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Tim Villegas
BY Tim Villegas
15,598 views

The Most Important Thing Parents Need To Understand About Special Education

Are parents expecting too much from special education? My thoughts on what parents need to understand about special education.

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate” – Cool Hand Luke

Imagine this scenario

It is Friday afternoon and the conference room is filling with professionals. The special education teacher, general education teacher, speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, school principal, school district representative and special education nurse are all sitting at the table. In a few minutes parents of a child with special needs will walk through the door with an advocate.

The school staff is expecting a fight about related services. The mood is tense and there are more than a few snarky things said before the parents walk in. The parents on the other hand are prepared not to budge on their position and are expecting to push for their child’s right to services in order to benefit from special education.

What is the best way to think about this situation? Who is right? Who is wrong? Is there a right answer?
While this example is intentionally vague, if you are a parent or teacher of children with special needs, you have probably experienced something like this at least once. The problem, in my view, is a failure to communicate. The failure goes beyond the school district and extends to the family as well. Communication is a two way street and it is just as important for the family to communicate the needs of their child to the school as it is for the school to survey the parents on their strengths.

Are parents expecting too much from special education?

The promise of special education is not to fix students’ imperfections but to give every child equal access to learning. When the school district recommends services, whether they are for specialized instruction or related services it should be an informed decision based on assessment. These services should never be based on what we think would be “nice” or even “beneficial” for the student. We certainly do not need an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to provide best practices for teaching. These should already be in place. In addition to this, special education services should be thought of in terms of access to general education.

Special Education is Just Like Ramps to a Building

Think about special education much like the ramps of access to a building. Special education is the service that helps students with disabilities access their education. Without this service they would not be able to access learning which in turn denies them a free and appropriate education (FAPE).

The breakdown, in my opinion, happens when parents request services that their children do not need to access their education. Every child is different and will fall on some sort of spectrum in regards to how they learn. This does not mean, however, that a child needs special education if they are getting bad marks. It also does not mean that a school can deny a child services because they are getting good grades either. The point is that what you see the purpose of special education is…matters. It can cloud the mind of even the most thoughtful parent. Services are provided for students to make “meaningful educational benefit”.

What do the Courts Say?

“Courts have held that to receive a free appropriate public education, the child must receive meaningful educational benefit. Courts have also held that while children with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate education, they are not entitled to the “best” education, nor to an education that “maximizes” the child’s potential. Strike these terms from your vocabulary.” – Wrightslaw

Let’s wrap up on a positive note. I am absolutely for parents advocating for their child’s education. I am for good school to home communication for every child. I am for IEPs that are respectful and that have parents that are active participants. I am for parents who understand their rights and are prepared to go to due process to give their children access to education. What I would like to do is encourage parents to think about what their children really need and what they deserve from special education.

What is your understanding of “meaningful educational benefit”? Do you think parents are expecting too much from special education?

Tim Villegas

Written on April 8, 2014 by:

Tim Villegas has worked in the field of special education and with people with disabilities for over ten years. Tim has turned his passion for blogging and promoting ideas about inclusive schools and communities into his own website, thinkinclusive.us. He believes that we can create a bridge between educators, parents, and advocates (including self-advocates) to promote ideas, innovation and inspiration to change our world to be more accepting and value each and every human being. Tim lives with his fetching wife and three adorable children in Marietta, GA. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
  • Woodjm

    Thank you! As both a Special Education teacher AND the parent of an ASD child, I’m in a position to understand both sides of the debate. This is thoughtfully written. Special education services are supposed to allow children equal access to the curriculum. Too often I see parents who are misinformed and believe the school should be providing all of the therapies when many of them are not school related and are a private insurance matter. As a parent I also understand how confusing and overwhelming the process of raising a child with special needs is and how every day can feel like a war.
    Thank you this is brief and well stated.

