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mild/mod to mod/severe



Senior Member
So I expressed to my son's teacher that I would like to move him to a mod/severe class (he's in mild/mod). She responded back with stating that she understood my concerns and would share it with the rest of the team (IEP is on May 26). In any of your experiences, would they ever "deny" a request like that? My reasons for wanting to move him are academic and lack of independence. He constantly needs someone to prompt him too and cannot do anything of his classwork independently. Behavior wise, he's fine and he talks so when people meet him they don't think his autistim is severe but when you compare him to the rest of the kids in his mild/mod class; he sticks out like a sore thumb. He will be in grade 2 next school year, and he is at a beginning kindergarten level for everything.


Senior Member
I have never heard of putting a student in a self contained class when they're less than 2 years below grade level. To me, I'd advocate for full time para minutes, work on independence and resource minutes to get him up to grade level. I don't understand why you're so set on getting him in a more restrictive environment when it sounds like he's not that far behind academically.

Is he in a self contained class or a gen ed class currently? Getting a student moved totally depends on the district. Some will do whatever the parent wants, some are more determined to keep the students in an LRE until all other possibilities have been exhausted. It doesn't sound to me as if you've exhausted all other possibilities. And, to be honest, if students aren't a behavior problem it makes it that much harder to get them moved.


Senior Member
He’s in a self contained class. I’m CA there are 2 types of self contained classes: mild/mod for students with mild/moderate disabilities and mod/severe for moderate-severe disabilities.


Senior Member
Mild to moderate

Considering you are in CA, I would lobby for some extra services before moving him to moderate/severe and see how that pans out. Your child could grow with a bit more assistance in current program.


Senior Member
My concern with moving him to a mod/severe would be that he may be exposed to more behavior problems from others. I agree with GG and Keltikmom to push for a para.


Senior Member
I asked for a 1:1 para at the beginning of this school year but it was denied. 1:1 paras are usually reserved for students who are mainstreamed or students who have a physical disability. I doubt they will give him one. It's unheard of.


Senior Member
I don't know anything about California, but in my state, mod/severe classes are reserved for students who are non-verbal or whose disabilities are so profound that they literally can't do anything academic. They focus solely on functional life skills. If independence is one of your concerns, then I would suggest requesting adding pre-vocational goals to address them rather than changing his placement to a more restrictive environment.


Senior Member
I'd hire an advocate and request better one on one services for his needs.The district has a financial goal of keeping costs at a minimum. Review your concerns with an advocate and get your son what he needs for success in a setting best set up for him.


Senior Member
Anna, from the other side of the table, I've had parents pay lots of money to get advocates with unrealistic expectations of what a public school district can provide. It was sad because they had very high hopes and paid a lot of money expecting that the advocate would magically be able to get them exactly what they wanted. It ended up being a real waste of money and the end results would have been the same regardless. Not saying that this is what would happen here but to point out that it's not always as simple as that. For example, I had a parent pay a great deal of money for an advocate because she essentially wanted three to four hours a day of one-on-one speech therapy for her child. Anyone familiar with public schools would have told her that this was unlikely to happen. I hate to see people waste their money.
To the OP, most of the time, I've seen schools and educators try their best to accommodate a parent's wishes if at all possible. Education seems very customer driven in recent years and nobody likes an unhappy parent who is, after all, trying to the best by their kid. This isn't true everywhere of course but in broad strokes is generally true.
The only thing I can see on my end is that (in Virginia where I am) a mod/severe classroom like yourself would not be the best spot to accommodate your desires as they're working on much more life-skill stuff than your son is. I can see a teacher here hesitating on your request because it looks like your son is able to manage more academic work than a mod/severe class would be here.
I hope you find a good solution to support your son.


Senior Member
I've seen that too cruxian however there are free advocacy services in California It would take some research to locate a low cost or free advocate or attorney for special education issues.


Senior Member
I don't know anything about California, but in my state, mod/severe classes are reserved for students who are non-verbal or whose disabilities are so profound that they literally can't do anything academic. They focus solely on functional life skills.

