This is the third part of an eight-part series, "Top Flaws of IEP/504s and What You can Do About Them"
My expert thinks my child needs a certain accommodations and services, but the school disagrees. Isn't the expert more qualified than the school?
What You Can Do
Just because the expert has more experiences or qualifications than school officials, doesn't mean that the expert's recommendations must be followed. The law doesn't require the school to implement expert recommendations, but the IEP/504 team must "consider" them. How can you turn consideration into implementation? Provide the team with the expert's report ahead of time. This allows everyone to read the recommendations before the meeting. If at all possible, have the expert attend the IEP/504 meeting. If actual attendance won't work, request that the expert participate by phone. Either way, it is essential to allow experts to explain their recommendations to the team and to answer any questions the team might have.
If you need help advocating for your child's educational rights contact Boston area special education lawyer Lillian E. Wong today.
This is the second part of an eight-part series, "Top Flaws of IEP/504s and What You can Do About Them"
No matter what I ask for in IEP meetings, the school says no. Sometimes I'm told what I'm asking for violates school policy. Other times the school says I don't understand my child's needs. How do I respond?
What You Can Do
Begin by explaining the reason for your request and why the status quo is not working. Use examples. Offer written documentation. Try to persuade the team that your request is something your child needs, not simply something you want. The law requires the school to meet your child's needs, but does not require the school to provide the ideal education. If you are told that your request violates law or policy, politely ask for a written copy of that portion of the law and policy. Sometimes school officials confuse "what is always done" with the law. If the school is able to provide you with a copy of the law or policy, review it, and see if there is some reason why it should not apply to your child.
If you need help advocating for your child's IEP and 504 rights, contact Boston area special education advocate Lillian E. Wong today.
This is the first part of an eight-part series, "Top Flaws of IEP/504s and What You can Do About Them"
I don't see the point of attending IEP/504 meetings. I barely get a chance to talk and when I do, I'm ignored. How can I get the school to listen to me?
What You Can Do
Always remember that as a parent you are an essential member of your child's IEP/504 team. While the school is not required to implement every request you have, they are required to listen and consider your input. One of the best ways to become an active member of the team is to ask questions. After you ask a question, listen and analyze the answer. Ask follow-up questions. If you are nervous about talking in the meeting, type up your concerns an ahead of time and distribute the document at the start of the meeting. If after the meeting you still feel ignored, send the team a follow-up letter documenting any remaining requests, questions, or suggestions.
If you need a special education advocate in Massachusetts, contact Boston area attorney Lillian E. Wong today.
Yesterday, President Obama signed legislation, known as Rosa's Law, into law. Under this new law, federal legislation will no longer use the term mentally retardation. Instead, federal law will use the term "intellectual disability." Similarly, laws containing the term "a mentally retarded individual" will be replaced to read, "an individual with an intellectual disability."
This changes specifically applies to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the law governing special education law. If your child's IEP describes your child as "mentally retarded" you now have the right to request the school change this reference to "an individual with an intellectual disability."
Does your child have a disability on the autism spectrum? Does your child's disability affect social skills development or make your child vulnerable to bullying, harassment, or teasing?
If you answered "yes" to either question, Massachusetts law now requires that your child's IEP team consider and address the skills and proficiencies your child needs to avoid and respond to bullying. Consider bringing this issue up at your next IEP meeting, or request an IEP meeting today if bullying is a particular concern.
Because this law is new, you might need to educate your child's school of these requirements. Remember the ultimate goal of the new law - protecting our children from bullying.
This question was originally posted on www.avvo.com.
My child's transfer into a school district has been denied due to excessive absences although they are medically necessary. Can I do anything to force the district to allow my child to remain in this school?
You should contact a special education lawyer. You can find on at www.copaa.org. If your child medical condition is affecting his or her ability to go to school your child might require an Individualized Education Plan. Either way, the school should not discriminate against your child because of their medical condition. That said, you will need to speak with an attorney in your area and state that understands the nuances of local and state law. In the meantime, make sure the medical absences are well documented so the school doesn't pursue truancy charges against you and your child.
Nina Russell is a recent graduate of Keene State College and an intern a The Law Office of Lillian E. Wong.
Ms. Russell's personal experiences with special education have led her to pursue a career helping children with disabilities.
