Students who have special learning needs may qualify for specific types of support and assistance from their school. Through special education programming, your child may get what he or she needs in order to succeed in school. However, only certain California students are eligible for this support, and your child will need an evaluation in order to establish the specific types of help he or she needs. After an evaluation, your child will have an Individualized Education Program.
An IEP is the plan that outlines the type of support your child will get and how the school will provide it through extra services and in-class assistance. This can include everything from one-on-one physical support to extra time to complete tests. Schools, teachers and others are legally obligated to provide the services outlined in an IEP. If your child’s school is not doing that, you do not have to remain silent.
Advocating for your child
As the parent of a special education student, you are your child’s best advocate. You can speak on his or her behalf, particularly if the school is violating your child’s educational rights. Your child has the right to an education that follows the format outlined in his or her IEP, and failure to follow it can have a significant impact on his or her education. If you suspect that your child’s school is not complying with an IEP, the following steps may be useful as you pursue a beneficial outcome:
- Make sure that you are carefully documenting everything that proves or suggests the school is not following the IEP.
- When you communicate with the school or with teachers, keep the conversations professional and direct.
- Request a meeting regarding the IEP at the earliest possible time to discuss your concerns.
- File a complaint with the state, and call the Department of Education to determine what options for recourse are available.
There are times when a conversation about your child’s educational needs is not enough. It may be necessary to pursue legal action against the school or other parties for a blatant disregard of your child’s rights and needs. Special education law can be complex, and you may benefit from speaking with a knowledgeable professional regarding how you can pursue a beneficial outcome on behalf of your child.