a struggle, but he has not been sent home and he has a devoted team and a dedicated father and grandmother working with him.(The names in the story were changed to protect their privacy. The story is based on a real life account of the Educational Advocacy Project)