Clouds, May 2010

Clouds, May 2010

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Information for Parents of Students with ADHD or Similar Behaviors

Just sharing information about an agenda item from the BOE meeting, under the Child Study Team Report...

This section was not read aloud & I also believe most parents probably overlooked it not understanding the context of some of the bullet points.

One in particular I want to help other parents understand, as it may apply to their child one day: 

"A new procedure was put in place regarding doctor assessment forms such as the Vanderbilt, and the Connor's Rating Scales. Parents are no longer to receive these forms regarding the students. These forms will be sent directly to the doctor and a copy will be placed in their file. This is to prevent any backlash from parents towards teachers. This also will increase the accuracy of the data shared with the doctors. Since the purpose of this documentation is to help the doctor with diagnoses, etc, and not to update parents regarding progress, it is felt that this is best practice."

So... forms such as the Vanderbilt Assessment Scale & the Conners Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scale are both well known, & frequently used to provide an overview of very common challenges in children. They can be downloaded off the web & they are intended to be submitted to doctors.

The Vanderbilt is used to help healthcare professionals diagnose ADHD in children. Post-diagnosis, they are used to track (for example) treatment plan progress. There is a Teacher-Informant version & a Parent-Informant version. 

The Conners is designed to provide a complete overview of various child & adolescent concerns & disorders. Psychologists can use the Conners to assess a wide spectrum of behaviors, emotions, academic & social problems in children. 

Approximately a month or so ago this new change in process, of not allowing the parents a copy, was put in place & communicated via a memo from the administration to the faculty. BOE review & approval of this procedure allows this process, described as best practice, to become official policy. 

Parents may feel unsettled that there could ever be an assessment about their kid that they would not be allowed to see. One issue is that technically such a policy could not prevent a parent from displaying backlash towards teachers, anyway. Parents could do this in response to report cards, grades, or anything whatsoever. I don't recommend behaving that way, but a policy against a parental right to see an assessment is not going to stop backlash from happening. This was something I already communicated my opinion about in a letter to the Board. 

Furthermore, it is inaccurate to say that skipping over the parent would increase the accuracy of the data on the assessment... for a couple of reasons. First, the parent is going to ultimately see the assessment anyway because they will get a copy of it from their child's doctor. And furthermore, to that point, this policy can cause delay in the parent's access to this information (which is, in part, a violation of the law which I'll get to later). Second, if a parent is getting a copy of the assessment from the school there is no opportunity to manipulate the data, because the school would be forwarding the original copy of assessment to the healthcare provider. 

My suggestion, which I also shared in the letter to the BOE, would be to change the parental consent form... because parents have to give the school permission for them to even be able to give this information to their child's doctor. So in my opinion the consent should have some sort of legal verbiage added on there stating (for example) that the school is not held responsible for the integrity of any data that the parent provides to the healthcare provider. Or however an attorney may see fit... but there must be a way to protect the information (& the reputation of the source, so-to-speak) without violating the rights of the parents. 

About the law, specifically... under the NJ State Education Code parents are permitted to inspect & review the contents of the student's records, maintained by the district, without any unnecessary delay.

Furthermore, per the official Parental Rights in the Special Education Code, the public school maintaining the child's educational records must assume the parents have the authority (again) to inspect & review their child's records, unless the school has been legally notified in writing that a parent's rights have been terminated under state law. Rights include: seeing a list of all records, where they're kept, the right to explanation of the records, ability to obtain copies, notification before any information is destroyed, as well as parental consent (or refusal) to share their child's records (without educational or legal purpose in seeing them). Also noteworthy, according to the Code, the school must keep a record of persons obtaining access to the records. And the parents have a right to this information including name, date, & how the record was used.

All of the above information can be found online. But long story short, these are voluntary assessments that a parent may ask the school teacher(s) to provide, & as written the new policy subsequently prevents parents from being able to see these assessments.

And last but certainly not least... this policy is a violation of The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act, more commonly known as FERPA law. 

Although I spoke very briefly to this agenda item, the fact is going into this BOE meeting the majority of my efforts were focused elsewhere. My goal in sharing this is to keep others informed & encourage anyone in disagreement with the new policy to appropriately voice their concern at any time.