The Parent Handbook offered to you at every IEP meeting is your special education bible!
This document is not just some useless booklet. It’s technical name is the Procedural Safeguards and it’s a requirement under IDEA 2004 Section E. These safeguards are there to protect the parents and families of children with a disability. This document also gives very specific information about how any disputes or disagreements about services can be solved.
Just a few of the safeguards outlined include:
- The right of parents to receive a complete explanation of all the procedural safeguards available under IDEA and the procedures in the state for presenting complaints
- Confidentiality and the right of parents to inspect and review the educational records of their child
- The right of parents to participate in meetings related to the identification, evaluation, and placement of their child, and the provision of FAPE (a free appropriate public education) to their child
- The right of parents to obtain an independent educational evaluation (IEE) of their child
- The right of parents to receive “prior written notice” on matters relating to the identification, evaluation, or placement of their child, and the provision of FAPE to their child
- The right of parents to give or deny their consent before the school may take certain action with respect to their child
- The right of parents to disagree with decisions made by the school system on those issues
- The right of parents and schools to use IDEA’s mechanisms for resolving disputes, including the right to appeal determinations
As parents, you are in integral member of the IEP team. You know your child better than anyone else seated at that table. The law recognizes this and also acknowledges that as parents, you are your child’s best advocate. Next time you’re at an IEP meeting and the team offers you a copy of the handbook, accept it, review it, become familiar with your rights and the protections in place for your child with a disability.
Hopefully, you have a strong alliance with the school team and you’ll not need to use the dispute resolution process, however perhaps you’d like to get an advance copy of testing results before an IEP meeting or you want an IEE for your child. These are not unreasonable requests and are within your power. Reviewing this information regularly may also help to get more familiar with some of the terms used by school teams. All those acronyms can begin to swim through your mind during meetings
I’d love to hear how you use your Parent Handbook or what information you learned as you’ve gone through it that have helped you and your child move closer towards your goals.