1. Dismissal / Exits

We start off on the problem of exiting children from special education with an eye towards speech-language pathology. Whereas IDEA 2004 and its derivative regulations give some attention to misidentification of at-risk children at the point of placement, there is virtually no national spotlight on the neglected topic of helping at-risk children GET OUT of special education. Where children have been “misidentified” initially they continue to be “re-misidentified” every time they have an annual IEP meeting. In many schools, no one seems to care.

Advocates for children exiting special education are few and far between. A provocative essay was written by Linda Schrock Taylor in 2002. Here are some excerpts:

“Every year, thousands of our children disappear into the vagueness of special placements, never to be released from the labels and stigma; never to escape and again be seen as ‘normal.’ Many teachers must notice this engulfing, this entrapment, of our children; some teachers must surely strive to defeat this grave and senseless closure on potential; but the problem is rarely mentioned or discussed” (Linda Schrock Taylor).

“A few months ago, the superintendent of our district stopped to ask how things were going. I said that it had been a good year; that I had just released three students from special education – a 7th grader, a 9th grader, and an 11th grader – and hoped to release more in the Fall. His surprise and shock were clearly evident. Mr. S. said, “Linda, these things never happen! – well almost never! I recently asked a fellow superintendent if he ever heard of any kids getting OUT of special education, and that fellow said that it is very, very rare for that to happen.”

“The majority of those enrolled in special education classes should only remain in special placement for a limited time – just long enough for problems to be corrected and delays remedied. I have a sign on my classroom door, “THIS IS A STEPPING STONE, NOT A RESTING PLACE.”

Taylor writes parents should be vigilant about remedial progress and ask this critical question: “When do you expect to complete the remediation, remove the label from my child, and remove my child from special education placement?”

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