About your Advocate

Photo of Virginia Spencer

Shared Experience:

 

Based in Austin Texas, I am a Special Education Advocate who is also a parent like you.

Moms and Dads of children with disabilities have an intimate understanding of the challenges in obtaining an appropriate education. You understand how "exclusive" life can be for your child because he/she looks, sounds or thinks outside of society's norms or expectations.   

 

Boutique Approach:

 

Public schools have a legal duty to provide your child with an educational benefit regardless of perceptions. My services not only include helping children in the public school system, but also helping their parents at home if needed. Families can become fragmented by the challenges of raising a child with a disability, behavior can devolve, so I offer parenting training in addition to advocacy.

Apart from being at the ARD/IEP table, I have volunteered, trained, worked for non-profits and presented many times on solution-oriented special education topics at conferences. Experience and effective communication skills are why I can negotiate for services at every level, and teach you how to do the same.

Evidence-based practices:

If you work with me to develop behavior management strategies for your child, you are benefiting from 23 years of experience with ADHD children and evidence-based PMT methodologies. Learn what your child needs and address those needs effectively.

Together, we can persuade educators to own the solutions to program disagreements. If your child's team wants to help, they are invested and will find a way.

Results-driven:

 

Sometimes, you will need to consider dispute options. I can represent you with or without an attorney and have been successful in non-attorney litigation. Only 10% of Due Process Hearings decisions find for the parent.

I have secured services for clients in more than 30 area school districts, as well as several Charter schools, covering Regions 4, 10, 11, 12 and 13 in Texas. Let me help you!

Sample Client Success Stories

 

Failure to identify: A school district fails to identify a student with Autism as having Dyslexia and a specific learning disabilities. The Hearing Officer orders 2 years of intensive remediation.

 

Ineffective behavior support: A Sophomore with severe behavioral issues elopes from school property and threatens self-harm repeatedly. After I request additional assessment and removal from a behavior unit, the student's transition plan becomes a motivator for developing good coping skills. After a few months, he learns by mentoring younger students. The following year, his mom tells me that it is the first time he has looked forward to going back to school ever.

Conduct issues due to lack of evaluation: An eighth grader with ADHD and a 504 plan is disciplined and placed in disciplinary alternative placement (DAEP) without recommendation for an expedited FIE. The district agrees to remove the student from DAEP immediately and subsequently develops an IEP with specific measurable goals for executive functioning deficits.

Least restrictive environment issues: A fifth grader, eligible under ED is recommended for a behavior unit; I request an FBA and a counseling assessment and the recommendation is retracted.

Limited assessment issues: A 2nd grader receives eligibility under OHI for ADHD. After one year, he is struggling with reading and is being disciplined. After requesting a review of the FIE, he is placed in an intensive Dyslexia program and receives 1:1 tutoring over the summer as ESY.

One size fits all program issues: A Kindergartner is recommended for busing to another district elementary school before an FIE is complete. After ARD meeting participation, the student remains and is accepted into an Autism program early.

 

Dismissal from Special Education Issues: A Kindergartner with Cerebral Palsy is determined to be no longer eligible for Special Education without a complete re-evaluation. With the participation of physicians, advocate approved experts, the student receives, among other services, Adapted PE, OT, PT and measurable goals in an IEP.