Author Archives: juliaandrew

About juliaandrew

Laurel S. Collins is a Boston-based educational advocate, consultant, & trainer who works mainly with children (and their families) with autism, Down syndrome, emotional disabilities & developmental delays. Her major focus, training, and education are children Early Intervention - Elementary School, however she supports older students on a case-by-case basis, and those she has followed from young ages. She is a talented and highly successful representative for families in-districts, at BSEA mediations, at BSEA hearing if absolutely necessary, and DDS and Masshealth Appeals. She always endeavors to work with the district to get her client, the child, to "yes". She is the parent of 4 children, 3 who have been on IEPs and another who is pursuing special education as a career (speech and language pathologist). She conducts trainings and clinics for parents and SEPACs, as well has worked as consultant for the Federation for Children with Special Needs, co-authoring "Continuing the Journey", a resource provided to ALL families embarking on the Turning 3 process. She also has been asked to train and present to professionals, first through the Early Intervention Training Center and now to local school districts during professional development days/times on "How to Work Collaboratively with Families and their Home Teams.

Equity for people and students with disabilities. How does it exist with extra curricular and recreation activities?

I am so pleased to see many friends kids’ playing sports and doing rec activities in the midst of a pandemic. They are doing it safely. However, NO recreation or sports program for students with disabilities is open. I live 30 seconds from a huge open field with a baseball/softball diamond and beautiful green space. Kids and adults alike are playing sports and they were going to rec programs etc. over the past few weeks. It’s nice to see some normal in this “new normal” and people are being safe. My son’s amazing recreation program is offering many activities all virtually. It’s enjoyable to him, hours more screen time per week, and it confounds me as a parent and advocate *why* programs all around are opening with safety precautions to kids his age without disabilities, but he and his also “special” peers are subjected to non participation.

It’s INEQUITY. Kids without disabilities are playing soccer and other sports with precautions. People w disabilities have NO such in person options. That’s discrimination. My neighbors’ kids, without disabilities, can play sports. But my BOY can only go to “rec” online. (He also wears a mask at school and in the community). He has been judged on disability status alone not worthy to “live life” outside of the virtual world.

Who is responsible for this gross inequity? It seems discriminatory. It’s sad. (I’m happy for those other kids they get “normalcy”).

Most importantly, how do we rectify it? In the end, it’s discrimination. No one is brave enough to say it for fear of retribution (my kid already got kicked out of BB).

Towns and programs have sports and rec opportunities to students without disabilities. Offer to ALL. Right?

Special Education COVID-19: My reflections

As a special education consultant and advocate who has spent 5 months (including with my family remote learning ) attending dozens or more Zoom/Microsoft Team meetings for my clients, serving on two advisory boards, and attending more professional seminars by excellent resources (ie: Massachusetts Advocates for Children and other advocacy groups), I wanted to share some of my impressions as we are now faced with going back to school in “the new normal”. 

The fabric of many of our families and friendships has been tested by the pandemic, but also by the stressors of remote learning.

I wish to preface this by stating I am the first person to say there is no pandemic playbook and this is challenging for everyone.  My passion, however, focuses on the learning of students for disabilities, with English Language Learning needs, and those with limited resources (ie: financial including but not limited to food insecurity, lack of technology, and lack of ability of parents to provide support because of these barriers and others).

If your child is a typical learner, going back is traumatizing enough under these conditions, especially having realistically LOST 3 months of learning already.  I know they may have not thrived with remote learning and I feel for them, too.

Moving forward to September, the state should extend unemployment if parents NEED to stay home (ie: their child can not medically be in the classroom setting or can’t wear a mask for 6 hours and follow the safety restrictions).  The playground as we know it is gone, the cafeteria as we know it no longer exists, social experiences are limited and those contribute to a decline in the social-emotional learning skills students require (did you know Massachusetts has Social Emotional Learning Frameworks?), and many schools have eliminated specials, including the arts. 