    • Daphne Winders

      agree

  • Denie Sidney

    Very informative. You just added to my toolbox so I can be a more informed advocate for my daughter. I went to my daughter’s first ever IEP mtg. with the mindset that everyone in the room was on the same team–my daughter’s team. That mindset was very effective and positive for us. Well written.

  • Carol Morgan`

    I’m a little confused as your definition of a “special needs” child. When my son attended a “special needs” school, his needs were met – whether they were speech therapy or occupational therapy. Are you referring to a mainstream education or a special needs school? All of us, the teachers, the principal and the family all had the best interest of my son as the main function.I look forward to hearing your reply.

  • rabbit

    Thanks for this perspective. In my experience as a parent, much of the tension you describe, at least on the part of the parent, is founded in a sense that their special needs child is an afterthought in a public main stream school. They know that their child’s access to the education they need, will be far inferior to the access to the education afforded to the mainstream kids. Another point you make is about our kids not being entitled to the ‘best education’. An interesting point, however I must disagree with this in one respect. I realize that by ‘best education’ you mean, the sum of everything that child needs. But if you consider the individual core subjects of math and reading, many special needs children require specialized teaching in order to have any success learning curriculum. That specialized teaching may be different for different kids depending on their specific challenge. Very often, the methods that work for them are not offered by the school system, and so they do not make appreciable gains there. So is a parent asking for ‘the best’ in this case? Not if the alternative results in very little progress for the student. Let us not forget that what the is important what happens in the classroom every day. Special education should mean specialized teaching, which must be somewhat individualized to be effective. Why bother with any other kind? Unlike mainstream kids, the ‘best’ way is often the only way of special needs kids.

  • Joanie

    Forgive me, but if you’re a parent of a child with an IEP, you’ve been rolling your eyeballs at the ignorance and silliness for years. “Best practices”–read, “We don’t want to learn anything new because we learned it all when we got our degrees 20 years ago.” “Parents request services that their children don’t need.” Read: “WE don’t think he needs them and we know everything because we’re the Phone Company, I mean, the school district.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we parents could change your factory-era schools to be in synch with how children learn today, with the visual thinkers who are interested in coding and apps in middle school? Our boys are stuck trying to process all that auditory language as your 54-year-old Social Studies teacher drones on about this and that, which Johnny has already looked up online and feels no connection to so he will use his visual memory to be able to regurgitate on the test to please you and then go on to forget it the next day because he’s more interested in deeper knowledge… *sigh* Someday, we’ll have people in schools who “get” these kids and stop looking down their noses at parents who know what the kids need to access meaningful information and learn what they need to know instead of spending their time trying access flawed, outdated curricula presented without multi sensory supports because they have no clue why that’s important.

  • carin fh

    love this important discussion! Like woodjm, I too am a SpEd teacher and parent advocate for my beautiful daughte with Sld and ADHD. I was a teacher at her school, but not resource which is how she accessed services; it was an eyeopening experience and I resigned after 5 months because of the poor management and lack of Sped knowledge on part the administration. Then I was able to truly advocate for my daughter’s needs and communicate effectively with her teachers. that being said, I came to realize that I was putting all of my trust in the School to do what was besT for my child. unfortunately, many public schools- who focus on the middle range learners — do what’s most cost effective in sped. long story short: as a parent, ask for data, observe your child in class, request curriculum so you can see what the teacher is working on (whether it be academic, behavioral, life skills, basic needs, whatever), and be critical of what the school tells you they are doing….they may not actually be doing it. for example, if your child is suppossed to have a 1:1 aide in a genes setting, make sure that aide is working with your child and has not been placed to be an aide for the Genes teacher. it happens more than we’d like to think. stay active and informed and don’t throw around due process, because the school districts hire smart lawyers and all the time spent in mediation and court (which definitely has its time and place) is time taken away from your child. we should always expect the most from sped because it is the law; the schools know it and its their job to do correctly. its our job as parents to support the process and provide oversight for our babies! Best to all!

  • Liz Tree

    I found this article to be super condescending: I don’t know any Spec ED Parent who is looking to the school to “fix the students so-called imperfections.”

