14. Dismissal / Exits

ALL EXPERTS received an inquiry from a mother over special education dismissal concerns she had with her son, and a reply was given by Expert Richard Taylor  (3/29/2010).  Mr. Taylor explained the mother had a right to request dismissal from special education though the school might contest it.  Jana wrote:

“My son is 12 years old, first year of Middle School. He has been in special education for about 2 years.  He is very upset about attending special education classes and often states the he wants to kill himself because of the embarassment.  He is passing all of his classes and until our last ARD meeting, the school provided no accomodations to him and didn’t even know that they should be letting him read aloud.  I don’t feel as though he needs the service any further.  What rights do have in regards to his dismissal.  I would like him taken out of any programs related to special ed. ” (sic)

The example affords us several observations about the special education exit process in American schools.

Stairs to the river, Paris

1. A percentage of special education children feel bad about being in special education, and educators do not really care much about the stigma involved.

2. Retention of the boy may not have depended on “progress in the general curriculum” criteria if he in fact was at grade level, something special educators often ignore.

3. The mother did not understand what her rights were to discontinue special education, a common problem among special education parents.

We have argued it is four times harder to dismiss a child from special education than it is to qualify that child.  IEP teams let children in fast without disagreement. They hand out piles of documents telling parents of their rights.  But they are a quiet as church mice about dismissal prospects.

For years there has been a perverse incentive to keep children in special education, and that is more money for the school.

Parents should be advised of the risks of special education placement and their rights to take a child out of special education.  In fact the stated general goal should be to quickly exit the child, or move rapidly to less restrictive placements.


We agree with Linda Schrock Taylor, who says, “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.”

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