Hey, folks, it’s annual review and spring cleaning time! Here are three important things to remember:
1) Be a pack rat
Have you kept copies of tests? Everyone gets that spring cleaning bug, but when it comes to your child’s school work, please keep them together in a safe place. There are inexpensive decorative boxes that you can use for storage. While you are gearing up for next year’s IEP, looking over the work will allow you to take stock of whether your child has really made progress.
2) Have you been documenting all of your interactions with teachers and school staff?
It’s never too late to start. That means either communicating by email or following up conversations with emails thanking the person for their time and stating your understanding of what was discussed.
3) The IEP formulation process is supposed to be a level playing field, not a cliff.
You are allowed access to all information that the school has about your child. You also have a voice in the process and a right to understand the IEP. If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation. You don’t have to ‘try out’ a program or a placement if you think it won’t serve your child. You have a right to visit at class placements suggested for your child and you have a right to see information about the other children who will attend school with your child – just not any identifying information like names and addresses. It’s useful to learn whether your child’s future classmates have profiles similar to your child. It’s also useful to see the learning environment, since many children have specific learning environment needs.
4) Your child is not legally entitled a public education that maximizes their potential.
Public schools must provide an educational program and placement that meets your child’s unique needs and that will allow your child to progress. If not, then you can enroll your child in a private school that will meet your child’s unique needs and seek private school tuition reimbursement. You’ll need the backup documents to show that your child’s needs haven’t been met and you’ll need to have reserved a spot for your child in an appropriate private school. And if you can’t afford the tuition, you’ll need a school that will understand that you will be seeking tuition from your school district – and there are schools that can be flexible, because they are familiar with this process.