The traditional school year is coming to an end, but for parents advocating for their children in special education this time of year provides its own particular challenges. Here are some things all parents should be thinking about this time of year.
Consider Extended School Year Services
If your child's skills will regress during the summer months that child is entitled to be educated during the summer. This is called extended school year or ESY for short. Like free appropriate public education in general, extended school year programming still must occur in the least restrictive environment.
Schools must also provide transportation if the student qualifies for transportation during the regular school year.
Schedule an Independent Evaluation
The summer is a good time to have your child seen by an independent evaluator. It can take a long time to obtain an appointment, the evaluations themselves can last for days, and then it takes a while for the evaluator to create his or her report. Read more about why evaluations are important here
Resolve IEP Disagreements
Summer is also a good time to resolve disagreements with the school. Perhaps you partially accepted an IEP during the school year. Use the summer to resolve issues with the school, whether informally, through mediation, or at a due process hearing. A special education attorney can help you assess the strength of your case and advise you on how to proceed.Look Ahead to September
Will your child be switching schools? Switching teachers? Perhaps your child is leaving elementary school for middle school or middle school for high school. All these changes will affect your child's education. Review your child's IEP and consider how the goals and services may be altered by any of these changes. For example, a one-on-one aide may have been appropriate for your child in elementary school, but now that your child is entering middle school he may need to learn more independence and this service may not be necessary. Another possibility is that your child's new school does not have the appropriate placement for her, and you need to begin the process of out-of-district placement.
Keep an Eye on the Future
Summer is also a great time to reflect. What went well during the past academic year? What needs work? What are your goals for your child after high school? How is the IEP team working together to achieve these goals? Keeping these goals in mind will help you prepare for the year ahead and remind yourself why all your hard work is worth it.