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I am NOT Powerless. I am a Parent Advocate.

by Susan Bruce

You say parents have rights but I don’t think they do. I think parents are powerless. The only parents who have rights are financially able to afford the implementation of the IEP. Schools call those who cannot a “constant complainer.”

Parent Credibility

You sound a lot like I did about 6 years ago. Three of my four children have IEPs.

When I began advocating for my kids, the principal of my kid’s school told other parents that I was mentally ill and…… she said my kids could not read because I was a bad parent. Was I mad!

The hardest thing I ever had to do was to leave those emotions out of the parent/school equation. When I learned to do that, it gave me the credibility, not the principal.

I built my credibility when I left my emotions in the parking lot. The principal called in the school district.  The district saw that I was not the “crazy” the principal made me out to be. The district eventually sided with me.

The Over Emotional Parent

We are a working family who could not afford lawyers to advocate for our children. I felt powerless to do anything.

I knew one thing. I had to find a way to get my kids what they needed.

A lady named Pam told me to stop playing the overly emotional parent and do what was necessary to advocate for my kids. This was hard.

[Read Susan’s story: From Victim to a Mighty Force, the Numbers Do Not Lie ]

Parent Power

My struggle has paid off. I am NOT powerless. I am a parent advocate.

My kids now have good strong IEPs.  The school follows the IEPS. You CAN do this. The change we seek will come from parents advocating for their own kids!

[ Wrightslaw Note: Susan Bruce is now an education coordinator and parent trainer for South Carolina’s Parent Training and Information Center, PRO*Parents of South Carolina and graduate of ISEA 2012. ]

Susan has trained thousands of parents and professionals on the IDEA and effective advocacy skills, empowering them to effectively advocate for appropriate services for students with disabilities.

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18 Comments on "I am NOT Powerless. I am a Parent Advocate."


I have a question and hopefully someone can answer this question or referr me to get info on this information…. Since the beginning when the lauds had asessed my son they disagree with him not having autism disorder. They say he does not have autism disorder. Can they diagnose him?


Thank you so much for advocating for the advocates!! I feel so alone here most of the time that I frequently feel like throwing in the towel and just letting the school do what they want. Then I always find some sliver of hope, or read something like this that is empowering and I just redouble my efforts and revamp my game plan. I’ve always been overly emotional, but to everyone’s surprise I’ve been able to conduct myself with dignity when it comes time for the meetings!! If anyone could be painted as crazy, it’s not this momma!!! I am still learning though, and have recently figured out that even though something is on a 504 (which my ADHD son has) or an IEP, if it’s not qualifiable, quantifiable, and/or verifiable, it doesn’t matter how good of an idea it was, they can just “say” they are cooperating with your 504/IEP and not really be!


Hello Susan- My son was abused at school. It started with not feeding him, to dragging him around the school naked, to keeping him in a separate room, to bruises. The school refused to provide copies of home logs, observations, notes, or anything that would prove their wrong doing. The IEP was written, but never implemented. After so much money spent in attorney’s bill, we still dont have so much as an apology. Our only option is to move away from here! No wonder our education system is one of the worst in the world.