    Who says my child’s intellectual disability is an imperfection. Yes, things are harder for my kid but tell me he is “imperfect”.

    • Guest

      I have a SpEd child of my own, and work as a para. We do have parents who expect us to “fix” their child. Usually in terms of behavior. Learning is what I think the school should work on. I don’t expect the school to fix my child’s behavioral issues, although I do expect them to take them into consideration when deciding how to teach him. But as a para I cannot in just a few hours a day, for just part of the year, fix serious behavioral issues that they have at home. Nor can I have completely separate rules of behavior and vastly different consequences for each child in a classroom. I can modify my expectations to best meet the needs of a particular child, but to totally follow “home rules” for each child, when they are vastly different from both our rules, and the rules of other children in the classroom, is impractical and quite frankly, ludicrous to expect.

      • depressed

        As someone who has worked as n aide and teacher of special ed students, parents believe that we the educator need to do more for their children then the children too. If you have never been in one of these meetings, being told that I am failing a student because I haven’t done enough…when in actuality, the student does absolutely nothing in class, does no work at home, and we are expected to “pass” the student because they have an IEP. If I show everything I do (did), the parents still believe that I haven’t tried hard enough. “I shouldn’t expect a special education student to do homework. They have special needs.” My goal as an educator was to teach special needs student to learn and survive on their own. Every special ed teacher wants to be no longer be a teacher of special ed. We want to to help them learn for themselves, problem solve, be mindful of their abilities and learn strategies to help themselves. But we as the teacher are always doing something wrong. Education is m o longer about what is best for a child’s education, but how little they have to do in order to pass. It’s so depressing. I loved teaching…but to be accused of not wanting what is best for my students regularly, it was just too much. Parents have to understand the more services they put in place for a child takes away the child’s ability to learn for themselves, to achieve real progress in school, to learn to be function adults in this day and age on their own. It’s a disservice to the kids and to our future as a nation. It is so very depressing. And guess what…I loved teaching. I loved the kids, watching them learn and succeed…but I couldnt take the B.S. anymore.

  • Geoff

    I am all for parents expecting a lot from special education services. What parent would not have high expectations from special education teachers, paraprofessionals, etc.? The problem arises when it is not a shared responsibility for the education of the child (there is a reason it is called an IEP Team) but rather only the responsibility of the school or in some cases, not enough ownership from the school. In this case, parents or professionals have an unrealistic expectation of special education services, making progress more difficult. Educators are wise to help parents understand this notion and feel welcome as a valued, equal, distinct part of the special education process. Parents also have a responsibility to build a positive relationship with educators, be available, share ideas, ask questions, communicate. As a parent of a child with a disability and as an educator, it is a great thing to have a team work so cohesively.

  • Hntrwdo

    I’ve never been so disappointed with the Special Education sector of our local public school district…
    Years of battling with them.. long story short, from my prospective of a previous special education student (I pulled my son from the program last year as the district admitted they had not provided services within a 6 month period of time and I could not continue to have him be taunted for being a “special ed” student.. obliviously the district was not sensitive to this title and did not keep things confidential). Personally, I feel the only concern they have is obtaining the funding from the state to continue on with the program.
    The parents & students have no rights.. I know this as I was 3 days away from a “due process hearing” between the state, ourselves, and the district to plead our case and the state dropped the case due to us removing our child from the program.
    At the end of the day, we removed him because the district was not providing the services they were to adhere to within the legal guidelines of the IEP.
    Signed,
    Disappointed with the Special Education System

  • Renay Zamloot

    No Tim, the “breakdown” begins when the school district lies to the parents. These lies serve the purpose of managing parental expectations and saving the district time and money. Districts will lie about the student’s progress, his behavior, the need for intensive instruction, the appropriateness of the student’s placement and so on… the list is endless. Unfortunately, when parents are forced into the uncomfortable and often expensive position of having to counteract the lies, they are labeled as “adversarial.” In my 18 years in the field I have not encountered very many parents “requesting services that their children do not need.” I have, however, encountered countless school districts failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students while hiding behind a rose colored smoke screen that is very difficult for most parents to penetrate.

