Special Education Tips

Friday, June 16, 2023

How to Be the Parent from Hell: A Guide for IEP Parents

Do you want to be the parent from hell? While it's certainly not the goal, here are proven behaviors that might discourage school staff from wanting to engage with a parent of a child with an IEP:


1.       Be unresponsive. Ignore phone calls, emails, and meeting requests from school staff. 

2.       If you can’t be unresponsive, then overwhelm teachers with constant communication. Flood them with an excessive number of emails, phone calls, or in-person meetings, demanding constant updates, explanations, and special treatment. Disregard their need for time and space to fulfill their professional responsibilities. Contact staff outside of work hours regularly for non-emergency issues, not respecting their personal time.

3.       Disregard professional expertise. Consistently dismiss the opinions, insights, and recommendations of the school professionals working with your child. Routinely question teachers' authority, methods, and decisions in a confrontational manner. 

4.       Drop by unannounced regularly, disrupting the staff's schedules and potentially infringing on the learning environment. Ignore all school rules. 

5.       Become confrontational, especially at IEP meetings. Approach every discussion or disagreement with a combative or argumentative demeanor.

6.       Fail to follow up. Don't participate in any follow-up actions or activities suggested by the IEP team to help support your child's learning at home.

7.       Escalate issues unnecessarily. Take minor issues straight to the top administrators or school board without first trying to resolve them at the classroom or school level.

8.       Hold unrealistic expectations. Demand changes or services that are clearly outside the school's capabilities or responsibilities, or that don't align with your child's documented needs.

9.       Criticize the staff or their efforts publicly, such as on social media, instead of addressing any concerns directly with them. Gossip and spread negativity – especially on Facebook pages. Don't worry, there are no moles on these FB pages. You can be confident that your comments will never come back to haunt you. 



Tuesday, June 6, 2023

20 Disappointing/Maddening statements a Parent May Hear at an IEP Meeting… and how to react!

1.     "Your child doesn't qualify for special education services."

Response: Request a detailed explanation of the eligibility criteria and ask for clarification on how your child's needs are being addressed. Submit private evaluations to provide additional evidence of your child’s needs and then ask the school district to pay for them (unless your insurance covered it). 


2.     "We don't have the resources to provide the requested services."

Response: Inquire about alternative solutions, explore available community resources, grants, or funding options and ask the team to collaborate in finding creative ways to support your child's needs. If they school says that your child needs OT, but their OT is out on leave, or if they are trying to hire someone, then request that the school funds a private person. If your child misses services, then ask for compensatory services. Also, document that statement. The District is required to provide FAPE, Free Appropriate Public Education, not “what we can afford” or “what we have the staff for.”


3.     "Your concerns are outside the scope of our responsibilities."

Response: Advocate for the relevance of your concerns to your child's education, provide supporting evidence or documentation, and emphasize the importance of addressing their specific needs. Collaborate with the team to find mutually agreeable solutions that address both your concerns and the school's responsibilities.


4.     "Your child has made minimal progress despite our efforts."

Response: Request a review of the strategies and interventions being used, propose alternative approaches or assessments, and collaborate with the team to explore new avenues for supporting your child's progress. Consider obtaining an independent evaluation to gain additional insights and recommendations. Collaborate with the team to develop a revised plan that targets your child's specific needs.


5.     "We cannot implement the recommended accommodations or modifications."

Response: Seek clarification on the reasons behind the decision, provide additional information or professional recommendations, and advocate for the importance of the requested supports in facilitating your child's access to education.


6.     "We are recommending a more restrictive placement for your child."

Response: Express your preference for inclusive settings and highlight the benefits your child has experienced in an inclusive environment. Also highlight the benefits that the typical students have received in inclusive classes. Request a discussion to explore additional supports or strategies that can help your child thrive in an inclusive setting while addressing their specific needs. Ask what supports and accommodations, and supplemental aids and services are needed so your child can be successful. Understand your rights under IDEA 2004 under Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). 


7.     "We are not able to meet your child's individualized needs."

Response: Discuss the specific areas of concern and request an explanation of why the needs cannot be met. Collaborate with the team to brainstorm alternative solutions or explore outside resources, such as community programs or therapeutic services, that may be able to provide additional support. Stay open to outplacement and visit schools that your District may want to send your child to. Do your homework and find schools that your District did not mention. 


