Special Education Expert Q&A

Decoding Dyslexia Q&A 9/22/23 
with Crystal Grant, Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Director Duke Children’s Law Clinic

  • Can parents request a specific instruction program to be given and listed in the IEP?

Share with the IEP team WHY you want a specific intervention, and if other interventions have not been successful in the past. The school does not have to offer exactly what the parent wants, but it must be an effective intervention. Ask for information to support its effectiveness, how it will be implemented, intervention group size, and frequency of progress monitoring. 

  • What if my child is “on grade level” but is still struggling?
    Share everything that the child is experiencing, such as struggles with homework, difficulty reading at home, family or tutor support being given outside of school, etc. when you request a special education evaluation. You cannot be denied just because of good grades. IDEA regulation 300.101(c), says the school must provide special education to a child with a disability “even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade.”
  • Does North Carolina evaluate for and provide special education for dyslexia?
    Yes! Dyslexia falls under the category of Specific Learning Disability, which is one of the qualifying categories for special education. See the State Board of Education Dyslexia Topic Brief- https://www.dpi.nc.gov/documents/ec/dyslexia-topic-brief/download?attachment
  • What if a child has been dismissed from special education for having met their goals, but they are still struggling with reading/writing?
    Put everything in writing! Share details regarding your concerns and the child’s struggles with the teacher, principal, and EC director, requesting a new evaluation for special education. If denied, you could try to request an IEE or look into mediation or filing due process. See sections 5-10 of the Parent Rights & Responsibilities Handbook- https://www.dpi.nc.gov/parent-rights-handbook/download
  • Are functional goals allowed in the IEP?
    Yes, any area that is impacting a children’s functioning and success in the school setting can be targeted via IEP goals. Share all of your concerns, citing specific examples. Remember that parents are part of the IEP team and have the right to meaningful input in the decision making process. At the very least, all parent concerns must be discussed. The school must list anything that is refused in the Prior Written Notice documentation, with rationale for the reason it was denied.
    See page 17 about Prior Written Notice- https://www.dpi.nc.gov/parent-rights-handbook/download
  • What are appropriate accommodations for dyslexia?
    Make a list of specific concerns to discuss with the school team, such as difficulty taking notes, inability  to finish tests on time, inability to read class book/text, etc. Then brainstorm accommodations that could support each area of concern so that the child can fully access the course content.
    Information from the International Dyslexia Association-
  • Can I request an Assistive Technology evaluation for my child with an IEP?
    Yes, send a request in writing to multiple contacts (teacher, principal, special education teacher, etc.) requesting an Assistive Technology evaluation. Specify your concerns and why you are wanting AT support. Consideration of Assistive Technology is required under IDEA Federal Law. See regulation information here- https://ectacenter.org/topics/atech/laws.asp

North Carolina Assistive Technology Program- https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/vocational-rehabilitation-services/north-carolina-assistive-technology-program

  • What protections are in place regarding my child’s educational information?
    FERPA- Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act
    You have the right to ask how your child’s information is being stored and shared. Any recorded meetings should be a part of the educational record. You should be notified of any recordings, and usually IEP related meetings are only recorded upon request.
    FERPA- https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html
  • What if my child needs specialized transportation?
    This should be clearly documented in the IEP, and failure to carry out these provisions would be a violation of the IEP. Transportation is a related service.
  • What if my child misses their special education services because of delayed buses?
    If your child is unable to receive their required services as listed in their IEP, you could seek compensatory services to make up for the missed intervention time. Contact the district’s EC Director and make a request in writing.
    Info about Compensatory Service Rights from the Department of Education (talking about missed services due to COVID)-https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/factsheet-504.html

All public schools are bound by IDEA law, which includes Child Find, a mandate that all schools locate and evaluate children with disabilities. This includes students who attend private or homeschool programs. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/child.find.mandate.htm
Services may be very limited in your school district, though. See pages 92-93 regarding special education rights for children “parentally-placed” in a private or homeschool setting. https://law.duke.edu/childedlaw/docs/Parents%27_guide.pdf
Also, homeschool families can apply for an ESA+ account, which can help offset the costs of outside services. See NC State Education Assistance Authority for more information. 

  • Do we have the right to ask about teacher qualifications/certification?
    You have the right to ask about a teacher’s qualifications and experience. However, federal law only requires this to be reported if your child attends a Title 1 funded school.
  • Can we observe/view placement and services for our child either during the IEP process or after? Can we see the 1:1 or small group support they are receiving?
    Parents are part of the IEP team and should be included in their child’s special education, so parents have the right to ask to observe the services they are receiving. It is possible that there could be a question of privacy violation if there are other children in the group. Ask for a copy of your school’s visitation policy.
  • Are there any protections around the right to know what is being done with your child including access to Tier 2 and 3 support information, special education support information, progress monitoring data, etc? Can you be refused such information?
    You have the right to view your child’s education records, though schools may charge a fee for copies.
    https://law.duke.edu/childedlaw/docs/Parents%27_guide.pdf (See pages 118-119 for a sample letter to request your child’s records)
  • How do you know when to move from an IEP to a 504? Is there a milestone to meet?
    This is a team decision that can be made if your child has met their IEP goals and/or it is decided that they no longer need specially designed instruction.
    IEP vs. 504 Information:
  • Are accommodations allowed for high school students who are unable to fully access the material via “eye reading”for class quizzes/tests? Can they use audio format, text to speech, or have someone read the content aloud to them, even in ELA (English) classes? 

In North Carolina, special education can continue until a student turns age 22 or receives a high school diploma. High school students may continue to receive accommodations under the IDEA and/or Section 504.

  • Attorney Recommendations

Ekstrand & Ekstrand
Statewide, located in Durham
Initial consultation fee and retainer vary, depending on level of service

Fogg Hatchell

Gahagan Paradis, PLLC
Statewide, primary office located in Durham with additional locations in Cary and Cornelius
Free Intake Assessment; $275 consultation fee; Retainer Varies

The Law Office of Neubia L. Harris, PLLC
Statewide, located in Raleigh
Initial consultation fee is $200.00. Retainer varies.  

The Law Offices of Keith L. Howard, PLLC
Statewide, located in Cornelius
704-612-4151 and 1-800-341-3931

Vaughn and Associates
Statewide, located in Mooresville
Initial consultation is $225. Retainer varies.

Trustin Law (Mark Trustin)
Durham, Orange, and Wake counties
Flat rate per hour

Free Services:

Right to Education Project/Legal Aid of NC
Statewide, located in DurhamFree (Must be low-income and student must be U.S. citizen)
Phone 919-828-4647
Toll Free 1-866-219-5262

Children’s Law Center of Central NC

Disability Rights NC
Statewide, located in Raleigh

Duke Children’s Law Clinic
Free (Must be low-income)