Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Jan 06
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by Doug Goldberg

Myth 1: If I disagree with my child’s IEP I shouldn’t sign it?

Fact: In actuality for most states it is the exact opposite.  After reviewing the IEP and checking state law you should disagree with it and sign immediately.  Include your concerns and which parts of the IEP you disagree with and choose the method you would like to handle your dispute.  If you are not comfortable filing a complaint on your own speak with an experienced attorney or advocate to help you.   The risk is by not signing the IEP and listing your disagreements that it might appear as though you have given implied consent.

Myth 2:  You can’t make changes to an IEP once it’s signed until the next annual IEP meeting.

Fact: Parents can ask for a new IEP meeting at anytime which must be held within 30 days of the request.  If changes are agreed to in the IEP meeting an amendment can be added to the IEP.

Myth 3: Special Education is draining school budgets.

Fact: Special Education gets federal funding.  Unlike sports, music, art and other programs for the general student population that come directly out of the school budget special education funds are subsidized via federal funding.

Myth 4: Special Education is only for the severely disabled.

Fact: Special Education is for all disabled children no matter how severe who by reason thereof NEED special education services. 

Myth 5: Special Education can only be performed in a special classroom.

Fact: Special Education requires educating in the least restrictive environment.  This means disabled children should be educated in the general education classroom with typical peers to the maximum extent possible. 

Myth 6: The school has the final decision on whether my child is eligible for special education.

Fact: Parents have the right to disagree with the schools eligibility assessments and ask for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at the School expense.  If there is still a disagreement after the IEE the parents have the right to file for a due process hearing to have an impartial hearing officer make a finding on eligibility.     

Myth 7: My child has a learning disability but doesn’t qualify for special education because there is not a large enough discrepancy between their cognitive abilities and achievement.

Fact: IDEA of 2004 says the school is not required to consider if a child has a severe discrepancy between cognitive abilities and achievement to determine if the child has a learning disability and needs special education. The school may use Response to Intervention to determine if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the assessment process. 

Myth 8:  My child can’t get speech therapy or another related service because the school doesn’t have any therapists.

Fact: The school is obligated to provide any related services the child needs to access the curriculum and cost can’t be a factor.  The school would need to pay for a private therapist if they don’t have the appropriate staff available at the school site. 

Myth 9: My small school district can’t handle special education students so they can’t help us.

Fact: The school district is obligated to provide a free appropriate public education to all children with a disability that qualify for services.  The school district would need to pay for services to be brought into the school or pay for placement in a non-public school that meets the child’s needs.   

Myth 10: Special Education students can’t go to college.

Fact: Many special education students go on to college.  IDEA of 2004 specifically requires that students be prepared for independent living and further education to the extent possible.  While the IEP ends upon graduation from high school most colleges and universities have student support services for students with disabilities.  These services could include note taking, tape recording lectures and many others.

These are my top ten myths but there are many more.  If you have any you would like to add to the list please comment below.

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14 Responses to “Top Ten Myths about Special Education”

  1. This is a great list! I would add another common myth: if my child is successful in academics, it is okay for the school staff her/him out of special education.

    I see this a lot in grades 7-12 with students who have learning disabilities. Their disabilities can’t be seen, but their daily time with a resource/support specialist can. Many teens are very self-conscious about difference from their peers and want to be staffed out. Parents want to see their children happy and schools with large IEP caseloads are all too willing to comply. Schools will look solely at academic success when evaluating whether or not to staff a student out. The myth is that a successful student no longer needs support.

    The reality is that students achieve academic success when supports are in place. But that success doesn’t mean that your child’s disability is gone. Both the school and the child may try to convince you that staffing out is what’s best, but once it happens that success can quickly turn to failure. In addition to the risk of failure, staffing a student out denies them of access to transition services like Vocational Rehabilitation and to support services/accommodations in a post-secondary setting.

    When evaluating the success of a student, make sure the school looks at the big picture: social/emotional components, diagnostic evaluations, and academic track record.

    Thanks for this wonderful site! It is an amazing resource!

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  2. Thanks for posting this list. All are very common misconceptions. Beyond these it is also important for parents to always remember to advocate and trust your instincts. Do not sacrifice your expectations and values for your child. Always ask for documented material when an educator or administrator says no or it can not be done.

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  3. Thanks for the comments and adding both of these important myths parents should be aware of.

    FatherPOV makes an excellent point about asking for documented material when an educator says no. This is called Prior Written Notice and is required by law.

    Thanks again for these wonderful comments.

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  4. This article, along with “Do you need to open an IEP for your Child…What are you waiting for,” should be read in unison because both make vividly clear the “nuts and bolts” of the IEP process and the realistic time frames that we parents must address. Thank you Doug and Dennise!

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  5. One more myth: that a mother or a father is somehow required to deal with the education system — alone.

    In fact, you can bring anyone with special knowledge of the child to an IEP meeting — . This means that you can bring friends, neighbors, coaches, relatives and those who you think will contribute to plan your child’s education. There is a place on the IEP invitation for you to list who will be attending with you.

    I urge you NOT to attend IEP meetings alone because you will benefit greatly from the support and the listening skills of those you invite, since there are fewer people representing the family around the IEP table than the number of people representing the school, and it can feel uncomfortable or difficult if you are a very small minority of one in a large and otherwise cohesive group with an opinion about your child that differs from yours.

    I think the parents’ main responsibilities at an IEP meeting are (1) expressing/persuading the IEP team of your vision for your child, and (2) listening carefully to what they have to say and considering each point raised very seriously.

    Also, do let a school know you may be bringing a lawyer or advocate with you. If your IEP invitee is a lawyer (as I am), the school district will probably want to make sure the District’s lawyer has the option of being present, too. I have shown up at meetings which were immediately cancelled because I showed up. When I’m present for a child at an IEP meeting, the school feels there is an unfair advantage unless their lawyer is present too.

    I never understood this. They have armies of lawyers and the school district employees are the ones WRITING the IEP document into Welligent, the LAUSD computer system handling the IEP documents. But I do respect the fact that we disagree: they think it unfair if parents have a lawyer present and they do not, despite their lawyers on staff, who are always just a phone call away from the school district staff. I always tell parents to let the school know they’re bringing me AND that I’m a lawyer.

    An opinionated girlfriend who knows a child well is often just as effective. And if I’m sitting beside the opinionated girlfriend, you’ve got quite a team.

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  6. Thanks 4 posting these. it helped a lot 4 me because i am taking the course Bachelor in Special Education in my tertiary level… now i have the ideas of how to handle special children and to deal and help them together with their parents….thank you very much..

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  7. wat does IEP stands 4?

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  8. Individualized Education Prorgam

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  9. This help me in my report for current trends in Special Education. God Bless you.

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  10. Joe said on May 10, 2013

    Can anyone comment on whether or not a child can waive accommodation themselves? Our district is saying that our child waived accommodation on the CST. He is 11 and in 5th grade.

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  11. My child is 16 and in the 10th grade. He has an IEP and a nickerson letter.
    Can we use this if we find a Boarding School outside of NY. Can his papers follow him. He has been at his present school sicne 4tgrade with an IEP and nickerson lettter.
    My son needs more accomidations educationally, emotionally, and socially etc.
    If he is accepted can his nickerson letter be used to help with tuition?

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  12. Hello to all, how iis all, I think every one is getting more from this site, and your views are pleasant
    in favor oof new people.

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