By Cg La Scala, Director of Advocacy
Wow! One half of the school year has already gone by. Time goes so quickly and we know every minute is so important for our children with disabilities. Every part of every year can be uncertain. Wondering how my child will do moving on to the next grade, having a new teacher, working with different children, maybe even changing from elementary to middle or middle to high school!
So many concerns to work through, why does it seem to be a lot harder to get things than the IDEA implies?
Why is there always this tug-of-war between what the school wants and what I want as a parent? Don’t both of us want what is best for my child?
Sound familiar? Yes, it is hard to think of moving on, each time with the hope that this time will be easier to get everyone to implement the accommodations as written, follow the goals and objectives, and avoid putting their own “tweaks” on everything you’ve worked hard to get on the IEP from the previous year.
Knowing the challenges parents seem to face annually, I thought I would offer these few suggestions to help things go smoothly to the end of the year. There is no particular order of priority of this list, just some solid points that seem to work and be good practice:
- At the middle and high school level, anytime a student changes teachers, email the special education teacher (cc’ing the general education teacher(s)) and send a copy of the IEP with accommodations on a separate list. Putting the accommodations on a separate list clarifies exactly what the general education teachers are responsible for providing.
- Elaborate on the impact of your child’s accommodations as it relates to their success in school. What happens if their accommodations are implemented? What happens if they are neglected?
- Remind the teacher that you have provided your child with his/her own copy of the accommodations (kept in a protective sheet at the front of their binder) so that the teacher can reference it if they are unable to recall an accommodation during instructional time.
- Review your child’s IEP and stay familiar with it until a new one is generated.
- Know when students without disabilities receive a report card (or progress report). And remind the special education teacher a couple of weeks before report cards are due that you are looking forward to receiving a written copy of your child’s progress report on IEP goals and objectives, EVEN IF YOU ATTEND A PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE. Be clear that even though you attend the conference you want a written document of the progress towards IEP goals and objectives.
- If there are teachers who aren’t implementing accommodations, object and immediately make a written request to meet for further discussion. Copy your school’s special education director/coordinator, advocate, or trusted friend as witness to your request. Accommodations are NOT optional. General education teachers are not to unilaterally alter or delete their implementation.
These are only a few of many useful tips that a parent may draw on to support a great school year. The people implementing the IEP are key to its success and most importantly, the success of the student whose education relies on it.
What tips can you share with other parents about navigating the special education system?