· REMEMBER: You MUST present yourselves as a UNITED FRONT. Work out any differences you may have with your spouse and/or support team PRIOR to the meeting
· REMEMBER: Bring in a Special Education Advocate or Disability Specialist to provide expertise on every aspect of your child’s disability as it pertains to state and federal education law.
· REMEMBER: You can’t expect a school district to respect your child’s civil rights if you don’t know what they are.
· REMEMBER: You can find an advocate through your local parent information and training centers, state child advocacy groups, or national disability organizations. You can also check the Wrightslaw “Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities” for your state at www.wrightslaw.com.
· REMEMBER: You have the right to receive copies of any district evaluations or documents two days before an IEP or Evaluation Team meeting. Read and research all tests and test results BEFORE the meeting.
· REMEMBER: You have the right to create and submit an Evaluation Narrative for the Team to utilize as a quick and easy chronological reference and comparison of your child’s functional evaluations. Make sure you have separate columns to chart the date, the evaluator (with their credential), the name of the test, the test scores (with percentiles and age/grade functioning levels), the interpretations, and the recommendations of each of the evaluations your child has had.
· REMEMBER: You have the right to know how each evaluation, therapy, and/or teaching strategy suggested by the district has been researched and proven effective in helping children with disabilities similar to those of your child achieve their educational and/or social goals.
· REMEMBER: Type up any questions you have for the Team BEFORE you get to the IEP meeting. Make a copy for every Team member. Make sure you ASK your questions, and write down WHO answered them and WHAT they said. You have the right to insist that your questions & answers be included in the Team Meeting notes.
· REMEMBER: You have the right to follow up every IEP meeting with an email to all the Team members documenting your interpretation of their answers to your questions. This is really the only way to document your concerns.
· REMEMBER: SAVE ALL WRITTEN CORRESPONDENCE!! This includes EMAIL, FAX, & POST, as well as any notes written in school agendas, assignment books, and communication notebooks. Make copies of every ‘informal’ notes exchanged with the district BEFORE you send them, INCLUDING all pages of agendas, assignment books, and communication notebooks.
· REMEMBER: You have the right to audio record any Team meeting, as long as you give the Team prior notice of your intent.
· REMEMBER: YOU are your child’s first and foremost line of defense. Preparation will always be your best offense. Knowledge will always be your best defense.
· REMEMBER: “To Err is Human.” You have the right to check and double-check ANY information ANYONE tries to give you.
· REMEMBER: You have the right to stop anyone at anytime to ask questions. You also have the right to insist on getting your answers immediately, not at the end of the meeting.
· REMEMBER: You have the right to bring someone to write down ALL of your concerns as the meeting is happening so you can devote all of your attention to what is being said.
· REMEMBER: Bring in a picture of your child and put it on the table to remind everyone they are talking about a living child, not just a test subject.
· REMEMBER: YOU know your child better than anyone else. If YOU don’t agree with the results or recommendations of district evaluations, YOU have the right to reject those evaluations and insist on providing your own independent education evaluations (IEEs).
· REMEMBER: You have the right to schedule your own IEE to be covered by your insurance at any time. Evaluations that are covered by most health insurance plans have already been medically screened for validity and reliability, and show good faith on your part by saving the district the cost of IEEs.
· REMEMBER: You have the right to an extension of time to include your own IEEs in your child’s eligibility determination for special education services to ensure that your child’s IEP addresses every aspect of his or her disability.
· REMEMBER: The burden of proof is always on YOU. You cannot ask for a specific special education service if you do not have an appropriate evaluation administered by a licensed evaluator proving the functional deficit requiring that service.
· REMEMBER: YOU control the meeting. The district cannot do anything without your permission. That is your trump card… use it wisely!