Do I Have to Pick Up My Child with Special Needs Every Time the School Calls?

Do I Have to Pick Up My Child with Special Needs Every Time the School Calls?



When your house telephone or cell phone rings between the
hours of 8:00am-4:00pm on school days, does a feeling of panic or dread
overcome you, believing that your child’s school is calling?  If you
answered yes, then you are not alone. That time, when our special needs
children are in school, and out of our sight, makes our imaginations run
rampant. Seeing the name of the school on the Caller ID, makes our
heart stop, and sets our imaginations into overdrive.




Many times the reason for the call is to come collect our child with
special needs because he/she is requesting to leave, the school doesn’t
feel like dealing with them, or he/she doesn’t want to do the
assignments.




Working and non-working parents alike are forced to scurry to school
in the middle of the day to pick up children for issues that the school
could have typically handled internally. These repeated pick-up calls
beg the question as to whether the school can legally require parents to
come get their special needs children before the school day concludes.


It Depends on the Situation

The short answer to the aforementioned question is it depends on the situation.   Your child has the right to attend school. Students can only be kept away from school if they have been officially suspended. 
Further, suspension should always be a last resort.  The schools should
always try different interventions to help your child before resorting
to a suspension.


Question #1: Has he or she been suspended?

The first question to ask when you have been requested to pick up
your child because of behavioral issues is whether he/she has been
suspended.  If he/she has not been officially suspended then he/she
cannot be removed from the school by the administration.




The school, when they call you for a pick-up, in essence, is
requesting that you voluntarily take your child home when there is a
behavioral situation that doesn’t warrant suspension. Schools are
required to provide your child with the necessary supports to benefit
his/her education, and schools must find a way to deal with your child’s
behavior.




If behavior is an on-going issue, then discussions must be had to
find the proper placement for the child.  Schools cannot give you
conditions of attendance or even mention or suggest the use of
medication for your child.


A meeting is required

Again, if behavioral issues related to the disability continue to
persist, the school needs to meet with the parents and IEP Team and
determine the best course of action. School is challenging for special
education students and some would rather be at home than school. These
students quickly learn the behaviors that will get them to be picked up
early and will effectuate those behaviors more frequently.


School is the best place

The best place for a child is in a school setting with other
children. Calling parents for early pick-up is a quick route for schools
not wanting to deal with the underlying issues and causes. School
personnel and professionals have far superior training in dealing with
behavioral issues stemming from disabilities than most parents do.  That
is why school is the best place for your child during the school day.


Federal and State Law Requirements

Most states have enacted laws or regulations requiring that each
student’s school day be a minimum amount of hours per day, per year. 
 Under federal and state law, disabled students must be afforded the
same opportunity to participate in and benefit from instruction and
other education-related services that are equal to those provided to
nondisabled students.   The ironic part is that the school day is being
routinely shortened for students who can least afford it.


The 2 Big Questions to Ask

There are obviously certain situations where you are glad the school
called and you are happy to extricate your child that day from a very
precarious position.  Once in a while is fine.  Daily, weekly, and/or
monthly calls are not acceptable.  When you get the phone call from the
school requesting you pick up your child, immediately ask:


  1. Is he/she being suspended?  
  2. Has he/she been physically injured or harmed?
If the answer from the school to the two above questions is no, you
are not required to come running to the school.  You are not being
callous or un-caring, you merely want your child to be educated like all
the other students in the building.


Early Dismissal

Schools in the past have been cited for the early dismissal of
disabled students.  “Packing up” disabled students early, before school
is dismissed, deprives them of educational benefit and allows for them
to be treated differently than nondisabled students.




There is no basis for shortening the day of an entire classroom of disabled students. When I use the term “early” I do not mean five minutes, it is typically 30-60 minutes early.
Your child is the consumer, don’t let he/she be deprived of valuable
education time because its more convenient to get them packed up early.


Needs still not being Met?

If you have attempted to discuss these concerns with your school’s
administration or IEP team, with no resolve, your next plan of action
should be to file a state or federal complaint.


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