And that poor teacher! 😘  I DO worry about all (especially those in risk categories) and their stress. They should be considered essential workers. This has taught, I hope, everyone that.  Education is essential.  Educating those with disabilities is exceptionally challenging remotely.  Many teachers had little to no training in remote learning.  What is most confusing is that in the months after the April 4th school closure – end of the year declaration by Gov. Baker, some districts did not provide that professional development to their staff.  If you don’t give teachers the tools they need, you are doing a disservice to them and students.  Kudos to those who immediately started identifying and providing this training.

 MOUs and MOAs written in many districts last spring permitting teachers (trying to balance their own families, with no childcare options) to work less are the hidden secret in education in this pandemic.  I requested these contracts from 29 districts.  While most I believe were well-intentioned and most special education teachers and many general education teachers were working double or triple time, these agreements effected the services of students with disabilities.

Remote Learning Plans were a poorly thought out “fix”, they took the parent, with parent involvement being a key component of the IDEA, out of the equation in many cases.  I was impressed by the handful of districts I work collaboratively with who met on the RLPs and worked with parents, listened to their feedback, and adjusted as necessary.

On the contrary, there is no reason in team meeting after team meeting, the chairperson (often overworked, writing RLPs and IEPs, most dealing with frustrated parents and collaterals) would state my client could not access more (needed, even when the team agreed) services per the Remote Learning Plan “because of the MOU”.  This would be illegal in an IEP meeting. 

To hear a district or program, and this was not the norm for the students I work with but I saw it over and over again, state a high needs student can attend only 2 Zooms per week, have no related services even through tele-therapy, and was expected to do most work asynchronously (the pages of links made my clients want to pull their hair out) because of our contract was disconcerting. 

Parents tried the best they could, but they are not teachers.  They were never taught how to provide specially designed instruction or modify work. I can’t quantify the hours of calls and facetimes/zooms with overwhelmed parents, not wanting to “fail” (a term many of them used), often with tears and utter frustration.

If the State had provided emergency childcare for teachers and valued team members, they could work their full hours and kids with disabilities would not be limited to 2 or 3 sessions per week of inclusion “zooms” if they were accessing inclusion and there would not be 2 hours per week of office hours by appointment per teacher/related service provider.  Those daycare slots (numbering 10K) never had a census higher than approximately 2500 per the State. TEACHERS MATTER.

For children with more severe disabilities, this has been overall a disaster- as they require close contact. Many of these “high priority” (term per MA DESE advisories) students can not effectively learn (except *maybe* how to use Zoom!) remotely. 

For example, those with autism, who will be workers in the local economy, and who live with you next door or down the street, will need to be “untaught” the communication and social skills they have worked, many for years and years, because they can’t play with friends anymore. They can’t talk to other teachers. They can’t shake hands or give hi-fives, even if they sanitize or wash hands after. (I am however becoming a fan of elbow bumps).

There is good guidance (and I am not a scientist) from places that have opened up successfully (a friend teaches in Shanghai) and none of it requires mask-wearing for kids (or for teachers to basically split themselves in half and teach half in person and half remotely).  This comes at a time when student to student transmission is low, per contract tracing in those countries.

Not trying to create stress, but all those big bbqs and parties I’ve been seeing on my timeline the past weeks … it seems like some people forget there is a pandemic.

If kids go to school, many with developmental disabilities can’t wear masks. Many with medical issues like asthma or other health issues CAN’T. Those with disabilities are in desperate need of real instruction and most aren’t going much of anywhere now. 

It’s the behavior of families on weekends and this summer (or the end of it) which will factor into how safe schools will be for kids and teachers. 

Let folks choose remote home-school for their kids with or without disabilities.  Please don’t leave “high priority” students behind.  They NEED to be in school. Without school, they will fall further and further backwards and won’t be ready to enter the workplace – or even fully participate in their communities.

