What you need to know about the law and your rights when seeking special education for your child.
While the school system can begin the meeting with a proposed plan, it must be just that — a proposal. The parents must agree to the plan prior to it being implemented and must be part of the team in creating the plan. This means giving your input and recommendations. This also includes placement — if you disagree with the placement and/or support services the school system is or is not recommending and are not able to come to an agreement, it is important that you speak up and document this on the IEP. It is essential that the appropriate documentation exists in order for you to appropriately advocate for your child.
If you are able to come to an agreement on services and placement, you will be given a copy of the IEP, which would then be implemented. The school is required to measure your child's progress in the goals outlined in the IEP. As a parent and member of the IEP team, you can call an IEP meeting any time. If you have concerns that the plan is not working or needs to be changed, request an IEP meeting, in writing, to discuss your concerns. 3 Tips For Talking To Your Kids About Sex
In preparing for the meeting, I encourage parents to do the following:
- Inform the school system, in writing, that you will be recording the meeting. I have found that any time when either I or one of my clients failed to do this, we regretted it. If the school system makes unlawful statements or claims, you have it on tape and they can't deny it. Don't be intimidated to do this — many parents want to give the school the benefit of the doubt but this often becomes a disservice to their child in the end. You are well within your rights to record the meeting — you just have to inform the school system that you intend to do so.
- Bring an advocate with you to the meeting. Either a therapist, educational advocate or someone who knows and understands the IEP process. As a parent, your emotions may get triggered; it is helpful to have an objective party on your side who knows the law and your child to advocate for your rights.
- Document, document, document; every phone call, discussion or request. If you have a discussion with a teacher or school staff member, send a follow up email summarizing the conversation. This is particularly helpful when a school administrator tells a parent something and then later denies it. If you have an email that summarizes the conversation that you sent to them, that is documentation that it happened.
- Provide to the school any information, data, testing, doctors letters or anything else you have related to your child that supports your request and need for services. Document when they were provided to the school system and who you gave them to.
Hopefully, you will be met with cooperation and a true desire to do what is in your child's best interest. Unfortunately, I hear from parents on almost a daily basis about situations in which the school is not doing what they are required to by law. By being proactive, you are communicating to the school that you are informed and that you will hold them accountable.