8.     "Your child's progress is below expectations."

Response: Seek clarification on the specific areas where progress is lacking. Discuss the factors contributing to the challenges and work together with the team to develop a revised plan that targets the identified areas for improvement. Consider seeking additional supports, such as tutoring or specialized interventions, outside of the school if necessary. 


9.     "We cannot provide the related services your child requires."

Response: Request a clear explanation for the decision and inquire about alternative resources or service providers that may be available. Explore community organizations, support groups, or local agencies that offer services aligned with your child's needs. Consider seeking advice from disability advocacy groups or reaching out to your local Department of Education for guidance.


10.  "We have reached the maximum level of support we can offer."

Response: Discuss your concerns about the adequacy of the current support level. Share any information or research supporting the need for additional support. Explore options for augmenting school-based services with external supports, such as private therapies or educational programs, to provide the comprehensive assistance your child requires.


11.  "Your child's goals and objectives are unrealistic."

Response: Ugh – the soft bigotry of low expectations for students with disabilities. Engage in a discussion about the specific goals and objectives, provide evidence or professional opinions supporting their attainability, and seek agreement on goals that challenge but also support your child's growth.


12.  "We don't have the time or capacity to address all of your concerns."

Response: Prioritize your concerns based on their impact on your child's education and well-being. Request a follow-up meeting to address the most critical concerns first. Explore ways to collaborate more efficiently within the available resources, such as scheduling regular check-ins or utilizing technology for virtual meetings to streamline communication and decision-making processes. Remember that at an IEP meeting, the parent concerns MUST be considered. Before the IEP meeting, consider sending in your written concerns prior to the meeting and ask that they be attached to the IEP. 


13.  "Your involvement in the decision-making process is not necessary."

Response: Assert your legal right to be actively involved in the decision-making process regarding your child's education. Highlight the valuable insights and unique knowledge you have as the parent. Advocate for open communication, shared decision-making, and a collaborative approach that includes your perspectives and concerns.


14.  "Your child's disability is not severe enough to warrant additional support."

Response: Request a thorough explanation of the criteria used to determine the level of support, provide any supporting documentation or professional opinions, and discuss the impact of the disability on your child's educational progress and participation. 


15.  "We cannot provide the requested assistive technology or accommodations due to cost limitations."

Response: Inquire about available funding options or grants that could support the acquisition of the needed assistive technology or accommodations. Discuss alternative, cost-effective solutions and highlight the potential positive impact these supports could have on your child's learning and participation. Ask for an Assistive Technology evaluation to determine what technology does your child need to meaningfully access their education. Document the school’s statement as they are obligated to provide “an appropriate education,” not “the cheapest education.”


16.  "Your child's behavior is disruptive, and we are considering disciplinary action."

Response: When behavior affects the learning of the student, or the learning of others, that student is entitled to supports and services in their IEP. Advocate for a functional behavior assessment to understand the underlying reasons for the behavior. Request the implementation of positive behavior support strategies and collaborate on an individualized behavior plan that addresses your child's needs while promoting a positive and inclusive learning environment.


17.  "Your child's academic performance is not a priority for us."

Response: Express your concerns about the importance of academic progress for your child's future success. Provide evidence of the impact of education on their overall well-being and advocate for appropriate support and resources to foster their academic growth. If their priority is behaviors, please know that you can work on positive social and emotional goals without sacrificing academics. 


18.  "We are not able to provide the necessary support for your child's social and emotional needs."

Response: Discuss the specific social and emotional needs that are not being addressed and emphasize their significance in your child's development and overall educational experience. Collaborate with the team to explore alternative strategies or resources that can support their social and emotional well-being. If the school is not able to provide the supports, ask for an independent evaluation to see if they can suggest services and strategies to educate your child. Consider the possibility that maybe your child has needs that cannot be met in the public school. Look around to see what private schools are offering. 


19.  "We cannot accommodate your request for an independent educational evaluation (IEE)."

Response: Familiarize yourself with the rights and procedures regarding independent educational evaluations. They are part of your procedural safeguards. Share information about the reasons why you believe an IEE is necessary and advocate for your right to obtain an unbiased assessment from an independent professional. If you ask for an IEE, the school must either take you to Due Process to prove that their evaluation was appropriate, or they must agree to the IEE.