Governor Baker has done a lot right IMO. However, this is misguided at best and (further) harmful at worst. Kids can’t get a FAPE.  They haven’t gotten it since March.  Yes, there is NO pandemic playbook.  We need our students to be happy and healthy learners and there has be to some in-between.  We NEED to look at the places that are two months into this where schools went back and there were no further outbreaks. Yes, we need flexibility and to realize kids can not and should not be in front of computers 6 solid hours per day.  We need to hold parents accountable for what happens outside of school for now (until a vaccine), too.  We need to not FURTHER traumatize students (teachers and parents, too).   We need to not get too comfortable with “life as normal before March 13” now because it’s nice outside.

We also need to ensure students with ELL needs are learning.  Teachers should have been checking in.  Oftentimes, ELL learners and lack of resources go hand in hand. Some have technology, many don’t, many parents don’t and/or can’t access email, and many parents don’t speak English.  Many districts provided Chromebooks, some did not.  There is an equity issue with both special education, ELL, and the many kids who access in “brick and mortar school” both.

We need to provide a FAPE and I applaud the districts offering in-person ESY and the private day schools who have gone back.  Kudos for caring about our kids and for having ordered the PPE staff and supplies schools need, having the HVAC systems revamped to more safely circulate air, back in the spring.  Smart schools.

My young person with a disability is 21 with autism.  After 3 months, he is now DONE with online/remote “learning”.  I’m proud to say he has had 3 weeks of in-person learning, I feel safe sending him to his private special education day school, and he is happy to go. 

We need to ensure all students who need in-person instruction can safely receive it. Kids deserve to learn. How do we most effectively all work together to make that happen?

*This is not intended to be a legal analysis, as I am not an attorney.

What is a FAPE? An interesting perspective…

An interesting comment from a special education attorney I work with often (and, sshhh, kind of like- we often come to compromises) who represents school districts: They asked does the student require something (in this case, a young girl with autism unable to report her day accurately whose parents were not being given equal information, and were therefore unable to be equal team members) and “does the team feel that student requires requires such communication to parent (appropriate, same day) communication in order to receive a FAPE?”. They (attorney and district X) argued no.

My take is “of course”. As a mom and professional, I need to know what happened at school to best support my student at home. Autism doesn’t end at school.

One of the 6 legal components of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is Parent Participation.

“IDEA guarantees to parents the following access to information:

Access to their child’s educational records;

Parent participation in all IEP team meetings regarding identification, placement, and educational decisions;

Prior written notice (Anytime anything will be changed in a student’s IEP, their parents must be notified first.);

Procedural safeguards written notice;

Understandable language (Translators must be provided when needed.);

Informed consent (Before any evaluations or services are provided, the student’s parents must be informed and agree in writing before the school can move forward.); and

Right to request independent educational evaluations at public expense”

If a parent is not (reasonably) equally informed, their child is not receiving a FAPE in my lay advocate perspective. This is INTEGRALLY important to students who, because of their disability, can not report their day. (I know this as a parent and professional, on all sides of the table). I want the parents I work with talking to teacher/those who work every day with their children and if an issue is not resolved, then to me. Otherwise, how do moms and dads come to the team meeting table as *equal* participants?

What are your thoughts?

(The above is not written as “legal advice”, as I am not an attorney. It does seem to be “common sense”).

2020: Looking for an Educational Consultant/Advocate


Always be honest with your advocate, or one you are seeking to hire. In my work, I give phone/email references because social media is simply a forum to be manipulated- parents need to call other parents directly. Hiring an advocate is a huge choice. One of my biggest joys is having 90%+ of families whose kids are still receiving services reach out annually for my attendance at annual reviews.

99% of parents who contact me do so being honest. If you sent a mean email to your school, no judgement here, it’s not the end of the world because the work I do is about CHILDREN w disabilities. If you wrote a blog or had a podcast about how BAD and EVIL (never my words!) your district is, tell the advocate you want to hire. Don’t play surprised – or victim- when those (even rightfully indignant) blogs are read by your district.

Don’t then pretend your advocate, who has done excellent work for your children, is an enemy because they reality-checked you. Be a member of the team. No one in this “business”, school or parent side, should be actively attacking one another in writing. Social media lives FOREVER.

