Special Education Blog – What Happens When School Districts Make a Decision about Your Child before the IEP Meeting?

Have you been to an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting where it seems that the important decisions about your child’s program have already been decided by the school and before the meeting?  If so this is against the law and good educational practice. The IDEA – federal special education law which applies to all states – requires that all IEP decisions – whether eligibility, goals and objectives, related services or placements – must be made at the IEP meeting, must represent a consensus of all members and cannot have been “pre-determined” by the school. If the school has “pre-determined” any portion of the IEP they have taken away your legal right to be a co-equal member of the team.  They are making a unilateral decision which violates the law. What constitutes “pre-determination?”  It does not mean that an IEP team member can’t come in with thoughts about what he or she thinks is right or that the school cannot pre draft goals and objectives.  What it does mean is that each member must come with an open mind and must not have already made up his or her mind.  The line between an open mind, a pre IEP meeting thought and pre-determination can be a thin one.  Look for statements that suggest a decision is already formulated, e.g., “we don’t provide that in our district” or that the speaker is clearly not open or flexible, e.g., “I reviewed the assessments before the meeting and concluded your daughter does not need that service.”  And it may just be an over-all sense that the discussion is perfunctory and not a true give and take about the IEP items. If the school has “predetermined” then if you were to […]
By |November 12th, 2015|IEP, Special Education|0 Comments

Special Education Blog – Advocating for a Special Needs Child

It has been my experience that when a parent first becomes aware that his child has a disability of any type there is a grieving process that must take place.  This is an emotional time and no two people experience loss in the same manner.  It is important to allow yourself that time, if possible, prior to leaping into the advocate role.  You may have a long road ahead in advancing the needs of your child and you need to be emotionally sturdy before you head down this path.   Take your time Build a network Know you are not alone Acquire knowledge Be a good record keeper Put things in writing Read an email twice before pushing “send”   Build your foundation for what services your child needs to access his education through educators, testing, professionals, and current literature and be prepared to support your IEP requests through these foundational pieces. Draft an outline as to what you believe your child needs, and where support for that need can be found.  Pretend you are the superintendent and can do anything you want – create a specific and comprehensive program for your child.  This does not mean your child will have this entire program, but you must start as high as possible, knowing that usually one may not secure everything.   Having this information at your fingertips will be helpful in future meetings. Whether you are headed to your first or your final IEP meeting and whether you feel as though the school district has been completely supportive or diabolical, try to maintain a professional and personable affect. Being confrontational and accusatory does not typically produce the result you desire, or may come at a difficult cost. You likely have to continue to work with these professionals […]

Mainstreaming and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) mandates that a child with a disability be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with children who are not disabled.  A child may only be removed from the regular education setting if the nature and severity of the disability is such that the child cannot be educated in regular classes, even with the use of supplementary aids and services.  20 U.S.C.1412 (a)(5).   This so-called “mainstreaming” right refers to the child’s right to be in the “least restrictive environment.” The IDEA requires that each school district have a “continuum of placement options” from a regular placement all the way to residential placement. 20 U.S.C.1412 (a)(5) While the IDEA “prefers” placement in a regular setting, ultimately all IEP decisions, including placement/LRE, must be based on a child’s unique needs. A child’s right to LRE includes an educational placement to be as close to the child’s home as possible, preferably in the school the child would attend if non-disabled. In determining the educational placement of a child with a disability, including a preschool child with a disability the District must ensure that the placement decision is made by a group of persons, including the parents, other professionals knowledgeable about the child, the testing and the placement options.  And while these rights are important – attending a regular class, going to the school the child would attend if not disabled – each decision must be individual and based on the child’s needs.
By |October 15th, 2015|Hints / Tips|0 Comments