The Advocacy Lifestyle
Review The Plan
Organize your paperwork. Review the IEP, especially the GOALS and SERVICES sections.
Reflect on whether the IEP reflects the long term goals -
- On track for regents diploma or local diploma?
- On track for independent living or group living situation?
- On track for college, other programs, the job market?
Email your child's team to introduce yourself-
- Explain your interest in working together in partnership this school year.
- Highlight your child's strengths and weaknesses.
- Teachers receive a copy of the IEP/504 Plan, but there is nothing to stop you from picking out highlights from the IEP/504 Plan to emphasize directly in your email.
Look Out For Regression
If you feel your child regressed over the summer, ask for Regression Testing. Depending on the results, this could build a case for services next summer (known as Extended School Year (ESY)).
Monitor the Services Schedule
If your child gets related services, ask the case manager for the therapy schedule. That will help you to monitor the implementation of the IEP.
- You can ask your child the day of scheduled services whether they saw the provider that day - keep your own record of any cancellations.
- You can ask the related services provider for an attendance record.
- If a service provider cancels a session, your child is entitled to a make-up session. (If a session gets canceled because your child is absent from school, he or she is not entitled to a make-up.)
- Most school districts do not provide a make-up session unless a parent requests it.
All Services Identified in an IEP Should Be Implemented
If a teacher, service provider, or your child communicates that some aspect of the IEP/504 plan cannot be implemented because of a resource limitation (not enough kids for a cohort, lack of training/staffing, etc), contact the case manager.
- This is called Lack of Implementation, and it is not acceptable under the law.
- Once the CSE has identified a need, the CSE must address it. If the school does not have appropriate personnel on staff to address the need, the district needs to bring in a resource or find an outside program that can address the need.
- If the provider or case manager do not resolve the issue, you can bring it to the attention of the CSE chair, the Asst Director of Pupil Services, the Director of Pupil Services, then Dr. Curtin, then the Superintendent, and then the BOE.
- If you still have a concern that services have not been implemented, you can contact NYSED's Special Education Quality Assurance office: https://www.nysed.gov/special-education/special-education-quality-assurance-hudson-valley-regional-office
Meet with Your Child's Team Periodically Over the Course of the Year
Request a team meeting of people who work with your child at school. (This is not a program review meeting, no need to include CSE/504 chair. The idea is to have a brief check-in from time to time.)
- Request a meeting when there is an issue. Keep your email BIFF: Brief, Informative, Friendly, Firm
- After the team meeting, email a summary to all in attendance
- Planned follow-ups
- Next meeting
- Who is doing what
- Teachers' schedules are not inherently flexible. If a team meeting is not possible, you can check in with team members individually.
- Special Education providers participate in Parent/Teacher Conference Days/Evenings. You can email them to schedule a conference.
Look out for quarterly special education progress reports (every 10 weeks).
- A related service provider or teacher should note how the child is progressing for each goal. If the child is "progressing gradually" or "progressing inconsistently" on any goal:
- Ask for specific data - how was progress measured? Are there artifacts to support this rating?
- Ask to meet with the team
- Discuss how to make more progress toward the goal(s) in question
- The goals on the IEP are designed to be attainable. Keep checking in mid-year to see how progress is going and whether the program needs to be tweaked in order to get to the goal.
Don't Recycle Everything
As your child brings work/assessments home or posts work in Google Classroom, keep representative examples for your records. These are evidence of progress that you can refer to as you prepare for the annual review meeting.
If a New Challenge Comes Up...
If a new challenge surfaces, you can call for a Program Review Meeting.
- There may be new evaluations to conduct.
- If the CSE or 504 Committee identifies a new need, the team should update the plan.
- If a service provider refers you to a private therapist because the district does not have a professional trained to address your child's new need, bring this to the attention of the case manager and Director of Pupil Services. In a case like this, if a new need is identified and an appropriate provider is not on staff, the district should bring in an outside resource or come up with another appropriate plan. This would be addressed in a Program Review Meeting.
The IDEA Provides for Extracurricular Support
Unless there is an audition/try-out, all school-sponsored clubs and extracurricular activities are open to everyone (RSS offers Destination Imagination, Multi-cultural Club. The MS/HS offers after school clubs, theater productions, Destination Imagination, and some sports teams that do not include a try-out).
- For any extracurricular activity your child chooses, if you anticipate that they will need accommodations or support in order to participate successfully, or if the child demonstrates the need for support, bring the issue to the attention of your case manager.
- The district or school will not necessarily flag a child's IEP, challenges, or accommodations to extracurricular advisors or coaches. It's really up to the parent to advocate. You can ask the case manager to get in touch, or you can get in touch directly with the coach/advisor.
- The IDEA provides for services and accommodations to extend to extracurriculars when there is a related challenge. For example, if a drama club student has access to audiobooks at school due to a reading challenge, it would be appropriate to ask for an audio version of the school play's script to be available to that student.