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Teen Has Fallen Through the Cracks
Q: My 15-year-old nephew has seriously fallen through the cracks. He was placed in ninth grade with the understanding that if he wasn't successful, he would be placed back in eighth grade. He wasn't given any additional help to at least give him a fighting chance. But the worst injustice is that his mother has been trying unsuccessfully to get him tested for the last three years. This child isn't receiving the help he needs to have any level of success because he's not classified. Where can we go to find out his legal rights and is there anyone who can point us in that direction? We're in Manahawkin, NJ.
A: A parent has an absolute right to request an evaluation for a child who is having significant problems in school. Throughout New Jersey, there are child study teams whose sole purpose is to evaluate students and make recommendations for appropriate educational programs. Identify the child study team for your nephews' school. Put your request for evaluation in writing, then deliver it by hand to them, or send it certified mail with return receipt requested. The law demands that evaluations be done in a timely manner after the request is made. Three years is not timely!
If you have trouble getting the help you need, contact the toll-free number for the International Dyslexia Association 1-800-ABCD123 or the Learning Disabilities Association 1-888-300-6710. There's a very active branch of IDA in New Jersey, but I don't know if it's near your town. New Jersey IDA is at 908-879-0466. Someone there should be able to help you.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.