This work is about kids. Helping kids, mostly with autism, many with Ds and emotional disabilities, for me. It’s about resource and referral to help give parents’ options.

It is time for all of us (myself as a mom included) to own our responsibilities to our kids by specifically blaming those who did or didn’t do something we thought should be done 3 or 5 years ago. We ALL need to use independent educational evaluations and observations to support what our kids need.

In this new year, hire an advocate you have reference checked- and let it sink it that a GOOD advocate will be honest with strategic options. They may even ask him extra options for stress relief which you can choose to accept or not. Don’t obsess if someone doesn’t agree- you can probably find a “talking head” if you look hard enough. No one who does this work, me or anyone I know, wants anything but to extricate themselves from situations where parents go in a very different direction (and I understand that). No one is going to drive 50 miles or 200 to attack you in your shower. “. That is literally mentally something you need to get help for. NAMI.

What I will never understand is placing titles and immature names on kind and smart professionals who helped you and most importantly your kids. That is drama one makes up internally. Instead: “breathe”. Exhale.

Advocacy isn’t a perfect job. Parents and kids aren’t perfect. We are ALL in this together.

I am so blessed to work YEAR after year, some 10 years+, with amazing clients and some really exceptional school TEAMs.

Here’s to an amazing 2020, helping kids!

Collaboration: Let’s make it happen

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Collaboration: It’s not a strange word!

First, happy summer!

My good friend Tim Ruggere, a current educational advocate/consultant and former  public school administrator (including principal of what was then the largest middle school in the Commonwealth0) in quite a few districts.  He and I have always worked collaboratively; he reached out a few weeks ago to tell me he was starting an advocacy  practice. He has met with many and we met. We have communicated extensively about some systemic pros & cons of working together as teams.  We brain-stormed ideas.

What wonderful relationships can be nurtured, ideas shared, and trust built that will, in the end, help CHILDREN w disabilities, & to help them grow into young adults w disabilities (ie: DDS, MDHE, DMH, MRC). By looking at all team members’ perspectives & building trust, we support students & families, they trust us, and we see best/better outcomes.

Together, we are co-launching a new & unique venture that does not currently exist in an independent way. We seek to create a community and networking opportunity: connecting advocates, educators in multiple settings, combinations of both, retired or career change educators and administrators who have become advocates, independent evaluators, etc. w the goal of supporting all in figuring out how to best serve children, & kids as they grow into adults. No money talk, no mandates from the out of touch district folks who barely visit schools, forgetting to meet or observe children they refuse to appropriately service for the wrong reasons. We seek good, meaningful discussion & collaboration in a positive & congenial manner. No *only* SPAN, no *only* MA Administrators of Special Education Administrators, no *only* FCSN. The idea is one Tim & I see as lacking everywhere.

I have trained on this as part of a team & alone to parents and professionals alike. Tim has done amazing work in some very challenging districts in MA/NH.  As with most team members, I find his heart was already in the right place, the professional choices he was allowed to make in certain places controlled by others. and I applaud his change of focus.  That systemic expertise is so valuable. We share the opinion, as many of you do, I’d suspect, to “presume competence”.

Let’s stop this too often used language of “two sides of the table” & work together.  Get together for dinner, great conversation, and introductions- let’s start a network of humans who care about students and how we can most appropriately serve them and all get along. Administrators & SC members, former admins, advocates/attorneys, and independent evaluators welcomed. Tim and I are thinking early August.

We envision a group committed to collaboration, through relationship building.

If interested, please send me a message. If you know Tim, he is a kind, smart & dedicated professional & his wife and business partner, Debbie, is lovely.

Here is to sitting together around tables, not on opposite sides of them.

 

Friendship, Autism

One of the best parts of my job is being able to connect my students, especially when they have autism and connections are SO incredibly important. These two awesome youngsters, both long time clients, live in the same neighboring district. We were able to negotiate the same summer program for them. Not only do they get to access an appropriate, high-quality ABA program, they now have a new friend in their own community to ride the van with all summer. *Posted with explicit permission of both families*

Why I *love* my job

61001652_10157650366189341_4755825460183564288_nSome days and weeks I absolutely LOVE ❤️ my job. There have been lots of those occasions this week. I want to share WHY this work means so much to me.

