Roanoke parents apprehensive about new school year for children with IEPs

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 7:43 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Life is rarely quiet in the Clark household. Logan is 5, and is on the autism spectrum.

Younger brother Landon is 2, and while he hasn't been officially diagnosed, Mom and Dad believe an autism diagnosis is on the way.

Both boys love their tablets, trains, and the camera tripod.

“About a year ago at this time, Logan was predominantly non-verbal,” said Michael Clark.

But through resources from Roanoke City Schools, including after-school Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA therapy, words started forming, then came short sentences.

The pandemic took away those in-person opportunities; they came back in July with limitations.

Now headed into the school year, there's a lot of uncertainty.

“The biggest thing is is that you worry about as an autism parent is that your kid is going to be left behind, that your kid is going to be the one that’s left because he’s just too difficult to deal with,” said Clark.

Michael and Jolene Clark will have a meeting to figure out the specifics of Logan’s IEP next week.

According to Roanoke City officials, there are more than 2,000 IEPs across the school system.

We received this statement which says, in part, Roanoke City Schools is amending all IEPs based on the Reopening Schools plan approved by the school board. It also asks for patience from parents and guardians:

“Roanoke City Public Schools is amending all IEPs based on the Re-Opening Schools Plan approved by the School Board. Our staff started calling parents/guardians last week after the Board voted.

This process will be completed by the first day of school (August 31). We ask for patience as we work to amend more than 2,000 IEPs.”

“So we’re just kind of hoping that everyone comes in with an open mind and wants to meet halfway,” said Clark.

The Clarks enjoy the noise, the sentence construction and the growth they see everyday in their boys, and they want that growth to continue.

We also reached out to Roanoke County Public Schools. They gave us the following statement:

“Our IEP teams are meeting and reviewing each student’s IEP with our families. Our teams are reviewing each student’s services and accommodations and considering implementation in both in-person and remote settings. Our teams are working within the RCPS adopted Return to School Plan. While this school year will start like none other, our teams remain committed to working collaboratively with families to address individual student needs.”

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