I'm writing to comment on a recent article titled "Gifted but struggling to read."

As a parent of two with disabilities and also a special education advocate for over 25 years, I found the article quite disturbing. It's awesome that Colin's parents are standing up for him, and not allowing the school to fail him. However, it's disturbing how the St. George School District is treating them. The article brought up two red flags that I would like to address:

1. St. George states that they use "the same multi-tiered system of supporting students with difficulties." What they are referring to is Response to Intervention (RTI). This can be used to see if a child can make progress when given appropriate instruction, without being found eligible for special education. But what many school districts do is use RTI for months or years, thus delaying an evaluation and special education services (which may or may not be the case here). In fact, the Office of Special Education Programs heard this from parents so often, they issued a statement that ”The use of RTI strategies cannot be used to delay or deny the provision of a full and individual evaluation to a child suspected of having a disability." Colin's parents already know from a private evaluation that Colin has dyslexia and St. George School District could use this to find Colin eligible for special education services. To be eligible for special education, a child must have a disability and have educational need, which it appears Colin does.

2. According to Colin's parents, St. George School District is refusing to give Colin more than 1/2 hour of individualized instruction a day -- though they believe he needs it. If Colin was found eligible for special education, St. George would be required to develop an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) to include all services he requires to receive a free appropriate public education. School districts are not allowed to limit the amount of services on a child's IEP on the sole basis of lack of staff or money. Children with dyslexia can learn to read with appropriate research based multi-sensory instruction by a trained instructor. The amount of time depends on what the program developer states is needed. Colin's parents are on the right track by fighting for him. If his parents or any parent would like to contact me for special education advice they can do so at:

JoAnn Collins


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