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Ask the Advocates

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Asking Questions: a good strategy for identifying win-win solutions. Everyday, people just like you, Ask the Advocates.

On this page, advocates answer your questions, offer ideas, and make suggestions in articles for parents and teachers who want to learn how to negotiate the maze of special education.


Susan BruceMeet Susan Bruce

Susan is an education coordinator and parent trainer for PRO*Parents, the SC Parent Training & Information Center.

Read bio.


Q. Can the school put my daughter in the certificate program, because it is better for her than a regular diploma?

My opinion is no way! Don't settle for an alternate diploma. Begin with the highest expection for your child. Consider this carefully. What you can do...

Q. Should we threaten to sue the school over the placement decision?

You should never say anything that you cannot “back up.” Never say or ask for things unless... Read More

Q. How do I advocate for all of my child's ADHD needs?

Which offers the most protection for your child, IEP or 504? How do you get it?

Q. What can I do to get the services my child needs?

Monitor progress, get the data, chart the numbers (they do not lie). Here's how... 

Q. What tests do you use for dyslexia?

There is not one specific "test" for dyslexia. First, you must know how children learn to read. Second...

Q. You say parents have rights, but aren't they really powerless unless they have financial resources?

I had no money, no background in education, certainly couldn't afford attorneys. My kids now have good strong IEPs that the school follows. You want POWER?... 



Debbie LarsonMeet Debbie Larson

Debbie served as PTIC Regional Training Coordinator for 15 counties in central/western New York. Debbie is currently doing private practice advocacy for families.

Read Bio

Q. What works? How will I get the services my son needs?

Bluster and threats do not work. Here is what does work...

Q. I'm feeling helpless trying to advocate for my child. What can I do?

Stop feeling helpless! Start now to...

Q. What can I do to avoid the stress of due process?

Try turning the situation around. 10 tips how...

Q. My son cannot function in his current placement and the options the school gave me are unacceptable. What right do I have to chose a a school?

The IEP team must have the right information about your son's needs and how to develop an appropriate program. As part of the team, you have the right to help make the decision, but you must educate the team.

Q. Is it OK to advocate for another child in my own school?

There may not be a conflict of interest - but there are some pitfalls...

Q. How can I win my case for a new placement?

Organize the file, educate yourself about test scores, put requests in writing... Read more about how to make your case

Q. My son graduates this year, is it too late for me to learn advocacy skills?

Advocacy skills are much coveted by parents of students with IEPs, but they are skills that have a much larger application. The power of effective advocacy can change everything...

Q. Our school refuses to comply with IDEA. What can I do to enforce IDEA and ensure they implement the IEP?

AHere are some ways to require enforcement of IDEA within your school. Tips about what to do...



Indiana Advocate Pat HoweyMeet Pat Howey

Pat, a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau, has helped parents resolve special ed disputes since 1986. She writes the series Ask the Advocate.

Read Bio.

Q. The teacher says she has never seen the IEP, what should we do?

Sometimes, school administrators decide not everyone needs to see the full IEP. Make sure your child's teacher sees a copy by...

Q. What about retaliation when I try to advocate for my child?

My child never suffered from retaliation because of my advocacy efforts within her school system because...

Q. I have hardly any of my child's records. Should I request a copy of his entire file, or review the file first?

You need to sent a request letter to inspecat and review your child's records. Here are 14 tips for reviewing the file...

Q. I dread going to IEP meetings. What should I do?

The best way to become a good advocate - expose yourself to...

Q. Can the school prepare a draft IEP before the IEP meeting?

IDEA 2004 discourages the use of “draft IEPs” because...

More...



Sue WhitneyMeet Sue Whitney

Sue is Wrightslaw Research Editor, co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind. She writes the series Doing Your Homework.

Read bio.


Q. My son has LD: How Can I Get the School to Teach Him to Read?

It is extremely helpful to have a good private sector evaluation, and...

Q. What does the law say about using an interpreter as a teacher?

Interpreter as a teacher... it is not in IDEA.

Q. Help! I need an attorney. What do I do when the school doesn't follow the IEP and says I should just "get over it."

I don't think you need an attorney, but you do need to focus on what you can change and learn how to make it happen. Don't get all wound up - with no idea where to go.

Q. Can the school terminate my child's eligibility for special ed?

Before the school can determine that she is not eligible for special education, they are required to ...read more

Q. How can I get a trained certified reading teacher?

A teacher can't use the Wilson Method, the Lindamood Bell Method, or any other method, unless she has the required training. While you are formulating a plan, here's what you should do..

Q. Is it legal to put a 1-to-1 para in the class to serve two students at the same time?

One para cannot do two full time jobs at the same time. If eah child is entitled to a complete apple, you need two apples. Here's the logic...

More...



You will also find helpful advice and creative solutions to problems from these advocates on the Wrightslaw Way Blog and Wrightslaw on Facebook.

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Revised: 12/15/11
Created: 04/27/11

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