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  • MG Montini

    I have worked with State funding Special Education, as required by Federal IDEA, for quite a few years. As a result, I have had to acquire a great deal of knowledge of the Federal IDEA laws I was required to work with. To be prepared for this work, I had to read through the Code of Federal Regulations (on IDEA) and the NY Commissioner’s Regulations as they related to these Federal Mandates, as well as many of the details as it regards to Medicaid Funding for Special Education Services.
    Much of what you are saying is incorrect.
    (1) The IDEA mandates clearly state the parents must be included in the process to determine the IEP services the child is to receive. If the parents don’t like the services the school is offering, they Do Not have to accept these services, and can Demand (even specific) services from elsewhere (IDEA Laws – See the Code of Federal Regulations). The School must comply with the parents wishes as it regards IEP services!! They CANNOT limit the parent to the school’s “recommendations” (IDEA – Code of Federal Regulations)!!!
    (2) IDEA requires Public Schools to use Highly Qualified (Certified) Teachers to give these services; only Private Schools have an exception to this rule – and the parents can demand services from private organizations if they do not find the services in a Public School adequate (in the parents’ opinion) – and the school Must Comply with this wish! The school Cannot by-pass the parent even if it deems the parent unreasonable – the requirements to determine a parent “unfit” are too extensive for any (reasonable) school system to meet in a majority of the cases. Neither should the school try to say a parent is “unfit” just because the parents wants “the best” services for their child that may be beyond what the school normally will give!
    (3) An IEP is to “Fix” the problems a student experiences! In fact, periodic review of the IEP, the success of the IEP services in ‘fixing’ the students problems MUST be done periodically according to Federal IDEA Mandates – and the parents can demand such a review more often if they see a ‘problem’ with the results from the IEP services their child is receiving. If the Review (in which the parents must be involved in) finds the student is not progressing properly (to “fix” their problems), the IEP must be redone to come closer to a proper solution for this child. The goal of IEP Education is to completely integrate the child into society in a normal functioning capacity – including a Federal Mandate that a child have “Transition Services” into a normal work-life or into college! Not to say did enough, and then to say we feel sorry the child is not “normal”. This last statement is not within the intent of the law!!!
    (4) The intent behind FAPE, as it regards Federal IDEA Mandates (as well as other education mandates) is to benefit the child, not to lower the ‘frustration’ and expense a teach and school district finds when it must take an additional step to ensure they can benefit the child.
    (5) I think there is a misinterpretation of decisions within “the courts”! In fact, within NY, parents and schools have won court cases to obtain funding for many services that the NY Department of Education thought was to extensive and unreasonably expensive to fund! Parents have a lot of rights under IDEA – simply because they really do work “in the best interest of the child”. I would hope teachers and school systems see the “Best interest of the child” important enough to want to cooperate with and work very closely with these parents. Either way, IDEA demands they do this.

    A lot of misinformation in this article. Forgive me for being blunt. I hope parents (and teachers) aren’t fooled by this.

    • Tim Villegas

      @MG Montini – Thanks for your comment.

      I don’t think you are really responding to the article as much as you are responding to what you think my article is implying. As I stated in my conclusion, my hope is that every parent understand their rights and go to bat for their student to the fullest extent of the law and the mandate of IDEA. My hope is that as IDEA gets reauthorized in the future that it is fully funded and parents do not have to fight tooth and nail for every service. Let me quickly respond to your statements and you can take them for what it is worth.

