SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW EMPOWERS PARENTS
...The purpose of Special Education Law and Title IV (2004) No-Child-Left-Behind states..."Parents, armed with data, are the best forces of accountability in education. And parents, armed with options and choice, can assure that their children get the best, most effective education possible.”
In a Presidential address in 2010 the one line that got by far the most applause was: "Parents are going to get more involved in their children's education..." "...one thing is absolutely essential—and that's parent involvement."
Powerful Rights and Responsibilities Empower Parents
Federal law supports parents, with options and choices through Parent Information Centers. The purpose of these centers is to ensure that parents of children with disabilities receive training and information to help improve results for their children.
Federal Special Education Laws give full responsibility for the education of children to the parents, and in some instances, parents are empowered beyond the powers of the school. Still, with these efforts in place, many parents remain uninformed about learning disabilities and special education and are not sufficiently prepared to effectively advocate for their child's education.
Yet, parents are the only advocates children have. And, if parents do not have sufficient skills to advocate effectively for their child during this process, the child is at the mercy of the school. The following scenarios highlight the need for empowered parents with advocacy skills.
Why Knowledge of Special Education Law is so Important
A typical scenario is that funding requires a given number of children elegible for special education in order to fund a special education class. If the number required for funding is 12, and only 11 children have been identified, the school is likely to find one additional child to be placed in that class for several reasons. First, it saves that teachers job so that she can remain at that school with her friends, the children can receive services in their home school, it eleminates the expense of transporting the other 11 children, and the District continues to receive funds.
It is easy to understand that the school has a need for one more child to meet their need, and if the parent is not informed, no one is going to ask the question, "is special education appropriate even if he is eligible?"
The opposite of this scenario is also true. Very often a child may be underachieving, but, because he is a well behaved child, the teacher does not experience him as a problem and his needs go unnoticed. When you approach the teacher and say that my child is not doing well, the comment may be about his behavior rather than his achievement. "But Johnnie is so well behaved, or he doesn't look like he has a learning problem."
And, finally, the worse case senerio is the child with a specific learning disability that has superior abilities in one area and below average abilities in another. When it is all averaged out, the child appears to have average abilities and working at grade level. Actually, this is not an average child, he is a superior child with strengths and weakensses in his abilities that qualify him for a special education. These are tricky cases, and even professionals are challenged by these children.
In each instance, the parent needs to be equally prepared to advocate for their child's needs. Federal special education law states that every child is entitled to a “free, appropriate, public education,” but you will need to know the law and how to use it to get what you feel is appropriate for your child.
Special Education Resources
All the information needed to reap the intangible rewards of empowerment as intended by Special Education Law is immediately available in our LD Reference Book. It contains all the information needed by parents to take control at school meetings and advocate effectively to get the educational services that their child needs.
And you will be confident that your child’s education is “appropriate” because you will have negotiated the terms yourself as is your right under the laws governing the process.
If you feel the need for support during this process, contact us. Free support is available by phone, fax, or email to owners of the LD Reference Book.
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