In preparation for the numerous children aging out of preschool and into school age
programs and for those school age children who will be transitioning to another
placement this year, in this issue we will explore tips on what to look for when
visiting a school placement and how to accept or reject a school placement. If you
have questions or are seeking information regarding the special education process,
please feel free to contact TAFKID at (718) 252-2236.
Visiting A School Site:
The following information pertains to visiting a public school site but much of it
can be applied to visiting a private school as well:
If you are considering placing your child in a Board of Ed program, it is important
to visit the recommended placement site in order to determine whether or not it is
appropriate for your child.
* Contact the placement office at the district and request a copy of the class profile
of the recommended placement.
* Contact the special education supervisor at the school listed on the placement letter
to arrange an appointment to visit the school.
* If possible, bring along someone who is familiar with your child's educational
* Bring a copy of your child's IEP. Often the supervisor can help you determine
whether the school can meet your child's needs and whether your child would fit in
appropriately with the existing student population.
* Bring a pen and a notebook. Write down the date and time of your visit. Write
down all names of teachers and other personnel you come in contact with.
* Sign in when you enter the building.
Things to consider when visiting a school site:
* Is the building noisy or quiet, large, crowded, orderly, safe, clean?
* Will your child have to walk up steps to get to class, lunch, physical education,
computers, and other related services?
* How far are the bathrooms from your child's classroom?
* Is the functional level of the children in the class appropriate for your child?
Children should not be significantly higher functioning or lower functioning than
* How do the children compare to your child academically, socially and
* How do the children compare with your child in terms of age and physical
* What is the size of the class?
* What is the staff to student ratio? How many teachers, assistant teachers and
paraprofessionals are in the classroom?
* Does the teacher/program coordinator talk about meeting each child's individual
* Are the books, materials and curriculum appropriate for your child?
* What is the program's mainstreaming policy? Is it appropriate for your child?
* Are related services provided at the school site? Are they provided in the
classroom (push-in) or out of the classroom (pull-out)? If children are pulled out of
the classroom, where is the therapy provided? (i.e.: therapy room, lunchroom, hallway
Accepting Or Rejecting A School Placement :
If the placement the Board of Education Committee on Special Education (CSE)
recommends is appropriate for your child:
After observing the recommended school site, if you agree that the placement the
CSE offered is appropriate for your child and wish to send your child to that
program, sign the placement letter and mail it back to the district.
If the placement the CSE recommends is not appropriate for your child:
Write a letter to the CSE briefly explaining why the placement is not appropriate for
your child. In the letter ask that the CSE discuss placement options that are
After you have rejected the placement recommended by the CSE, the CSE may call
you or arrange to meet. If the CSE recommends another placement, you should make
an appointment to visit the placement. If the CSE does not change their placement
recommendation or if the new placement recommendation is also not appropriate for
your child and you have found an appropriate private school special education
program, you may enroll your child in that program, pay tuition and request an
Impartial Hearing seeking tuition reimbursement or Carter Funding. Upon enrolling
your child in the private school program, you must send a letter to your CSE
notifying them of your intentions to seek reimbursement. It is strongly suggested
that you contact an advocate or an attorney to represent your case.
If the CSE Does Not Offer A Placement Recommendation
If the CSE does not offer your child a placement or is unable to locate an
appropriate placement for your child in a timely manner, you may receive a
Nickerson letter. A Nickerson letter entitles you to enroll your child in a school that
is on the New York State Approved List at Board of Ed expense. If you cannot
locate an appropriate State approved program you may enroll your child in a private
school that is not on the State Approved List, pay tuition and file for an Impartial
Hearing to seek tuition reimbursement or Carter Funding. Upon enrolling your
child in the private school program, you must send a letter to your CSE notifying
them of your intentions to seek tuition reimbursement.
This article first appeared in issue #9 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us