As your special education advocate, Arnold Advocacy provides you with the support you need to navigate the special education system. This encompasses helping you obtain an assessment due to concerns you have with your child, assisting you with behavioral concerns in the home and/or working together to help you to improve your child’s current Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Having an advocate present at IEP meetings, or meeting with an advocate to help you prepare yourself for a teacher conference, can be an invaluable way to ensure that your child is getting the best education possible, as well as to ensure that you have a voice within the process.
The first step is to request a special education evaluation because that initiates a legal timeline that the school MUST follow. If your child already has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in place, and you still have concerns, you may ask for an IEP meeting to have it amended. Having an advocate at the table along side you can help ensure that your child’s legal rights are being met, as well as mandate that the IEP is aligned with your child’s specific needs.
The Procedural Safeguards, or Parent’s Rights, state that you have the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at the school’s expense if you disagree with the assessment completed by the school. This request should again, be made in writing, and the school is required to respond in writing through a Prior Written Notice (PWN).
Many parents are interested in 1:1 support for their child, but it is important to consider that this intervention can be very restrictive, especially for older students. The need for 1:1 support must be shown through data, especially if there is a safety issue, so collecting data regarding the safety of the child is a great way to show documented need for this service. Many schools are tentative to put this into an IEP and will often refer to this service as “extra aid support,” which is a great place to start if your child has complicated needs.
Many schools have systems in place to support all children, not just students with special needs. There is a general education process called a Student Study Team (SST), that can be convened when a child is struggling academically and/or behaviorally. This team includes parents, the child’s teacher, as well as an administrator and/or teacher who is experienced in intervention strategies. Previous teachers may also be invited to help identify what has worked well for that child in the past. The SST can make a plan to increase the support that your child is receiving, and many times the SST convenes prior to evaluating a child for special education services. Increased support may include differentiation within the classroom, small group reteach, or a systematic intervention to address areas of weakness.
Arnold Advocacy takes a collaborative approach and helps to ensure that the wishes and participation of the parents are heard and respected. Through focused, observant time spent with the family, Colleen Arnold is able to be an active participant on the IEP team, ensuring that the IEP gives the child the support and services she or he needs to be successful and happy in school.
There are a variety of rights afforded to parents of children with IEPs. These rights include, but are not limited to;