      1) Parents are an essential piece if the IEP team…there is no team without them. 2) I am not sure where you see in the article that I say any parent is “unfit”. To your point, parents have every right to request a private placement at public expense. 3) I believe that you are taking the word “fix” out of context. My intention with the word “fix” was in the context of parents wanting their child to be fixed in terms of their disability. I agree that the IEP is about fixing (I prefer the term “supporting”) the issues that they experience. That is entirely different. 4) Yep. Meaningful educational benefit. Not the “best” necessarily but services that help the child make progress. I never said anything about the frustration level of the school. Services should NOT be given based on the convenience of the school district. 5) I would be interested in which particular court cases (especially on the federal level) that you feel have been misinterpreted. In any case, I encourage every parent to be very familiar with their rights. I highly recommend http://www.wrightslaw.com/ as a resource.

      Hopefully you can see that we are not at odds with one another. If you are interested would encourage you to peruse the full scope of my writing: http://www.thinkinclusive.us/author/tim/#sthash.zMqBbLgA.dpbs

  • Julie

    Do us all a favor – resign from your position. Clearly you do not belong in special education.

    • Tim Villegas

      Well…that wasn’t very nice.

      I have no intention of resigning my position as a teacher or as an advocate. If you have any substantive argument about what I had to say please let me know. I would also encourage you to read some of my other writing about special education. Hopefully you will have a different opinion when you are done. Thanks for your comment.

      http://www.thinkinclusive.us/author/tim/#sthash.QCc1qpkZ.dpbs

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  • Smith Parks

    Now a days technology plays a vital role everywhere, its
    important that we should start making our kids comfortable with technology,
    well I don’t mean that we should turn them into geeks, lol. However, its always
    good to be up-to-date with the technology.

    As a parent I always teach my child how to use computers and
    internet. Liza, my 15 year old daughter is studying in a High school. She wanted
    to prepare her project for a school competition, so I helped her completing her
    project. In the process, not only she completed her work but also understood
    how to use computers, I know next time, it’ll be a cake walk for her. You can
    always try this with your kids. Trust me its fun!

    http://bit.ly/1AH6Spz

  • 20autismmom10

    This is how most families feel in IEP meetings. We don’t ask for things our children don’t need. We ask why the things they do need have not been implemented…each and every IEP, year after year.

    • Strider

      My experience as a special ed teacher is that most parents don’t bother to show up to IEP meetings at all, and those who do, do one of two things: 1). they make sure we know how hard their lives are with their disabled kid, and tell us how much of a problem their disabled kid is, so that they can have all the attention and we barely have time to talk about the actual child; and 2). they accuse the school of not doing enough for their child, up to and including doing the class work for their disabled child, providing a personal aide for a student who can perform all functional and adaptive tasks independently, and demand that we never ever EVER discipline their child, and never send them home for any reason because the parent doesn’t want to deal with them. Even if they are sick. Or violent. So sorry if we think we know something about children with special needs, or even YOUR child, but even if you’re the perfect rational loving parent who goes into meetings respecting teachers and actually wanting your child to succeed, that’s not our experience of most parents.

  • The parents on the opposite hand square measure ready to not budge on their position and expect to push for his or her child’s right to services so as to profit from education…

