Are you the parent of a child with autism, that struggles to ensure that your child is receiving, a free appropriate public education? Would you like to learn some strategies to help you in your advocacy? Then this is the article for you! You will learn about 9 special education procedural safeguards and how to use them to benefit your child’s education!
#1. The opportunity to examine educational records of your child. You have the right under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA 2004) to look at your child’s school records to include: temporary records, permanent records, E mails, internal memos, discipline records etc. Look for items that you have not seen before, reports, teacher reports, discipline reports; anything that you think that you can use in your advocacy efforts.
#2. The right to participate in all meetings related to your child’s education, and development of their Individual Education Plan (IEP). You can bring people with you to the meetings that have special knowledge of your child; grandparents, babysitters. You also may want to bring an advocate with experience in your child’s disability. Make a list of items that you want discussed and check them off as the meeting goes along.
#3. The right to be a member of the team that makes placement decisions, for your child. As a parent you are an equal member, and schools are not allowed to “vote” on decisions, and say that they get as many votes, as they have people. In reality the school gets 1 vote and the parents get 1 vote-equal members.
#4. The right to give informed consent for testing and special education services. This means that the school district must explain what testing they want to do, what areas they want to test in, and specifically what related and special education services that you are consenting to. IDEA 2004 allows you to consent to only the tests or services you agree to.
#5. The right to obtain an Independent Education Evaluation (IEE) at public expense, if the school district evaluates your child, and you disagree with the evaluation. Many schools tell parents that they must tell them before pursuing an IEE at public expense, but no federal law states that this must be done. Parents can “obtain” the IEE at public expense, and then seek reimbursement from the school district. This way the school cannot “interfere” in the independent evaluation.
#6. The right to Prior Written Notice when school districts want to initiate a change in the identification, evaluation, or placement of a child or refuse to initiate a change in the identification, evaluation or placement of a child. IDEA 2004 states that PWN must contain 5 items: A. It must define the changes that the school wants to make or is refusing to make. B. It must explain why the school proposed or refused to take action. C. It must describe each evaluation, procedure, assessment, or record used as a basis for the proposed or refused action. D. Must provide sources that the parent can seek to help them understand this information. E. It must describe the factors that were relevant to the schools proposal or refusal. Very few school districts understand PWN!