20.  "We cannot provide the necessary staff training to meet your child's needs."

Response: Emphasize the importance of staff training in effectively supporting your child's educational needs and ensuring a positive learning environment. Request information about available professional development opportunities or suggest external resources that could assist in enhancing staff expertise. 

     Remember, when responding to these statements, it's important to maintain open communication, assert your rights as a parent, and work collaboratively with the school team. If necessary, seek support from advocates or professionals experienced in special education to ensure that your child's needs are properly addressed.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

10 Surefire Ways to Make Your IEP Meeting an Utter Fiasco

Here are 10 actions parents can take that would likely lead to a less productive meeting:


1.     Arrive Late: Show up to the meeting without regard to the scheduled start time, disrupting the proceedings and potentially missing crucial information.

2.     Skip Homework: Don't review your child's current IEP or progress reports before the meeting, leaving you unprepared to discuss their needs and progress.

3.     Ignore Participation: Don't provide any input or ask any questions during the meeting. Remember, your voice is essential in shaping the IEP.

4.     Bypass Communication: Don't establish a relationship with your child's teachers or therapists, which can make it difficult to understand and discuss your child's progress.

5.     Keep Your Concerns to Yourself: If you have concerns about your child's education, don't share them. This will prevent your team from addressing them in the IEP.

6.     Don't Follow the Jargon: Do not ask for clarification if professionals use educational jargon or technical terms you're unfamiliar with.

7.     Forget the Documents: Leave any important documents, assessments, or reports at home.

8.     Become Overly Emotional: Allow emotions to overshadow the discussion, leading to potential conflict or miscommunication.

9.     Neglect the Long-Term Vision: Forget about the long-term goals for your child and focus solely on the here and now.

10.  Avoid Follow-Up: After the meeting, don't read the finalized IEP document, don't check to see if the plan is being implemented, and don't stay in touch with the IEP team.


     Remember, these are things you want to avoid. Doing these things could lead to an unproductive IEP meeting. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

Student Records - Why we keep them!

Maintaining an organized record of your child's academic and related activities can be beneficial for several reasons, including:

1.     Historical Reference: Having a record of your child's progress over the years can help you and educators identify trends, improvements, challenges, and potential issues that may need to be addressed. This is particularly important if your child has any special educational needs.

2.     Development of IEP or 504 Plan: If your child has or may require an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan, having a well-documented history of their academic performance, behavior, and any previous evaluations or services can support the development and modification of these plans.

3.     Resolving Disputes: If disagreements arise between you and the school regarding your child's education or services, having clear records can be crucial. This could be related to your child's special education needs, disciplinary issues, or discrepancies in reported grades or achievements.

4.     Transitions: If your child changes schools, the academic records will provide a history of their learning experience, special education services (if any), and achievements. This can be useful to new teachers or special education teams in understanding and meeting your child's needs.

5.     College Applications: For high school students, having an organized record of academic performance, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and awards can be very beneficial when it comes to college applications.

6.     Adult Services and government benefits: You will need records if you apply for adult services or programs, and government benefits. 

7.     Evaluations and Medical Records: Keeping copies of these documents can be useful when making educational decisions or planning for accommodations.


     Remember, it's important not only to keep these records but also to review them regularly to track your child's progress and to be proactive in addressing any potential issues.

     Here is a template you can use to request your child’s records.

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[City, State ZIP Code]



[School Name]


[City, State ZIP Code]



Re: Request for Records


Dear [School Official],


I am writing to request access to my child's education records, as provided for by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, and its implementing regulations, 34 C.F.R. Part 99, and as also provided by IDEA 2004, and relevant state laws.


Please provide copies of the following records for my child, [Child's Name], who is currently enrolled at [School Name]:


All records, including by not limited to: Academic records, including report cards, transcripts, and standardized test scores; Disciplinary records, including any records related to suspensions or expulsions; Health records, including immunization records and records of any medical treatment provided at school; Special education records, including any records related to evaluations, IEPs, or other special education services; any correspondence retained between myself and the school officials; any correspondence written between school personnel regarding my child including emails; any document that is personally identifiable to my child. 


Please let me know if there are any fees associated with this request, and if so, please provide an estimate of the cost. I do not expect any costs. I prefer electronic records. 


Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.




[Your Name]