I was fortunate to learn about A2Z Education Advocates at a critical time. My son, a 5th grader, had been diagnosed with ADD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and, eventually, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Although he qualified for special education services under the category of Other Health Impaired (OHI), Inglewood schools had no understanding of nor tolerance for an intelligent child with behavior problems that only escalated as teachers punished, humiliated and bullied him.With my son on the brink of expulsion from elementary school, Jane from A2Z educated all at the table about requirements of the District to conduct assessments and to hold a manifestation determination hearing to consider my son’s maladaptive behaviors in light of his disabilities.Subsequently, the IEP team worked on developing a behavior plan, provided supervised behavior assistance, created a social skills lunch club and allowed for accommodations for homework and test taking. My son was able to graduate from elementary school.
The middle school environment was even more damaging to my child, emotionally and academically, due to a school environment unable to respond appropriately to behavior challenges such as those he exhibited. The next time I needed A2Z was when my son was again facing expulsion as an 8th grader. Once again Jane was there at the manifestation determination hearing where it was agreed that his behaviors continued to be due to his disability. Behavior services were increased to include a daily 1:1 aide, behavior supervision, a “safe” room for him when his behaviors became out of control, and more accommodations. He changed middle schools to start over with these services in place.It soon became apparent that these services came too late; my son, now a teenager, was beyond my control, was rebelling against the school environment and the District couldn’t do anything either. I was worried about gang influences and that he might get hurt or commit a crime and be sent to jail. Frankly, I was scared for his life. A2Z filed a due process complaint searching for an appropriate therapeutic residential placement for my son. It took months of back and forth to reach a settlement. Then A2Z had to file a compliance complaint with the State to force the District to honor the settlement. Finally, my son was placed in his residential therapeutic center. This facility focuses on reactive attachment disorders as the primary cause of maladaptive behaviors. I could not have afforded to send my child to this type of setting with its caring 24/7 support; the annual cost approximated $130,000. A2Z forced the District to fund the approximately $130,000 per year tuition and related services.
It had been years since I had been able to get a full night’s sleep, worry-free. Now, I have much more peace of mind. My son is in a safe environment with well-trained teachers, therapists and other staff devoted to helping youth with disabilities such as his.My son is making changes. Progress is slow, but he has had 15 years to develop bad habits and to have his self-esteem torn down by those who do not understand. It will take some time to eliminate those destructive habits and reactions, to recover and to succeed in life, using more positive ways to cope. His grades have improved and so has his attitude. I visit the facility as often as allowed and based upon what I can afford. My son and I, with the expertise of the RTC, are working together toward the day when he can return home— sooner than later, I hope.I am so blessed to have found A2Z Educational Advocates. School districts count on parents not being fully knowledgeable about the rights of their children. A2Z fought to hold the Inglewood USD accountable. Jane and A2Z helped me tremendously to save my son from gangs, jail. . . or worse.
Our family first contracted A2Z Educational Advocates to assist us in finding a placement for our 8th grade student diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. He had attended private school for his elementary and middle school years but we were certain that the local public high school would be too overwhelming for him. When I met with Jane at A2Z she asked if our family would like to be reimbursed for the prior two years of private school. We did not even know this was a possibility and were very interested as that amounted to over $80,000. We are grateful for the strategies A2Z employed on our behalf. We are currently working with them again for the next phase in our fight against LAUSD.
I am the parent of a 14-year-old son with Autism and other issues. It has been a long, hard road finding a classroom to fit his needs. We have been all over the San Fernando Valley, changing schools or classes nearly every year since kindergarten. Jane DuBovy and Carrie Watts started assisting us in this battle almost at the beginning with their expert advice, seemingly photographic memories, encyclopedic knowledge of special education laws, and helpful referrals to other experts. Because of Jane and Carrie, I always feel like there is hope to find a realistic solution to our myriad special needs-related problems. They are creative, caring and smart. They consistently stun me by remembering little details of my son’s life and education that I don’t remember! To sum it all up, they have helped us a great deal.
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