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Dr. Kari interviews special needs attorneys Lori Kirsch-Goodwin and Hope N. Kirsch about what every parent needs to know about 504 plans for their child. In this episode you’ll learn:
* what 504 plans are,
* how they are different from IEPs,
* how to work with the school district to get a comprehensive 504 plan for your child,
* what documentation is needed to qualify for a plan,
* how to get these evaluations,
* what options are available to parents if the school refuses to qualify your child for a plan or refuses accommodations, and
* what to do if the school district does not comply with the provisions of your child’s plan.
You’ll want to phone in with questions! Ms. Kirsch-Goodwin and Ms. Kirsch’s website.
Ask the Expert
Parents of kids with IEPs understand how difficult it can be to work with the school system to get an appropriate education for their child. Many parents don’t fully realize the services and educational placements they can get, or how to obtain them. Arlene Bell, special education attorney provides an overview of the Individuals with Disabilities Act and strategies for getting education that meets your child’s educational needs.
Parents of children with Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) realize that this process was developed in order to provide an opportunity for parents and educators to come together to make important plans for a special needs child. However, the process is complicated and often can be confusing and stressful. Below are some strategies to ease the stress and maximize the results for your child.
Develop a vision statement or master plan for your child’s life
A vision statement should come from your heart; what outcomes do you want for your child’s life? Will your child pursue a college education? What career options do you foresee? From this picture, you can develop short and long range goals for your child in academic and non-academic areas. You will need to be very clear about how your child’s strengths and weaknesses affect his/her learning. Be sure you have short term goals for what you would like your child to accomplish this school year, as well as intermediate-term goals which are the milestones you want your child to achieve by the end of elementary, middle and high school. Clear goals give you the vision needed to make good decisions on your child’s behalf.
Educate yourself about the process and hidden agendas
Parents can easily feel intimidated and isolated unless they take the time and care to learn “the ropes.” Learning the ropes involves much more than knowing your legal rights. It also includes understanding the informal procedures at a school, the relationships among the members of the IEP team, and the position that a school traditionally adopts regarding educating special needs kids. School districts do not like to develop new approaches, set precedents or agree to services they perceive as expensive. Federal law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) states that the power to determine educational programs and services resides in the IEP team; however, the hidden truth is that school personnel are not given the power to make decisions regarding costly or non-traditional educational services. These decisions are made by administrators. Be prepared for resistance and develop strategies in advance to deal with this resistance. Know your “bottom line” so you can bend on areas that are not crucial to you and stay committed to the goals that matter most. Read more
Jeffrey A. Gottlieb, Esq., Los Angeles special education attorney, discusses a provision in special education law that many parents are not aware of, called “Stay Put,” which gives parents power when they disagree with a school district’s placement decisions.
The context of “Stay Put”
Put simply, stay put is one of the most powerful tools a parent has to control proposed changes to the placement and services offered by a school district at an IEP meeting. It is the power of a parent to say NO!
An IEP meeting is supposed to be a team meeting. The reality is that anything offered in writing at an IEP meeting is ultimately controlled by the school district. Parents DO HAVE significant influence by addressing what is in the best interests of their child; however, an IEP meeting is not a democratic event.
Nevertheless, parents have two critical tools at their disposal when the school district offers an inappropriate placement or scope of services; that is, stay put and due process.