This amazing little boy happens to have autism. He is learning to communicate effectively.  In the years I have known him, I have been privileged to be part of his team, working with some great folks, conduct observations, attend meetings, do home visits, and get to know his awesome parents and home BCBAs. They are his BEST advocates, but it takes a village.

Some students need a more restrictive setting to access learning and make effective progress. So happy for him, and his mom and dad, that he will be starting at an amazing ABA private special education day school in a few short weeks

  • . *He will fly higher- and have the clinical supports onsite his unique needs require.*

Know if you are not in this place (the one where you worked with the team and “got to yes”) and maybe feeling discouraged… the process can and does work when many things happen, including looking at the process of getting any needed support as a marathon, not a sprint, working with the school and your chosen home team, and never stop believing in your kid (and data!). 💕💕💕💙💙💙

I am a very proud Consultant/Advocate, but after years, also someone who cares very much about his success.

 

*(express permission given by Parent/guardian to share photograph and general, non-identifying information)

How broken is special education: The unique view of a parent, educator, and advocate

C9D438AD-3920-496B-9B53-9C3957993445Recently, I’ve had to do more thinking about special education as a broken system and how easily IT (and sometimes kids and good people working in it) are used as scapegoats by too many.  There was an opinion piece in the Globe that I commented on (basically I had so much to say it turned into 2 comments).  Those comments are now here and they illustrate my take on what is indeed a system of imperfection- with some big things to fix but also some “easy” fixes.  (Hint: It involves a running theme of my work and this page which is “presume competence”).

This post, and my work, in no way shape should be taken as a “one size fits all” criticism or dissection of the work I do.  I work with many great public school staff members.  Even they sometimes get relegated to not doing or saying what they want to *if* their boss or their boss’s boss says not to.  The teachers and team members I respect the most are the ones who not only speak up at a meeting, but I equally admire the folks who reach out privately to parents and are honest about what they think might help the child.  I have the highest level of respect for the administrators and team chairs who, at the parent’s request, work together with me on behalf of the child.  This work is about relationships as much as it’s about the child.  That’s how we often get to “yes”- behind the scenes frank discussions, sitting with one another during observations, and trusting that we both have unique roles but we are both dedicated to ensuring a child is learning.

The biggest problem in special education is that, despite it not being funded as promised by the federal government via the IDEA, many school districts fail to provide high quality programs for children with identified disabilities. This far too often creates a path where the kids are not learning and accessing the curriculum (special ed is about providing equal, not more) and not making progress to the point the process becomes a battle for parents, many who drain their savings to get help from outside professionals and evaluators, attorneys, and advocates.  I have 13 years and counting, 8 full time, as an advocate and consultant.  Relationships are broken with school districts who may or may not be following an IEP, and the IEP may or may not be reasonably calculated to meet the child’s needs which leads to students falling so far behind they require highly specialized programming which costs a whole lot more but is what is legally required (burden on the parents to prove) to have a child simply learn.  It shouldn’t be this hard.

While there are some students, one of my kids included, whose needs can not be met in a public school setting simply because of the severity of their disability, special education costs are the first to be blamed for, well, everything come budget time or staffing needs or day to day issues every school faces.

I would be the happiest mom if my child with autism did not need to go on a van an hour each way to a school far from our community at a cost which would pay for a bachelor’s degree and probably a masters at a state college for just one year. He needs his school and all his teachers/support staff, for without them he would not be accessing any learning and gaining skills he needs as an adult to work, live, and hopefully thrive in a community setting with support. If that program were in my district and everyone’s, I’d joyfully be an under-employed advocate for cases where I work on behalf of parents with the district to get kids to the right out of district schools with the highly qualified staff and resources many/most public schools don’t have.  I often remind folks when there is tension that no one asks for their kid to have a disability.  In addition, 95% of parents I work with are absolutely on target with understanding their child’s needs.

