The world of special education can be difficult to navigate. The first step to advocating for your child is to understand key terms, options for education and your rights when working with the school. With this basic knowledge, parents/caregivers can understand their role in the education process.
- What is a Case Conference? This is a meeting between parents and school personnel to develop a student’s IEP. This is an important session to strengthen communication between all involved and advocate for the student.
- What is an IEP? Individualized Education Plan, it seems scary but it is crucial to your child’s education. This determines that your child has services and accommodations catered to his/her special needs not provided in standard education.
- Diploma or Certificate track? Some may not know that special education students may not end their school career with a diploma. Depending on graduation requirements enforced by each state, a student will end high school with either a diploma or a certificate of completion. The certificate track is for students that will not be able to complete the state’s requirements for a diploma. The decision to choose either track will be a collaborative decision between the parents/caregivers and educators.
- Know your rights. As a parent/caregiver, you have rights to protect your child and their education. The following are important to consider to come to the table prepared to advocate for your child’s education:
- You have the right to ask questions about and disagree with parts of your child’s IEP. Be sure to request and save copies of the IEP when any changes are made.
- You have the right to bring support into the case conference, including family members, friends or professional advocates. As a courtesy, be sure to inform the school personnel if you are bringing additional people into the meeting.
- The conference should be held at a mutually agreed upon date and time. The school will make a suggestion, but you can call and let them know what works best for you.
- You have the right to end the conference at any time and request to continue at a later date if you are uncomfortable with the direction.
- A copy of the IEP should be provided to you within 10 days of the conference date. Once you receive the IEP, you have an additional 10 days to review and respond to the school. The IEP will take affect after the 10 day review window, so be sure to voice any questions or concerns within that time period.