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  • Jolie

    RE: MG Montini comment:
    I realize that the comment is 2 years old, but it still shows up in a google search, so I feel compelled to refute MG Montini’s claims, in order to save any parents that read the post from believing it. Tim Villegas’s article is far from misinformation, however the MG Montini comment most definitely is, and the evidence is quoted below. I must emphatically disagree with what have been presented as statements of fact regarding the parent’s right to override IEP Team decisions and unilaterally demand and be granted their wishes regarding services for, and placement of, their child with special education needs. It is obvious that the writer truly believes that she knows the law and its implications for parents. Although her intentions appear pure, her advice is sorely misguided, and it is of utmost concern that the writer has represented him/herself in such a way as to appear to be someone whose knowledge of the law is extensive, and have worded his/her statements in such a way as to appear that s/he is paraphrasing IDEA, with emphasis in ALL CAPS and exclamation points, nonetheless, without actually submitting any proof. In reality, the law has been grossly misinterpreted and is utterly misleading to parents who read this and believe what has been written. I fear that it can only serve to drive a wedge between parents and the school and teachers, which has negative consequences for the child.
    Parents want what is best for their children, which is best achieved when the parents and school have a positive, collaborative relationship, and when parents understand the IEP process, laws, regulations, and unfortunately its limitations, that allow them to fully participate. However, parents may feel vulnerable because they don’t have background in the special education process and/or difficulty understanding the law, and by “interpreting” it for them in this way, a false sense of power is created, that will only serve to stir the pot of discontent, further widen the gap between parents and schools, put them on the defensive, and worst of all, set them up to be blindsided when they go into a meeting with guns blazing, demanding what you have said that schools MUST provide, and find out they were victims of bad advice. Sadly, their feeling of disappointment is doubled when they find out that not only is their child NOT automatically eligible to receive what they had their heart set on after reading your post, but have likely embarrassed themselves in front of people whom they will be working closely with for the duration of their child’s special education eligibility.

    Below is a rebuttal to several of the claims (by number), along with the supporting evidence directly from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004:

    (1) You are correct that parents must be included in the process, and are a valuable member, and if the parents don’t agree with all or part of the IEP, they do not have to accept it. The expectation is that the team will work together to come to an agreement. The parent may express their desire for a specific program or for services to be provided elsewhere, but the school DOES NOT HAVE TO COMPLY. The school is mandated to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) and if they are doing so, they have met their responsibility. The parent has the right to take the issue to mediation or due process to have the appropriateness of the school’s interventions or program evaluated.
    First, it is necessary to know and understand the legal obligation of the Local Education Agency’s (LEA), hereby referred to as “School” in providing FAPE in the Least Restrictive Environment that is appropriate for the student’s needs.
    34 CFR § 300.114 LRE requirements.
    (2) Each public agency must ensure that—
    (i) To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and
    (ii) Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

    STATUTE: 34 CFR §300.300
    If, however, the parent and the public agency disagree about whether the child would be provided with FAPE if the child did not receive a particular special education or related service with which the parent disagrees, and the parent and public agency cannot resolve their differences informally, the parent may use the procedures in subpart E of the IDEA regulations to pursue the issue of whether the service with which the parent disagrees is not appropriate for their child. This includes the mediation procedures in 34 CFR §300.506 or the due process procedures in 34 CFR §§300.507 through 300.516.

    (2) You are correct that IDEA does require Public Schools to employ Highly-Qualified, Certified Teachers to provide services, but also allows paraprofessionals to provide services under the guidance of the highly qualified provider. If the parent does not believe their child can receive FAPE with the current program or personnel, they can independently choose to place their child in a private school or facility at their own cost, but the school is NOT REQUIRED to comply or to pay for it if they are providing FAPE as defined in IDEA. If the school does not believe it can provide FAPE, then it is obligated to pay for a private school placement, but is not required to provide a “cadillac” program. Disagreements between the school and parent are handled through due process. There is no provision in IDEA regarding deeming a parent “unfit,” and that would not provide the school with any additional “power” over the placement, anyway.
    34 CFR § 300.148 Placement of children by parents when FAPE is at issue.
    (a) General.
    This part does not require an LEA to pay for the cost of education, including special education and related services, of a child with a disability at a private school or facility if that agency made FAPE available to the child and the parents elected to place the child in a private school or facility. However, the public agency must include that child in the population whose needs are addressed consistent with §§ 300.131 through 300.144.
    (b) Disagreements about FAPE.
    Disagreements between the parents and a public agency regarding the availability of a program appropriate for the child, and the question of financial reimbursement, are subject to the due process procedures in §§ 300.504 through 300.520.

    34 CFR §300.34. Related Service
    (a) General. Related services means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.
    PACER Center clarification:
    Some children with disabilities need related services to help them meet the goals in their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Related services means transportation and any other developmental, corrective or other supportive services that a child needs to benefit from special education.
    The team gathers information from evaluation and uses this information to determine a child’s needs. The IEP team will discuss the child’s needs and decide whether a related service is needed to help the child accomplish an instructional goal on the IEP. If the service is not needed in order for the child to benefit from their special education program, then the student is not eligible for the related service.

