How often have you heard the School District blame the Parents for the failure of an IEP? I’ve heard it more often than I would like and it’s more common than some would like to believe. This very topic was at the heart of a recent appeals proceeding conducted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Anchorage School District v. M.P.. The 9th Circuit was reviewing a ruling from a District Court that was “declining to consider whether M.P. received a FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) because his parents were equally or more at fault for the absence of an updated IEP.” This ruling from the District Court, if upheld by the 9th Circuit, would have undermined the entire process established by Congress in IDEA and the rights afforded to parent’s to protect their child’s right to receive FAPE. The 9th Circuit understood the enormity of what the District Court had ruled and agreed to a judicial review of the lower court’s decision. During that review, “The school district argued that the parents were at fault because “they left the IEP meeting, did not file a dissenting report,” and did not adequately communicate their concerns to the school district.” The 9th Circuit Court of appeals disagreed and wrote the following: Read the rest of this entry →
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How many parents attended IEP’s recently where you requested changes to your child’s IEP only to be met with resistance and ultimately the School District refused to make the change. This happens often and many times the parents leave the meeting unsatisfied and not understanding why their request was not approved. If that is the case the School District is not adequately following the requirements under Prior Written Notice (PWN). Not only are decisions about your child’s IEP supposed to be Team decisions BUT they are also supposed to be fully thought out, based in facts and put in writing. This is why the Prior Written Notice requirement was put in place. It’s easy for a School to say no, it’s not always so easy for them to articulate why they said no. It becomes increasingly more difficult for the School to explain if the real reason they said no was not based on your child’s individual needs but based on budget concerns or other monetary issues. Read the rest of this entry →
At least once a week I am asked if parents are allowed to audio record an IEP. Most people think the automatic answer is yes but in reality the answer is maybe. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is actually silent on the issue but in June of 2003 the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued a letter clarifying their position on audio recordings:
Part B does not address the use of audio or video recording devices at IEP meetings, and no other Federal statute either authorizes or prohibits the recording of an IEP meeting by either a parent or a school official. Therefore, an SEA (State Education Agency) or public agency has the option to require, prohibit, limit, or otherwise regulate the use of recording devices at IEP meetings. Read the rest of this entry →
Dear Members of Congress;
Today all over the United States children with a disability are not being provided an appropriate education via their Individualized Education Program (IEP). While there are many wonderful School Districts there are some that are skirting their responsibility because they know they can get away with it. In these troubled economic times some School Districts are cutting necessary services as a cost saving method knowing that many parents don’t have the means to disagree and file a complaint. The law that governs special education in the United States, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was not meant to shift the balance of power to the school districts but that is what has happened. The fairness was taken from IDEA in 2006 and it’s time to give it back and level the playing field for parents. Read the rest of this entry →
We recently received this question from one of our twitter followers:
My DS (Dear Son’s) IEP meeting is scheduled & conflicts with other testing. The team is only allowing 1 hour. Can I ask to reschedule?
With the school year coming to an end; many IEP’s are being scheduled. As a result, we have received this question quite frequently in the past few weeks. The school district must hold an IEP meeting at a mutually agreeable time and place for both parties, unless the parents choose not to attend. As you can imagine, we always recommend parents attend their child’s IEP because important decisions are being made regarding their child’s education. Please keep in mind that parents have rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), one of which is to be an active participant in your child’s IEP. Read the rest of this entry →
I don’t understand why every time we post an article on Special Education Advisor regarding advocacy or relationships with your child’s school we always get the same type of comments. If the article is discussing how to collaborate with your school or create a positive relationship I receive comments about how utilizing this philosophy would put you in a weak position. On the other hand, every time we post an article about being a strong advocate for your child we get comments about how this is counterproductive to the collaborative nature of the IEP Meeting. Since when did we start living in a universe where you can’t have a positive relationship with your child’s school and be a strong advocate for their needs? You absolutely can do both, but it requires finesse. Before we talk about how to do this I want you to see two of these comments we have received. On the article Top Ten Methods to Foster IEP Team Collaboration we received this comment: Read the rest of this entry →
Probably the most frustrating part of being the parent of a child with a different ability  is the response from the very organization you hoped you could trust the most to do right by your child – your school district. After all, teachers and administrators are trained to adapt the teaching environment to help my child, right? (No.) I pay my property taxes, so I should be able to control how the schools work, right? (You should, yes, but in reality you don’t.)
