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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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What can happen when accommodations are unavailable

Children with special needs can often remain in mainstream classes and learn alongside other students, as long as they have some accommodations to help them.

Parents and special education students often feel this is the best possible solution, as it allows children with special needs to stay with their peers and have a better opportunity to realize their academic potential while also providing them with the tools they need to learn. If these accommodations are not provided, a few things occur.

  1. The student can be wrongfully reassigned to a special education class. This was happening at a troubling rate at a school in another state. A special education math teacher there started seeing dozens of children reassigned to her class and looked into why that might be. She found that roughly 60 children were not getting the time with aides they should have been, according to their IEPs.
  2. Children can get frustrated, stressed and anxious. Accommodations like having extra time for tests, completing alternative assignments and listening to audiobooks instead of reading a textbook are all fairly minor. However, when students do not receive them, the impact can be quite significant on their performance and emotional well-being.
  3. Special education resources may not be allocated properly. IEPs dictate what services a school should provide. If it doesn't provide these services, the affected students can fail mainstream classes and be placed in special education classes where the limits on resources are also typically strained already. Beside the financial demands created by this shift, teachers can become overextended when they have more students than they should.
  4. Students can fail out of classes and miss the opportunity to graduate. Instead, they might receive an alternative diploma or leave school altogether.

These are not minor repercussions. They impact everyone from the child with special needs to the teachers and the administrators. As such, it is crucial for parents, educators and anyone else with concerns about lacking accommodations to discuss the issue sooner, rather than later.

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