There are many amazing special educators, PARAPROFESSIONALS, therapists, and yes some administrators who put children first. The challenge is that while most direct service providers chose this job for a reason, the right one which is to help kids, people above them and those higher up who make $ decisions often get in the way. If districts would work WITH families and not against them, you would see special ed working better, in addition to having funding be given no matter what the government sends or doesn’t.

In a world without money trees, there are not enough of the last group of people- administrators, school committees, city councils, etc. who understand that spending taxpayer $$$ litigating with families is wasted $, hurts children, implodes relationships with families, and makes the act of a child going to school a war. No one starts off angry. Often, as parents, you are emotional.  If and when your kiddo is not accessing learning or services are not what is appropriate, you end up frustrated, and that gets taken out sometimes on staff who are good, staff who are not, and in the end, kids see and feel the tension from both sides.

The things I do most often to help kids in IEP or 504 meetings are “common sense”, things no parent should need to pay an advocate for, but the system and regulations are complex and ever changing and my own family, 18 years ago-ish, hired an advocate when my oldest was 3.  Having done training for parents and districts on rights and how to work as a team, direct service, consultation, observations of schools and programs in dozens of districts, and this time of year living in team meetings, the best thing we can do is to presume competence of the child, and the adults of one another, so we can work effectively to help kids, and to not burn out good teachers and team members.

Special education is reactive, NOT proactive. It’s a system almost set up to fail. I always say to families I work with, “it’s my job to work myself out of a job, to give you the skills you need to most effectively advocate for your kiddo successfully without needing to spend money on people like me” . 25-35% of my clients are pro-bono or reduced rate simply because ethically I believe every child deserves an education and I also partner w great agencies and people who make referrals and I can’t say “no”), but I’m actually the “cheap” component.  Parents are forced to pay experts like BCBAs, BCBA-Ds, and neuropsychologists (I’ve seen costs for hiring a good neuropsychologist including testing, an observation, and and attending a team meeting run from $3000-$10000) to even get evaluations when the school says “no”. In return, the school is merely forced to “consider” the testing and recommendations, not required to agree with them.

This is indeed a broken system where people literally sit on different sides of the table from the beginning.  In many places, parents are not even part of the initial process, the school team has often “pre-teamed” (decided what they will offer before the meeting making the meeting a farce because the parents).  Parents are then invited in to their child’s meeting with the school team already seated; it can be pretty intimidating.

Treating parents as equals and not visitors would help the process, literally from the bottom up.  Teachers being able to say how they *really* feel without fear of retribution (ie: getting fired) and parents being able to say how they really feel without fear of retribution (ie: they will upset someone who will then take a comment personally and take out that frustration on the child- which I know happens hopefully rarely, but am confident not with the vast majority of true professionals).  Being kind to one another, being truly respectful, and being open and honest about what to do to meet needs, even when they don’t fit into “the box”, are some good ground rules.

You have to start somewhere, right?

How do we know if we have failed a student?

Here’s normal- for us. Writing as a mom, not a professional.

 

Today, the Boy stimmed so much and pinched himself so much and banged his head with his hands out of sheer frustration, he physically hurt and I cried. Then I gave him his PRN.

This is the stuff NO ONE wants to read, not because they think it’s a lie, but because they have no words or actions to make A or his family have any comfort. We read so many inclusion (that word can mean things) success stories, we can’t acknowledge as a special needs community sometimes we, the system, fail.

This is what breaks my heart about A: He KNOWS he has no friends. His last one, way more impaired than him, dropped him. Defriending for no explanation at all 😢

He sees everything- every relationship- his friends-  in black and white.

He’s trying to have a *small* bday party with actual peers (and a few specially chosen adult friends) but this is how he feels in his heart. I don’t blame most of the kids- they don’t know they hurt him bc of their disabilities- but I do question their parents’ roles. Anyone who has met A, teachers etc, will tell you how kind he is.

