October 8, 2019
Education & Schools
You’ve come to the end of the Admission Review and Dismissal/ Individualized Educational Plan (ARD/IEP) meeting for your child. But you have an uneasy feeling. You believe the IEP is not appropriate for your child, but you don’t know what to do. Know this: you are not alone. Many families have shared similar experiences. Here are a few strategies if you find yourself in this position.
- Don’t be afraid to sign disagree. You are the expert on your child. If it doesn’t feel right, it most likely isn’t right for your child. The Parent IEP Attachment is a tool designed to help parents document their proposal, the response, and other important information.
- Ask to take the ARD/IEP paperwork home. Review it before you make your decision. You don’t have to sign to agree or disagree at the meeting. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to sign something until I’ve had the chance to review the meeting notes. Taking the ARD/IEP paperwork home after every meeting for my child became routine.
- Review your child’s IEP goals and objectives. Are they S.M.A.R.T.(Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented, & Time-bound)? If goals and objectives are not S.M.A.R.T., changes may be needed.
- If a policy is given as a reason to deny your request, ask for a written copy of them. It is not uncommon for unwritten policies to be used or written policies to be misquoted. It’s best to see them in writing.
- Request all records (assessments, previous ARD/IEP meeting paperwork, behavioral referrals, etc.) if you don’t already have them. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives parents certain rights with respect to their child’s education records. It’s best to keep all this paperwork in a notebook for safekeeping.
- Before the ARD/IEP meeting, request a Prior Written Notice (PWN). The school must provide you with PWN no less than 5 school days from the date of the meeting. PWN can be a game changer because it provides a description of:
- The action proposed or rejected by the school
- Why the school proposes or rejects to take the action
- The records/data used as a basis for the rejection or suggested action
- Other options that the ARD committee considered and the reasons why those options were proposed or rejected
- Other factors that are relevant to the school’s plan
- Request an assessment or Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) if appropriate. Decisions made during an ARD/IEP meeting should be based on data. Questions to consider:
- Is there conflicting information?
- Is the IEP team struggling?
- Does the team need clarity or additional information?
- If you answered yes to any of the above, a new assessment may be needed.
- Get familiar with the dispute resolution options. The more you know, the more you can advocate for your child. It will also allow you to resolve conflicts at the lowest possible level.
- Seek outside help if needed. Below are a few places that can help you find the support you are looking for.
- Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys– COPAA maintains an online database of advocates and attorneys supporting families.
- Disability Rights Texas – DRTx is the state designated protection and advocacy agency for individuals with disabilities.
- Partners Resource Network – PRN operates the federally funded Texas Parent Training and Information (PTI) Centers - PATH, PEN & TEAM.
- Pause, breathe and decide on next steps. You’ve got this!
There is additional detailed information in Education and Schools.