I am looking for some information on process of dispute for my daughter. She is a 7th grader from Wisconsin. She was diagnosed with dyslexia and processing disorder in 3rd grade. She received an IEP. We also sent her to Lindamood-Bell for 120 hours of instruction. She went from reading at the 1st grade level to 4th grade level over the summer and her IEP and special education teacher kept her on track in 4th and 5th grade. She was getting A 's and B's.

When she moved to middle school she was assigned to a new case manager for special ed. She told my daughter that she was just fine and that she didn't need her help. She didn't pull my daughter for her resource time and basically only gave her homework help in the classroom. She did not address my daughter’s IEP goals specially such as her goal was to read 58 out of 60 medial vowel 3 or 4 syllable words. The teacher would just say my daughter read 3 or 4 syllable words just fine.

I started to see my daughter struggle and her state testing scores and her MAP test scores also did not show improvement. I asked for a new IEP meeting to address my concerns and I was told that she would have a triennial reevaluation where they dismissed her from special ed. They only focused on her grades not on my concerns with IEP goals or things that she was struggling with.

I then asked for an IEE and the doctor at the children's hospital confirmed that my daughter was still struggling. I asked for her to be reinstated back with an IEP and to have the school district pay for 60 hours of Lindamood-Bell. They refused and offered us one hour with a reading specialist. Total time of one hour to make up for everything. We have since filled an IDEA complaint with Wisconsin DPI.

I still have lots of questions about how to handle this process as they are now trying reevaluate her because of the results that they received from doctor. I know that they are going to say that she is doing to well in school again because we sent her to Lindamood-Bell over the summer to catch her back up.

If you could give me some guidance I would greatly appreciate it. I have been trying to contact United States Department of Education but unfortunately I don't think I will be getting any help from them anytime soon. If you could please contact me or suggest someone who could I would really appreciate it.


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

I am so sorry that you are having such a difficult time getting your daughter the services she needs. In my private clinical practice, I work with many families who have similar stories. With the resources in the public schools being squeezed more and more, it seems the kids with dyslexia—those with the 'hidden' disability, who are smart and therefore 'achieving" (although not near to their potential)—are particularly feeling the results of that squeeze. I'm not sure that I can provide you with any more direction than you are already doing yourself.

I would suggest getting an advocate, especially someone who is knowledgeable with Wisconsin special education law, who could then help you navigate the waters. If your school district has a Parent Advisory Council for Special Education that would be a good place to start to get a referral for someone. You are correct that the US Dept. of Ed doesn't look to be a resource any time soon. [Note: This inquiry came during the government shutdown in fall 2013.]

Another place you can check with for help is the WI branch of the International Dyslexia Association. On the national IDA website, they have a list of providers by state—here is WI.

I don't know what other guidance to offer you. If you continue to struggle, I could try and connect you with some folks who do advocacy in southeast MI with whom you could talk. If you would like me to connect you and give them your contact info, let me know and I will do so. I'm not sure how much they can help out of state.

I know that this is a such a struggle and I am sorry for that for you. Know that in the long run your perseverance will pay off for your daughter. Many successful dyslexics attribute their success and willingness to work through the challenges, in part, to the fact that they had someone who believed in them—and many times that was their mom!