With a new school year about to begin, now is a good time to get ready to advocate on behalf of your child with special needs. Here are a few tips for getting off to a good start:
1. Gather information about your child. Ask for a copy of your child’s school records. Make your request in writing. Sign it and date it, and keep a copy of your request. Also, make a list of all of the persons and agencies who have provided your child with medical or mental health care. Include their contact information on this list.
2. Organize your child’s information. If you haven’t done so already, get a binder or cardboard box to keep copies of your child’s relevant school records such as IEPs, assessment reports, report cards, any behavior reports and any important letters. You may also keep a few samples school work in the binder. Having them on hand may help you if a dispute arises between you and the school district. Be sure not to mar the documents by writing on them.
3. Review your child’s IEP. Your child’s IEP is the foundation for your child’s school program. For this reason, it’s important you know what is contained in the IEP. As you review your child’s IEP, consider whether what it offers is what your child needs. And as the school year progresses, be aware of whether the school district is actually providing what they have offered in the IEP.
4. Contact your child’s teachers and the school nurse. During the first days of school, contact your child’s teachers to let them know important information about your child. The best time to contact the teachers is after school when the teachers are not busy instructing students. You may also want to update the school nurse on any changes in your child’s health or medication.
5. Monitor your child’s progress in school. As the school year progresses, monitor how your child is doing in school by reviewing any relevant reports sent to you by school district staff. Contact your child’s case manager and teachers of any important changes you are aware of, including any changes in your child’s life at home that may affect your child’s performance at school.
6. Keep abreast of special education news. Being knowledgeable about your child’s disability and special education law can help you be a better advocate for your child. A few of the many good websites to visit for information on special education include wrightslaw.com, dredf.org,
disability scoop.com, edutopia.org, and disabilityrightsca.org.
Unfortunately, disagreements sometimes arise between parents and schools regarding a child’s special education. When a disagreement arises, parents can turn to help from a special education attorney or advocate for help.
Martha Millar Law
A California Special Education Law Firm