***Why as a society do we allow kids with autism to feel this way? They are treated as second class citizens too often.***

Does this not make you sad? Maybe it’s a mama thing. ***Maybe the best we can do is teach our kids with autism how to get along with adults.***

He will have a birthday party with a few, or no, friends. These are HIS words below, not mine.

He can’t go to church without be ostracized. He CAN go to the pool, Echo, or Yogibo. Thank goodness. He doesn’t have enough hours with his PCA and respite worker because of the worker’s schedule now, so I do the best I can. We have used a family friend to cover weeks of hours, as needed.

But this is a SAD reflection on how we as teams and professionals (DDS, schools, districts, churches, HUMANS) see kids feel. We don’t, or rarely can’t, do anything. The older the person with a disability gets, the less people are responsive.

Another birthday, after being physically mistreated or maybe sexually abused at his old school, we simply don’t know, *after sitting at home for two months* to go to a school it took 90 minutes the last two Fridays for him to get home from…. shouldn’t he have the ability to have a birthday celebration with his peers and shouldn’t we have the ability to *invite* people?

Instead, I will be sending him things in the mail and pretending they are from people who care about him and I will be forging cards.

Let’s be honest. Have you met my son? The labels (ASD, ID) don’t do him justice. He is kind and friendly. He loves weather and teddy bears. He is affectionate.

He is not a bad young man, he has never in his life had a discipline problem. He has been failed by so many people, but now I am beginning to wonder if I am one of them, as well. Did I not do the right things or enough things?

Special ed. Too many politics, too much drama, not enough caring about students and people.

Thanks for walking in our shoes for a few minutes.

Placement process reality

Your team agreed your child needs an outplacement.  Perhaps your child’s needs can not be met in her current placement?  Private day schools and collaboratives can unfortunately terminate a student for no reason with 30 days notice.  They can also initiate an “emergency termination”.
Now what happens?  An outplacement is usually a blessing, but it is work to get in place, unless your school district has already worked with one school and they have agreed that school is appropriate (and you have, too).
Districts send referral packets to private day schools and collaboratives they think might be appropriate based on the student’s needs.   Parents and collaterals often participate in that process of determining potentially appropriate schools.
What is in that packet? Anything agreed can be sent.  Typically, the IEP, progress reports and the last school evaluations as well as independent evaluations submitted to the school are sent so receiving schools get a sense of a student’s needs.  Behavior plans and incident reports could be sent.  Parents sign off on that release. Whether the separating is amicable or not, the outgoing school will usually not involve itself in the school search process, except to with consent speak to the potential school to ensure a smooth transition and before that to ensure the potential receiving school have up to date information and proper historical background.
A private school/collaborative who receives a referral packet then decides if it might be a fit.  If so, it invites parents in for tour, sometimes with kids, and sometimes kids do visit after.  The purpose is to then give the school information to bring to their admissions board/team to see if there will be acceptance offered, or not.  That is usually done 1x per week.  Advocates work closely with private day schools and collaboratives, as well as with your district, to ensure the process moves as expeditiously as possible.
Private day schools and collaboratives then say “yes” or “no”.  They are under no obligation to accept any student, the obligation (arguably) is on the district to agree to fund any of the schools they send packets to who accept the student.  The schools do not have to give reasons.  They don’t even have to send letters saying “yes” or “no” to the parents.  It’s like the college admissions process, without the benefit of a denial being written and sent often (ie: “At this time, we do not feel Joey is appropriate for our program”.
Whatever school parents choose, they should feel free to always consult a special education attorney and address issues with their school and home teams.  Always have a “Plan B”.  Educational consultants do an extraordinary amount of work talking to collaterals to give them information or work with them to describe the barriers and problem solve, if needed.  You can not FORCE a school which has said “no” to say “yes”.  It makes families appear very negative/pushy to the private day school.  These schools have many candidates for limited slots and they are trying to choose who they feel is the most appropriate fit at this time.  It is not like a public school where the service delivery grid travels with the student automatically.  Often, private day schools who initially deny admission suggest a student re-apply the following year or two if they feel the fit is not right currently.