Virginia: Sixfold increase in autism in schools in 15 yrs/rising SPED services disputes

Dec 13, 2018, ABC8, Richmond, VA: Parents vs. Schools: Special Education disputes on the rise 8News has uncovered special education disputes in Virginia public schools are on the rise -- and these disputes can take a toll on families. … The Fairfax County mom says the fight with Fairfax County Public Schools to educate her son has been mentally and financially exhausting. "I have depleted my savings and I at times have gone into significant debt,” she explained. Ledoyen's son, who 8News is not identifying, has medical issues and special needs. At one point, Fairfax schools suggested he be schooled at home. "It just didn't work,” Ledoyen said, adding that her son wouldn't come out of his room. "The home school teachers wouldn't go in the room, so nothing really happened and it was just really tragic." After three years, Fairfax schools and doctors agreed, it failed. "A long treating physician said that was absolutely the worst thing in hindsight that could have been done because it caused isolation and led to depression. It's just hard to be a kid and be home,” Ledoyen said…. 8News has uncovered special education disputes like Ledoyen's are increasing in Virginia…. Another possible factor for the increase in disputes, there's been a significant rise in students with disabilities, particularly with autism. According to the Virginia Department Of Education, autism in public school kids has jumped sixfold from 2001, with 19,566 cases in 2016. … "The delays in the case were alarming, to say the least," Ledoyen said. In Ledoyen's case, it took eight months to get a response. Meanwhile, her son sat at home. “We are now trying to make up for that,” she said about the loss of time…. 8News reached to the Virginia Department Of Education for answers and asked if anyone is reviewing why it took eight months for a hearing officer to respond in this case. … 8News also asked if the delay was due to an increase in cases and we were told: “The Virginia Department of Education continues to meet its responsibilities in support of parents and school divisions in the dispute-resolution process and is not aware of any delays attributable to capacity or resources.”