So what should I do when the school district won’t do what they are supposed to do for my child? Read the rest of this entry →
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 added a qualification requirement for special education teachers to be “highly qualified” to align with The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind. Every Parent should understand what it means to be “highly qualified” and has the right to request the qualifications of any of your child’s Teachers. Read the rest of this entry →
The list outlines the top ten Special Education Supreme Court Cases and a short description of each ruling. To read the entire opinion click on the name of each case below:
First Supreme Court case regarding special education set the standard for what is a “Free Appropriate Public Education”. The ruling provided children with disabilities access to public schools that also provided a basic floor of opportunity. Not the best education but one where the child has passing grades in classes and is advancing to higher grades. Read the rest of this entry →
1) If Parents can add a written report to their child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP); or
2) Whether placement decisions in an IEP can be made based on the category of disability; or
3) How do you protect the rights of a child who is a ward of the State in an IEP; or
4) Does the School need to have highly qualified staff to teach Extended School Year (ESY); or
5) Whether Children with a Disability should be included in State Assessments.
All of the above questions and many, many more can be answered by reviewing the Federal Register. Section 607 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that the Secretary of Education, on a quarterly basis, publish in the Federal Register a list of correspondence. This is correspondence from the Department of Education received by individuals that describes the interpretations of IDEA or the regulations that implement IDEA. You can find a list by topic or date of these letters on the US Department of Education’s website.
I review these letters regularly as it gives me guidance on how to communicate with School Districts. Especially, when I need answers to questions like the one’s presented above. For instance:
1) Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 156 Page 46678 states that, “Parents are free to provide input into their child’s IEP through a written report if they so choose.” This is important information to know when the School District’s IEP notes are skewed or missing information the Parent’s feel is important to get on the record; or
2) In a Letter to Tom Trigg dated November 30, 2007, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) answered a question regarding Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) where they stated, “The public agency should exercise caution in making such a determination [location of services] so that the placement of the child with a disability is not based on factors such as the category of disability, configuration of the service delivery system and the availability of staff and instead is based on the factors stated in §300.552;” or
3) In a letter to Dr. Mary J. Ford dated July 10, 2003, OSEP answered a question regarding protecting the rights of a child who is a ward of the State where they stated, “The first part of your question, regarding the appointment of a surrogate parent for a child who is a ward of the State, involves 34 CFR §300.515(a). This regulation requires the public agency to ensure that the rights of a child are protected if 1) no parents (as defined in §300.20) can be identified, 2) the public agency, after reasonable efforts, cannot discover the whereabouts of a parent; or 3) the child is a ward of the State under the laws of the State. The duty of the public agency under §300.515(a) includes the assignment of an individual to act as a surrogate for the parents. The public agency must have a method for determining whether the child needs a surrogate parent and for assigning a surrogate parent for the child. (34 CFR §300.515(b));” or
4) In a letter to Dr. John Copenhaver dated November 7, 2007, OSEP answered a question about the qualifications of school staff during ESY where they stated, “Under Part B regulations, no distinction is made between the personnel qualifications for special education and related services provided pursuant to a child’s IEP as part of the regular school program and those provided pursuant to an IEP as ESY services. Personnel providing ESY services should meet the same requirements that apply to personnel providing the same types of services as a part of a regular school program;” or
5) In a letter to Congressman Weldon dated October 10, 2001, OSEP answered a question about state assessments where they stated, “The requirements for including children with disabilities in assessments are based on a number of federal laws, including Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and most notably the IDEA and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. These laws recognize that an assessment is often connected to student benefits such as moving to the next grade or graduating. Assessment is also an important factor in school accountability as well as individual benefits provided to children. Excluding children with disabilities from assessments may violate these Federal laws.”
Knowledge and information are two of the most important tools that Parents have to ensure their child receives a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Answers to these and other questions like them can be the difference between a child with a disability receiving FAPE or that child receiving a failing education. Stay informed by reviewing new letters as they become available quarterly on the Department of Education website.