    34 CFR §300.300
    If, however, the parent and the public agency disagree about whether the child would be provided with FAPE if the child did not receive a particular special education or related service with which the parent disagrees, and the parent and public agency cannot resolve their differences informally, the parent may use the procedures in subpart E of the IDEA regulations to pursue the issue of whether the service with which the parent disagrees is not appropriate for their child. This includes the mediation procedures in 34 CFR §300.506 or the due process procedures in 34 CFR §§300.507 through 300.516.

    (3) An IEP is NOT intended to “Fix” the problems a student experiences; it is meant to provide services to meet their needs, lessening the impact of the disability, and provide educational benefit to allow them to progress in the general curriculum with their peers AS APPROPRIATE TO THEIR UNIQUE NEEDS. You are correct that an annual IEP meeting is required in order to review the student’s current level of functioning, progress towards their goals, address concerns, develop new goals, and provide any additional information, including a plan for transitioning to life after high school (once the child is 16). Anytime a parent wishes to address issues in the IEP, they can request another IEP meeting. They don’t need to DEMAND, just request; it’s not an adversarial process. This is the specific definition of the purpose and components of an IEP:
    Sec. 300.320 Definition of individualized education program (IEP).
    (a) General. As used in this part, the term individualized education program or IEP means a written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in a meeting in accordance with Sec. Sec. 300.320 through 300.324, and that must include–…
    (2)(i) A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to–
    (A) Meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and
    (B) Meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability; …
    (4) A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child, and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child–
    (i) To advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals;
    (ii) To be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) of this section, and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities; and
    (iii) To be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and non-disabled children in the activities described in this section;

    Who are we to say that someone is not “normal” or living a “normal” life. Each person should be given the opportunity to be a productive member of society in whatever way is appropriate to their UNIQUE skills and ability, whether that be college, work, or independent living, and not be compared to someone else’s as a version of being “normal”. The intent of the law is specifically spelled out in the following statute:
    The reauthorization of IDEA 2004 (Section 601(d)) states that the purpose of the law is:
    (1A) to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.

    (4) See all of the evidence above

    (5) I agree that districts have been found to have denied FAPE. Each case is individual and based on where the suit is brought or to what level it is taken. Schools have a fiduciary responsibility to allocate their funds in a way that benefits the education of ALL students, and must critically review each expenditure and justify its necessity to all of its constituents (EVERY taxpayer). Unfortunately that means that some student decisions are based on providing services to the extent that is legally required, which is to provide measurable benefit. A school would likely not be able to provide justification for providing resources above and beyond what is required for one student and not others. As parents we absolutely want the best for our children, which is sometimes unreasonable by law and can be a hard pill to swallow, That balance is sometimes difficult, and poor decisions can be made by either “side” as a result, which is why legal recourse is part of the law. It would be fabulous if there was an unending supply of money to provide all of the best programs, and I would love to see every child get everything possible to improve their success, and they can, but not necessarily at the school’s expense. The reality is that the funding doesn’t exist, and it is not required by law, therefore the responsibility does not fall solely on the shoulders of and at the expense of the public school system and taxpayers. However, if a parent wants more than what is legally required and provided, they have every right to provide that at their own expense or through other funding avenues. It has nothing to do with schools and teachers not caring.
    There was one statement you made that I wholeheartedly agree with, “I would hope teachers and school systems see the “Best interest of the child” important enough to want to cooperate with and work very closely with these parents. Either way, IDEA demands they do this.” Teachers and schools do have the best interests of students in mind, and a positive relationship with parents makes that even stronger. Unfortunately, the tone with which you wrote this post & the mis-information you tried to pass off as fact, is completely adversarial and only serves to incite dischord.

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