UPDATE: On December 16, 2011 the Massachusetts Department of Education advised against Procedures Lite. Read the entire article here.
Have you heard about "Procedures Lite?" If you have a child in special education you need to. What is Procedures Lite?Procedures Lite is contract between schools and parents that waives special education procedural rights. Parents waive the right to convene an IEP meeting, develop an IEP, receive progress notes, and request annual evaluations.
Parents also waive the right to enforce these rights and seek compensatory services and damages. What does the school waive? Nothing. Instead the school gains the unilateral right to educate your child without parent input, updated evaluations, and judicial oversight. What is the purpose of Procedures Lite?Schools and their attorneys claim that the purpose of Procedures Lite is to foster trust and communication between Parents and Schools. They believe that special education law, and not school officials or budgetary concerns, create conflict and distrust between parents and schools.
Their solution - do away with IEPs as we know them and replace them with a one page Student Learning Plan (SLP). Don't allow parents to enforce the supports and services outlined in the SLP. Eliminate IEP meetings and Progress Reports in the name of better communication. Does this sound counter-intuitive? Maybe. But it's happening in Massachusetts. Read the current Weston, Massachusetts Procedures Lite contract here
.What is the ultimate agenda of Procedures Lite proponents?
Those proposing Procedures Lite would like to eliminate special education rights
. One of Procedure Lite's vocal advocates is Massachusetts school attorney Miriam Kurtzig Freedman.
In her recent presentation at the University of Chicago School of Law, Ms. Freedman compared special education to welfare and talked about the need to eliminate special education rights. In the meantime, Ms. Freedman supports Procedures Lite because, "Even if we won't or can't end the [special education] entitlement right away, [we can] end litigation and the fear of litigation about a proposed FAPE." Read the entire presentation abstract here
.What can you do?
First, NEVER sign away your child's special education rights without consulting an experienced special education attorney. Procedures Lite is a relatively new idea, but convincing parents to waive their child's rights is not. Read my warning to parents about waiving rights in settlement agreements here
.Second, inform other parents. Make sure every parent who has a child on an IEP is aware of their rights and the serious consequences of "Procedures Lite." Third, talk to school administrators. Explain to them that eliminating laws designed to protect your child will not make your more trusting of the school. Emphasize that IEP meetings, Progress Reports and the IEP document are fundamental to parent-school communication.
Point out that without required evaluations, your child's needs cannot be assessed and the school cannot provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). If you
have any other questions about your child's special education rights, feel free to contact
Massachusetts special education attorney Lillian E. Wong today.