*Information on this site is authored by a non-attorney, parent advocate. It is not to be construed as legal advice. All information is based on Federal special education regulations, and is consistent with Oregon law. State laws vary slightly, but cannot supplant Federal law to lessen protection. If your situation involves extensive behavior needs or other extensive matters, at some point it might be necessary for you to consult with a local advocate or attorney in your state, especially if you want to file a written complaint or due process.
Frequent Parent Concerns
Help parents prepare for IEP meetings ● Explain your child’s needs in terms you can understand. ● Helps you better advocate and verbalize to the team what you want to say. ● Explain your child’s rights so you are more confident and empowered to advocate for your child at meetings.
Attend IEP meetings with parent ● Make positive efforts to develop a team effort to address appropriate services based on the child's needs. ● Help verbalize to the team what your child needs are, based on the scientific research which relates to data of your child's academic performance and skills. ● Help ensure that your parental and child rights are protected during the meeting.
Review your child's records ● Help ensure that his/her records are complete, accurate, and have all your child's needs documented so the records clarify your child's rights. ● Assure tests and services of your child are fully included in the records. ● Identify and request missing information.
Explain parent rights and special ed laws ● Teach you the school's legal obligations. ● Determine when the school is in violation. ● Help you obtain a free independent evaluation.
Explain your child's special education testing and scores ● What do the scores mean? ● Interpret what your child's strengths and weaknesses mean. ● Determine any missing data that the testing did not show.
Screen/assess your child’s academic needs ● Learn what further needs he might have. ● Take the data to the IEP team for a full discussion of the child's needs. Mediation session services ● Determine if mediation might help in your situation. ● Help you prepare for mediation. ● Attend mediation session with parent. Assist with filing state complaints ● Determine if your situation warrants a complaint. ● Will your complaint make any difference? ● Organize necessary documentation for the complaint. Help determine if/when to involve an attorney ● When is an attorney needed? ● Prepare information, documents, school records, etc., for an attorney, making sure documents are in order and relevant documents are flagged for review, thus saving you money.
Assist with filing for a hearing (due process) ● Assist parents who wish to proceed without an attorney. ● Prepare for due process testimony, witnesses, etc.
Have you asked the school staff to test your child for special education, but they keep stalling? ● Did you know that the law requires schools to test children within 60 school days of a parent's written permission, or provide you a notice of refusal to do so? Send your own notice of consent!
Is your child struggling to learn how to read, but the school says he's just a late bloomer and will catch up soon? ● The late-bloomer theory is no longer valid. Research has proven that the longer a child is deprived of intervention, the harder it is for him to catch up. When teachers do not listen, then parents need to be more assertive.
Is your child on an IEP, but still not getting the help he needs, or the progress he deserves? ● Did you know the school is required to address the concerns of the parent and address ALL the educational needs of the child? Did you know that special education children should be given sufficient services to enable them to progress at a sufficient rate to catch up to their same-aged peers rather than getting further behind every year? Do you understand the special education testing which the school administered to your child? ● The school is required to have someone available to explain the testing in terms you can understand. You have a right to get your questions answered and to see all the tests your child took, including full explanations of test items or any other concerns you have.
Do you feel that the school's testing to determine special education qualification was inadequate or incomplete? Did he get denied services because he did not "qualify" for them? ● Did you ask for certain types of testing and the school's testing did not seem to address your areas of concern? You are entitled by federal law to take your child to evaluator(s) of your choice, chosen by you and not the school, and the school district (your tax dollars) must pay for it. There are procedures to follow to do this.
Do you wonder if your child has dyslexia, but the school won't test for it? ● Fact: School districts in some states will test to diagnose dyslexia, but most avoid using the "D" word, because they have not taken the time to learn how to diagnose it, so their one-size-fits-all remediation techniques provide only minimal benefit. _________________________________
Advocate training credentials are under the "more" tab above.
DO YOU KNOW THE FOLLOWING PARENT RIGHTS?
You may request an IEP meeting at any time you feel there is information you need to discuss about your child, such as behavior, testing, services, goals, etc.
If you have an IEP meeting, and feel like you did not get to share enough about your concerns, there is more information you need,or you did not get everything explained, then you may ask for another meeting. If the school schedules an IEP meeting, and you are unable to attend that day, you can request a different day/time which must be at a mutual time.
After an IEP meeting, ask for a copy of the school's revised IEP plan AND any handwritten meeting notes BEFORE you leave. If they want to type them first, ask for a copy of the handwritten notes NOW, and ask for the typed notes to follow.
In your personal files, you should have a copy of the notes of every IEP meeting, every IEP document, all IEP progress notes and report cards, and all test scores (including subtests, not just the category) which have ever been conducted on your child.
You can ask the school to do any test you feel your child needs and... Any time you ask the school for something which you believe would benefit your child, and they say no, they must provide you with a written notice of refusal with very specific legal components to explain their reasons. During an IEP meeting or conversation with the school, if you ask for something, and they say it is "against policy," you should ask for a copy of that policy or law, in addition to the notice mentioned immediately above.
You should record ALL of your IEP meetings -- just let the school know ahead of time so they are not caught off guard. They will probably also record it, and you can ask for a copy of their recording since it is a school record. You have a right to see and get a copy of all of your student's records, including those that the special education teachers, speech therapist, and other service providers have in their own possession (which are never provided to you during a "records request" unless you specifically ask for them). You are entitled to see and have a copy of all data collected on your child by any staff member, particularly the data kept by special education staff that documents the progress on the child's IEP goals. The school must get your permission before conducting any test or observation that is not typically done for all children. If you ask the school to test your child, they are not allowed to postpone this testing while they do a 6-8 week trial intervention to see if your child responds (sometimes known as RTI - Response to Intervention). If you ask for an Independent Education Evaluation at school expense, the school is not allowed to limit your evaluation or to specify certain evaluators you must use. The school is not allowed to use money as a reason to deny your child a service. The school must provide your child individualized services based on his/her needs.
If the school says they are "required" to get your signature on a certain form or document, it does not mean you must sign it !- They simply can not take action on that unless you sign. You have a right to take home any form and read it thoroughly before deciding whether or not you want to sign it.
(These are not meant to be a full list of your rights, but represent just a few that parents are often not aware they have.)