It is the same here, but we have center programs in my district for specific needs. There are no “mild” self constrained classrooms here and most students are mainstreamed unless they have severe needs. Our center programs focus on specific needs: EBD, OHI, IND, ASD. Base in the description of your son’s needs, he wouldn’t qualify for the ASD unit here, he would be too high functioning.

Also, I would be very hesitant to put him in a classroom that is too restrict for him. If he is the highest functioning child in the classroom and place inappropriately, the teachers will be most focused on the other students who need higher levels of support than he does.

Cruxian- I’ve seen the same happen here with advocates.
It happened this year and the parent was heartbroken that her child couldn’t remain mainstreamed as she wanted. My district does not provide 1:1 aides for any child.


Senior Member

It really does vary state to state or county to county what the criteria is for change of placement. In my district where i teach the mild/mod. are in full all day inclusion classes in gen. ed with support. (a very relative term) The mod./severe classes in our district are at one site only , containing multiple grades, with only one teacher and multitude of paras for physical disabilities. They are part of the county program where they do not participate in state, district , or school wide assessments. My professional opinion is that academic growth will be very minimal at best . Most of these students have medical placements and are present in school 60-70% due to medical issues. .

The whole experience of "school" will look different for your son if you prefer this path.

The district where I live in must bus the moderate /severe off the mountain 30-35 miles away. So many homeschool.

Are you able to find a personal tutor for your son? You could find one that possibly could advocate for him at IEP meetings . Hopefully the advocate was a classroom or sped ed teacher at one time . If not I coach "behind the scenes" the parents of students I work with for free which are more like pointers using proper wording to plead their case .

Have you tried increasing his minutes of support or is he at maximum? That is rarely denied in my district. But 1:1 paras are very rarely assigned.

Can you have him privately tested? I did that for my daughter and it really resonated for added support. . .perhaps more multi-sensory instruction is warranted . It's not always about the amount of support but finding the RIGHT support.

Our district offers group tutoring before school for 1-2 1/2 years below grade level and is well attended. We also off 1:1 online tutoring (not popular)


Senior Member

California teacher here.

I read your post and your responses and everything you said is spot-on with the experiences I've had as an elementary teacher.

In any of your experiences, would they ever "deny" a request like that?

Denials happen almost automatically in my district. Whether the request for a more restrictive environment or additional staffing comes from the teacher, parent, or even the case carrier, the typical answer is to adjust services in the current placement. You're right, a 1:1 para isn't provided unless the student is medically fragile.

He will be in grade 2 next school year, and he is at a beginning kindergarten level for everything.

I would get out your copies of the IEPs beginning at his initial placement in kindergarten and comb through his goals. Were his goals met last year? If not, were any changes made to his services so he could be more successful this year? Has he made little progress across the board? I would go to the IEP with this information at your fingertips, and be open to suggestions for keeping the current placement but advocate for more interventions. If your child is not meeting his goals with the current placement and support, that can be a discussion you have with the team.


Senior Member
Sorry to say, but here, he would be denied.

He wouldn't even be considered for a self contained class OR a para. All 3 of his strengths--verbal, no significant behaviors, and "just" a 2 yr academic gap--would have him in the general education class for most of the day and pull out resource for the rest. Here. No special program. It is rare at our school to even do self contained in the elementary levels.

My other thoughts also resonated with hand's concerns. He will potentially be exposed to lots of "stuff" in that group which may be disturbing to others, even adults. The language, behaviors, antics, and attempts to contain all that can be hazardous to a fragile mental health.

I teach the Moderate level in my district (we only have the State Schools for Severe students)--so yes, even 1 or 2 at the other end of the spectrum, make for a rough time. Some weeks, the language can make sailors blush... They need frequent reminders to leave their clothes on... They need to be reminded not to eat things off the floor... They don't always kept their hands to themselves...

That said, you know your school and your son, even with the possibility of denial, ask for what you want, esp if you can back it up with his needs. You are your child's first and best advocate. It never hurts to ask for what you want for your child if it is in his best interests. Heck, even over-ask so that you can seem to be compromising with them when you "settle" for less.