At the beginning of the evaluation process or, the beginning of each school year; your #IEP team offer you a packet. Make sure to read it. There are some gems hidden in the dry legalese. Here are a few.
Protect your child and know what to ask for
A few years ago, a new client asked me how they could convince their son's school that the initial evaluation incorrectly identified him as emotionally disturbed (#ED) instead of being on the Autism Spectrum (#AU). It never occurred to them that a second opinion would be free because they hadn't read the notice and therefore, didn't know. The right to an Independent Evaluation at the school's expense is available every time an #assessment takes place, and it is explained in the 'Notice of Procedural Safeguards'. That second opinion has to be considered in identification and planning so it can be your most important data in resolving a disagreement .
Take some time at the beginning of any meeting to ask the team to explain this document and summarize sections. Some states omit the description and criteria for each disability category. in their version. As a parent, new to the process, you will need explanation and interpretation. The quickest, but not necessarily reliable, way to do this is to ask the IEP team. What do you think 'Prior Written Notice Notice' means? If you believe it is a meeting invitation, you would be incorrect. Write down these items with a description in layman's terms for your meeting preparation. You can also contact your state's Parent Training and Information Center (#PTI) for help in compiling a resource sheet.
Discipline and implied rights
If your child is being disciplined and not yet under IDEA, you could have a reason to request an expedited evaluation. Many children with #ADHD and related disorders are placed in disciplinary settings because they are not receiving appropriate services and this results in regular consequences - punishment a non-disabled child would receive. Sometimes, students are failing under Section 504. If the school has at any time received communication from you, or a teacher, regarding behavior concerns, you can request an expedited evaluation under #IDEA. I have successfully used this "implied" IDEA protection to convince a school that a child should not be in a disciplinary placement. He was immediately placed back into general education while a Special Education evaluation was conducted.
Your homework assignment
Take your Procedural Safeguards document and highlight any section that you don't understand. Find a trusted resource to explain it to you. Make sure that person has the training necessary to help you understand it. (i.e. PTI, Advocates on the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates' website). If you do this, you may just get excited about your new found rights.
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