Wrightslaw l No Child Left Behind l IDEA 2004 l Fetaweb l Yellow Pages for Kids l Harbor House Law Press
Home > Advocacy > Articles >Trusting the System To Do "What's Right" by Pat Howey

The Special Ed Advocate
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

 

2014 - 2015 Training Programs

Oct 30 - Phoenix, AZ

Nov. 1 - Grand Rapids, MI

Nov 6 - McAllen, TX

Nov 18 - DesMoines, IA

Nov 21 - Temecula, CA

Dec 4 - OKC, OK

Full Schedule

Be a Hero ...

 Jason at Ft. Benning
... to a Hero
Learn more

Wrightslaw

Home
Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Consultations
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room
FAQs
Sitemap

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Books & DVDs
Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
New! Military Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Articles
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
FAQs
Newsletter Archives
Summer School Series
Success Stories
Tips

Law Library

Articles
Caselaw
IDEA 2004
No Child Left Behind
McKinney-Vento Homeless
FERPA
Section 504
Fed Court Complaints

Topics

Advocacy
ADD/ADHD
Allergy/Anaphylaxis
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
Bullying
College/Continuing Ed
Damages
Discrimination
Due Process
Early Intervention (Part C)
Eligibility
ESY
Evaluations
FAPE
Flyers
Future Planning
Harassment
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
IEPs
ISEA
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE/Inclusion
Mediation
Military / DOD
No Child Left Behind
NCLB Directories
NCLB Law & Regs
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Reading
Related Services
Research Based Instruction
Response to Intervention (RTI)
Restraints/Abuse
Retention
Retaliation
School Report Cards
Section 504
Self-Advocacy
Teachers & Principals
Transition
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
Directories
  Disability Groups
  International
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
Glossaries
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites

 

Advice from Indiana Advocate Pat Howey 

Trusting the System To Do "What's Right"

Parent: "We should be able to trust the system to do what's right for our kids."

Pat: In theory, this sounds good. But when you are dealing with a child with disabilities, there will always be disagreements. You simply will not get agreement from the number of participants who are required to be in these team meetings.

Schools are in the decision-making process for the short-term. As a parent, you are in it for the long-term

Eventually, your child will leave the public school system. If he/she is does not receive an appropriate education, will the teacher, the school principal or director of special education come to his/her home and help him/her with his/her checkbook? Of course not. This is the parents' responsibility.

It is the parents (and society-at-large) who are ultimately responsible for students with disabilities who cannot achieve a level of independence. So parents have a great vested interest. 

Parents and Schools -- Different Perspectives

Parents and schools invariably look at the child's education from vastly different perspectives. Schools are only required to develop goals and objectives (or benchmarks) for a twelve month period. 

As parents, we need to look at where we want our children (disabled or not) to be at the end of their public education.

Parent: I don't see why the school has to draw lines in the sand.

Pat: There is nothing wrong with disagreement. Problems come from the manner in which disagreements are handled. I have learned that there are better ways to obtain positive results than to roar through meetings in a Mack Truck. 

When Disagreements Turn Into Power Struggles 

Many disagreements turn into power struggles. Power struggles do not make winners look good. 

(For those who don't think I know what I'm talking about, review Howey v. Tippecanoe School Corporation. I am Mrs. Howey). 

Had I understood this earlier, it might have made a difference between the $20,000 in attorney's fees we received and the $50,000 we were attempting to get.

The Law Gives Parents Power -- Use Your Power Wisely

Parents need to understand that the law gives them power to use in educational decisions for their children. Parents should not be afraid to use their power.

True parent advocacy is not about being "King of the Mountain." 

True advocacy is about improving the lives of children, and ensuring that they become independent, productive, taxpaying citizens who belong to the community in which they live. 

The Dangers of Making Threats

Parent: I'm tired of being jerked around so I said I was bringing an attorney to the meeting, I don't have legal representation. Their response surprised me. 

Pat: It's dangerous to make threats. What if you can't find representation? The school will decide that you make empty threats. In the future, you may find yourself backed into a corner because you "trained" the school to not believe you.

IEP Meeting Frustrations

Parent: I hate going to IEP meetings. The team interrupts me, talks over me, and are not willing to respond to my questions and comments.

Pat: When this happens, it's because parents don't know how to take control of the situation. Parents need to use subtle psychological strategies to empower themselves and make the school members of the team respect their positions. 

First, when you go to a team meeting, get there early

Sit on the right side of the person with the most power. (Often, the person with the pen, but not always). An added advantage to this is that if you're good, you can often read the notes that are being written, while they are being written. 

Act like an equal team member!

Don't fall for the old divide and conquer trick of "us v. them" positions.

If things are going too fast, tell the chairperson that you can't keep up. Ask them to slow down so that you can take better notes. 

Make this request as many times as is necessary until they comply with your request to slow down. (Most people will give in to a request after is repeated about three times.) 

Be persistent. With some school people, you have to repeat your request several times. 

Pretend that they are your children. You know how many times you have to tell your children to do something, or stop doing something, before they comply!

The Power of the Written Follow-Up Letter

If they refuse to slow down, document this in your written follow-up letter

Your follow-up letter is more important than the notes you keep

Your follow-up letter documents disagreements, procedural errors, untruths, misstatements -- all the things that never make it into the summary of the meeting.

Keep your report factual, not emotional

Do not attack people.

For example, assume you are told, "If you don't like it, then take it to a hearing." 

You might write something like this:

Written Opinion

Team Meeting

(DATE)

(Child's Name)

I requested an independent educational evaluation. 

I was told this would not be provided and that I could request a hearing if I did not agree. 

Sign it. 

Ask for a copy for your own records.

You'll find that your written report is very powerful. It will become part of your child's educational record. The school can never say that it did not happen. You documented it. 

Contact Information
Pat Howey
Special Education Consulting
POB 117
West Point, Indiana 47992-0117
Website: patriciahowey.com
Email: specialedconsulting@gmail.com


Revised: 03/27/2012

What's New!

Now Shipping!

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Check it out!

Wrightslaw Store

The Advocate's Store

Get Help!

Blog the Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw on Facebook

Find us on Facebook

Wrightslaw Books

Student Discounts

Military Discounts


Wrightslaw: All About IEPs

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book
To Order


About the Book

To Order


Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

About the DVD Video
To Order


To Order


Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw Multimedia Training


Understanding Your Child's
Test Scores (1.5 hrs)

Understanding Your Child's Test Scores

Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $
24.95
Wrightslaw Special: $14.95

Special Education Law & Advocacy Training
(6.5 hrs)


Wrightslaw WebEx Special Education Law & Training Program (6.5 hrs)


Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $99.95
Wrightslaw Special: $49.95