I was a sophomore in high school when I became part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP). As a student I did not understand the IEP and what rights I held. Today, I understand that an IEP contains many components. An IEP statement consists of the child’s present levels of academic achievement, measurable annual goals, how the child will meet those goals, the services and accommodations the child will be served, and measurable post-secondary goals. Today, I also know what the IEP team consists of the parents of the child with a disability, one or more regular education teacher(s) of the child, one or more special education teacher(s), a qualified representative of the local educational agency, an individual who can interpret any evaluations being presented, and anyone else who has knowledge or special expertise regarding the child and the child if necessary. 20 U.S.C. § 1414.
Most of my high school career I really didn't understand my disability. I also didn’t understand the whole IEP process and why I was given accommodations. I just believed I was inept and I could not do anything by myself.
My mother insisted that I attend my IEP team meetings. To me, attending IEP team meetings was fun because I did not have to attend class. Attending the meetings was also hard. No one took the time to explain to me what these team meetings were about. It was not my parents' fault because no one really took the time to explain to them either. It was difficult to sit there and listen to people who barely knew me talk about me like they knew everything about me. It was also disturbing to hear these people talk about my strengths and weaknesses and plan out the rest of my high school career. Not once did the “team” ask me my thoughts when I was sitting right there. Since my confidence and self-esteem was already shot down by some of my teachers and my peers and I did not know how to stick up for myself, I was not confident enough to participate in these “team” meetings.
Attending the meetings was very discouraging. I was at a disadvantage because I did not know my disability until my senior year when I was diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADD. So until then I just thought I was incompetent. To me, the IEP meetings were just time out of class where people, who supposedly knew me so well, could discuss how I could not handle a normal classroom and how much help I needed. This was very hard to listen to. But not attending the meeting would have been difficult too. If I knew that there were people in a room talking about my life, future, and education and I was not involved that would have been difficult too.
Before a child attends an IEP meeting, someone should discuss the purpose of the meeting with him or her. Many students with disabilities have the ability to articulate their needs and describe how their disability affects them. Still, the process is intimidating, so students should prepare for the meeting. One idea is to prepare a student agenda to distribute to the team.
Students who have disabilities along with their parents need to learn about their rights. Parents especially need to learn the process of advocating for their child's education. If it is appropriate for a child attend the team meetings, it is important to explain the purpose of the meeting to the child, help the child prepare for the meeting, and discuss the experience afterward.
Parents have 30 days to review and to make a decision about the IEP. Parents can accept the IEP, reject the IEP or accept in part/reject in part.
When parents reject an IEP in whole or in part, the school must notify the Board of Special Education Appeals (BSEA). After receiving the rejection, the school must notify the BSEA within 5 DAYS. 603 CMR 28.08(3)(b). The BSEA then notifies parents and the school of their right to request a hearing and/or mediation. To read more on rejecting an IEP click here, and feel free to leave any comments.
Starting tomorrow (July 1, 2010) parents in Maryland will be more prepared for IEP meetings. At least, that is the purpose of S.B. 540, a law that requires schools to provide parents with IEP meeting documents 5 days business days prior to an IEP meeting. Documents covered by this new rule include draft IEPs, assessments, and any other documents the team plans to discuss. What a wonderful idea! One of the fundamental pillars of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is parental participation. However, it is common practice, at least here in Massachusetts, that only school personnel have access to draft IEPs prior to meetings. Allowing parents to have time to better comprehend the draft IEP and propose changes is a positive step to encouraging parental participation in the special education process. Maryland should be applauded for providing parental rights above and beyond IDEA.
The main difference is that parents have fewer rights and schools have fewer legal obligations under Section 504. For example, IEP plans have to be in writing. 504 plans do not. IEP requires that school's take reasonable efforts to ensure parental participation, including inviting parents to IEP meetings. Section 504 does not require notice of meetings. IDEA requires parental notice before a change of placement. Section 504 does not. Children with 504 Plans can be permanently expelled for behavior that is not a manifestation of their disability. Children with IEP plans can be removed from school for behavior that is not a manifestation of their disability, but the school is still required to provide a free appropriate education.
How can I get my child off a 504 and on an IEP plan?
Schools must provide a child with an IEP if the child's disability makes special education and related services necessary. If your school refuses to provide your child with an IEP, you should contact a special education attorney.
It is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education.
Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
The Law Office of Lillian E. Wong, LLC
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15 Morningside Drive
Topsfield, MA 01983