At the end of every Admission Review and Dismissal/ Individualized Educational Plan (ARD/IEP) meeting, the committee– which includes you–must reach an agreement. This is called consensus. Either everyone agrees or there is a disagreement.
Often families are afraid to disagree. But it is your parental right to disagree. Disagreement can lead to better outcomes for your child. The key is being respectful with school staff. State the facts. Do not let your emotions get in the way. This is not easy to do, but it will help you maintain a good relationship with the school.
When you disagree, you will write a statement about why you disagree with the IEP. If you are not comfortable with writing, ask someone to help you.
Then the ARD/IEP committee will decide on a date to reconvene. This is called the “Recess ARD/IEP” or “Reconvene” meeting. It is usually held within 10 school days, but the committee can decide on another date.
During the 10-day recess, you and the school should work together to find a solution. Do not be afraid to ask questions. You might ask for more data from the school. Maybe you have data you need to share with the school. You may not understand the IEP process. School staff may need to help you understand an evaluation or what happened in the meeting.
You can also meet with a parent group or Partners Resource Network (the federally funded Texas Parent Training and Information (PTI) Centers - PATH, PEN & TEAM) representative. Another option is to request a Facilitated IEP meeting – this allows an independent party to facilitate the IEP meeting. This request must occur within 5 days of the ARD/IEP meeting where the disagreement took place.
Hopefully, when you return, you and the other committee members will reach an agreement. Yet, often families still disagree at the Reconvene meeting. Don’t give up!
It’s important to understand your options for taking the next step. Will you file a complaint, request mediation, or file for due process? While the latter is expensive, the first two options are free.
When my son was in high school, he participated in work-based learning. I wanted him to continue this as part of his summer services so that he wouldn’t lose important job skills. This would be through the Extended School Year (ESY) program. But the school said no. I had to disagree at the ARD/IEP meeting.
I tried working with the district during the recess period, but still, we couldn’t reach consensus. I had to take the next step. I filed a complaint. Texas Education Agency (TEA) found that the district was not individualizing its ESY program. All students were being provided the same amount of related services during the summer. While my son did not get his summer services that year, the result of my complaint was a win for all kids in the district.
When the next school year started, I wasn’t bitter. I worked with my school and maintained a good relationship with teachers. When I requested ESY services again, guess what? They agreed! My son ended up spending the summer with a job coach. She helped him get his job which he has had for the last 10 years. Success did come from disagreement!
Be a strong advocate. Learn and use the procedural safeguards you have available to you! Create success for your child.
Here is another good article on ESY.
There are many benefits to bringing a friend or companion to your child’s IEP meetings.
Categories: Education & Schools