I have an 8yr old autistic son. We are currently going through a Due Process Hearing brought by the school district to remove my child from Special Education. We live in California.
He is very bright (IQ=119 by the School Evaluator). Behaves appropriately *AT* school and does not cause disruptions/fights.
Socially he does not act appropriately outside of school though. We had him (my son) testify at the hearing. He was on the stand about 3hrs total. The whole time he acted completely different then he did at school. AND he testified he acted differently at school then at the hearing. He exhibited many autistic traits on the stand (ie not reading 'social cues'/reactions from others (no one prompted him to 'act normal'/behave), he didn't speak clearly, had extremely poor posture, etc. This is 100% opposite of what the School Evaluator described him as.
At school he has testified, his older brother (3yrs older), and I've testified he does not act socially 'normal' like his non-autistic peers, and he needs training/social skills therapy in this area.
This is why I want to keep him in the Special Education Program, so he gets this additional Occupational Therapy.
The school's claim, and it's seems like 90% of their case, since he is so intelligent, classified as a 'gifted student', and does not cause problems, he doesn't need to be a "special education student" and require services. Whereas problems still exist socially for him. If he does something inappropriate, he doesn't care if he hurts another child's feelings, and he doesn't realize that he's hurt their feelings (a perfect example of an autistic trait).
The school's problem in the case, is that they never provided any Social Skills training by anyone trained to treat autism (they had normal 1st-2nd grade teachers) so he's never really comprehended these things. [we have a seperate case for not providing services]
Obviously to us (and the School Psychologist testified to) that a student with high IQ can still be autistic and need services.
So my questions:
1) Of course this all falls under FAPE. But where do/should I point the Admin. Law Judge, that preparing my son for life outside of school is part of their job? My son could never get a job going to an interview the way he acted in court for example.
To me, it's obvious that an 'education' is more than academic learning, that appropriate social learning is included in 'education', but that might not be what the law is written as, if it is the 'spirit' of the law when it was written. My son isn't getting that at all. He understands the 'rules' of the school campus, but outside of the school he is different, he understands his place in the "Structure" of school, but in places not structured or unfamiliar (ie the mall, or court) he's not socially competant.
2) Can I include public knowledge/information in my closing statement for the case that hasn't been identified by exhibits/evidence at the pre-hearing conferance? For example; notes on the public record of my school district that the judge might not know about since he lives in a different county?
Thanks for any assistance
P.S. Obviously, my wife and I are defending ourselves as we could not afford an attorney in this case.