An amazing decision has been made as of June 13, 2013!
Our kids with special needs are supported in schools with IEP’s, individual education plans.
They are regulated by federal law, mandating minimally annual meetings with school personnel and parents to review goals and objectives to insure interventions are successful and that the child is moving forward in areas of weakness.
In so many cases, parents are intimidated in these meetings, not feeling qualified or able to advocate for their child.
In this case that went to court, a school actually had the IEP meeting without the dad present. After much legal pursuit, he won his case.*
In a nutshell, this case reinforced the absolute necessity that parents are present during IEP meetings, reinforcing the statement that is always heard that parents are a part of the team.
Here, this puts this rhetoric in action! The court decided that although the school said the meeting was held in order to avoid a lapse of services before the actual date of year end, the services would not lapse and that the biggest priority was that a parent be present.
So what does that mean in terms of how we parents should feel and act? The courts have reinforced that we know our children best!
All of us who enter these meetings with fear and feelings of inadequacies should remember always how the law looks at our capabilities and importance when it comes to participating in education plan development for our kids.
No, we may not be teachers and know the definitive education interventions for specific disabilities. But we know our kids’ needs, struggles and strengths. That is what our advocacy skills should surround. All of those three issues can be supported by the development of a strong IEP.
How can this be done? How can we advocate and avoid the fear of the professional school personnel? Know that you as a parent are crucial to the success of your child. Arrive armed with concrete documentation of classroom activities, homework issues and grades. All of this should and can be translated into needed interventions.
Remember, you the parent, as evidenced by the law, are part of the team. Your child needs you.
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