Know Your Rights
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives a parent the right to equal participation in the development of their child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). But many find the process confusing: There are new terms to learn. There is an agenda to follow. There are rights and responsibilities to learn. And you need to know the role a parent plays before, during, and after ARD/IEP meetings and more.
But know this – whether you are new to the process or a veteran, having answers to your questions is powerful. It can give you the confidence you need to advocate for your child. Do you have questions? Do you know where to turn to find answers? Here are a few resources you may find helpful.
Begin with the End in Mind
Special education services are designed to help prepare students for adult life. For further education, employment and independent living. Do you have a vision for your child’s future? Have you shared your vision with the ARD/IEP team? Your vision will give the ARD/IEP team direction. It should guide the planning process. It will also help others recognize the important role they play in achieving the vision. It takes a village.
Make your Vision a Way of Life
Let your vision guide you. Embrace the things that move you toward the vision. Avoid the things that move you away from the vision. It is okay to disagree. Decisions made create outcomes. Choose carefully.
Request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
An evaluation is the base the IEP is built upon. If it is not sound, it’s likely the rest of the plan will crumble. If you disagree with the school evaluation, request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense. The school has to do one of two things:
1) ensure the IEE is provided or
2) file a due process complaint to defend its evaluation.
Don’t let this scare you. It’s your child’s right to request this.
Secure Prior Written Notice (PWN)
If there is no agreement at the end of the ARD/IEP, request Prior Written Notice (PWN). PWN must be given when the school plans or refuses to take certain actions. The PWN must include specific detail that will tell you why the school made a specific decision.
The more you know, the better you are ready to be your child’s education advocate. You can learn more on the Education pages.
From the moment Camila was born, I knew she would change my world. But it was not until third grade when she made the comment “I don’t want to live anymore” that I realized things were not right.